English language blogs on Russia and the CIS suffered a major setback last week. After almost two years of providing news and commentary on all things Russia, Andy from siberianlight.net has called it quits. This is a loss for us all. There was some indication that this might happen when Andy took a short leave of absence to recharge. It was nice to see him return albeit briefly.
I only recently discovered siberianlight.net a few months ago while searching for blogs to link to this site. To my delight I found Andy’s site. It became an instant source of information and inspiration. For those who don’t know (and I doubt many reading this blog are unfamiliar with siberialight.net), Andy’s site provides probably the most comprehensive collection of links to Russian and English language blogs. Andy says that he will keep the site up for a while. This is good news because even if he won’t be making posts, it will serve as a vital resource.
Though I don’t know Andy personally, I want to thank him for his work. His kind mentions have pointed many readers to my blog. His posts were always opinionated, informative and balanced. To his credit he often commented on the quirky aspects of Russian life and news that seems to escape many blogs on Russia, including this one. Most amazing is that many of his posts were done with brevity, something that I myself can’t seem to master. I only hope that he reconsiders and finds the time and energy to start anew. Siberianlight.net will be sorely missed.
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By Sean — 12 years ago
In a reversal of its own decision, the Russian Supreme Court upheld the Moscow Regional court’s ban of the National Bolshevik Party. The Supreme Court’s ruling further reveals the farce of Russian democracy. Forget about what you think about the NBP, the fact that the Supreme Court contradicted itself so quickly, shows that either larger forces were at work behind the scenes or that the Court itself wields arbitrary power. In a statement to reporters after the verdict, NBP leader Eduard Limonov had this to say: “This was a historic humiliation for the Supreme Court. Big players such as the Prosecutor General’s Office intervened and pressed the judges to discard their previous verdict.” Could this be any closer to the truth? Hardly.
The ban is in response to the fact that the NBP uses the word “party” in its name even though it’s registered as a social organization. But as Limonov tells Kommersant, the NBP repeatedly tried to reregister to comply with the law but were denied. What’s next for the Natsbols? According to Limonov, “We will collect 50 thousand applications as the law demands. This is the only thing left for us, to demand legal recognition. This is a struggle. But we also exist as a large organization. Needless to say, the drama continues.Post Views: 101
By Sean — 11 years ago
Perry Anderson, prominent left wing social critic and historian at UCLA, has written an insightful analysis of Putin’s Russia for the London Review of Books. I recently translated an interview Anderson gave to Kommersant, and in the LRB piece he elaborates on some of the ideas he presented there. I highly recommend reading it. It’s quite lucid and thick. Not to mention the guy can just flat out write. Here is an opening excerpt:
Under lowering skies, a thin line of mourners stretched silently outside the funeral hall. Barring the entrance, hulking riot police kept them waiting until assorted dignitaries – Anatoly Chubais, Nato envoys, an impotent ombudsman – had paid their respects. Eventually they were let in to view the corpse of the murdered woman, her forehead wrapped in the white ribbon of the Orthodox rite, her body, slight enough anyway, diminished by the flower-encrusted bier. Around the edges of the mortuary chamber, garlands from the media that attacked her while she was alive stood thick alongside wreaths from her children and friends, the satisfied leaf to leaf with the bereaved. Filing past them and out into the cemetery beyond, virtually no one spoke. Some were in tears. People dispersed in the drizzle as quietly as they came.
The authorities had gone to some lengths to divert Anna Politkovskaya’s funeral from the obvious venue of the Vagankovskoe, where Sakharov is buried, to a dreary precinct on the outskirts that few Muscovites can locate on a map. But how necessary was the precaution? The number of mourners who got to the Troekurovskoe was not large, perhaps a thousand or so, and the mood of the occasion was more sadness than anger. A middle-aged woman, bringing groceries home from the supermarket, shot at point-blank range in an elevator, Politkovskaya was killed for her courage in reporting the continuing butchery in Chechnya. An attempt to poison her had narrowly failed two years earlier. She had another article in press on the atrocities of the Kadyrov clan that now runs the country for the Kremlin, as she was eliminated. She lived and died a fighter. But of any powerful protest at her death, it is difficult to speak. She was buried with resignation, not fury or revolt.
