The election circus in Sochi has some new developments.
The alleged polonium murderer Andrei Lugovoi won’t be running. The LDPR announced that it will go with a different candidate. According to the NY Times, the reason for the move is because Lugovoi “would have been at a disadvantage because he was not from the Sochi region, though it also seemed that his candidacy would have been awkward for the government.” I guess that awkwardness doesn’t extend to having him in the Duma. Oh well . . .
But the big news concerns this week’s piss ammonia chloride attack on “Kremlin critic” Boris Nemtsov. As I said in a post on the incident, Nemtsov immediately charged Nashi with the assault. Nashi has not only emphatically denied the charge, they have also decided sue Nemtsov for court for the “slander.” “The “Nashi” Movement is scandalized by the accusation,” reads a Nashi press release, “and demands from Nemtsov a public apology and compensation for damage to out honor and business reputation in the amount of 1 million rubles.”
This isn’t the first time Nashi has been involved in a lawsuit over “honor.” Last February, “Kremlin critic” and Western media darling Garry Kasparov sued Nashi for insulting his “honor.” Nashi won. Kasparov remains dishonored.
Was the attack really carried out by Nashi? Like I said, the incident corresponds with their MO though splashing chemicals on their enemies is a new tactic. There is speculation that the she-male who distracted Nemtsov was in fact a Nashi activist from Ryazan named Konstantin Markov. According to Novaya gazeta, Sergei Ezhov, a Natsbol from Ryazan, recognized Markov despite his feminine disguise. Novaya presented a photo of the attacker alongside a pic of Markov for comparison.
The two figures do look similar. Both have the same square jaw and triangular nose. But so do many Russian men, and particularly the ultra-Slavic specimens Nashi seems to attract. Unfortunately, the key evidence, Markov’s bulging Adam’s apple, is hidden in the attacker’s photo. Where’s Scooby and the gang when you really need them.
Sometimes you gotta love the idiocy of Russian politics.
Photos: Novaya gazeta
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- By Sean — 8 years ago
I have little love for Russian liberals. Readers of this blog probably know that well. Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov in particular, as one can sense from my take down of their 2008 anti-Putin screed for the now defunct and sorely missed The eXile. I even giggled when Nashi threw piss in Nemtsov’s face.
The dynamic duo is back with a new Putin obsessed treatise, elegantly entitled Putin. The Results. Ten Years. So much for creativity. It is sure to get more media attention than it deserves. I have yet to read it, and probably won’t. I’m sure my eXile piece applies just as well to this one. According to reports in the Russian media, the text evaluates Putin’s decade long run and the tandem’s two year performance. Vedomosti writes that Nemtsov characterized the text this way on his blog:
In Russian society there are persistent myths imposed by official propaganda. There are many: the myth that Putin pacified the Caucuses and defeated terrorism, the myth about the increased birth and decreased mortality rates, the myth that he defeated the oligarchs and successfully solved the social problems of society. In our report all of these false claims are debunked with figures and facts from available sources.
Boring. Somehow I can’t help thinking that I’ve heard this song before. But, hey, I’ll let you be the judge. A million copies have been printed up and shipped off to Moscow and Petersburg.
Well, make that 900,000 copies. The Russian news is reporting that police seized a shipment of 100,000 copies in a traffic stop in St. Petersburg, for, get this “irregularities in the documentation for cargo.” Reports Gazeta, citing the police:
A truck with the MAN make with Smolensk plates was stopped by traffic police at 9:30 am on Shpalernaya Street (a Yabloko branch office is located there). The cop issued a ticket for the violation of the article 16.12 of the Administrative Code (the violation of traffic signals or road markings): Heavy vehicles are prohibited from entering the center of St. Petersburg without the proper permits,” the police department stated. “When the inspector went to check the load, it became clear that the invoice on the copies stated a Smolensk printing press, while the publishers imprint on the actual books was a the Moscow press. The goods will be temporarily detained and checked.
Not sure why the discrepancy between the invoice and the copies matters. Nevertheless, it was enough for the cops to pinch it. I can see tomorrow’s headlines: “Putin Impounds Critics.” Yep, because no one gets pulled over for traffic violations in Russia. Or harassed for not have the million stamps and forms needed to do anything. And, well, opportunists always have their shit together because they are, like, honest and principled just like us in America. One would think they would have their papers in order considering the big target Russian liberals have on their back. They do, after all, live in Russia. Despite how silly all of this sounds, we should score one for Nemstov and Milov. The cops just gave them the best advertising in town: claims of repression.
It’s funny how things become clearer in just a few hours. Now Gazeta.ru is reporting that the cops have finished their check of the 100,000 copies of Putin. The Results. Ten Years and dutifully shipped them off to the MVD’s Center “E” for inspection. For those who don’t know, Center “E” is the outfit devoted to combating “extremism.” Nemtsov and Milov may be a lot of things, but being extremists is definitely not one of them.
This means that my above cynicism is now dashed, making me actually think that something is indeed rotten in St. Petersburg. I hate it when the Russian authorities’ sheer idiocy and paranoia make me sympathize with the liberals. I just hate it.
And if you need more proof that this seizure is convenient, not to mention downright suspicious, check this out: It comes a mere day before the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Over the next few days, Medvedev is set to hobnob with businessmen from around the world to ensure them that Russia is worth their bucks. Apparently the chance that one of Nemtsov and Milov’s pamphlets falls into an unsuspecting businessman’s hands and they learn there’s mass corruption (shock!) in Russia is just too risky. As Dr. Smith used to say in Lost in Space, “Oh the pain. The pain.”
