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By Sean — 2 years ago
By Sean — 10 years ago
Anyone who watches the goings on in Russia knows about last week’s police raid of the human rights organization Memorial in St. Petersburg. The six hour search by masked, truncheon wielding agents has received forceful, cautious and hysterical condemnation as people try to figure out why the hard drives and computer files, financial records, archival documents about Stalinist repression were confiscated. While the English language press is shrieking Stalinism redux (A strange assertion since a very large international academic conference on Stalinism took place in Moscow this weekend.), the Russian media is hardly mentioning Stalinism and are playing up other but no less fantastic angles. For example, one theory that is gathering steam is that Memorial was raided because it recently screened the film Rebellion: Litvinenko Case.
If the conspiracy theories put forward to explain the raid weren’t strange enough, the official story is even stranger. According to LJ user lev_k, who has given a step by step account of the raid, the search is connected to an extremism investigation of Novyi Peterburg. The extremist track in question is an article published last summer called “General Rodionov – There’s a Real Candidate!” by K. Chernyaev. The article spews all sorts of anti-Semitic allegations that the Gluag was created by Jews and goes so far as to suggest the occurrence of a number of ritual blood murders in Krasnoyarsk in 2005, 2006, and 2008. The authorities say that Novyi Peterburg and Chernyanev have some connection to Memorial based documents seized in a search of the newspaper’s offices. Memorial, of course, denies any connection whatsoever. “Neither Andreev [the editor of Novyi], the article’s author, or Novyi Peterburg has any connection to Memorial. We have neither good nor bad relations. We are simply not acquainted. Just how Memorial is connected to this criminal case is unknown to us.”
I assume that if there is any real connection, it will (hopefully) come out in the coming days. I doubt it. Part of me thinks that the Petersburg authorities made a bad mistake, which could be even worse because now they’ll probably do whatever necessary to save face. Nevertheless, given how extremism is being applied in all directions these days also makes me wonder if something more nefarious is at work.
Many in the Russian press believe something is afoot and are attempting to peal back the onion and discover the real story behind the “official” one.
Nezavisimaya gazeta has connected the dots as follows. The head of the investigation is Mikhail Kalganov, who has already had his name “connected to many political cases” in St. Petersburg. The most memorable was his involvement in the arrest of the Yabloko leader Maksim Reznik earlier this year. Apparently Kalganov also detained a television crew for filming a large fire in Russia’s second capital. Therefore since Kalganov has a history of harassing liberals and media, the raid against Memorial must be part of this trend.
Russia’s liberals have fed this theory. Reznik told Kommersant that “It is difficult for me to comment of activities of Investigator Mikhail Kalganov. He leads my case at the moment. How can you comment on the actions of a person who has a portrait of Felix Dzerzhinskii next to an icon in his office? If this isn’t by his own initiative, then I don’t understand why the prosecutor gives him such political cases. If this is an order from above, then this is one of the most atrocious demonstration of the country’s legal system.”
In regard to whether the raid is connected to the 20 November screening of Rebellion: Litvinenko Case, Yulii Rybakov, a Memorial worker and former Duma rep, said the following: “This film asks questions that those in power don’t want to answer.” Well, it seems that Rybakov has never seen the film and is making assumptions based on Andrei Nekrasov’s other conspiracy laden films. I’ve seen Rebellion (it as called Poisoned by Polonium when it showed in LA) and I the only reason why I could see Russian authorities not wanting to answer any questions in it is because said questions are complete nonsense. If the raid is an atrocious example of Russian governance, then Rebellion is a similar example of filmmaking.
So what was the real reason for the raid on Memorial? Do they have an embarrassing connection of a nationalist rant as the official version suggests? Do the Stalinist redux, liberal or Litvinenko conspiracy versions hold water? Or was the whole thing a serious f-up on the part of the St. Petersburg’s keystones?
As of now, I’m with the latter. That is until more information is released. For some reason, I can’t help being reminded of Jello Biafra’s faint words at the end of Lard’s “Drug Raid at 4 a.m.”
“Um, sorry, wrong house.”Post Views: 1,429
By Sean — 11 years ago
It was only a matter of time before this was going to happen. The Moscow City Court has ruled that the National Bolshevik Party constitutes an “extremist organization.” This ruling legally liquidates the NBP since authorities can now arrest anyone who participants in the group. Participation in an “extremist group” comes with the penalty of a 200,000 ruble fine and up to two years in prison.
NBP lawyer, Sergei Belyak, called the rulling “shameful and appalling, it is not based on law at all.” Eduard Limonov declared it a “farce.” That is, he backed away from any responsibility for leading the group. “An organization called NBP has not been registered with any state agency, and there is no evidence that I am leading any organization or party.” Now all of a sudden Limonov is no longer the leader of an organization that is wholly identified with him. “I am a famous writer and ideologist,” he told the court. “But I cannot be the head of an organization that does not exist.” He also apparently explained that “he now attends events as an individual and insisted he is no more than a symbol of the group.” Way to take a stand, Eddie.
Garry Kasparov is also under the “extremist” lens. The chess champion was summed by the FSB on Tuesday for a “meeting.” A statement on his website said that “the FSB was investigating whether, in a radio interview he gave before the protest and in a newspaper published by the opposition movement, he made calls for extremist action.”
The State Duma is also looking to add amendments to the extremism law. Amendments were passed a second and third reading on Wednesday that introduces “fines of 2,500 rubles for individuals and 100,000 rubles for companies that make, sell or purchase Nazi paraphernalia” and increased the penalty for “vandalizing property during political or ideological protests to a maximum of three years in prison.”
The amendments will surely make things worse for the rank and file NBPer. Their symbols and activities can easily be classified under both these amendments. And they don’t have the luxury, like Limonov, to declare themselves a “famous writer and ideologist” nor can they find sanctuary in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, like Gary Kasparov did, and cry injustice to the corporate intelligentsia. For a taste of how National Bolsheviks and other protesters are treated by the Russian police, I suggest reading Galina Stolyarova’s article “Brutality as Usual” on Transitions Online. She writes,
Andrei Dmitriev, National Bolshevik leader in
, says he has firsthand experience with the subject [of police abuse]. St. Petersburg
Dmitriev was taken to the police station for talks in the run-up to last July’s G8 summit in
. Since June the police had been pressuring opposition activists to “keep quiet” during the prestigious political event. St. Petersburg
He said the talks swiftly turned violent. “The officers attacked me, handcuffed me, and ripped off my clothes,” he recalled. “They threatened to rape me and were saying all sorts of humiliating things, while also taking photographs of me crawling on the floor.
“It continued for five hours, and it was a nightmare,” he added. “If I had a choice I would probably have preferred being beaten.”
Dmitriev says torture is used systematically against members of protest groups and small opposition parties.
“After our men are detained and taken to police stations after a street protest, it typically involves an excruciating level of violence against us,” he said. “They beat us so hard there are puddles of blood on the floor at the scene.”
During the beating the police reportedly demand “cooperation,” seeking to recruit informants, try to obtain confessions, or even prevent a protest event.
This kinda throws Limonov’s and Kasparov’s “heroics” into a whole new light. As always, when leaders are dancing in the media limelight, the only stars the rank and file youths are seeing are those spinning around their bludgeoned heads.Post Views: 530