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Bulletin 5:30 (2011)

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 5, No. 30 (151), 1 December 2011 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2011
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 5, No. 30 (151), 1 December 2011
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 1 - 15 November 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 November 2011

      Half of Russians Want Ethnicity Restored to Passports - Poll
      Interfax, November 2, 2011

      MOSCOW. Nov 2 (Interfax) - Almost half of Russian citizens polled recently (48%) said Ethnicity (phonetically Nationality) should be returned to Russian passports, the Levada Center pollster has reported.
      Since February 2010, the share of those supporting this idea has increased by 10 percentage points, Levada Center said after polling 1,600 respondents in 130 populated areas of 45 regions in late October.
      The share of those who think this category is redundant has shrunk from 45% to 38%.
      The idea of restoring ethnicity to Russian passports was recently proposed by the Communist party leadership. In the Soviet-era, the inclusion of a passport holders "ethnicity" was mandatory.
      Head of the Kremlin Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov does not think the Communists' proposal makes sense. "According to the Constitution, no one can be forced to state his ethnicity. If this category is restored and becomes mandatory, the Constitution will be violated. But if it remains optional, what the big idea?" Fedotov earlier told Interfax.
      "The main category in our passport is where we state our nationality. It is of crucial importance for us to feel that we are citizens of a single and united country," he said.
      Rights veteran and leader of the Movement for Human Rights Lev Ponomaryov assailed the Communists' initiative as "dangerous." "Pedaling the nationality problem is counterproductive to maintaining the country's integrity," Ponomaryov told Interfax.
      "The ethnicity category is not needed in the passport, as each citizen has the right to decide on his ethnicity on his own, he said.

      Third of Russians to Celebrate November 4 Holiday - Poll
      Interfax, November 3, 2011

      MOSCOW. Nov 3 (Interfax) - People in Russia are increasingly aware of the Day of People's Unity observed on November 4, and the number of those who do not know the holiday's name is down from 51% in 2009 to 43% in 2011, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said.
      At the same time, the number of people who remember the correct name of the holiday is down from 16% to 8%, the Center told Interfax on Thursday. It held the poll in 138 towns and cities in 46 regions in late October.
      Instead of calling the holiday the Day of People's Unity, people tend to call it Unification Day (the number of such answers grew from 9% to 11%). Eight percent call it the Day of Russian Independence; 4% call it the Day of Concord and Reconciliation, 2% say this is the Constitution Day, and 1% says this is the Revolution Day.
      Few people know the origin of the holiday; 77% of the respondents are unable to answer the question. Only 14% (10% a year ago) gave the correct answer - the holiday marks the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders by volunteers led by Minin and Pozharsky in 1612.
      The majority of Russians do not celebrate this holiday, and their number is down from 66% to 54%.
      Thirty-four percent plan to celebrate the holiday. Most of the celebrations will take place at home (the number of such answers grew from 6% to 11%) or at homes of friends (a growth from 4% to 8%). Three percent will celebrate the holiday in the countryside, and 2% will visit a restaurant, a club, a theater, a movie theater or a concert hall on that day.
      Only 1% will take part in festive demonstrations.
      Twelve percent have not made up their mind.

      U.S. Embassy Warns Americans in Moscow of Nationalist Rallies on Nov 4
      Interfax, November 3, 2011

      MOSCOW. Nov 3 (Interfax) - The U.S. embassy to Russia has advised U.S. nationals against visiting Moscow districts where nationalists will stage rallies on November 4, the People's Unity Day.
      "Due to the possibility of violence, the embassy strongly advises all U.S. citizens to avoid these areas entirely. U.S. citizens are reminded of the violence that occurred during nationalist protests earlier this year," the embassy said in a statement posted on the its website.
      The embassy recalled that the main action are expected to take place in Lyublino district; however, expressed fears that nationalist rallies may take place in other districts.
      "Spontaneous demonstrations of support may appear anywhere throughout the city, at any time of day. Equally possible are counter-demonstrations staged by groups opposed to nationalist sentiments," the statement reads.
      The embassy also noted that attacks on U.S. citizens of African or Asian descent have become more frequent in Russia. "The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General continue to receive reports of U.S. citizens, often members of minority groups, victimized in violent attacks by 'skinheads' or other extremists," the statement reads.
      According to the statement, U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African, South Asian, or East Asian descent, or those who, because of their complexion, are perceived to be from the Caucasus region or the Middle East. "These U.S. citizens are also at risk for harassment by police authorities," it reads.
      The embassy also reminded U.S. nationals "to exercise caution when travelling throughout the city."
      It was reported earlier that the Moscow authorities gave a go-ahead to a march and concert in Lyublino district on November 4.
      The Moscow authorities allowed 10,000 participants to gather, but the organizers hope 25,000 will join in, leader of the Russkie (Russians) movement Dmitry Dyomushkin said.
      About 40 nationalistic organizations will take part in the Russian March. The only symbol the marchers will carry is the white-yellow-black flag of the Russian Empire.

      Altai Jehovah's Witnesses leader sentenced to community sevice
      Interfax-Religion, November 3, 2011

      Gorno-Altaisk, November 3, Interfax - The Gorno-Altaisk City Court in the Republic of Altai has found Jehovah's Witnesses local organization head Alexander Kalistratov guilty of public incitement to hate, the republic prosecutor's office said on Thursday.
      "Kalistratov and his fellow believers distributed Jehovah's Witnesses books and magazines, seeding religious and social discord and inciting hatred for Christianity, Christian believers and clerics from October 2008 through December 31, 2009," the prosecutors said.
      The books and magazines, which were pronounced extremist by the court, were printed in the United States and Germany.
      The court sentenced Kalistratov to 100 hours of community service.
      Initially, the Gorno-Altaisk City Court acquitted Kalistratov due to the absence of formal elements of a crime. The Supreme Court of the Altai Republic repealed the sentence and the case was reopened in April 2011.