This whole incident also proves that Nemtsov can be right every once in a while. “In his opinion,” says Gazeta, “now the report will be read by more than a million people.” All too true. Score: Team Solidarity 2 : 0 Putin.
- By Sean — 9 years ago
If history is any indication, a gerontocracy can kill a political system. The Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc states suffered from it. It currently plagues China. And the recent protests in Iran certainly point to some kind of generational conflict is coming to a boil. The failure to ensure the mobility of young people into a government’s power structures only brews disillusionment, frustration, and anger among the next generation.
Soviet Russia understood this well, that is until the bureaucracy ousted Khrushchev and entrenched itself to the point the system went into suspension. Before the 1960s, Soviet Russia was an archetype of social mobility. Youth–through institutions like the Komsomol–were the “helper” and “reserve” of the Party. Part of Stalin’s “New Soviet Person” was not just about promoting peasants and workers into positions of power. Youth also greatly benefited by Stalin’s efforts to rip Russia out of its historical backwardness. And if industrialization didn’t shoot a young person to new career heights, then terror cleared the decks of “old Bolsheviks.” One recipient of this was Khrushchev himself. As one of the Stalin’s “new men,” the wobbly, gregarious Nikita went from a lowly miner to running the whole shebang. It is no wonder that his biographer William Taubman called his rise “meteoric.”
Dmitri Medvedev also seems to understand the importance of youth social mobility, if his recent courting of young people into Russian politics serves as any indication. Last week, the age for holding public office was reduced to 18 years old. “I propose to establish, in all regions of the Russian Federation, a single age for election to representative bodies of municipal government and municipal entities,” Dmitri Medvedev said in his opening remarks to the State Council on Youth Affairs. “I think that any citizen who has reached the age of 18 should have the right to be elected in his/her municipal organ”. As Nezavisimaya gazeta put it, Medvedev has decided “to create an additional electoral group for future presidential elections.” And a significant electoral group they are. Young people between 14-30 make up roughly 27 percent of the Russian population. To make them even more important, they are currently in a volatile situation. The often touted “Putin Generation” has been hit hardest by unemployment. The unemployment rate for young people under 25 is 27 percent. And if anyone has seen the mockumentary Russia 88, you will know that it is unemployment that can fuel a youth’s turn toward fascism. Youth, then, are the perfect resource to tap, and the President hopes to give them the sense that their bright future resides in their new patron: himself.
Medvedev’s move comes only a few weeks after the yearly youth summer camp at Seliger. Usually reserved for Nashi, this year’s camp was opened to an assortment of approved youth groups and organizations involved in anything from politics to art. Seliger under the Committee of Youth Affairs had less of a militant flavor than the past ones under Nashi. Nashi still loomed large aesthetically, but the tone was one the whole different. As Russia Profile‘s Roland Oliphant explained,
Traditional elements from previous camps did, indeed, remain. There were red-and-white Nashi flags and clothes, visits from government ministers and a live video link with President Dmitry Medvedev. Campers were woken at eight o’clock every morning by the Russian national anthem blasted from speakers mounted in the trees. Many of the delegates were from Nashi, or were former members. Robert Schlegel, a former Nashi leader and now the youngest deputy in the State Duma (for United Russia), hosted the video link with Medvedev.
But there was no paramilitary training to combat colored revolutions, nor any “love oasis” in which couples could get to work raising the birthrate. And despite the conflation of love of nation with love of Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (whose portraits were displayed side-by-side at strategic points around the camp) the rhetoric was more patriotic than partisan, with great emphasis placed on national unity and “tolerance,” which was one of the camp’s many buzz words.
With a $2.2 million budget, Seliger signifies the move to court young people into politics, harness their creative spirit, and bring them together under one banner for the future. Principle among the many camp events was a stress on education and experience. One such example was the “living art” project Future Ville. According to Oliphant:
Participants labored from dawn till dusk every day to erect a model city. The buildings – factories, a grocery store, even a registry office – were built of wood by various teams. But they also printed money (with which they had to pay for building materials), built a bureaucracy, agreed laws and held elections. Opposition newspapers appeared accusing the “mayor” of failing to fight inflation, corruption and authoritarianism. Rival candidates posted fliers pleading for votes at tomorrow afternoon’s election.
With the Russian government taking a much more active role in youth, what then will become of groups like Nashi? If Medvedev seriously pushes his youth agenda, I can foresee Nashi becoming more attractive for politically career minded youth. Plus, Nashi still holds a special place in facilitating upwardly mobile young people into Russian politics. After all, the Youth Affairs Committee is run by Vasili Yakemenko, the founder and first secretary of Nashi. The infamous Robert Schlegel serves as a shining example for young people as a former Nashist who is now the youngest Duma member.
Medvedev also seems to be looking at Nashi (or unaligned youth who still represent the national spirit) to fill government positions. According to the Moscow Times, he might tap Olympic gold medal winning gymnast Svetlana Khorkina and Nashi activist Marina Zademidkova to serve in the government, possible as governors. But Nashi isn’t the only source. Medevev has already appointed Andrei Turchak, 33, to head Pskov province and former oppositionist Nikita Belykh, 34, to run Kirov. Moreover, all of the President’s “Golden 100” are entirely under the age of 50, with none having any experience in Russia’s security organs.
This is the “Year of Youth,” and it seems Medvedev is using the occasion to create his own base of support, a future young cohort of civiliki. The only questions is whether Russia’s youth will answer Dima’s call.
- By Sean — 12 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.