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Bulletin 6:31 (2012)

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 6, No. 31(187), 31 December 2012 Compilers: Fabian Burkhardt, Parikrama Gupta,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 31, 2012
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 6, No. 31(187), 31 December 2012
      Compilers: Fabian Burkhardt, Parikrama Gupta, Vildane Oezkan & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 1 - 15 December 2012

      [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: 1 - 15 December 2012

      Third Energy Package Could Spark Shortages Warns Russia
      RIA Novosti, December 1, 2012

      MOSCOW, December 1 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union's implementation of the Third Energy Package could lead to a deficit of energy resources in Europe, Presidential Administration head Sergei Ivanov warned on Saturday.
      "We are against this in principle, and aren't afraid to say that the Third Package will simply make it harder to conclude long-term deals and could lead to Europe suffering - excuse me for saying so - stupid shortages of resources," he told Russia's TV Channel One.
      "More and more capital is going into exploration of oil and gas, because all of this is going up north, which is more costly, for transportation, refining and distribution. If we follow the logic of the EU, that everything should be split up, then the question arises who will invest in transport and distribution?" he said.
      The EU Third Package for Electricity and Gas markets aims to separate production and supply from transmission networks, facilitate cross-border trade in energy, more effective national regulators, and promote cross-border collaboration and investment, greater market transparency on network operation and supply, as well as increased solidarity among the EU countries.
      It was adopted on September 19, 2007. The package was to be implemented by March of this year; however, not all EU member states have met the deadline. Russia has repeatedly spoken out against the directive, with then-President Dmitry Medvedev threatening retaliatory measures in 2011 if it was implemented, as it will have implications for vertically-integrated state energy companies like Gazprom.
      "If energy distribution networks get dearer, and if we are talking about gas pipelines for example, this would lead to higher prices. This could have global consequences," Ivanov added.


      Migrant Workers Start Russian Language Tests
      RIA Novosti, December 1, 2012

      MOSCOW, December 1 (RIA Novosti) - Migrant workers arriving in Russia to find employment face tests of their knowledge of the local language from today, as a new law comes into force.
      All foreigners working in housing maintenance services, retail stores or public services are required to demonstrate a basic knowledge of Russian, and will be tested on it when getting work permits.
      Most of the workers arriving in Russia to work in such trades are from the former Soviet Republics, particularly Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
      Similar practices exist in many other countries, said Federal Migration Service (FMS) head Konstantin Romanovsky.
      "Knowledge of Russian will give labor migrants more security and comfort," he said. "Without knowledge of Russian, its impossible for foreign citizens to integrate properly in our society."
      Foreign citizens from states where Russian is the official state language - currently only Belarus and the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, recognized as independent by Russia - will not be required to take the language test.
      The Migration Service expects 140,000 workers to take the test in 2012-13. Taking the test will cost 5,000 rubles (around $160), but may be cheaper in future, the FMS says.
      Migration is a contentious issue for Russia, with widespread disquiet in some sectors of society about the increasing numbers of foreign workers coming to Russia to live. The government is aware, however, of the need for cheap labor in many sectors, as the economy is dogged by low productivity and many sectors such as construction are heavily reliant on guest workers.


      Russia Warns N.Korea Against Rocket Launch
      RIA Novosti, December 3, 2012

      MOSCOW, December 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia called on North Korea on Monday to abandon plans to launch a space rocket later this month, which Pyongyang announced on the weekend.
      "We strongly appeal to the North Korean government to reconsider the decision to launch the rocket," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
      The launch would contradict resolutions imposed by the U.N. Security Council, the ministry said.
      Russia said it regretted the North Korean Space Technology Committee's announcement that a rocket carrying a satellite will be launched between December 10 and 22.
      The launch is scheduled between 07:00 and 12:00 local time between those dates, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
      The first stage of the three-stage long-range rocket has been already installed on the launch pad, a Seoul government source told Yonhap on Monday. It will take up to four days to set up the remaining two, the anonymous source was quoted as saying.
      The launch will be North Korea's second attempt this year. A previous launch in April failed when the rocket crashed into the Yellow Sea minutes after liftoff.
      North Korea maintains it wants to put satellites into orbit for peaceful purposes, while the international community suspects the launches could be a cover for development of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
      North Korea has previously tested nuclear weapons underground.


      Patriarch Kirill urges Latvia to solve the problem of "non-citizens" and improve the status of the Russian language
      Interfax-Religion, December 3, 2012

      Moscow, December 3, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes that the solution of the problem of "non-citizens" and the status of the Russian language in Latvia will lead to growth of international prestige of the country and will strengthen the social accordance inside it.
      At the meeting with the mayor of Riga Nils Ushakov on Friday in Moscow the Patriarch reminded that 44% of residents of Latvia consider Russian to be their native language, however, the authorities think it foreign.
      "This is a unique case in the world practice, I do not know another. And, of course, until the situation changes, we will express our concern, because this concern is covered by all the existing legal documents, regulating the use of language," the Patriarch said.
      According to him the same problem concerns the rights of many people living in Latvia, who are still called "non-citizens". "This is a wound on our body, and, while the wound hurts, we will never forget it," stressed Patriarch Kirill.
      He expressed his doubt that the solution of the language problem weaken the Latvian identity and causing any conflicts. "On the contrary, it will promote the international prestige of Latvia, the sympathies of the nearest neighbours, and, undoubtedly, will contribute to the strengthening of social peace and stability in the society," the Patriarch declared.
      According to the data of the Latvian Management on Affairs of citizenship and immigration at the beginning of 2012 in Latvia there were 312 thousand. "non-citizens", the most - 205 thousand - Russian nationality. Most of them are 49-65 years.
      "Non-citizens" of Latvia may not affect on the political situation in the country, because they can not be voters and to hold positions in the civil service.


      Court resolution on Pussy Riot videos challenged
      Itar-Tass, December 4 2012

      MOSCOW, December 4 (Itar-Tass) -- Yekaterina Samutsevich,one of the Pussy Riot punk group convicted for an act of hooliganism staged at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, has appealed a resolution earlier passed by the Moscow Zamoskvoretsky district court which recognized "extremist" the Pussy Riot videos, spokeswoman for the Moskvoretsky District Court Yevgenia Pazukhina told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
      She confirmed that the court received Yekaterina Samutsevich'appeal in which she asked to repeal a resolution passed by judge Marina Musimiovich as" illegal and unsubstantiated," as Samutsevich claims.
      On November 29 the Zamoskvoretsky district court ruled that four videos of Pussy Riot punk band, including performance in Russia's main cathedral, on Red square, on the roof of a building in Moscow and during a trolleybus hijack show, were extremist and ordered to remove them from all websites.
      Three members of the band were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred earlier this year. Two of them received two-year sentences while the third, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was given a suspended sentence.


