Patriotic panties for Putin. That is basically the idea behind Nashi wear designed by model, fashion designer, and commissar Anatonia Shapovalova. Shapovalova’s patriotic fashion line for Nashi activists debuted last summer at Camp Seliger and caused a sensation in December when Nashistki strutted the catwalk bearing more than just the slogan “Vova! I’m with you!” at a Nashi rally on Red Square.
Shapovalova’s fashion is part of several of Nashi’s current campaigns. According to internal Nashi documents obtained by Novaya gazeta, Shapovalova’s purpose remains “unclear.” It’s most likely a commercial venture with a Nashi ideological twist. Shapovalova even has a store in Moscow where you can buy t-shirts with Yuri Gagarin, “I want three,” “Vova, I’m with you!” “I love people,” Let’s go!” “1945,” and “Anti-fa”.
Nashi’s backing has certainly shot Antonia Shapovalova up the Russian fashion world. Her “Fall-Winter 2008-09” collection was featured at this week’s “Fashion Week in Moscow.” It also shows how fashion and celebrity have become integrated into the Nashi cause. According to a Nashi press release, Russian pop stars such as Aleksandr Panaiotov, Dom-2 reality show starlet Kseinia Borodina, the boy band Chelsea, and the girl quartet Tutsi have all embraced the Shapovalova design. Score one for “this new look at youth fashion and new method of educating young patriots.”
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By Sean — 11 years ago
By Vlad Tupikin
Translated by Thomas Campbell
Last Wednesday, the case of the murder of antifascist Alexander Riukhin (who was nine days away from his twentieth birthday when he was killed) was remitted to the courts for trial. On April 16, 2006, while on his way to a hardcore punk concert (hardcore is popular amongst Moscow’s young antifascists) on the outskirts of Moscow, he was stabbed to death. Several skinheads attacked Sasha and his friend Yegor. There was no struggle to speak of—only a murder.
Three of the attackers were detained, and Nazi paraphernalia and literature were found in their homes. The other three assailants are still at large. Everything then, it would seem, is clear? Don’t make snap judgments. The three assailants in custody—Vasily Reutsky and Andrei Antsiferov, members of Slavic Union; and Alexander Shitov, a member of the Format 18 gang—will be tried for premeditated group hooliganism (Article 213 Part 2 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code), premeditated non-grievous bodily harm (Article 115), and assault (Article 116). The murder itself is being treated as a separate case. Only Alexander Parinov, Nikita Tikhonov (who are still at large), and a third, unidentified, attacker, are under suspicion for that particular crime.
Lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who is representing the victim’s mother, Tatyana Riukhin, told a Regnum correspondent, “Every effort is being made to play down the threat to public safety posed by the actions of Reutsky, Antsiferov, and Shitov. There is this applicable albeit rather cynical rule of thumb: you got a corpse, you got a murder case. So it seems odd to me that the exception to this rule is the case of an antifascist murdered by radical right-wing activists.”
It is likewise odd that no one has yet been brought to trial for the murder of another twenty-year-old antifascist, Petersburger Timur Kacharava. It was also right-wingers who stabbed him to death. On November 13, 2005, a group of them attacked Kacharava and his friend Maxim outside the Bukvoyed chain bookstore on Ligovsky Prospect, in downtown Petersburg. The crime scene is a busy, crowded place: tourist buses headed for Finland depart from the spot, and the Moscow Train Station is down the street. There was no struggle. The assailants swooped down on the young men and inflicted several blows. One of these blows—a knife to the neck—proved fatal for Timur.
The young men who took part in this well-publicized crime have been in custody since December 2005. In their official statements, Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko and Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov commented on the fascist nature of the crime and the need to combat xenophobia in Russia’s northern capital. The investigation has been dragging on, however, and the word among Petersburg’s antifascists is that the authorities will attempt to scrap this case as well, charging those under arrest with hooliganism and letting them off with suspended sentences (or no sentences at all).
Finally, one more story, fresh from the presses. On December 22, 2006, a homemade bomb went off in the stairwell of a residential building in Liublino, a southwestern Moscow suburb. A swastika had been drawn on the wall next to where the bomb was discovered. A can containing the explosives was concealed behind a heating radiator; apparently, the bomb was set off by wires that connected it to a placard bearing an offensive nationalist message: “In apartment no. [X] there are nigg. . . .”The bomb (or rather, the placard) was found on the afternoon of the twenty-second by twenty-year-old Tigran as he was exiting the building. Tigran, who happens to live in the very apartment identified on the placard, was on the point of grabbing it when he noticed the wires. While he didn’t manage to get a good look at the bomb, he did have the presence of mind to run to the police. They sent a team over, followed by the bomb squad. The device went off as the police were attempting to defuse it.
