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Bulletin 7:1 (2013)

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 7, No. 1(189), 29 January 2013 Compilers: Fabian Burkhardt, Parikrama Gupta,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2013
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 7, No. 1(189), 29 January 2013
      Compilers: Fabian Burkhardt, Parikrama Gupta, Vildane Oezkan & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 1 - 15 January 2013

      [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 January 2013

      Adoption Ban Law Comes Into Force In Russia
      RIA Novosti, January 1, 2013

      MOSCOW, January 1 (RIA Novosti) - A controversial law which in particular bans adoption of Russian children by American families is coming into force in Russia on Tuesday.
      The adoption ban, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 28, is part of Russia's response to the US Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama earlier in December. The act introduces sanctions against Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses and is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblowing lawyer who died in a Moscow pre-trial detention center in 2009.
      Hours after Putin signed the adoption ban law on Friday, the US State Department called the measure "politically motivated," saying it "deeply regrets" Russia's decision.
      The Russian public has been largely supportive of the new law, with 56 percent of respondents in an opinion poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) saying they backed a ban on US nationals adopting Russian children.
      Critics of the adoption ban said it would keep tens of thousands of children, especially those with disabilities, in Russia's orphanage system. Figures from the US State Department show more than 60,000 Russian children adopted by American families in the last 20 years, including 962 last year.
      Russian officials blame US adoptive parents for the deaths of at least 19 of those children. The new law is named for Dima Yakovlev (Chase Harrison), a Russian toddler who died of heatstroke in 2008 after his American adoptive father left him in an overheated car for hours.
      The ban halts the adoption of 46 Russian children by US families whose cases are currently being processed.
      A number of Russian ministers, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have criticized the bill, which was approved by the State Duma - the lower house of parliament - on December 21 and by the Federation Council - the upper house - on December 26.
      While the adoption ban is the most controversial aspect of the proposed legislation, the bill puts forward other retaliatory measures as well, such as banning alleged US abusers of Russian citizens' rights from entering Russia and freezing any assets they may have there.
      A deputy from Russia's ruling United Russia party, Robert Shlegel, on December 28 wrote on his Twitter microblog that he has submitted to the State Duma an amendment to the Dima Yakovlev law, saying he decided to submit the amendment because a total adoption ban would mean some disabled children might be unable to find their family.


      President Putin Addresses Russians on New Year
      RIA Novosti, January 1, 2013

      MOSCOW, January 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation minutes before the end of the year 2012, dedicating his speech to family values and patriotism.
      "We are saying goodbye to 2012 which becomes history. This was an important year for our country. I would like to sincerely thank you all for your efforts, your work and achievements, your trust and support," Putin, who was elected for a third non-consecutive term in 2012, said in his New Year's address to Russians.
      "In these moments, we are particularly aware of the fleeting of time, of how quickly our children are growing, how much we value our families and friends, and how much we love them," the president said.
      "Right now, each of us recollects the events, encounters and words that have been most important. We all hope that New Year's Eve will bring us good luck and a bit of a miracle - which, they say, the New Year sometimes brings," reads the translation of his speech posted on the Kremlin's website.
      "But ultimately and above all we rely on our own strength and on the people near us; on what we ourselves can achieve in our work, our studies and our creative expression; on how we can improve life around us and improve ourselves," Putin said.
      "We should become more responsive and benevolent, more generous and caring toward our loved ones, our children and parents, our friends and colleagues, and everyone who needs our support," he said.
      "As we face the future, we naturally hope for positive, joyful changes, and our personal plans are inseparable from Russia, from our heartfelt, noble feelings toward our Fatherland," Putin said, adding that the development of the country with its thousand-year-long history "fully depends on our joint efforts and energy, our unity and responsibility, our aspiration to do as much good as possible."
      "After all, only together can we, the people of Russia, move confidently forward, withstand all challenges, resolve the most difficult problems, and build a powerful, successful nation and a modern, prosperous, free society," the president said.
      "Only a few seconds remain before the start of the New Year. I wish you good health, love and happiness! Let children be born and let all good ideas be realized. Let there be joy and harmony in every home and in every family. Then Russia, too, will stand strong and indestructible.
      "I wish you a happy New Year 2013!" Putin said.


      Russia to Hold Large-Scale Mediterranean, Black Sea Naval Drills
      RIA Novosti, January 2, 2013

      MOSCOW, January 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will hold large-scale naval drills in the Mediterranean and Black Seas in late January with the involvement of warships from the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific Fleets, the Russian Defense Ministry's press office reported on Wednesday.
      "The Russian Navy's drills of this scope will be held for the first time over the past few decades and are designed to improve control, ensure and practice multiservice force interaction of the fleets in the far-off maritime zones," the press office said.
      The drills will be held in line with the Russian Armed Forces' 2013 combat training plan and will aim to "practice the issues of establishing a multiservice grouping of forces (troops) outside Russia, planning its use and conducting joint actions as part of a united naval grouping based on a common plan," the press office said.
      The naval task forces from the Russian Fleets are currently heading towards the designated areas of the naval exercises.
      The drills will also simulate operations to load marine troops and paratroopers from the rough coast of the North Caucasus onto amphibious ships and will help the Navy's personnel acquire necessary marine practice skills during the performance of "combat training missions in the Black and Mediterranean Seas," the press office said.


      Patriarch Kirill will make pilgrimage to Mt. Athos and visit Estonia in 2013
      Interfax-Religion, January 3, 2013

      Moscow, January 3, Interfax - In 2013 the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, will visit Greece, Mount Athos and the Baltic states, head of the Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk has announced.
      "At the beginning of June the Patriarch plans to visit Greece. The visit to the territory of the Orthodox Church of Ellada will be a reply to the visit of Archbishop of Athens Hieronymus to Russia in 2012. During the stay the Patriarch intends to make a pilgrimage to Mount Athos," the Metropolitan told Interfax-Religion before New Year.
      He said the Patriarch will also continue his visits to dioceses of the Russian Church, including those outside of Russia, and to the self-governed Churches of the Moscow Patriarchate.
      "The Patriarch has already visited many countries belonging to the canonical territory but after his enthronement he has not been in the Baltic States, for instance, at the end of June the Patriarch intends to visit Estonia where believers of the Estonian Apostolic Church the Moscow Patriarchate have been looking forward for their Primate for a long time," the Metropolitan said.
      In line with the tradition the head of the Russian Orthodox Church will celebrate the day of St. Prince Vladimir, July 28, in Kiev, "at the cradle of the Baptism of Rus."
      "There are also plans of other travels, but their dates still have to be set," the metropolitan added.


