Bulletin 6:17 (2012)
- THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
Vol. 6, No. 17(173), 6 July 2012
Compilers: Fabian Burkhardt, Parikrama Gupta, Vildane Oezkan & Andreas Umland
I NEWS: 16 - 30 June 2012
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
III ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS
[NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of the - otherwise truncated - issue will appear. When quoting from an article found here, please, mention the RNB, as the source. Thank you!]
I NEWS: 16 - 30 June 2012
Russia's Council of Muftis protests court ban of Islamic books
Interfax-Religion, June 18, 2012
Moscow, June 18, Interfax - The Russia's Council of Muftis has expressed its protest against an Orenburg court ruling with respect to Islamic books.
"On March 26, 2012, Judge A.V. Nuzhdin at the Leninsky District Court in Orenburg granted a prosecutor's request to ban 65 book titles of theological and historical content from all Russian Islamic publishing houses," the Mufties Council said in a statement.
A copy of the ruling effective as of April 2012 was produced to book retailers at a recent Islamic book fair in Kazan.
"The prosecutor and judge at the Leninsky District Court in Orenburg, having failed to invite a single author, translator or publisher to act as a defendant at the hearings, made a behind-the-scenes decision that jeopardizes Muslims' loyalty to our state!" the statement said.
The ban of religious literature is an attempt to revive "total ideological control," the council said.
"Russian Muslims are convinced that determining a list of extremist religious literature is an internal affair of every religious organization and it is at this level that such decisions should be made. Decisions on whether to put religious literature on the list of extremist material require an expert opinion from Russian religious organizations, for which purpose boards of experts have been set up and are operating, including experts on religious literature," the document said.
There needs to be a legal framework for dealing with organizations which violate the effective laws, "instead of making the religious literature responsible for the existing socio-political problems," the Mufties Council said.
Very often, decisions to put Islamic literature on the list of extremist material are based on "expert opinions that are not always objective, substantiated and comprehensive," Russian Muftis said.
Moscow lawyers refuse to oust pro-Sharia attorney
Interfax-Religion, June 18, 2012
Moscow, June 18, Interfax - The Moscow Lawyers' Chamber has definitively refused to annul the attorney status of a man who became embroiled in a scandal several weeks ago by suggesting that Sharia courts be set up in Moscow to tackle problems of the local Muslim community, the troublemaker's defense lawyer said.
The Chamber's board issued a "definitive" verdict upholding a decision by the Chamber's qualification commission last week to preserve Dagir Khasavov's attorney status, Sergey Belyak told Interfax.
The Chamber's move threw out a demand from the Justice Ministry that Khasavov be stripped of his status as a lawyer. Belyak said the Justice Ministry would be unable to appeal the Chamber's dictum.
However, proceedings launched against Khasavov by the prosecution service, which accuses him of incitement of hatred, "are continuing and going at their own pace," Belyak said.
Khasavov said in an interview with REN TV on April 24 that Muslims in Russia do not wish to go to secular courts and therefore should use sharia courts. Otherwise, "there will be bloodshed in Moscow and it will turn into a dead sea," he said.
The Prosecutor General's Office qualified Khasavov's statements as extremist and responded with an incitement of hatred action, while the Justice Ministry demanded that the Moscow Lawyers' Chamber deprive the lawyer of his attorney status.
Khasavov himself left Russia in a hurry after that and claimed that his words had been misrepresented and torn out of context.
Celebrity Trio Advanced for Human Rights Council
The Moscow Times, June 18 2012. Retrieved from JRL 109
Izvestia reported that Yury Shevchuk, lead singer of rock group DDT, was one of the candidates for membership in the human rights council
A secret vote by the Kremlin human rights council has resulted in a trio of famous candidates for membership in the body, including a rock singer, the "purse" of the opposition movement, and a celebrity television journalist, Izvestia reported Monday.
DDT frontman Yury Shevchuk, prominent opposition organizer Olga Romanova, and New York-raised journalist Vladimir Pozner have been tapped for potential membership in the council, the paper said, citing a participant of the voting process.
"I have asked council members to say who they would like to see in the council," council head Mikhail Fedotov told Izvestia.
Fedotov refused to confirm the news. "You'll know all the names when the decree is signed by the president," he said, adding that more than a quarter of the body's members would be replaced.
Not all candidates seem to have been informed of their selection. Shevchuk told Izvestia that "no such offer had been made" to him personally.
The musician said the offer was too serious to answer immediately. "I need to think. And right now I'm on tour, sorry," he said.
Romanova, a protest organizer who has managed funds for opposition events, criticized the decision on Facebook. "Rights are not given by the Kremlin. Rights are taken on the streets," she wrote.
At least one other candidate has turned down an offer to join the council. Alexander Cherkasov, member of human rights group Memorial, declined, saying he believes that "cooperation with the authorities is necessary, but only if it brings results and the government is ready to listen to advice."
Fedotov will meet with each of the candidates before submitting the list to the president next week.
Jokes About Russian Patriarch Insult Believers - Spokesman
RIA-Novosti, June 19, 2012, Johnson's Russia List, 2012-#112, 21 June 2012
Jokes about Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill offend the feelings of millions of Russian Orthodox believers, the head of the patriarch's press service Deacon, Aleksandr Volkov, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti on 19 June. The Silver Galosh ceremony, organized by the radio station Silver Rain on 18 June, gave an award to Vladimir Gundyayev, which is Patriarch Kirill's secular name. The award was given for "immaculate disappearance of his watch", reminding the public of a story that occurred earlier this year, the agency said. The story involves the patriarch's official photo in which he is shown wearing an expensive Breguet watch. Later the Moscow patriarchate published the same photo, but with no watch. Interestingly, the second picture still had a reflection of the watch on the polished surface of the table the patriarch was sitting at."If people want to make jokes about the Church and its primate, a question arises: what is their relation to the life of the church and are they aware the fact that their jokes about the primate are not just jokes about a specific person, but jokes that offend a huge number of their compatriots who are members of Russian Orthodox Church parishes?" Volkov said."In principle, any jokes and everything that is humour-related is permissible in a situation only when the person who wants to joke and be humorous is knows the topic they are talking about," he went on to say. "If some secular people want to joke about the armed forces, it would be probably appropriate to ask them first whether they have done any military service. If somebody jokes about the professionalism of a surgeon, he should ask himself a question whether he has saved a single life. Same here," Volkov said. Asked whether the patriarch will react in any way to the event, Vokov said: "Undoubtedly, His Holiness will not react to similar buffoonery". "All the more so, there is no need to collect from the buffoons the product of their unscrupulous creative work," Volkov said, answering a question whether the patriarch will collect the trophy.He went on to say: "People who took decisions within the framework of this event were thinking, first and foremost, about ways to draw increased attention to their event.""But the fact that in order to attract attention they used the personality of the Russian Orthodox Church patriarch, shows the extremely low cultural and intellectual level of these people. If they consider it possible to call the primate "Mr Gundyayev" or, in general, turn the primate into somebody about who one can make jokes, this means that these young people are no better that the young energetic atheists of the 1920s, who used to caricature the Church in those terrible years for Russia," Volkov told RIA Novosti. Asked whether Volkov saw this as another move of some anti-Church campaign launched recently, he said that "one can regard this as an event planned by active opponents of the Russian Orthodox Church and its head"."We are aware of the point of view of one of the organizers of this 'award'. We do not have any illusions regarding the real reasons behind what the organizers describe as a humorous event," Volkov said.