The press have treated the incident as yet another nationalist attack on Moscow’s non-Slavic residents. One more Armenian kid (or so they say) nearly fell victim to right-wing radicals: a routine tale in today’s Moscow, however horrible this might seem. Just as routinely, the prosecutor’s office opened a hooliganism investigation—not an attempted murder investigation. And Tigran was questioned as a witness to a crime, not as a crime victim!
This case isn’t so simple, however. Tigran is the Moscow-born son of Muscovite parents. (The press has been circulating the absurd and false report that he and his family have lived in Moscow for only ten years.) And Tigran isn’t a mere “Caucasian youth.” He is a Moscow antifascist and a former coworker of the website Antifa.ru. And he’s a fan of hardcore punk music like his murdered age-mates Timur Kacharava and Alexander Riukhin.
Everything points to the conclusion that Tigran was slated to become the third in a series of murdered young antifascists. His photograph had been posted on Nazi websites and he had received a number of death threats. Swastikas and the message “Tigran, say hello to Timur” were painted on the fence of a construction site across the street from his building. Several times, he was attacked at concerts or met at his front door by young men who appeared to be “boneheads.” (“Boneheads”—also known, in Russian, as “bonies”—is the name that antifascists give to Nazi skinheads so as not to confuse them with antifascist skinheads, who also exist.) Not the shy, retiring type, Tigran emerged victorious from these skirmishes.
And then there was the bomb.
While the prosecutor’s office tries to ignore the case’s political aspect and opens an investigation into rather minor offences, the Federal Security Service (FSB) does see the connection between Tigran’s case and politics. As the police were taking his testimony down at the precinct, FSB officers paid his mother a house call. (Warped by the force of the bomb blast, the front door of their building couldn’t be closed.) Taking advantage of her emotional shock, they confiscated some of his things without encountering any resistance from her. According to Tigran, they took buttons featuring crossed-out swastikas, sew-on jacket patches, and—most important of all—his computer.
Tigran even got a receipt from FSB officers stating they’d confiscated the computer. As final exams loom, he has lost access to all his course notes and files. He’ll have to think of something to tell the professors at his institute.
I want to make it particularly clear that, as far as I know, neither Timur Kacharava nor Alexander Riukhin was a member of any antifascist organization. They simply held antifascist views and were the sort of guys who practiced what they preached. Timur played in an antifascist hardcore band and, on Sundays, he helped the Petersburg branch of Food Not Bombs hand out hot meals to homeless people. (We should recall that the homeless—or, as they’re known by the old Soviet police acronym, bomzhy—are also objects of hatred for young Nazis, along with non-Slavs and members of such youth subcultures as punks and rappers.)
When I asked him whether he’d been in fights with Nazis, Tigran answered in the affirmative. “What else can you do if they attack? Let yourself get beat up?”
“It was the Nazis themselves who turned us into antifascists,” the former Antifa.ru coworker continues. “We’re all members of one subculture or another, one group or another. These groups often encountered fascist violence; they often were victims of attacks. At some point you lose your self-respect unless you answer blow for blow. Especially when the police and the state mainly do almost nothing to stop the street-level fascist threat.”
“They sometimes sling the accusation at us young antifascists,” Tigran continues, “that the Nazis would have calmed down long ago were it not for us. They say we’re like an irritating red flag for them. According to the people who blame us, Nazi street violence would have tapered off were it not for us. It’s all exactly the other way around. For a long time there were no antifa. They finally emerged because Nazi violence was showing no signs of going away; on the contrary, it just kept on expanding. Besides, it’s also common knowledge that at first the Nazis attacked people with non-Slavic complexions and rank-and-file youth subculture kids who were weaker. The antifa showed up later in reaction, as a response on the part of alternative antifascist youth.”
“Look,” says Tigran, “when the fascists attack, their goal is to cripple or kill their victims: they use knives or even firearms. When they fight the fascists, the antifa, on the contrary, don’t make it their goal to physically eliminate them or inflict serious injuries. The fascists just need to understand that they aren’t here forever; they’re not immortal themselves. They need to experience in person what the value of a human life is, the value of every individual. Maybe if they get thumped a couple times by some regular guys, the small fry, the underage Nazis—the teenagers who shave their heads just because it’s cool, because they want to be feared—will figure out that there’s nothing that cool about being a fascist. Maybe a few of them will even quit.”
