English language blogs on Russia and the CIS suffered a major setback last week. After almost two years of providing news and commentary on all things Russia, Andy from siberianlight.net has called it quits. This is a loss for us all. There was some indication that this might happen when Andy took a short leave of absence to recharge. It was nice to see him return albeit briefly.
I only recently discovered siberianlight.net a few months ago while searching for blogs to link to this site. To my delight I found Andy’s site. It became an instant source of information and inspiration. For those who don’t know (and I doubt many reading this blog are unfamiliar with siberialight.net), Andy’s site provides probably the most comprehensive collection of links to Russian and English language blogs. Andy says that he will keep the site up for a while. This is good news because even if he won’t be making posts, it will serve as a vital resource.
Though I don’t know Andy personally, I want to thank him for his work. His kind mentions have pointed many readers to my blog. His posts were always opinionated, informative and balanced. To his credit he often commented on the quirky aspects of Russian life and news that seems to escape many blogs on Russia, including this one. Most amazing is that many of his posts were done with brevity, something that I myself can’t seem to master. I only hope that he reconsiders and finds the time and energy to start anew. Siberianlight.net will be sorely missed.
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By Sean — 13 years ago
Here is a summary of interesting news stories coming out of Russia this week.
—The U.S. military will abandon its airbases in Uzbekistan. Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s administration asked the U.S. to leave after it suggested an international probe into the massacre of over 800 people in town of Andijan. I’m surprised. Given the Bush Administration’s “commitment” to human rights, I figured that they would make the standard public condemnations, while assuring Karimov behind the scenes that their call for a probe was far from serious. Perhaps Karimov accidentally took them seriously. This news comes as the Andijan 15 are being tried in Uzbek courts for orchestrating an uprising. It seems that the EU is taking some “harsher” measures by placing an arms embargo on Uzbekistan.
—The drama around the Beslan Mothers and cult leader Grigorii Grabovoi heats up. Several of the mothers have filed a request to the Russian General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov to investigate Grabovoi’s dealings. The appeal stated: “This cultist’s cynical promise to resurrect those killed in the terrorist act is blasphemous to all those who suffered in this dreadful tragedy. We … ask you to investigate the legality of Grigory Grabovoi’s actions and to bring him to justice under Russian law.”
—Amnesty International released a report this week condemning abductions, secret detentions, and torture carried out by Russian authorities in Ingushetia and Chechnya. The report charges that “Russia’s “war on terror” is being used as an excuse for systematic human rights abuses.” Unfortunately, Russia is not alone it the use of Bush’s “war on terror” to commit such acts without concern for national or international law, not to mention, human rights. According to the press release, Amnesty International
“detected a new trend in the human rights abuses in the North Caucasus. People are reportedly being arbitrarily detained and held in incommunicado detention, where they are subjected to torture and ill-treatment, in order to force them to confess to crimes that they have not committed. Once they have signed a “confession” they are reportedly transferred to another detention facility where they have access to a lawyer of their choice and relatives; but the confession seems to be enough “evidence” to secure their conviction.”
Such measures are a disturbing reminder of Soviet practices. Then it was “enemies of the people.” Now its “terrorists.”
—In a sign of some progress and recognition of the problem of HIV/AIDS in the military, Russian soldiers will now be given condoms before they go on leave. Official statistics put detected HIV/AIDS cases in the Russian military since 1989 has number 2000. One can assume that this number is very, very low.
—Already in anticipation to the 2008 elections, the Federal Registration Service is going to begin a “proverka,” or check, of registered Russian political parties. According to legislation passed last December, registered electoral parties must have a national membership of 100,000, and at least 500 members in each of the county’s 89 regions.
—Kommersant is reporting that the bones of General Anton Denikin, the commander of the White Army during the Russian Civil War (1918-1920, are being flown from New York for burial in the Donskoi cemetery in Moscow. The transfer comes with a special Presidential envoy.
—In another sign of progress, a St. Petersburg Court ruled that Oktyabrskaya Railroad broke the law when it rejected a man’s application because he was a homosexual. In addition, a Yaroslav court upheld the rights of a lesbian woman who was fired from teaching because of “health problems,” i.e. she’s gay. Many Russians still believe in the Soviet view that homosexuality is a mental disease.
