Two weeks ago, Suzi Weissman, who has a weekly program called Beneath the Surface on the local Pacifica station (KPFK) here in Los Angeles, interviewed Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine on his outstanding book, The Jewish Century. I wrote a review of it months ago. You can read it here. I recommend the interview for more insight into this amazing and path breaking work.
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By now most Russia watchers know about how the cops bust up the protest in St. Petersburg. If not, a Google search reveals a whopping 232 articles on it in the English media. Most of them are culled from AP and Reuters reports, but it appears that most of America’s dailies will care the story in some form and fashion in their Sunday editions.
Numbers at the protest vary from a low of 2000 to a high of 6000. The latter figure is given by the protest’s organizers. Most news reports are placing it around 3000-5000. The protest was only given a permit to hold a rally. Part of the crowd defied the permit and proceeded to march down Nevsky Prospekt, apparently led by Gary Kasparov. They got two kilometers until OMON moved in and began cracking heads. About 100 were arrested, including National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov.
Associated Press described the protest:
More than 3,000 activists, according to AP estimates, chanted “Shame!” as they marched down the city’s main avenue to protest over what they said was Russia’s rolling back from democracy. Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion who helped organize the event, said on Ekho Moskvy radio that the participants numbered up to 6,000.
City authorities had banned the march, granting permission only to hold a rally in a location far from the city center. But the activists defied the ban and marched toward and then down the Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main street, blocking traffic there.
Riot police detained and clubbed dozens of protesters in an attempt to stop the march and disperse the activists, but the demonstrators broke through the cordons, marched toward the center and rallied for about 40 minutes until police moved in again, detaining scores of others. Eduard Limonov, head of the radical National Bolshevik Party, and independent city legislator Sergei Gulyayev were among the organizers detained.
Police beat protesters with truncheons and dragged them into detention buses. Several activists also attacked a law enforcement officer. The ITAR-Tass news agency reported, citing police officials, that between 20 and 30 activists were detained. Some of the detainees were later taken to a local court and were expected to face trial.
The activists held banners “Russia Without Putin,” in a reference to President Vladimir Putin, “We Are for Justice,” “Get Elections Back.” They called for the ouster of mayor Valentina Matviyenko, a close ally of the president, accusing her of corruption and incompetence.Tags: democracy|Putin|Russia|protest|Other Russia|Kasparov|Limonov|National Bolsheviks|human rights|democracy
I have no idea what to make of this report. That is except that this whole affair is getting stranger and stranger . . . and if true, scarier and scarier.
By Cahal Milmo, Peter Popham and Jason Bennetto
Published: 29 November 2006
Alexander Litvinenko, the poisoned former Russian agent, told the Italian academic he met on the day he fell ill that he had organised the smuggling of nuclear material out of Russia for his security service employers.
Mario Scaramella, who flew into London yesterday to be interviewed by Scotland Yard officers investigating Mr Litvinenko’s death, said Mr Litvinenko told him about the operation for the FSB security service, the successor to the KGB.
Police said that Mr Scaramella, who met Mr Litvinenko at a sushi bar in London on 1 November to discuss a death threat aimed at both of them, was a potential witness. He was being interviewed at a “secure location” in London but was not in custody.
The Health Protection Agency said that eight people had been referred to a clinic in London for tests for exposure to polonium-210, the radioactive substance that killed Mr Litvinenko. It declined to say whether Mr Scaramella was among them.
A post-mortem examination will be carried out on Mr Litvinenko on Friday.
In an interview with The Independent shortly after the poisoning became public, Mr Scaramella said that Mr Litvinenko, a friend and professional contact since 2001, told him he had masterminded the smuggling of radioactive material to Zurich in 2000. There have long been concerns that turmoil in Russia and other former Soviet states after the fall of Communism created an international black market in radioactive substances.
The Kremlin has finally posted a full English translation of Putin’s February 1 press conference. It has also provided audio and video. The video also contains simultaneous English translation. I hope to have some commentary on it sometime this week. In the meantime, I would like to get people’s impressions in the comments section.