Russia Registers Nationalist Party
RIA Novosti, June 20, 2012
Russia has got its first legitimate ultra-right party, after the Russian Nationwide Union was registered with the Justice Ministry.
The party, led by former parliamentarian Sergei Baburin, was given a clean bill of health on June 7, according to the ministry's website.
Its slogans include "national power, national politics, national economy," and it aims to establish a three-pronged Slavic union of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
There are currently 27 registered parties in Russia - a sharp rise from just a few months ago.
In April, former President Dmitry Medvedev signed off a law to simplify the procedure for registering political parties.
Baburin could not be reached for comment.
Russian Church to enlighten Chinese and strengthen Orthodoxy in PRC
Interfax-Religion, June 20, 2012
Moscow, June 20, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate intends to strengthen positions of Orthodoxy in China.
"We're holding a rather difficult dialogue to normalize position of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. There were periods of flourishing and decay in its history, today much has been destroyed, but something still survived," head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations (DECR) Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said visiting the Khabarovsk Theological Seminary.
He said the Russian Church worked with Chinese leaders to open the churches that had been closed and to fill already opened churches "with the words of prayer so that our compatriots and Chinese citizens can freely live their religious life."
"The Far East is a special territory, its Russia's eastern look out post on the border with the other great state. You should know your neighbor well, his culture, people and language," the hierarch told seminarians, expressing hope that they will be enlighteners of those Chinese who strive to learn more about Orthodox faith when staying in Russia.
Metropolitan Ignaty of Khabarovsk and Amur Region told Metropolitan Hilarion that a new branch was set up in the seminary to train specialists on the Chinese language and culture and asked help in this undertaking.
Metropolitan Hilarion also met with the head of the Khabarovsk Territory Vyacheslav Shport who reminded that when Patriarch Kirill was a metropolitan he participated in church life of the city, for instance, in taking the decision where to build the Transfiguration Cathedral. The governor conveyed an official invitation to the Primate to visit the region.
Metropolitan Hilarion left Khbarovsk for Beijing.
Russian Skinhead Jailed for Hate Killing
RIA Novosti, June 20, 2012
A Moscow City Court sentenced skinhead student Denis Voloshin to seven and a half years in prison on Wednesday for committing murder on grounds of national hatred, RAPSI news agency reported.
Voloshin and two unidentified individuals attacked two people of non-Slavic appearance and stabbed them at least five times in a Moscow park a year ago.
One victim died and the other managed to escape.
At the time of the crime, Voloshin was a minor and cannot be sentenced to more than 10 years under Russian law.
He will serve his sentence at a standard regime penal colony and will also have to serve a year of restricted liberty after release.
MPs seek to change Criminal Code to punish Silver Galosh and Pussy Riot
Interfax, June 22 2012
Moscow - The United Russia MPs prepare amendments to 282 Article of the Russian Criminal Code for kindling hatred or hostility and humiliation of human dignity," the Izvestia daily writes in Friday.
"Amendments will make it more precise and allow bringing an action against, for example, the Silver Galosh organizers. If amendments are adopted, Galosh's organizers will be fined for 300 thousand rubles or imprisoned for one or two years," the paper quoted MP Alexey Zhuravlyov as saying.
He said that at present this article was often applied to activists of Russian patriotic movement while actions that, according to the United Russia deputies, can be qualified as kindling hatred and hostility deserve another article.
Zhuravlyov refers proceedings against Pussy Riot punk group to such actions: the girls are charged with "hooliganism," though the deputy believes the their actions are kindling of religious hatred.
"The Silver Galosh that was given to the Patriarch is exactly 282 article, we should toughen the punishment. They should think what they do. It's another time when the Patriarch was subjected to attacks for his patriotic position. It's an insult of religious feelings for many Orthodox believers," Zhuravlyov said.
He said that deputies were working out the text of amendments and would be ready to introduce them at the autumn session.
Head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin agreed with law makers that people who kindle hatred should feel the tough power of law rather than pay fines.
"Such symbolic crimes aim at changing power in society - to humiliate these ones and to praise others. It can lead to civil conflict and bring society to the edge of total civil war," the priest said.
Several years ago some websites posted a photo that displayed Breguet watch on the Patriarch's hand. Patriarch was criticized for liking material goods. The Patriarch said it was a collage, while his watches was not expensive.
The patriarchal press service stated that staff members of its photo branch made a "ridiculous mistake" when working with an archive posted on the website. Many people thought it was an attempt to airbrush the Patriarch's expensive watch.
Church and state cannot be separated in Russia - priest
Interfax-Religion, June 26, 2012
Moscow, June 26, Interfax - Russian society is not fully secular, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, said during a debate at The New York Times' editorial office, the newspaper reports on its website.
Only religious institutions are separated from the state, but not the Church itself, he said.
Religious institutions cannot perform administrative duties and the government does not assume religious functions - that's how the law explains it, nothing beyond that, the priest said.
Just as the people cannot be separated from the state, so the Church as a vision of the world and a religion as such cannot be separated from it either, he remarked.
