Kommersant reports that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov made a trip to
Kadyrov took a tour of the camp, beginning with the central alley called
Sovereign Democracy Avenue. Then he saw an imitation of Eternal Fire monument, and Yakemenko reminded him that the slogan “ for Russians” might lead to a civil war. Russia
Kadyrov met some Chechen young people among Nashi activists. He hugged them and talked Chechen to them, and his only words in Russian were “We [Chechens] have fallen behind. Now we should become first.”
Then Kadyrov’s attention was diverted to some tents with banners “Our Army”, where Nashi activists are trained for fighting against the humiliating treatment of juniors in Russian armed forces. While Nashi activists were admiring Kadyrov’s Hermes shoes, a frightened man showed from the tent asking not to enter yet.
Kadyrov went on in the meantime, noticing a tent on the outskirts of the camp with the banner saying
. “Ethnic” ghetto of young Uzbek activists suddenly gave an idea to Kadyrov—that Nashi camp should be organized in Tashkent as well. Chechnya
Then Kadyrov was invited back to “Our Army” tents to watch a theatrical show. Around ten young men clad in military uniform simulated troop movements, crawling in the dust, lighting land pots and dragging gun dummies behind them. Kadyrov praised the show and began taking photographs with Nashi activists.
Will Chechen youths be attending any lectures on the “Ideology of Ramzan Kadyrov” anytime soon?
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By Sean — 6 years ago
“Who has the youth has the future!” Martin Luther declared. As object-subjects of modern states, youth serve as the key to reproducing of the means of reproduction. They perpetuate the nation and its institutions. Adults, therefore, seek, to play on Marx, to create youth after their own image. Yet, Russian youth defy capture. According to a recent study by Olga Kryshtanovskaya, Russian youth remain unmoored, disorientated, and incapable of finding their footing in present day Russia. Twenty years after the collapse of communism, “they have no established sense of Russian society and their place in it.” When young Russians look across the political landscape and peer at its various parties, movements, and personalities, they feel a profound sense of alienation. “This is one of the signs that the Russian political system finds itself in crisis,” says Pavel Salin, the director of the Center of Political Research.
Or is it? They certainly threaten the stability of Putin’s political corporatism. But they speak directly to the other side of Putinism: neoliberalism. And their experience with an economic structure that requires an unmoored, apathetic, cynical, and individuated citizenry places them on par with destabilized educated young people the world over. Like their Western counterparts, the respondents in Kryshtanovskaya survey are urban, educated, “middle class,” and politically liberal yet socially and economically adrift. The system doesn’t represent them, and they don’t have or desire a collective social identity to represent themselves.
If there is one word that characterizes the neoliberal experience of Russian youth it’s paradox. Kryshtanovskaya’s report is suffused with it suggesting a cohort split between pathos and reason, present doom and future salvation, and heralds of the nation and its discontents. Statements like “many working youth consider themselves unemployed;” “parties in the present Russian political system don’t correspond to their ideological labels;” young people talking of social calamity but don’t see “a national catastrophe as a serious danger;” and they are politically apathetic but speak of a “revolutionary apocalypse” suggests a non-place in Russia’s current conjecture. Russian youth inhabit the crevices of a paradoxical present.
By Sean — 13 years ago
It seems that many of
‘s opposition parties can now breath a sigh of relief. Today, the Russian Supreme Court overturned the Russia Moscow Regional Court‘s banning of the National Bolshevik Party. If you remember, the Natsbols were outlawed in June for violating ‘s political party law. The Natsbols originally filed as a political party, but was ruled to be a social organization. They offered to drop “Party” from their name to no avail. The overturning of the ban is already being hailed as some sort of victory for Russian democracy. As a editorial on Gazeta.ru stated, “By reversing the ruling of a lower court to ban the National Bolshevik Party, the Supreme Court restored the rights not only of Eduard Limonov’s supporters, but of contemporary Russian politics as a whole.” Russia
While I support the overturning of the ban, I am continually fascinated by all the attention the Natsbols get in the Russian media and how, it seems, Russian democracy is connected to their fate. They are a small, albeit radical group whose tactics have garnered a lot of attention. But it could be easy to simply write them off as a insignificant group of disaffected youths who’ve found meaning in Edward Limonov’s cult celebrity. But things don’t work that way here and the Russian government has a tendency to undermine itself. The ban is just one example. The show trial of the 39 Natsbol “Decembristy” is another. The trial has gotten a lot of sympathy from otherwise apathetic Russians. The State’s heavy hand has not played well with the public, many of who see the Natsbols as symbolizing the frustration of many youths. It’s the frustration that many see as the problem, not the youths themselves. Putin Administration’s persistence against these kids has in many ways created the Natsbols as much as Limonov did. Putin has played right into Limonov’s hands.
