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Bulletin 5:14 (2011)

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 5, No. 14(135), 3 June 2011 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2011
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      THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 5, No. 14(135), 3 June 2011
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 1 - 15 May 2011
      II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
      III ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS

      [NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of the - otherwise truncated - issue will appear.]
      ===========================


      I NEWS: 1 - 15 May 2011

      Racism and Xenophobia Update for April 2011
      SOVA Center, May 3, 2011

      In April 2011, at least 19 people were victims of racist and neo-Nazi attacks. Among them, one was killed (a Central Asian in Moscow), and three received serious death threats.
      According to SOVA's data, violent incidents were recorded in Moscow (2 injured, 1 killed), St. Petersburg (7 injured), the Kaliningrad region (4 injured), and the Republic of Bashkortostan (1 injured). This brings the year-to-date totals across thirteen regions of Russia to 10 killed and at least 55 injured in racist or neo-Nazi attacks, with 5 receiving death threats.
      We call special attention to the brutal murder of a 23-year old far-right activist in Omsk, who was killed by his former comrades for "betraying" the ideals of the movement.
      In April we recorded no fewer than 7 incidents of vandalism that we interpret as motivated by hatred or neo-Nazi ideology; this brings the year-to-date total to at least 24 recorded incidents. One penalty for xenophobic vandalism was issued against two men for painting a swastika and the numbers 14/88 on the fence of a mosque; they were both given a year in prison.
      Thirty-four individuals were convicted in 7 cases that took the hate motive into account in dealing with racist violence; the decisions took place in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Bryansk, and the Kaliningrad and Yaroslavl regions. The results are broken down as follows: 16 people received suspended sentences, while 15 were given varying prison terms. Three were required to complete labor terms, but were released from punishment due to an expired statute of limitations.
      In one single case, the Yaroslavl Regional Court brought convictions against 19 individual members of a local Nazi skinhead group.
      April also saw the close of the case against Nikita Tikhonov and Evgenia Khasis, who had been accused of the particularly brash murder of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova in broad daylight as they left a press conference in January 2009. The jury found both defendants guilty.
      In all, these numbers bring the year-to-date total number of individuals convicted in trials concerning racist violence, and accounting for the hate motive to 60, with 25 receiving suspended sentences.
      Cases of xenophobic propaganda brought six sentences in April, in the Volgograd, Novosibirsk, and Sverdlovsk regions, and the Republics of Bashkortostan and Karelia. Six individuals were convicted: 3 were given conditional sentences, one was sentences to compulsory labor, one freed due to an expired statute of limitations, and in one case, criminal proceedings were discontinued in light of the defendant's supposed repentance. This brings the year-to-date total of decisions in xenophobic propaganda cases to 18, across 15 regions, with convictions levied against 22 individuals. Eight of those decisions were arbitrary, with no additional sanctions brought against the defendants.
      The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times in April, on the 13th, 18th, and 28th; entries 809-851 were added. Thus at the end of April the list contained 851 items.
      The most significant civil legal decision of the month was the Moscow City Court's ban on the DPNI, a ruling which also deemed the organization to be extremist.

      http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/news-releases/2011/05/d21537/
      ----

      Prosecutor urges life in prison to Tikhonov for killing Markelov
      Itar-Tass, May 5, 2011

      MOSCOW, May 5 (Itar-Tass) ¬¬ The public prosecutor in the Moscow City Court demanded to sentence Nikita Tikhonov to life in prison. The jury found Tikhonov guilty of the murder of a lawyer Stanislav Markelov and a journalist Anastasia Baburova. The public prosecutor demanded to sentence another defendant Yevgeniya Khasis to 20 years in prison.
      Tikhonov should serve a sentence in a tough security penitentiary and Khasis in a general security penitentiary, Prosecutor Boris Loktionov said. The prosecutor also supported a civil lawsuit filed by Baburova's parents, who asked to levy from Tikhonov five million roubles worth of moral damage compensation and 40,000 roubles worth of expenses related to the court deliberations.
      The public prosecutor recalled that the crimes were impudent and cynical, and moreover, the jury found defendants Tikhonov and Khasis not deserving leniency. This punishment is needed to restore social justice, he noted.
      Roman Karpinsky, who is a representative of Mikhail, the brother of the killed lawyer Stanislav Markelov, also noted that there are no reasons for a lenient verdict, and, on the contrary, only aggravating circumstances exist in the criminal case.
      Baburova's parents also asked the judge to hand down a maximum sentence.
      The jury, which had been debating for a few hours, found Tikhonov and Khasis guilty and not deserving leniency. The jury also found them guilty of buying and keeping a Browning pistol, from which the lawyer was shot down. The jury passed a unanimous guilty verdict in the criminal case. The defendants were accused of keeping pistols, homemade pistols and a revolver, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and several explosive devices. Tikhonov was also found guilty of the use of forged documents.
      The murder of a lawyer of the Inter-Republican Bar of Moscow Stanislav Markelov and a Novaya Gazeta freelance correspondent Anastasia Baburova was committed in Prechistenka Street in downtown Moscow on January 19, 2009.
      The Prosecutor General's Office reported that Tikhonov and Khasis committed the murder with other accomplices still unidentified. The murder was caused by "intolerance, ideological hatred and strife, which the defendants were having over the professional activities of the lawyer in the protection of human rights and freedoms of several officials, who professed the anti-Nazi ideology." Baburova was killed as a witness to conceal the crime.
      -----

      Russian nationalists join forces to form new organization
      www.russiatoday.com, May 5, 2011

      Leaders of several nationalist groups has created united organization called "the Russians," the former head of the banned Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) has said.
      According to Dmitry Demushkin, earlier this week the political council of the new organization elected the leadership and decided issues of the management. The new union's immediate goal is to facilitate "ethnic and political solidarity of Slavic Russians," while its future task is "establishing the national government and declaration of the Russian national state," he told Interfax.
      The new movement has a rather complex structure and will be headed in rotation by Demushkin, Aleksandr Turik and Stanislav Vorobyev. Demushkin, in his words, will also head "the supreme national council" responsible for strategic and current activities. Aleksandr Belov will head the supervisory board, while Vladimir Basmanov was appointed the coordinator of the national political council.
      In April, the Moscow City Court banned the DPNI, whose leaders were accused by prosecutors of participating in events "aimed at igniting interethnic hatred." Belov, the founder of the movement had warned that the DPNI could be replaced by "another interesting project" to unite different nationalist groups.
      He also said the new organization may be involved not only in issues of illegal immigration, but also "political and social demands." The DPNI was created in 2002 as a reaction to illegal immigration and cases of interethnic clashes between Slavic Russians and foreigners.
      Human rights activists are alarmed by the emergence of the new nationalists' movement. Svetlana Gannushkina, head of NGO Citizens' Assistance, believes the nationalist ideas attract part of the Russian society who are not satisfied with their living conditions. For many, such ideas are a "means to channel their aggression," she told Interfax.
      Gannushkina, who assists refugees, also believes that to speak about the national state means "to cut much of what we call Russia."
      The new movement has yet to be registered by the authorities to start its activities
      -----

