If you can’t beat them in the streets, try the courts. That’s what Garry Kasparov looks to be doing with his 30 million ruble lawsuit against Nashi. According to Kasparov’s camp the lawsuit is in defense of his “honor, dignity, business reputation and compensation for moral injury” inflicted by Nashi. At the center are Nashi’s fryers which emphasize Kasparov’s American citizenship and allege that he’s “a traitor and a thief who wants to come to power in order to return Russia the oligarchic chaos of the 1990s.” The lawsuit states that such rhetoric makes people think that he’s an agent of foreign powers’ efforts to plunder Russia.
Nashi has yet to give a response. When they do I’m sure it will only contain more of the same rhetoric against Kasparov. Or they might just laugh it off. Since the “orange threat” has been “liquidated,” Kasparov legal revenge might not get more than an afterthought from Nashi. At the moment the so-called “Democratic anti-fascist youth movement” is busy trying to mobilize it members against Kosovo independence and continue their protest against Estonia visa black list. That said, I could see Nashi using Kasparov’s suit to its own advantage if these other efforts turn out to be a bust.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
Things are looking bad for Russia’s floundering “opposition”. I say “opposition” because the Western media has declared the Russia’s liberal forces–Yabloko, SPS, and Other Russia–the true challengers to Putin and United Russia rather than the real opposition, the Communists. Be that as it may. Apparently, pumping up small and insignificant parties is far more agreeable to the Western political establishment than giving credence to Zyuganov.
It’s difficult to measure whatever strength, if any, the “opposition” has in Russia. If today’s rally is any indication, it’s not much. The Other Russia rally ranged between 1000 to 3000 participants depending on who you ask. About an hour into the rally, a band of 200 National Bolsheviks waving black flags with hammer and sickles broke away and began marching. This gave OMON the legal green light to move in and bust the whole thing up. Moscow authorities only sanctioned a rally. Scuffles ensued but eventually armor clad OMONtsy encircled the “dissenters.” And to the tune of billy clubs rapping against their shields, they snagged the most vocal of activists and hustled them into an awaiting van. Limonov, Kasparov, Maria Gaidar, Ilya Yashin and 100 others were arrested. The four faces of “opposition” were on their way to present a complaint to the Electoral Commission office. According to the Moscow Times, they barely made it to McDonald’s.
All were released shortly thereafter (Gaidar as a Duma rep for SPS has immunity) except for Kasparov who was charged with resisting arrest and organizing an illegal march. He is expected to sit in the slammer until Thursday. Given the paltry turn out, Other Russia should be happy that OMON was there to make their march relevant. Without arrests there wouldn’t have been anything noteworthy.
Things looked no brighter in St. Petersburg. There about 500 Other Russia supporters gathered in defiance of city authorities. OMON didn’t hesitate to round up all the rally’s organizers including newly named SPS presidential candidate Boris Nemtsov and local party head Nikita Belykh. Both were released. Again, its a good thing OMON showed up because then the Financial Times couldn’t call their action a “crackdown,” the Moscow Times couldn’t declare the march “quashed,” and RFE/RL would have to find another verb besides “crush” for their headline.
The Bush Administration issued a statement condemning Moscow’s “aggressive tactics.” That should provide Channel One, which called Other Russia a bunch of “aggressive extremists” and provocateurs looking to brainwash pensioners in its coverage of the march, with more xenophobic fodder. Its seems that the powers that be love the word “aggressive.”
The march culminates several weeks of police harassment of Other Russia and other oppositionists. On Friday, police raided their Moscow headquarters with a mandate to search for “weapons, drugs, and illegal literature.” The first two were nowhere to be found (probably to the cops’ disappointment), but the police were nonetheless able to walk away with some “illegal literature”: 300 stickers that read “Vote for the Other Russia List.” Wow, scary.
If Other Russia is in a bind, Yabloko is faring no better. Forget the fact that police blocked their offices the morning of the St. Petersburg march. And forget that Yabloko Ivan Bolshakov was detained a few days before. The real signal to the “dissenters” is the murder of Farid Babaev, Yabloko’s chief in Dagestan. Babaev was shot four times, including one “control shot” in the head, in his apartment vestibule on Wednesday. The assassins’ whereabouts, of course, are unknown and probably will remain so.
Will the suppression of the Russian “opposition” matter to voters? It will certainly harden the belief among the already converted that Putin is no democrat. But for most Russians Sunday’s events are par for the course. According to a poll conducted by RFE/RL the government’s pressure is exactly what they expect. Putin and his people will ensure their victory either through graft, influence, or plain old violence. The fix is already in and Putin is holding all the cards. Or as poli-sci prof Vladimir Gelman told RFE/RL,
“You can compare the situation to a football match in which the result is known in advance, the referee completely favors one team that is the preordained victor, and the spectators are not even interested in watching or in supporting one team or another.”
Putin the spread buster must really irk some bookies.Post Views: 123
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: 125
By Sean — 8 years ago
Solidarity may be band of “scrubby little opposition organizations [that] have no future,” but if things keep going the way their going, Boris Nemtsov will be wining and dining on American think tank honorariums, hobnobbing with US politicos, and testifying in front of Congress for years to come. Wait, haven’t they done a bit of this already?
Well, let’s just say that Nemtsov’s future is looking a bit brighter thanks to his efforts to paint himself as a repressed dissident. On Tuesday, Nemtsov reported that the cops seized another 100,000 copies of Putin. The Result. Ten Years. in Smolensk. I’ve already noted how the cops seized 100,000 copies of the Nemtsov and Milov report last week in St. Petersburg. The act was clearly a way to prevent activists from distributing the screed to potential investors at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. A few activists from United Civil Front did worm their way into the forum, but were promptly arrested.
In inquiring about the report, the Smolensk authorities explained that they were just doing their St. Petersburg colleagues a solid, but denied taking any copies. “After the detention of copies in St. Petersburg, our Petersburg colleagues asked for us to check whether the publisher’s seal was from Smolensk though the report’s publisher is from Moscow. We asked the head of the printing press [about this],” said Nikolai Turbovets, First Lieutenant of the Smolensk police. But apparently, unlike their Petersburg counterparts, the Smolensk authorities just did an inquiry. “No copies were confiscated and no one was arrested,” an employee of the Smolensk press told Kommersant. However, the source thinks that this was only the beginning. “I think that the copies will be seized after the hoopla dies down. We will be connected with the publisher in the next few days.” The unnamed employee went on to add: “There is a general feeling that now without these copies Boris Nemtsov will receive some excellent PR.”
Given this, it is no surprise that Nemtsov has exaggerated with how things went down. Nemtsov insists that the copies were indeed taken and not returned, while Olga Shorina, Solidarity’s press secretary, says that the copies are at the Smolensk printing press’ offices but they have been “sealed” by the cops thereby preventing their distribution.
Confiscated or not confiscated. Sealed or unsealed. The fact is that the authorities are playing right into Nemtsov’s hands by giving him far more PR than his little “report” deserves. And he’s lapping it all up as people bum-rush him for his autograph. Another Russian oppositionist with the rock star looks without the rock star talent. Oh well, it’s not like talent matters anyway.
The thing I can never wrap my head around is why the police care about people like Nemtsov. Are they really that paranoid? Do they think that they are scoring brownie points with their superiors? Or are they just flat out stupid? Now granted, there is no contradiction between any of these. If anything is to be learned is that paranoia, sycophancy, and stupidity go hand in hand.
True, after a few weeks or so all of this will die down even if the cops declare Nemstov’s “report” to be extremist. Just how soon, though, will depend on Nemtsov himself. Being the slick willy that he is, I’m sure he’ll have no problem finding the gumption to parlay this into at least a few American taxpayer funded first class transatlantic flights, black tie dinners, photo-ops, and speeches detailing the gruesomeness of the Putin regime. If the FSB really puts the screws to him, maybe he can even get a movie option or two so he could tell his “story” in celluloid fashion. George Clooney as Nemtsov? I could see it. And if all goes really well, Borya will be able to dethrone Khodorkovsky as the reincarnation of Sakharov. We all know how Americans like “freedom fighters.” After all, the Russian authorities have provided him a trough full of greasy, scandal laden vittles. All Nemtsov has to do is bury his snout in it and start slurping.
With all this said, I can’t help wondering if the real loser in all this is Nemtsov’s co-author, Vladimir Milov. He basically shot himself in the foot by announcing his departure from Solidarity a day after the cops seized his report. I mean, didn’t Russian Dissident School teach him that you don’t take a principled stand on anything unless it boosts your public profile? Sure Solidarity may be filled with egomaniacs, but said egomaniacs command the flashbulbs of Western correspondents. Now poor Milov doesn’t have a pot to piss in, let alone a platform from which to piss in it.Post Views: 216