The Natsbols, however, do represent a brewing battle for
‘s youth. As I’ve written in other reports, there is an effort by pro-government groups like Nashi to assert themselves as the representatives of youths. If Nashi is one option for political youth, the Natsbols represent another. Yet, the scope of the Natsbol’s influence is difficult to measure. Some say there are only a few thousand members; the Natsbols themselves claim that they have up to 17,500 activists with the average age of 20. The real numbers are probably closer to a few thousand, maybe even hundreds. Despite the low or high membership numbers, the Natsbols as a political aesthetic goes beyond organization. In many ways, their radicalism and tactics makes them the most attractive group to disaffected youths. They have reached the zenith of cool. Russia
The Natsbols also represents more. According to the editorial from Gazeta.ru, their presence in a country that has a history of political radicalism is a further sign of the weakness of Russian democracy:
“The NBP work for themselves, and for everyone else. Had there been a real opposition party in
that represented the opinion of those that don’t agree with the current regime, the NBP could have remained a small radical sect, as it was at the end of the 1990’s. But as it is, anti-Putin groups can consider themselves to be anything they want “parties, movements, interest clubs” but not real political forces. The popularity of the NBP and the sympathy it has from those people who would otherwise find the words “National Bolshevik” disgusting proves that there is something obviously unhealthy about the current state of Russian politics. Russia
Once again the National Bolshevik Party is catapulted to heights that even itself doesn’t profess, but I’m sure, would not refuse. The editorial continues, the party in power, United Russia, is a “bureaucratic” party which is bent maintaining the status-quo. Further, since
‘s democratic institutions are merely “plaster casts,” that is they merely fake real ones, the Natsbols’ mocking of power and politics fits well in a system that already parodies itself. In a way, the Natsbols have become the real opposition because the “fake” one is not only without ideology, it is without will. And this difference of will, according to this editorial, is what gives the Natsbols real political meaning: “And that’s because the NBP is the only party that not only talks, but does something too. As best as it can, of course. “ Russia
That “best it can” has been more than many “real” (or is it “fake”?) Russian politicians have done to become an effective opposition. The Natsbols radical profile and antics have filled a vacuum of sorts by doing what Limonov created them for: to scream a big fuck you to power.
It seems that the battle for the streets slated for the 2008 Russian Presidential elections is gearing up. According to Ekho Moskvy, as reported by Mosnews.com, Alexander Averin, a National Bolshevik spokesman, claims that six of its members were beaten by 30 members of Nashi with baseball bats and empty beer bottles. How does Averin know that they were Nashi? They were “trendily dressed young men.” Averin believes that the attack was associated with the overturning of the ban on Natsbols.
Perhaps there is something to Boris Kargalitsky’s recent opinion on how the political activities of
‘s youths are attracting more attention. And this attention has everything to do with the upcoming elections: Russia
“Politicians’ recent interest in
‘s youth is inversely related to their interest in elections. The opposition has split into two groups: those who are willing to go to the polls and have already made their peace with defeat, and those who are ready to take to the streets and address disputed issues there. But the liberal elite that is fed up with President Vladimir Putin is not about to go and take a blow from a police truncheon themselves. Only the radical youth — whether they are on the far left or right is unimportant — will be hitting the streets in protest. No matter who wins the battle for political power in Russia , they will not be sharing it with these young people anyway. Russia
Those in the Kremlin understand this all perfectly well, and they formed Nashi according to this very principle. When a bunch of policemen beat up some kid protesting on the street, the regime has done something wrong. But when two gangs of young radicals brawl in the street, it’s a minor riot. The authorities have no choice but to step in and reestablish order.”
