A street brawl broke out near Slavyanskaya Ploshchad in Moscow on Friday night when Russian nationalist youth “armed with metal poles and broken bottles” attacked Caucasians reports the Moscow Times. One Armenian youth was hospitalized with stab wounds and 42 persons were arrested. Estimates suggest that 50 Russian nationalists, some of which are members of Alexandr Belov’s Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) participated in the fight. In a statement Belov denied that DPNI did not have any kind of relations with organizers of the brawl. Further, Belov was quoted in the Moscow Times that DPNI members were there “peacefully guarding Moscow from gay prostitutes when groups of people from the Caucasus approached and provoked a reaction.”
In a statement to the press, Yuri Luzhkov, who Putin recently renominated as mayor of Moscow, said “Any display of chauvinism, xenophobia or nationalism will be harshly put down in our capital, on the basis of the Constitution … and on the basis of the law.”
Belov cracked back at Luzhkov in the Associated Press, saying that “[he] has been sitting in his chair too long. He has lost control of the city.”
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By Sean — 10 years ago
“Only by uniting our efforts can we achieve results in developing our country and ensure that it take an appropriate place in the world,” Putin said in reference to National Unity Day. “That is why, the idea that inspired this holiday seems to be very important to me and deserves support.”
By all accounts, on this National Unity Day is an empty holiday created by the Kremlin to replace Revolution Day on November 7. Even more a sign of desperation, is the fact that the historical event chosen to mark said unity is Russia “liberation” from the Poles in 1612. If you have to look back four centuries to find national unity, then you know you are in trouble.
But everyone knows that the historical reasons for National Unity Day are a sham, and to emphasize that again really isn’t the point. The point is that the celebration of especially this year’s holiday is a reminder of how Russia’s past and present is marked with disunity. And while Putin is for the most part something for the Russia people to unite around, his words can’t help contain a tinge of desperation.
This year’s unity day is like none since its invention in 2005 by the simple fact that November 7 marks the 90th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. No there won’t be any grand celebrations. Nor will there be much recognition of the anniversary on global scale. It’s a bit sad really especially since it’s not a stretch to say that the Bolshevik Revolution was the most important event of the 20th century. Some honest reevaluation of it seems necessary to me, but maybe that is just the historian in me talking.
Celebrations marking the Revolution’s 90th Anniversary will surely be small. Only the most staunchest of communists will probably commemorate it. Still, most Russians, according to a poll conducted by the Levada Center, continue to view it as positive. 31% of respondents felt that the Revolution spearheaded “Russia’s economic and social progress.” 26% said that it “helped Russia turn over a new leaf.” Only 16% said it was an impediment to Russia’s development, and 15% saw it as a national disaster. Given how tendentious the Revolution continues to be, there is no doubt that many will argue about what these percentages actually mean.
No matter how one views the Revolution, whether it was a “coup,” a “social revolution,” or simply some kind of back room hatched conspiracy, one can’t deny that it symbolized and continues to symbolize more disunity rather than unity. Such was the case in November 1917. Speaking to the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, Lenin crafted the Bolshevik’s victory in terms of unity. “We have now learned to make a concerted effort,” he said. “The revolution that has just been accomplished is evidence of this. We possess the strength of mass organization, which will overcome everything and lead the proletariat to the world revolution.” Lenin knew that taking power was a gamble and that his party’s strength was concentrated in Russia’s urban centers and among the soldiers. So Lenin, as he would do until his death, preached unity at the moment when disunity was at its most virulent.
But whatever unity among the toiling classes Lenin hoped to retain, they were dashed by the realities of rule. By January 1918, Lenin’s government was getting flooded with letters of protest against disbanding the Constituent Assembly, failing to fulfill its promises, and incapable of dealing with the burden of rule. One unsigned letter “from the front” dated 15 January 1918 to Lenin is especially telling. It reads:
Comrade Lenin: It’s been been four whole days since we’ve had a glimpse of bread, we are walking around naked and barefoot. Yet still there’s no peace and none is expected. Comrade Lenin, did you really seize power so that you could drag the war out three more years? Comrade Lenin, where is your conscience, where are the words you promised: peace bread land and liberty in three days’ time? Did you promise all that just so you could seize power? And then what? But no, you don’t want to fulfill your obligation. Now, this is all lies. If you don’t keep your promises by 1 February, then you’re going to get what Dukhonin got: you’ll drop like a fly. If you’ve picked up the reins then go ahead and drive, and if you can’t then, honey, you can take a flying fuck to hell, or as we say in Siberia, you’re a goddamned motherfucker, son of an Irkutsk cunt (если взяли вожжи то правте а если неможите то летика ты свет нахуй посибирски сказать к ебёной матери ты ёб тваю мать иркутская блядь), who’d like to sell us out to the Germans. No you won’t be selling us out: don’t forget that we Siberians are all convicts.
