I don’t even know what to make of this. Nashi announced on its website that the Iraqi Electoral Commission has recognized it as election monitor. That’s right Nashi. As the “only Russian organization” granted such a role, Nashists will join the 800 international observers there to oversee Saturday’s vote. Nashi’s self-designated task will be to make sure Iraq is as democratic as the US says it is. Says Konstantin Goloskokov, who will lead the Nashi delegation,
“The elections in Iraq are a test of real democracy. We have serious reasons to doubt that America has built a democratic state in Iraq in the last six months. It is important to verify this with one’s own eyes whether Iraq has passed this test of democratization.”
Nashi is well versed in the intricacies of “managed democracy” so I can’t imagine that their standards will be too high.
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By Sean — 11 years ago
Nashi’s actions during the “Bronze Soldier” fiasco has without a doubt increased its political statue in
. As a result Western media is beginning to take more notice. For example, take this week’s edition of Newsweek International where one of their main articles is a feature on Nashi titled “Putin’s Powerful Youth Guard.” Russia
The article paints an ominous picture of Nashi where its members are “highly disciplined and lavishly sponsored” and “a bona fide private army fanatically loyal to one man, the president.” There are passing comparisons to the Komsomol and the Hitler Youth. To their credit, the article’s authors claim that the latter is an “overstatement” because while Nashi may be “fanatically loyal to Putin” they are really only a “sinister parody of democracy movements in
and elsewhere.” I assume that their “sinister parady of democracy” lies in Nashi’s propensity to through the word “fascist” around without regard. Sadly, it seems to work too well. As Boris Kagarlitsky notes, “the Russian political establishment has made the issue of the fascist threat its best-seller. Politicians and the mass media show far more interest in the notorious fascist threat than in the real fascist organizations operating in the country.” Ukraine
Newsweek’s characterization of Nashi is for suresteeped in hyperbole. This is to be expected. Most articles about
Russiain the Western media tend to place it on a narratological pendulum that somehow always swings a bit too far toward “totalitarianism.” Plus, anytime youth organizations are reduced to mere “disciplined” and “fanatical” puppets of the regime, I can’t help but cast a critical eye. Sure the Kremlin may want “to win—or control—the hearts and minds of ‘s youth” but actually doing it is always a more complex and difficult task. If one wants to compare Nashi with the Komsomol, which I have, then one should not also swallow the organization’s own image of themselves. The Potemkin village shouldn’t be taken for the actual village. Russia
Still, Nashi bills itself as the counter revolutionary shock force against the specter of colored revolutions. This, according to Sergei Markov, who helped establish Nashi in 2004, is its original purpose. “The crucial role that young people played in those revolutions made us realize that something should be done. The plan was simple,” he explained to Newsweek. “We launched Nashi in towns close to
Moscowso that activists could arrive overnight on Red Square, if needed. The idea was to create an ideology based on a total devotion to the president and his course.”
Creating an ideology is not all. Nashi and other pro-Kremlin youth groups also engage in paramilitary training (this was the case with the Komsomol too).
The paramilitary flavor is unmistakable. Every summer, Nashi runs recruiting camps all across
. New members watch propaganda films and receive basic military-style training, says Nashi boss Vasily Yakemenko. They are lectured by top bureaucrats and politicians, including Deputy Defense Minister Yury Baluyevsky and the thuggish Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov—honored as a “Young Politician of the Year” at last year’s Nashi congress. Activists who sign up a hundred new members qualify for promotion to commissar, so long as they pass a grueling three-day series of paramilitary assault courses and physical tests. “We had to demonstrate physical strength, endurance and team leadership,” recalls Leonid Kurza, 23, the leader of the Russia chapter of Nashi, inducted last winter. Nashi also runs volunteer police troops, who wear black uniforms and, according to the movement’s press service, “help police to patrol streets—and if necessary beat hooligans.” St. Petersburg oblast got yet another taste of such pledges. In a counter-demonstration to the March of Dissenters in Samara, over a 1000 members of the pro-Kremlin group Mestnye gathered to show their solidarity with the Kremlin. “When the county calls on us, Mestnye leader Alexander Kazakov told the crowd. “We will be in the center of On Saturday, Moscow in an hour and we will not allow a single dissenting bastard assemble here! We will drive them out of the city!” Moscow
Somehow police felt that they didn’t need to protect the public from these rabble rousers . . .Post Views: 183
By Sean — 11 years ago
Agents from the Adygei Department of the Russian Interior Ministry (MVD) announced yesterday that they have detained Viktor Milkov, 23, a student at the Adygei Technological University, as the source of execution video “An Execution of a Tadjik and Dagestani”. Milkov is a member of the National Socialist Party of Russia, and according to police, has been disseminating Nazi propaganda via the Internet for two years. Milkov, who goes by the handle vik23 on Russian Live Journal, has been identified as providing the first link to the video which has been the topic of heated discussion in the Live Journal community. Who created the video and committed the executions is still unknown but the group claiming responsibility of the act, the National Socialist Party of Rus has claimed to be a militant wing of the National Socialist Society. The latter group is known for participating in the “Russians March” and attacks on gay pride parades. It has denied any link to Milkov or the National Socialist Party of Rus. An MVD spokesman said that Mikov will be charged under Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, “Incitement of National, Racial, or Religious Enmity” i.e. the extremist law. Conviction carries a sentence up to five years imprisonment.