In 1917, the state collapsed because the church was torn away from the people, and that, in his opinion, was the result of the reforms carried out by Peter I. People had been happy before Peter and became unhappy after him, he said.
Russians increasingly trust president, Church - poll
Interfax-Religion, June 26, 2012
Moscow, June 26, Interfax - The level of confidence in the president remains high, although it has dropped slightly in recent years; the same trend is being observed with respect to Russia's prime minister, sociologists from the Levada-Center told Interfaxon Tuesday.
Currently, 49% respondents believe that the head of state is quite worthy of trust (against 53% in April 2011 and 66% in November 2009). The opposite opinion is held by 13% (12% and 5%, respectively).
Russians have shown a similarly high level of trust towards the Church and other religious organizations (49%), while 9% of respondents said they do not trust them.
42% are content with their head of government (55% in 2011 and 70% in 2010), while 15% said they do not trust them (12% and 5%, respectively).
The third most trusted institution is the Russian army (41% against 15% those who responded negatively). Next are the government (30% against 17%) and state security agencies (30% against 15%).
The police force is leading in the mistrust rating, with 31% against 18%. The others in the top five negatively rated institutions are local (29% against 22%) and regional authorities (25% against 22%), large businesses (25% against 14%) and trade unions (24% against 17%).
Mass media are trusted by one in four (25%) respondents (mistrusted by 17%); banks, by 22% (21%); small and medium-size business, by 22% (17%); prosecutors, by 21% (21%); courts, by 21% (24%); the Federation Council, by 21% (18%); the State Duma, by 20% (23%); and political parties, by 11% (31%).
The poll was conducted by the Levada-Center among 1,525 Russians on June 1-17.
Patriarch Kirill concerned with decline of democracy in the West
Interfax-Religion, June 26, 2012
Moscow, June 26, Interfax - Orthodox countries are urged to give the world an example of coming out of the global economic crisis, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes.
"I am convinced that it is possible to successfully overcome the crisis only basing on spiritual moral values. Countries where Orthodox believers make a majority should give the world an example of building economy and people's administration according to Christian principles and ideals," the Patriarch said in his message to the 19th Assembly of Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy dedicated to problems of democracy in conditions of the global crisis.
The patriarchal press service cited the Primate as saying that economic stagnation is expressed not only in mathematics diagrams, fall of stock exchange quotations, but in increasing number of the unemployed and general decrease of people's living standards.
The Primate believes that stagnation in productive relations is an exterior of the deep value crisis we are going through and it roots in neglecting Gospel principle: "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you."
"Ignoring this norm stimulate egoism, consumer attitude, hedonism, make many of our contemporaries incapable to reasonably restrict their ambitions for the sake of the whole society. Problems in the world economy witness to the decline in the whole democratic system of administration," the document says.
According to Patriarch Kirill, the difficulties urge us to think how not to allow the situation when goals and tasks of financial elite "appear to be far from needs and hopes of the majority and welfare of the nation becomes a subject for manipulations of a narrow circle."
Russia Urges Syria, Turkey Against Clashes
RIA Novosti, June 26, 2012
The downing of a Turkish jet by Syrian forces should not be considered a provocation or allowed to further destabilize the situation in the region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
"The escalation of politics and propaganda, including on the international level, is especially dangerous when efforts are being undertaken to mobilize all major outside players to channel the situation in Syria in a political direction," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
Russia is concerned with the situation and urges both Ankara and Damascus to cooperate in the investigation of the incident, Lukashevich said in a statement on the ministry's website.
Syria shot down a Turkish F-4 fighter jet over the Mediterranean Sea last Friday.
Syrian officials said the jet invaded the country's airspace, while Turkey insisted it was attacked over international waters.
The attack prompted fears that Turkey may use the incident as a pretext to launch a military operation in Syria, torn by a civil war that killed at least 12,000 since March 2011, according to UN estimates.
A NATO meeting called at Turkey's request denounced the attack on the jet on Tuesday, but said the incident would not be viewed as aggression against the alliance, which could have given NATO a valid pretext to attack Syria.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Tuesday that the incident has exposed "the paranoia that has gripped the Syrian Army."
Nationalists Want Place in Human Rights Council
The Moscow Times, June 27 2012
Russian nationalists are seeking inclusion in the presidential human rights council in the same week that several prominent rights defenders quit the advisory body.
"We are definitively seeking our place in the human rights council. In contrast to many others, we have something to say," Slavic Union leader Dmitry Demushkin told Izvestia on Tuesday.
Demushkin added that he had sent a letter making his case to council chairman Mikhail Fedotov.
"We work not in human rights circles, not in Duma circles, but on the street. All these commissions, congresses and councils are made up of aging aqsaqals [elders] and elderly rights defenders," Demushkin said. "They are not only detached from youth issues and problems on the street, but also from normal people."
Three more council members quit Monday and Tuesday, including Igor Yurgens, a liberal expert who heads the Institute of Contemporary Development, bringing to 17 the number of people who have left the council since President Vladimir Putin was elected to a new six-year term in March.
Veteran rights defender Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, left the council Friday, citing new Kremlin rules that would determine council members with the use of an online poll.
Fedotov said he too would leave the organization if fewer than 20 members the minimum number necessary to reach a quorum remain on the council.
Fines Proposed for Posting Extremist Content
The Moscow Times, June 27 2012
Authorities are proposing introducing fines and short prison stays for those placing hyperlinks to "extremist content" on the Internet, media reports said Tuesday.
According to a copy of the proposed amendments on the Communications and Press Ministry website, penalties for including links to extremist content could stretch to 3,000 rubles ($90) or a 15-day administrative sentence, Vedomosti reported.
In another amendment, mass media outlets accused of extremist activity could be fined up to 300,000 rubles. Fines for outlets judged to promote terrorism could reach 1 million rubles.
Authorities consider content "extremist" after the Prosecutor General's Office files a complaint and the Justice Ministry includes the item in the federal list of extremist materials.
There are currently 1,256 items on the list of extremist materials. For the most part, leaflets, songs, video clips by nationalists, separatists and radical Islamist groups make up the list.
Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has repeatedly backed strengthening the fight against extremism.
"It is essential to develop on the federal level a working mechanism to limit access to Internet resources that spread extremist ideas," he said in front on the Federal Council in May.