      EUP concerned by Moscow gay pride parade situation – organizer
      Interfax-Religion, May 5, 2011

      Moscow, May 5, Interfax - The European Parliament (EUP) has called on the EU leaders to facilitate a decision to allow a gay pride parade at the center of the Russian capital slated for May 28, said Nikolay Alexeyev, the organizer of Moscow gay pride parades.
      "It emerged that in a letter addressed to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and head of the EU delegation to Russia Fernando Valenzuela, a group of EUP members asked to convince Moscow authorities to allow the forthcoming gay pride parade in the Russian capital," Alexeyev told Interfax on Thursday.
      The document was signed by those European parliamentarians who are members of the EUP's Intergroup on LGBT rights, he said.
      "The letter expresses concern over Russia possibly planning to ignore the resolutions of the European Court of Human Rights once again," Alexeyev said.
      Trust in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom, the provisions of which must be honored by the EU, and the principles of which are recognized as the general principles of the EU's legislation, will be seriously undermined if Russia once again denies the right to freedom of assembly after the decision in the Alexeyev vs. Russia case, European parliamentarians wrote.
      In October 2010, the Strasbourg court ruled that the decisions to ban three gay pride parades in Moscow in 2006-2008 were against the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom, Alexeyev recalled.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=8422
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      Russian nationalist jailed
      AFP, May 6, 2011

      MOSCOW ¬ A Russian court sentenced an ultra-nationalist to life in prison on Friday for the 2009 murder of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and reporter Anastasia Baburova, a court spokeswoman told AFP.
      His accomplice, who is his common-law wife, received 18 years in a penal colony, the spokeswoman for the Moscow city court added. Late last month a jury found Nikita Tikhonov guilty of committing the twin murders, and co-accused Yevgenia Khasis of complicity in the crimes.
      Human rights lawyer Markelov, 34, and 25-year-old journalist Baburova, who worked for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, were gunned down in broad daylight on their way to the Moscow metro after a news conference on January 19, 2009.
      The murders caused outrage in Russia and in the West, where authorities are openly alarmed that killers and their masterminds often go unpunished in this kind of violence.
      Tikhonov and Khasis were arrested in October 2009 in a joint operation by investigators, special FSB services and interior ministry agents.
      The FSB security service at the time said the two were members of a "small radical nationalist group" taking revenge on the lawyer for his role in defending the victims of racism and those involved in the Chechnya crisis.
      Baburova, the Novaya Gazeta journalist, was wounded when she tried to stop the gunman, and died from her wounds at the hospital.
      Observers say the stiff punishment is a rare victory for human rights campaigners.
      Novaya Gazeta, Russia's top opposition paper which in the past has lost several reporters including star journalist Anna Politkovskaya, praised the verdict.
      "This is not revenge but a fair retribution for the committed crime," newspaper spokeswoman Nadezhda Prusenkova told AFP.
      "Investigators' work was brilliant, they did a colossal amount of work."
      The two defendants' jury trial started in January. The jury unanimously agreed that the accused should not expect leniency, but were split over Tikhonov's role in the murder.
      Lawyers for the accused said they would appeal the verdict.
      Roman Karpinsky, an attorney for Markelov's family, called the verdict "fair" and said he saw no grounds for it to be revisited.
      Xenophobic attitudes have grown in Russia in recent years amid charges from critics that the Kremlin is courting nationalists on purpose.
      -----

      Moscow murders: Two Russian nationalists jailed
      BBC News, May 6, 2011

      A court in Moscow has sentenced a Russian nationalist to life imprisonment for murdering a prominent human rights lawyer and a journalist.
      Nikita Tikhonov, 31, was found guilty of shooting lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, a reporter, in the capital in January 2009.
      Tikhonov's girlfriend, Yevgenia Khasis, 26, was jailed for 18 years for helping him kill them.
      Mr Markelov's human rights work had angered nationalists.
      He had defended Chechens who were victims of alleged human rights abuses.
      Ms Baburova worked on the opposition Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which specialises in human rights issues.
      International concern
      The murder, carried out in broad daylight in central Moscow, sparked international accusations that Russia was not doing enough to arrest the killers of government critics.
      When Tikhonov and Khasis were arrested in November 2009, Russian police sources linked them to an outlawed far-right group, Russian National Unity.
      Russian National Unity denied any involvement in the murders and said the two had never been members.
      Both defendants also denied the charges and their lawyers say they will appeal, if necessary to the European Court of Human Rights.
      Investigators said Tikhonov had shot Ms Baburova, 25, because she was a witness to the murder of Mr Markelov, 34.
      The court also ruled that Tikhonov should pay 2m roubles (£44,467; $73,300) in compensation to the victims' relatives.
      In his initial testimony Tikhonov admitted the killings, but later retracted his story, accusing investigators of having pressurised him. He eventually only admitted a charge of weapons trading.
      Ms Baburova's mother, Larisa, said she and her husband were satisfied with the verdict.
      "We think their guilt is totally proven - by the witnesses' testimony and the testimony of the accused themselves," she told reporters.
      A spokeswoman for Novaya Gazeta, Nadezhda Prusenkova, called the investigators' work "brilliant", the AFP news agency reported.
      A star reporter for Novaya Gazeta, Anna Politkovskaya, was shot dead in 2006 - a killing that caused an international outcry. She had reported extensively on human rights abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13307560
      -----