—I don’t think that I need to dwell to long on the biggest story coming out of Russia this week: Gazprom’s $13 billion purchase of SibNeft. The purchase further consolidates Gazprom’s dominance of Russian energy and oil markets as well as shows its intention to become a global player in oil and natural gas.
—And finally, Vitaly Matyukhin, a resident of Archangelsk has spent the last 15 years in a living his summer days in a refrigerator. Matyukhin apparently suffers from a rare heat exchange disorder where he can’t be in temperatures over 5 C. So during the warm weather of September he spends most of his time in a self built refrigerator, only to come out at night. Born in Krasnodar, he moved to Archangelsk to escape the southern heat. Only in Russia . . .Post Views: 1,899
By Sean — 12 years ago
Last Thursday, OMON (Otryad Militsii Osobogo Naznacheniya) raided Georgian casinos, restiurants, and markets under the guise of illegal immigration operations. Everyone knows the true reason: tensions between Russia and Georgia have reached a fever pitch. Many find the conflict rather strange. Georgia and Russia have deep historical ties. The state is considered Russia’s best friend in the Caucuses. But tensions have resurrected all sorts of ghosts: Stalin and Beria have been quick mention. The Georgian mafia, which has been tolerated for so long, is now an instant boogeyman. It has even generated discussion about Russian police corruption because the cops are so ready to take Georgian bribes. Finally, the incident has sparked humor. As one joke published in Kommersant reads: “The idiot Georgians—they lost their largest colony.” (“?????? ??????? – ???????? ????? ??????? ???? ???????.”)
All jokes aside, the raids are chilling, especially the formal inquiry the Russian police made to grade schools for lists of non-Russian students. The police wanted to “check” if the students’ parents are legal immigrants. Forget the fact that many non-Russians are Russian citizens (once again the problem of russkii/rossiisskii), or that Russian law guarantees children’s education despite the immigration status of the parents (read: “a son doesn’t answer for his father”), or that it is downright disgusting to get at parents through their children. But the Russian police denied any connection to the Georgian Affair or that Georgians were being specifically targeted.
This is where Novaya gazeta doesn’t miss a beat. In this week’s edition (the same with the memorial to Anna Politkovskaya), the editors have published police documents to the contrary. Here are translations:
No. 1. Official inquiry with OVD (Otdel vnutrennyi del) stamp, Taganskii district, Moscow.
For the purpose of securing law and order and abidance of the law, the prevention of terrorist acts and aggressive feelings between children—residents of Moscow and children of Georgian nationality please present to OVD Taganskii district of Moscow the following information:
F.I.O (family name, name, middle name), date and place of birth and residence children of Georgian nationality, and in which class they study.
F.I.O, date and place of birth and residence of parents, place of work, position, and family composition.
Relations of children of Georgian nationality with other pupils, cases of hostile relations between children, and such [hostile] relations toward them [i. e. Georgian children], facts about disobedience of Georgian children to teachers, facts of antisocial activities, and unlawful acts.
Please send the given information to our address by 9.10.2006 (Moscow, Vedernikov alley, d. 9.)
Commander of the Taganskii district of Moscow
Colonel police Zakharov.
No. 2 Official inquiry with the stamp of OVD “Vernadskii Boulevard” UVD ZAO of Moscow
To Director Goi SoshInquiry
I ask you to send present lists of people of Georgian nationality—students at your school with the following information. The student’s F.I.O, date of birth, address, home phone number, parents’ F.I.O. I ask you to send this information by 3 o’clock 4.10.2006. I ask you to send the answer to this inquiry by fax: 431-30-11. Telephone PDN: 431-30-13.
I.O. Commander OVD “Venadskii Boulevard” UVD ZAO Moscow.
Lieutenant Colonel of the Police, Komarov, A. V.
No. 3. The remarkable answer of the School Director to document No. 2.
Department of Education of the City of Moscow.
General education middle school No. 169
Moscow Institute of Open Education
119415, Moscow, ul. Udal’tsova, 21.
Tel: (095) 138-39-68
4 October 2006
OVD “Vernadskii Boulevard”
In answer to your inquiry from 3 October on the presentation of lists of schoolchildren of Georgian nationality we inform you that a record of students by this national mark does not made in the school.
In order to produce a similar collection of information (carrying a confidential nature) and give them to another organization, we must receive consenting order from a higher authority—the Moscow Department of Education.
Director of School No. 169 MIOO
A.S. Engel’sPost Views: 617