      Medvedev: No need to regulate homosexuality in Russia
      By Dmitry Astakhov
      RIA Novosit, RAPSI , December 7 2012

      Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a press conference Friday that he sees no reason to limit homosexuality by law.
      "Not every moral issue, behavioral habit or communication issue between people should be regulated. This is why not all relationships between people are subject to a legal interpretation," Medvedev said in response to a question on banning homosexuality.
      The prime minister said that there was too much fuss about the issue and that in Russia the issue concerns few people.
      "Probably this issue does not concern too many people in the country, and it's not discussed at all levels," Medvedev said.
      At the same time he admitted that State Duma lawmakers have the right to submit any proposals or bills to the parliament.
      Medvedev's statements come at the end of a year that has seen its share of controversy with regard to laws involving homosexuality in Russia.
      A law imposing fines for "gay propaganda" took effect in St. Petersburg on March 30.
      It has faced heavy criticism from the LGBT community and rights activists in Russia and abroad, but it has also been proposed that it should be made into a federal law. Any citizen who breaks the law in St. Petersburg may be subject to pay a fine for an administrative violation.
      Claiming that Madonna violated the law during her St. Petersburg concert over the summer, nine plaintiffs sought upwards of $10 million in compensation for "moral damages."
      During the concert, the star handed out pink bracelets to the crowd in a show of solidarity with the city's gay and lesbian community.
      But the Russian court ruled US pop star Madonna did not break the law on the promotion of homosexual lifestyles among minors during her concert in St. Petersburg earlier this year.
      Russia's lower house may begin talks of a bill stipulating fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,220) for promoting homosexuality among minors on December 19.


      Russia draws up list Americans involved in human rights abuses
      Itar-Tass, December 7 2012

      MOSCOW, December 7 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Foreign Ministry has drawn up a list of U.S. citizens, who have been involved in encroachments on human rights and who will be denied an opportunity to enter the Russian territory, Dr Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma's foreign policy committee said Friday.
      "It's true that the Foreign Ministry has a confidential list /of U.S. citizens/, the same way that the U.S. Department of State has a similar list /of Russian citizens/," he told the Russian News Service radio.
      The list contains the names of Americans who, according to the information available to the Russian side, have been involved in human rights abuses and "who will not be admitted to the Russian territory."
      U.S. Senate on Thursday adopted a bill on normalization of trade relations with Russia, which encorporates the so-called Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act envisioning sanctions against the judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers reportedly involved in the controversial situation around the lawyer of Hermitage Capital Management lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow pretrial investigations center in November 2009.
      Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier Moscow will retaliate with the banning of entry visas for the Americans whose involvement in the encroachments on human rights has been proved.


      Russian premier says does not think religious views in Russia radicalizing
      Itar-Tass, December 7, 2012

      MOSCOW, December 7 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday he does not think that a considerable radicalization of religious views has taken place in Russia after a resounding offense committed by the Pussy Riot punk group, which staged a 'punk prayer' in Moscow's biggest cathedral, mocking the Orthodox Christian rite and chanting obscenities.
      Medvedev recalled in this connection that a law on the protection of believers' rights has been shelved, although some public quarters insisted on its adoption.
      "I don't think we're in a situation where the fundamentalists of some sort are attempting at the foundations of secular statehood," he said in a live interview with Russia's major TV channels. "There's nothing of the kind here."
      "I don't think anything abnormal is taking place in this country but the thing is that some radicalization of outlooks is noticeable because action always triggers counteraction and if someone tries to undermine the foundations of creed with an activity of some sort, this always causes a harsh reaction on the part of believers," Medvedev said. "The problem is not that those people are fundamentalists or radicals but very simply such is human nature."
      "This leads up to very regrettable consequences sometimes," he said. "Events in the Caucasus show us that the aspirations of this kind may sometimes lay the grounds for killing people, but in our case we didn't go out of reasonable limits."
      As an instance, he cited Lloyd Webber's 'Jesus Christ Superstar' that was composed in 1970.
      "It produced a whole variety of reactions /in Russia/ - some people denounced it but an absolute majority didn't find anything objectionable in it," Medvedev said. "A way out of the controversial situation was found in a totally civilized manner."
      "Since a part of people said that public performance of the opera would be insulting, a query was filed with the authorities, which consulted the Russian Orthodox Church and the latter said the opera didn't encroach on the believers' legitimate rights," he said.
      Medvedev said he thinks that believers should turn to government organizations and to court in case they get claims to make.
      "The authorities scrutinized the issue, and no measures were taken as a result," he went on. "The Church agreed and this was a civilized method of settling the disputes."
      On the merits and flaws of the law on protection of believers' rights, Medvedev said: "Anyone can pass judgments on a law only when it is signed by the President and published officially."


      Moscow has blacklist of unwelcome U.S. citizens - Pushkov
      Interfax, December 7 2012

      MOSCOW. Dec 7 (Interfax) - The Russian Foreign Ministry has drafted a blacklist of U.S. citizens Moscow suspects of violations of human rights, State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov said in an interview with the Russian News Service radio on Friday.
      "In fact, the Foreign Ministry has a classified list, same as the U.S. Department of State. It is not long so far. It includes citizens we suspect of violations of human rights and bar from Russia," he said.
      Ninety-two senators voted for the Magnitsky Act on Thursday. The document imposes visa and financial restrictions on Russian officials the U.S. suspects of being involved in the death of the Hermitage Capital lawyer at a detention facility three years ago.
      Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia would deny entry to U.S. violators of human rights.