      Moscow police on alert as Russia marks National Unity Day: More than 5,000 policemen will ensure public order and security in the Russian capital on Friday during the celebration of the National Unity Day
      RIA Novosti, 04/11/2011

      More than 5,000 policemen will ensure public order and security in the Russian capital on Friday during the celebration of the National Unity Day, a Moscow police spokesman said.
      Russia will mark the holiday with Pro-Kremlin, nationalist and opposition rallies across the country, including 18 authorized public events in Moscow alone.
      "An operational center will be set up [in Moscow] to ensure security and public order. More than 5,000 police officers will be on duty in the capital," the official said.
      About 10,000 activists and supporters of Russia's ruling United Russia party will gather on the Poklonnaya Gora for a meeting and a concert.
      The Russian nationalists will mark the holiday with their traditional Russian March in southeast Moscow and hold a rally at the Soldier of the Motherland monument.
      Up to 3,000 activists of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) will gather on Pushkin Square in downtown Moscow to call for the unity of Russia and to protest against corruption in the country.
      National Unity Day was introduced by the Kremlin in 2005 to replace the communist holiday of November 7 celebrating the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
      November 4 was chosen as the date of the liberation of Russia from Polish invaders in 1612.


      Russia marks National Unity Day Friday
      Itar-Tass, November 4, 2011

      MOSCOW, November 4 (Itar-Tass) ­ Russia celebrates National Unity Day on Friday. This public holiday was established in 2005 as a sign of age-old traditions of patriotism, solidarity and cohesion. It is dedicated to the heroic deed of the people's volunteer army that liberated Moscow from Polish invaders in 1612 under the leadership of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky. These events that took place four centuries ago, in the best way underline the involvement of everyone in the destinies of the country.
      This day is a holiday also on the church calendar. The Orthodox Church has been for nearly 400 years honouring on this day the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, which, according to the legend, helped the people's volunteer corps. It is not accidentally that until 1917 this date was not only the Church feast, but also a public holiday proclaimed by the decree of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.
      Having taken in 2005 its rightful place as a red-letter date in the calendar, National Unity Day, as a holiday of the whole civil society, in fact, "has replaced" the November 7 revolutionary holiday, which for nerfaly a century kept the traditions and class ideology of the 1917 October Revolution.
      The parliamentary majority party United Russia, which in 2004 initiated the revival of the holiday, attaches special importance to this day. "We were the initiators of the bill on amendments to the list of holidays and memorable dates," Chairman of the Supreme Council of United Russia, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov confirmed. He said that the party on this day will stage rallies across the country.
      In Moscow, the United Russia party and their supporters will gather at the Poklonnaya Hill. "I think there are fewer and fewer citizens in our country who do not know what the fourth of November is," said Gryzlov. "More and more people take part in this truly national holiday."
      A reception will be held with the participation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the occasion of the holiday. By tradition, the country's leaders will lay flowers at the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky in Red Square. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill will also take part in the celebrations.
      National Unity Day was celebrated in the Russian Empire until 1917 and in Russia from 2005. Held on November 4 (October 22, Old Style), it commemorates the popular uprising which expelled the Polish-Lithuanian occupation force from Moscow in November 1612, and more generally the end of the Time of Troubles and foreign intervention in Russia in the Polish-Muscovite War (1605­1618). Its name alludes to the idea that all the classes of Russian society willingly united to preserve Russian statehood when its demise seemed inevitable even though there was neither Tsar nor Patriarch to guide them. In 1613 tsar Mikhail Romanov instituted a holiday named Day of Moscow's Liberation from Polish Invaders. The holiday, held in October, was abandoned in 1917. November 4 is also the feast day for Our Lady of Kazan, the holy icon which the Russian Orthodox Church probably venerates most. According to a recent poll (2007), only 23 percent of Russians knew the name of the holiday, up from 8 percent in 2005. 22 percent identified the holiday as the Day of Accord and Reconciliation, the name of the Nov. 7 holiday in the 1990s. Only 4 percent knew that the holiday commemorates the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders, down from 5 percent in 2005.
      President Vladimir Putin re-established the holiday in order to replace the commemoration of the October Revolution, known as The Day of Great October Socialist Revolution during Soviet period and as The Day of Accord and Conciliation in post-Soviet times, which formally took place on November 7. His decision angered some sections of the public, particularly the Communist Party, who pressed on with celebrations on Nov. 7. Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin took a limited action of changing the name of the holiday; by completely removing it, Putin has sparked a controversy.
      There have been concerns about the manifestations of ultra-nationalism during the celebrations of National Unity Day. In November 2005 and 2006, rallies were held in Moscow at which demonstrators shouted "Russia for Russians!" with anti-immigration slogans.
      This year's Unity Day is celebrated amidst the parliamentary election campaign, which in December will smoothly pass into the presidential campaign. The Liberal Democrats (LDPR), led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky will mark the holiday by a traditional rally in Pushkin Square in Moscow. The Yabloko party intends to hold events in regions. So, the party chairman Sergei Mitrokhin and party's "namesake" Alexei Yablokov will present the party's platform in Kazan in the Tatar language. Leaders of Just (Fair) Russia have also departed on a tour of the regions. Only the Communists (CPRF) ignore the holiday. The same as before, they called on their supporters to come for a march and rally on November 7, to mark the 94th anniversary of the October Revolution.
      According to the VCIOM public opinion study centre, about one-third (34 percent) of Russians are going to celebrate the holiday this year. At the same time, the number of respondents who do not usually celebrate this date has decreased from 66 to 54 percent. Another 12 percent are undecided how to spend the day. Meanwhile, according to sociologists, the tradition to celebrate November 4 at a table with friends, as well as in theatres, cinemas or at a concert is becoming more widespread. Participation in a demonstration on the occasion of the holiday is the choice of the minority (1 percent). 

      Thousands take part in Moscow celebrations of National Unity Day
      RIA Novosti, November 4, 2011

      MOSCOW, November 4 (RIA Novosti)-More than 32,000 people took part in Moscow's public celebrations of National Unity Day, which included events ranging from neo-Nazi marches to antifascist rallies in different parts of the city.
      Neo-Nazis and far-right nationalists marched through working-class Lyublino neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, chanting "Russia for Russians, Europe for Whites!" and calling on ethnic Russians to "take back" Russia.
      Organizers had predicted that 25,000 people would show up at the march. But a police spokesman told RIA Novosti news that around 7,000 people took part.
      The nationalist Russian March was held amid rising resentment over the influx of migrants from Russia's North Caucasus.
      Another 15,000 people took part in a separate Russian March organized by the pro-Kremlin group Nashi in the Soviet-era All-Russian Exhibition Center (VVTs), a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.
      "This marsh is not an alternative to the Russian March which is now being held in Lyublino," a spokesman for Nashi said. "This is the only genuine Russian March as many peoples that have glorified our country are taking part in it," he added.
      The participants of the march chanted "I love Russia" and the names of the cities they hailed from. Nashi said they had invited everyone "who has Russian passport, knows Russian language, abides the country's laws and wants to live in Russia despite his or her ethnicity."
      Ruling United Russia party held an own public event in Moscow's Poklonnaya Gora park. It gathered about 10,000 participants, police said.
      About 500 young Russians paraded along Moscow's Taras Shevchenko Embankment near Kievsky Station in an antifascist march to mark the National Unity Day.
      According to police, no serious incidents were spotted during the celebrations in Moscow.
      National Unity Day was introduced by the Kremlin in 2005 to replace the communist holiday of November 7 celebrating the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
      November 4 was chosen as the date of the liberation of Russia from Polish invaders in 1612, but according to a survey held in 2010 most Russians struggle to name the reason for the celebration.
      The country, however, is used to an extra day off in November since the 7th day of the month was an annual celebration of the October Socialist Revolution of 1917.
      The October revolution, despite its name, has always been celebrated in November, as Russia switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1918. 

