The opening paragraph of Kommersant‘s article on Stanislav Markelov’s funeral reads:
Ostankinskoe cemetery where the jurist Stanislav Markelov was to be buried was heavily guarded. OMON, police buses, and patrol cars. They asked mourners to show the contents of their bags and required them to show documents. There were whispers in the crowd that police feared a terrorist attack. They expected high state officials to be among the double murders’ mourners. But government officials didn’t come (However, there were public politicians from both government and opposition). It’s notable that representatives of the Russian government also didn’t give any condolences. But yesterday Viktor Yushchenko send at telegram to his countrywoman. (The journalist Anna Baburova, who was shot after the lawyer, is a native of Ukraine.)
Not a consolatory peep from the Russian government? Then what were all those Robocops supposed to represent?
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By Sean — 12 years ago
I haven’t had time to write anything about OMON’s and ultranationalists’ bipartite attack on Moscow’s gay pride parade on May 27. Moscow Mayor Iurii Luzhkov banned the parade, a decision that was upheld by a Moscow district court on May 26. Luzhkov’s justification, like many politicians throughout the world, was an appeal to democracy as a mean to discriminate: the “majority” doesn’t support such parades. Here is what he said in an interview on Russkoe radio: “If any one has any deviations from normal principles in organizing one’s sexual life, those deviations should not be exhibited for all to see and those who may turn out unsteady should not be invited to do so. …. I thank the citizens of Moscow as 99.9% of them in recent days also believe it is unacceptable to hold such parades.”
However, the parade, which activists organized to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality, went on anyway. Marchers around Red Square were met by anti-gay protesters numbering about 200-300 people and comprised of Russian Orthodox worshipers and nationalist youth. According to eyewitnesses many in the crowd chanted “down with the pederasts” and “death to sodomites.” Religious leaders in Russia have made homosexuality an issue to rally their flock. According to a RFE/RL article, The Orthodox Patriarch in Moscow called homosexuality a “glorification of sin”, the chief rabbi, Berel Lazar warned of “homosexual propaganda” and the head Muslim cleric, Talgat Tadzhuddin, called on worshipers to “bash” gay marchers. It is nice to see three of the world’s largest religions are able to unite around something. Not to mention their condemnations coming in congruence with violent ultranationalist youths. It didn’t take much for violence to erupt with this mix of “tolerance” present. A Human Rights Watch briefing paper gave this account of events:
At [2:30] on May 27, in heavy rain, the first cluster of participants—including festival leaders Nikolai Alexeyev and Nikolai Baev, Eduard Murzin (a member of the regional Duma of Bashkortostan in central Russia and a supporter of LGBT rights), and several other Russians, along with Merlin Holland and the British activist Peter Tatchell, all holding flowers—approached the gate to the tomb in Alexander Gardens. They were met by a crowd of 200-300 protesters—including both younger and older Orthodox and nationalist counter-protestors, and contingents of elderly women carrying crosses and icons. Police made no attempt to intervene until the two groups met.
Alexeyev told Human Rights Watch:
“I saw a huge group of people gathered there, shouting “death to sodomites,” “out of Russia,” “we will not allow you to put things here, our grandfathers died fighting against people like you.” I said, “My grandfather died fighting against your kind.” I said to myself, I will not stop—I will go on. But the gate was closed. Then the police suddenly appeared out of nowhere. They began pushing all of us back from the gate. Then someone, several officers, seized me from behind and started to shove me from the square and through the crowd. They pushed me very violently through the square and put me in the [police] bus.”
While Alexeyev was detained, Holland was kicked by the protesters, and others were punched. Many protesters threw rocks, bottles, and eggs.
The few lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender participants and their supporters withdrew from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in confusion. The anti-gay demonstrators moved back to the northern end of nearby Manezh Square, beside the gardens. From there, however, some of the men from the anti-gay protest kept charging back in groups toward the tomb, pelting bystanders with bottles and eggs. Regular police and riot police, or OMON (Otriad Militsii Osobogo Naznacheniy), countered, driving the anti-gay protesters across the broad boulevard, Mokhovaia Street, to its intersection with Tverskaia Street. From there, the violent anti-gay demonstrators began throwing flares at the police. Police responded by arresting between 25-50 of them, lining them against a wall, and then hauling them aggressively to police buses parked nearby.
However, the vast majority of the anti-gay demonstrators who had been engaged in violence remained at large. They continued to throw eggs and stones at passers-by whom they suspected of being gay or supporters of the cancelled parade. With little or no interference from police, they moved in groups up Tverskaya Street toward City Hall, the site of the second part of the planned activities.
When the LGBT activists and their supporters arrived at the City Hall, they were greeted by another crowd of anti-gay protesters. Standing on top of the steps of the Iurii Dolgurukii statute, located across the street from City Hall, Liberal Democratic Party member and Duma representative Nikolai Kurianovich spoke to the crowd. According to the HRW report, “He warned that Russia would become like “putrid America and dying Europe” if it permitted the “gay mafia” to triumph, and led the crowd in chanting “Gays and lesbians to Kolyma”—the Stalin-era prison camp.”