      Johnson's Russia List 2012-#216

      'Anti-French racism' campaign uses Russian face
      Searchlight, 07 December 2012

      A youth group in France's far-right National Front party launched a drive this week to highlight what they see as the growth of anti-French racism - but chose a non-French-speaking Russian model to be the face of the campaign.
      France's extreme right National Front appears to have left itself open to ridicule after its youth movement's latest campaign aimed at highlighting anti-French racism.
      The poster campaign by the National Front youth group (le Front National de la jeunesse, or FNJ) features the face of a woman painted in the colours of the French flag. She is pictured with mouth wide open as if addressing a crowd of cheering, tricolour-waving supporters.
      Above her face is the campaign slogan, "Enough of anti-French racism, This is our home!".
      But France is not her home. The face chosen to represent the youth movement's campaign is, in fact, a Russian model from St. Petersburg, who apparently speaks not a word of French.
      The irony appears to have been lost on the director of the FNJ, Julien Rochedy, who has rejected the idea that there is any cause for controversy in the campaign.
      'Nobody cares where she is from'
      "We knew all along that this woman was from Russia, but nobody cares," Rochedy told French daily Le Figaro.
      "What is important is that her facial expression corresponds with our slogan. People are not bothered about her origin, she could quite easily be French," said Rochedy.
      The inconsistency was discovered by Mouloud Achour, who works on the daily TV show "Le Grand Journal". Achour found the woman on Facebook, where her profile said she spoke Russian and English but not French.
      It appears the FNJ bought one of the model's photos, before superimposing the colours of the French Tricolour as well as photoshopping out an ear piercing.
      As well as the poster campaign, the FNJ's drive to highlight what they see as anti-French racism features online videos with three young people who claim to have been victims of discrimination on the grounds of their nationality.
      It is not the first time a campaign by the ultra nationalist far-right party has left it open to accusations of double standards.
      During Marine Le Pen's presidential election campaign, at a time when the candidates were evoking the protectionist values of "Made in France" products, the French media revealed that the T-shirts worn by her supporters daubed with the words "Marine's boys" were actually made in Bangladesh.
      The subject of anti-French racism is not just the domain of the far right.
      During the campaign to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as head of France's conservative UMP party last month, candidate François Copé stirred up a hornet's nest when he complained of the growth of "anti-white racism" in certain neighbourhoods across French cities.


      Hermitage Art Show Faces Barrage of 'Religious Hatred' Complaints
      The St. Petersburg Times, December 10, 2012

      St. Petersburg prosecutors are checking whether an exhibit by British artists incited religious hatred by displaying Ronald McDonald and a teddy bear nailed to a crucifix.
      Prosecutors have received 117 complaints about the "The End of Fun" exhibit by brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman at the State Hermitage Museum, Interfax reported Friday, citing local prosecutors.
      The complainants say the exhibit "offends" their faith and is "aimed at inciting ethnic hatred and enmity," a representative of the prosecutors told Interfax.
      The museum's director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, said the complainants believed that the crucifix had been desecrated because it had a McDonald's clown and a teddy bear nailed to it.
      Piotrovsky asked Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to take action "so that both we and prosecutors are not distracted from our work."
      "Our society is being used for smear campaigns," Piotrovsky said. "There is nothing blasphemous [in the exhibit], but there is a clear intention to spoil the mood in the city."
      In a statement on his museum's website, Piotrovsky noted that the complaints were "almost identical in wording."
      Inciting religious hatred is a criminal charge in Russia punishable by up to two years in prison for an individual and up to five years for a member of an "organized group."
      The exhibit, depicting a day of reckoning for fascists, opened on Oct. 20 and runs through Jan. 13.
      On Oct. 20, an obscure group of Cossacks e-mailed local television network Piter.tv, calling on Piotrovsky "to come to his senses." They said they would complain to prosecutors if he didn't heed their suggestion to close the exhibit because it depicted swastikas.
      Last month, the same Cossack group made another local museum cancel a staging of "Lolita," a play based on the Vladimir Nabokov novel, saying it violated a local law enacted in March against promoting pedophilia.


      Russian President Denies Trying To Resurrect USSR
      RIA Novosti, December 10, 2012

      President Vladimir Putin has rejected suggestions that Russia's drive for closer ties with other former Soviet republics is an attempt to rebuild the Soviet Union. Speaking on 10 December at a meeting in Moscow with his "authorized representatives", who acted as his election agents during this year's presidential election campaign, Putin dismissed such claims by "colleagues from abroad" as "nonsense", Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported. On a visit to Dublin last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Russia was trying to "re-Sovietise the region" around it under the guise of various economic alliances. However, Putin said that the integration of post-Soviet economies was a "natural process". "I find it very strange when I hear some colleagues from abroad say that our embarking on the path of integration amounts to Russia reviving its ambitions as the former Soviet Union (as received). What a nonsense. This is an absolutely natural process," Putin said. He added that the process was natural because the nations in question had "a common language", "a largely common mentality", and "common transport infrastructure and common energy infrastructure". He suggested that the current level of integration between former Soviet republics, or even their integration while they were part of the Soviet Union, was looser than that of the EU member states. "I can give the example of the EU, where the number of decisions by the European Parliament that are mandatory is greater in percentage terms then the number of mandatory decisions by the former USSR Supreme Soviet. That is the degree of integration they have," Putin said. Privately-owned news agency Interfax reported that State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin had launched a scathing attack on foreign critics of Russia's post-Soviet integration plans. "Attempts by individual Western politicians to distort the true meaning of Eurasian integration look strange. To speak openly about interfering in and counteracting these positive processes is especially unacceptable. Such brazen behaviour resembles the ungainly gait of a lame duck," Naryshkin said in an address to an "international parliamentary forum" in Moscow on 10 December. In the same report, Interfax quoted what it called "a high-ranking source" in Moscow as saying that Clinton's remarks might be a sign of her presidential ambitions in 2016. "She may have decided to declare her political convictions in advance by sending a signal of intent to be tougher than Obama in dealing with Moscow," Interfax quoted the anonymous source as saying.