      Russia is celebrating National Unity Day
      Kremlin.ru, November 4, 2011

      Speaking at an official reception marking the National Unity Day in Nizhny Novgorod, Dmitry Medvedev said that patriotism, civic spirit, and love for the Fatherland are the fundamental values that have always cemented the multi-ethnic Russian state.
      The President also presented state decorations to foreign citizens for their contribution to strengthening friendship, cooperation and developing cultural ties with Russia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also attended the ceremony.
      Mr Medvedev and Mr Putin laid flowers at the monument to Minin and Pozharksy in Nizhny Novgorod.
      Russia has celebrated the National Unity Day as an official holiday since 2005. The date commemorates the events of 1612 when Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky formed volunteer corps that went on to liberate Moscow from the Polish-Lithuanian interventionist forces.

      Medvedev: Orthodoxy Russia's Guardian of "indisputable Truths"
      Interfax-Religion, November 7, 2011

      MOSCOW. Nov 5 (Interfax) - President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday credited Orthodox Christianity with helping Russia preserve its traditional values and counteract doctrines that "give rise to social strife, hostility, violence, instability in our country, which, unfortunately, actually pervert people's mentalities."
      "We live in a complex country, but it is an open country that is based on democratic values. Here everyone is free to choose their own ideology, religion, goals in life, many political preferences - anyone has a wide variety of options. We are also an open country for new knowledge, interesting ideas and useful information," Medvedev said at a meeting with members of the country's Orthodox community.
      However, "besides valuable and productive trends, very often very doubtable factors find their way into an open society - doubtable ideological constructs, all kinds of rubbish that is essentially destructive," he said.
      "I have in mind all kinds of destructive doctrines, which give rise to social strife, hostility, violence, instability in our country, which, unfortunately, actually pervert people's mentalities."
      The country needs "the solidarity of all healthy public forces" to resist such trends, the president said.
      "We must find enough energy and will to promote what are traditional values for our country. This is especially important in this complex and rapidly changing world, in the global information space, which creates not only advantages but also very serious challenges. For our country, Orthodoxy is the guardian of such intransient values and indisputable truths," he said.
      Orthodoxy "helps tremendous numbers of our people not only to find their place in life but also to understand what would seem to be pretty simple things," Medvedev said.
      "For example, such things as what it means to be Russian, what the mission of our people is, what made our nation great and gave it a unique identity in a definite period and what, at some point, gave a lot of trials to our nation and the Orthodox Church," he said.


      Gala march held on Red Square on 70th anniversary of 1941 parade
      Itar-Tass, November 7, 2011

      MOSCOW, November 7 (Itar-Tass) ­­ A gala march was held on Red Square in Moscow on Monday devoted to the 70th anniversary of a legendary military parade held in Moscow in November 1941.
      Almost 7,000 people took part in the march. Among participants in Monday's march there were 40 WWII veterans, who 70 years ago marched in columns on Red Square before going directly to the front line. The war veterans invited to the ceremony watched the gala march from Red Square rostrums as guests of honor at the gala event.
      Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin congratulated WWII veterans upon the 70th anniversary since the legendary military parade was held on Red Square on November 7, 1941. In his speech addressed to the war veterans Sobyanin reminded of the heroic parade held on Red Square 70 years ago when the troops of the Soviet army and people's voluntary units marched down it, demonstrating to the whole country that Moscow would not surrender to the enemy and that the Russian people had enough strength to fight and win. The mayor expressed sincere gratitude to the people who 70 years ago made the enemy move away from Moscow.
      "We are holding a gala march also in tribute to all those who did not return from battle fields, defending Moscow and Russia," Sobyanin said. To crown the mayor's speech the Russian national anthem and the anthem of Moscow were played. The war veterans rose from their seats to sing the anthems in chorus.
      More than 6,000 servicemen dressed in uniforms of the 1940s marched down Red Square on Monday. Then, cavalry troops passed, riding on horseback. A rarity show followed in which outdated military vehicles, legendary tanks and air defense guns, including "Katyusha", were displayed. Upon completion of the gala march children, who were lined up in gala columns as they walked down the square, presented flowers to the veterans.

      Medvedev calls rapid revival of Orthodox Christianity in Russia a miracle
      Interfax-Religion, November 7, 2011

      Moscow, November 7, Interfax - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has spoken of the fruitfulness of cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and government and public institutions and called the revival of Orthodox Christianity in Russian in the past two decades a miracle.
      "Speaking of what has happened in these 20 years from the viewpoint of my feelings as an Orthodox Christian, it is simply a miracle. Frankly speaking I could not imagine 15-20 years ago that the revival, the recovery of faith for an enormous number of our compatriots would proceed at such a speed," Medvedev said at a meeting with the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and members of the country's Orthodox community.
      He attributed this largely to the efforts of the Patriarch, clergymen and donors and also the attitude of the state.
      "Today thanks to our joint efforts, thanks to the efforts of the Holy Patriarch the Church is fruitfully cooperating with government bodies, with public institutions. In the past few years we succeeded with several very important initiatives the need for which had been widely discussed but which had not been implemented for various reasons. I am very glad that these state and Church undertakings did materialize in the past few years," he said.
      Medvedev said that he meant primarily the introduction of the foundations of religious culture in the school curricula.
      He said that presently the subject is taught at 10,000 schools in 21 regions Russia. Starting with next year the foundations of religious culture will be taught in all Russian schools.