Pieces on the chessboard of Russian politics. Kargalitsky is right when he says that it is unlikely that in exchange for their defense of the “nation”, Nashi will be given the country. He concludes, “The grown-ups who run the country have no intention of giving anything to anyone. They have kids of their own, after all, who would never stoop to fighting in the street.”
Despite decades of class consciousness being shoved down the throat of
‘s population, real class consciousness only embodies the minds of the ruling class. The millions that live to scrape by are once again abiding by the historical fact that nationalism always trumps class interest. Or one should more accurately state, for the ruling classes nationalism and class interest reinforce each other without contradiction. For everyone else, nationalism contradicts class interest. The blade of the former smites the latter. Russia
One only needs to do a class analysis of Nashi and the Natsbols to see polarization in process. There is no doubt that Nashi’s ranks are filled with middle class youths who aspire to play a role in
‘s bourgeois future. The Natsbols, on the other hand, appeal to the “disaffected youth” a code word for Russia ‘s new working class–little education, no prospects, and therefore no future. Time will tell if this symbolic battle between youths will become a real one. It looks like Nashi has their bats and bottles ready. Do the Natsbols? Will they soon trade in their eggs and mayonnaise for the weapons of their enemies? Russia
By Sean — 10 years ago
As many already know, human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Novaya gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova were gunned down in Moscow near the Kropotkinskaya metro on Monday afternoon. According to reports, a man in a green ski mask approached Markelov from behind and unloaded a few rounds into his head, execution style. Baburova was seriously injured when she tried to intervene. She died in a local hospital a few hours earlier. The gunman fled the scene.
Kommersant gives this description of the killing:
At 2:45 p.m. Stanislav Markelov exited the International Press Center with Novaya gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova. They went down Prechistenka toward the Koprotkinskaya metro station. The assailant, a young man of around 180 cm height, dressed in a black trench coat. dark jeans and a green ski mask, went from across the street towards them. He followed he followed his victims for several minutes, and then, not far from the metro, he crossed the street and shot the lawyer in the back of the head with a pistol with a silencer. After Stanislav Markelov fell, the killer quickly made his way down Gogolevskii boulevard. Shocked by the incident, Anastasia Baburova gathered herself, screamed, and what eyewitnesses say, she instinctively went after the murder. That sealed her fate. The criminal turned back and shot the young woman in the head. “Not many men would dare act in such a situation as she did,” Dmitrii Muratov the editor-in-chief of Novaya gazeta told Kommersant. According to him, Anastasia was a night student in the journalism department at MGU, and had worked for the newspaper since October of last year. Her writings dedicated to investigating the activities of neo-fascist groups. She died from her wounds in the evening. She never regained consciousness.
Robert Amsterdam has already done a rapid fire blitz of posts on the incident. I recommend readers to point their mouse there.
Markelov was clearly the victim of a contract killing. He was representing the family of Elza Kungayeva, 18, a Chechen woman who was allegedly raped then strangled to death by Colonel Yuri Budanov in 2000. Budanov was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005, but was paroled after serving three for “good behavior.” Markelov called his release “illegal” and fought to keep the defrocked colonel behind bars. Budanov walked nevertheless. Now he has his revenge.
The Russian news coverage has been extensive. Reactions have been quick. More will certainly be forthcoming in the days ahead. Suffice to say that the murders prove that Medvedev’s “legalistic” Russia is no safer for human rights workers, lawyers, or journalists than Putin’s Russia. Hopefully, Medvedev won’t make the same mistake his mentor did by keeping silent after the Politkovskaya murder. All international eyes will be focused on Russia waiting for any gesture of recognition on the part of the President. For as Sergei Mitrokhin, the leader of Yabloko, stated that “This crime shows that political murder remains a determinant in Russian society.” Unfortunately, he’s right.
Here is Russia Today‘s report: