Since everyone is afflicted with spymania at the moment, I wanted to make sure this little tidbit of news didn’t go unnoticed.
Executive Director of United Civil Front Olga Kurnosova reported to Interfax, a representative of the police have contacted her and said that all the copies would be returned today.
They found no extremism in them whatsoever.
Nah, really? I could have told them that without even reading the damn thing. So basically this whole scandal has boiled down to some zealous police minion giving Nemstov and Milov two week’s worth of free advertising. Good job boys.
Score: Team Solidarity 3 : Putin 0
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- By Sean — 11 years ago
Fifteen masked fell upon a camp of Russian anti-nuclear activists on Saturday near the city of Angarsk. According to a report of the incident on UK Indymedia:
The campers knew about the planned attack and had organized night guards, but they were much too few (1 to 3). The Nazis attacked the sleeping activists with iron rods, knives and air pressure guns. At least two campers became seriously injured: A person suffered a head-fracture, one became both legs broken. All tents were set in fire, several belongings were stolen.
He protested against the dumping of waste in his native land. For him, Mother Earth meant not simply a pagan seance of young budding Hitlerophiles. He tried to defend it from real contamination. He was more a pagan than the majority of scum who take enthusiastic leaps over bonfires “in praise of Perun” and “to the glory of Rus’.”
He fought for the future races. The sole race we all belong. This is the race of PEOPLE, where only part of which has white skin.
The eulogy went on to suggest that the Nazi attack was connected. “No one believes that after several attempts to disperse the camp that his murder is not connected with “law enforcement” organs.
Few reports have stated the fact that the assailants were Nazi youth. The Associated Press report noted that the environmentalists said that the attackers shouted “nationalists slogans,” yet police and Interior Ministry spokesman Valery Grigakin “rejected suggestions that extremist groups had masterminded the attack.” Otherwise always quick to note the specter of neo-Nazism in Russia, the RFE/Rl also didn’t point the finger at Nazi youth. RIA Novosti also made no mention of who the perpetrators were or their political affiliation. In fact one of the few English language news reports that highlighted the fact that activists said their attackers were skinheads was the Kremlin sponsored Russia Today.
Police say that they’ve detained four of the attackers and are investigating the incident as “hooliganism” and “intentional grievous bodily harm resulting in death.” Grigakin claims that the attackers explained that “They wanted to run amok and get some money out of the tourists and the people at the camp.” Perhaps if the activists were really tourists and not anti-fascist, environmentalist leftists protesting a Russian nuclear plant, the cops would be taking the incident more seriously.
But such is the lot for the often ignored Russian environmental movement. In 1999, environmental activist and former naval commander Grigory Pasko was sentenced to three years imprisonment by a military court in Vladivastok for articles about the waste generated by Russian nuclear submarines. The FSB arrested him in late 1997 for treason and espionage. Pasko spent 20 months in pre-trial detention, 10 of which were in solitary confinement. The charge of “high treason” was later changed to “the abuse of service commission” and released.
Although he was freed, according to Amnesty International, “The treatment of Grigory Pasko is part of an emergent pattern of persecution of environmental activists by the Russian authorities.”
And Pasko isn’t alone. In 2005, renowned Russian environmentalist Sergei Kharitonov sought political asylum in Finland. He became a target of the Russian authorities after he published a report with the Russian environmental NGO Bellona on the safety of the Sosnovyi Bor nuclear plant. Kharitonov worked in Sosnovyi Bor for 27 years until his firing in 2000.
And as recently as 3 July, police arrested a protester in Moscow when after donning a Putin mask and skies he attempted to ski up to Putin and give him a medal for destroying Sochi’s environment. Activists believe that the Sochi’s revamp for the 2012 Winter Olympics will act serve as an excuse to privatize its surrounding nature reserves and accelerate the region’s ecological decline. Activists have promised to fight the Kremlin over Sochi. One wonders if they too will get a taste of neo-Nazis wielding metal pipes and air pressure guns.
