There are few new details in the Paul Joyal shooting. It turns out that Joyal wasn’t shot in the belly but in the family jewels. If nefarious spooky Russians did do this, they are either cruel or just bad shots. Joyal’s wife
’s police, who are handling the investigation, would not confirm whether anything was stolen from Joyal during the shooting. Prince George
‘‘The investigators are obviously aware of his background,” police spokeswoman Cpl. Debbi Carlson said.
‘‘It’s hard to determine what exactly took place there,” spokesman Cpl. Stephen Pacheco said, adding that the neighborhood where the shooting took place is typically a ‘‘quiet” residential area.
FBI spokeswoman Michelle Cornkovich confirmed that
’s police are leading the investigation, and said the FBI has offered to provide any assistance the department needs. Prince George
Of course, this hasn’t stopped the wild media speculation and accusations. It seems like everyone has an opinion about
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National Unity Day has come and gone. Events were predictable. The nationalists defied authorities and held a modest march of 1500-2000 in
Moscowchanting “ for Russians.” It was met by 1000 of the 6500 strong police force that was deployed around the city. Police arrested 200 people as they tried to join the illegal march. But not before a Ukrainian journalist named Maria Runova from the newspaper Mir Novostei was attacked. An officially sanctioned rally of 1000 people was held to denounce fascism. Russia
, police used tear gas to brake up a massive street fight between 200 nationalists and a group of anti-fascist youths. St. Petersburg
Predictably, there is a flood of reporting in the English language press. Nationalism in
Russiais a topic that supports a variety views that is descending into chaos and fascism. This is evident in how the rallies are explained in the press. The LA Times, for example, reported the nationalists as “staging marches” while the anti-fascist gathering as a “counter-rally.” Such descriptions create a hierarchy where the nationalists and their views are normalized. This impression is reinforced by the fact that articles tend to repeat the same information with little analysis of why nationalism appears to be on the rise. Russia
Nationalism is on the rise in
. SOVA documents a 30 percent rise in neo-Nazi activities this summer alone. Still, the overall impact of neo-Nazi activity is difficult to gage because of the asymmetry between neo-Nazi activities and the reporting on them. The amount of column inches devoted to bands of Russian nationalists and fascists outweigh their actually existence. It should be noted that a march of 1500-2000, while disgusting because it involves fascists, is hardly representative. In Russia , most marches of similar size are rightly dismissed as fringe. Yet, for America such marches are somehow representative of something more widespread. Russia
In my opinion, this is exactly what the nationalists and fascists hope for. Similar to terrorists, they hope that small acts of protest and violence will inflate the little power they have or give the impression that their acts represent the true will of the people.
The media, however, is not only culprit. The state shares some of the blame. Legal crackdowns and tough police action against nationalism, though necessary and welcomed, also give the impression that these groups have more power and influence than they possess. I for one have no problem with the police throwing racists to the ground but it should be recognized that like with other protests movements, activists wear battles with the cops as badges of honor. The police are thus caught in that inevitable catch-22. Inaction is unacceptable, even dangerous, but action potentially reproduces the obstinacy of the very thing they are fighting.
Everyone recognizes National Unity Day is a joke. The day has revealed more cracks in Russian society than unity. This is where I think the nationalists do represent something real. While their views do not represent Russian attitudes in general, the fact that they are given public voice does provoke questions about Russian national identity. The holiday raises the very question it seeks to answer: What is Russian national identity?
Interestingly, the National Unity Day was created to replace Revolution Day, which did provide a theoretical template for unity. The Bolshevik Revolution, while born of deep class animosity, eventually became a point of unity under the Soviet multiethnic banner. The Revolution was written not only as an event that liberated all peoples in the Russian empire from oppression, it was the starting point for the eventual liberation of all of mankind. Thus Revolution Day formally recognized no ethnic nation and ultimately no national border.
National Unity Day can’t make the same claims. First the day celebrates the Russian liberation from the Polish-Lithuanian (read: Catholic) yoke in 1613, marking the end of the Time of Troubles. Many, like Russia Profile’s Georgy Bovt, dismiss the day as indicating “nothing of fundamental importance happened regarding the unity of the Russian nation or the country’s liberation from Catholic aggressors on that day.” This is true in regard to Russian history. But memory is rarely about the past. It is more directed to the present making the Polish-Lithuanian defeat has great symbolic significance. It creates an Other in which to situate Russian national identity in regard to religion, ethnicity, and the integrity of its borders.
