Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Bulletin 5:24 (2011)

Expand Messages
  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 5, No. 24(145), 3 September 2011 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2011
    • 0 Attachment
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 5, No. 24(145), 3 September 2011
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 1 - 15 August 2011

      [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 August 2011

      Confrontation of radicals in power is road to nowhere - Putin
      www.russiatoday.com, August 3, 2011

      Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has warned against radical groups getting into power, saying that their confrontation is "a path to nowhere".
      At a meeting with North Caucasian youths in the city of Kislovodsk, Putin touched upon the tricky issue that many countries in the globalized world are now facing - building up relations between different ethnic groups and religions.
      Speaking about xenophobia and tolerance, the premier referred to the European example, saying that some countries on the continent are having problems with women who want to wear an Islamic veil.
      "Perhaps, I should not speak on this topic, since I may receive some criticism, but, nevertheless, I will," Putin went on.
      "Of course, people should be allowed to live the way they want to. But when they enter a different cultural environment, they should respect the people they have decided to live with," the premier pointed out. Putin stressed that if migrants' behavior is seen as religiously and culturally aggressive by the locals, and if it is rejected, those who come to live in a different place should take it with understanding, and not attempt to impose their rules.
      "I accept that there are people with very radical views. But then [they] should go and live where such views are considered normal," he stated, as cited by RIA Novosti.
      The head of the Russian government emphasized that it is necessary to respect representatives of a different culture, religion or language.
      When certain borders are being crossed, and locals see that the authorities are not protecting them, it leads to "radical elements finding their way to power". As a result, "radical elements" spring up on the opposite side to confront their opponents, thus making the situation worse.
      "It is a path to nowhere," Putin believes.
      Internal borders cannot be changed
      The Prime Minister said that it was impossible to redraw the borders between the internal republics of the Russian Federation, as this might cause a chain reaction of territorial disputes.
      "We have two thousand potential territorial disputes in Russia, including those between some North Caucasus republics, even between very close peoples, practically one people divided between various subjects of the federation," Putin told the representatives of the youth organizations of the North Caucasus Federal District. "This Pandora's box must not be opened in our country for any reason. If we start to divide something, we will never stop," the Prime Minister said.
      At the same time, Putin stressed that the positive experience of mutual coexistence between varied peoples must be popularized and reproduced. The Prime Minister said that South Russia's Stavropol Region, which is home to dozens of ethnic groups, must become an example for other regions and territories.

      Building multi-cultural society easier than in Europe
      Itar-Tass, August 3, 2011

      KISLOVODSK, August 3 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said consolidation of representatives of various nationalities and confessions is crucial for the future of the country. He was speaking at a meeting with North Caucasus youths on Wednesday.
      In his opinion, building a multi-cultural society in Russia would be far easier than in Europe, because historically, Russia was developing as a multi-confessional and multi-nation state. "A special culture of interaction has been evolving here for centuries," Putin said.
      He noted a number of negative processes that had been taking place in the world recently, with some of them affecting Russia.
      It also stems from the breakup of the USSR. At that time, many were thinking to whom they should attach themselves: in the northwest, they were eyeing Finland, while the Far East was looking up at Japan.
      "The Caucasus, too, assumed that if they join some branch of Islam, life would become better. It has remained an erroneous assumption," Putin emphasized.
      "In the spiritual and religious sphere, the people who have nothing to do with traditional Islam began to set rules for us," he went on to say, "spiritual leaders in the Caucasus realized that, and this, too, helped break the backbone of terrorism."
      Putin reminded however, that many problems are yet to be solved. He recalled that he visited a school during his trip to the North Caucasus in 2000, and saw no equipment there, not even desks. "
      "That's grafting the understanding that we can make things better only if we consolidate our efforts towards developing the country all together, in our territory. It is easier to do it than in Europe, as we are all children of one mother Russia," the prime minister said.
      Putin warned about the danger of radicals getting into government bodies.
      "A confrontation of radicals within the government leads nowhere," he warned.
      Speaking about tolerance and xenophobia, Putin cited Europe as an example. "In certain European states there appear problems with women wishing to wear yashmak.. I'd better not speak on the theme because one can immediately be criticized, but still, I'd have a say... Of course, people should be allowed to lead the life they wish, but if they find themselves in a different cultural environment, they should respect the people with who they decided to live.
      "If this people regards such behavior as religious and cultural aggression, if it causes rejection, one has to treat it with understanding and not impose his customs.
      "I concede there are people of very radical views, but in this event you might go and live in places where these views are a norm.
      "When people begin to cross certain lines, say in Europe, if the local population sees that the state is not protecting them, it leads to radicals breaking through into government bodies. Also, there appear radicals on the opposite side who begin to fight them. The situation aggravates. This is a road to nowhere," Putin said.
      The prime minister believes the re-division of borders between Russian regions is inadmissible as it might cause a chain reaction of territorial disputes.
      "Potentially, we have 2,000 territorial disputes in Russia, including between certain republics in the North Caucasus, even between very close peoples, practically one people living in different regions by administrative division. This Pandora Box should never be opened in this country. Once we start dividing something, we'll never stop," Putin said.
      He addressed the participants with a catch phrase from a popular cartoon, "let's live in friendship, folks."
      Answering a girl from the Stavropol territory, who said dozens of ethnic groups had lived peacefully there for decades, Putin said this experience must be used on a wider scale.

      Newcomers shouldn't impose local residents their rules considered as religious and cultural aggression - Putin
      Interfax-Religion, August 3, 2011

      Kislovodsk, August 3, Interfax - The mutual radicalization of power and society leads nowhere, the only alternative being cultural tolerance and mutual respect, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told young people of the North Caucasus in Kislovodsk on Wednesday.
      "When people begin transgressing certain borders, for example in Europe, if local residents see that the government does not protect them, this is fraught with radical elements breaking their way into power. On the other side, there appear radical elements that start fighting them. Tension escalates. This is a way that leads nowhere," he said.
      Speaking about tolerance and xenophobia in Europe, Putin said: "Some European countries have problem with women who want to wear the veil. Perhaps it would be better for me not to speak up on the issue, as I risk being immediately criticized, but I will speak all the same. People should certainly be allowed to live as they want, but if they move to different cultural surroundings, they should respect the people they choose to settle with."
      If one's behavior is perceived as religious and cultural aggression, if this causes alienation, one should treat it with understanding and not respond by trying to impose one's own rules, Putin said.
      "I assume that there are people with far radical views. Then go there and live there, where these views are a norm," Putin said.
      He reiterated his call for respectful attitude to people of other cultures and religions, speaking other languages.