      Russia marks Victory Day with vast parade
      AP, May 9, 2011

      MOSCOW (AP) ¬ Tens of thousands of granite-faced soldiers marched in lockstep across Red Square Monday in Russia's annual Victory Day display of military might, while President Dmitry Medvedev said the country is committed to peace and global stability.
      The parade, marking the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II, is the centerpiece of Russia's most solemn secular holiday, both commemorating the Soviet Union's enormous sacrifices in the war and asserting the potency of its modern military.
      The 20,000 troops who strode in precision formation through the vast square outside the Kremlin were followed by more than 100 pieces of mobile military hardware, from armored personnel carriers to lumbering Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile launchers. It concluded with a squadron of helicopters carrying flags over the square but, unusually for recent years, did not include warplanes.
      Although Russian armed forces suffered from severe funding shortages and morale problems in the early years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the parade put forth the image of a spit-and-polish and vigorous military, with an emphasis on discipline and precision. The parade announcer even praised the "maximal synchronization" with which the cars carrying Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Moscow Military District commander Col.-Gen. Valery Gerasimov approached each other in the center of the square.
      Medvedev told the crowd, which included many war veterans festooned with medals and ribbons, that restoring the military would continue.
      "The state will continue to do everything to guarantee the dignity of military service, to actively upgrade the armed forces so that the troops will have the most modern equipment," Medvedev said.
      "Today Russia firmly upholds the principles of peaceful cooperation, consistently advocates for a security system and contributes to the overall effort to maintain global stability in the world," he said in the speech from a tribune set up in front of the Lenin Mausoleum.
      The mausoleum, the focal point of the square, was hidden behind an elaborate scrim painted to mark the holiday, reflecting the symbolic delicacy of commemorating a victory achieved by the Soviet regime that is now largely discredited. Some of the marching military units carried period flags bearing the Communist hammer-and-sickle emblem.
      Last year's Victory Day period was marked by repeated complaints from Medvedev and other officials that some countries denigrate the Soviet Union's contribution in WWII, in which some 26 million Soviets died, according to some estimates.
      But Medvedev made no reference to the issue this year and made of a point of noting the efforts of the other Allies.
      "Now, new generations are reinforcing the traditions of friendship and cooperation with those nations who together with us celebrate victory. And I sincerely congratulate the veterans of all countries," he said.
      But in neighboring Belarus, authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko used the day to lash out.
      "Today we again see a policy of dictation and aggression by an array of countries and military blocs, interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states, the dawn of international terrorism. These occurrences unwillingly call to mind associations with the period of the Great Patriotic War," Lukashenko said, using the Russian and Soviet term for World War II.
      He did not denounce countries by name, but made clear the criticism included Western nations.
      "We are seeing the leaders of well-known countries making the decision with insane, terrible ease to bomb peaceful cities, dooming thousands of women and children and the elderly and moreover calling themselves democratic states," he said after laying a wreath at a war memorial in the capital Minsk.
      ----

      Rabbi Lazar wants lessons drawn from the past, Nazism uprooted
      Interfax-Religion, May 10, 2011

      Moscow, May 10, Interfax - Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, said the Victory Day celebrations give one a good chance to think about ways to prevent neo-Nazism.
      "The Nazi ideology is returning to Russia, so far emerging in marginal groups, who have already divide all people into 'good' and 'bad', into those who may be allowed to live and those who mustn't," the rabbi said after he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin Wall.
      Victory Day is not only a holiday, but also a moment, when we can draw lessons from the past and try to prevent its repetition in the future," he said.
      Rabbi Berel Lazar was joined by World War II veterans and Jewish schoolchildren in a moment of silence cremony, and then the rabbi said a remembrance prayer for the soldiers killed in battles against fascism.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=8427
      ----

      Russia amends labor law at immigrant workers' expense
      Moskovskiye Novosti[summarized by RIA Novosti], May 11, 2011

      Russia's new employment support program involves amending existing legislation to better manage labor migration while expanding the dwindling workforce.
      MN has had an opportunity to study the new state program which was drafted by the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development and submitted to the government.
      Along with the further liberalization of migration laws, the program calls to bring people with disabilities and retired citizens back into the workforce. This is absolutely necessary because the country's average working age will continue to decline. Without this initiative, the only alternative for a renewed workforce is more foreign workers.
      Although the number of foreign workers is expected to grow from 158,000 in 2010 to 325,000 in 2015, the government has set itself the ambitious goal of retrieving 35 percent of the jobs currently occupied by immigrants and redistributing them to Russian nationals.
      There is no doubt that Russia does require some foreign workforce. "We are short of workers for physical labor jobs, not white collar positions," said parliament member Oleg Shein. Yet, he doubts that even the new state program, which emphasizes employing foreigners within bilateral interstate agreements, will be able to curb illegal immigration.
      The program also includes policies to encourage internal migration in Russia, such as offering cash guarantees to workers moving to a different region. Sergei Khramov, head of SotsProf, a trade union association, does not believe the government has enough money to do this. "Besides, money is not everything. People won't move willingly as long as residence registration is required."
      The retraining programs planned are expected to cut unemployment from 7.5 to 6.2 percent by 2015. The new labor law will encourage new mothers on leave with young children to attend retraining courses. Even cutting unemployment by 1 percent is progress, Shein said, because a 1 percent increase correlates to a 4 percent rise in the crime rate.
      The program's authors expect the number of the unemployed opting for self-employment or starting new businesses to rise from the current 3.3 to 8 percent in 2015. They also plan to target labor productivity by introducing standards which would "eliminate jobs with poor working conditions and low productivity."
      The ministry plans to spend 500 billion rubles ($18bn) in four years on this program ¬ about as much as the government's annual spending on employment as part of its anti-crisis policy during 2009 and 2010. The government said it has not yet considered the ministry's request for financing.
      -----

      Head of Synodal Department proposes to hold subbotnik to "clean" Russia from Lenin's monuments
      Interfax-Religion, May 11, 2011

      Moscow, April 27, Interfax - Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for Relations with the Armed Forces Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov proposed to hold the all-Russian subbotnik, a day of volunteer work, to "clean" Russia from monuments to Lenin.
      "We have a strong tradition of cleaning cities from winter garbage It would be reasonable to expand this cleaning tradition on monuments and signboards which carry the name of this monster. We should hold such all-Russian subbotnik to delete his name from our memory," Father Dimitry said in his video blog.
      Those effigies of the "monster", as he puts it, which have artistic value should be "moved to museums." However, the priest says it would be better to have an open air museum "so that it deteriorates in time."
      According to Father Dimitry, "Russia has not seen such a monster before" and therefore, it should "clean itself from his bitchy name and the names of his vicious assistants" just as Germany has cleaned away the name of Hitler and his associates.
      Father Dimitry proposes to remove Bolshevik's names from the names of all Russia's cities and streets as they "intoxicate the spiritual environment."