      US Senate Appeals to Russia to Reconsider Adoption Law
      Johnson's Russia List, January 3 2013

      WASHINGTON, January 3 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) The US Senate has unanimously approved a resolution condemning a new Russian law banning US citizens from adopting Russian children and calling on President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership to reconsider the measure on humanitarian grounds. In its resolution, approved in a vote late Tuesday, the Senate affirmed that all children deserve to live in a permanent, protective family and said it valued a "long tradition" of the US and Russian governments working together to find homes for children who have been deprived of their parents. The Senate also said it "disapproves of the Russia law ending inter-country adoptions of Russian children by United States citizens because it primarily harms vulnerable and voiceless children" and "strongly urges the Russia Government to reconsider the law on humanitarian grounds, in consideration of the well-being of parentless Russian children awaiting a loving and permanent family." The Senate resolution noted that the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates there are 740,000 children living in Russia without parental care. It also cited data from the Russian Ministry of Science and Education affirming that 110,000 children live in state institutions in Russia. "Whatever issues our two governments may be facing, there is no political reason to put vulnerable children in the middle of political posturing," said US Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who authored the resolution and serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about foster care and international adoption issues. "Children should be raised by parents, not in orphanages, institutions or alone on the street," she said. The Russian ban on adoptions by US citizens was signed in response to the Magnitsky Act, an American law signed by President Obama in December which calls for sanctions on individual Russian citizens deemed by the United States to have violated human rights. Critics say the Magnitsky Act, which targeted Russians alone, was discriminatory, superfluous and intentionally unfriendly. The measure infuriated Russian lawmakers, who consequently responded by passing their own human rights legislation aimed specifically at US citizens, including the adoption ban. The back-and-forth political shouting match has left hundreds of Americans who were already in the process of adopting Russian children ­ many specific sets of American parents and Russian children had already been paired ­ in limbo. It is not clear whether those families will be allowed to complete the adoption process and bring the children to their new homes in America. "As a grandparent of an internationally adopted child, I know that this new law is against the interests of the Russian people, in particular Russian children," said Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who also serves as Co-Chair for CCAI. "It is nothing more than a political play against the United States that ultimately leads to greater hardships and more suffering for Russian children who will now be denied a loving family," he said.


      Patriarch Kirill urges Russians to adopt orphans
      Interfax-Religion, January 7, 2013

      Moscow, January 7, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in his TV message on the Russian Orthodox Christmas raised the issue of orphans.
      "It is particularly in connection with the feast of Christmas that I would want to address this request to everyone who can take an important step in their lives aimed at adopting children, at supporting orphans to take this step. There should be no orphans in this country. Those who don't have parents should get them from among kind, honest and responsive people," he said on TV before the night-time service which he led in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
      He said that the story of Christmas teaches us that if Christ was accepted by shepherds, by common people, then today too people should be looking for him "not there where glitter and gold rule, not there where might and power are but there where weakness and need prevail."
      "That is why God addressing his followers said that in order to reach the Kingdom of Heaven it is vital to visit the sick, the imprisoned and to share one's opportunities with those who need our help, primarily the disabled, elderly and children," the Patriarch said.
      He also stressed that there are many children in Russia without parental care even though their parents are alive.
      "And it is so important for our people to take orphans to their families with joy, with a special feeling of gratitude to God offering them not only shelter and upbringing but giving them love. Jesus said: "Let the children alone and do not hinder them from coming to Me." And in a sense this word should give us the understanding of how important children are in the eyes of the Lord," the Patriarch added.


      City Hall Approves Route for 'The March Against Scoundrels'
      The Moscow Times, Issue 5045, January 9, 2013

      City Hall on Wednesday approved the march dubbed "The March Against Scoundrels" to be held Jan. 13 in protest of the law passed recently banning Americans from adopting Russian orphans.
      After talks with City Hall, the protesters agreed to the route suggested by the mayor's office: from Strastnoi Bulvar to Prospekt Sakharova, said Alexei Maiorov, head of the city's security department, Interfax reported.
      The original route was meant to end in front of the State Duma, since that is where the controversial adoptions law was first initiated, opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov told the BBC's Russian service.
      "Initially we declared a route from Belorussky station along Tverskaya Ulitsa to the State Duma. There was an alternate route from Kaluzhskaya Ploshchad to the State Duma, since one of the demands of this protest is the dissolution of the State Duma, and criticism of the deputies who passed this savage, anti-orphan law. But this didn't suit Moscow officials, and they suggested another route," he said, adding that the protest itself is more important than the route.
      Under the permit, the number of people in attendance at the protest may not exceed 20,000, Maiorov said. The rally is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and end at 4:30 p.m., with some streets in the center of the city to be blocked off.
      The law at the center of the protest took effect Jan. 1 and was passed in response to the Magnitsky Act, which the U.S. enacted to punish Russian officials suspected of violating human rights.
      State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday that there are approximately 500 to 1,000 U.S. families at various stages of adopting a Russian child. The United States is continuing discourse with the Russian government in a bid to complete these adoptions, she said.
      "We would obviously like to see those adoptions be able to move forward," she said at a news conference, according to a transcript posted on the State Department's website. "We're going to continue to try to work on these pipeline cases. It's really quite tragic, as you can imagine, for the families and for the children."


      Putin pushes for tougher registration laws
      RIA Novosti, January 9, 2013

      Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a bill to Russia's lower house of parliament that would introduce criminal liability for Russians and foreigners who violate certain rules for registering at their place of residence.
      The bill would levy fines of up to 500,000 rubles (about $15,000) or a prison term of up to three years for Russian, foreign or stateless citizens who register at a residence based on false documentation.
      A possible provision may also prohibit offenders from holding certain positions or partaking in certain activities in Russia for a term of up to three years.
      Hundreds of thousands of people register each year in thousands of so-called "rubber homes" in Russia with no intention of living at the locations, according to the bill's explanation. In 2011 alone, nearly 300,000 people were registered at more than 6,400 such residences.
      The bill would also levy fines of up to 5,000 rubles (about $150) for private Russian citizens and up to 750,000 rubles (about $25,000) for legal entities that fail to register.
      Currently, Russia's Code of Administrative Offenses stipulates that Russians without proper registration may receive as little as a simple administrative warning.
      According to Russian law, every Russian and foreign citizen must be registered, either permanently or temporarily, according to his or her current place of residence.