But bloggers and experts consulted by Vedomosti considered the latest amendments absurd and ineffective.
"This is beyond my understanding, we're heading toward dictatorship," said Rustem Adagamov, a well-known blogger who writes under the name drugoi.
Irina Levova, an analyst at the Russian Association for Electronic Communications, said international experience has shown that the proposals would hinder the development of the country's Web-based economy and society.
Russia will perish without Russian Orthodox Church - Patriarch
Interfax-Religion, June 28, 2012
Moscow, June 28, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church is the backbone of Russia, said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
"Most people have perceived the Russian Church throughout Russia's history as something that cements our people. It is the spiritual clip, the line of the nation's self-identification and the common ground: if we ruin it we will surely ruin our Fatherland," the Patriarch said after a service at the Kremlin's Assumption Cathedral.
"Although we live in times when religions are chosen freely and when the Church is separated from the state, the Russian Orthodox Church continues its great ministry, uniting the nation and maintaining the unity of our Fatherland," he said.
"That is why it has always been the main target for those who want to ruin the country and to disorganize the life of the nation. All invaders, starting from the Kremlin's conquerors who enslaved the country in the 17th century, including Napoleon and Hitler, wanted to ruin and split the Russian Orthodox Church," he said.
"God help all of us and our church to overcome temptation, deceit and treachery of this century, and to continue the amazing service to the fullness of human life and to the salvation of human souls," the Patriarch said.
On June 28, the Russian Orthodox Church commemorates Metropolitan Iona of Moscow and All Russia, the first primate of the Russian Orthodox Church since it gained autocephaly.
Nationalist Group Seeks to Patrol Violent Hotspots
The Moscow Times, June 28 2012
A nationalist political organization that cooperates closely with United Russia said it is looking to assemble armed patrols to prevent interethnic conflicts, a few days after Slavs and North Caucasus migrants faced off in a Kirov region village.
Alexei Zhuravlev, head of the Congress of Russian Communities, told Izvestia that the organization would start by creating a "conflict map of Russia."
"It is essential that we create a mechanism for predicting interethnic conflicts. It's not that difficult. Governors, for instance, know perfectly well where such conflicts could happen in their regions," said Zhuravlev, who is also a Duma deputy with the ruling United Russia party.
On the basis of this conflict map, the Congress of Russian communities hopes to dispatch armed volunteers to patrol the streets and keep watch in case violence flares up.
"We are ready to set up volunteer brigades to ensure interethnic harmony in places where there is danger," Zhuravlev said. "It's not right to go around with empty hands and convince everyone with words and opinions. We will find a legal way to arm them [the brigades]."
But experts consulted by Izvestia poured scorn on the nationalist organization's plans.
"You'll not succeed in creating a full-bodied conflict map. We live in a country in which the ethnic makeup is relatively varied and conflicts of this type could arise everywhere," said Nikolai Petrov, a scholar in residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
"Instead of creating useless volunteer divisions, it would be better to properly reform the Interior Ministry," he added.
The Congress of Russian Communities was initially founded in 1992 to promote the rights of ethnic Russians living in the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union.
From 2003 it merged into the Rodina bloc under current Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is still considered its informal leader. The organization was reregistered by the Justice Ministry as a separate entity in August 2011.
UEFA Fines Russia and Spain Over Racism
RIA Novosti, June 29, 2012
The Russian and Spanish football federations have been fined EUR30,000 and EUR20,000, respectively, for racist chanting by their fans at Euro 2012, UEFA has said.
Russia's case relates to their opening 4-1 win over the Czech Republic on June 8, when an anti-racist observer in the crowd reported monkey chants directed at Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black.
The punishment will complete a total of EUR215,000 fines for the Russian Football Union received after three group games.
Russia were fined EUR120,000 and given a suspended six-point deduction for the next qualification tournament when some fans assaulted Polish stewards, reportedly leaving four requiring hospital treatment after the Czech game.
The pyrotechnics use, illicit banners and pitch invasion of Russian fans during a second group match against co-hosting Poland in Warsaw on 12 June resulted in a EUR30,000 penalty.
The third fine, which was put at EUR35,000, was issued for illegal banners and flares during the 1-0 defeat to Greece that eliminated Russia from the tournament on July 16.
The Spanish federation's charge relates to their opening 1-1 draw with Italy, after which a Spanish fan representative said that some in the crowd had aimed racist abuse at Italy's Mario Balotelli.
The only other racism case dealt with by UEFA at Euro 2012 saw Croatia fined EUR80,000 last week for racism and the use of flares in their 1-1 draw with Italy.
Croatian fans shouted monkey chants at Italy striker Mario Balotelli and displayed racist banners during the game, UEFA said.
The size of Croatia's fine attracted criticism from some in the football world, including Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, after UEFA fined Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner EUR100,000 for displaying sponsorship on his underpants.
Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Leader Launches Political Party
RIA Novosti, June 29, 2012
The Russian Justice Ministry has registered a new political party, A Smart Russia, headed by a leader of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi, who says his party's main goal is to "change the way of thinking of those who rule the country."
According to Friday's update to the list of newly registered political parties published on the ministry website, the party was officially registered on June 27.
Nikita Borovikov, the party leader, told RIA Novosti on Friday "several hundred people" had already joined A Smart Russia, and that new members were being admitted to the party every day.
A Smart Russia is made up of "representatives of various communities, including youth groups, who have previously met during various events such as the Seliger and the Proryv forums," Borovikov said, referring to an annual Kremlin-backed youth event held at Lake Seliger in Russia's central Tver region and an innovative youth conference.
Borovikov described his party's ideology as "progressist." Its main idea is "something needs to be changed in the country and this should be done by our generation because the previous generation has failed to do this," he said.
When asked to elaborate, he said the main thing to be changed is "the way of thinking of people who rule the country." He did not specify further.
Forbes reported in May, quoting a source in the federal youth agency Rosmolodyozh, that Nashi founder Vasily Yakemenko was behind the project. The report said a team of politicians and PR specialists close to President Vladimir Putin's ally Vladislav Surkov participated in the project.
Yakemenko, who quit as Rosmolodyozh head earlier in June to create his own political party, dismissed the allegations about his involvement, saying he had nothing to do with A Smart Russia.
Borovikov said on Friday Yakemenko was working on a project which was "absolutely different" from his own party.
