Joachim Crima was surely mistaken if he thought he would coast into Russian history as the first Afro-Russian to run for public office. Enter Fillip Kondratev, 34, technical director at the Volgograd construction company “Pyramid,” Afro-Russian, and newly declared candidate for mayor of the Srednaya Akhbuta. But being black in Russia is pretty much were the similarities between Kondratev and Crima end. Unlike the latter, Kondratev was born in Moscow province, Russia. His father was a high level diplomat from Ghana (who he’s never met) and his mother Russian. Moreover, while Crima may have been dubbed the “Volgograd Obama,” the title might be better suited for Kondratev. As Trud explains, “Fillip looks very much like Barack Obama: He’s tall, 6’3″ and fairly light skin.” Besides that, not much more is known about Kondratev.
Kondratev’s entry into the race certainly raises more suspicion as to the political veracity of the two Afro-Russian candidates. If anything, it will certainly add to the drama of the election, maybe even start a PR showdown. According to Andrei Shevelkov, Kondratev’s proxy, “Fillip did not enter the election to take the wind out of Crima’s sails.” Nah, he just happens to be another black candidate who just happened to run in the same election. Nothing suspicious in that.
Few are buying it. Nezamisimaya gazeta reports that some believe that Kondratev’s sudden appearance is the result of “black PR on the part of local administration’s team who are afraid of Joachim Crima’s popularity.” The team in question is the current district leader and KPRF member, Vladimir Romanov. Vladimir Kritskii, Crima’s representative, believes that Kondratev’s candidacy was a clear attempt to “split the electorate” and that his campaign will be “especially virtual,” that is at the “level of posters and pamphlets.”
As for Crima’s campaign, he’s not running on the United Russia ticket despite his membership. Instead, he’ll run as an independent. But his candidacy is not solidified just yet. He’s submitted the necessary documents to be on the ballot, but he needs to get at least 609 signatures before August 31. Given his global popularity, I doubt that will be too difficult.
It’s difficult to say whether anything will actually come of Fillip Kondratev’s future as Russia’s “second Obama.” Let’s see if he ever materializes. My guess is that he’s merely an apparition in the virtuality of Russian politics.
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By Sean — 9 years ago
Yesterday, December 1, was 75 years since the assassination of Sergei Kirov, the first secretary of the Leningrad Party Organization, and Stalin ally. It was on the night of December 1, 1934 that a certain Leonid Nikolaev, a disgruntled party worker, shot Kirov in the secretary’s third floor office. Nikolaev was immediately caught and interrogated under Stalin’s personal supervision. He was executed shortly thereafter.
Rumors have been circling for years as to what Nikolaev’s motives were. Some have suggest that Kirov was having an affair with Nikolaev’s wife. Others have suggested that he had a personal or work beef with Kirov. These questions remain mostly unanswered. Partly it is because they are unanswerable. But also because the majority of historians believe that Nikolaev did not act alone. For them, Stalin was the main culprit and wanted to get rid of Kirov because of his popularity. Since Kirov has been held up as a “moderate” and even “opponent” to Stalin. Nikolaev, therefore, was merely a patsy in a more sinister plot on the part of the vozhd to justify the use of terror against his enemies, real or imagined.
The idea that Stalin had ordered Kirov’s murder was not solely concocted by historians. According to NKVD reports, it was also one of the most widespread rumors at the time. But it wasn’t the only one circulating around. As Matthew Lenoe noted in an article on the historiography of the murder in the Journal of Modern History, rumors ranged from Leningrad NKVD chief F. D. Medved or his number two Mikhail Chudov personally committing or ordering Kirov’s assassination, to German, Finnish, Polish, or Turkish secret agents carrying out the plot, to speculation that a worker angered by the recent cuts in bread rations did Kirov in. Others thought that the killing was part of a larger plot of murder Maxim Gorky, Lazar Kaganovich, and the German Communist leader Ernst Thaelmann. But the idea that Stalin was behind it all swirled and swirled from mouth to ear, into exiled socialist commentary, on to the pages of defectors’ and so-called confidants’ tell-all memoirs, until it reached scholarly dictum through its reproduction ad nauseum by historians.
A minority of historians, most interestingly Oleg Khlevniuk and Alla Kirilina, who are no Stalin apologists and based their research on new archival evidence, have argued that the Stalin as culprit is “almost entirely myth,” according to Lenoe. The debate continues to rage, however, and will probably go on forever. But as Lenoe notes, ” In the end it does not matter for our overall understanding of Soviet history whether [Stalin] plotted Kirov’s assassination or not. There are far more important questions that need answering in the field.”
Indeed. Whether Stalin actually ordered the hit on Kirov doesn’t erase the fact that regime’s response to the assassination was a blind fit of violence that led to the arrests and execution of hundreds, if not thousands, in the weeks following, culminating in the eventual arrest, trial, and execution of Grigorii Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, the so-called “Moscow Center.” The lives of hundreds of thousands of others followed. There is also no doubt that Stalin used the Kirov’s assassination to his political advantage to eliminate his political opponents. We don’t need to pin the Kirov murder on him to recognize that.