      Consolidation of various nationalities and religions crucial for Russia - Putin
      Interfax-Religion, August 3, 2011

      Kislovodsk, August 3, Interfax - Consolidation of people of various nationalities and religions is crucial for Russia and its future, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of young people of the North Caucasus in Kislovodsk.
      Building a multi-cultural society in Russia will be much simpler than in Europe because historically "Russia is a multi-confessional and multiethnic country" with a centuries-old special culture of interrelations between various ethnic and religious communities, he said.
      After the split of the Soviet Union, some people in the northwest began looking toward Finland; others, in the Far East, turned their eyes toward Japan; and still others, in the Caucasus, thought that if they pitched themselves to a certain branch of Islam, life would become better, Putin said.
      That was a completely erroneous view, he added.
      "In the spiritual and religious sphere, those who had nothing to do with traditional Islam began imposing their rules," but spiritual leaders of the Caucasus became aware of that, which also made it possible to "break the backbone of terrorism," Putin said.


      Most Russians praise public activities of Patriarch Kirill
      Interfax-Religion, August 5, 2011

      Moscow, August 5, Interfax - Over half of polled Russians (53%) praise the public efforts of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, 15% more regard them as average and only 7% hold them in low respect, Interfax was told on Friday at Sreda service in relation to a nation-wide poll of 1,500 people conducted together with the Public Opinion Fund.
      The highest praise comes from Russians aged 45 and over, residents of big cities, parents of big families (63%), the retired (58%), people in the medium income bracket (58%) and those who vote for United Russia party (58%).
      Men rate the patriarch lower than women.
      Young people and students constitute the most critical group. Low grades are more frequently given by respondents with a university degree (9%), childless couples (10%), non-superstitious people (12%), supporters of the Liberal-Democratic Party (14%) and those not planning to take part in the upcoming elections (12%).
      Every fourth respondent was undecided. This group is comprised mainly of people with low educational standards and residents of small towns.
      It is indicative that Muslims rate the efforts of the patriarch the same as Russians on average - over half of active Muslims praised him.
      Meanwhile, atheists and those not belonging to any particular creed tend to think that the Patriarch's public efforts are not worth much.


      Reporters Not Responsible For Rising Xenophobia in Russia - Rights Campaigners
      Interfax, August 8, 2011

      MOSCOW. Aug 8 (Interfax) - Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev is wrong to blame journalists for the rise of xenophobia in Russia, human rights campaigners said.
      "The main cause of xenophobia is not from journalists, of course," human rights veteran and leader of the For Human Rights movement Lev Ponomaryov told Interfax on Monday.
      Certain journalists may be making incorrect statements, but "laying the whole burden of responsibility on them is wrong," he said.
      Xenophobic sentiments rose after the break up of the USSR and were fomented by the war in Chechnya, he said.
      Russia should have worked out and implemented programs promoting inter-ethnic peace and accord, aimed at eradicating xenophobia, Ponomaryov said. "Unfortunately, this has not been done yet," Ponomaryov said.
      Another human rights activist Alexander Verkhovsky, who is the director of the Sova ("Owl") center, told Interfax that he disagreed with Nurgaliyev that journalists should not "emphasize the problem" when covering any particular event.
      "It is wrong to believe that journalists must cover some situations without emphasizing the problem. The coverage must be objective," said Verkhovsky, who specializes in monitoring xenophobia in Russia.
      "The problem of xenophobia can be characteristic of anyone. I do not see how journalists are particularly different from teachers, officials, policemen and so on," Verkhovsky said.
      Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said in Nizhny Novgorod earlier on Monday that incorrect coverage of inter-ethnic conflicts by several Russian mass media outlets contributes to the escalation of xenophobic sentiments in Russia.
      "In certain cases, unethical and incorrect statements by certain journalists worsen the situation around intolerance toward other ethnicities in our countries," Nurgaliyev said at a meeting of the inter-agency commission for countering extremism in Nizhny Novgorod on Monday.
      A case in point are the events that took place on Manezh Square in December 2010, which "were incorrectly covered," he said.
      "Statements must be verified, information must be objective, it must be delivered to people without ambiguity and those elements which could aggravate the problem," the minister said.
      Mass media outlets must not create "a backdrop like that which generated a serious problem between Islam and the Orthodox Christianity and other religions denominations," he said.
      In the seven months up to August, 15 people have been killed in Russia by radical nationalists, another 70 were injured and seven received death threats, according to the Sova center.

      Incorrect reporting harms inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in Russia - Nurgaliyev
      Interfax-Religion, August 8, 2011

      Nizhny Novgorod, August 8, Interfax - Incorrect coverage of inter-ethnic conflicts by several Russian mass media outlets contributes to the escalation of xenophobic sentiments in Russia, said Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev.
      "In certain cases, unethical and incorrect statements by certain journalists worsen the situation around intolerance toward other ethnicities in our countries," Nurgaliyev said at a meeting of the inter-agency commission for countering extremism in Nizhny Novgorod on Monday.
      A case in point are the events that took place on Manezh Square in December 2010, which "were incorrectly covered," he said.
      "Statements must be verified, information must be objective, it must be delivered to people without ambiguity and those elements which could aggravate the problem," the minister said.
      Mass media outlets must not create "a backdrop like that which generated a serious problem between Islam and the Orthodox Christianity and other religions denominations," he said.