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=8438
      -----

      Russian Church, Jewish group slam Ukraine nationalist riots
      Interfax-Religion, May 11, 2011

      Moscow, May 11, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church and a major Russian Jewish association condemned violent attempts by Ukrainian nationalists in Lvov on Monday to disrupt Victory Day events.
      May 9 is observed in Russia and other former Soviet republics as a day commemorating the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
      "It's obvious that what has happened is a crime involving an encroachment on people's right to express feelings that are more than respectable about those who perished," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, told Interfax-Religion.
      Crimes of this kind "need political, moral and legal qualification," he said.
      "It's a well-known fact that in the regions that today make up the west of Ukraine there were many victims of both the Nazi and the Stalin regime, and, for that matter, victims of actions by some other European countries as well. But different interpretations of history and different orientations of historical memories don't give anyone the right to illegal use of force against political opponents," the priest said.
      He expressed hope that nowhere in the world "would disputes about history end up in pogroms, which must be completely removed from our life if we consider ourselves to be civilized people and heirs to Christian culture."
      The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia also slammed Monday's nationalist riots in Ukraine and voiced fears of "complete rehabilitation of Nazism in Europe and in the world as a whole."
      "We are extremely concerned about the fact that, on that day, Ukrainian nationalists staged mass fights in a bid to torpedo celebrations of Victory Day," the federation's chief executive, Alexander Boroda, said in a statement sent to Interfax-Religion.
      Nationalists were tearing ribbons of St. George (Russian symbols of military valor) and decorations off veterans' chests and attacked Russian Consulate staff, "seizing and crushing with their feet a wreath that the diplomats were carrying to the graves of liberator soldiers," Boroda said.
      "It is obvious that the revisionist policy on Ukrainian Nazi collaborators that has been pursued in Ukraine over the past few years finally asserted itself in the shape of yesterday's events. It essentially amounts to the acceptance of the existence and practical implementation of the extremist and terrorist ideology of Ukrainian radical nationalism," he said.
      Boroda said that Ukrainian nationalists had limited themselves earlier to hostile statements about World War II veterans. Today, however, "those groups have gone over from words to fists and violence," he said.
      "We demand that the Ukrainian leadership, the United Nations and other major international organizations make proper assessments of the events in Ukraine on May 9, 2011. If there are no statements to that effect from Ukraine or the United Nations, one will be able to confidently speak of the complete rehabilitation of Nazism in Europe and in the world as a whole," he said.
      He urged the international community and the Russian and Ukrainian governments "to make an appropriate moral assessment of the ghastly activities of Nazis and their accomplices during the war, and to make a clear assessment of revisionism."

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=8433
      ---

      Patriarch Kirill urges to develop Russia on Christian values
      Interfax-Religion, May 12, 2011

      Moscow, May 12, Interfax - Russia will see a success, if it combines its development with faith, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes.
      "We should build our motherland with humility, firmness and deep Christian commitment, we should pursue the development in all areas of popular life, both economy and policy, and take care of social and material well-being of people," Patriarch said after the service in St. George the Victorious Church at the Poklonnaya Hill.
      He urged worshipers to focus on a "religious attitude to things happening to humans in general and to each of us in particular."
      "We will succeed, if we have spiritual life as priority," Patriarch stated.
      Patriarch Kirill believes Russia should develop "and preserve its real independence from other global influential forces, preserve its ability to build its national life relying on a great tradition of the Russian state."

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=8445
      =======================


      II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS

      Thousands attend party and political marches in Moscow on May Day
      NTV, BBC Monitoring, May 1, 2011

      (Presenter 1) This is one of those rare days when the Soviet past is warmly remembered even by those who never lived in the USSR. But it has bequeathed to Russia one of the most ideological of holidays. That ideology has fallen away over time and the day has become a general celebration of spring, as befits the date.
      (Presenter 2) But to judge by today's events, the political temperature of 1 May is rising once more. Tens of thousands were on Moscow's streets. One Russia were supporting current policies, the trade unions were telling the oligarchs "hands off the workers" and the communists almost fell victim to the gays, who tried to join the ranks of the red. Vladimir Kobyakov spent the day in town.
      (Video report shows marches, parades, a few scuffles, speeches)
      (Correspondent) Petrovich the accordion player was on Tver Street from early morning, attracting people of various political views. There was but one rule - no singing about politics. A little further on, to the left of Petrovich, the Communists were forming up for their rally. A short distance to the right, One Russia and Federation of Trade Union columns were congregating. With trade union backing, the ruling party brought 30,000 people onto the streets for 1 May. Speakers at this joint rally fulminated at the behaviour of certain oligarchs, without naming anyone in particular. But they did suggest reasons for which their businesses might be taken away from them.
      (Mikhail Shmakov, chairman of the Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions) If a business has no social responsibility whatsoever, that business should be taken away, nationalized, and transferred to proprietors who will assume their social obligations, so that the business is socially-orientated.
      (Correspondent) The mayor of Moscow did not expand on the subject of oligarchs. He pointed out that the working people have plenty of problems in Moscow.
      (Sergey Sobyanin, mayor of Moscow) Together with you, together with the trade unions, together with One Russia and together with all citizens we will every day persevere in tackling these issues.
      (Correspondent) The Communists began their procession on Kaluga Square. The party estimated a turnout of about 10,000 (video shows marchers in red shouting "Our homeland - the USSR") En route, communist spokesmen first asked for antifascists to be moved away from them and then told representatives of the gay community to leave the column. They and their rainbow banners had joined the demonstration unnoticed. The ranks were cleared to avoid conflicts and provocations, the party explained.
      (Gennadiy Zyuganov) The Communist Party, which has united around itself the popular-patriotic forces and 32 organizations in just this demonstration, trade unions, military-patriotic and student organizations, veterans and creative - this is the power of the people, the movement of the people.
      (Correspondent) A Just Russia also held a march. Its previous leader, Sergey Mironov, was away at a demonstration in St Petersburg so the one in Moscow was headed by the party's new leader.
      (Nikolay Levichev, chairman of the A Just Russia party) Children should have an education for free, in accordance with the constitution, the reforms should not to be used to toy with people, and there should be quality healthcare and affordable housing.
      (Correspondent) When the One Russia, Communist and A Just Russia rallies were done, the Liberal Democrats were only starting to mark 1 May. They met up on Pushkin Square in the afternoon. This one was all about enemies from without and where Russia's fifth column was hiding. Vladimir Zhirinovskiy included virtually all his political opponents in that fifth column. He said that regrettably neither Tsarist nor Soviet nor modern-day Russia has overcome those agents of influence of the West.
      (Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, leader of the LDPR) It might seem that we can find the fifth column and destroy and neutralize it, but it is a fact that we can see how it still holds back our development.
      (Correspondent) After the rallies, many dispersed to the public spaces and parks for an informal but essential part of solidarity with the workers (video shows picnic by a park bench).
      ------

      Gays, Eggs and Twitter at May Day Rallies
      By: Alexandra Odynova
      Moscow Times, May 3, 2011