      Russian Church: Russia is able to realize its own idea of civil society without borrowing it abroad
      Interfax-Religion, January 10, 2013

      In this case 2017 will become the year o triumph of Russia, not of its split Moscow, January 10, Interfax - Russia is summoned not to borrow the civil society ideas from the foreign experience but to realize the ones which correspond to the self-consciousness of the people, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin.
      "Some radical political forces threaten us with 2017. They say that 17 is the fatal figure for Russia. As a matter of fact we have good chance of making the forthcoming 17th year opposite to 1917, to make it a year of creation, not destruction, to make it a year of state crisis but its strengthening, reinforcing of the ties between the state and the people," the priest said at a press conference in Interfax.
      By his opinion, "Russia`s mistakes in the 20th century generally were caused by trying to borrow ideologies alien to its development, self-consciousness and historical way for its people."
      "This borrowing led to 1917, caused a lot of problems after that date, made a sharp deterioration of psychological state for Russia in 1990s when the people for some reason decided to copy some foreign ideas and models to build up the worthy future," he said.


      Police Search for Culprit behind Banner Calling United Russia Extremist
      The Moscow Times, Issue 5045, January 10, 2013

      Police are searching for those responsible for hanging a banner on the bridge opposite the Kremlin on Wednesday that featured the ruling United Russia party's logo alongside the phrase "extremist organizations of Russia," along with the logos of several banned organizations.
      The banner featured the logos of the radical left National-Bolshevik Party, the far right National Unity movement, the black Islamist flag and even the star of Satan - all of which have been deemed extremist in Russia - together with United Russia's logo. It was draped from the Bolshoi Kameny bridge by unidentified persons Wednesday night, Interfax reported Thursday, citing police.
      Police also said a reporter had been detained for taking pictures of the banner but was released after questioning.
      Nobody has claimed responsibility for the banner, but bloggers said Thursday that the act was aimed at insulting United Russia by referring to it as an "extremist" organization.
      Political opponents of the party have been known to call it the "party of crooks and thieves."
      In January 2012, a group of members from the Solidarity opposition movement placed a large banner on the building opposite the Kremlin that said "Putin, go away."


      Duma Denies Reports of Orphan Appealing to Putin
      The Moscow Times, Issue 5045, January 10, 2013

      The State Duma on Thursday denied reports that an orphan from Chelyabinsk appealed to President Vladimir Putin to allow his pending adoption by a U.S. family to be completed and deemed the incident a provocation.
      Yekaterina Lakhova, a State Duma deputy and one of the authors of the recently passed bill banning adoptions by U.S. families, said in comments carried by RIA-Novosti: "Clearly, this boy didn't do this without the help of an adult. And to create a provocation with this boy, I'm simply amazed that someone could do that. It could only be done with the help of a grown-up."
      Several news outlets on Thursday reported that a 14-year-old foster child in a Chelyabinsk boarding school, Maxim Kargopoltsev, had written to both Putin and the State Duma asking to allow his adoption by U.S. parents to be completed.
      The reports said the boy had already known his potential adoptive family for seven years, but that they hadn't managed to complete the final paperwork before the new adoptions law was passed.
      However, the director of the boarding school where Maxim studies, Denis Matsko, denied these reports and said that he suspected a certain news portal in Chelyabinsk stood behind the rumors, Lenta.ru said.
      Matsko said a news outlet had approached Maxim earlier with a request for him to write such an appeal using their news outlet, but "Maxim refused. To them the idea evidently seemed too tempting and they decided to publish it as truth anyways."


      Pro-Russian chauvinist prosecuted for inciting ethnic hatred
      Crimean News Agency, January 11, 2013

      Court trial of the pro-Russian activist from Aqyar/Sevastopol Volodymyr Tiunin who is accused of inciting ethnic hatred by article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine continues at the Tsentralnyi district court of Aqmescit.
      It would be recalled that the Public Prosecutor of Crimea commenced proceedings against V. Tiunin accusing his of inciting ethnic hatred in 2010-2012. The prosecutor incriminates three episodes to Tiunin. In particular, he arranged a picket on the future Central Mosque's construction site where he stated they would not allow to build a mosque on the Christian children's blood in 2010. Moreover, he tried to justify publicly the criminal Deportation of the Crimean Tatar nation from Crimea in 1944 on the air of one of the Crimean TV companies and during a meeting in the Aqmescit's downtown in 2012. He allowed also to express extremely the ethnic slurs against the Crimean Tatars.
      Picket consists of not numerous members of the pro-Russian People's Front "Sevastopol-Crimea-Russia" under their slogan "Shame on Yanukovych's regime!" took place in the front of the court. Participants hеld banners "Yanukovych declares war on the Russians", "No political repression against Russian activists", etc.


      Russia allows Muslim women to wear headscarves in ID photos
      Interfax-Religion, January 11, 2013

      Moscow - Muslim women who come to Russia to work have received permission from the Russian government to wear hijabs, traditional veils that cover the head but leave the face uncovered, when having their photos taken for identification papers.
      "The order says that it's allowed to take photographs of persons wearing head attire that doesn't cover the face of people whose religious convictions prevent them from having their head uncovered in the presence of strangers. Photographing in overcoats or scarves covering up part of the chin is not allowed," Federal Migration Service spokeswoman Zalina Kornilova told Interfax on Friday, citing an order by FMS head Konstantin Romodanovsky that has been in force since January 1.
      "These are the same criteria as those for photographs for Russian Federation passports," she said.
      "Freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and international treaties on human rights," Kornilova said, adding that in 2003 the Russian Supreme Court satisfied appeals against an Interior Ministry ban on official photos showing people with their heads covered.
      The order sets new rules on photographing and fingerprinting for foreigners seeking work or applying for the registration of patents in Russia.