      Racism and Xenophobia in July 2011
      SOVA Center, August 10, 2011

      This month, four people in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Nizhny Novgorod regions were injured as a result of racist or neo-Nazi violence. The victims were identified as dark-skinned, except one woman from Central Asia.
      As a result, the year-to-date total victims of racist violence are 15 people killed, 70 wounded, and seven receiving death threats. Incidents have been reported in 19 regions of Russia, with the capital cities facing the largest concentration: six dead and 18 wounded in Moscow city proper, three dead and seven wounded in the Moscow Region, and three dead and 20 wounded in St. Petersburg. In other regions, there were four victims. The main targets of attack continue to be Central Asians (8 killed, 17 injured); leftist and youth activists (14 injured); and natives of the Caucasus region (6 killed, 4 injured).
      This July, we recorded 13 acts of vandalism which we suspect were xenophobic in nature. The main targets of vandalism continue to be ideological monuments, seven of which were attacked this month. In addition, Jewish (4 cases), Muslim (1 case) and Jehovah's Witness (1 case) sites remain vulnerable.
      We also would like to note several violent actions in Moscow held on the night of July 11-12. After all was said and done, there had been an explosion in a prosecutor's office, the attempted arson of a synagogue, multiple neo-Nazi graffiti on a house on Bashilovskaya Street and the Mexican Embassy on Bolshoi Levshinsky Lane. We suspect the activities were related to the July 11 sentencing in a case against the neo-Nazi group NSO-North (NSO - Russian abbreviation for National-Socialist Society).
      As such, we have now recorded 45 acts of neo-Nazi vandalism in 20 regions of Russia since the beginning of this year.
      At least seven convictions were made in racist violence cases with the court recognizing the hate motive. They were in Moscow and the Moscow Region, Kemerovo, Nizhny Novgorod, the Novosibirsk and Chelyabinsk regions, and the Republic of Tatarstan. The most significant was the previously-mentioned ruling against NSO-North in the Moscow District Military Court. The defendants were accused of a series of crimes including 27 murders. In all, 25 people were convicted, five of whom will serve life sentences. Another 14 were sentenced to various prison terms, with another five given suspended sentences.
      Considering these numbers, Russian courts have made, to date this year, 35 convictions for violent hate crimes. One hundred and forty-five people have been convicted, with eight receiving life sentences and 77 receiving various prison terms.
      Russian courts also delivered seven convictions for xenophobic propaganda in July 2011, in the Altai Territory, the Republics of Altai and Komi, the Khanty-Mansi-Ugra Autonomous Area, and the Kirov and Chelyabinsk regions. In these trials, seven people were convicted, three of whom were sentenced to compulsory community service, one to probation, one a suspended sentence, one fined, and one sentenced to three years in a penal colony (in connection with past crimes).
      In all, 43 people have been convicted under 39 xenophobic propaganda rulings since the beginning of the year.
      The Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated three times this month, by entries 897-918. The List was joined by a number of publications including the ones of Russian National Unity (RNE), issues of "Athanaeum," "The Body," and "Russian Will" journals, and publications by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Additionally, the Istarkhov's book "Smack of the Russian Gods" was added towards the end of the month, though it was already present (entry 289; while entry 289 was reversed by a court decision, it remains on the list).
      Thus, the list is currently comprised of 918 entries. Thirty-eight entries have been "cleared" (removed while maintaining the numbering): five due to duplicate entries (mentioned court decision already reflected in the list) and the remaining 33 due to cancellation of extremist status. Thirty-seven entries reflect duplicate judgments on the same materials (not even counting the same materials in different editions). And one entry repeats the same court decision as another in the list.
      The Federal List of Extremist Organizations was also updated this month. The National Socialist Initiative (NSI) of the City of Cherepovets, a local public organization, was deemed extremist by the Vologda City Court on 16 May. As such, the official Ministry of Justice website now lists 23 organizations as extremist, though this does not include groups deemed terrorist.
      On 6 July, Rossiiskaya Gazeta published the "list of organizations and individuals against whom there is evidence of involvement in extremist activities or terrorism," prepared by Rosfinmonitoring. The list consists of two parts: foreign (104 organizations and 401 individuals) and Russian (46 institutions and 1,510 individuals). Only a public part of the list was published - the part containing businesses and individuals for or against whom a court has already ruled. The secret part of the list is made up of suspects of extremism and terrorism.



      The Labyrinths of Historical Policy
      By Alexei Miller, Doctor of Science (History), leading researcher at the Institute of Scientific Information for the Social Sciences at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
      Russia in Global Affairs, 22 June 2011