      Gays crashed a Communist rally, ultranationalists protested migration and the president's Twitter account, the mayor got pelted with eggs, and hipsters rallied for raccoon power during unusually colorful celebrations of the May Day holiday in Moscow.
      Police said only several of the 40,000 people to rally in Moscow on Sunday were briefly detained, Interfax reported. But about 50 anarchists were held in St. Petersburg.
      Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was targeted with eggs and mayonnaise while addressing the city's biggest rally of 25,000 people gathered in front of City Hall on Tverskaya Ulitsa for a joint event by the ruling United Russia party and trade unions, The Other Russia opposition coalition said on its web site.
      The sole successful strike saw an egg grazing Sobyanin's pant leg, the statement said, adding that, to the mayor's credit, he did not interrupt his speech. The incident went ignored by state-owned media covering the rally.
      A brief scuffle broke out at the second-biggest rally, staged downtown by the Communist Party, when about 100 gay rights activists unfurled rainbow banners and attempted to join the main crowd of 4,500 people, Interfax said.
      Riot police separated the two groups and held two gay activists for questioning, Interfax said.
      Hundreds of ultranationalists staged a rally in northern Moscow, waving black, yellow and white banners associated with imperial Russia and chanting slogans such as "Migrant, time to go home," "Down with the Yiddish yoke" and "Twitter! Medvedev! Lies!" ¬ the latter a reference to President Dmitry Medvedev's fondness for blogging.
      Police did not intervene with the sanctioned rally, which was accompanied by a car with loudspeakers, anti-xenophobia watchdog Sova said. The banned Movement Against Illegal Immigration said on its web site that some 2,000 protesters attended the rally, but Sova put their number at 600, unchanged from last year.
      The liberal Yabloko party marked the holiday by staging a picnic on the artificial isle Fantasy Island in western Moscow, which houses luxury real estate owned by tycoons and senior officials.
      Critics have long accused developers of illegal construction on the island, and Sunday's event protested the fact that cottages block free access to the coastline, which is a violation of environmental legislation, the party said on its web site. It said activists had to use boats to reach the isle's coast.
      In St. Petersburg, police detained some 50 anarchists who tried to join a sanctioned trade union rally, the news web site Fontanka.ru reported. Many detainees wore masks imitating the anarchist vigilante from the graphic novel "V for Vendetta" and carried knives and brass knuckles.
      Among the more unusual events were flash mobs called Monstratsia ¬ a play on the Russian word for rally that comes to roughly mean "monsterization." The event, initiated by performance artist Artyom Loskutov in Novosibirsk in 2004, spread this year to cover Moscow and some 20 cities in Russia and abroad.
      Monstratsias, usually timed to official holidays, require participants to carry nonsensical banners and chant meaningless slogans. This year's crop in Moscow included offerings such as "Yummy," "Gas, Oil, May," "We could be working instead" and "Power to Raccoons."
      -----

      Guilty verdicts boost crackdown on nationalists
      By: Anna Arutunyan
      Moscow News, May 3, 2011

      Four months after a violent rally of over 5,000 football fans just steps away from the Kremlin on Manezh Square, the government appears to be taking the first steps in curtailing what Prime Minister Vladimir Putin then called a "bacillus" of nationalism.
      "There a lot of mistakes, but the government is moving in the right direction," Semyon Charny, a head expert at the Moscow Bureau For Human Rights, which monitors hate crime, told The Moscow News.
      A guilty verdict against ultranationalist couple Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgeniya Khasis in the murder of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova two years ago draws a line under a problem that many say has been festering unhindered for years.
      And the arrest of five people for their part in a violent gathering that police were initially seen as too hesitant to suppress is signaling that authorities are ready for change.
      "The government is really trying to fight this," Natalia Yudina, chief expert at the SOVA hate crime monitoring agency, says. "In 2010 there was a marked decrease in the number of hate crimes, and we seen an increase in the number of cases tried as hate crimes. This means that the justice system has started working."
      Sympathy and fear
      The high-profile trial, which began in January, saw several jurors withdraw ¬ some cited pressure, and some claimed their political beliefs would not allow them to judge objectively.
      In the final ruling Thursday, only seven jurors out of 12 found Tikhonov and Khasis guilty of gunning down Markelov and Baburova in January 2009.
      And while several publicity stunts ¬ including marriage between the two and a suicide attempt by Khasis ¬ may have affected general sentiment, the ruling suggests a high degree of nationalist sympathy in the population at large.
      "A lot of people are either sympathetic or are simply afraid," Yudina said.
      Two birds with one stone
      While touted as a move in the right direction, both the guilty verdict and Manezh investigation raised questions about how effective the signals would actually be.
      The Investigative Committee's chief investigator, Vadim Yakovenko, announced last Wednesday that the events unfolding on Manezh Square on the evening of December 11 were organized in revenge for the death of death of Spartak fan Yegor Sviridov, killed in a Dec. 6 brawl. The Manezh investigation focused on five criminal counts ¬ including hooliganism and inciting racial hatred.
      The leading suspect was identified as 23-year-old Belorussian national Igor Berezyuk, who rallied fans to Manezh square and even paid 1500 rubles to a minor to shout out nationalist slogans, Kommersant cited Yakovenko's statement as saying.
      But the five suspects arrested in connection with the Manezh unrest were also said to be activists of the banned National Bolshevik Party, whose founder, Eduard Limonov, is also the head of the liberal oppositionist Other Russia movement and an organizers of the liberal Strategy 31 protests.
      While experts say that some members of the Other Russia movement were indeed present at the Manezh unrest, those credentials raised questions about who the law enforcement authorities were actually targeting.
      "It was a decision to kill two birds with one stone," Charny said. "To fight nationalism, and to show the National Bolsheviks who's boss."
      Another problem that both experts and nationalists point to is that the Manezh rally was a spontaneous event ¬ and clear-cut "organizers" are unlikely to be found, let alone brought to justice.
      "I don't believe that there were organizers in the Manezh case," Charny said. "It was a spontaneous gathering of people."
      Banning DPNI
      Among nationalists ¬ many of whom insist that Tikhonov and Khasis are innocent ¬ there is concern that the government's measures may force the movement underground and radicalize it further.
      A Moscow court ruled to ban the ultra-nationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration on April 18, on grounds that the organization is extremist.
      But Vladimir Tor, one of its leaders, believes that may do more harm than good.
      "Radical sentiment will increase. If there's no possibility to conduct legitimate legal nationalist activism, then it will go underground," he said. "I have been witnessing an increase in violent radicals ¬ and this will continue."
      And Charny, of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, believes the measure will have little effect.
      "Last year, they banned Slavyansky Soyuz. Now they banned DPNI. But they'll probably rename themselves," he said. "A ban in itself doesn't change anything. A prison term of five years or more is more effective."
      ----