      US adoptions of Russian children: Some to go ahead
      BBC, 11 January 2013

      Activists protest against the adoption ban in St Petersburg on 26/12/12 The adoption ban has been met with opposition from many activists in Russia. Russians blamed for lawyer death Russian children whose adoptions have already been approved by a court will be able to join their new families in the United States, the Kremlin says. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Those who have received a court decision will go. Those who do not have a decision will not go." The ban was signed for 1 January in response to a US decision to blacklist Russian officials accused of abuses. But it has been complicated by a bilateral agreement on adoption. Mr Peskov said on Thursday that the agreement between Russia and the US on adoption regulations "remains in effect" and, under its terms, must do so until January 2014. Russian officials said at least 52 cases were being processed when the ban was signed in late December. A handful of those are believed to have been given court approval. The US state department, however, says it believes as many as 1,000 US families are in the various stages of trying to adopt children from Russia. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier in the week that they were working with the Russian government on the issue and were "very hopeful" that they can complete the cases that had begun before the law was passed.,'Unfriendly' Act President Putin approved the ban as part of a Russian law passed to retaliate against the US Magnitsky Act, which blacklists Russian officials accused of rights abuses. The US act was named after anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose death became a symbol of the fight against corruption in Russia and soured relations between Russia and the US. Magnitsky represented London-based Hermitage Capital Management (HCM). He uncovered what he described as a web of corruption involving Russian tax officials, including the alleged theft of more than $200m (Pounds 125m). After reporting it to the authorities, he was himself detained on suspicion of aiding tax evasion, and died in custody on 16 November 2009 at the age of 37. In December, a Moscow court acquitted a prison doctor accused of negligence over Magnitsky's death. It was the only trial to be held in the case. Russia has described the Magnitsky Act as "unfriendly". The US has condemned Moscow's "politically motivated decision" to stop Americans adopting Russian children. Some 3,400 Russian children were adopted by foreign families in 2011, with almost a third of the children going to American homes. Over the same period, the number of children adopted by Russian citizens was 7,416. In the past two decades, Americans have adopted more than 60,000 Russian children.


      St Petersburg City Hall refuses to allow anti-fascists to march in memory of Markelov and Baburova
      Source: HRO.org (info), 11 January 2013

      St. Petersburg city hall has refused to allow an anti-fascist march to be held on 19 January on the anniversary of the death of the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalists Anastasia Baburova. Citing the press service of the Anti-Fascists of St Petersburg society, Rosbalt reports that the application for a march from the metro station Gorkovskaya to the Fields of Mars and back was submitted to the authorities on 9 January , ten days before the planned event. The activists were unable to submit the application earlier because of the public holidays at New Year. Nonetheless, City Hall officials refused permission to hold the march on the grounds that the regulations concerning timely submissal of an application had been violated and did not suggest any alternative routes or the possibility of further negotiations. "So it will not be possible to hold any kind of rally or march on 19 January in our city," the activists say. They emphasize that this is not the first time that a situation of this kind has arisen in St. Petersburg. "In past years we also submitted an application to hold a march in the same way, and the organizers were refused on the same grounds. But if then the New Year holiday lasted for a full ten days, which made it impossible to submit an application in good time, now the reasons for the refusal would seem to be completely artificial," the anti-fascist activists contend. They believe that the St Petersburg government is intentionally hindering the holding of public events on a symbolic day for the anti-fascists. "The city authorities only make declarations about the fight against fascism, while in practice they pass homophobic laws and restrict human rights, including the right of assembly.' We think that government policy of this kind is inadmissible and extremely dangerous for the whole of Russian society," the activists say. On 19 January last year anti-fascist activists and anarchists in St. Petersburg closed down Nevsky Prospekt and marched along Nevsky Prospekt, closing it to traffic, to Aleksandr Nevsky Square. About 40 people held up banners, lit fireworks and chanted the slogans "We Won't Forget and We Won't Forgive", "318 We're Not Asking for Mercy," "Fascists Kill, the Authorities Cover Up For Them", "The World Is Multi-Coloured, Not Brown". The police, despite a high level of preparation, were not able to stop this unexpected demonstration, and the marchended without detentions. On 19 January 2009 the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the young journalist Anastasiya Baburova, who wrote for Novaya gazeta, were killed in Moscow by neo-Nazis. Stanislav Markelov had represented the interests of the victims in the case of the murder of the young Chechen woman Elza Kungaeva. Each year on the day of their murder public events to commemorate and protest against their deaths are held all over Russia. On 19 January this year the Supreme Court is to consider an appeal in the case of a band of neo-Nazis charged with the murder of the St Petersburg academic Nikola Girenko.


      Putin Looks Spiteful and Petty on Adoption Law
      Vladimir Frolov
      The Moscow Times, January 13, 2013

      A true great-power response to the U.S. Magnitsky Act would have been a curt statement of regret. This is how President Vladimir Putin reacted in 2001 to the decision by President George W. Bush to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which had far graver implications for Russia's security.
      A macho response would have been to swing hard at the Americans where it hurt them most, such as closing off Russian transit routes for the U.S. military.
      But to retaliate with the ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans, many with severe disabilities, is an absurdity with no discernible foreign policy rationale. It makes Russia look callous, vindictive and petty.
      By holding innocent children hostage in a political dispute with a foreign power, Russia's global image was damaged even further. It draws unsavory parallels between Russian orphans and Soviet Jews, whose restricted emigration from the Soviet Union led to the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
      Russia's adoption ban doesn't punish the U.S. initiators of the Magnitsky Act and even helps make a case for wavering European nations to adopt their versions of the Magnitsky Act. What's more, it raises the pressure on the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to elevate human rights to the top of its Russia agenda. It also makes Obama's proposed visit to Moscow early this year unseemly from a moral perspective.
      If the ban's main purpose was to stop Washington from meddling in Moscow's internal politics, the response only bolstered the case of those in the U.S. who view visa bans and asset freezes as the most effective way to deal with Kremlin abuses.
      The adoption ban panders to Putin's conservative base, drawing on the still-untapped reserves of anti-Americanism, which is the political soup du jour. It also restricts the elites' ties to the U.S., making them less susceptible to outside pressure and less likely to defect to the opposition if the Kremlin were to hit a rough patch. The reasoning seems to be that members of the elite will not jump off the Titanic if they are under a visa ban.
      But this plan may not work out so well. It is one thing to ignite policy disagreements; they don't endanger the cohesion of the ruling team. It is quite another to create a moral divide. Few people genuinely aspire to be part of the brotherhood of evil.
      Some may prefer to dodge the iceberg.


      Situation in North Caucasus: Memorial's Latest Bulletin Published
      HRC Memorial

      Memorial Human Rights Centre's bulletin on the Situation in North Caucasus in autumn 2012 is now available for download on our website. The bulletin provides an overview of the main developments in the region in September - November 2012 and assesses the trends that emerged over the those three months. It is based on Memorial's own reports published earlier on our website as as well as media reports. The bulletin is available in Russian only at www.memo.ru/uploads/files/892.doc (in doc) and www.memo.ru/uploads/files/893.pdf) (in pdf).