The authenticity of the video and what it signifies has been a much debated topic in the Russian blogosphere and media. Among Russian authorities, the video has engendered questions about whether the internet requires regulation. The Russian state newspaper, Rossiiskaya gazeta assured readers that the MVD would eventually identify the makers of the video with the help of international law enforcement agencies from several states, including the United States. International agreements for the regulation of the internet were made during the last G-8 meeting for “cooperation in the control of the internet,” the paper said. But for Russia, immediate regulation is premature. Despite the much discussed and cited “extremist law,” “the internet is not recognized as mass media and the majority of laws that relate to it don’t apply.” Under the auspices of anti-terrorism, the Russia MVD has been urging the creation of laws to “directly prohibit the posting of similar sites” to those deemed extremist.
There has been increased activity among Russian fascist, ultranationalist, and skinhead groups in the last few years. For example, in May, Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights reported that his organization tallied more than 70,000 skinheads in Russia, up from 50,000 two years before. “Nowadays, they could be found in each regional center, they are emerging even in small towns and villages. In big cities, the attacks happen nearly each day and murders [are committed] weekly. It shows the activity of skinheads has grown and the essence of their offense has become more aggressive and criminal,” Brod was quoted in Kommersant. The SOVA Center reported that 37 people have been killed in racially motivated attacks, a 22 percent increase from last year. In an article on the execution video, Novaya gazeta noted that its brutality points to a possible “sharp radicalization of Russian Nazis.” “It’s one thing when several people attack a immigrant worker. This requires no courage. But to commit murder in cold blood in front of a camera–this is something completely different. Real psychos are needed for such a display of murder,” a Moscow antifa activist familiar with fascist youth groups told the paper.
The video’s appearance, some might say, is a strange coincidence. Monday night’s bombing of the Neva Express, which injured 27 people, is now suspected to be the work of ultranationalists. A source close to the investigation told Interfax, that “the top lead” pointed to “representatives of extremist nationalist organizations were involved in this terrorist act”. The Moscow Times reports that investigators questioned members of Novgorod branch of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration. Police surmise a possible ultranationalist link because the bomb resembles one used to blow up the Grozny-Moscow train in 2005.
Whether there is a direct link between the execution video and the train bombing is impossible to say. The two incidents could be individual and uncoordinated acts that are part of a general escalation in ultranationalist activity. If anything, they two incidents raise questions about the strength and threat such groups pose to the Russian social order. Many have lambasted the Kremlin’s heavy response to liberal and opposition forces, citing that the extremist law was illegal applied to them. The recent case against Yabloko in Krasnodar is just one example. As is the Kremlin’s banning of the left wing National Bolshevik Party and cracking down on other radical leftist groups. But it appears that the real threat is coming from the far right. Yet despite this increase, few are asking where this spike in racial violence is coming from beyond blanket statements about some kind of inherent or culturally rooted racism. Couldn’t the roots also lie in the social-economic structure of Putinism itself? Could Putin’s success–stabilization, prosperity, and a strengthening of the Russian state–also be generating expectations from the young, male, Russian population who’ve received little benefit from Russia’s economic boom, but feel that they deserve to? Like most societies that experience increases in racial and ethnic strife, the disenfranchised majority tends to see its marginalization as the result of the Other’s benefit.
Granted, state rhetoric has stepped up of late against ultranationalism, and it seems that there are more and more cases where the extremist law is applied to Russian fascists. However, human rights activists continue to point to the Kremlin’s reluctance to crack down as hard on the right as it does the left. One wonders if last week’s verdict in a St. Petersburg court sentencing a 14 year old to 12 years in prison for the murder of an anti-racist activist is part of a change of course. In response to the verdict, Aleksandr Brod said, “On the whole, it’s a fair verdict. Judges are progressively awakening to the danger of growing fascist tendencies in Russia. In our view, a tough response from prosecutors and judges is one of the best ways to fight xenophobia and neofascism.” One can only hope that he’s right.Post Views: 547
By Sean — 7 years ago
When the show approached me (as a result of Kevin’s recommendation) I was wary of being on the boob tube. Having my mug plastered across the airwaves has never been a desire, and having to speak off the cuff is always intimidating. But I acquiesced when they offered to have me on via Skype. Plus the fact that Kevin was in studio was certainly an incentive since he has my mad respect.
Still I was a bit uneasy and became more so when I saw the Stream’s post about the upcoming show: “Russia’s Seliger 2011: Fueling Fascism?” I have no problem with the wanton use of the F-word, unless it ends with -ism. I was so worried that I would be asked “Is Nashi fascist?” that I did a quick review of Robert Paxton’s essay, “The Five Stages of Fascism” to make sure my conceptual Ps and Qs were straight to explain my reply of an emphatic “No.” Thankfully, the question never came. And when the issue of Nashi and nationalism came up, Kevin handled it superbly.
All in all, I though it was quite a good show. The questions were good and there was space for adding complexity. It was definitely a pleasure to participate, and I would do it again if asked.
For those who didn’t catch the broadcast here are the show in two segments:Post Views: 152