It’s unknown whether Putin has received any letters from “Siberian convicts” calling him a “motherfucker” or a “son of an Irkutsk cunt,” though if he did, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. Because like with Lenin 90 years ago, Putin’s increasing calls for unity against outsiders, between peoples, and even between security organs speaks more to the reality of its opposite. True, Russia is hardly in the condition it was in 90 years ago, but one should not take Putin’s stability as a sign for greater social harmony.
Perhaps this is why it was a mistake to call the holiday National Unity Day in the first place. Many disgruntled Russian youth have appropriated it as a symbol of their own perceived disenfranchisement. For them, “national unity” means Russkii unity rather than Rossiiskii unity. In weeks leading up to National Unity Day, the few racial attacks were interpreted as examples of this. It’s unlikely that they had any connection to the holiday. If anything they speak to what many fear is a “mushrooming” of Russian ultranationalist groups. And it is clear that authorities are taking more and more notice. The far right presents even more a threat to Russia’s political stability than the liberal or even radical left. 5000 police were mobilized around Moscow and non-Russians were advised to stay off the streets.
The rally for a “Russia for Russians” missed its goal of 7,000, but only by a few grand. 5,000 nationalists turned up including an American named Preston Wiginton. Wiginton, a white supremacist from Texas, addressed the crowd with black cowboy hat and all. “I’m taking my hat off as a sign of respect for your strong identity in ethnicity, nation and race,” he told onlookers weathering the light Moscow drizzle. “Glory to Russia!” he said in broken Russian. “White power!” he shouted in his native English. It just goes to show that despite tensions between Russia and the US, Russian and American racists can find common ground. Moreover, for all the talk about racism and xenophobia in Russia, one should recognize that spitting on immigrants has become a favorite pastime of the US Congress and the EU.
Nashi activists countered the Russian March with its own calls for unity. Taking a page out to the Soviet notion of the “friendship of peoples,” 30,000 Nashi, United Russia’s Young Guard, and Mestnye activists marched through central Moscow carrying a “blanket of peace” which they sewed together to symbolize Russia’s multiethnicity. “Young Guard and other guys will come together to show the will of the people unified against those who want to divide the country,” State Duma and United Russia rep Valerii Riazanskii told Kommersant on Friday. “Nashi will present 4 November as a new tradition of celebration, and to Russian (россиян) confidence in multinational friendship and unity of peoples,” said representatives of Nashi. As a group that employs xenophobia as a campaign tactic, I don’t think Nashi is really a good symbol of tolerance.
Of all the marches and rallies around National Unity Day/Revolution Day, I think Saturday’s “March of the Empty Saucepans” in St. Petersburg is my favorite. Comprised of 1,500 protesters, half of which were pensioners, the rag tag crowd shouted slogans like “Putin’s plan is trouble for Russia” and “We’re awaiting a bread uprising” to express their anger at rising food prices and inflation. As NPB organizer Andrei Dmitriev told Reuters, “In Russia, 90 years ago, everything also began as a result of rising bread prices. People took to the streets and the tsar was overthrown.” Well, yes bread riots do have a exceptional place in revolutionary lore but I would advise Dmitriev to not get his hopes up.Post Views: 72
By Sean — 10 years ago
Patriotism. A vexing word. To some it symbolizes the emotional adulation of the state; to others it is nothing more than a politically correct nationalism where love for the state is conflated with love for the nation. Still, its power to inflame the emotions of a citizenry can’t be denied. It can be linked with any political, economic, or social system. All that is required, it seems, is a nation-state that portends to stand for the people as a whole, and by virtue of some ideological trickery, the people’s belief that they stand for it.
As Sergei Minaev notes in Kommersant Vlast’, patriotism seems to be on every leader’s lips and its meaning tends to be only illuminated through the the Other. “We are not like people in other countries, and we are proud of this.” “Assurances of a firm resolve to assert national interests at any cost and defend the country’s way of life from interference from other countries plays a central role in leaders’ speeches.” Ironically, what gives patriotism’s force to create unity within is done by excoriating those from without. As Hegel instructed, the identity of oneself is constituted through, not in spite of, the Other.