      Lavrov Calls On Syrian Opposition To Respond To Assad Proposals
      RFE/RL, January 14, 2013

      Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeated Russian calls for opposition fighters and leaders in Syria to seek dialogue with Bashar al-Assad to end the bloodshed there.
      Lavrov highlighted fresh proposals made by Assad in a recent speech and advised the opposition in Syria to respond to them.
      "We are sure that the way out from this situation should be based on the Geneva communique -- and I will repeat it once again -- without any preconditions, because any preconditions will make it impossible to start a dialogue. It is necessary to make everybody, including the opposition which is still categorically denying any dialogue, to sit down at the negotiating table," Lavrov said January 13 during a visit to Ukraine.
      UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced disappointment over Assad's speech a week ago that was also dismissed by the United States.
      Syrian rebels described it as a renewed declaration of war.
      Lavrov also repeated Russia's stance that the Syrian opposition's demand that Assad step down could not be a precondition for peace talks to end the nearly two-year conflict that has already killed at least 60,000 people.
      Meanwhile inside Syria, opposition activists say government forces bombarded rebel-held areas on the outskirts of Damascus on January 13, killing at least 36 people.
      Also, a Syrian warplane was reported to have bombed a rebel position in the main market in Azaz, an opposition-held town some 10 kilometers from the border with Turkey.
      Opposition activists said 16 rebels or civilians were killed.
      Elsewhere, the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Moaz Alkhatib, met Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Joudeh on January 13.
      It was the first visit to Jordan by Alkhatib -- a prominent cleric from Damascus -- to Jordan since he was appointed head of the SNC last month.
      Analysts say Jordan has been reluctant to meet with officials from the Islamist-controlled coalition.
      Based on Reuters and AP reporting


      Russia's Pirate Party Banned as `Maritime Robbers' - Again
      RIA Novosti, January 14, 2013

      MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Justice Ministry denied registration to the country's Pirate Party over gripes with its allegedly misleading title, the party said on Monday.
      Piracy is defined in Russia's Criminal Code as maritime or riverside robbery, the ministry said in its refusal note.
      The title "Pirate Party" thus fails to match the party's goals of promoting e-democracy, the freedom of information and the protection of personal privacy, the ministry said in a note dated Dec. 29, published on the unregistered party's website.
      The ministry also cited 12 procedural violations in the party's charter, though chief pirate Pavel Rassudov said the complaints were "unfounded, to put it mildly."
      "If the decision is judicially flawed, it means it is politically motivated," Rassudov told RIA Novosti.
      "They're worried about us because we cannot be controlled," said Rassudov, whose party reportedly operates on a monthly budget of 6,000 rubles ($200) and a dedicated grassroots effort.
      The party, founded in 2009 but still without registration that would allow it to go to the polls, said it would appeal the decision in Russian courts and in the European Court of Human Rights.
      The ministry reportedly cited the title's maritime robbery connotations in 2011, when it threw out the first registration request by the party, one of 40-plus such political organizations worldwide.
      Russia's rules for party registration were radically liberalized following the start of the anti-Kremlin protests in 2011. The number of political parties went up from seven to 54 over 2012, though the opposition said the revised legislation still contains enough red tape to allow the government to deny registration to unwanted parties.
      The Justice Ministry has a track record of giving mind-boggling reasons for refusing to register parties. A particular highlight came last September during the leftist Rot Front's seventh unsuccessful attempt to obtain the coveted place on the official register: the ministry said then that the party's emblem, an upraised fist superimposed over a five-pointed star, promoted extremism.



      Zyuganov Communists Continue Stalin's Fight Against "Rootless Cosmopolitanism"
      By Dr. K R Bolton
      Foreign Policy Journal, December 12, 2012