Tigran believes, however, that, since they’re a violent street movement, you can’t stop the Nazis as a whole by fighting them. That is just a holding action, the means the youth subcultures use to defend themselves against the Nazis. “If the authorities won’t put them in prison, the Nazi idiots will sense their own impunity and start doing God knows what. On their closed-access Internet chat sites they’ve long been discussing organizing terrorist strikes at markets and even in government buildings. But they haven’t decided yet whether to pin the blame on immigrants or take responsibility themselves.”
“How do you know this?” I ask Tigran.
“Our antifa hackers cracked these sites,” he replies. He claims that these same sites post instructions for the manufacture and use of homemade explosive devices, like the one that went off in his own stairwell.
“How are you doing overall after what’s happened?” I ask.
“I’m okay. Friends helped us fix the front door, they collected money. Now I need money for a good lawyer: I’ve got to drum that up. So I have plenty to do. It’s just that I always have this feeling that they’re about to blow up my front door.”
Isn’t Tigran afraid that unwelcome guests will descend on him again?
“They’ve already shown up—the night after the blast, when the front door was still hanging open. At four in the morning the intercom rang. The voice was young and rude: he said he was delivering a telegram. Then there was movement out on the stairs. Someone with his face hidden in a scarf and a hood dashed past our door, first on his way upstairs, and then again on his way down. Our cat got spooked and I looked through the peephole: ‘guests.’ I hollered at my sister to call the cops again and I dashed out into the stairwell myself, to try and chase them down. But you can’t run very fast in slippers: I didn’t catch them. And the police didn’t, either, although they did come running fairly quickly with their machine guns. Apparently they were staked out somewhere nearby.”
This whole phantasmagoria is really happening now, as Moscow prepares to greet the New Year. Personally, I’m finding it harder and harder to drive it from the threshold of my perception, to pretend that it’s all a matter of hot young blood, the desire to mix it up a bit, to rumble with the other gang. Knives have long ago become part of the game. And now it’s come to bombs.
It is completely obvious that the problem calls for intervention not only from the police, but also from politicians and educators. Is the officially sponsored Nashi (Our People) initiative, whose members have declared themselves a democratic antifascist movement, enough? Obviously not. Politicians who don’t want to farm the issue of antifascism out to the Kremlin and its political operatives should think hard about how to react meaningfully to the new alignment of forces.
Fascism and xenophobia aren’t simply the latest election campaign trump cards in the government’s stacked deck. They are social realities. Those who missed the point of the (November 4) Russian March shouldn’t miss the meaning of Nazi street terror. Apparently, though, our opposition politicians, who are chauffeured to the venues of the latest conference or joint demo with the nationalists (“moderate” nationalists, or so they imagine), don’t really notice what’s happening out on the streets. Nor do they notice that the Nazis have long been trying to run them.
The mass media quite often don’t pay attention to this fact, either. In the editorial offices of one respectable publication I was recently informed that a press release about the Sasha Riukhin murder case from “some Antifa.ru or other” wasn’t sufficient cause for them to react in print. “Especially since they’re definitely not registered,” the editor told me as he looked me sternly in the eye. I don’t know whether they’re registered or not. I do know that you don’t need to be registered to arm yourself with a knife or make a bomb. And the Nazis know this, too.
Vlad Tupikin frequently writes on anti-fascism, Russian anarchism and the anti-globalization movement in Russia.Post Views: 567
By Sean — 11 years ago
“No to Fascism in
Estonia!” reads a slogan at a Nashi picket in Ural city of . “No to Genocide against the Russian Population in Novosibirsk !,” another boldly proclaims. Hyperbole was hardly lacking at this small rally of the self-proclaimed “Young Democratic Anti-Fascist Movement Nashi” as several of its Estonia activists gathered around a statute of Lenin in the city’s central square. The activists hoped to whip up the fervor of local youths over Novosibirsk Estonia’s removal of the “Bronze Statue” from the center of on April 27. Tallinn was not the only local Nashi organization to mobilize against the Soviet WWII memorial’s relocation. Over the past two weeks, rallies and communiqu?s of opposition have hailed from Nashi chapters in Tula, Ivanovo, Vladimir, Kaluga, Penza, Volgograd, Krasnodar, Tver, Kostroma, Lipetsk, Voronezh, not to mention its main chapters in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The events in Novosibirsk , which Nashi calls the “Fascist Government of Estonia” in its propaganda, has made the issue the center piece of its activism, if not its present reason for being. Estonia
When looking at the Nashi website (which until recently appeared to be inaccessible to non-Russian IP addresses) one can’t help be reminded of the pages of the Young Communist League’s Komsomolskaya pravda. Editions from the 1920s and 1930s contained a daily section called “Around the League” that also featured the goings on of local cells. Often, like during the All-Union Cultural Campaign (kul’tpokhod) in 1928-29, they carried short reports about how local activists were rising to the challenge and zealously fulfilling the center’s directives. While there was some truth to these blurbs, the chorus always sang a bit too well in key.