A Smart Russia became the 23rd newly registered political party since Russia adopted a new law in April easing registration procedures for political parties. The bill was introduced following mass street protests triggered by controversial parliamentary elections in December 2011.
The law lowered the minimum number of party members from 40,000 to 500 people.
Before the legislation was passed, only seven political parties existed in Russia, which has a population of around 143 million people.
Russians want Orthodox Church to be more open and cancel fees for rites - poll
Interfax-Religion, June 29, 2012
Moscow, June 29, Interfax - Most Russians (53%) don't want anything changed in the operations of the Russian Orthodox Church or its clergy, judging by the results of a poll taken by VTsIOM in June.
Other respondents suggested that the Church "stick solely to religious activities" (4%), "cancel fees for performing rites and stop trade in churches" (3%), "attract young people to churches" (2%), "stop interference in politics", "pay more attention to spiritual upbringing" and "introduce religious studies in schools" - 1% each. One third remained undecided.
Like a year ago most of the polled noticed no changes in the functioning of the Russian Orthodox Church since the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill - 78% now and 83% in 2011. Others said the church has come closer to the people (4%), old churches are restored and new ones are built (3%).
In addition, 2% noticed closer interaction between the Church and the state and the growing influence of the Church, 1% - greater attention to spiritual education, 3% - greater corruption within the Church.
For the first time respondents mentioned greater media attention to the Church (1%).
The main feeling that Patriarch Kirill arouses in Russians is respect (46%). He also arouses hope (27%), confidence (19%) and sympathy (17%).
Negative emotions are rare: mistrust (4%), disappointment (2%), skepticism, dislike and condemnation (1% each). Besides, 13% of the polled are indifferent to the Patriarch.
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
War minus the shooting: Russia vs Poland at Euro 2012
By Zygmunt Dzieciolowski,
OpenDemocracy, 15 June 2012
'War minus the shooting' was George Orwell's definition of sport, unpleasantly brought once more to mind during the recent battles between Russian and Polish football fans. There is a long history of animosity over sporting events between the two countries, but there could be a way forward, says Zygmunt Dzieciolowski. The streets of Warsaw turned into a battlefield on Tuesday night, as Russian and Polish football fans clashed before, during and after a Euro 2012 group stage match. The scale of the violence was such that Vladimir Putin took the unusual step of phoning Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to appeal to his sense of responsibility, and to remind him that, as host country, Poland was under an obligation to guarantee the safety of all football fans who came to watch the championship. Putin also sent his special envoy, Mikhail Fedotov, to Poland to help Polish authorities investigate the clashes. No other match at Euro 2012 has produced such tensions and emotions as this clash between Poland and Russia. But that perhaps is of little surprise, given the often unhappy history between the countries and the fact that for weeks before the game the Polish media had been so full of speculation about it. After the match, Poles had many questions. Why were Russian fans allowed to use old Soviet symbols on their flags and t-shirts? Should the hammer and sickle motifs not be read as incendiary communist propaganda? And should the Russian fans be allowed to organize a patriotic march on their way to the Warsaw National stadium to celebrate Russia's Independence Day (the anniversary of the Russian Supreme Soviet declaration of Independence passed on 12 June 1991), which unfortunately coincided with the match day? Riots_Warsaw Polish riot police had a lot to do before and after the Euro 2012 tie between Poland and Russia. Nearly 200 people were arrested following violent clashes between rival fans (photo: Vladimir Pesnya/Ria Novosti),The wrong hotel But the biggest issue for Polish public opinion was the fact the Russian Football Association had chosen Warsaw's Hotel Bristol as the base for its players. The hotel stands next to the Presidential Palace, the official residence of the Polish head of state and the home of former president Lech Kaczynski, who died in the Smolensk air crash of 2010. For the radical activists of his brother Jarosław Kaczyński 's PiS (Law and Justice) party the palace has become a sacred place. 'No other match at Euro 2012 has so far produced such tensions and emotions as the one between Poland and Russia on Tuesday 12 June'For the last two years, on the 10th day of each month (the crash happened on 10 April), they have come here with flowers and candles to pay tribute to their late hero and to accuse Donald Tusk's government of national betrayal. Most of them believe that the Smolensk crash was not caused by pilot error, but was organized by the Kremlin's Special Services. They regard the Russian government's failure to return the wreck of the aircraft to Poland as prime evidence of its involvement. They also believe Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk should share the blame, as they allowed the Russian government to conduct an official investigation into the crash without involving Polish or international experts. The Polish 'patriotic' camp maintains that, in supporting the official Russian version of the disaster, Tusk and Komorowski have become Russia's co-conspirators in its attempt to cover up the truth. This conspiracy theory has unfortunately gained popularity in the last few months and more and more Poles believe that the truth about the crash is still to be uncovered. Aware of the potential risks, the Russian team attempted to disarm Poland's 'patriotic' camp. A delegation of Russian players, together with their coach  Dick Advocaat, laid flowers at the Presidential Palace and issued a statement expressing their deepest sympathy with the Poles for the tragic loss of their president.Even though it seemed for a while that some of the pre-match tension had been defused, all the security precautions around the Russian team presence in Poland remained in force. Polish police and army special units continued heavy patrolling of Sulejowek, the little town south of Warsaw where the Russian team has its training base, Bristol-hotel. Many Poles were upset at Russia's choice of Hotel Bristol in Central Warsaw as a team base. The