Some habits die hard. The practice of forcing Soviet dissidents into psychiatric hospitals seems to continue in Putin’s Russia. Marina Litvinovich of Garry Kasparov’s United Civil Front told the Associated Press that police have forced Larisa Arap in to psychiatric clinic.
Arap, 48, a member of Kasparov’s group in the northern port city of Murmansk, was bundled into an ambulance by police on July 5, her daughter Taisiya told The Associated Press. She had been visiting a doctor to secure documents attesting to her mental health, as Russian law requires in order to receive a new drivers license, the daughter said.
The activists say that move was “revenge for critical reporting.” Arap was later released when a doctor at the clinic realized that she was the author of an article critical of conditions at a local mental ward.
United Civil Front says that this is the first time police have subjected one of its members to forced hospitalization. But it isn’t the first time the practice has been used against political oppositionists. In May 2006, Kim Murphy of the LA Times did a story on the the continued use of “insanity” against political and social dissidents.
You Might also like
By Sean — 9 years ago
On Tuesday, Nashi pulled off its best prank yet on the hapless Russian opposition. In the words of Nezavisimaya gazeta, the stunt “will undoubtedly go down in the history of Russian youth politics as the greatest failure in the last ten years.” Nashi is known for its acts of political trickery and harassment. Over the last few years they’ve hounded British Ambassadors, distributed toilet paper editions of Kommersant, and sent Christmas presents to foreign leaders. But their latest salvo was priceless.
It went down as follows. About a week ago, Mikhail Volkhonsky, a Nashi activist from Yaroslavl contacted Ilya Yashin saying he was willing to give testimony about Nashi’s spy operation against the opposition. Volkhonsky claimed to have been spying on the Yaroslavl chapter of Kasparov’s outfit, United Civil Front, as well as gathered information on the opposition in neighboring cities. According to Yashin, Volkhonsky claimed that he had a video showing “Yakemenko discussing the necessity of taking control of opposition organizations.” Volkhonsky refused to give Yashin the video out of “fear” but offered to go in front of the media and “show and tell them everything.” Thinking he had gold, Yashin called a press conference.
And gold it was. Fool’s gold, that is. For, the press wasn’t treated a video showing Nashi’s behind the scenes scheming against the opposition. Instead they got treated to clips showing “opposition” youth boozing after a protest, screwing a 14 year old girl, downing vodka, and snorting coke. “Presently, the ranks of the opposition are characterized by drinking, hooliganism and the seduction of minors,” Volkhonsky explained to reporters. “I want to explain that everything you see here are the usual acts of the United Civil Front. The most marginal elements surround Kasparov and other our (sic) leaders. Here you have mass drunkenness, debauchery, lechery, and drugs.” Yashin quickly took the microphone and called Volkhonsky’s act a “provocation.”
Yashin and Yabloko is calling Volkhonsky’s video nothing but kompromat. True. But it also shows how downright gulible the opposition is. Some of the figures shown in the video aren’t oppositionists at all but resemble activists from pro-Kremlin groups. For example, one activist featured among a group of drunken oppositionists looks like a known member of Molodaia gvardiia. One of the youths shown snorting cocaine is supposed to be Andrei Poliakov, a leader of Red Youth Vanguard, but looks nothing like him. Here are the videos shown at the press conference:
The prank was in response to the unmasking of Nashi spies in various oppositionist youth groups a few weeks ago. Reporters have been trying to get an official response from Nashi but to no avail. In some quarters of Nashi world, the charges have simply been met with ridicule. One Nashi blogger from Voronezh, MC_Masters, wrote that “now that all the Nashi spies have been driven out, no one comes to the [opposition’s] actions.” In response to the claim that 7 of the 12 Yabloko Youth members in St. Petersburg were Nashi spies, he added “More than half of the Russian “opposition” are embedded Nashi commissars. That’s just excellent.”
But clearly Nashi need not bother themselves with official responses. Not when their pranks speak volumes.Post Views: 203
By Sean — 10 years ago
The post election political lull appears to be over as Russia’s politicians gear up for Medvedev’s presidency. As everyone already knows, Medvedev is expected to nominate Putin as Prime Minister. No one expected any opposition to this, since denying Putin dominance over Russian politics is like preventing tidal wave from hitting the shore. But it seems that Zyuganov’s Communists will make a show of opposition. The KPRF threatens to oppose Putin’s nomination because they haven’t been invited into any discussion about the future cabinet or Putin’s candidacy. According to Zyuganov, any candidate for Prime Minister “has a duty to meet with all [Duma] factions and give his opinion on how he will carry out his administrative and economic duties and how he perceives the administrative system.” Deputies from the other Duma parties, however, don’t see what Zyuganov is griping about. Sure, there might be a custom for an aspiring PM to meet with Duma leaders, says LDPR deputy Igor Lebedev, but “I think that Vladimir Putin can’t be bothered with it.”
The Duma pasted the third reading of a law that places new restrictions on national referendums. According to the Moscow Times, the law abolishes referendums on the federal budget, taxation, treaties and presidential terms. The Communists’ 57 members walked out of the vote. KPRF deputy Alexandr Kulikov stated that the passing the bill meant “we’re asking people to shut up.” United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov touted the bill as as a effort to maintain political stability. “We don’t need any political forces promoting the idea of a referendum, playing on the destabilization of the political situation,” he told reporters.
Gryzlov’s days as United Russia head appeared to be numbered. Putin is expected to be named party leader at its congress on April 14.
Russia’s self-proclaimed oppositions are also making moves and giving ultimatums. Last weekend, oppositionists met at the “The New Agenda for Democratic Movement” conference in St. Petersburg to plot their next move. 200 delegates from 30 regions came together with the to hope of forming a broader united democratic opposition. Until now, Russia’s liberals–Yabloko and Union of Right Forces–have declined joining up with Garry Kasparov’s Other Russia coalition. But given that Yabloko and SPS are on the precipice of political irrelevancy, it seem they need all the friends they can get.
However wide the democratic movement may be, it certainly is in no position to make ultimatums. But that didn’t stop the conference from passing a resolution that informed the Kremlin that they are prepared for a “constructive dialog with the state” and to have “contact with the state” on a variety of questions, namely, “the dismantling of authoritarianism.” Then came the ultimatum to President-elect Medvedev. Their demands were:
A review during the first hundred days after inauguration of all political issues including the Khodorkovsky case, securing the rights of citizens to assemble and demonstrate, the revoking of media censorship, and most important to change the electoral laws and prepare to conduct a special parliamentary election.
Let’s see, the chances of any of these happening are about, well, zero. But you have to give them a gold star for persistence.
The fact that the “orange threat” has been declared over hasn’t stopped the FSB. On Tuesday, FSB director Patrushev accused foreign NGOs of aiding terrorists. “Emissaries of foreign terror and religious extremist organizations, exploiting socio-economic problems and ethnic and religious differences, are trying to conduct recruiting efforts,” Patrushev said. “Individual foreign nongovernmental organizations provide information support to them to a large extent.” No specific NGO was mentioned. Patrushev’s comments were made with the announcement that the number of NGOs operating in Russia has dropped from 600,000 in 2002 to 227,577 in 2007. Human rights activists are expected an additional 15,000 to 20,000 to collapse this year. It seems that Russia’s new NGO registration law is doing its job. 11,000 NGOs were denied registration and another 8,274 were closed by the courts.
Aida Edemariam notes that Antonia Shapovalova’s Nashi wear is part of a wider phenomenon of political panties.
Quibbles about the usefulness of a political statement generally hidden under outergarments notwithstanding, a bit of digging reveals that there is quite a precedent for this kind of thing. In the run-up to the 2004 US election, for example, an outfit called Axis of Eve organised what they called “Operation Depose and Expose”: gaggles of women flashing red, fuschia, black and lavender drawers at TV cameras. It was the slogans that were the point, however. “Weapon of Mass Seduction”, many of them read. “My Cherry for Kerry” and “Expose Bush”. This time round BarelyPolitical.com has got in on the act, selling skimpy red boy-shorts with “OBAMA” written in big white lettering across the back.
And just this February Agent Provocateur, not generally known for its serious political leanings, designed a pair of Guantánamo Bay orange knickers, accessorised with a tiny pair of handcuffs, some fetching black ribbon, and the slogan “Fair trial my arse” curling across the rear. Vivienne Westwood (whose son runs Agent Provocateur) sent some down the catwalk at London Fashion Week. Even Gordon Brown was presented with a pair. The effectiveness of pants in the fight for justice across the world is unrecorded. But cavilling seems churlish. After all, in a healthy – or aspiring – democracy, everyone must do their bit.
In this case, that “bit” includes wearing only a little bit.
Natalia Morar, who was banned from Russia as “a danger to the safety and security of Russia,” has lost her appeal in Russian court. The court gave no reason for denying her appeal to get the ban removed. According to her lawyer Yuri Kostanov, “I have no proof but I suspect the case has a political subtext,” he told reporters. “As far as I understand it, Morar has not done anything subversive. But her activity is journalism and she published a great many political articles, including about VIPs. I cannot exclude that namely these people applied some leverage, and this may be the root cause (for the decision). I cannot rule this out.” No, really, you think?
And finally, it seems that Putin could only contain himself for so long at the NATO-Russia Council last weekend. This is despite the fact that Western diplomats pleaded that he tone down his rhetoric. But apparently Putin could only contain himself for so long. According to reports, Putin “lost his temper” during discussion about Ukraine’s possible NATO entry. One diplomat told Kommersant that at one point Putin turned to Bush and said, “You do understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a state! Part of its territory is in Eastern Europe and considerable part was given to them by us!” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Putin ever made any such statement. Nevertheless, I’m sure that after hearing this, there are many Ukrainians who can’t run into NATO’s arms fast enough.Post Views: 222
By Sean — 11 years ago
Fallout from the Dissenters’ March continues. First, the three MVD officers charged with ensuring “order” during the protest have all received promotions. Putin signed a decree yesterday that promoted Vyacheslav Kozlov to deputy chief of Moscow GUVD, Arkady Gostev as head of the Department for Securing Public Order at Moscow GUVD, and Vyacheslav Khaustov to command Moscow’s OMON. Kommersant adds, “Spokesmen for the authorities urged that the appointments are not linked to the successful crackdown on the Dissenters’ Marches” and that move was “scheduled.” Uh, yeah right.
That is not all. The Kremlin is also moving more aggressively to identify the financial backers of the Other Russia movement. Within the Kremlin and United Russia, Other Russia has long been suspected of receiving funds from Western NGOs and, possibly, governments. A task force has now been created comprised of United Russia’s Alexander Gurov, the CPRF’s Viktor Ilyukhin, and Fair Russia’s Gennady Gudkov.
According to Mark Ames of the Exile, Other Russia’s connections particularly to American neoconservatives aren’t that hard to find. In his article, “Russian Protests: The Deleted Scenes,” he rhetorically asks what is wrong with the anti-Putin protest movement. After all, being against Putin increasing authoritarianism isn’t the problem. Just the opposite. What is wrong with it then?
[W]hat is wrong with how the protest movement is being sold to the West. Gary Kasparov, the man they’re making into the next Nelson Mandela, is what’s wrong. You probably haven’t read about this anywhere (unless you read the Russian blogger world), but Kasparov is so deep in bed with the vilest of America’s neo-con goons, a VIP member of their PR-politics-lobbying network, that it almost seems like a bad setup. The strangest thing of all is how no one in the major Western media has touched on Kasparov’s neo-con connections.
Gary Kasparov is a minor political figure at home, but he gets unusually high-profile access to every major media outlet in the West. The more far-right the media outlet, the more Kasparov-friendly it is. Case-in-point: The Wall Street Journal now identifies Kasparov as a “contributing editor” to that paper’s opinion page, largely because he has been such a regular contributor. The Cheney/neo-con agenda, spelled out in the Project for a New American Century, calls for containing Russia and keeping it weak in order both to control the Caspian Sea resources and to prevent a potential rival from checking American power. That agenda exactly describes the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal. The Journal has been stridently anti-Putin, particularly since the arrest of former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky — an arrest which was a major blow to American oil interests.
Far more disturbing than Kasparov’s status as a “contributing editor” to the Wall Street Journal, even as the same paper writes up his role in the protest movement, are his ties to the far-right foreign policy machine. Specifically, Gary Kasparov is, or was, a member of the neo-con Center for Security Policy. The think-tank’s mission statement declares that it is “committed to the time-tested philosophy of promoting international peace through American strength.” And Kasparov is not just a casual member – he once served on the CSP’s National Security Advisory Council, an inner-working group headed by ex-CIA goon James Woolsey. It’s a group with extensive ties to the Pentagon. The Center for Security Policy’s member list reads like a Who’s Who of the neo-con elite: along with Woolsey, it boasts Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams and Frank Gaffney, and was highly influential not just in formulating President Bush’s disastrous imperial strategy in his first term, but also in lobbying for the repeal of the ABM treaty, a move which was in many ways the start of the growing rift between Russia and America.
The major Western media has yet to report Kasparov’s role in the Center for Security Policy. And the organization has done its best to air-brush Kasparov’s membership from its history. Kasparov’s name no longer appears on the CSP’s website, although if you look through wikipedia, you’ll find the cached web pages that used to be up. Why would they try to erase the past?
One reason why Kasparov’s name was removed has to do with conflict of interest. After last weekend’s protest, not only did the Wall Street Journal shake its indignant fist at Putin’s authoritarianism on behalf of its own contributing editor, but the Washington Times and other outlets printed an equally damning, pro-Kasparov piece by none other than Frank Gaffney, the Center for Security Policy’s founder. Neither Gaffney nor the Washington Times mentioned his links to Kasparov.
Sounds like the task force’s work might already be done.Post Views: 201