      Russian Nationalism is a Middle Class Phenomenon, Khomolgorov Says
      By: Paul Goble
      Window on Eurasia, May 3, 2011

      Staunton, May 3 – Most analysts have suggested that Russian nationalism is "a reaction of the poor to social problems" and even is "the path of failures," but one Russian nationalist commentator argues that Russian nationalism is the ideology of "the middle stratum which wants to become a middle class" but is blocked in its efforts by "ethnic problems."
      Last Friday, at a roundtable at St. Petersburg State University's political science faculty on "Youth and Nationalism in Russia," speaker after speaker stressed that Russian nationalism is "the reaction of the poor to social problems, a primitive ideology, and the path of failures (www.rus-obr.ru/lj/10723).
      But one of those in attendance, Igor Kholmogorov, a nationalist commentator, advanced an alternative thesis. He argued that "the path of failures in contemporary Russia is alcoholism not nationalism" and that the Russian "middle stratum" has adopted nationalism because ethnic problems stand on its path of self-realization as a class.
      "The middle stratum," he continues, consists of educated, employed and independent people who "would like to become a middle class, that is to achieve a table self-reproduction of themselves as a social stratum. But in contemporary Russia, this is impossible for it," Kholmogorov argues.
      The main reason for this, he says, is that "the representative of the middle stratum cannot put his child in a normal school because the school is filled up with children who do not know the Russian language and hold back the educational process, he cannot go on the street normally and drink beer with friends without encountering everywhere a criminal danger."
      The ability of the middle stratum to become a middle class, therefore, Kholmogorov says, argues depends on the development of "all-national social infrastructure which will appear at the same time with a national state." The absence of this infrastructure, he says, has led the members of this stratum to turn to Russian nationalism.
      But that is not the only reason they are doing so, Kholmogorov says. The members of this stratum are also doing so because of the impact they feel from "the de-industrialization of contemporary Russia and the degeneration of production both in central Russia and in the national borderlands."
      And they are upset, as are the young, by the imposition of special programs to promote tolerance, programs that Kholmogorov says are having exactly the opposite effect. That is because such programs have the effect of heightening attention to differences that many individuals do not even suspect.
      "The ordinary Russian youth hardly distinguishes himself from a Mari or suspects the existence of the Yukagirs," the Russian nationalist commentator says, "and even the Chukhi for him is a hero from anecdotes" rather than someone he doesn't like. For most Russians, there are only two categories of ethnic groups, Russians and those who look different from the south.
      "After having informed Russian young people about the existence of 150 peoples and nationalities and about their principle distinctions from the Russian," Kholmogorov says, "wqe will obtain only one thing – a 150 times increase in negative reactions to other ethnic groups and the growth of the syndrome of a fortress under siege."
      "Therefore," the Russian nationalist commentator argues, "if we really want to calm young people then we need to tell Russians not about the particular features of the Vaynakh lezginka but about what the distinction features of the Russians themselves are." Then it will become obvious that we can tell others how to live and that "to argue with Russians is useless."
      Those who are confident of the power of their own nation will be peaceful in their relationships with others; those who are not won't be, Kholmogorov argues. And if Moscow continues to promote the idea that Russians are surrounded on all sides by enemies, then there will be "a powerful response" in the form of aggression.

      http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2011/05/window-on-eurasia-russian-nationalism.html
      -----

      Russia's plans for Unknown Soldier tomb complicated by lack of remains: Russia's plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the 1812 defeat of Napoleon with an Arc de Triomphe-style monument to an Unknown Soldier has stalled because authorities have failed to find any bones to bury.
      By: Andrew Osborn
      The Daily Telegraph (UK), May 4, 2011

      Experts say the task is complicated because the ashes of Russian and French soldiers were often mixed in mass graves together. Officials have also admitted that finding the remains will be difficult because two hundreds years have lapsed.
      Plans for the event envisage copying Paris' famous Arc de Triomphe which houses the tomb of an unknown French soldier who died in the First World War. Moscow already has its own triumphal arch to commemorate the Russian defeat of Napoleon in 1812 but officials want to install the tomb of an unknown Russian soldier from the 1812 campaign at its base along with an eternal flame where people can lay flowers and public commemoration ceremonies can be held.
      "Finding the remains will really be complicated because two hundred years have gone by," conceded Lev Lavryonov, the official in charge of the project. "But I think if we want we can find them."
      An estimated 70,000 troops from both sides died in the Battle of Borodino, the largest single-day action of the French invasion of Russia. Their remains were burned weeks after the original battle for fear of disease and their ashes often dumped in mass graves on the battle field where they fell some 75 miles west of Moscow.
      But Mr Lavryonov, the official behind the controversial new project, said he wanted to give Russians a place where they could come and remember 1812.
      "There is now no place where people can come and bow down and lay wreathes," he said.
      His idea would see the remains of an Unknown Soldier excavated from the battle field at Borodino and brought to Moscow to be reburied in a ceremony full of pomp accompanied by soldiers on horseback wearing the Russian uniforms of the day.
      The troubled process of reliably identifying the remains of an unknown Russian soldier for the purpose is not one he believes the public should know too much about however. "It is better to keep details of the search secret," he said. "This is not about archaeological nuances but about the commemoration of the heroic deed. I am sure the whole ritual will pass off as planned."
      With just over a year to go, Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, has encouraged Russians to take pride in their Tsarist-era history as well as their Soviet past, and officials view the anniversary as a prime opportunity to boost national pride. As well as the difficulty of finding remains however, experts have questioned the ethics of digging up the ashes of an Unknown Soldier should they be found.
      "From an ethical point of view we are against an Unknown Soldier being reburied beneath the triumphal arch," said Alexander Zolotaryov, the deputy head of Moscow's main museum devoted to the 1812 events.
      "A symbolic grave could be installed but the common grave of the Unknown Soldier from 1812 must only remain at Borodino," he added, referring to the site of the fiercest battle of the campaign. "I am not the only one to believe that (this proposal) is simply unethical."
      ------

      Russia's future ¬ in its past
      By: Igor Kon
      www.opendemocracy.net, May 4, 2011