Special thanks to Duat X for the ZheZhe and Indymedia links.Tags: Russia|environmentalism|anti-fascism|youth politics|Putin|media|terrorism|neo-nazism|Russian nationalism
- By Sean — 12 years ago
Aleksandr Potkin, 30, changed his name a few years ago. The name change had a double effect. It was at once an gesture to distance himself from his past and an act of rebirth for the future. You see, until 2002, Potkin was a member of a little known nationalist group in
named Pamyat (Memory). Its roots date back to the 1970s but was founded in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time where Russian nationalism was emerging from the ideological blanket of Communism. Pamyat, however, collapsed in the late 1990s after several of its leaders were jailed for anti-Semitic activities. Not wasting much time on finding another group to devote his nationalist energies to, Potkin decided to establish his own. Moscow
Most now know Alexandr Potkin as Alexandr Belov. His new name, which means “white” is well suited. It is unknown if his choice was conscious or unconscious. It is appropriate because Belov is the founder and leader of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), a xenophobic Russian nationalist group that he formed four years ago. DPNI came to national prominence during last year’s Aleksandra Ivannikova case. If you remember, Ivannikova stabbed an
taxi driver to death. She claimed the stabbing was in self defense because the driver tried to rape her. Her defense didn’t sway the court and she was convicted. Armenia
Enter Belov and his new, and then online, organization. Thanks to his agitation, the conviction was overturned on appeal. The DPNI later gave Ivannikova an “award” of 50,000 rubles (about $1850 at today’s rate). Since then, DPNI has entered the political fray over illegal immigration on many fronts.
When ethnic violence broke out in the Karelian town of
in August, Belov mobilized his members north to protest the town’s Chechen residents. When Kondopodga Moscowpolice decided to raid Georgian businesses in a few weeks ago, Belov made a call on the group’s website for nationalists to report on illegal Georgians. “When we receive a notification of discovering illegal migrants, our public control service will check the information,” he then told Kommersant. “If it is confirmed, we will summon law-enforcement officers and demand they apply measures such as deportation from Moscow , or closing the store, or collecting a fine.” Now they are planning a major demonstration for Day of National Unity (formerly Revolution Day) on 7 November. Russia
Belov represents part of the growing problem of “youth extremism”
. As the D. I. Aminov and R. E. Oganian, the authors of a recent sociological study called Molodezhnyi ekstremizm (2005), “The appearance of extremism among youth at the present time carries a more dangerous character for society than in all past periods of the state’s existence. The results of criminal investigations testify to the profound failure in the social policy and educational-preventative work with youth” (3). Russia
One can accept or reject the authors’ characterization. I can’t help to view it as a bit hyperbolic since most adults think that their youth is worse than any other previous times. Generational conflict works both ways.
But still there might be something to their concern. At least, that’s how the Russian authorities are assessing the problem. According to Kommersant, the Russian Federation Council held hearings on “Condition and Problems of Legislative Guarantees for Combating Extremism in the Youth Sphere.” The hearings were a showcase of Russian security officials. Presenters included Sergey Mironov, Deputy Minister of the Interior Alexander Chekalin, Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin and head of the FSB anti-extremism department Mikhail Belousov. They all gave the Council recommendations on how to toughen laws to prevent youth extremism.
“Extremism is a painful problem that many do not understand,” Deputy Minister Mironov told the panel of parliamentarians, adding that youth extremist groups were “organizations with strict discipline and their own leaders.” Deputy Prosecutor General Grin concurred with “members of such informal groups of extremism inclination as skinheads, Russian National Unity and the National Bolshevik Party not only spread the idea of national, racial and religious enmity and hatred, they commit crimes on those grounds against the lives and health of citizens that cause public reaction.” Chekalin estimated that over 10,000 youths belong to about 150 extremist groups and crimes related to their activities skyrocketed by 84 percent in the last year. Finally, Deputy Interior Minister Ovchinnikov added that “The sharp rise in activities of extremist youth groups – skinheads, Russian National Unity, the National Bolshevik Party, the Red Youth Vanguard– poses a serious threat to the maintenance of law and order,” citing their “active participation in protests connected with the monetization of social benefits and housing utility reforms.”