      Resume History will likely become an important, if not decisive, ideological element in reformatting the entire social and political sphere in Russia - something that is practically inevitable twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and because the related emotions and images are gradually disappearing from most peoples' short-term memories.
      The relationship between history and politics in Russia has changed radically over the past 25 years since the beginning of perestroika. One change began in 2009-2010, although its consequences are not yet evident, and affected the principles of the Russian version of 'historical policy,' i.e. the use of specially selected elements of the past for political purposes. This is something that has become popular in many post-Communist countries. These principles started taking shape in the first part of the 2000s. In Russia, the change in the discourse concerning the interpretation of history is linked to the country's emergence into an era of broader social and political transformation, during which the post-Soviet political agenda, which was largely restorative after a total collapse, will give way to something different.
      It is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future that public attention towards history in Russia will be anywhere near the level that was typical of the perestroika era. At that time new trends had a clear political relevance, such as the discovery of missing pages in history concerning the crimes of the Communist regime - above all, Stalinism - and the widespread popularity of such terms as 'empire' and 'totalitarianism' in reference to the Soviet Union, the use of which had been banned. Even perestroika's idiomatic language was largely borrowed from historians' vocabulary, i.e. the use of such phrases as "opting for a historical path," "historic alternatives," etc. The public began to crave all things historical. The situation was generally very unhealthy and showed signs of fervor. It was a period when demand definitely outweighed quality supply.
      The second half of the 1990s, which was marked by shocks resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union and when life for the majority of Russians became very difficult, saw a noticeable drop in public interest towards history. The so-called trial of the Communist Party in 1992 revealed a profound split in society over the perception of its own past. The Soviet Union's victory in World War II was the sole element of collective memory that evoked an emotional response across various social groups. Russian politicians sensed this and did not make many references to history in their key speeches. Boris Yeltsin, who remained a staunch proponent of anti-Communist rhetoric until the end of his presidency, no longer sought to make this position the only legitimate one. In the second half of the 1990s, the authorities stopped exploiting the subject of history for political goals and left history for the historians.
      In contrast, the 1990s and the 2000s were very good years for historians. The "archive revolution" defined this period, when many documents were made accessible for the first time and a considerable number were published. Russian historians started active cooperation with their foreign counterparts - mostly Americans and Western Europeans - in studying the events of the 20th century. Dozens of scholarly books on the Soviet period were published, even though society paid far less attention to them than in the perestroika era. Overall, the Russian media did not cope with the job of focusing the public's attention on new historical research. More precisely, it did not set this objective for itself.
      Hundreds of monuments to the victims of political repression were erected at the time, most often at sites of mass executions or at Gulag camps. Yet these monuments did not occupy a central place in public consciousness, as they were located on the outskirts of urban areas, or even in hard-to-reach places. No national rituals for commemorating the victims of the Soviet regime ever materialized. The criminal nature of the Soviet state was fixed neither in juridical nor official political documents.
      This period saw an assessment of 20th-century history, reflected - with distinct, but not principal differences - in the wide range of school textbooks published in those years. These textbooks assessed the Soviet regime as totalitarian and mentioned many of its crimes. However, this was not to diminish in any way the achievements of the Soviet era or the heroism of the Soviet people at work or on the frontlines. The nationalization of history was evident as well. In Russia's case, this meant that there was no information about those regions of the Soviet Union that had gained independence in 1991. However, unlike other former Soviet republics, such nationalization was not accompanied by a radical revision of the pantheon of outstanding personalities. Rather, the pantheon was replenished with figures from the "White camp" (the anti-Bolshevik forces that were forced to emigrate after 1920 - Ed.), and the transfer of their remains to Russia. Attempts to expand the national "list of glorious people" with the names of those who had collaborated with Nazi Germany proved unsuccessful, but their all-out demonization gave way to "discussions, with a shade of understanding." This distinguished Russia from its Western neighbors, above all, the Baltic countries and Ukraine, where wartime collaborators were portrayed as fighters against Soviet occupation.
      Former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin employed a "reconciliatory comprehensive approach" to history at the beginning of his first presidential term when he resolved the legal problem of state symbols. In order to establish the tricolor Russian flag, he joined a coalition with the liberals and democrats in 2000, ignoring protests from the Communist party. A year later, however, he teamed up with the Communists to reinstate - despite liberal protests - a slightly-revised version of the Soviet national anthem. It looked as if the main idea was to accept the past in its entirety as "a common heritage."
      The result was not a synthesis, but a construct full of controversies, based on the principle of ignoring problems and disregarding responsibility. Attempts to use past events as symbols of reunification proved extremely awkward. This was graphically manifested by the introduction of a new national holiday, the Day of National Unity, in 2005. The "negation" part of the plan worked well - to replace a date linked with the 1917 October Revolution, which was viewed by the authorities as irrelevant. But the "positive" message of national unity failed, the new holiday, became, instead, the day of manifestations by extreme nationalists.
      There was growing concern in Moscow over the intensification of East European historical policies targeted at Russia in the 2000s. There were many international incidents during celebrations of the anniversary of the victory in World War II (especially in 2005), when some former Communist countries refused to send delegations to festivities in Moscow. Subsequently, Russia started drafting a response. The government's first reaction was fairly traditional - tightening the screws inside the country, "rebuffing slanderers abroad," and setting up similar institutions to the ones that other countries use to badmouth Russia.
      In Russia there was talk of setting up an Institute of National Remembrance modeled after similar institutions in neighboring countries. As early as 2003 Putin said at a meeting with historians at Moscow's Rumyantsev Library that "concentration on negative facts," which was justified while the old system was being dismantled, should be replaced by the pathos of creativity and instilling pride in one's own history. "We need to get rid of the gibberish and scum that have accumulated over these past years," he said.
      The period from 2003 to 2006 can be described as a covert phase in the elaboration of Russia's historical policy. Conflicts with Poland, where the very notion of historical policy came into being, became the catalyst for the process. Relations between Moscow and Warsaw, troubled by a tragic past, deteriorated in 2004 due to Poland's active involvement in Ukraine's Orange Revolution. Moreover, Russian-Polish relations grew into a full-blown crisis in 2005 after the election of Lech Kaczynski as president, a proponent of a tough anti-Russian policy. Moscow scaled back cooperation with Warsaw over the Katyn massacre, which had become a token element of historical policy in both countries. Moscow displayed a tough reaction to any gesture that had an anti-Russian tint in relations with Ukraine and the Baltic countries.