      Johnson's Russia List 2012-#218

      Metropolitan Hilarion calls on Orthodox Christians, Muslims to unite in fight against Wahabis
      Interfax-Religion, December 10, 2012

      Moscow, December 10, Interfax - Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk has called on Orthodox Christians and Muslims to unite in the fight against Wahhabism.
      "Wahhabism, or Salafism, is a very serious threat to our life now," Metropolitan Hilarion said on the program Church and the World on Rossiya 24 television, on which prominent Islamic theologian Farid Salman also appeared.
      Metropolitan Hilarion said there is an undeclared war going on against traditional Islam in the North Caucasus and Christianity in the Middle East, which results from "one and the same thing: religious intolerance."
      "It's our common problem, our common tradition, and, of course, we should fight together to be able to live in peace and accord," he said.
      Metropolitan Hilarion said Wahabis are driven "by the devil, not religious beliefs."
      "We are deeply saddened by the news we have been getting from various regions of our country - from Dagestan and Chechnya - on the killings of muftis and leading Islamic theologians. It's perfectly obvious that its people who are inspired by some devilish people-hating ideology. They commit these illegal and immoral acts to divide our society and destroy the religious peace that has taken centuries to create," he said.
      Terrorists target people who, like Salman, "testify without fear that these persons are driven by the devil," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
      "It's a true heroism of confession, which we all have to bear: we have to call things by their names, and there is no room for political correctness here," he said.
      Salman, in turn, called for "a strategic union of Orthodox faith and traditional Islam in Russia," pointing out that joint efforts by the state and traditional religious institutions are needed to fight Wahhabism, which is a false teaching and "a totalitarian sect."


      Russian minister speaks of harmony with China, no fear of its growing influence
      Johnson's Russia List, December 10, 2012

      (Interfax - Dec. 9) Russia does not have any concerns about China's growing political influence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
      "I know that many people have been expressing concerns about this trend. We have no such concerns. We believe that it is always better not to try to restrain the growth of someone's influence, but to find common ground. In that respect, we have complete mutual understanding with China," Lavrov said on Sunday (9 December) at a seminar at the National Economy Academy in Moscow involving Vladimir Putin's authorized representatives (who acted as his election agents during the 2012 presidential election campaign).
      Lavrov also said that Russia supports the establishment of a non-bloc system of security in the Asia-Pacific region.
      "Russia and China have put forward a joint initiative for a new security architecture process to start in the Asia-Pacific region that will be open and will be based not on blocs, but on the fundamental principles of international law and the indivisibility of security. In that case, no participant would provide its own security at the expense of another participant's security," Lavrov said.
      (An earlier Interfax report carried further remarks by Lavrov in which he discussed the two countries' shared vision of international affairs. "We have absolutely identical views on the state of affairs in the world. We stand for the supremacy of law because some countries like talking about the supremacy of law only within states while not taking kindly to the supremacy of law slogan on the international arena. We are convinced that no less attention should be paid to the supremacy of law on the international arena," Lavrov said. (Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1246 gmt 9 Dec 12))


      British Artists Probed for 'Extremism' in Russia
      By RIA Novosti 10/12/2012

      A duo of renowned British contemporary artists offered "extreme apologies" for an antifascist exhibit in St. Petersburg that is investigated for anti-Christian hatemongering media reported on Sunday. Brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman were disappointed to be accused of extremism by religious groups and pledge to never again set foot in Russia the artists said BBC Russia reported. A Chapman exhibit titled End of Fun opened in the prestigious Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg in October. The exhibit's eponymous centerpiece likened to Hieronymus Bosch's phantasmagorias by prominent Russian gallerist Marat Guelman depicts a host of plastic toys in Nazi getup "torturing" and "killing" each other. Among other things End of Fun features a tiny crucified Ronald McDonald which was seen as blasphemy by 117 Russian believers who wrote complaints to prosecutors asking to investigate the exhibit for extremism. The check was still ongoing as of Sunday according to city prosecutors who refused to identify any of the complainants. The exhibit works until January 13. The Chapmans active since 1991 and known for their provocative installations run a risk of finding themselves in the same boat as Pussy Riot the feminist music group whose two members were jailed earlier this year for performing an anti-Kremlin song in a cathedral an act that the court ruled to amount to anti-Christian extremism. Chapman brothers' exhibit was targeted before opening by a hitherto unknown group styling itself The St. Petersburg Cossacks who wrote a public complaint about it. The group's members remained unidentified and some skeptics said it could have been a prank. Attempts to censor arts have been multiplying in Russia lately: a play based on Nabokov's Lolita a performance by a group of opposition-minded artists and a satirical show about a hybrid of Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi BerlusPutin were all banned in St. Petersburg in recent months for various reasons and city activists unsuccessfully sued Madonna for "gay propaganda" at her show in August. Icons a modern art exhibit staged by gallerist Guelman came under fire from conservative Christians in St. Petersburg and several cities of southern Russia this year and in Moscow activists attacked several Pussy Riot supporters and a museum of erotic art.


      Lady Gaga Thanks Medvedev for Opposing Anti-Gay Laws
      The Associated Press, 10 December 2012

      Lady Gaga, set to perform at Moscow's Olimpiisky stadium on Wednesday, has expressed "her gratitude" to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for opposing regional laws that make it a crime to provide minors with information about homosexuality.
      The pop star tweeted Saturday that she thanks the former president for "not standing by your party's anti-gay propaganda law."
      Gaga's tweet followed her arrival in St. Petersburg, one of the three Russian cities that have recently passed bills imposing fines of up to $150,000 for providing minors with information on homosexuality, which the laws term "homosexual propaganda."
      Asked about the laws, Medvedev said in a televised interview Friday that "not all relations between people can be regulated by law."
      Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but homophobia remains strong, and gay rallies have been dispersed by police and militant Orthodox activists.


      Defense Minister Pledges Support for Church
      The Moscow Times, 10 December 2012

      Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday pledged his support for the Russian Orthodox Church, promising to re-establish the close ties that bound religious and military officials before the October Revolution in 1917.
      "We will continue to support the Russian Orthodox Church with renewed energy and, most importantly, restore those traditions that existed under the Russian [pre-revolutionary] government," Shoigu said at a meeting with Patriarch Kirill, the country's top Orthodox Church official, RIA-Novosti reported.
      Shoigu, who was installed as defense minister in early November after his predecessor was ousted amid a corruption scandal, worked closely with the church in his capacity as emergency situations minister, a post he held for almost two decades.
      Russian authorities are often accused of an overly cosy relationship with church officials.
      In February, after Patriarch Kirill publicly likened President Vladimir Putin's rule to a "miracle of God," punk band Pussy Riot staged a controversial performance in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral protesting perceived collusion between the Kremlin and the church.
      At the meeting with Shoigu on Friday, the patriarch expressed hope that his appointment would lead to a strengthening of Russia's armed forces.
      "Understanding the importance of the responsibility placed on your shoulders, we will pray for you. At every service, the church prays for the country's authorities and its army," Patriarch Kirill said.