      Russia remains a Communist country, renowned priest believes
      Interfax-Religion, November 10, 2011

      Moscow, November 10, Interfax - Renowned church historian and professor of St. Petersburg Theological Academy Archpriest Georgy Mitrofanov believes the Russian society has not got rid of Soviet mentality.
      "There was a time in early 90th when a struggle for renaming (streets and cities named after Bolsheviks - IF) could have stimulated the most important thing - our rejection of Communist past and transfiguration of ourselves. But it never happened. And it didn't happened not because someone did not let it happened. Overwhelming majority just doesn't need it," the priest said in his interview with the Vozvrascheniye website.
      According to him, Communism in Russia "decayed, mimicrated and in fact remained. Those communism of Brezhnev times without any idea."
      "Totalitarian ideology achieved the most important thing - it formed people who lack any ideas, people, who don't need any ideas. They don't even suppose that people can have convictions," Father Georgy said.
      He pointed out that in Soviet period "not only great number of Russian people were exterminated, but they were the best Russians, who as usual were bearers of historical memory."
      "I mean what is called an elite: from nobility to peasants, from intellectuals to workers. This layer of elite among all classes was exterminated. And they were exterminated not by some UFO people, but by the worst Russian people. These best Russians didn't give birth to children, while the worst Russians had children and brought them up with their own ideas of history, country and so on," the priest said.


      Racism and Xenophobia in October 2011
      SOVA Center, November 10, 2011

      The following is our monthly review of the traditional problems posed by radical nationalism in Russia, as well as any counteraction by the government, for October 2011. The results are prepared using information gathered in the course of Sova Center's daily monitoring.
      This month, 14 individuals were attacked in racist and neo-Nazi incidents in seven regions of the country. The victims were representatives and members of leftist and youth groups (eight people), people of "non-Slavic appearance" (three people), blacks (two people), and a native of China.
      As such, since the beginning of the year we have recorded 18 deaths and 109 injuries stemming from racist or neo-Nazi attacks, and seven individuals have received death threats. Racist violence remains a fixture in thirty regions in Russia, and the main problem areas are Moscow (eight killed, 23 injured) and the Moscow Region (four killed, seven injured), and Saint Petersburg (three killed, 23 injured).
      This month we recorded no fewer than seven acts of nationalist vandalism. During this period, Muslim graves were desecrated once again in Nizhny Novgorod (in two cases); since the beginning of this year Muslim graves have been desecrated in acts of nationalist vandalism on no fewer than ten occasions in Nizhny Novgorod. Additionally, ideological targets were vandalized in two cases; Jewish targets in two cases; and Protestant targets in one. As such, since the beginning of the year we have recorded 68 acts of ideologically motivated vandalism in 27 regions of the country.
      At least four convictions in racist violence trials considered the hate motive this month; they were in Moscow and the Kaliningrad, Kaluga, and Tver regions. Seven people were convicted. Of these, six were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment and one received a suspended sentence. It is Sova's position that the suspended sentence, given in connection with a stabbing conviction, was unduly soft.
      Since the beginning of the year, at least 47 convictions have been given in racist violence cases that considered the hate motive. In total 172 individuals were convicted in 27 regions of Russia: eight were sentenced to life imprisonment, 98 to varying prison terms, 54 given suspended sentences, two assigned to correctional labor, and one to detention in a disciplinary military unit. Nine people are exempt from punishment, and three were acquitted.
      At least six individuals were convicted of spreading xenophobic propaganda in as many cases. There were in Moscow; the Khabarovsky Krai; the Chelyabinsk Region; and the Adygea, Chuvashia, and Komi Republics. These decisions sentenced two men to suspended imprisonment, two to fines, one to compulsory labor, and one to prison. Denis Kuznetsov (Dima Skhe), the 21-year-old leader of the North-East-88 neo-Nazi group, was sentenced to a prison term. Members of his group were suspected of committing six assaults and murders, but Kuznetsov's involvement could not be proven so he was convicted under a propaganda charge instead.
      A total of 58 verdicts in cases of racist propaganda have been delivered against 64 people in 38 regions so far this year.
      One notable verdict was that passed on 28 October against individuals involved in the December 2010 Manezh Square disturbances. Five people (three of whom are members of the Other Russia Party) received between two and five years in a penal colony.
      The interregional Russian National Union was added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations this month after the Vladimir Regional Court deemed it extremist in a May decision. As such, the list - which is available publicly on the Russian Ministry of Justice's website - includes 27 organizations (not including those considered terrorist).
      There were no additions to the Federal List of Extremist Materials in October.
      The Ministry of Justice put forth a bill this month proposing that the control and registration of political parties and nonprofit entities be transferred to other state agencies. In particular, the Ministry of Justice proposed removing from the law "On Countering Extremist Activity" its authority to issue warnings to public and religious organizations due to extremist activity, the right to demand the cancellation or prohibition of public organizations in court, and the obligation to maintain a list of extremist materials. These duties would be transferred to the Prosecutor General's Office. Due to a negative reaction from other official bodies in the government, the bill is unlikely to be officially considered.​


      Medvedev warns against use of national issue in election campaign
      Itar-Tass, November 11, 2011

      TASS-TVKHABAROVSK, November 11 (Itar-Tass) - Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev warned present politicians against use of the national question in the election campaign.
      "If any of present political forces uses this item too much or causes a problem, we shall have to apply legal influence upon them," he said during a meeting with media on Friday.
      "These actions /use of nationalistic slogans/ are on the brink of crime," he said. "Law enforcement authorities and election commissions should watch following the election legislation and the law on equality of all nationalities and nations in this country."
      Medvedev confessed that "this tendency alerts him, too."
      "Whenever political competition concentrates around the national topic, watch a trouble," he said. "If we start dividing ourselves on the national basis, it will cause dramatic consequences for us."

      Russian Church stands for the state right to restrict activities of some religious communities and support others
      Interfax-Religion, November 11, 2011

      Moscow, November 11, Interfax - States have right to interfere in religious sphere for the sake of national security, support positive and restrict negative tendencies in religious sphere, the Moscow Patriarchate official believes.
      "Today only the blind doesn't see that there are religious communities worthy of support and there are phenomena which are as dangerous as Nazism and Fascism, banned in many countries. And we should adequately respond to this reality," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said at a seminar in Moscow.
      According to him, the state cannot remain neutral in the sphere of world outlook, religious and public spheres, but today such neutrality is considered "an unshakable norm of international law" though in fact "many researchers and public figures, including Western ones, realize that this idea is incompatible with life."
      "Today we need to think if the principle of equality of religious associations before law is adequate to modern realities as this principle is unknown to legislations of majority of western countries, but appeared in post-Soviet legal systems in the period of ultraliberal euphoria of early 90s," the priest said.
      "From one hand, it is evident that these measures are taken to secure society from invasion of religious extremism from abroad and various destructive forces that grow inside these or those countries. I fully support this tendency. I believe that state and society have right to secure themselves from destructive outside expansion," the priest said.
      Father Vsevolod urged to back up those religious communities that "aim at peace, mutual dialogue and constructive public endeavor."