      Russian intellectual Igor Kon has died aged 82. Here we present one of his final essays, first published on our partner website, www.polit.ru. Reflecting on the woes of Russian history, Kon displays trademark wit and moral argument.
      The title of this piece links to the nationalistic slogan of Alexander Dugin, which I have satirised elsewhere (in Russian). From the point of view of common logical positivism, however, it is learly a ridiculous notion Dugin advances: even on level ground, moving forward while looking back will make you trip and fall. Of course, only if you are actually going somewhere. For those who walk the same old paths round and round ¬ like the Cat who follows a golden chain around an oak tree in Pushkin's Ruslan and Liudmila ¬ the future holds nothing new at all.
      It is not a new argument to say that Russia has had an unpredictable past, not least because its history has frequently been re-written to suit its changing masters (Ivan the Great personally redacted the Russian Chronicles, for example). What isn't always said, however, is that within this same unpredictable history, you can also find a perfect reflection of the country's future. If you discount fools and awful roads [Russia's two gravest ills, according to Gogol], the are actually four constants throughout Russian history: A Glorious Past, Bad Neighbours, A Wise Leader and a Bright Future. Since everything flows and nothing changes, any and every old man can become a prophet. Why, indeed, shouldn't I do a little moonlighting in the genre myself?
      Even before WWII, I was reading grown-up newspapers and trying to understand politics. I can remember how, in 1940, we sent in our troops "at the request of" the Baltic nations; and how they simply demanded to be annexed afterwards. The wits among us described how the Balts had pleaded to us to "extend out an arm to help", before extending out their own boots in return.
      Then we had a difficult war, but already by 1946, Comrade Stalin had managed to sketch out a wonderful future for us. Targets for cast iron and steel production had not only been reached, but surpassed: utopia was but an outstretched arm away. But cast iron and steel didn't agree with the plan, going and losing their previous economic significance. In any case, there was North Korea to save from American-UN aggression, the Berlin workers who needed Western propaganda crushed out of them by tanks, and the Eastern Germans who needed a wall to save them from running away. In 1956, we had to save the Hungarians from Western intervention; in 1968 ¬ it was the Czechs and Slovaks; and there was quite a bit of trouble with Poland in amongst it all. Of course, everyone was always so terribly grateful to us for our brave assistance.
      Then at Party Congress in 1961, our Bright Future was brought even closer: Communism in 20 years! True, a few wisecracks were uttered in regards to promises to reach and overtake the US levels of meat and milk production: reaching was fine enough, so the jokes went, but overtaking risked letting the Americans see the full reality of our naked bottoms. We all voted unanimously for the Party. No one seemed to object when we moved on from Building Communism to Advanced Socialism: we were, after all, happy with our own version of reality.
      But then The Evil West struck again. Oh how expensive it was to ship our missiles to Cuba and back; to support revolutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and to write off the new regimes' rotten debts. A multi-year battle with the Israeli military left us with nothing but new centres of international terrorism, which later began to operate against us. Then there was the time we offered our self-sacrificing international assistance to the people of Afghanistan. A truly voluntary endeavour: not a penny gained ¬ indeed, nothing but losses! The Afghans adored us. It would have been perfect had the Americans not weighed in once again, unleashing a guerilla war which made us leave.
      Tons of money went on another Soviet battle for world peace: the campaign to prevent American missiles being positioned in Europe. We were so close to winning that historic peace-loving battle when - again - disaster struck. World prices for oil collapsed, we had no other source of income, and the American imperialists ¬ aided and abetted by the fifth column of Gaidar and his associates ¬ went about destroying our country with intent.
      We somehow survived the terrifying 1990s and the "piratisation" of the Russian economy. But thanks to the oil boom, we managed to "get up from our knees. We found a new National Leader; we returned to our spiritual roots; we remembered "Moscow as the third Rome"; we recalled the Tsarist slogan "Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality"; we created a new moral-political union and national agreement. We recognised the achievements of Comrade Stalin. We unveiled a new 20-year plan, trumping all the other Soviet programmes, and with every penny counted and accounted for (no need for an "economic economy" here, my friend). Once again, our pockets began to clunk with arms, hydrocarbons and nanotechnologies, frightening not only our near, but our distant neighbours too. The deeply flawed European idea of human rights was set against the more traditional moral-religious values that have underpinned our country's development from Ivan the Great through to Stalin.
      Honest and proper Russian traditions, no mistake.
      Luck, however, somehow evades us. The putrid, imperialistic West somehow still manages to hang on like grim death. The impudent Georgian aggression (wasn't it us who gave them Abkhazia and Ossetia in the first place?), the Ukrainian revanchism (and why was it only us who saw fit to free Western Ukraine from Polish domination?), the British spies and poisoners... Despite the common family values and personal friendship between George Bush and our then president Vladimir Putin, the Americans also decided to annoy us by wrecking the domestic and international economy (which, despite the predictions of our experts, hit the Russian market too).
      Heeding the phrases "birds of a feather flock together" and "tell me with whom thou goest, and I'll tell thee what thou doest", we decided to replace our old enemies with new and wondrous friends (no need to name them before twilight). We presented the world with new and exciting plans of comprehensive conservative renewal.
      We learned that the most important thing in life is belief in National Leader.
      We learned that the only thing that can separate us is death ¬ his or ours, god grant him health!
      One day, God brought together the heads of the Great Powers for a debriefing. The American President (this was long before Bush Sr and Jr) began to talk at length about the difficulties he was facing, and eventually broke down in tears. The Lord put his arm around him and said "don't worry, things will turn out fine in the end". In came the British PM, and the scene was almost identical: "with God's will, you will turn it around" was the Lord's comforting response. Then our General Secretary stepped up and proudly listed the achievements of the country. The Lord listened, silent, before he himself broke down in tears.
      Our principle misfortune, you see, is lack of belief. Up until 1917, we believed in a Power Vertical that ranged from God, the Tsar and the Fatherland, right up to the nearest policeman. Today, we don't know who to fear more: the bandit or the policeman; and who to sympathise with more: the State Prosecutor, lawyer, defendant or judge. Ruthless and comedic public showdowns (who could believe that such a combination was possible) involving the special services have discredited the FSB too. The philosophical quandry: do we believe someone (and something) or in someone (and in something)? is even less irresolvable than the more practical question ¬ "to pay or to swindle"?
      Maybe, instead, what is needed is not blind belief, but trust (feelings that are distinct and arguably contradictory). How you form trust in an atmosphere of global deceit and total corruption is another matter entirely. Even if a magician were to fly in on a helicopter and take all our ruling elite away to their far from imaginary Spanish castles, our lives would not change much. After the traditional and painful redistribution of power and property, we would find our new Deathless Kashchey (Ivan Tsarevich in maturity), who will revenge the irrational Khazars and guarantee yet another new wind to our flagging but glorious past
      Neither sociology or futurology is required to predict Russia's future, because history never fails to serve up the same devastation time and time again. That said, perhaps if we were to learn to differentiate left and right; up and down; front and behind; perhaps if we stopped walking circles around the now rusted chains*, maybe then things could change. Maybe our past could become more certain, and our future ¬ more variable.
      But against this past, we have our wonderful ancestors. Besides, who needs an unpredictable future; and what would our unborn children think? No, let it all be as it always was.
      Add your own smiley if you like.
      * the original gold chains that featured in Pushkin's tale were, of course, taken away to the pawnbrokers in the 1920s, just as the oak tree was cut down, the cat was made into cutlets and the forest hobgoblin sent off to to the Solovki prison camps
      ------