The violence then continued with OMON arresting gay activists and anti-gay protesters and small roaming bands of skinheads harassing and beating suspected gays as the crowd dispersed. Russia has since received international condemnation for its ambivalence to the homophobic attacks and well as outcry from gay groups from around the world.
The events in Moscow are hardly anything particular to Russia but part of a global trend against homosexuals. Russia belongs to a list of states that include the United States, Iran, Kazakhstan, Eastern Europe etc, etc in anti-gay violence, policies and law. There is no irony in the fact that at a time when there is violence in Moscow and suspicion of an anti-gay campaign in Iran, that President Bush is urging the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the United States. Yes, freedom is indeed on the march.
Those who want consistent coverage of gay politics on a global perspective, I highly recommend Doug Ireland’s blog, Direland.Post Views: 109
By Sean — 10 years ago
Maybe it’s some kind of gangster code. All gangsters, of whatever stripes, stick together.
Russia and China took a steaming dump on the Zimbabwean opposition and much of the world by vetoing a UN Security Council Resolution that would place sanctions on Robert Mugabe and 13 members of his gang. Nine countries backed the proposal, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Italy and Panama. Five opposed it: Russia, China, South Africa, and Vietnam. China and Russia carry the big veto stick.
The sanctions would have imposed a travel ban and frozen Mugabe and his thug’s assets.
In recent weeks, Mugabe has unleashed a chistka on the opposition throughout Zimbabwe. The latest report is that 133 supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change have been killed in political violence. Reports the AFP,
Among the most recent victims was a polling agent, Gift Mutsvungunu, whose body was found in a suburb of Harare on Thursday after he was reported missing last week, the MDC said in a statement.
“His body shows signs of intense torture, his eyes were gouged out and his backside suffered serious burns before his abductors killed him,” it added.
“There is reasonable suspicion that state security agents killed him, as his injuries are consistent with those of other deceased persons who were abducted and later killed by state security agents.”
Alas, the Russians couldn’t do the right thing. It seemed that Russia was on board two days ago. The Financial Times reported,
Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe last night faced a growing likelihood of global sanctions after world leaders, including Russia, backed international action to resolve the crisis provoked by June’s flawed elections.
It seems that the G8 leaders figured that Medvedev was making an about face by signing his name to a statement calling for action against Mugabe. Nope. That was a press opportunity. Going along with the crowd. Plus Russia’s vote is a good middle finger to Britain and America.
I guess Russia is thinking, why they should do the Anglos any favors? US wants missiles in the Czech Republic. The US is already talking to Poland about missiles. Now they want Russia to play a long. Not gonna happen.
It’s no surprise that many neighboring African leaders want the UN to stay out. Seven of them said as much at the G8. “Robert Mugabe may retire in a few years time,” was their view. I also get why the Africans don’t want interfere simply on principle. It has never brought them any good.
Still, I can’t help but also speculate that Russia, China, the Africans, and Vietnamese don’t want to set any precedents. The last thing they want is for the UN get in the business of poking its nose in a state’s right to use terror. After all, you never know when it might come in handy.
Then again, its also not that simple. And of course you have to wonder what sanctions will do anyway. Okay so Mugabe and his people can’t leave Zimbabwe and their asserts are frozen. And that’s going to do what exactly? It’s really just a gesture when you think of it.
However, it’s not like the Russians are providing much in way of a solution. Russian senior G8 negotiator Alexander Pankin told the press, “Threatening sanctions is not the best way to settle the issue. We believe there should be negotiations between the parties involved with the participation of African leaders.” Well that is nice. The opposition shows up to the negotiations and gets slaughtered. That sounds just as idealistic as thinking sanctions will make a difference.
But at least sanctions are something. Sometimes such gestures are important. It also sounds like these are precise. If they were general sanctions on the country as a whole, a la Cuba, Iraq, or North Korea, then forget it. There is no reason why the Zimbabweans have to suffer more than they already do.
Plus, hitting Mugabe in his pocketbook might at least annoy him. Or even better get him in trouble with his young wife. As seven million Zimbabweans starve, Mugabe’s beloved Grace bounces around Europe buying $50,000 diamond encrusted Rolexes and staying in $20,000 a night, 33 room hotel suites. She zips around in Hef’s old jet. She’s known in Zimbabwe as the First Shopper. I hope that travel ban also included her. Cutting off her access to Ferragamo shoes, which can run in the few thousand a pair, might be the best way to send a message to Mugabe. “I have very narrow feet, so I wear only Ferragamo,” she says.
Shame on Russia.Post Views: 110
By Sean — 8 years ago
One year ago, an assassin in a ski masked shot anti-fascist lawyer Stanislav Markelov in the back in the head near Kropotkinskaya metro. The killer then shot Novaya gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova as she went after him. She died in a hospital shortly thereafter. Both were well known antifascists. The memory of these two figures, however, not only reminds us of the plight of human rights activists and journalists in Russia, but also the specter of Russian fascist violence.