Security organs’ testimony at the hearings signals a shift in authorities’ attention to radical youth organizations. The previous law adopted by the State Duma stiffed sentences for vandalism, which now gives an offender a maximum of three in prison. Other provisions specifically targeted racially motivated crimes and extreme expressions of nationalism. Serious acts of racial violence (I wonder how they determine “serious.” I would imagine that any form of racial violence is “serious”) carries a sentence of five years. The organization of an “extremist group carries a fine of 200,000 rubles (about $7,430 at today rate) or up to four years in the slammer. But now the radical Left is in their sites, with a special barrel aimed specifically at the National Bolshevik Party.
In fact, Limonov’s band of youth was given special attention in presenters’ comments. AS reports Kommersant’s Ekaterina Savina,
Advisor to the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Vladimir Trofimov said that the regular seizure of administrative buildings by the National Bolsheviks and the march last year at which member of national movements shouted “Heil Hitler” fall under the category of extremism. Thus, the National Bolsheviks and ultra-rightists who preach fascist views are treated identically. National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov was indignant over this. “We are fighting for freedom and against an actively antipopular regime,” he said. “We should not be confused with some sort of thugs.”
Stanislav Belkovsky, president of the Institute for National Strategy, also thinks that the measures suggested at yesterday’s hearing are directed against the National Bolsheviks and nationalist groups. “They are the ones that present a danger to the authorities,” he commented. “No matter how many National Bolsheviks they put in prison, the movement continues to gain in popularity, and the nationalists have grown from a pet project of the Kremlin, which wanted to show that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin was better than the fascists.” Dmitry Demushkin, leader of the nationalistic Slavic Union, opined that “the fight against mythical extremism indicates that they are trying to purge everybody before the elections.”
There are many causes of youth extremism and Aminov and Oganian cite many of the usual explanations in their study: poverty, social dislocation, broken families, despair, the lack of education, drugs, drinking, and the need of belonging. Russian youth are apparently no different than other youths around the world in this regard.
I find these explanations typical and rather flat. I don’t discount these as factors. However, many of the ills they cite are historically constant. Youth’s gravitation to radicalism is not. There have been only a few periods in modern history that have seen a rise in youth radical political activity: the 1900s, 1920s, 1930s, 1960s and 1990s. There are exceptions, depending on the specific country. These periods, however, match most explosions of youth political activity around the world.
Therefore I think that there is larger issue at work; one that gives voice to the particular ideological situation most youths find themselves in. Here I think the NY Times’ Steven Myers makes an interesting point. Youths, like Belov and perhaps most youths who join extremist groups, he writes are “part of the first post-Soviet generation in
, a country that is still struggling, in a way, to define itself and its ideology. The Russia Soviet Unionendeavored to erase ethnic and racial boundaries, at least officially. And its collapse gave rise to a new Russian nationalism, founded on the language, culture and history of the Russian Empire, on the Orthodox Church and on an abiding preoccupation with ethnic identity.”
If Myers is right, and I think he is, the rise in youth extremism also has to do with the ideological vacuum created and left by the Soviet regime. I say “created” because the sanctioning of only one ideology inevitably created an ideological hole when the system imploded. I say “left” because as the historian Shelia Fitzpatrick recently reminded us in her book, Tear Off the Masks!: Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia, “Successful revolutions tear off masks: that is, they invalidate the conventions of self-preservation and social interaction that obtained in pre-revolutionary society. This happened in
after the October 1917 revolution which laid the foundations for the Soviet state. It happened again in 1991, when that state collapsed” (3). Russia
Here we might compare the 1920s and the 1990s as similar periods of ideological flux, if not a vacuum, as well as a period where one way youth dealt with this ideological fluidity by joining youth organizations. There was the Komsomol, of course, where would be revolutionaries joined to build socialism. But that wasn’t all. Russian youths were also forming or joining scouting, communist, anarchist, fascist, and religious sects throughout Soviet Russia. Political groups were not all, youth also formed sex and drinking clubs. These were usually places of innocent debauchery. And it was often created and maintained by using local Komsomol organizations as fronts. Political or not, they were all trying to navigate their way through a society that was in chaos. For the Soviet state and the Komsomol they were intolerable and treated equally dangerous. Either they encouraged anti-Leninist ideologies or promoted corruption and meshchanstvo among youth. And then, as it is now, the Soviet authorities tried, unsuccessfully by the way, to strike these groups down.