Make no mistake. Nashi is the new Komsomol. But it is not the Komsomol of the 1970s and 1980s when the organization was merely a quasi-compulsory bureaucratic funnel into the Communist Party and other Soviet institutions. Currently, Nashi hardly has the numbers, let alone the political networks, to facilitate institutionalized upward mobility. Instead, Nashi better represents the Komsomol of the 1920s and 1930s—hardly a mass organization (At 2 million in 1928 the Komsomol only captured a fraction of Russian youth. Nashi even less so with an estimated membership of 300,000) but far more activist and militant. So militant that the League served as the spearhead for the Communist Party’s populist mobilizations in the Stalin Revolution. When the Bolsheviks called for “storming fortresses” it was a Komsomolets that often held the charging banner. Similarly, Nashi appears to be the spearhead of the Putin Administration efforts to stir nationalist populism among the masses.
Though it is one among many youth organizations in
, Nashi has become the most visible, not to mention the most funded and politically supported, youth movement in the country since its founding in March 2005. Separate from any political party in particular, (United Russia’s youth group is called Molodaia gvardiia. A name that also invokes Komsomolesque lineage), the attendance of several of Russia prominent politicians, including Putin, Kremlin chief ideologist Vladislav Surkov, and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, among others at its summer retreat in Tver and conferences makes formal connections superfluous. In a news conference last year, Surkov told reporters that “We have to try not to lead this too much. But of course we contact and support those who support us.” In fact, one might say that Nashi is none other than the Kremlin’s young guard. And while Nashi does not have the attention or influence among the majority of Russian youth, of all Russia youth groups they are the most recognizable. There is no doubt that their campaign against “Estonian fascism” will only boost their appeal among mainstream patriotic youth. Russia
The past two weeks have seen a ratcheting up of Nashi activity focused around the Bronze Statute incident. The most widely reported incident involves the week long “siege” of the Estonian Embassy by Nashi activists in
. The usual Nashi spectacles were all present: slogans, posters, activists in costume and the harassing of politicians. This time the victim was Estonian Ambassador Marina Kaljurand. Last Wednesday, Nashi activists attempted to prevent her from attending a press conference at the Argumenty i Fakty offices. A melee resulted with her bodyguards using mace to repel the would-be attackers. Eleven Nashi activists were reportedly detained by Moscow police. The “blockade” ended late last week when Nashi leader Vasilii Yakemenko announced that “We escorted the Ambassador all the way to the airport, watching out to prevent any possible provocations which could have been later blamed on us. Marina Kaljurand took the plane to Moscow and left. She got really scared, and she feels ashamed. And we will pack a suitcase and send her things to her, — Estonian sprats and cheese.” This was of course a few days after Yakemenko told RIA Novosti that Nashi’s “blockade” was actually protecting the Estonian embassy. “Had we not been standing outside the embassy drunk or aggressive members of the public would have smashed the building to pieces. By being here we are preventing things that could have been used to say that Russians are uncivilized,” Yakemenko said. Stockholm
Activities were not just centered on
. At a panel discussion about Russia-Estonian relations in St. Petersburg, Nashi activists heckled Lauri Bambus, the Estonian consul general, with questions about Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s remarks that the Soviet soldiers buried near the Bronze Statue were “drunk and run over by their own tank,” or “shot down for looting,” or were “deceased patients from a nearby hospital.” As Bambus left the panel, Nashi activists chanted anti-Estonian slogans and held placards that read, “Wanted: a consul of a fascist state.” In addition, Nashi activists have also blocked highways at the Estonia border and called for economic boycotts of Estonian goods. There are even allegations that their hackers attacked Estonian government computer networks. Moscow
Several news organizations have decried Nashi’s tactics. The Moscow Times called the attempted assault on Kaljurand a “radical departure from the group’s origins” of defending
’s sovereignty. Their tactics were now wholly offensive. Moscow Human Rights activist Alexandr Bord told Moskovskii Komsomolets that “Nashi is much more dangerous that skinheads and nationalists.” Writing in Novaya gazeta, Andrei Ryabov argued that there was no doubt that Nashi’s activities are intimately tied to the Kremlin’s policies. So much so that “if Nashi and the rest receive different orders tomorrow, or if their funding is cut, the wave of turbulent protests by “Russian society” would quickly evaporate.” Russia
Therefore the question is who is control of Nashi. There is some speculation that the Kremlin is trying to bring Nashi to heel after the embassy fiasco. In an interview with Moskovskii Komsomolets, Vasili Yakemenko admitted that Nashi “made certain mistakes” adding “and we have apologized for them.” When pressed as to what those mistakes were, he said,
I don’t think we should have obstructed Marina Kaliurand’s car, not even for 15 minutes. That happened on the first day of the picket, when the crowd outside the embassy included a few dozen people who had nothing to do with the Nashi movement. I intervened in that situation, and the car was allowed to proceed on its way. Second point: what happened to the Swedish ambassador’s car. That was unacceptable, and we have sent our apologies to the ambassador. Third: we shouldn’t have torn down the flag from the Estonian Embassy. I released an official statement from the Nashi movement, expressing deep regret about this and saying that we don’t approve or support the behavior of the activist who tore down the flag. He will certainly be punished. He might even be expelled from the movement. In other words, in each of the abovementioned situations, I considered such actions unacceptable.