      Russia cuts quota for expat middle management
      By Alina Lobzina
      The Moscow News, December 11 2012

      The Russian Labor Ministry has cut the numbers for expat managerial and engineering staff for 2013, according to the ministry's website. Directorial positions in companies, institutions and enterprises as well as in their departments have seen the largest cut of 14 percent. Quotas for foreign specialists in natural sciences and engineering have been reduced by 12.8 percent. For workers engaged in metal-working and machine building industries, numbers have grown by just over 11 percent. For other categories growth was less which made the overall volume of quotas at the level of 2012, all together 1,745,584 people. The changes, however, are not to apply to top management with yearly salaries of more than 2 million rubles. Expertise grows with appetites Experts questioned by Vedomosti business daily acknowledged that the local level of expertise had grown significantly. Sometimes, however, it was not enough for the candidates' financial appetites. Yekaterina Gorokhova, director general at Kelly Service, said one foreign company struggled to hire a Russian director who wanted his monthly salary to be twice as big as his German expat colleagues were paid. In general, the trend is that Russian employers look closer at the local market, without giving up the idea of hiring foreign staff when there is a need. "Employers want to hire people who are professional and speak both languages, Russian and English, but they don't have to necessarily be expats," Christian Lepolard, partner at Antal Russia recruitment agency, told Vedomosti.


      Russians favor immigration restrictions - poll
      Johnson's Russia List, December 15, 2012

      MOSCOW. Dec 14 (Interfax) - The majority of Russians want the government to restrict labor immigration.
      The number of people favoring labor immigration restrictions has grown from 57% to a six-year high of 64% over the past 12 months, according to a November poll held by the Levada Analytical Center.
      The number of those who have not yet formed an opinion on the issue has dropped from 22% to 15% over the same period, while the share of people who don't mind illegal migrants being legalized (20%) and think that the government should help them find jobs and assimilate remains unchanged.
      Asked how they viewed the idea of "Russia for Russians," 23% of respondents were against it, 15% welcomed it (19% a year ago), and another 41% said that they could support it but only "within reasonable limits" (40%).
      The overwhelming majority of respondents (68%) rule out mass ethnic clashes in their neighborhoods and 23% (the same as a year ago) said that this is not unlikely.
      The poll was conducted in 45 communities across 45 regions.
      Earlier, President Vladimir Putin, in his annual state-of-the-nation address, suggested simplifying citizenship formalities for certain categories of people, while simultaneously tightening punishment for illegal immigration.



      'Russian Fundamentalism Unites the Authorities, the Elite, the People and the Opposition,' Pavlova Says
      By Paul Goble
      Window on Eurasia, November 19, 2012

      Contrary to many opponents of the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a vision for the future and is not in a weak position, Grani commentator Irina Pavlova says, because his "Russian fundamentalism" now "unites the authorities, the elite, the people and [even] the opposition. In an essay posted online today, Pavlova, one of the most thoughtful observers of the Moscow political scene, says that she cannot understand "the hopes" of people like Andrey Piontkovsky and those who share his views that the Kremlin will soon face "mass civil disobedience" and "the split of the elites" (http://grani.ru/opinion/m.208834.html). How could that happen anytime soon, she asks with obvious regret, "when even the protest movement [that does exist in the Russian Federation] shows itself to be atomized to the extreme" and when no one goes into the streets to protest the increasingly repressive actions of Putin and his regime? A sober consideration of the facts, Pavlova argues, requires that one acknowledge that "over the last decade, 'the Soviet paradigm' in mass consciousness not only has not been destroyed but has not been subject to pressure." Instead, the people of the country "were and remain a state people, completely dependent on the powers that be." More than that, she continues, "today as a result of the aggressive propaganda of anti-Westernism and great power chauvinism, this 'soviet paradign' has taken the form of Russian great power chauvinism which one can with complete justification call Russian fundamentalism." This doctrine views the ethnic Russian people as "the bearer of a special 'cultural code, a special morality and a special feeling of justice." Moreover, it rejects the "spiritually lacking West as a model of social development. It views Russia as "an empire and a great power. And it is convinced of its own "special historical mission." Russian fundamentalism unites everyone, including the "extra-systemic" opposition, Pavlova says. And thus it is now appropriate to say that "Russian fundamentalism" has not been imposed on the people but rather represents "a conscious choice of the people" despite their access to far more information than their forefathers had in Soviet times. This paradigm is "a powerful weapon in the hands of the Russian authorities," and its acceptance by nearly everyone is why talk about a split in the elite or mass disobedience is so disingenuous. The powers that be have a policy for the future; it just isn't the liberal one that some would like. the Mercury Club, they would quickly recognize this reality, Pavlova Says. That club has existed for ten years, and the speech Primakov gave to it in January of this year laid out exactly what Putin has done since (www.rg.ru/2012/01/16/primakov.html). Primakov called Putin "the optimal figure" for the position of Russian president. He called for an anti-corruption drive directed at all ranks. And he said that the organizers of anti-Kremlin meetings were seeking to "attract under anti-government banners those who justly or unjustly are dissatisfied with the existing orders" in the country. So much for the idea that Primakov and those like him will provoke a split in the elite, the Grani commentator says. "To the unaided eye, it is clear that precisely [his recommendations] are now being carried into life" by Vladimir Putin. It is clear, she says, that the Putin regime, "having chosen the Stalinist model of development for the country, hopes that it will be able to impose it without 'excesses'" because it has learned the lessons of the past. It has "well studied the West" and is quite capable of using "for its own goals" not only Western technical specialists but Western intellectuals." With striking "virtuosity," the Putin government has mastered the art of 'the clash of opinions,' so much so that it comes out on top every time in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of the population." And it has "learned to channel dissatisfaction" so much so that even predictions of the regime's collapse are "a kind of narcotic for the dissatisfied."