      Russia needs law to toughen norms of public morality, the Church official believes
      Interfax-Religion, November 11, 2011

      Moscow, November 11, Interfax - People will welcome toughened norms of public morality in Russia, the Moscow Patriarchate official is convinced.
      "I hope that legal proposals to strengthen public morality will appear in Russia as well as in other post-Soviet countries," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion.
      According to him, "an amazing initiative" came from the Belgorod Region where late in October changes to the law on administrative violations were adopted in the first reading. There is a fine established for violating norms of morality and immodesty, for example, pissing in public places or exposing intimate points of the body.
      The priest believes that federal legislators should pay attention to this initiative.
      "Overwhelming majority of our society will support such measures and if politicians want their will to coincide with people's will today they should support society's return to normal condition, which is the condition when immoral behavior is stopped and public morality is brought up from the kindergarten to mature age, is clearly codified and actively backed up by media, culture and school," he stressed.


      Patriarch Kirill links religious extremism to poor knowledge of religion
      Interfax-Religion, November 14, 2011

      Damascus, November 14, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin have reached an agreement to meet in Damascus on Sunday to discuss the fight against extremism by religious education and strengthening morals.
      "Syria is a country where Orthodox people and Muslims live in peace and where the level of tolerance in society is high," where religious conflicts are non-existent and the state respects the rights of religious minorities, Patriarch Kirill said.
      "I am now alarmed by what is going on in the Middle East and Northern Africa. We are very concerned about the persecution of Christians in the countries where such radical changes have occurred. In light of these events, I would like to reiterate the peaceful and calm co-existence of religions in Syria. It is, no doubt, an achievement of your country, your society, an achievement of both Muslims and Orthodox Christians," the Patriarch stressed.
      He said he was confident that the development of relations between the Muslims of Syria and Russia and the dialogue between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in both countries "can and should be an important factor of religions harmony and peace."
      "Of course, we are all concerned about extremism, which is now linked to religion [...] One of the causes of it is the lack of religious education among young people. People do not know their faith very well, they have no intellectual grounds in the perception of religion, and therefore they are easily led by various calls that are not based on the foundations of faith," Patriarch Kirill said.
      The Russian Orthodox Church has spoken in favor of introducing religious lessons in schools because "there is a need to give an authentic knowledge about Orthodox traditions to the Orthodox and knowledge about Muslim traditions to Muslims to avoid any extremist interpretation of religions," the Patriarch said.
      "The second issue faced by Orthodox believers and Muslims is the moral situation of modern people. This issue includes the issue of youth, the issue of marriages, and the issue of personal and family ethics. Orthodox Christians and Muslims have a lot in common here, in defending a lifestyle that enables people to strengthen their morals," Patriarch Kirill said, adding that this issue is one of the main issues of Orthodox-Muslim dialogue.


      Renowned priest suggests to blacklist enemies of Orthodoxy
      Interfax-Religion, November 15, 2011

      Moscow, November 15, Interfax - Head of the Synodal Department for Interaction with Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov suggests listing people who defame Orthodox values.
      "I hope that someone will back up my idea and post these surnames in the Net. I haven't though of them yet, every of them knows themselves. First we'll list creators of pornosites, then those who deal with drugs and alcohol, then TV stuff," the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily cited the priest as saying on Tuesday.
      He confessed that he looks at "our generation" with sadness and suggested to add sex minorities to the black list as "they are against family and against us."
      Answering the question whether he is afraid of response aggression, Father Dimitry said: "I'm a peaceful pensioners, former pugilist."


      Patriarch Kirill considers collapse of the USSR a decay of historical Russia
      Interfax-Religion, November 15, 2011

      Moscow, November 15, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes collapse of the Soviet Union was a negative event.
      "This year we recall the 20th anniversary of the Soviet Union's collapse. In this connection I prefer to speak about collapse of historical Russia," the Patriarch said at a mutual session of the guardian, supervisory and public councils of the church and scientific center Pravoslavnaya Encyclopedia taking the floor after the State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov.
      According to him, many ask the question why the USSR collapsed and there are many answers, but "among reasons is certainly the decay of national self-consciousness, nation pride, perceiving history in its integrity, understanding that historical community of people has a great meaning for their material and spiritual prosperity."
      On the eve of the parliamentary elections the Primate urged Russian society to care "for the growth of national self-conscience and dignity so that the events of the early 90s would never happen again and so that references to unsatisfactory governing, incorrect ideology could never force people to destroy statehood as they targeted at the regimen, but hit historical Russia."
      "God grants that our nation will be securely protected from such temptations, which we went through loosing historical Russia," the Patriarch said.



      The Russian Demarche -- Before the State Duma Elections, One-Third of Russias Citizens Support the Slogans of the Radical Nationalists
      By Andrey Kozenko
      Kommersant, October 25, 2011