One can see a similar process in
today. Is it no wonder that the Kremlin is increasingly using nationalism and xenophobia to its advantage at the same time it attempts to crackdown on radical youth? Many suggest that Russia ’s use of nationalism attempt to inflame these extremist youth group to their advantage. I would suggest just the opposite. They are trying to win the ideological battle by attempting to control the political discourse of Russian nationalism. Russian nationalist discourse not only transcends the radical left and right, it is also currently lies outside of Moscow ’s hegemony. The problem is not with nationalism per se, the problem is who monopolizes its meaning. And radical youth can’t be trusted with it. Moscow
That said, I think the Kremlin, like the Soviets before them, is playing with fire. The Soviets too tried harness youth’s revolutionary romanticism to transform society to their own ends. The results of giving Komsomol youths a political mandate to smash the peasantry during collectivization led to an uncontrollable disaster. Presently, whipping up “official” nationalism as a means to combat “unsanctioned” nationalism inadvertently gives a similar mandate to groups like the DPNI and neo-Nazis to strike out thinking that it is with the Kremlin’s blessing. And that perceived blessing could exacerbate the very thing the Russian state is trying to tame.
- By Sean — 11 years ago
“Only by uniting our efforts can we achieve results in developing our country and ensure that it take an appropriate place in the world,” Putin said in reference to National Unity Day. “That is why, the idea that inspired this holiday seems to be very important to me and deserves support.”
By all accounts, on this National Unity Day is an empty holiday created by the Kremlin to replace Revolution Day on November 7. Even more a sign of desperation, is the fact that the historical event chosen to mark said unity is Russia “liberation” from the Poles in 1612. If you have to look back four centuries to find national unity, then you know you are in trouble.
But everyone knows that the historical reasons for National Unity Day are a sham, and to emphasize that again really isn’t the point. The point is that the celebration of especially this year’s holiday is a reminder of how Russia’s past and present is marked with disunity. And while Putin is for the most part something for the Russia people to unite around, his words can’t help contain a tinge of desperation.
This year’s unity day is like none since its invention in 2005 by the simple fact that November 7 marks the 90th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. No there won’t be any grand celebrations. Nor will there be much recognition of the anniversary on global scale. It’s a bit sad really especially since it’s not a stretch to say that the Bolshevik Revolution was the most important event of the 20th century. Some honest reevaluation of it seems necessary to me, but maybe that is just the historian in me talking.
Celebrations marking the Revolution’s 90th Anniversary will surely be small. Only the most staunchest of communists will probably commemorate it. Still, most Russians, according to a poll conducted by the Levada Center, continue to view it as positive. 31% of respondents felt that the Revolution spearheaded “Russia’s economic and social progress.” 26% said that it “helped Russia turn over a new leaf.” Only 16% said it was an impediment to Russia’s development, and 15% saw it as a national disaster. Given how tendentious the Revolution continues to be, there is no doubt that many will argue about what these percentages actually mean.
No matter how one views the Revolution, whether it was a “coup,” a “social revolution,” or simply some kind of back room hatched conspiracy, one can’t deny that it symbolized and continues to symbolize more disunity rather than unity. Such was the case in November 1917. Speaking to the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, Lenin crafted the Bolshevik’s victory in terms of unity. “We have now learned to make a concerted effort,” he said. “The revolution that has just been accomplished is evidence of this. We possess the strength of mass organization, which will overcome everything and lead the proletariat to the world revolution.” Lenin knew that taking power was a gamble and that his party’s strength was concentrated in Russia’s urban centers and among the soldiers. So Lenin, as he would do until his death, preached unity at the moment when disunity was at its most virulent.
