I want to give a quick plug and shout out.
Daut at Ufa Blog seems to be pretty plugged in to Russian anti-fascist activism and the rise of right wing racism. His newest post is a letter about the murder of anti-fascist activist Alexander Ryukhin, which I mention in my last post.
I’m also happy to see that
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The other night I received two emails simultaneously from friends alerting me that Michael Specter was to be a guest on the Colbert Report. Intrigued, I quickly set my DVR to record the show.
I’ve only watched the Colbert Report once before despite its immense popularity among friends. I have to say that I pretty much couldn’t get through the commercial laden half hour. Steven Colbert is part of the Daily Show revolution of fake news shows that lampoon the real news. Colbert’s shtick is to satirize right wing talk shows and radio as a means of media critique. I think blurring the line between “fake” and “real” news to expose the utter poverty of the latter is interesting. However, while this may seem novel to some, it has clearly reached a tipping point in effectiveness. I find Colbert’s execution a bit trite, predictable, too reliant on pop culture references, and often simply not funny. The Colbert Report is merely a shadow of Jon Stewart’s the Daily Show.
But since the episode was Russia related, I decided to tune in. Specter looked like a deer in the headlights. He seemed to kinda get Colbert’s act, but kinda not. Specter also came across far less nuanced on the show than in his New Yorker article. It appeared that he was ready to pull the noose around Putin for the deaths of every journalist and critic. It was only toward the end that he admitted that he didn’t actually outright accuse Putin of anything in his article except creating an atmosphere for these things to happen. Fair enough, but I can’t help to notice a certain slippage between these two views. It is clear that Specter wants to charge Putin with these crimes outright but he just doesn’t have any real evidence to do so.
For Colbert’s part, he tried in vain to make implicit connections between Putin’s alleged tactics and the Bush Administration. I guess he had to give his American-centric audience something familiar to chew on. But such comparisons are weak in my view and elide some very key differences between both Administrations’ authoritarian impulses. In the end, the show is just not for me.
Sean’s Russia Blog received its 10,000th hit this morning at 4:53:02 am PST. I placed Site Meter at the bottom on the page about a year ago. The hits are calculated from web searches and people who come to the site. From the site stats I estimate that 1/3 of those hits were from people who actually visited the site. The 10,000th reader’s IP address came from
. I am not only very pleased with this milestone and the steady increase of traffic to the site, but also the array of peoples that visit it. Readers come from over 21 countries and represent about 10 languages. I wish to thank all you readers for giving me their attention over the last year and I hope that it continues for a long time to come. Abington, Massachusetts
Once again, thanks to all.
The “March of Dissent” continues to generate opinion and discussion. I especially liked Julian Evans’ description of how the Other Russia and Nashi rallies provide an interesting contrast as well as serve as symbolic testaments to the state of Russian youth politics. Here is an excerpt:
Two rallies in Moscow weekend – one by the new opposition movement called The Other Russia, the other by the Kremlin-funded Nashi youth group – provided a stark contrast.
I was walking up Tverskaya, through
Pushkin Square, when the police started. A long, long row of Ministry of Interior (MVD) police, the foot-soldiers of the Russian state, which seemingly has an infinite number of them to dispose of at any given time. They were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a green line stretching 600 metres to Mayakovskaya, where an opposition rally was taking place.
I walked along, feeling smaller and smaller as more and more police appeared. Next came the OMON riot police, in their white and grey camouflage, and their big, black boots, standing around in fours or fives, feeling elite compared to the MVD grunts, talking into headpieces or comparing truncheon techniques.
And all along the street were parked state vehicles – not just riot vans and meat wagons, but also fire engines, even bulldozers and street-cleaning machines – everything the city authorities could lay their hands on, for the purpose of controlling the deadly threat.
The deadly threat turns out to be about 1,500 protestors, mainly quite young or quite old, milling around
Triumph Squarein front of the statue of the Bolshevik poet Mayakovsky. This is the first public rally of the ‘Other Russia’ movement, a motley and controversial union of liberal forces, led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov, and various radical nationalist groups, whose best-known leader is Eduard Limonov, geriatric punk novelist and leader of a youth movement called the National Bolsheviks, or Natbols.
The square is small, and looks about three quarters full. On one side are the black and red flags of the Natbols and the Red Youth Vanguard (AKD), whose symbols are a hand grenade and a Kalashnikov, respectively. The AKD look like proper thugs, the Natbols look like half thugs and half white-collar boho misfits. This is how Limonov described a typical Natbol, in his Mein Kampf-esque manifesto (called, by the way, The Other Russia): “a strange, unorganized person living on society’s margin, a talented pervert, fanatic, psychopath, unlucky fellow.”
I see Aleksander Averin, the Natbols’ press secretary, among the group. I interviewed him a couple of months ago, in his boho flat in the north of
. He is a pale, sickly looking boy of 23, with long, Byronic hair and a twitching, nervous face. He sat at his desk talking to me, in front of a pick-axe hanging on his wall, under a sign saying ‘God is with us!’. His young wife is in prison for storming the health ministry in 2004, and throwing a portrait of Putin out of a window. She was 22, a university student, but desecrating a portrait of Putin was deemed sufficiently grave to merit a three-year sentence. Moscow
I see his wife’s paintings all over the flat – one of a sea of flames, another in a Futurist style of her looking beautiful and heroic in a Natbol red armband, against a brooding city landscape. And then I see a photo of her, standing on a small shrine next to a pair of handcuffs, and she looks plain, a little geeky, the kind of girl you wouldn’t notice at school. A marginal person. I asked Aleksander why he, a lapsed engineering student, and his young wife were willing to risk beatings, torture, prison and possibly death for the Natbol movement. “We are like Limonov”, he said, face twitching. “We are Romantics. We want to lead remarkable lives.”
The young Natbols, of whom there are perhaps 30,000 across
, fervently admire Limonov, who in turn seems to narcissistically adore their immolations. An undeniably trendy figure in Russia , he represents an unfortunate nexus between avant-garde punk and Fascism. I once asked him why his movement went in for all the quasi-Nazi symbols – the red flags and arm-bands. He shrugged and giggled: “The kids like it.” RussiaTags: Nashi|National Bolsheviks|Other Russia|Julian Evans|Russia|Russian politics|nationalism|youth politics|Putin