      The Communist Party of the Russian Federation continues to be one of the major forces opposing globalization, and its concomitant bastardization of national cultures, by what Stalinists called "rootless cosmopolitanism." Russia has shown herself to be the land with the most potential to resist globalization, despite the brief interregnum of the drunken clown Boris Yeltsin, and the disintegration paved by Mikhail Gorbachev, who now postures on the world stage as an elder statesman for a "new world order."[1] The world kulturkampf remains a primary means for the inauguration of globalist hegemony, as it did during the Cold War era.
      Cultural Lines Drawn
      The lines of opposition between the main protagonists, the USA and the USSR, were drawn in what is now known as the "Cultural Cold War,"[2] that was attendant with the Cold War era. Cultural subversion became the USA's means of undermining nations and this remains the case.[3] The USSR since the time of Stalin defined the role of "Soviet culture," vis-à-vis the "rootless cosmopolitanism" that was being sponsored around the world by the USA via the CIA and plutocratic interests.
      While "socialist realism" was formulated in 1932 by Maxim Gorky of the Union of Russian Writers,[4] the position of a new Soviet culture founded upon tradition, was developed and publicly stated in 1946 by A Zhdanov.[5] Classical composers from the Czarist era, such as Tchaikovsky, Glinka, and Borodin, were revived after being sidelined in the early years of Bolshevism, as were great non-Russian composers such as Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert.[6] Modernists who had been fêted in the early days of Bolshevism were relegated to irrelevance by the 1930s.[7] Jazz and the associated types of dancing were condemned as bourgeoisie degeneracy.[8] Soviet culture was to be folkish and heroic.[9]
      In 1948, Zhdanov's speech to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik) intended primarily to lay the foundations of Soviet music, represents one of the most cogent attempts to define culture.[10] The Zhdanov speech also helped set the foundation for the campaign against "rootless cosmopolitanism" that was launched several years later.[11]
      It is notable that these definitive statements on Soviet culture were being made at the very beginning of the "Cold War," when the USSR rejected US offers to be a junior partner in a post-War "new world order".[12] It is also notable that the USSR was launching its campaign against "rootless cosmopolitanism" at the same time that the USA was launching its campaign to spread its "modernism" throughout the world, primarily via "abstract expressionism," the preferred artistic mode of the Rockefellers, CIA, et al, and their Left-wing lackeys.
      In 1949 F. Chernov wrote a seminal article declaring war against "rootless cosmopolitanism."[13] He described the "rootless cosmopolitans" that had entered both the Soviet arts and the sciences as "nihilistic" and "anti-national," and even repudiated any notion of a "united world science," seeing this as part of an attempt to create a "world philosophy" devoid of "national distinctions and features," stating:
      The forms in which bourgeois-cosmopolitan petty ideas are dragged into the area of ideology are multifarious: from concealment of better products of socialist culture to direct denigration of it; from denial of the world-historical significance of Great Russian culture and elimination of respect for its traditions to the frank propagation of servility before decadent bourgeois culture; from the spreading of national nihilism and negation of the significance of the question of priority in science to the slogan about "international solidarity" with bourgeois science and so forth and so on. But the essence of all these forms is this antipatriotism, this propaganda of bourgeois-cosmopolitan ideology setting its goal of spiritual disarmament of the Soviet people in the face of aggressive bourgeois ideology, the revival of remnants of capitalism in peoples' consciousness.[14]
      Chernov identified "rootless cosmopolitism" as part of a specific foreign agenda, which was certainly formalized that year - 1949 - with the founding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom:
      In the calculation of our foreign enemies they should divert Soviet literature and culture and Soviet science from the service of the Socialist cause. They try to infect Soviet literature, science, and art with all kinds of putrid influences, to weaken in such a way these powerful linchpins of the political training of the people, the education of the Soviet people in the spirit of active service to the socialist fatherland, to communist construction.[15]
      Explaining the meaning of cosmopolitanism, Chernov stated:
      Cosmopolitanism is the negation of patriotism, its opposite. It advocates absolute apathy towards the fate of the Motherland. Cosmopolitanism denies the existence of any moral or civil obligations of people to their nation and Motherland.[16]
      Chernov then outlined the manner by which cosmopolitanism serves global capital:
      The bourgeoisie preaches the principle that money does not have a homeland, and that, wherever one can "make money," wherever one may "have a profitable business," there is his homeland. Here is the villainy that bourgeois cosmopolitanism is called on to conceal, to disguise, "to ennoble" the antipatriotic ideology of the rootless bourgeois-businessman, the huckster and the traveling salesman.[17]
      This is the situation that pertains also to the present, although with the means of mass communications now developed far more so than in Chernov's time, the world is succumbing ever more, even in the remotest, hitherto inaccessible regions. "Bourgeois cosmopolitanism" in the arts is synonymous with commodity marketing, because the arts have become commodities for mass production and consumption, with the young as primary targets for the past several generations. Chernov identified precisely who was behind this global kulturkampf:
      In the guise of cosmopolitan phraseology, in false slogans about the struggle against "nationalist selfishness," hides the brutal face of the inciters of a new war, trying to bring about the fantastic notion of American rule over the world. From the imperialist circles of the USA today issues propaganda of "world citizenship" and "universal government."[18]
      It is in the above passage that Chernov makes it plain that this was a "Cultural Cold War" as it is now termed.
      At the time the CIA was launching its front, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, with the assistance of Trotsky-apologist Professor Sidney Hook, and numerous other ultra-Leftists, and in particular Trotskyites. Its cultural ideology can at least in part be traced to the manifesto on the arts written by Trotsky along with André Breton and Diego Rivera in 1938, entitled Towards a Free Revolutionary Art.[19] Aptly, this was published in the Autumn 1938 issue of the Marxist magazine Partisan Review, which was to play a significant role in the "Cultural Cold War" and was to receive CIA funding.
      One of the first projects launched upon the world was an exhibition of "abstract expressionism" in 1952 via the International Program of the Rockefeller founded, funded and run Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). This received a five-year annual grant of $125,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, under the direction of Porter McCray, who had also worked with Nelson Rockefeller's Latin American Department, and in 1950 as an attaché of the cultural section of the US Foreign Service.[20] Russell Lynes, writing of this period stated that MoMA now had the entire world to "proselytise" with what he called "the exportable religion" of Abstract Expressionism[21].
      The Stalinists accurately perceived the cultural strategy of the globalists and their Leftist allies.
      Although the Congress for Cultural Freedom, after numerous exposés, was wound up, and the CIA publicly acknowledges its role,[22] other organizations have arisen to continue "Cold War II," again primarily against Russia, but also against any state that is reticent about a "new world order": Iran, Iraq, Libya, Milosevic's Serbia, etc., while the USA has pursued a policy of surrounding Russia by fomenting "color revolutions" in the former Soviet states.[23]
      The destruction of Soviet Czechoslovakia was inaugurated by "rootless cosmopolitanism." The Charter 77 protest movement was formed after the imprisonment of fans of the rock band, "Plastic People of the Universe."[24] Hence, the means by which a state was rotted from within began from the most banal of issues. A present, following the same scenario, is the great tumult fermented by the punk-Left group "Pussy Riot," which seemingly overnight became a cause celebre of well-organized mass demonstrations of the type that are always termed "spontaneous," and quickly garnered a clamorous chorus of pontificating Russophobes to jump on the bandwagon. Some are even referring to this inanity as a "global revolution." What was tantamount to a Black Mass in an Orthodox Cathedral has become a standard for "free speech" and a battering ram against Russia. If similar antics were tried in a synagogue in Israel, what would be the reactions of the Israeli Government, and "world opinion," including that of US officialdom? One young enthusiast, whom we might pick as typical of a generation (like those of the "Hip Generation"), easily swayed into thinking that nonsense is "revolutionary," gushed:
      After they blessed themselves with the sign of the cross and bowed toward the altar, the members of the band, clad in vibrantly colored masks called balaclavas that cover most of the face except for the eyes, performed a "punk prayer" for a camera and a few straggling worshippers in the cathedral.[25]
      Ms. Carey further enthuses that the cause has been taken up by others as if this is surprising, considering the legions of the naïve that can be mobilized in short-order by Machiavellian interests in the name of the most inane of "issues", so long as slogans such as "human rights" and "democracy" are sufficiently bandied about:
      After igniting this flame of protest, it has been estimated that Pussy Riot has become one of most influential artists of our generation. Moreover, many politicians and artists, including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Pete Townshend have publicly stood behind the band. Citizens of New York City-as well as those in Bulgaria, Scotland, Germany and Russia-have taken notice and united under the cause.… [26]
      Ms. Carey, a sophomore, is, like many others, eager to re-create the entire world in the image of American "democracy," a euphemism for globalist hegemony, under the name of "freedom." She and the multitude of others are in influential company, which one would think would give them pause for reconsideration as to whose agenda they are following,[27] had the education system and mass entertainment media not atrophied their critical faculties. However, youth are easily incited by clichés as they were in the 1960s and 1970s and as they have been during the "Arab Spring" and the multitude of "color revolutions" sweeping the world in the name of "human rights" and in the interests of global capital.
      Given the inane world in which we live, thanks to the control of culture, including supposedly "dissident" culture, by plutocracy, this is not surprising, since mass marketing, including that of the "arts," requires quantity over quality to ensure the largest possible consumer base. Like planned obsolescence, commodity culture must also be of very limited duration, so that there is a constant turnover.
      Zyuganov Communists Launch Counter-Offensive
      The Communist Party of the Russian Federation under the leadership of Gennady Zyuganov, is as fully cognizant of all the implications of the "new world order" as was the leadership of the USSR from Stalin to Brezhnev. This includes recognition that the global kulturkampf is still of primary significance. The Zyuganov Communists, in the tradition of Chernov and Zhadanov during the Stalin era, have launched an offensive aimed at upholding Russian culture against alien contagion.
      In December 2012, the Russian Creative Movement: Russky Lad (Russian Order) was formed, uniting over 300 patriotic and religious organizations, as well as artists and lawyers, under the chairmanship of Zyuganov.[28] A news report states of the movement:
      The preservation of Russia's identity amid globalization is one of the core goals of the Russian Order. It is also set to unite and "mobilize" Russians and other indigenous peoples in order to protect the Russian language - the basis of unity and creativity in the country.[29]
      One of the leaders of the movement, Communist Duma delegate Vladimir Nikitin, described a new "war launched by speculative capital longing for world supremacy and aimed against the Russian civilization."[30] He stated that an "alien" form of government, economy and culture had been imposed on Russia, undermining everything "originally Russian." He warned that the opposition movement against Putin could be manipulated in the service of outsiders, reducing Russia to chaos to provide a pretext for invasion by "NATO peacekeepers" to counter "imaginary Russian Nazis."[31] The warning can hardly be dismissed as paranoid considering what happened to Serbia and more recently Libya, and what might yet happen to Syria.
      Nothing except for genocide is more destructive to a people than cultural subversion. A "global culture" is concomitant with a "global shopping mall" and a "global factory." The cultural front is the vital means of maintaining the possibility of a people's revival even when that people is subjected to military invasion. The Stalinists recognized such issues decades ago, as do their present-day heirs. A people can overcome military invasion and even prolonged occupation, and rebuild in the aftermath so long as there is a remnant of culture from which to rebuild, a lesson the Chinese know in attempting to obliterate the Tibetan culture, for example.
      Russia is again the focus of resistance to globalist hegemony. Zyuganov is aware of Russia's responsibility as the only potential leader of a new dispensation in world geopolitics. He has urged the creation of a Eurasian power bloc which includes a "united Europe" in opposition to a US-imposed "new world order," similar to the position advocated by Eurasian theorist Alexander Dugin of Moscow State University. Zyuganov spoke of this in connection with the war against Serbia, stating in 1999, "united Europe together with Russia can compete with the U.S…. America is afraid of united Europe.…"[32] However, there can be no such entities as "Europe" or "Russia" if both end up existing as nothing more than land-masses in the service of an international production-and-consumption process where the distinctiveness of peoples and cultures have been obliterated in the quest for global profit maximization.
      [1] K R Bolton, "Mikhail Gorbachev: Globalist Super-Star," Foreign Policy Journal, April 3, 2011, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011/04/03/mikhail-gorbachev-globalist-super-star/
      [2] Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: the CIA and the world of arts and letters (New York: The New Press, 1999).
      [3] Ralph Peters, "Constant Conflict", Parameters, Summer 1997, 4-14. http://www.usamhi.army.mil/USAWC/Parameters/97summer/peters.htm
      [4] Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia (London: Allen Lane, 2004), pp. 352-353.
      [5] Ibid., p. 361.
      [6] Ibid., 366-367.
      [7] Ibid., 371.
      [8] Ibid., 376.
      [9] K R Bolton, Stalin, op. cit., pp. 21-27.
      [10] A. Zhandov, Speech, Central Committee of the Communist Party SU (Bolshevik), February 1948. p. 6.
      [11] K R Bolton, Stalin, op. cit., p. 22.
      [12] K R Bolton, "Origins of the Cold War: How Stalin Foiled a New World Order," Foreign Policy Journal, May 31, 2010, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/05/31/origins-of-the-cold-war-how-stalin-foild-a-new-world-order
      [13] F Chernov, "Bourgeois Cosmopolitanism and its reactionary role," Bolshevik: Theoretical and Political Magazine of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) ACP(B), Issue #5, March 15 1949, pp. 30-41.
      [14] Ibid.
      [15] Ibid.
      [16] Ibid.
      [17] Ibid.
      [18] Ibid.
      [19] Leon Trotsky, André Breton, Diego Rivera, Towards a Free Revolutionary Art, 25 July 1938.
      [20] Saunders, op. cit., p. 267.
      [21] Russell Lynes, Good Old Modern Art: An Intimidate Portrait of the Museum of Modern Art (New York: Atheneum, 1973), cited by Saunders, ibid.., 267.
      [22] "Cultural Cold War: Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949-50,"Cewntrla Intelligence Agency, https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/docs/v38i5a10p.htm#rft1
      [23] K R Bolton, "America's `World Revolution': Neo-Trotskyist Foundations of U.S. Foreign Policy," Foreign Policy Journal, May 3, 2010, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/05/03/americas-world-revolution-neo-trotskyist-foundations-of-u-s-foreign-policy/
      [24] D Bilefsky, "Czech's Velvet Revolution Paved by Plastic People," The NY Times, November 15, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/world/europe/16iht-czech.html
      [25] Madeline Carey, "Defend the Riot: Pussy Riot's Global Revolution," November 20, 2012, Huff Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/madeline-carey/pussy-riot-free-speech_b_2109754.html
      [26] Ibid.
      [27] See: Tony Cartalucci, "Russia's `Pussy Riot' Supported by US State Department," Global Research, August 18 2012, http://www.globalresearch.ca/russia-s-pussy-riot-stunt-supported-by-us-state-department/32395
      [28] "Communists set up new movement to counter Western oppression," December 10, 2012, http://rt.com/politics/zyuganov-communist-movement-patriotic-691/
      [29] Ibid.
      [30] Ibid.
      [31] Ibid.
      [32] Robert Tatman, "Zyuganov Says Kosovo Crisis Key to New World Order," February 22, 1999, http://www.mail-archive.com/ctrl@.../msg06099.html