      In 2006, a team of textbook authors, led by Alexander Filippov and Alexander Danilov, were given the task of writing a fundamentally new set of Russian history textbooks. The first products in the series, a teacher's book on Russia's contemporary history, a textbook titled "Russian History: 1945-2007" and a user's guide for the period from 1900-1945, were published in 2007.
      Alexander Danilov's own summary of the concept of the textbooks contained the following significant statements:
      "The main cause of the 'Great Terror' was resistance to Stalin's policy of rapid modernization and Stalin's fear that he might lose control over the country."
      "There was no organized famine in the rural areas of the Soviet Union."
      "In talking about victims of repression, it would be correct to devise a formula that would include only those who were sentenced to capital punishment or were executed."
      "It should be emphasized that the Red Army's campaign in September 1939 concerned the liberation of territories transferred to Poland under the 1920 Treaty of Riga; in other words, it meant the liberation of part of the homeland."
      "Although there is no justification for the massacre of Polish prisoners of war at Katyn, it should be noted that from Stalin's point of view the executions went far beyond the problem of political rationality, and were a response to the deaths of thousands of Red Army soldiers held in Polish captivity after the war of 1920."
      These quotes convey that many postulations (e.g. on 1939, the Katyn massacre or the famine) were motivated by the historical policies of neighboring countries and worded in the same propaganda-tainted mode of politicized history.
      The authors said their textbooks were based on renouncing totalitarianism as a non-scientific tool borrowed from the Cold War era and on an analysis of the Soviet period from the viewpoint of modernization theory. Essentially, the textbook's content concerns the discourse of today's ruling elite, which addresses the past and is remarkably similar to the post-Stalin, Soviet narrative, with the exclusion of Communist rhetoric. Such talk suggests that the crimes committed during the Soviet era were unavoidable because Russia was surrounded by enemies and was going through a wartime mobilization. Furthermore, these crimes were kind of justified by the success of modernization, without which Russia's victory in World War II would have been impossible.
      The use of administrative levers to successfully introduce the new textbook as the "correct one" became a classical attribute of historical policy. The Russian government has not hesitated to use legislation to regulate the problems of history, which is typical of such an approach. In the winter of 2009, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, one of the leaders of the ruling United Russia party, was the first to speak out about the need to pass a law threatening criminal prosecution for "incorrect" remarks about World War II and the Soviet Union's role in that war. Two bills pursuant to this idea were soon submitted to the Russian parliament.
      In May 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree to set up a presidential commission on historical falsification. This was the culmination of the historical policy that had gained momentum since 2003. The document not only fueled a wave of criticism from professional historians and the public at large, but also signaled the start of an aggressive propaganda campaign from those who harbored overt hostility towards scholars and historians.
      Instead of creating an Institute of National Remembrance according to the Ukrainian or Polish model, Russia opted for a solution that was more technologically successful. It used the efforts of formally independent public organizations that could be assigned relevant tasks and given archival materials lucrative for the customer. In essence, this was a modification of the familiar technology for media leaks, in which case leaked information is not necessarily false, but can be manipulated. Historical research loses its scholarly nature and turns into a political-technological contract; decisions on financing and assessing works are made by the political authorities, not by the professional community.
      Thus, all the key elements of historical policy can easily be found in Russian practices of the 2000s. First, there was an attempt to introduce a standardized history textbook edited by the political center. Second, there were specialized politically engaged institutions that combined the tasks of organizing historical research with control over archives and publications. Third, an attempt was made to regulate interpretations of history through legislation. Finally, all of these practices were supported by methods of legitimization and ideological support typical of all of the above-mentioned practices.
      Historical policy was targeted at people inside Russia. Although some organizational solutions were quite original, Russian historical policy, in spirit and style, was in line with that of its neighbors. This was fraught with serious consequences for Russian international relations, since the promoters of an anti-Russian historical policy in post-Communist countries expected exactly such reactions from Moscow. The political atmosphere inside Russia was becoming quite depressing.
      Poland contributed to the strengthening of Russia's historical policy, but events in Poland also had a contradictory impact on this policy. After Donald Tusk was elected prime minister in autumn 2007 (Tusk is the leader of Poland's Civic Platform party and a political opponent of the Kaczynski brothers' policy), a cautious dialogue began between Moscow and Tusk's political camp. This dialogue encompassed many issues including historical ones. In July 2008, Dr Anatoly Torkunov, director of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and a co-chairman of the Russian-Polish Commission on Difficult Issues that had been recently set up, published an article called "The Paradoxes and Dangers of Historical Policy" in the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Torkunov posited a public opposition to the line embodied in Danilov and Filippov's textbook.
      Vladimir Putin became Donald Tusk's partner in this cautious and timid political dialogue. He visited Westerplatte, the symbol of the Polish Army's resistance to Nazi occupation, together with other European leaders on September 1, 2009, the 60th anniversary of the beginning of World War II. This was a significant event for bilateral relations, as September 1 is directly related to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939.
      On the eve of Putin's visit, the Russian media launched a full-scale "preliminary bombardment" in the spirit of historical policy and tried to depict Poland as a country that had to share responsibility for the outbreak of the war. Naturally, the Molotov-Ribbentrop theme was widely exploited on the eve of the anniversary in historical policy discussions in Russia's neighboring countries as well.
      Amid these events, Putin offered an unexpectedly constructive approach in an article titled "Pages of History: A Pretext for Reciprocal Claims or a Basis for Reconciliation and Partnership?' that was published by Gazeta Wyborcza, one of Poland's leading newspapers, on the eve of his visit to Poland. Putin made a reconciliatory speech at Westerplatte in which he unequivocally denounced the Soviet-German treaty of 1939. Russian opponents of historical policy cautiously welcomed Putin's speech, while outspoken policy proponents condemned it as a senseless concession to the Poles, who ostensibly do not have the ability to appreciate such gestures. The Kaczynski camp also rushed to take steps towards fueling the tensions and restoring the confrontational atmosphere that had begun to settle down. All of this clearly showed that the advocates of a confrontational historical policy in both Russia and Poland actually played into each other's hands, using the provocative statements of their opponents to legitimatize their own policies.