Russian Orthodoxy is often overlooked in discussions of Russian national identity, even by those who are actively trying to create it. As Bovt notes, since the 17th century, 4 November was a church holiday celebrating the icon of the Lady of Kazan. By making the day also one national unity, “today’s authorities have managed, largely unnoticed by the general public, to turn a profoundly religious Orthodox holiday into an official state one. It is part of an ongoing plan to give Russian Orthodoxy the trappings, if not the title, of a state religion and thereby to help define the evolution of the “sovereign ideology.”
Another component of that “sovereign ideology” is giving Russian ethnicity a central place in the development of the Russian nation. This is the attempt to reconcile the inner contradiction of russkii and rossisskii, about which I’ve written about before. Celebrating the Polish-Lithuanian defeat concomitantly provides an example of unity and an Other to remind Russians of many present day internal and external Others. Here one can substitute the Poles for Georgians, Chechens, Azeris, Ukrainians, or even Americans for the “Polish-Lithuanians.” It should be noted that in a recent pole by VTsIOM on Russian attitudes to nuclear weapons, two of
’s most prominent Others were viewed as most likely to wage a nuclear attack. 37 percent of respondents thought that a nuclear attack would most likely come from the Russia , and 44 percent saw that it would come from Chechen terrorists. Therefore, what Russian is in contrast what it is not. United States
Finally, the 1613 battle that drove out Polish-Lithuanian invaders signifies the longstanding negotiation over
’s borders. Not only does this fit well with the present tension between Russia Russiaand Georgia, it is also a reminder that ’s internal integrity is threatened by minorities looking either to separate or gain more autonomy. Thus, Russia ’s geographic identity is in relation to these internal and external peoples. Russia
Putin’s brief address to commemorate National Unity Day is full of attempts to reconcile the contradictions inherent in Russian national identity. His statements moved between highlighting
Russia’s “common heritage” and the “multinational people of our country united in order to preserve ‘s independence and statehood.” Here one might read a reformation of the Soviet slogan, “socialist in content, national in form” into “Russian in content, multinational in form.” Russia
I think the Kremlin deserves credit in its attempt to fuse the important place Russian (russkii) culture with its multinational (rossisskii) character. The problem is how this translates to the rest of the population. If the fissures the nationalists exposed in the National Unity Day celebrations are any indication, Russian (russkii) identity continues to present problems for Russian (rossisskii) identity.Post Views: 87
Lyndon linked me about Nashi’s “Connecting with the President” or the “President’s Liaison Officer” campaign, so I’ll return the favor by liking his lucid breakdown of Nashi’s marketing-activist tactics. As he concludes:
The idea of using Nashi partisans as electronic “go-betweens” to/from the President (the passers-by receive special SIM-cards which will also be able to receive “all essential information about the movement’s activities,” per this description of the event) is an intriguing modern take on the Soviet idea of a loyal vanguard, though it’s supposedly an exercise in “modern democracy” (“sovremennaia demokratiia”).
I agree. What strikes me is not only how media savvy this all is, but also how these methods can be found among activists on the left and the right all over the world. The question all this poses for me is how much of Nashi’s participation in Russia’s “modern democracy” is symbolic of democratic practice around the world?Post Views: 152
Central Bank of Russia First Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov’s killers have been caught. Or so we are told. On 16 October, Kommersant published a rather detailed tale of how Kozlov and his driver Alexander Semenov were victims of three hired killers, Alexey Polovinkin, Maxim Proglyada and Alexander Belokopytov. The three are 35 year old citizens from Ukraine, but form the description of events provided by Kommersant, the three are hardly experts in the field of contract killing. If their story is true, they were duped themselves. The mysterious intermediary that hired them for the job didn’t pay them. This led one of the suspects to voluntarily contact the police out of fear for his life.
Yet, despite their confessions, police believe that Polovinkin, Proglayada, and Belokorytov have more to tell. Their description of the “intermediary” sounds like something right out of X-Files or All the President’s Men. As Kommersant reporter Sergey Dyupin writes:
Although all three suspects have confessed to their parts in the killings, investigators are convinced that they have more information to provide. Polovinkin, who was the only one to speak to the intermediary, for instance, says they met only in the dark and that he is unable to describe him. Their communications could be traced, except the suspected abandoned their phones “somewhere” in the forest and have forgotten their own and the intermediary’s phone numbers.