Perhaps, the biggest lesson of the Kirov murder was not its use by Stalin from 1936-38 to justify terror. The lesson is in the quick adoption of “On Amending the Present Union-Republic Codes of Criminal Procedure” or the so-called Kirov Law on December 1, 1934, that gave terror legal justification. The law was as follows:
To amend the present Union Republic codes of criminal procedure with regard to investigation and trial of cases of terrorist organizations and terrorist acts against the functionaries of Soviet power:
- Investigation in these cases shall be concluded in not more than ten days.
- The indictment shall be handed to the accused 24 hours before the trial.
- The cases shall be tried without the parties present.
- There shall be no cassational review of the judgments or acceptance of petitions for clemency.
- The sentence of the supreme punishment shall be executed immediately upon rendering judgment.
This law is ominous in its brevity. It is this law that was the first legal step to wage terror. What the law giveth, the law taketh away. So in the end it is not Kirov’s assassination that should be remembered but how such events can provide the justification for extraordinary measures to be legally enacted. It is a reminder that the “state of exception” is always enacted by the sovereign in an attempt to preserve the “public good.”Post Views: 1,850
By Sean — 9 years ago
I don’t claim much knowledge on the intricacies of the explosive situation in Moldova. For anyone who has been asleep the last few days, Moldovan students are attempting their own “colored revolution.” On Tuesday, over 10,000 students ransacked the Moldovan Parliament demanding new elections after a Communist Party electoral victory on Sunday. The Communists won around 50 percent of the electoral, beating out their fractious liberal rivals, and claimed a super majority of 60 seats in Moldova’s 101 seat parliament. The students claim mass vote falsification. But unlike the innocuous colors of orange, tulip, and rose, the Moldovan youth appears to favor blood red.
Anyone interested in unfolding events from a variety of sources should check out Scraps of Moscow. Lyndon’s knowledge of Moldova is impeccable.
For an breakdown of why the Communists won, see Vladimir Socor’s “Ten Reasons Why the Communist Party Won Moldova’s Elections Again” from the Eurasian Daily Monitor. Of Socor’s ten reasons, I find these two most compelling:
4) The Communist Party is the only major party with a multi-ethnic electorate. Most opposition parties (including all three that have now entered the parliament) rely entirely on ethnic Moldovan voters (a minority of whom define themselves as Romanians) and have not seriously attempted to reach out to “Russian-speaking” voters. Many “Russian-speakers,” who defected from the Europe-oriented Communist Party in recent years, crossed over to small pro-Moscow groups or declined to vote, rather than joining Moldovan opposition parties. The Communist Party was able to offset that loss by increasing its share of the ethnic Moldovan vote.
5)Exit polls, conducted by Western-funded NGOs, showed that the Communist Party made significant inroads into young age cohorts for the first time in these elections. As the poll coordinator, sociologist Arcadie Barbarosie (head of the Soros Foundation’s local affiliate) observes, the Communist Party can no longer be stereotyped as a “pensioners'” or Soviet-nostalgics’ party (Moldpres, Imedia, April 6).
Two reasons why the Communists won was because they crossed ethnic lines and generational lines.
In this author’s summation, the liberal parties appeal to “pan-Romanian nationalistic ideology,” makes this crisis one between the Communists and the far Right.
Or is generational conflict really at the heart of the protests? The centrality of youth is something that Lyndon emphasizes in this rundown of events. As these two participants/eyewitnesses testify,
The students are discontented with the election result. Most of the people who voted for communism are old people, but old people are dying and there are more young people voting now than before. So the result is definitely not true. It’s not logical.
We don’t want to be governed by the communists anymore. I think the Communist Party should be outlawed, just like the Nazi Party is outlawed in Germany.
. . .
Most of the people in Chisinau voted for the democratic parties. I’ve been asking friends, neighbours, people on the street.
Indeed in the villages, where there are only old people left, most people would vote for the Communist Party. But the young people of our country want a better life, they can’t be satisfied with $150 a month.
Another interesting component to the protests that attest to their youthful flavor, is the use of Twitter as a mobilizing tool. As the NY Times, explains
The sea of young people reflected the deep generation gap that has developed in Moldova, and the protesters used their generation’s tools, gathering the crowd by enlisting text-messaging, Facebook and Twitter, the social messaging network.
The protesters created their own searchable tag on Twitter, rallying Moldovans to join and propelling events in this small former Soviet state onto a Twitter list of newly popular topics, so people around the world could keep track.
Or as Carroll Patterson, a doctoral student on Moldovan economics, told the Times,
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it an anti-Communist movement,” Mr. Patterson said. “This really is a generational squeeze. It’s not really the Communists versus the opposition. It’s the grandmothers versus the grandkids.”
At the center of the protests are two youth organizations, Think Moldova and Hyde Park. Natalia Morar, the Moldovan journalist who was banned from Russia last year, is one of the Think Moldova leaders.Post Views: 327
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: 445