hotel stands in the old town next to the residence of former president Lech Kaczynski, who died in the Smolensk air crash of 2010 (photo: www.flickr.com  /banasy)Russians marching to the stadium for the match at the newly built Warsaw National Stadium were accompanied by heavily armed Polish riot police. The Polish prime minister confessed that after the match he and the Internal Affairs Minister Marek Cichocki monitored the security situation in Warsaw at the government's Emergency Centre until 2am the following morning.,Sport and politics And indeed, as might have been expected, the Poland-Russia match was much more than a football game. For Poland it was one more occasion to show its former colonial masters that the old historical wounds have still not healed. The cover of the Polish edition of Newsweek showed the Polish team coach Franciszek Smuda dressed in the uniform of Marshall Józef Piłsudski, who commanded the Polish army at the 1920 Battle of Warsaw in which it defeated the Red Army and thus saved Europe from Bolshevik invasion. Meanwhile the Russian media resorted to similar tactics, printing cartoons showing Russian forces defending the Kremlin against Polish invasion in the early XVII century. For the nations of Eastern Europe, sporting events involving the Soviets and Russians have long been inseparable from politics and history. At the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, the pool was filled with blood when the Hungarian and Soviet water polo teams settled some scores after the Hungarian revolution, which had been brutally suppressed by the Soviet army only weeks before. 'For the nations of Eastern Europe, sporting events involving the Soviets and Russians have long been inseparable from politics and history.'In 1969 a hockey match between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union led to mass riots in Prague and the burning of the Soviet airline Aeroflot's office, which resulted in an intensification of repressions against former Prague Spring activists by the pro-Kremlin Czechoslovak puppet regime.At the 1982 Mundial in Spain, the Polish football team played against the Soviet Union only a few months after General Jaruzelski's regime had crushed the Solidarnosc trade union and introduced martial law in December 1981. Solidarnosc supporters living in the West travelled to Barcelona to use the match as an opportunity for anti-Jaruzelski and anti-communist protest. They discovered where the TV cameras at the stadium were located and set up their banners in key positions, knowing that Polish TV, using live Spanish TV coverage, could do little to censure them. The whole of Poland was thrilled to see anti-Soviet and anti-regime banners on show at the Barcelona stadium. The match ended in a draw, which helped Poland to qualify for the next round of the tournament.One of the most popular annual sporting events in communist Poland was a bicycle Peace Race which toured Poland, GDR and Czechoslovakia each May. Every third year it ended in Warsaw at the city's main stadium, and the nearly 100 000 audience would whistle if the expected winner was to be the Soviet team or a Soviet cyclist. However, perhaps the best remembered 'anti-Soviet sports moment' in the history of communist Poland was the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games, where Wladislaw Kozakiewicz won gold in the pole vault and his victorious jump was met with angry whistles at the Moscow Luzhniki stadium. The TV cameras and censors were too slow in their reactions and the whole world saw the happy Polish athlete responding to his Russian audience with an obscene gesture. The term 'a Kozakiewicz gesture' has since entered the Polish language and is still often used as a euphemistic insult. The future But in 2012? Twenty years after the collapse of communism? Do sports arenas still need to be used for political demonstrations? Immediately after the clashes in Warsaw I was flooded with phone calls and e-mails from Russian friends and the Russian media. Their main question was: how long will we be still haunted by the memory of the past? For how many years will the stereotypes formed in the past continue to shape our reactions? Poland and Russia still have a lot of work to do to heal their historical wounds. Russia, unlike Poland, is ruled by an autocratic and corrupt regime trying to restore its influence in the world arena. Poles need to maintain constructive and friendly relations with Russia. Unfortunately, the russophobic attitudes promoted by Polish nationalist groups preserve old stereotypes and make it more difficult for Poles to understand the political and social processes taking place over their Eastern border. Radical anti-Russian slogans create fertile soil for hooligans, hotheads and fundamentalists who continue to see Russia as the Empire of Evil and who believe that attacking Russian football fans will pave the way for restoring historical justice. 'Radical anti-Russian slogans create fertile soil for hooligans, hotheads and fundamentalists who continue to see Russia as the Empire of Evil and who believe that attacking Russian football fans will pave the way for restoring historical justice'The legendary Polish dissident Adam Michnik likes to describe himself as an Anti-Soviet Russophile. That is even the Russian title of a collection of his essays published in Russia. This kind of approach to Polish-Russian relations seems to be much more constructive. FlagsA large section of the Polish public was embarrassed by the Polish hooligans' attacks on Russian fans on June 12. The eminent Polish journalist Daniel Passent appealed to Warsavians to invite Russian fans to their homes. photo: www.flickr.com, MassafelliPhotography.com  Even those Poles who do not remember communist times are great admirers of the late Russian democratic poet and bard Bulat Okudzhava . A recently resumed annual festival of Russian films in Warsaw attracts large audiences. Michnik's formula encourages Poles to become better acquainted with Russia's democratic face, with the present anti-Putin protest movement, with Russia's cultural achievements, with the heritage of academician Sakharov. This democratic and educated Russia has never questioned its country's responsibility for centuries of Polish suffering.But the 'anti-Soviet' component of Michnik's formula means that Poles (together with their Russian friends) should remain highly sensitive to violations of human rights in Russia and to the Russian government's neo-imperialist games. An Anti-Soviet Russophile Poland would feel no need to use violence against Russian fans who come to visit Poland for the Europe Football championship.