      The events of the spring of 2010 had a strong impact on the general situation. The Russian government increased its revision of historical policy after the Russian and Polish prime ministers attended a joint ceremony to honor Polish officers who were murdered at Katyn and, subsequently, after Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash near Smolensk three days later. The Russian authorities weathered the tragedy with dignity and opted for acceleration in meeting Warsaw halfway. The Kremlin ignored incendiary statements by some Polish media claiming that Russia should bear complete responsibility for the crash. Instead, Russia said it was ready to take further steps towards normalizing relations regarding the most painful issues of their common history.
      Donald Tusk and his supporters were persistent in their commitment to reconcile with Russia, even though they have had to pay a large political price. Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (PiS) party made the "betrayal of Polish dignity and interests" their main point in criticizing the government. It is quite obvious that PiS will put Lech Kaczynski's "murder" and Russia's responsibility for "genocide in Katyn" at the top of its agenda in the run-up to parliamentary elections this fall - a campaign that is likely to be nasty. The word "genocide," which in reference to Katyn is questionable even for many Polish historians, has once again proven its efficiency as an instrument of historical policy. The power of the emotions it arouses blocks any rational reasoning.
      The Moscow-Warsaw dialogue embraced people on both sides of the debate who wanted to ease tensions, while historical policy advocates sought to push the discussions back into verbal bickering. Both Russia and Poland (and probably the majority of other countries too) have distinct groups consistently targeted towards reconciliation, as well as no less coherent communities that want an escalation in confrontation. Both camps are seeking to win over the majority of people who have no clear position. The success of those who want reconciliation largely depends on whether their partners across the border are ready to ignore provocations, pushing them to the periphery of the public sphere and collective consciousness. Although tensions have not disappeared, they are no longer a decisive factor on the political agenda.
      Withdrawing from a confrontation caused by historical policy is a long and difficult process with inevitable setbacks, like any recovery from a severe illness. In the early stages the proponents of reconciliation often have to face a difficult challenge: how to minimize the damage inflicted by attacks from their competitors who are betting on a confrontational historical policy while keeping the trust of their foreign partners. The conduct of Civic Platform representatives in 2010 and 2011 can be seen as a good example of such maneuvering. Moreover, the simple logic of political struggle appears to be an important factor in reconciliation: once politicians start the reconciliation process, they find it difficult to stop since they would have to acknowledge then that their political opponents were right. That is why proponents of reconciliation will abide by it strategically, even if they conduct various political maneuvers.
      Russian-Ukrainian relations changed considerably in 2010. Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich and his team sought to remove the elements of historical policy that Russia found especially irritating. Moscow was also ready to ease tensions. Although there was no political rapprochement with the Baltic countries, the principle of "avoiding extra tensions" was extrapolated there as well. For the most part, the media simply ignored provocative acts on the part of Russia's neighbors. It was the same case in relations with Moldova, although the historical policy intensified sharply in that country in 2010, along with a surge in internal political strife.
      Some politicians in Russia started making statements in 2010 that contrasted sharply with the government's historical policy of the previous years. After Polish President Lech Kaczynski's death, Dmitry Medvedev and an influential part of the establishment started using anti-Stalinist gestures and rhetoric. Notable events took place in public life too. Alexander Danilov was not elected director of the Institute of Russian History, part of the Academy of Sciences, and there was an avalanche of public criticism after Alexander Vdovin and Alexander Barsenkov published a textbook endorsed by the Department of History at Moscow State University. The authors were accused of "a tendentious outlook and interpretation of history in the spirit of radical nationalism." Sergei Karpov, the dean of the Department of History, had to apologize. This was probably the first time the opponents of the former historical policy went on the offensive, rather than remaining defensive.
      There was a remarkable reaction among those who quite recently supported the idea of setting up a commission on historical falsifications and demanded that "the disciples of Dr Goebbels" among Russian historians "be straightened out." These commentators wrote about the freedom of historical interpretations and in less official publications complained about an "attack on Russian scientists" organized by the "non-Russian liberal mafia." This scandal greatly damaged the image of the Department of History at Moscow State University and Karpov personally. This is perhaps the main lesson that was learned. This will hopefully make the directors of scientific and educational institutions pay more attention to what their Academic Councils approve for publication either out of simple neglect, through an ill-perceived solidarity with fellow researchers, or out of sympathy for their disgraceful texts.
      It is difficult to assess the role of different factors in the reorientation of rhetoric and - potentially - of the government's policies that occurred in 2010. One can only list them without trying to define their significance. In the foreign policy sphere, the "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations luckily coincided with the arrival of political leaders in Poland and Ukraine who want to normalize relations with Russia. The easing of tensions offered a chance to abandon verbal wars over historical issues and Moscow clutched at this opportunity, together with Warsaw and Kiev. Concerns about improving Russia's image abroad have forced the authorities to admit that attempts "to normalize Stalinism" are seen by Russia's foreign policy partners as scandalous and are used by politicians and the media, who are driven by anti-Russian sentiments.
      A few events that took place in early 2011 can be seen as attempts to establish cooperation between a public that finds it necessary to give a clear derogatory political and legal assessment to the wrongdoings committed by the Communist regime, and that part of the establishment ready to make that theme an element of its policy. Some of the members of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civic Society and Human Rights, led by Mikhail Fedotov and Sergei Karaganov, and the Memorial human rights group, have drafted proposals to implement a national state-public program for commemoration of victims of the totalitarian regime and work towards national reconciliation. Along with erecting monuments, opening museums and research centers, and appointing national commemorative dates, the authors have suggested holding a competition for a new history textbook and called on the government to support academic research in this field. The project also specifies important political and legal steps, such as juridical assessment and political condemnation of the crimes committed by the Communist regime. Furthermore, the project presupposes a ban on the denial and/or justification of these crimes.
      The authors of the project wanted to write their own anti-Communist views into the president's political agenda. The preamble of their brainchild mentions, among other things, the task of modernization and fantastical ideas about the consolidation of CIS countries. The somewhat awkward preamble and a number of inaccurately formulated practical proposals have made the draft an easy target for criticism from its opponents.
