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By Sean — 10 years ago
The pawns are moving into place. Kommersant reports that Nashi’s “muscle”, the Voluntary Youth Militia (Dobrovol’naia molodezhnaia druzhina, DMD) has offered its “help” to the Moscow police in maintaining order during the parliamentary elections in December. According to DMD’s leader Oleg Lobkov, Nashi “is worried that extremist organizations such as Red Youth Vanguard, the National Bolsheviks, and their pro-fascist allies will mobilize on the eve of the elections.” “It is our civic duty to resist these organizations and help the police,” adding, “We will work with the police and district militia officers. It is now a difficult time and it will become more difficult, and they have few people.”
With that purpose in mind, Kommersant says, Lobkov met with Viacheslav Kozlov, the deputy head of the Moscow Main Department of Internal Affairs (GUVD) to offer DMD’s support. Kozlov is famous for leading detachments of OMONtsy against a Dissenters’ March protests in Moscow. Nashi’s integration into Moscow security forces, Kommersant explains, will occur thus: Nashi members will first join the DMD, who will then be placed under UVD detachments. Under Russian law, the activists can involve themselves in public conflicts granted that they are deputized as members of the Moscow “people’s militia”. The law allows for “citizens to demand public order” and “use physical force” to ensure it.
We first heard of DMD as Nashi’s internal security from Kommersant’s interview with “Ivan,” an expelled Nashi member who pointed to DMD’s role in maintaining order in Nashi’s Camp Seliger. About DMD, “Ivan” said:
[The]Voluntary youth guard, well [are] a type of cleaners. There have already been cases when they’ve beaten people who have spread information against Nashi. They can probably catch you anywhere. They are football fanatics, athletes, and ordinary thugs. They enforce the ideology and they fulfill their duties with pleasure. [Their duties include] to keep order in the movement and its borders, instigate disorder in meetings and marches, which hasn’t been approved by those in power. For example, in the spring DMD arranged provocations in practically all the “Dissenters’ Marchers,” they provoked the police and threw smoke bombs, and as police approach they planted them in the bags of marchers.
According to the DMD website, the group defines themselves as such, only with much softer language. In the Voluntary Youth Militia, “youth have the chance to participate in the live of the country, can prevent and stop the misdeeds that surround us, can help in the struggle with crime and with manifestations of nationalism and xenophobia.” This includes working with the police to fight crime and maintain public order. DMD has chapters in 19 provinces, and according to documents “Ivan” gave to Kommersant, their funding comes directly from Nashi. For example, the budget for the Moscow DMD for the months of June, July, and August 2007 amount to 768,000 rubles or $29,538. No small operation.
More importantly, DMD’s cooperation with the Moscow police gives a better indication as to what Nashi’s role in the upcoming elections will be. Should we expect fighting in the streets?Post Views: 278
By Sean — 9 years ago
I’m normally not a big fan of the Guardian‘s Luke Harding, but I think he deserves kudos for his latest article, “Putin’s Worst Nightmare.” Harding opens with the chilling and brutal murder of Karen Abramian, who was stabbed 56 times by two skinheads named Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, both 17, as he returned from visiting his parents.
Abramian’s murder was one in the string of 20 murders committed by the racist duo in a nine month period in 2006-2007. They also racked up about 16 attacks in their stabbing spree. Most importantly, as Harding stresses, the two youths “were proud” of their killings. After all, they are part of a “holy war” to rid Russia of racial others. “As they saw it,” Harding writes, “Abramian’s violent death was part of a national liberation movement – an ambitious, quasi-mystical struggle to get rid of Russia’s foreigners, in which they played the role of hero-warriors.” And if they mistook a few dark skinned Russians as gastarbeiters then so be it. This is what happened when the two fell upon S. Azimov in April 2007. Ryno and Skachevsky stabbed him 56 times, cutting off his ear as a race war relic. The race war, after all, is messy business.
To say that racism and ethnic violence is a growing problem in Russia is a no brainer. The statistics point to a steady rise in deaths at the hands of neo-Nazis and Russian nationalists. According to SOVA, there were 50 in 2004, 47 in 2005, 64 in 2006, 86 in 2007, and 96 in 2008. There were 12 murders in January 2009 alone. The fascists are already above their past average. And as Harding narrates there are no shortage of gruesome stories.
True most Russians condemn the use of violence against their racial others. But is also true that racist and anti-immigrant sentiment is mainstream. “More than 50% support the idea that ethnic Russians should have privileges over other ethnic groups,” Alexander Verkhovsky of the SOVA Center tells Harding. “More than 50% believe that ethnic minorities should be limited or even expelled from their region.” Skinhead violence therefore is merely the praxis of these views. For a frequent update on these acts, see Moscow Through Brown Eyes.