Nikolai Chaplin, the Komsomol General Secretary for most of the 1920s, couldn’t have said it better. When the Komsomol unleashed its rank and file on Soviet society, activists more often than not went beyond the prescriptions of their leaders. Local activists translated “cultural campaigns” into beating up and terrorizing citizens, ransacking churches and mosques, and expropriating property. While Nashi’s leash is nowhere near as long and wrath nowhere near as violent, one wonders if the Kremlin’s two pincer strategy (that is authoritarian from above and populist from below) will one day get the better of them. Controlling power from above is easy. Letting loose young rank and file activists from below always produces excess. As the Nashi’s recent excesses show, sometimes the tail can threaten to wag the dog, if not urge the dog to chase its tail.Tags: Komsomol|Nashi|Putin|Russia|Estonia|Bronze Statue|WWII|Soviet Union|youth politics|nationalismPost Views: 578
By Sean — 9 years ago
It looks like Nashi might have crossed a line in their campaign against Alexander Podrabinek. According to Vremya, the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation made an official appeal calling for an investigation of Nashi’s “illegal and amoral” campaign to hunt down the journalist. The appeal reads:
The campaign to hunt the [Podrabinek] clearly violates existing legislation and demonstrates obvious signs of extremism: fomentation of discord and the violation of a citizen’s human rights and freedoms. There presently are signs of the violation of articles 23 and 25 of the Russian Constitution (the inviolability of private life and residence.) The violation of article 24 which prohibits the use and distribution of information about the private life of an individual without his sanction: it is unlikely that A. Podrabinek gave his address to anyone for the organization to picket his home. Finally, and this is the most important, is article 29 which guarantees everyone the freedom of thought and speech and prohibits the use of force against the expression of those thoughts, opinions, or in their rejection.
Ouch! The Council wasn’t the first to note Nashi’s violation of the law. On 2 October, Vedomosti denounced Nashi’s campaign, noting that lawyers agreed that the organization violated the law. But the business daily merely cited that their protests outside Podrabinek’s apartment violated the civil code because Nashi didn’t get permission from the city to hold daily pickets. I wonder if after hearing these charges Nashi will add the Council and Vedomosti to its lawsuit against Ekho Moskvy. The youth organization is demanding 500,000 rubles in damages from the radio station for its accusations that Nashi is hunting Podrabinek. But they are. Aren’t they? How else to you interpret Nikita Borovikov threat that if Prodrabinek doesn’t apologize then Nashi will “force” him to leave the country?
And all of this after Nashi received adulation from its godfather in the Kremlin, Vladislav Surkov! Didn’t the Council not get the memo? Nashi is responsible for the political freedoms that every Russian now enjoys. Surkov told a group of Nashists in late September, “I am free and therefore I am for Putin and Medvedev. I am free and therefore I am “Ours” (Nash) and not an alien (chuzhoi)–this is my choice.” He then continued: “You are the leading fighting brigade of our political system. I as before believe that your prevalence on the street is also our essential advantage. We have it thanks you and all those who brilliantly know how to conduct mass rallies.”
With an endorsement like that, I’m sure the Council’s appeal will fall on deaf ears. Investigate Nashi. Yeah right.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any sillier.
Photo: KommersantPost Views: 690