      The future of the document remains unclear. Through the irony of politics, Medvedev handed the program to Chief of the Presidential Administration Staff, Sergei Naryshkin, who is also head of Medvedev's commission on historical falsification, and instructed him to analyze "the important proposals." Yet some things can already be stated. The draft has marked a transition in the public debate on history to a new quality level, where there are two opposing positions that are stringently formulated and politically anchored.
      One position suggests that the condemnation of crimes committed by the Communist regime should be reduced. First of all, it should not overshadow the achievements of the regime, which include, in addition to the victory in World War II, industrialization, space research, successes in atomic energy, the eradication of illiteracy, etc. Second, the recognition of the crimes of Communism will weaken Russia's foreign policy positions and may result in unpredictably large compensation payments to the victims of repression and their descendents. Finally, the implementation of the program is allegedly untimely, as it will split society and lead to a "civil war." The latter argument is based on the conviction that today, almost a hundred years after the Bolshevik revolution and more than fifty years after Stalin's death, which marked an end to mass repression, it is still useful to abide by the tactics of "superseding oblivion."
      Those who support this position are diverse and include Communists, who are ready to wave Stalin's portraits at public rallies, and those who support a strong state, who do not love Stalin, but detest his critics even more. It was in precisely this vein that historical policy developed in 2003-2009. It progressed under the motto of a struggle against libels of the past and sought to understate the scale of repressions (Danilov's proposal to rank only those who were executed as victims) or to present them in a relativist way (on the principle "others had sins too.")
      In many ways this was an attempt to rehabilitate the Communist-era discourse on the balance of Soviet achievements and faults, carried out in terms of the personality cult more typical of Brezhnev's era rather than Khrushchev's, but without defending Communism as an ideology. These ideas find support among those who are frustrated and look back to Stalin with nostalgia for an era of a great power, friendship among peoples and social security. These people are unhappy with the social disparity, corrupt government and other problems in today's Russia.
      The other side posits that society and politics should make the condemnation of Communist crimes an integral part of the political discourse about the past and a key element in the government's political legitimization. Unless the remembrance of crimes and their victims is limited to self-identification with the victims - the simplest and most dangerous path - and if memory raises the issue of national responsibility for past sins, it may serve as an important lever in revamping social relations.
      Russian liberals have traditionally criticized historical policy the most for its efforts to make Stalinism acceptable. At the same time, opponents of the efforts to rehabilitate the national memory portray them as a conspiracy of liberals. Although such attempts may prove successful in the tactical sense, they deliberately distort reality. The liberals are not the only group who want to strongly condemn the crimes of Communism.
      "Russian History: the Twentieth Century" (edited by Andrei Zubov), a strongly anti-Communist book, was published recently. It became a bestseller and has produced a widespread public response. The book was written on the basis of religious - and partly conservative - positions, but shows no signs of the liberal ideological platform. Another major project, "History of Stalinism," launched in 2008 by the ROSSPEN publishing house and the Boris Yeltsin Foundation, currently includes 50 volumes reflecting a wide range of opinions. In addition, more than 800 commemorative sites (museums, monuments, memorial plaques, etc.) dedicated to those who were killed in political repressions and erected across Russia mostly through local initiatives, show that the problem concerns not only "liberals who live in downtown Moscow."
      This policy can lean on a broad coalition of forces that are far apart on many other issues. The Russian Orthodox Church, particularly under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill, has been persistently anti-Stalinist and anti-Communist. When discussions of the draft program for commemorating the victims of political repressions were underway, the Russian Orthodox Church strongly supported its main idea - the political and legal assessment of the crimes committed by the Bolshevist regime.
      It turned out that many people in the establishment have strong anti-Communist sentiment, although they are not consonant with liberal viewpoints. There are also people who are ready to support this policy out of momentary tactical considerations. For instance, in January 2011 a group of United Russia party officials said they were in favor of burying Lenin's body. The party is ready to support the anti-Communist memorial policy by and large if it brings political rewards.
      Given this situation, the memorial policy may become an important element in the overall political agenda and an important distinctive element of Medvedev's positioning in the upcoming presidential campaign. Most importantly, it may help tap new ideas for legitimizing and transforming the incumbent regime, whose ideology has obviously become tattered. The condemnation of illegitimate repression and the Bolshevist class-based terror falls perfectly in line with the idea of a state ruled by law, democratization and political nation-building - a slogan that Medvedev has put at the center of his platform.
      It is difficult to predict where this discussion will lead. The opponents of condemnation of the Communist regime's crimes have mobilized to put the polemics back on the track of habitual historical policy - personalized attacks against opponents, purported distortions of their position and complaining about high treason. There is a chance, however, that efforts to defile the discussion will fail. It seems that both supporters of an anti-Communist memorial policy and its opponents have enough people ready for an essential dialogue.
      Naturally, one cannot help but notice the absence of a traditional groundwork for public discussion in Russia, which David Art has analyzed using Germany and Austria. He highlighted the significance of printed media as the arena where different viewpoints confront each other and where shifts in public consciousness regarding collective memory and norms of politically correct speech are fixed. Russia does not have a single printed medium that might play the role of this kind of moderator. Attempts continue to give this role to the Internet and that is where the main action is taking place. In this sense further progress on memorial policy is of special interest to researchers, as this is one of the first instances of an Internet-based process.
      Russia has escaped the outburst of historical policy that seemed inevitable in 2009. Today one can hardly expect that the tendency - whose culmination came with the creation of Medvedev's commission on historical falsification and the Filippov-Danilov textbook - would successfully regain its previous power, audacity and confidence. It is equally obvious, however, that the heated public debate over the memorial policy will continue to gain momentum.
      This will likely become an important, if not decisive, ideological element in reformatting the entire social and political sphere - something that is practically inevitable twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and because the related emotions and images are gradually disappearing from most peoples' short-term memories. It is impossible to figure out, however, the historical myth that might appear in place of what has been the focal point of polemics over the past two decades.
      (The full version of this article will appear in the book "Historical Politics in the 21st Century," edited by Alexei Miller and Masha Lipman.)