Experts estimate that there are approximately 50,000 skinheads in Russia. According to a recent MVD report there are about 302 informal youth groups, of the Left and the Right, “with signs of extremist views and beliefs.” These attract young people to participate in mass disorder, riots, and the murder of people of other faiths and nationalities for money, but frequently for uncertain purposes and slogans.”
One may hope that Medvedev’s recent comments at the Collegium of the Ministry of Internal Affairs will light a fire under Russian police organs in combating the Russian Right. After all, he put combating extremism at center stage. He said, “The specter of extremist threats are various, but they are of one essence: to destabilize the social and political situation in the country.” However, Medvedev’s comments were not simply in regard to the rise of racist attacks. The real context is the economic crisis. “In the atmosphere of the twofold drop in the labor market for foreign workers there is a possibility of not only the illegal use of workers’ power, but also the aggravation of the crime rate as a whole. I think that organs of the MVD need to take this issue under its direct control.” Medvedev’s suggestion? The creation of a special subdivision within the MVD to fight extremism. But the targets of this subdivision won’t be the Russian right as a whole (though I sure some of them will). According to documents obtained by Gazeta.ru, the MVD will mainly focus on the “participants of various protests,” “the social activists of oppositionists,” “the participants in anti-government actions,” and other disturbances connected to the global financial crisis.
Given recent events–the request that universities expel students who participate in unsanctioned protests, authorities putting pressure on the parents of National Bolshevik members, and now Nashi’s infiltration of opposition youth groups–there little surprise if police actions against Russian liberals and leftists heats up even more.
For the Russian right, however, while individual cases of violence are prosecuted and uncovered, there seems to be little systematic targeting of their activities by the authorities. Just the opposite it seems. So much so that Russian nationalists and fascists seem quite comfortable offering their services to the government. In Novgorod, activists of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) have offered their services to the police by forming militias to secure public order. DPNI has also declared that it intends to arm its members with air guns to fight growing crime in connection with the economic crisis. Attacks against immigrants are often punished lightly, if at all, rarely getting stiff penalties associated with extremist acts. Instead, their violence is often labeled mere “hooliganism.”
While authorities have met DPNI’s offers with skepticism, if not bewilderment, the real test will be if they sanction the “Russian March” planned for 1 March. DPNI and the Slavic Union plan to commemorate the fallen soldiers of 6th Company, 104th Regiment of the Pskov Airborne Division. On 1 March 2000, 84 of that Regiment’s 90 soldiers were killed in Argunskii Revine in Chechnya. Both organizations say that they will refrain from displaying nationalist slogans. They are hardly needed since the nationalist undercurrent of the march is clear. Dark-skinned enemies without and by extension within killed Russians. Moscow’s mayor’s office will give its yea or nay to the demonstration sometime this week.Post Views: 229
By Sean — 4 years ago
Ukrainians have elected Petro Poroshenko as their next president with 56% of the vote according to exit polls. The West quickly recognized his victory, but Moscow remains cautious. Today Russian Duma members were hesitant to recognize the vote opting to wait for the official results. Nevertheless, Russian Foreign Minister told reporters that Moscow is “open to dialogue” with the Poroshenko but reiterated that military action against separatists in the east must cease.
Which way Ukraine? It’s hard to say. Poroshenko promises to step up the “anti-terrorist operation” and vows to have results “in hours.” “I am not going to hold any dialogues with the criminals. You don’t talk to terrorists,” he said during a victory press conference. “The anti-terrorist operation will not and cannot last for months, it will last just for hours.”
This, of course, is wishful thinking. If anyone thinks the deep divisions that split Ukraine will be solved with Poroshenko’s election or with the violent crushing of separatism is naive. According to a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, released just before the presidential election, Ukraine remains deeply divided. The polls results paint a picture of a Ukrainian east that is drifting father and father away from the rest of the country.
The survey predicted support for Poroshenko and voter turnout waning as you moved east.
KIIS prediction was quite close. Here’s the results of voter turnout:
On this issue of joining the EU or the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, a slim majority (52.3%) favors joining the EU.
On the status of the Russian language, the majority (65.5%) favors Ukrainian as the official language with Russian allowed as a kitchen language or given some official status in certain regions. However, the people in the east (74.4%) strongly support Russia having official status on par with Ukrainian.
On the question of Ukraine being an unitary or a federal state, the vast majority of those polled (73.4%) favor a unitary state. It’s only in the east were a sizable number (43.8%) want a federal state.
Finally, perception of the situation in the east is divided between east and west. About 42.9% think that the separatists are merely Russian tools, while 22.9% are clearly swayed by Ukrainian state propaganda and think they are terrorists. The belief that Russia is behind it all is highest in the west (69.8%) and northwest (67.7%) In the east, a majority (55.8%) and 37% in Kharkiv view the seizing of government buildings and police stations as a “popular uprising.”
Given these numbers, it’s clear that regardless of the Poroshenko’s victory, it will be hard to mend the divisions in Ukraine. There’s a lot of fences to mend.Post Views: 193