Nevertheless, if one follows Kommersant’s account the Kozlov murder is a rare example of an open and shut case. Except that it all sounds a bit too simple for the killing of such a high profile figure like Kozlov.
Kozlov was no friend of the corrupt world of Russian banking. In fact the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the Central Bank of Russia recently uncovered a widespread money laundering ring that involved a “Georgian criminal organization.” The case was opened in 2005 based on investigations by the state run “Deposit Insurance Agency” did of two banks, Rodnik and New Economic Position. Kozlov’s started the DIA in 2004 to improve banking transparency. While one can’t help questioning the timing of the sting given tensions with Georgia and the government racist targeting of Georgians, according to a press release from the MVD’s Department of Economic Security, the ring, which consisted of Print Bank, Vek-Bank, Investkombank Balkom, and UKB Tsenturion, laundered up to $500,000 a day. According to the MVD, the ring has tight relations with Georgians, former fighters in Abkhazia, as well as Russian criminal organizations.” The release even made claims that the some of the money was being sent to fighters in Abkhazia to ensure “a small triumphant war.”
It is the simple explaination given by the killers and repeated by the police that makes explanation of Kozlov’s murder difficult to swallow. The involvement of three Ukrainian failed businessmen and a dark and spooky “intermediary” sounds too easy.
“The crime is solved. Quick and simple” writes Novaya gazeta reporter Igor’ Korol’kov with skepticism. “This is either a really a rare success which happens “once in a thousand years” and becomes well know to every detective. Or there is something here that is not as it seems. Detectives say that when everything easily and immediately comes “to light,” it cannot not be suspicious.” What follows is Korol’kov’s break down of the many aspects of what the police are reporting.
First, Korol’kov suggests that there are cases when would-be killers approach police, but this usually occurs before the murder, not after. This is because, unlike in the United States, plea bargains don’t exist in Russia and therefore “the criminal world cooperates with the police only in cases if the person is being intimidated or tortured.”
Second, he asks what many people are wondering. If the killers were so afraid for their lives, why have they divulged any information about the mysterious “intermediary” or about who hired them? Surely, they would give up all the information they have so the police could protect them?
Thirdly, Korol’kov doesn’t buy the official version the cops are providing to the media. That version paints a picture of three Ukrainian bunglers who killed Kozlov because they were told that “he conned good people.” The killers didn’t have much of a plan, but instead seized the moment when Kozlov was coming out of Spartak stadium. Considering that Kozlov was such a high profile figure, this version sounds too far fetched or too good to be true.
Instead Korol’kov points to another version floating around. One that suggests that there is a more widespread conspiracy at work. He writes,
“According to another version, given to the mass media, the killers nevertheless prepared just in time for the murder. And they themselves chose the place to shoot.
There are very many gaps in the version about the voluntary confession of Kozlov’s supposed killers. Possibly they explain the leaks various sources have let out, every one of which possesses information according on their rank. Possibly the investigation has still not sculpted a single version from the killers’ confession, thereby completely cloaking other genuine reasons why the killers turned up. But from what I know from sources close to the investigation in the General Procuracy, several gaps complicate the investigation itself. And it doesn’t eliminate the version about the [killers’] support. About the attempt to direct the investigation along a false path. A group of people can only play the role of killers, telling everything about themselves and nothing about the intermediary or client of the murder. The account is simple: delighted investigators will throw out all remaining versions and they will develop a single version, passing [the killers] off as quite intelligent and resourceful people. And after a time the killers will retreat from their previous testimony, thinking up some other kind of justification for their “confession of guilt.”
“This is the only version and it is set forth with a singe purpose: so that the investigation doesn’t make the head dizzy.”
Essentially, Korol’kov argues that Kozlov was one of those rare Russian officials that take “state affairs personally.” “He did not simply ceremoniously perform his function as the First Deputy Chairman, but aspired to achieve real results.” This is what made him a danger to so many corrupt banking groups, making his assassination by a few failed Ukrainian business men concerned about a banker who “conned good people” difficult to swallow.Post Views: 130