      Sociological studies show record high levels of nationalist sentiment among Russian citizens. Up to 35% of the citizens support the slogans of the organizers of the Russian March, which is planned for 4 November in Moscow and other cities. The leaders of the ultra-rightists say that they will call on people to vote in the State Duma elections for any party except United Russia. In the absence of a political party that would represent the interests of the nationalists, the existing participants in the election campaign that is starting are actively fighting for their votes.
      The surveys show that before the start of the State Duma election campaign, nationalist slogans are among the most in demand. Sociologists determine the record: according to data from the Levada Center (1,600 people over the age of 18 in 130 populated points in 45 regions of the country were surveyed), the number of people who consider the basic cause of nationalism to be "the provocative behavior of representatives of other nationalities" almost doubled, rising from 25% in September 2002 to 47% in September 2011. That 20% of the population that feels "hostility toward representatives of other nationalities" readily speaks in favor of "Russia for Russians." Fifty-two percent of those surveyed are sure that the number who share nationalist slogans is growing all the time. The Moscow Prosecutor's Office claims that 25% of the older Moscow students approve of the actions of their nationalist-minded peers. In October data from a private survey ordered by the Moscow Mayor's Office got into the media. It follows from it that 35% of the inhabitants of the capital support the nationalists to one degree or another.
      The slogans that a significant part of the population today subscribes to could only be heard on the Russian March in past years; even a year ago the average statistical voter would not have agreed to be associated with them. But this time it is planned as a pre-election event. Aleksandr Belov, one of the organizers, told Kommersant that the basic theme of the action will be the attitude of nationalists toward the State Duma elections. The only party that the leaders of the ultra-rightist will not tolerate is United Russia, which personifies the government.
      The organizers of the Russian March in Moscow are promising to bring no fewer than 20,000 people into the streets. The application for permission to conduct the action has been submitted twice, but to this point it is not known whether it will be authorized. The nationalists are demanding a march through the center of Moscow, but thousands of young people chanting about Russia for Russians is probably the most frightening thing that the Moscow authorities could see in the streets on 4 November. The first application for the march was returned to the organizers on formal grounds -- because of a misprint. After the application was submitted for the second time the Russian Federation Investigations Committee opened a criminal case against one of the main figures in the organizing committee, Dmitriy Demushkin. According to the investigation's version, he gave an interview in which he talked about "the superiority of the Russian nation over others and called for his comrades to riot." Mr Demushkin himself claims that all he did was to lay out the slogans of the upcoming march. The march organizers yesterday submitted a corrected application (without the participation of Dmitriy Demushkin), but they are prepared for the possibility that the Moscow authorities will not authorize the march. In that case the nationalists will call on their supporters to come into the streets for an unsanctioned action. They already have experience with such actions.
      The first march took place in 2005, soon after the State Duma, on United Russia's initiative, abolished the work-free day in celebration of the revolution of 7 November 1917 and named 4 November a state holiday called National Unity Day. At the time it was done to spite the Communists, b ut instead of them the government, which simply did not give the holiday any meaning, got much more serious opponents. After the first march on 4 November 2006with the participation of thousands of skinheads, the Russian March was banned. In the end, the events in the center of Moscow that day resembled combat operations: the nationalists fought against both the associates of law enforcement organs and the anti-fascists. Since that time the position of the authorities has been unchanged -- the Russian March has the right to exist, but the farther from the Kremlin, the better. Lyublino, for example. Now, a month before the State Duma elections, the nationalists want very much to go to the Kremlin, and it will be hard to stop them. In the last five years, of course, the law enforcement organs have become well versed in breaking up unsanctioned rallies such as the rallies on Triumphal Square on the 31st day of the month. But their first reaction to larger mass actions is confusion. That is how it already was in December 2010 when the ultra-rightists went out on Manezh Square.
      The authorities do not intend to reach an agreement with people from the Russian March organizing committee, even less to legalize them in politics. The criminal case against Mr Demushkin is another confirmation of that. In the year that has passed since the 2010 Russian March the court, on a petition by the Moscow Prosecutor's Office, banned one of the most influential ultra-rightist organizations, the Slavic Union, as extremist. The pointed support of the participants in the rioting on Manezh Square became the cause for a similar ban on the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI). At first glance these court rulings make little sense. In all their history of existence the DPIN and the Slavic Union have not even tried to get state registration at the Ministry of Justice as public organizations or, even less, political parties. But at the same time these court rulings do not permit their leaders, as "extremists," to pursue a career in system politics. But Mr Demushkin and former DPNI leader Aleksandr Belov dream of exactly that kind of career. "What the Kremlin is doing to us is crazy," Mr Belov is certain. "If we had just 10 of our representatives in the State Duma, there simply would not be any actions on Manezh Square. Who would dare to hide something in the Yegor Sviridov file (the murder of the Spartak fan was the occasion for the actions on Manezh Square -- Kommersant), if the investigators had known: the case is under government control."
      Understanding the popularity of the slogans and the electoral potential of the nationalists, the most varied political forces are trying to take them as allies. The report of the Sova (Owl) Anti-Extremist Legal Defense Center on the activity of the ultra-rightists in the summer and fall of 2011 shows that practically all the parties are seeking support from the nationalists. The first is the LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) -- the leaders of a dozen rightist organizations are guests at all party events where the topic of nationalism is raised. It is true that not a single nationalist got on the party's election list. In several Russian regions Just Russia is collaborating with the nationalists. Back in the stage where it was headed by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov the Right Cause Party got into a high profile scandal. The leader of the Moscow branch of the party, Boris Nadezhkin, admitted that "we want to take up the Russian issue," and he had to justify himself. The All Russia People's Front was joined by the Congress of Russian Communities of Dmitriy Rogozin, who is known as one of the few politicians who openly holds nationalist views but still does not fall outside the political system.
      "The collaboration of the system parties with the ultra-rightists is leading to their nationalist discourse rising to a higher level," the Sova experts summarize. "The system parties themselves do not intend to move to radical positions, but on the other hand they are implanting nationalist attitudes within the political system. This is beginning to work toward raising the general level of xenophobia."
      However, the weakness of the nationalists is that they are just as implacably fragmented as the liberal opposition, which simply did not know how to reach agreement on a unified strategy before the State Duma elections. Even the main event of the year, the Russian March, is being organized by one alternative group alongside the basic organizing committee. The ultra-rightists do not need much to start arguing: Mr Demushkin's ordinary train trip to Chechnya cost him hundreds of supporters. The attempt to enlist Aleksey Navalnyy, the corruption fighter, in organizing the Russian March is also failing at this point. The nationalist milieu considers a person moving over from the Yabloko Party to be an alien. No more than 400 people came to the "Stop Feeding the Caucasus" rally on 22 October, where Navalnyy was listed as one of the main speakers.
      There is no one center of nationalists, and this opens up broad opportunities to manipulate them. Their failure to turn out for elections will only make it easier for the authorities to achieve a result that suits them. And the participants in protest voting will most likely give their preference to the LDPR, which gives no doubt of its loyalty to the Kremlin.