But patriotism is not something that is allowed to flow freely. Its meaning, application, and expression is very much controlled by what Althusser called the “ideological state apparatuses”. Through their ritualization–which can be as simple and innocuous as displaying a flag, saying a pledge of allegiance, or standing to the national anthem at a sports event–patriotism not only becomes instilled as a political-ideological idea, but bores into the very heart of our emotional being. Therefore the desecration of a national symbol becomes more than an ideological offense; it is also an affront to our emotions. Patriotism is one site where the ideological becomes truly affective.
But patriotism’s political strength doesn’t simply lie in some timeless concept. It’s power is in how it’s deployed by the leader. As Kommersant Vlast’ notes, patriotism is at the heart of Putin’s understanding of the Russian state. His concept has no particular roots in one ideology or personality (To show how indistinguishable the patriotic idea can be across ideological, cultural and national divides, Kommersant has even provided a test for you to match world leaders with their patriotic quotes). In fact, how patriotism is positioned in Putin’s rhetoric aligns him with a whole litany of world leaders, past and present.
According to Shamil Idiatullin, like Mussolini and Churchill, Putin is convinced of patriotism’s unifying role. Like Hitler and Nehru, Putin thinks that patriotism’s historical significance is to improve the lives of his countrymen. Like Shinzo Abe and John F. Kennedy, Putin thinks that the essential part of patriotism is the love for one’s neighbor and the readiness to care, defend and admonish him. Like Castro and Hugo Chavez, Putin feels that patriotism is a factor not just in economic development, but in economic survival. And like Musharraf and Stalin, Putin sees the ability to sway one’s enemies only strengthens confidence in oneself.
Unity, improvement, community, prosperity, and influence. These five words sum up Putin’s vision of the modern Russian state. A vision where people’s emotional attachment to the state has a direct connection to the state’s positive expression of power. Is there any better way to capture the essence of his doctrine of sovereign democracy?Post Views: 51
By Sean — 11 years ago
New information has come out about the attack on a camp of antifa environmental activists on Saturday. The violent raid sent eight to the hospital, one of which, Ilya Borodayenko, 26, died of head injuries. Police have since issued eight arrest warrants and have detained 20 suspects. All of the perpetrators are under the age of 22, are students or are unemployed. Police are charging the suspects with “hooliganism” and “intentional grievous bodily harm resulting in death.”
Since news of the attack broke there has been speculation whether the attackers were Neo-nazis or local hooligans looking for “a bit of the old ultra-violence.” Witnesses say that the attackers raided the camp yelling nationalist and anti-Antifa slogans. At first, police firmly stated that there were no such nationalist or neo-fascist groups around Angarsk. According to RIA Novosti, police are now saying that the attack “was carried out by members of a local neo-Nazi group.” The motive for the attack also seems to more than your typical left-right violence. The Moscow Times says that prosecutors think the attack “was a revenge attack against anti-fascists who beat up a skinhead two weeks ago.” Others, like Vladimir Slivyak of the Russian environmental group Ecodefense, are distancing themselves from the antifa camp, claiming that the they had nothing to do with the protest, and that “This was a fight with anti-fascists, and it is very bad for us if now the media is reporting that fascists have been attacking environmentalists.” Yet the activists are from three different left wing groups–Autonomous Action, Rainbow Keepers, and Antifa–all of which are involved in the ecological protest at Angarsk.
But many, including the activists, see a connection between the attack and the protests against Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant. In a comment in Ezhednevnyi zhurnal, Galina Kozhevnikova of the SOVA Center, stated that
Personally I have a strong suspicion that the attack on the ecological camp in Angarsk is closely connected with the struggle around the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant. It’s known that skinheads are very often employed in business turf wars (???????????? ????????). And if [such employment] is possible, why would it be hard to understand that such methods used against ecologists in an ecological camp protesting against the creation of an international nuclear center for the enrichment of uranium? Practically all of our radical ecologists are at the same time also Antifa. In the camp near Angarsk were the Rainbow Keepers and Autonomous Action. So there is nothing astonishing in the conflict itself.
Nevertheless, there is no evidence of a possible connection between the skinheads, the police, or those at Angarsk. So the speculation about the back story, if there is one, continues.
Thanks to mab for the translation of ???????????? ????????.Post Views: 54