      Due West: Divide and Fall - Unintended Results of Russia's Adoption Ban
      Konstantin von Eggert
      RIA Novosti, 29/12/2012

      Russia's answer to the United States' "Magnitsky Act," banning the adoption of Russian children by US citizens, provoked a storm among intellectuals, dismay among many rank-and-file supporters of Vladimir Putin and - for the first time - real discord among government figures.
      Russia's answer to the United States' "Magnitsky Act," banning the adoption of Russian children by US citizens, provoked a storm among intellectuals, dismay among many rank-and-file supporters of Vladimir Putin and - for the first time - real discord among government figures.
      Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was one of the most respected senior political figures to surprise observers by coming out against the law. Minister for Education and Science, Dmitry Livanov, also condemned it, arguing that this law will hurt the very children it purports to protect. Dissonant voices also came from the Presidential Council on Human Rights and the Justice ministry.
      On Friday I visited a mid-level official in one of the ministries concerned with the new law. She bombarded me with questions about the reasons for this harsh decision. For the first time I heard from this loyalist that she opposed her own government's decision. Theoretically, this could be an isolated case, but there is every reason to believe that it is not.
      The idea of orphaned or sick children being used as pawns in a political game seems to be finding much less resonance within the bureaucracy than one might have expected.
      First, there is the issue of morality, second, that of practicality.
      One foreign ministry official told me that many Russian diplomats felt offended. The Russian-US agreement on child adoption issues took nearly two years to finalize and quite some time to ratify. It finally came into force in November, a few weeks before it was unilaterally abrogated by what is now known as the "anti-Magnitsky law" in Russia.
      There are questions as to whether this abrogation breaks several laws and international conventions. But far worse, the diplomat said is that: "What happened makes Russia looks like an unreliable partner who cannot be trusted."
      Third, the Kremlin's response to the "Magnitsky Act" could badly misfire internationally. Moscow's apparent campaign of victimization, that first targeted NGOs and now children, puts the Obama administration in an awkward position, especially since it has shown marked indifference to Russian domestic developments.
      Unless Vladimir Putin starts building new Gulags, or threatening military confrontation, the White House had repeatedly demonstrated that it could not care less about Russia's harassed NGOs, beaten demonstrators and censored journalists.
      Obama clearly hoped to leave the Magnitsky issue behind and trusted Russia to produce a less spectacular and scandalous response. The White House wants Vladimir Putin to agree to a new round of nuclear disarmament negotiations and begin work on the START-4 treaty.
      Instead, the US administration will have to react to Moscow's steps. Moreover, the European Union may also have to start debating the possibility of adopting its own version of the "Magnitsky Law," something that would create problems of an altogether more serious order for the Kremlin.
      The probability of EU-wide Magnitsky-style legislation coming into force remains low. But the negative publicity surrounding what has also been termed here in Moscow as "the scoundrels' bill" will definitely give a shot in the arm to those in the EU who advocate a tougher stance towards the Kremlin.
      It looks like the "anti-Magnitsky law" proves quite a different law: that of unintended consequences. Instead of consolidating Russia's ruling class - the bill divided it, instead of keeping the Americans and Europeans out it keeps them in - and more angry.
      Finally, the law forces even the Kremlin loyalists to make hard moral choices - something people usually do not forget, and frequently do not forgive.


      Picking on the Weakest: Religious Leaders Condemn Putin's Adoption Ban
      By Matthias Schepp in Moscow
      Spiegel Online, 12/31/2012

      Last week the Kremlin moved to ban American adoptions of children from Russian orphanages. The new law, widely perceived as retaliation against a US rule that can bar Russians responsible for human rights violations from entering the country, could mean bleaker prospects for up to 130,000 children.
      The business daily Vedomosti, one of Russia's most reputable newspapers, named the most important people of 2012 in its New Year's edition. They included the new Georgian prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who was named the most impressive politician of the year, while the political activists with the punk bank Pussy Riot were dubbed "cultural heroes."
      Next to them on the cover page is a photo of a smiling, blond-haired boy with blue eyes: Dima Yakovlev, the "victim of the year."
      In fact, Dima had already died in July 2008, when the then two-year-old boy suffocated after being locked in a car on a swelteringly hot day. His American adoptive father had simply forgotten about the boy. Russians were outraged when an American court later acquitted the man of involuntary manslaughter.
      But now little Dima, the journalists at Vedomosti wrote, was being killed a second time, in a manner of speaking, "as a child victim and against every Christian moral" -- this time by the members of the Russian parliament and President Vladimir Putin.
      On Friday, President Putin signed a bill named after Dima Yakovlev into law. The new legislation, which bars American citizens from adopting children from Russia, is an act of revenge straight out of the pages of the Cold War.
      It was preceded by the United States enacting the so-called Magnitsky Law, under which people responsible for human rights violations in Russia can be barred entry into the United States, and their accounts can be frozen. The law is named after Sergei Magnitsky, an attorney who was tortured to death in a Moscow prison in 2009. The law bars about 60 Russian officials allegedly responsible for Magnitsky's fate from entering the United States.
      US President Barack Obama hesitated for a long time before signing the bill. His diplomats knew that Moscow would not accept the intervention into its internal affairs without striking back. But few in Washington had expected this response from the Kremlin.
      Putin could have made it more difficult for the Americans to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, because much of the operation passes through Russian territory. He could have ordered fewer Boeing wide-bodied aircraft or called for a boycott of iPhones or Coca-Cola.
      Decisions that Affect Children
      Instead, the man who likes to portray himself as a macho leader decided to use the weakest of the weak as pawns: the 130,000 children living in more than 2,000 Russian orphanages. Americans have adopted more than 60,000 Russian children since 1991, and hundreds also find new homes in other Western countries every year.
      But Putin, who signed the bill against the advice of his foreign minister and his minister of social affairs, is also harming himself with the ban on US adoptions. Even die-hard America haters like top TV pundit Mikhail Leontyev are critical of the law. Putin also faces criticism from the Orthodox Church, which is normally submissive to the Kremlin. "We cannot accept the fact that decisions that affect children are being made on the basis of broader political considerations," said the Bishop of Smolensk.
      More than 100,000 Russians had signed a petiti<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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