      Russia battles Hollywood's 'cultural domination' machine
      By: Robert Bridge
      www.russiatoday.com, November 1, 2011

      The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union may have been consigned to the dustbin of history, but there is a fierce propaganda war raging for hearts and minds in movie theaters and living rooms across Russia's 11 time zones.
      And here's why. Speaking to students and faculty of Moscow's prestigious Gnessin College, Russia's culture minister Alexander Avdeyev said America is conducting a "cultural invasion".
      In the film industry, he pointed out, Hollywood's output increasingly resembles a modern-age propaganda machine ­ not an innocent form of entertainment. Indeed, Hollywood continues to churn out hundreds of films each year ­ albeit, of various levels of artistic quality ­ while Russia produces about 50 films in the same period of time.
      Russia and Russians are regularly typecast as the "bad guys" in many of these productions, which could have a profound influence on viewers' perceptions ­ both at home and abroad. One reason for such negative typecasting involves military spending: if the taxpayers believe that Russians are as ruthless as Hollywood makes out, they will be more willing to fork out.
      America's leading geopolitical guru, Zbigniew Brzezinski, admits there is a purely political dimension to this exported mountain of "popcorn" culture, which looks increasingly like another form of propaganda left over from the Cold War.
      "Cultural domination has been an underappreciated facet of American global power," Brzezinski stated in his landmark book, The Grand Chessboard. For Brzezinski, however, the important aspect of the "cultural domination" is not the quality of the product, but simply the fact that it dominates.
      "Whatever one may think of its aesthetic values, America's mass culture exercises a magnetic appeal, especially on the world's youth," he writes. "Its attraction may be derived from the hedonistic quality of the lifestyle it projects, but its global appeal is undeniable."
      American television programs and films account for about three quarters of the global market, he added. Indeed, in Russia, the essence of a "creative product" has dramatically changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, culture minister Avdeyev admits.
      "While in the past a creative product was...an intellectual product, it has been turned into a commodity that should be sold," the minister said. "This is a very trying time for high culture."
      Avdeyev admitted that there are "fewer good playwrights now," as it is more difficult to "write a good play than a script for a soap opera."  Thus, it is necessary sometimes to purchase productions from abroad, regardless of their overall content.
      "American 'popcorn' films make up 70 percent of film distribution," the minister added, lamenting that "remarkable Russian films that win awards at international film festivals are not recouped in the Russian distribution network that is mostly privately-owned."
      Although Avdeyev did not say as much, a between-the-lines reading of his comments suggests that Russia is leaning towards more political involvement in the cultural realm of art and entertainment.  The minister drew comparisons between the conditions artists work in today, and those of Soviet times.
      "Culture...relied on state assistance, which provided excellent conditions for artists in the Soviet times," Avdeyev noted. "At present, artists must find the means to get by, occasionally relying on sponsors."
      Given the current realities, and the influence that art and entertainment can have in the political realm, it will be interesting to see how Russia confronts Hollywood's pervasive message. 

      Actor-Priest Promotes Soft Nationalism
      By: Alexander Bratersky
      Moscow Times, November 3, 2011