But whatever unity among the toiling classes Lenin hoped to retain, they were dashed by the realities of rule. By January 1918, Lenin’s government was getting flooded with letters of protest against disbanding the Constituent Assembly, failing to fulfill its promises, and incapable of dealing with the burden of rule. One unsigned letter “from the front” dated 15 January 1918 to Lenin is especially telling. It reads:
Comrade Lenin: It’s been been four whole days since we’ve had a glimpse of bread, we are walking around naked and barefoot. Yet still there’s no peace and none is expected. Comrade Lenin, did you really seize power so that you could drag the war out three more years? Comrade Lenin, where is your conscience, where are the words you promised: peace bread land and liberty in three days’ time? Did you promise all that just so you could seize power? And then what? But no, you don’t want to fulfill your obligation. Now, this is all lies. If you don’t keep your promises by 1 February, then you’re going to get what Dukhonin got: you’ll drop like a fly. If you’ve picked up the reins then go ahead and drive, and if you can’t then, honey, you can take a flying fuck to hell, or as we say in Siberia, you’re a goddamned motherfucker, son of an Irkutsk cunt (если взяли вожжи то правте а если неможите то летика ты свет нахуй посибирски сказать к ебёной матери ты ёб тваю мать иркутская блядь), who’d like to sell us out to the Germans. No you won’t be selling us out: don’t forget that we Siberians are all convicts.
It’s unknown whether Putin has received any letters from “Siberian convicts” calling him a “motherfucker” or a “son of an Irkutsk cunt,” though if he did, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. Because like with Lenin 90 years ago, Putin’s increasing calls for unity against outsiders, between peoples, and even between security organs speaks more to the reality of its opposite. True, Russia is hardly in the condition it was in 90 years ago, but one should not take Putin’s stability as a sign for greater social harmony.
Perhaps this is why it was a mistake to call the holiday National Unity Day in the first place. Many disgruntled Russian youth have appropriated it as a symbol of their own perceived disenfranchisement. For them, “national unity” means Russkii unity rather than Rossiiskii unity. In weeks leading up to National Unity Day, the few racial attacks were interpreted as examples of this. It’s unlikely that they had any connection to the holiday. If anything they speak to what many fear is a “mushrooming” of Russian ultranationalist groups. And it is clear that authorities are taking more and more notice. The far right presents even more a threat to Russia’s political stability than the liberal or even radical left. 5000 police were mobilized around Moscow and non-Russians were advised to stay off the streets.
The rally for a “Russia for Russians” missed its goal of 7,000, but only by a few grand. 5,000 nationalists turned up including an American named Preston Wiginton. Wiginton, a white supremacist from Texas, addressed the crowd with black cowboy hat and all. “I’m taking my hat off as a sign of respect for your strong identity in ethnicity, nation and race,” he told onlookers weathering the light Moscow drizzle. “Glory to Russia!” he said in broken Russian. “White power!” he shouted in his native English. It just goes to show that despite tensions between Russia and the US, Russian and American racists can find common ground. Moreover, for all the talk about racism and xenophobia in Russia, one should recognize that spitting on immigrants has become a favorite pastime of the US Congress and the EU.
Nashi activists countered the Russian March with its own calls for unity. Taking a page out to the Soviet notion of the “friendship of peoples,” 30,000 Nashi, United Russia’s Young Guard, and Mestnye activists marched through central Moscow carrying a “blanket of peace” which they sewed together to symbolize Russia’s multiethnicity. “Young Guard and other guys will come together to show the will of the people unified against those who want to divide the country,” State Duma and United Russia rep Valerii Riazanskii told Kommersant on Friday. “Nashi will present 4 November as a new tradition of celebration, and to Russian (россиян) confidence in multinational friendship and unity of peoples,” said representatives of Nashi. As a group that employs xenophobia as a campaign tactic, I don’t think Nashi is really a good symbol of tolerance.
Of all the marches and rallies around National Unity Day/Revolution Day, I think Saturday’s “March of the Empty Saucepans” in St. Petersburg is my favorite. Comprised of 1,500 protesters, half of which were pensioners, the rag tag crowd shouted slogans like “Putin’s plan is trouble for Russia” and “We’re awaiting a bread uprising” to express their anger at rising food prices and inflation. As NPB organizer Andrei Dmitriev told Reuters, “In Russia, 90 years ago, everything also began as a result of rising bread prices. People took to the streets and the tsar was overthrown.” Well, yes bread riots do have a exceptional place in revolutionary lore but I would advise Dmitriev to not get his hopes up.