Nationalism -- Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
Article by Grigoriy Golosov
Slon.ru, June 18, 2012, Johnson's Russia List, 2012-#112, 21 June 2012
Prison in this country has long been a school for political journalism. And that is what we are seeing now: during the years he has spent in prison, Mikhail Khodorkovskiy has turned into one of the most profound and insightful writers speaking out on political issues. His lecture Between Empire and Nation-State is worth reading and reflecting on independently. So I will not paraphrase or comment on it. I will just say that I agree with the main ideas in this text. Let us now talk about something else. What role does nationalism play in modern Russian politics? Will it be popular during the process of democratization? Will the nationalists become an important political force in future Russian democracy? In Russian politics, nationalism has always been -- and remains to this day -- predominantly a tool of the authorities. It is used in three ways. Firstly, it is used to intimidate people. Forces of some kind, which challenge the existing order, only have to raise their heads slightly and all the media start to reproduce a text, which in its latest version sounds more or less like this: "The State Department has paid, and naive fools have taken to the streets with the best of intentions (no-one worries about logical contradictions in these kind of constructs), but who are they blazing the trail for? Clearly, for the fascist thugs who will raze things to the ground... You remember the fate of the USSR? That is what will happen!"Secondly, with its help the opposition is split. The opposition is not homogenous. Between its liberal, leftist and nationalist wings, there are undoubtedly differences. And where there are differences -- there is also an opportunity to make the security service's favorite play on "internal contradictions". I will not develop this topic, everything is too obvious here. There is also a third, less obvious function: using nationalism as a tool of domination. Putin once let slip that even he did not know who was more nationalist -- him or Medvedev. Well, I do not know about Dmitriy Anatolyevich, but the fact that Putin's entire electoral career has been linked to the exploitation of idiosyncratically presented nationalist topics is indisputable. Russia has risen from its knees. Russia exposed the machinations of the State Department, it found the spy stone, and brought peace to the Caucasus. Russia was uncivil to the Americans when it supported intimate friends like Assad. And while it is still possible to permit oneself a flirtatious liberalism in the spirit of "freedom is better than non-freedom" during peaceful times, at the first signs of a threat the regime's rhetoric starts to be based solely on the idea that "its foes are injuring poor Russia". None of this, of course, was invented by Putin and his creative propagandists, but was inherited from the previous stage of the country's political development, the "dashing 1990s", of which the current Russian regime is also the product. Having celebrated 12 June, it is appropriate to remember that Russian nationalism lay at the origins of the modern Russian Federation. It is impossible to quantify, but it is obvious that for a significant number of voters who voted for Yeltsin in June 1991, he had merit not as a democrat, but as a politician capable of liberating Russia from the yoke of the Soviet institutions of power, and giving it sovereignty. Few people thought that this would mean the disintegration of the Union. Yet when Russia did become sovereign, Yeltsin began to busy himself taking charge of the economic reforms and consolidating his own power. In this, he received the full support of the majority of politicians who considered themselves democrats. Those who did not share the values of the free economy and challenged Yeltsin's power ceased to be considered democrats. It should be admitted that the overwhelming majority of Yeltsin's opponents did in fact advocate a strong, centralized, authoritarian state. Of course, they were not nationalists in any strict sense of the word but they did support the restoration of the USSR, the usual one (with "honest Communists") or an unusual one (with a double-headed eagle -- and golden cupolas). At the time, no-one went into the subtleties of terminology, especially since some of the opposition did not stint on xenophobia. But they enjoyed popularity precisely because they were opposition figures and the repositories of imperial nostalgia. Not a single one of the attempts to create a strong opposition movement on the basis of something like national socialism was successful, parties of this persuasion got about one-and-a-half percent of the votes in the elections. As for imperial nostalgia, this topic flourished in opposition, until it was appropriated by Putin. It is quite typical that figures such as Aleksandr Prokhanov, Sergey Kurginyan, and Dmitry Rogozin were in the camp of his ardent supporters. At the same time, however, the subject of the nationalist threat continued to be used for propaganda purposes.In the second half of the noughties, a national-democratic movement started gradually to emerge based on an understanding that a Russian national state was only possible as a democratic state. Of course, this movement is weighed down by the institutional and ideological legacy of the 1990s. But I agree with Khodorkovskiy that in the struggle against authoritarianism the national-democrats are the natural allies of the liberal democrats.Yes, the nationalists have a specific agenda, connected with migration, the distortions of budgetary federalism, ethnic crime, and the situation of Russian minorities in some republics. These issues may be secondary for the liberals. But it would be short-sighted to ignore them: they are of concern to the citizens of Russia. The correct approach is for them to suggest their own solutions. However, such differences should not obscure their fundamental community of interests. Both the liberals and the nationalists need a dismantling of the authoritarian regime, and a concerted effort is required for this. From this point of view a positive assessment needs to be given to matters such as the notorious nationalism of Aleksey Navalnyy, the positions of some of the other Democratic leaders like Garri Kasparov and Vladimir Milov, and the participation of nationalists in the fight for fair elections. A consensus between all the ideological movements interested in it, including the left-wing, liberals, and nationalists, would be optimal for democratization. But the community of interests between the latter two is deeper. In the future, when Russia does after all switch to democracy, matters of socio-economic policy will come to the fore, and on these the liberals and nationalists will -- objectively -- find themselves on one side of the main political divide. I have already written about the fact that I do not consider the left wing coming to power as a mortal threat, but those who do not want this should see that the liberals will not be able to prevent this on their own. Allies with a different electoral base will be needed. Of course, a rejection of sectarianism on both sides is needed in order to achieve this. Khodorkovskiy has written enough about the dangers of liberal phobias. The national democrats also need to rise to their tasks, to seek role models not in marginalized organizations such as the French Front national but in the parties that win elections. If we are talking about France, then why not take the example of the Gaullists who lost in the current election cycle, but have in the past won by a huge margin? A comprehensive niche of conservatism, which is potentially attractive to voters, the natural ideology of a capitalist nation-state, is free in Russia, and only forces capable of developing an extensive agenda will be able to fill it. Whether this will be the current national-democrats depends on them themselves.
A Brief Report on the Situation with Xenophobia, Racism and Intolerance in the Russian Federation
Union Council of Soviet Jews, June 19 2012
During the review period, nationalist forces continued to be an active part of the protest movement. They were present during the so-called "March of Millions" on May 6 on Bolotnaya Square, at least 2 participants of the nationalist movement were arrested for alleged "mass riots". The SOVA center reports that among nationalist leaders present during the March were, Georgy Borovikov, Alexander Belov (Potkin), Konstantin Krylov, Vladimir Tor and Andrey Saveliev, who during the March led a column, with 100 participants who were all members of the Great Russia party. There were also a significant number of ultra-right participants not affiliated with any structures. Some of them took part in the actions that continued in the following days in the squares and boulevards of Moscow.
During the Occupy actions, nationalist leaders gave a few presentations, while rank-and-file activists were responsible for security, and later on - for kitchen duties and gathering finances. As nationalists gained a more visible and active role, other participants of the Occupy camps attempted to reproach the aggression towards others, mismanagement of the kitchen and of funds and to ban nationalist propaganda, yet to no avail - due to organized opposition from nationalists who in return have proposed to ban "propaganda of liberalism".
At the same time, it is worthwhile to note, that the participation of nationalists was small, as most autonomous neo-Nazis have ignored the protests, despite the calls from Belov, Demushkin and Daniil Konstantinov, the leader of the League for Defense of Moscow to stop focusing on fighting and killing migrants and antifa and instead entering into the open political struggle.
Party and organization building continued on the far-right. The "Novaya Sila" (New Force) of Vladimir Solovey announced its plans for anti-migrant campaigns in Moscow and St.Petersburg, Krasnodar and Stavropol, against Caucasus and in Siberia and the Far East, against alleged "colonial" policies of the authorities. There were also organized visibility actions in Yekaterinburg, Rostov-on-don and notably in Moscow on May 17th with the "Let's stop migration chaos!" including participation of a well-known actor Anatoly Pashinin, who might well become the public face of the party. On June 7th the party submitted documents for registration.