In Ukraine, the discovery of the decapitated body of a journalist who had investigated official corruption, Georgi Gongadze, was sufficient outrage to shake the regime, which was brought down soon afterwards. Politkovskaya was a figure of another magnitude. A better historical comparison might be with the murder of Matteotti by Mussolini in 1924. In Russian circumstances, her moral stature as an opponent of arbitrary power was scarcely less than that of the Socialist deputy. But there the resemblance ends. The Matteotti Affair caused an outcry that nearly toppled Mussolini. Politkovskaya was killed with scarcely a ripple in public opinion. Her death, the official media explained, was either an unfathomable mystery, or the work of enemies of the government vainly attempting to discredit it. The president remarked she was a nobody whose death was the only news value in her life.
It is tempting, but would be a mistake, to see in that casual dismissal no more than the ordinary arrogance of power. All governments deny their crimes, and most are understanding of each other’s lies about them. Bush and Blair, with still more blood on their hands – in all probability, that of over half a million Iraqis – observe these precepts as automatically as Putin. But there is a difference that sets Putin apart from his fellow rulers in the G8, indeed from virtually any government in the world. On the evidence of comparative opinion polls, he is the most popular national leader alive today. Since he came to power six years ago, he has enjoyed the continuous support of over 70 per cent of his people, a record no other contemporary politician begins to approach. For comparison, Chirac now has an approval rating of 38 per cent, Bush of 36 per cent, Blair of 30 per cent.Tags: Putin|Russia|Perry Anderson|London Review of Books|journalism|human rights|democracy|economics|historyPost Views: 151
By Sean — 11 years ago
In what Moskovskii Komsomolets calls “an echo of the explosion at the Cherkizovskii market,” five Moscow militsia officers and a police dog named Steve were injured by a homemade bomb intended to kill 20 year old antifascist activist Tigran M. According to newsru.com, Tigran’s problems with local nationalists started after he went to Saint Petersburg for slain activist Timur Kacharava’s funeral. Soon after that, graffiti reading “Tigran, tell Timur we said hi” appeared on the wall of his podyezd.
On Friday as he was leaving his apartment, Timur noticed a swastika drawn on the wall and a sign on the heater outside his door that read “Black assed khachi (a derogatory word for people from the Caucuses) live in apartment 231″. He was about to remove it, when he noticed that it was attached to a plastic bottle filled with liquid and powder. He called the militsia, who soon arrived with the dog. The militsia didn’t follow standard procedure of immediately calling an ambulance and informing the MChS, so they may face charges once released from the hospital. The theory published in most of the articles is that Steve brushed the bottle and set off the explosion. MK further reports that the explosive device was made with the same chemicals as the bomb placed by Russian nationalists at the Cherkizovsky market last August that killed 13 people. Whatever the case, at least two of the officers most likely permanently lost their eyesight.
If this made the evening news, I missed it, but the Russian Live Journal community was abuzz, with nationalists claiming “ provokatsia.” One post by antifascist LJ user Maskodagama received 890 comments. The news reports were initially contradictory, which gave the nationalists ammunition to dismiss the whole thing, but no one can dispute that there was an explosion and five militsia officers and a dog ended up in the hospital. Tigran had his own LJ account, although Maskodagama hasn’t released his nick. The FSB has confiscated his computer.
An event perhaps even more similar than the Cherkizovsky bombing to the attempted murder of Tigran happened in the late nineties. In podmoskovy, a woman found an anti-Semitic sign on the side of the road which exploded when she tried to move it. While that was most likely a random act of violence, no one other than Nazi sympathizers doubts that Tigran or a family member was the intended victim of the bomb. Nationalists find nothing ironic in writing in their Live Journals about the “myth of Russian fascism” while posting anti-Semitic and racist diatribes under 3 rd Reich inspired avatars. They’re also experts at red herrings, strawmen and lying. I remember reading, I think it was Sevastianov, claim that the swastika carved in the rifle used to kill Lanzar Samba was backwards and the word “skinhead” was spelled wrong. I’ve seen pictures of the rifle and the swastika is in the right direction and whoever wrote “skinhead” spelled it correctly.
An article by Lidia Chakalova about the bombing appeared in Utra.ru, along with a photo of what at first appears to be a yellow bomby-looking thing with a black swastika painted on it. But keen eyed internet users pointed out that it was just an amateur homemade radio antenna with a swastika photoshopped on. Nazis presented this on the ru_politics LJ community as proof that the whole story was made up.
Suspects in the bombing case are 18 year old Roman S, and Denis L and Konstantin T, both of whom are 17 years old. All are members of a nationalist group.
According to Kommersant, the crime will be prosecuted under Part 2, Article 213 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation. To anyone who has paid attention to the recent rash of racist attacks in Russia it will come to no surprise that this is the article on “hooliganism.”
Daut currently lives in Ufa, Russia.Post Views: 101