      Russian nationalism has many faces. Most are familiar stock characters, either populists on a Kremlin leash or caveman Hitler aficionados. But how about a hipster in John Lennon-style color glasses who is also an Orthodox priest and a sitcom star?
      Meet Ivan Okhlobystin, 45, known to the general populace as Dr. Andrei Bykov, an ironic Russian counterpart to Gregory House, M.D., cracking salty jokes to patients in TNT's hit show "The Interns."
      Off-screen he advocates a doctrine of "aristocratic national-patriotism." Just last month he spoke to an enthusiastic audience of 20,000 at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium. Last week, he requested that Patriarch Kirill allow him to join the Russian March, the notorious annual ultranationalist rally set for Friday.
      "I have legitimized the term 'national-patriotism,'" the pony-tailed Okhlobystin said with pride in a recent interview with The Moscow Times.
      "It was the weekend, and everyone was at their dachas," he continued softly, offering a tongue-in-cheek explanation of how he got away with the massive, politically charged event in central Moscow, where such happenings are very much frowned upon.
      He sported jeans and a battered leather jacket during an interview at a Moscow cafe last month. It is a far cry from the priest's frock he was entitled to wear until recently and may yet don again, once he winds up his acting career.
      Okhlobystin made a name for himself as an actor in the 1990s and early 2000s, when he starred in a dozen-plus films, peaking with the main role in cult classic "Down House" (2001), a surrealist take on Dostoevsky's "The Idiot."
      But he took a sharp career turn at the end of that decade, announcing in 2001 that he was ordained into priesthood by an Orthodox Christian bishop in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent.
      He served as a priest for several years in Moscow, but his restless nature got the better of him, and he returned to the movie set, first as a screenwriter ­ a short story of his was behind the grim action film "Paragraph 78" (2007) ­ and then as an actor.
      Some of his roles resonated well with his newfound faith ­ he starred, for example, in Pavel Lungin's "Tsar" (2009), a spiritual study of a despot's soul. But even there, he played a fool, while in the made-for-TV "Conspiracy" (2007), he depicted Grigory Rasputin.
      Okhlobystin also embraced mass culture again, starring in "The Interns," appearing at musical awards shows ­ usually in his trademark orange glasses ­ and even taking up the job of a creative director at mobile phone retailer Yevroset.
      Church hierarchs eventually demanded that he choose between the laity and the clergy, and Patriarch Kirill suspended him from priesthood. But he still has the option of returning to being an active priest, and indicated he intends to do so ­ just not right now.
      "I'll remain devoted to the church even if it declares me an anathema, because this institution played a formative role in my life. Because of it, I have a strong family," said Okhlobystin, a father of six.
      During his speech in Luzhniki, Okhlobystin declared the late Metropolitan Ioann Ladozhsky, a nationalist-leaning Orthodox Christian bishop, as his "teacher." Ladozhsky, known for his anti-Semitic views, became an icon for the nationalist movement after his death in 1995.
      DOCTRINE 77
      In the meantime, Okhlobystin took on the role of a secular preacher. In September, he gave a lengthy speech on nationalism, addressing a crowd at Luzhniki from atop a huge white pyramid in a flashy scripted show.
      Russia is "the only force that protects West and East from colliding," the white-robed Okhlobystin announced during the show, which bore the cryptic title "Doctrine 77."
      "We have to collect the nation again, the one that owns everything here. We will create the new national society, a big family ­ an empire, in the end," he read out. "This is the only chance for the Russian man to exist."
      His two-hour speech was too cryptic, however, to be defined as a clear political agenda and hard to place in the spectrum of typical nationalist rhetoric. His main point was that Russia's God-given task was to save the world from being taken over by any one nation, including Russia itself ­ a sort of divinely appointed international counterweight.
      While seemingly aimed at the United States and complete with a denouncement of liberal values, his diatribe also came tempered with tolerance. Okhlobystin professed his love of all people, including Jews and those from the North Caucasus, while proclaiming that Russia was born "to fight wars."
      This caused some head-scratching among the crowd, as most every other proponent of militant Russian nationalism has some enemy in mind ­ be it Americans, Europeans, Chechens or Jews.
      Still, Okhlobystin voiced calls about the "destruction of society" paving the road to a newer, better Russia. He told the Times that his organization, the Aristocratic National Patriotic Movement, is biding its time for a revolution.
      "We are the only party that retains a taste for revolutionary activity. Sooner or later it will happen," said the actor, flashing the emblem of the unregistered group ­ a metal pin of an eagle holding the number "77" in its talons.
      At Luzhniki, the actor spoke out against family planning and gay marriages and says his group advocates monarchy and the "revival of the glory of the Russian empire," and the right to bear firearms. But he said the movement, which he plans to get registered by December, does not have a full-fledged program yet.
      Okhlobystin confessed he drew inspiration from the banned National-Bolshevik Party, a radical anti-Kremlin vehicle of prominent writer-turned-politician Eduard Limonov, which combined hard leftist slogans with a nationalist slant.
      "From some point, they are alien to me. But they're the only one to really pull off some action that resonated with people's feelings, like in Sevastopol," he said, referring to Limonov's group's short-lived 1999 takeover of a naval club in a Ukrainian city in Crimea, which Russian nationalists insist belongs to Russia.
      Okhlobystin tread more carefully in a one-on-one chat than when facing a crowd, telling the Times that his calls for destruction were "just an attention grabber."
      "Our task is not to allow that. We have to create a new society from the ground up, but we follow the Criminal Code," he said, quoting a famous Soviet-era satirical novel, "The Little Golden Calf."
      He added that a model member of his movement would be Prince Myshkin, the kind-hearted and guileless hero of Dostoevsky's "The Idiot." "You have to be a bit mad to join, because if authorities would rule us dangerous, you'd be persecuted," he said.
      Independent political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky, who knows Okhlobystin well, said he would not likely follow the militant and self-destructive path of the National-Bolsheviks.
      Okhlobystin is a showman, not a destroyer, Belkovsky said by phone.
      "He wouldn't agree with me, but I think he went to priesthood because there were no roles for him to play in the 1990s," he said.
      The show in Luzhniki was indeed impressive, and the event enjoyed exquisite PR stagecraft, as the actor announced ahead of it that he would run for president.
      He changed his mind soon after the rally, citing the church's disapproval, but by then, his statement had been made. "Doctrine 77" was not televised, but videos of it garnered more than 500,000 views on YouTube.
      Critics have even slammed him for making money on patriotism, after it turned out that cell phone operator Beeline introduced a tariff called "Doctrine 77" some weeks before the event.
      Company spokeswoman Anna Aibasheva confirmed that a niche tariff with that name is on offer in Yevroset shops, but denied that Beeline was behind the Luzhniki event.
      The actor denied cashing in on the Luzhniki show, which he said he booked with his own money. He says his political activism has not harmed his relationship with TNT, which focuses on entertainment. A spokesperson for the channel agreed, saying by phone that the channel is not concerned with how Okhlobystin spends his free time.
      That did not stop the actor from attacking television bosses in general. "You have no way of knowing how corrupt these people's minds are," he said.
      "But they don't have any leverage to stop me. The box office overrides ... their fear," he added.
      Church officials have not reacted negatively to his involvement in "The Interns," Okhlobystin said.
      "They are a very educated audience that understands I am a very sincere person, as far as my political views are concerned," and regardless of his day job, he said.
      Okhlobystin has not fully come to grips with his past, however, judging by a recent appearance on Vladimir Pozner's show on Channel One. When a viewer reminded Okhlobystin of his "shameful" past love of absinthe, he bristled, insisting that the matter "was not intended for a public discussion."
      Still, Okhlobystin called himself in the interview "an experienced PR strategist." Indeed, he dabbled in political consultancy in 1990s, and even ran for the State Duma in 1999 with Kedr, a tiny green party that he freely admitted was just a spoiler for the Communists, then a real political force.
      "It was strictly business, and I've never denied it. I was sailing on the last ship of 'black PR.' We all were Jack Sparrows at that time," Okhlobystin said, referring to the pirate captain from Walt Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie series.
      But he stood by his words at Luzhniki, insisting the "Doctrine 77" show was the real deal, regardless of the promotion surrounding it.
      "I have raised questions that have been discussed for a long time before in basements and gyms," he said, naming two popular kinds of hangouts for nationalists.
      Okhlobystin's potential audience is sweeping. According to an August poll by Levada Center, 45 percent of the Russian populace believed that people from other countries treated them with hostility, and 46 percent admitted feeling such hostility toward other nations themselves.
      The slogan "Russia for Russians" is catching up with the public, but nobody knows quite what it entails. Radical nationalists hardly ever go beyond proposals to expel Caucasus natives and other non-Russians, even while entertaining dreams of a new Russian empire.
      Loyal nationalists, such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the Liberal Democrats, or Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to NATO, are even less focused, sticking to vaguely hawkish bashing of the West.
      Much of the uncertainty comes from the fact that Russian nationalism is largely an outlet for social discontent, with disenchanted small-town youth with few career prospects ­ a downside of the country's bureaucratized, oil-dependent economy ­ looking for an enemy to vent their frustration on.
      Nevertheless, the situation is believed to worry the Kremlin, which has employed a dual strategy of denying independent nationalists their own legal political organizations while creating government-linked movements to contain the nationalist vote.
      No stable pro-Kremlin nationalist group, however, exists at the moment, and Okhlobystin's show ­ which could not have been staged without tacit government approval ­ prompted talks that it was a new project by Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin's political mastermind.
      Okhlobystin denied ties to Surkov but said his speech might be welcomed by the ruling authorities.
      "This is why, I think, I'm still a free man," he joked.
      Indeed, political activists who fall on the wrong side of the Kremlin are regularly banned and hit with criminal charges, though very few are jailed.
      Apparently encouraged, Okhlobystin made his bid to join the Russian March, asking Patriarch Kirill to sanction his participation and promising to lead out 500,000 to the streets. Kirill has yet to comment on the issue.
      That plan had even more pronounced political undercurrents because the Russian March that Okhlobystin was invited to competes with an event organized by well-known Kremlin opponents, including radical nationalists Dmitry Dyomushkin and Alexander Belov, as well as whistleblower Alexei Navalny.
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