The "Russkie" ("the Russians") movement has continued to develop with the participation of infamous Dmitry "Shultz" Bobrov, the former leader of Shults-88 gang that was banned as extremist for a number of murders committed by its members. It was established that the expert opinions of anthropologist Nikolay Girenko against Shultz-88 were among reasons for his murder in 2004. Bobrov now heads National-socialist initiative, which has launched the creation of its Moscow branch.
The movement "Soprotivlenie" ("Resistance") of Roman Zencoz also continued developing, notably in Voronezh, where it has organized environmental and healthy lifestyle actions, including "Russian jogging" that has continued to gain popularity.
Apparently, the rapid growth of the movement "Pravye" (more than 108 000 members in the group page Vkontakte, Russian equivalent of Facebook) can also be attributed to the success of "Russian jogging". The group doesn't have any prominent leaders or a clear program, but is already noticeable in Moscow and St.Petersburg and at the moment, is preparing a running march Moscow-Minsk-Kyiv. Potentially, it could be quite influential also by recruiting a significant number of young people through sporting events.
The "International association of white political prisoners and prisoners of war" was established to provide support for imprisoned neo-Nazis. Among founders are known ultra-right activist sentenced for life for numerous violent crimes, led by Nikolay Korolev, one of those responsible for the explosion in the Cherkizovskye market on 2006, who has killed 14 and injured over 60 people. It was reported that the Association has become an official branch of the pan-European network of imprisoned neo-Nazis, launched by Anders Breivik nad Korolev was approved by Breivik himself as the head of the branch.
The appointment of Dmitry Rogozin, one of the leaders of the Congress of Russian Communities, into the newly formed Cabinet, has led to increased leverage for the groups associated and allied with the Congress and to new attempts to establish cooperation with the authorities, notably through "Pravo-Konservativny allians" ("Right-Conservative alliance").
In this connection, it is important to note that the etho-nationalistic approach has apparently prevailed in the official approach to internal policies in regards to various ethnic divisions. The "Council of intra-national relations" was created, to continue the main theses outlined in the controversial article by Putin "Russia: National (Ethnic) Question".
Initiatives to propose laws that would place bans on "propaganda of homosexuality" have continued. Such bills have already became laws in Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, St.Petersburg, Kostroma and are also on the table in Novosibirsk, Samara, Kirov, Kaliningrad, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Moscow, as well as on the federal level. The laws are slowly being challenged in courts, yet the courts are likely to side with the legislators (which has already happened in Arkhangelsk). LGBT community has been uniting forces with the Human Rights movement to counteract the laws that clearly curb freedom of expression and lack legal certainty in their definition of "propaganda". A number of joint initiatives have been discussed at the "Human rights without prejudice" conference, where it was one of the main topics at a round-table, organized by LGBT, human rights, green and leftist groups in Moscow. The Russian LGBT Network, Moscow Helsinki group and international Youth Human Rights Movement have also initiated a joint appeal signed by a number of other organization to the EU-Russia summit pointing out to a number of threats to freedom of expression in Russia, particularly new legislation on assembly, in the case of Pussy-Riot punk band charged with "defaming religious feelings" and penalization of so-called "propaganda of homosexuality".
Among new development in the review period is a massive fight among Uzbek and Kyrgyz migrants in Moscow, with at least 2 people seriously injured, just before the anniversary of ethnic clashes in the South of Kyrgyzstan in 2010. Although Ferghana.ru news agency reports that such fights are a frequent occasion, it is not often that they are reported by the mainstream media in Russia.
The theme of "ethnic crime" received a new development with a fight on June 5th in Moscow among three football fans and three Chechen young men. Magomed Eldiev and Bekhan Rizvanov were charged with attempt to murder Alexey Usachev, who received multiple knife wounds. An attempt to detain alleged perpetrators in the Moscow student dormitory where they lived led to clashes among riot police and Chechen students, among which 18 were arrested. The president of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov has asked a number of bar attorneys to represent the students, but at the same time has made a public statement that he is concerned with reports of crimes committed by Chechens due to "idle mode of life" and that if they cannot behave they should return to Chechnya. The statement has played into the usual evaluations of such incidents as "interethnic" conflicts.
 See more at: http://goo.gl/cp66N
English version of the appeal is available at: http://yhrm.org/sites/default/files/eu-ru_appeal_foe_-_eng.doc
Messing with History: A Proposal to Bury Vladimir Lenin's Body Has Reignited the Debate About History and Politics in Russia
By Dan Peleschuk
Russia Profile, June 19, 2012,
Tampering with historical memory in Russia has always been a dangerous pastime. So when newly installed Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky proposed to finally bury Vladimir Lenin's embalmed body and rename Moscow's streets to honor Tsarist rather than Soviet figures, his comments naturally caused a stir. But they also highlight just how touchy even the recent past can be in a divisive and historically damaged Russia especially when historical memory is mobilized for political purposes. To bury or not to bury Lenin? It's a question that has arisen time and again since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the better part of the Soviet elite traded its crimson lapel pins and Communist Party memberships for European-tailored suits and business cards. Each post-Soviet leader has shied away from making a final call on the issue, for fear of either discouraging his constituency or even sparking serious societal unrest. And no matter how one approaches it, the situation seems impossible: leave Lenin, and you anger the progressive urbanites; bury him, and you anger the Kremlin's most loyal support base. Nearly 50 percent of Russians, according to a recent Levada Center poll, still think the Bolshevik played a positive role in Russian history. Which is why Medinsky's comments were only bound to provoke a flurry of discussion. His proposals to not only kick Lenin out of his imposing stone mausoleum, but also to rename a handful of the capital's streets to honor members of the last Tsarist family, led both critics and supporters of the initiative to speak out. Medinsky, for his part, justified his idea by pitching it as a stepping stone of sorts: "Maybe, indeed, many things in our life would symbolically change for the better after this," he said in an interview with the Echo of Moscow radio station last week. Perhaps to Medinsky's credit, his intentions seem targeted toward overcoming Russia's troublesome past and finally coming to terms with what both avowed communists and ordinary pensioners today still seem to prefer not to remember: that the Soviet regime, and Lenin<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)