      Survey Says Russia Most Pious Nation in Europe
      By: Alexandra Odynova
      Moscow Times, May 5, 2011

      Russians are the most pious nation in Europe, most atheists are male, and Orthodox Christians outnumber Muslims overwhelmingly, according to two recent polls.
      The surveys, however, also indicate that the country's leading religious denomination, the Russian Orthodox Church, may be seriously overestimating its membership, and avoided the tricky question about whether belief translates into active worship ¬ which earlier polls indicate it does not.
      A record 82 percent of respondents acknowledged that they believe in God, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and an obscure religious research group called Sreda.
      But only 50 percent said they belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church, said the poll, which was released this week by Interfax. The church usually puts the figure around 70 percent.
      A further 27 percent called themselves believers not affiliated with any particular religion. This option was particularly popular among young people and residents of the Urals Federal District, while the Northwest Federal District led in the number of "Orthodox believers not affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church." The area is a traditional stronghold of the church's leading rival movement, the Old Believers.
      Atheists accounted for another 13 percent of the populace. The highest concentration of nonbelievers was found among workers and the poor who "do not even have money for food," and 68 percent of atheists were men, the poll said, without elaborating. By sharp contrast, impoverished countries in Africa, South America and Asia are known for having more believers than well-off countries in Europe and North America.
      A meager 4 percent of Russians called themselves Muslims ¬ fewer than the 5 percent who declined to participate in the poll, the report said. The number of adherents of other faiths fell below the poll's margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.
      The survey covered 1,500 respondents in 44 of Russia's 83 regions and was conducted this spring.
      The poll, which was limited to Russia, contrasts with the findings of a similar survey by global research company Ipsos conducted last month among 23 of the world's most populous nations.
      The Ipsos poll also indicated that Russia is the most religious nation in Europe but showed only 56 percent believed in "God or a Supreme Being," compared with 51 percent in Poland, 50 percent in Italy and 18 percent in Sweden. Another 10 percent of Russians subscribed to some form of paganism, saying they "definitely believe in many gods or supreme beings."
      Moscow Patriarchate officials were unavailable to comment on the Sreda poll this week. A spokeswoman for the Public Opinion Foundation was not aware of the poll, which she said was likely a closed survey ordered by a private company.
      Little is known about the Sreda group, but the prominent web site Pravmir.ru said it was "an independent research organization" formed this year to study "the spiritual life of Russians, modern Orthodox Christianity and its social dynamics."
      Sreda, which has no web site, can only be reached by e-mail. A request sent Wednesday went unanswered.
      Sreda's sole other survey available online was released last month when the group, also working with the Public Opinion Foundation, polled Russians on their views on resurrection. The survey found that only 26 percent believe that they will be resurrected after death ¬ an odd contrast to the 82 percent of people said they believed in God in the subsequent poll.
      The relatively low figure of 50 percent of Russians viewing themselves as Orthodox Christians may be linked to a certain "disappointment" in the official church, said Alexander Soldatov, a religion expert with Portal-credo.ru, an independent think tank.
      "This disappointment is also reflected online in forums and blogs," Soldatov said by telephone.
      His sentiment echoes an article published last month in Russky Reporter magazine that said believers are increasingly alienated by the politics of the Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Kirill, who took office in 2009.
      The church leadership is losing support due to its attempts to build a "power vertical" similar to the one constructed by the Kremlin, said the magazine, which cited interviews with numerous priests, members of the laity and church critics in various regions. Senior church officials cited by the magazine denied any negative shift in mood.
      In any case, the findings of this week's Sreda poll reflect the "real state of things" regarding religion in the country, Soldatov said.
      Belief in God is mostly "spontaneous," like a "random slogan" that has little impact on everyday life, he said.
      A similar poll by state-run VTsIOM put the number of Orthodox Christians in the country at 75 percent last year. But it indicated that only 4 percent of them observed religious rituals daily, while 32 percent ignored prayers, Christmas and Easter services and all other rituals.
      ----

      Ethnic Russians to Lose Majority in RF Population by Mid-Century, Scholar Says
      By: Paul Goble
      Window on Eurasia, May 5, 2011

      Staunton, May 5 – Russia's demographic decline means not only that the total population of the counry will decline but that ethnic Russians who now form about three-quarters of that country's population will lose their majority within the population sometime in the middle of this century, according to a Russian scholar.
      Not only are fertility rates lower and mortality rates higher among ethnic Russians than among most non-Russian groups, researchers at the Russian Academy of Economic Sciences say, but the influx of non-Russian immigrants is accelerating this Russian decline (www.za-nauku.ru//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4137&Itemid=29 ).
      And while many may be inclined to dismiss this essay because it is so obviously informed by animosity toward those involved with the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the rule of the Russian Federation since 1991, its arguments deserve attention both on their own terms and because of what they suggest about the thinking of some scholars in Moscow.
      In a 5,000-word article posted online this week, B.I. Iskakov, a professor and member of both that academy and the International Slavic Academy, provides one of the most detailed descriptions of this process, one he describes as the result of the policies of the post-Soviet Russian government and "the demo-genocide of the [ethnic] Russian nation in Russia."
      According to "optimistic predictions," Iskakov says, Russians are at risk of losing their majority status in the Russian Federation "in the 2060s [or] 2070s." But "unfortunately," he continues, because Russian statistics are so problematic even now, that loss of majority status is in fact likely to occur even sooner unless Moscow changes its policies.
      Indeed, given migration and ethnic Russian fertility and mortality rates, "the Russian people could loseits predominant position in the structure of the population of the Russian Federation "much earlier, already in the first half of the 21st century," which Iskakov says will lead to the division and demise of Russia.

      http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2011/05/window-on-eurasia-ethnic-russians-to.html
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      Russian Nationalist Attitudes Product of Corruption, Absence of Democracy and Stagnation, Ethnographer Says
      By: Paul Goble
      Window on Eurasia, May 5, 2011

      Staunton, May 5 – Widespread corruption, t<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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