      Marketing Putin And Russia To A Foreign Audience - Analysis
      Written by Michael Averko
      Albany Tribune, November 19, 2012

      An October 22 Komsomolskaya Pravda feature "Russia Should Stop Shying Away From Defending Itself in the Foreign Press", has been circulated within English language Russia watching circles. This piece emphasizes the opinion that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia in general have been lax towards the negatively inaccurate comments about them. With numerous examples to the contrary, there is a reasoned basis to offer another impression, which does not rule out the notion of official Russia being periodically behind in answering negativity against it.
      Putin, a good number of other Russians (including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and United Nations Ambassador Vitaly Churkin) and some others, do not appear apprehensive about responding to negatively inaccurate comments about Russia. The qualitative level of these replies and how they are covered (if covered) in foreign media are key factors influencing how Putin and Russia are viewed abroad. A few instances involving Putin and foreign media immediately come to mind.
      At a 2006 press conference in St. Petersburg, Russia (Putin's birthplace and city where he began his political career), the then American President George Bush initiated a a candid exchange with Putin. Bush suggested that Iraq had greater democracy, while expressing the hope for Russia to be more like Iraq. Putin briefly answered with the preference for his country not to become like Iraq.
      The English language mass media reporting of the Bush-Putin press conference exchange included the suggestion that Putin was more provocative than Bush. (I recall the BBC's Matt Frei liken Putin's response to a "Zinedine Zidane head butt".) Putin did not initiate the provocatively questionable comment that took issue with his country's political development. Should he have simply ignored Bush's remark and risk being called a weenie by a Russian public, which has by and large supported him? Putin's reply to Bush prompted a noticeable burst of laughter, among those in attendance at that press conference - in a way that can be taken as a touché acknowledgement for Putin.
      During a recent gathering of the Valdai Discussion Club, Putin was not shy in noting the condemnatory Western response to an anti-Muslim film, in comparison to the greater Western tendency of exhibiting sympathy for the imprisoned Pussy Riot activists, who violated the sanctity of a chapel, in a church, which was demolished in 1931, as part of an anti-religious process. (The Pussy Riot selected Cathedral of Christ the Savior underwent reconstruction in 1994.)
      In its mention of the recent Valdai Discussion Club event, the October 25 Reuters news article "Pussy Riot Got What They Deserved: Putin" compares the jailed Pussy Riot activists with the producer of an anti-Muslim film as excerpted:
      "At Thursday's dinner Putin raised his voice, looked straight at the questioner and asked why Westerners who criticized Russia for sending two of the young women to labor camps far from Moscow had not come out in support of a jailed American who made an anti-Muslim hate film.
      'Do you want to support people with such views? If you do, then why do you not support the guy who is sitting in prison for the film about the Muslims?' the president shot back.
      This was an apparent reference to 'The Innocence of Muslims', a crude hate video that triggered violent protests across the Islamic world when it was aired on the Internet.
      An actress in the film has identified an Egyptian born Californian, Mark Basseley Youssef, as its author. Youssef is currently detained on suspicion of violating his probation terms for a bank fraud conviction."
      In short, Youssef is portrayed as someone who has been arrested for something other than free expression. The timing of his most recent arrest coincides with the uproar against the film he is credited for producing. The airing of that film did not involve uninvitingly going into a mosque, much unlike Pussy Riot selecting a high profile church's chapel to perform its "art". As a non-endorsement of "The Innocence of Muslims" film, these thoughts are stated to exhibit the spin factor element.
      The Reuters piece in question downplays the approach that American government officials have taken on these two occurrences. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it a point to call the anti-Muslim film "disgusting". State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland offered no condemnatory note of Pussy Riot's action, in a tersely worded statement about the right of "freedom of expression" being challenged by the sentencing of the Pussy Riot activists. As quoted, Tommy Vietor, a White House official mildly acknowledged an understanding that some might be offended by Pussy Riot's action.
      Pussy Riot would have likely not been challenged and/or sentenced had they performed their act in an area like their own residence, or a venue where they were invited to perform, or another place that was not the meeting point and property of people who do not agree with their views and methods. The disrespectful manner that Pussy Riot and their legal representation exhibited in court went counter to seeking a lighter judicial decision. With a pious attitude, the Pussy Riot activists offered no apology for how they carried on. While one can disagree with the two year sentence handed out to the Pussy Riot activists, the length of internment for the given charge is a far cry from a brutally oppressive dictatorship.
      An excerpt from the aforementioned Reuters news article:
      "Putin's comments came amid a wider clampdown on dissent in Russia, which has included arrests of opposition leaders on criminal charges and tighter controls on media.
      This has led to fears that the political system, which is highly centralized under the Kremlin, is becoming increasingly ossified and intolerant."
      Not noted are the numerous non-jailed political and media figures in Russia, who continue to state critical comments against the Russian government. The above excerpted comments do not consider whether the arrested individuals (who are not specifically named in the Reuters article) are actually clear of any legal wrongdoing. Compare the Reuters article's treatment of the arrested Russians to that of the arrested Youssef in the United States. Fair and balanced eh?