      The Judgment Century: What Truth About the Past Can Change the Future?
      By: Sergey Karaganov and Mikhail Fedotov
      Rossiiskaya Gazeta , July 27, 2011

      Over the months since the public-state program "On the Perpetuation of the Memory of the Victims of the Totalitarian Regime and on National Reconciliation" was officially presented to President Dmitry Medvedev on February 1, 2011 in Yekaterinburg, considerable progress has been achieved in its implementation - much to the surprise of its authors.
      The program has stroke the right chord in the heart of the nation. The heated debates the program has caused have shown how relevant it is to Russian society. It is largely due to these debates that the program has taken on a national resonance and importance.
      We are grateful to the opponents of our program for their arguments, which we are not going to ignore - even if we find some of the critics not quite honest, because they have never before been found serving the public interest selflessly, and even if their verbal carpet-bombing suggests the sad conclusion that their criticism of the program has been ordered.
      But we, just as the other authors of the program, take no offence. "Remain to praise and slander cool, and do not argue with a fool" - this advice from great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin helps us not to distract from the cause that we undertook to champion. Our goal is to return to the people the memory of millions of their compatriots killed by the totalitarian regime. Returning this memory is a must for restoring the nation's self-respect, without which further progress is impossible.
      We understand criticism from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and some smaller parties that view themselves as successors to the Soviet Communist Party banned 20 years ago: they have chosen to identify themselves with that regime. Yet, even they, just as our other opponents, have nothing to say against most of the specific proposals contained in our program. As a rule, they criticize things that do not exist in the program; our tireless critics only think it has them. But we are still sincerely grateful to them, because unwittingly they have helped to make the program popular.
      Many worthy and respected people, true citizens of Russia, who sincerely seek to prevent a repetition of the past mistakes, have joined in the program - directly or through the media. They come out with new proposals or propose amendments to the ones made earlier. In other words, the program is working - through public discussions and new, non-confrontational rethinking of the origins and outcome of the decades-long tragedy.
      Much to our surprise, we have learned encouraging things: namely, society wants to know the truth and wants justice. According to public opinion polls conducted by the Levada Center and the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), 50 to 75 percent of those polled support the main ideas of the program: creating a unified electronic Book of Remembrance that would record the names of the victims of the totalitarian regime; opening the totalitarian regime's archives; etc. Opponents of the program have found themselves in the minority in society - despite the generally positive tone in the media in recent years with regard to Russia's totalitarian past and even the notorious "effective manager."
      We understand that we cannot achieve much at once, especially in a pre-election year. In addition, our program is meant for decades. This is why an inter-departmental working group that is being set up now to follow up on the program will not rake up the past or start a witch-hunt, which the authors of the program are often accused of, but will carefully and steadily build organizational and legal mechanisms for restoring historical memory.
      The group will have several subgroups which will focus on specific issues. For example, one subgroup will work on the creation of a memorial museum, in the Kovalyovsky Forest, near St. Petersburg. Another subgroup will focus on efforts to give legal status to graves of victims of the political repression. The third one will work on Books of Remembrance, and so on.
      The issue of creating a memorial museum in Moscow remains open. The draft program proposed creating it within the city boundaries, on lands that belong to the state-owned enterprise The Moscow Canal. But now there are other options, as well. Perhaps, it would be worth developing and expanding the existing memorial complex Butovo Firing Range, located outside the Moscow Ring Road. The Orthodox Church has built a magnificent church, a memorial cross and a museum there. This is a good start, but it must be followed up, and the memorial complex must be given special status. Also, let us not forget that there is an outstanding design of a monument by our prominent compatriot, sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, which has not been given a site in Russia yet. Why not build it in Butovo?
      In 2007, on the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression, the Butovo Firing Range, where more than 20,000 people were executed, was visited by the head of the Russian state. Why not make it a tradition? Especially as the memorial complex makes a very strong impression on any normal person. Some critics of the program ask: To whom shall we build monuments? Shall we build them to executioners as well? We believe that we must build monuments to all victims of the 20th century in Russia. After all, it happened that victims became executioners, and executioners became victims.
      Such is the nature of totalitarian regimes with inevitable political repression. One of us, for example, likes the idea of building a monument depicting Motherland, before whom a Red Army commander and a White Army officer stand kneeling and begging her pardon. One of them scored a victory in the Civil War but later vanished in the waves of repression. The other was defeated in the Civil War and died, too, or was thrown out of the country. One wise man from Dagestan told us: There are no winners in civil wars; there are only those who have survived amidst graves and ruins.
      The main arguments of the opponents of our program, who do not want to cure the terrible disease that we have inherited from our totalitarian past and who have grown accustomed to it and fear being cured of it, are as follows: The project is untimely; we must focus on urgent problems, instead of raking up the past and dividing society. The debates caused by our program have only made us even more resolved to help our society part with the horror of its totalitarian past. We are glad that we can rely not only on the support of our numerous fellow citizens but also on the civil position of two greatest geniuses born in Russia and known in the whole world.
      Almost 40 years ago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote: "Is it not still more dreadful that we are now being told, thirty years later, 'Don't talk about it!'? If we start to recall the sufferings of millions, we are told it will distort the historical perspective! If we doggedly seek out the essence of our morality, we are told it will darken our material progress! Let's think rather about the blast furnaces, the rolling mills that were built, the canals that were dug ... no, better not talk about the canals. ... Then maybe about the gold of the Kolyma? No, maybe we ought not to talk about that either. ... Well, we can talk about anything, so long as we do it adroitly, so long as we glorify it. ..." ["The Gulag Archipelago," translated by Thomas P. Whitney - Ed.]
      Another quotation, by Leo Tolstoy, is more than one hundred years old. Yet, this quotation has direct relevance to us, people of today: "Why annoy the people in recalling what is already past? Past? What is past? Can a severe disease be past only because we say that it is past? It does not pass away, and never will pass away, and cannot pass away as long as we do not acknowledge ourselves sick. To be cured of a disease, one must first recognize it. And this we do not do. Not only do we fail to do it, but we employ all our powers not to see it, not to recognize it. Meantime, the disease, instead of passing away, changes its form, sinks deeper into the flesh, the blood, the bones. ... We ask, 'Why talk about it'? ... Yes, why? If I have a severe or dangerous disease difficult to cure, and I am relieved of it, I shall always be glad to be reminded of it. I shall not mention it only when I am suffering, and my suffering continues and grows worse all the time, and I wish to deceive myself; only then I shall not mention it! And we do not mention it because we know that we are still suffering." ["Nikolai Palkin," translated by Thomas Y. Crowell and Co. - Ed.]
      And, finally, the last thing we would like to mention here. Our critics vehemently try to prove that the program allegedly invites today's Russia to publicly repent to other countries and peoples for the crimes of the totalitarian regime. This is what we have to say to these critics: One cannot demand that victims assume responsibility for the barbarities committed against them! At the same time, we must explicitly condemn the heinous crimes of the totalitarian regime and declare that we do not have (and do not want to have) anything in common with them.
      Not the slightest shade of blame must rest on those Soviet people who had to live in those difficult years, who grew grain, built houses, hunted down thieves, served in the army, and composed symphonies. They lived the only possible kind of life in those inhuman times. But we must renounce the crimes of that regime. In the Orthodox Rite of Baptism, when the priest asks, "Do you renounce Satan, all his works, all his angels, all his service and all his pride?", one must answer: "I renounce them." And this must be said three times! Similarly, we all must renounce the totalitarian hell out loud and, most importantly, in our hearts.

      New Russian Law Signals Tougher Anti-Abortion Stance, Could Spark Social Divide
      By: Tom Balmforth
      RFE/RL, July 30, 2011

      MOSCOW -- Father Maksim Obukhov, a graying Orthodox priest, began his campaign against abortion 18 years ago, when he would stand in the streets handing out flyers to mostly uninterested passersby.
      But in a country that ha<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.