      Another example of Putin's frankness is evident in his reply to critical comments made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (about human rights in Russia), during her recent visit to Russia. Regarding this particular dialogue: short of being well versed on a claim having to do with Pussy Riot, it looks like Putin might very well be a bit inaccurate, thereby leaving himself open to the possibility of getting legitimately second guessed. In a discussion at Mark Chapman's blog "The Kremlin Stooge", some expressed the opinion that the likely error concerns an anti-bigotry demonstration (as characterized by those involved with it), which dramatically exhibited the hung effigy of a Tajik, to underscore the subject of ethnic intolerance. This take is in line with what is reported in a November 17 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty piece "Putin Accuses Pussy Riot Member of Anti-Semitism". One of the two currently jailed Pussy Riot activists was at the demonstration with the effigy. Putin being wrong in this instance serves to divert attention away from valid disagreement with the biased pro-Pussy Riot reporting/commentary, concerning the group's stunt in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
      Despite the slanted pro-Pussy Riot presentations in media (like those of CNN's Erin Burnett), some in the West have not bought into the portrayal of an earnestly freedom loving Pussy Riot, bravely opposing a repressive regime. This grouping of Westerners includes former New York City Mayor Edward Koch. During the Cold War, Koch was frank in expressing his antipathy towards the Soviet government.
      On the subjects of religion, Putin and Russia, Al Arabiya's Hisham Melhem expressed some neoconservative leaning views at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which aired on C-SPAN. His comments underscore what is and is not typically preferred at Capitol Hill foreign policy establishment wonk fests - a point that relates to the matters of Putin and Russia.
      Melhem highlighted how the Youssef associated anti-Muslim film is linked to sparking a violent anti-American backlash in the Middle East. He proceeds to contrast that manner to Catholics not going on an anti-Muslim terror spree after the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II by Turkish national Mehmet Ali Agca. This comparison has clear differences. Agca was portrayed as someone with clandestine ties to the pro-Soviet Bulgarian government. Hence, the target of outrage on his assassination attempt as not directed so much towards Islam. (With a considerable degree of reasonable doubt, the claim of a Soviet-Bulgarian plot to kill Pope John Paul II has not been firmly established. Over the course of time, Agca has been characterized as a somewhat murky figure. Agca and his infamous act has a cautiously stated degree of similarity with Lee Harvey Oswald and his assassination of President John Kennedy. Upon an extended overview, Oswald's politically leftwing views and time spent in the Soviet Union did not lead to implicating the Soviet government in the assassination of Kennedy.)
      Melhem made a broad comment on the United States serving as a better role model for the Middle East than Russia under Putin. On the one hand, America can reasonably claim a more advanced level of democratic development than Russia. At the same time, how practical is it to expect a quick leap from the political makeup of a lengthy period of dictatorship to an effective multiparty system of democracy in a short period? Russia's current status is part of an ongoing and imperfect process, that has so far not reached the level of some doom and gloom analysis since the Soviet breakup.
      Melhem's AEI sponsored appearance props the idea of a tolerant West which others have not matched. The Russian government involved Valdai Discussion Club offers some critical views of the Kremlin. When it comes to political diversity, does the AEI and some other leading American think tanks show as great or greater a tolerance? In Russia, there is a noticeable non-violent public opposition to the jailed Pussy Riot activists and the Western based pro-Pussy Riot slanting, mixed in with some limited support going the other way for the imprisoned duo. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently said he believed they served enough time, while also saying that Pussy Riot are an unsavory lot.
      The Russian government funded 24/7 English language television news network RT (no longer formally known as Russia Today) has served as a clear counter-point to the slants evident in Western mass media. The latter's criticism of RT includes some negatively inaccurate comments. For quality control purposes, RT should receive a constructively fair review, along with other news organizations. Some folks come across as preferring to have a noticeably faulty RT to kick around. RT has the appearance of carrying on in an above the clouds mindset - something that seems to exist elsewhere.
      The day following the nationally televised October 16 Obama-Romney debate, RT's homepage listed as the number one world news headline, the arrest of two Green Party candidates, who decided to sit within a roadway near where the debate was being held. At the time, this act was done within hours before the event, in an area that was under heightened security. Before getting arrested, the Green Party candidates were informed by law enforcement personnel that their sit down position was hindering traffic. The two candidates did not move after being asked to do so by the authorities at the scene.
      RT's presentation of this occurrence (as the number one world news headline) appears like it could very well be an overkill payback for the faulty Western mass media coverage of Pussy Riot. This thought is stated with the belief that the motivation behind the Green Party candidates' action (a protest, having to do with the limited clout of a political alternative to the Republicans and Democrats in the United States) is a worthy enough news item to cover. That said, countering BS with BS is not as convincing as an intelligently presented overview, which is not along the lines of an overt propaganda delivery.
      In contrast to how some perceive RT, the October 22 RT posted commentary "The Unknown Putin", un-approvingly describes the coverage (by a major Russian television network) of the Russian president living in opulence. Having not yet seen this particular segment, one respectfully wonders just how opulent the Russian president lives, relative to numerous other world leaders? At least for now, the level of Russian public discontent with Putin's lifestyle seems to fall well short of a massive outrage and widespread protests.
      Criticizing Putin and/or Russian mass media appears to offer greater professional opportunities than the criticism of some other subjects. The coverage stands to improve with a greater worldwide across the political spectrum, which should not include or be confused with factually limited diatribes. Seeing what has existed, consideration should be given to change some of the decision making at the higher profile of venues. For the purpose of providing a more objective coverage, this advocacy should not be subject to getting penalized.
      In summation, the Western mass media and body politic are not solely responsible for the negatively inaccurate coverage of Putin and Russia. At times, this duh like observation seems to get overly deemphasized among some (certainly not all) Russophile leaning elements.


      Socialism may be waning, but not for young Russians
      By Marc Bennetts
      The Washington Times, November 22, 2012

      MOSCOW - Two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ideas of Marx and Lenin are making a comeback in Russia with a wave of young leftists whose potential for mass appeal seems to have rattled the Kremlin.
      The most high-profile of this new generation of leftists, Sergei Udaltsov, made international headlines last month when he and two others from his Left Front political movement were charged with planning mass disorder across Russia based on accusations in a TV documentary aired by a pro-Kremlin station.
      All three face up to 10 years behind bars on the charges, which they deny.
      "The Kremlin's persecution of leftist activists makes it very clear that the authorities are wary of socialist groups," Alexei Sakhnin, 30, a leading Left Front member, told The Washington Times. "Russia has always been a leftist country, and the vast majority of the population would support a moderate socialist program."
      The leftists form a key part of a loose-knit coalition of pro-democracy, economic justice and anti-corruption activists who have opposed Russian President Vladimir Putin's increasingly authoritarian rule - opposition that Mr. Putin has attributed in part to Western interference.
      Widespread nostalgia for the Soviet era among older Russians has allowed the Communist Party to enjoy a significant place in parliament, behind Mr. Putin's ruling United Russia party.
      But the new vanguard of young leftists excoriates the Communists, who continue to sing the praises of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
      "The Communist Party has no real desire to attempt to take power and is a corrupted, compromised opposition," said Mr. Sakhnin. "And their respect for Stalin greatly limits their appeal. We condemn Stalin. That's what makes us so threatening. There is a real hunger for genuine leftist groups."
      'Modernized form of socialism'
      Russia's Left Front calls for a socialist economic system, a democratic political system and greater political and economic cooperation with other nations - and the group's rhetoric seems to have struck a chord among many Russians.
      A public opinion survey by the state-run polling firm VTsIOM this year indicated that Mr. Udaltsov was the only high-profile protest leader whose popularity ratings increased since Mr. Putin's election to a third presidential term in March.
      A former KGB officer, Mr. Putin himself has flirted with leftist ideals throughout his 13 years in power. In 2006, he famously called the breakup of the Soviet Union the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.
      Mr. Putin's campaign ahead of the presidential election this year was based in part on leftist ideas, such as a much-trumpeted alliance with labor unions and promises of social spending.
      "Putin's pre-election campaign was centered on leftist populism," said Isabelle Magkoeva, 21, a rising star of Russia's left and an activist with the Revolutionary Socialist Movement. "But the new leftist groups are so dangerous for the authorities because they can expose these fictitious alliances."
      Although Ms. Magkoeva praised former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin as a "great revolutionary," she offered a negative assessment of the Soviet Union itself, which ceased to exist the same year she was born.
      "There was no genuine socialism in the Soviet Union," she said. "And it is inaccurate to portray us all as seeking a return to the past. That simply isn't true. We are for a new, modernized form of socialism."
      The rising popularity of socialist ideas among young Russians has been bolstered by the country's appalling record on wealth inequality, highlighted this month in a report by the Swiss financial services company Credit Suisse Group AG.
      "Excluding small Caribbean nations with resident billionaires, wealth inequality in Russia is the highest in the world," the report said. "Worldwide, billionaires collectively account for less than 2 percent of total household wealth; in Russia today, around 100 billionaires own 30 percent of all personal assets."
      'Miss Russia' speaks out
      Analysts say such statistics represent a time bomb for the Kremlin.
      "Socialist ideas were discredited in Russia in the period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but young people are today rediscovering them," said Lilia Shevtsova, an analyst at the Moscow-based Carnegie Center think tank.
      "A few years ago, it seemed that nationalist groups posed the greatest danger to the authorities," Ms. Shevtsova said. "But now it is clear that it is the new left."
      A growing dissatisfaction with wealth inequality was highlighted this week by stinging criticism of Russia's rulers from an unlikely source - a "Miss Russia" beauty queen.
      "My poor, long-suffering country [is being] mercilessly torn to pieces by greedy, dishonest, unbelieving people," said Natalia Pereverzeva, 23, when asked to describe her homeland for the annual Miss Earth beauty pageant. "My Russia is a beggar. My Russia cannot help her elderly and orphans. From it, bleeding, like from a sinking ship, engineers, doctors, teachers are fleeing, because they have nothing to live on."
      Ilya Ponomaryov, 37, an opposition lawmaker with the A Just Russia party and a founding member of the Left Front coalition, welcomes the increased popularity of socialist ideas among Russian youths.
      "Left-wing groups in Russia openly sought a return to a socialism system in the 1990s, but they were entirely discredited," said Mr. Ponomaryov. "But people have now again begun to see leftist ideas as a real alternative, and it's a very positive sign that more and more young people are getting involved."
      He dismissed suggestions that history has proved that it is impossible to build a viable society on the principles of socialism and communism.
      "They all got [Karl] Marx and [Friedrich] Engels wrong," he said of failed socialist states, referring to the authors of "The Communist Manifesto." "You have to get the economic approach right first before you can build a socialist country."
      But Mr. Ponomaryov acknowledged having "mixed feelings" about the Soviet Union.
      "It was a strong state with many social guarantees, but there was far too much bureaucracy," he said. "But it's clear things were better in the Soviet Union than they are now. There was no freedom of speech or human rights back then, but there isn't any now, either."


      UN rules Russian 'gay gag' law violates human rights: UN Human Rights Committee passed a landmark ruling saying a Russian law against 'homosexual propaganda' is discriminatory, violates the basic right for freedom of expression and unconstitutional
      By Dan Littauer
      Gay Star News, 25 November 2012

      The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) found Russia's application of Ryazan region anti 'homosexual propaganda' law against LGBT rights activist Irina Fedotov to be in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the grounds of freedom of expression and discrimination.
      LGBT activists say that this historic landmark ruling will have far reaching effect not only in Russia but worldwide on other countries that legislated, or plan to, laws against 'homosexual propaganda' such as Lithuania and the Ukraine.
      In 30 March, 2009 LGBT activists of GayRussia.Ru and Moscow Pride, Irina Fedotova and Nikolai Baev were arrested and fined in Ryazan city for promoting 'homosexual propaganda' by holding placards saying 'Homosexuality is normal' and 'I am proud of my homosexuality - Ask me about it', outside a state library and school in Ryazan city.
      Ryazan's law was the first of nine Russian regions which passed similar laws.
      After appeals to Russia's constitutional court were reject in 2010, the case of Fedotova was sent to the UNHRC and of Baev to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
      UNHRC's ruling was published on Friday 23 November stating that Fedotova was not promoting 'any particular sexual activity or … advocating for any particular sexual orientation.
      'Instead, she was giving expression to her sexual identity and seeking understanding for it.'
      As such it found Russia violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which it is a signatory, on two counts: freedom of expression and discrimination.
      It stated that the law was unclear and should be repealed.
      UNHRC demanded that Fedotova be compensated by Russia and that the country must submit a report no later than in 6 months' time how the ruling was implemented.
      UNHRC also stated that it will closely 'monitor' Russia's progress on this matter.
      Speaking with Gay Star News, Nikolai Alexeyev, founder of GayRussia.Ru and chair of Moscow Pride said: 'This rulling is very significant as it clearly contradicts statements by Russia on an international level that it does not discriminate against LGBT people.
      'It is a strong legal argument that clearly states that Russia violates the freedom of expression and discrimination of LGBT people which are human rights.
      'This will have a far reaching influence both on Russia but also in the international sphere.
      'Domestically, I think eventually Russia will have to limit the manner in which these laws are applied, for example in terms of demonstrations or Pride marches, although I don't believe they will be repealed.
      'It may well "cool down" the desire of Russian politicians and religions to pass similar laws, and also prevent such a law to be passed on a federal level.
      'This is testimony that despite much criticism levelled against our picketing the strategy worked and we have arrived to this landmark decision.
      'It also affirms that LGBT activists have the right to discuss with minors tolerance towards gay people.
      'This is significant not only to psychological well-being but also to combat ignorance which is causing an increase of the HIV infection cases in Russia, particularly for LGBT youth.
      'This case will have concrete consequences and will be followed by further action in the Russian courts against other Russian regions that have passed such laws.
      'It has also enormous importance for combatting other countries that have or planning to pass similar laws for example, Lithuania and Ukra<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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