Bulletin 2:34 (2008)
- THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
Vol. 2, No. 34(39), 2 December 2008
Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland
I NEWS: 15 30 November 2008
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
III PRIMARY SOURCES FROM EVRAZIA.ORG
IV ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS BY GROUP MEMBERS
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I NEWS: 15 30 November 2008
Russians Call Great Patriotic War Of 1941-1945 Biggest Event of the
Itar-Tass, November 16, 2008
MOSCOW, November 16 (Itar-Tass) -- Sixty percent of Russians believe
that the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 was the biggest event of the
20th century, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said.
The space flight of Yuri Gagarin ranks second (13%). Five percent
named the human landing on the Moon, and four percent said it was the
Another four percent named perestroika and the scientific-technical
revolution, and three percent referred to the disintegration of the
former Soviet Union.
One percent named the invention of the nuclear bomb, cell phones and
television and the Moscow Olympic Games 1980. The resignation of
Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the Soviet-Afghan war and the Chechen
war gained from 0.2 to 0.4%.
Thirty-six percent of the respondents called the Great Patriotic War
of 1941-1945 the most tragic event of the 20th century, the center
said. The Chernobyl nuclear accident was named by nine percent. Eight
percent called the most tragic the Chechen and Afghan wars; six
percent named the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and four
percent - the Revolution 1917 and natural calamities. Three percent
said that the Beslan tragedy and the Nord-Ost hostage crisis were the
most tragic events. Two percent recalled the 1991 putsch in Russia and
the Twin Towers destroyed on September 11, 2001.
The wreck of the Kursk nuclear-powered submarine, the nuclear
bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Stalin regime, the execution
of the tsar family and the invention of the nuclear bomb gained one
percent each. The Titanic wreck was named by 0.4% of the respondents.
Sixteen percent of the respondents said that the largest achievement
of the 20th century was space exploration. Five percent named peaceful
uses of atomic energy, four percent - the invention of computers and a
medical breakthrough, three percent - cell phones, nuclear weapons,
television, nano-technologies and the Internet. Two percent said it
was cloning, and one percent - electricity and household appliances.
Seventeen percent said that the disintegration of the former Soviet
Union was the biggest disappointment of the 20th century. Six percent
named perestroika, poverty and diseases. Four percent referred to the
Chechen and Afghan wars, instability in the country, inflation and
nuclear bombings. Three percent referred to the downfall of communism,
two percent - the 1998 crisis in Russia, and one percent - the
Revolution 1917, deteriorating environment, bad health care and the
The center polled 1,600 adults in 140 cities and towns in 42 regions
of Russia. The error is less than 3.4%.
The center was founded in 1987 as part of the Soviet Labor Ministry
and the Council of Trade Unions. It was re-registered as a state
unitary enterprise in 1998 and acquired the status of an academic
institution in 1999. It became a joint stock company in 2003.
Windows Shattered in Lipetsk Baptist Church
FSU Monitor, November 17, 2008
Someone broke several windows of a Baptist church in Lipetsk, Russia
according to a November 11, 2008 report by the Slavic Legal Center, an
NGO that focuses on the legal rights of minority Christians in Russia.
The church is the object of a property dispute between the Baptists
and the local Russian Orthodox diocese that dates all the way back to
1989. According to the Center's report, the city authorities gave the
Baptists a ruined Orthodox church that the local diocese had not been
allowed to use because of Soviet anti-religious policies. Whether or
not that decision was historically just, and the Russian Orthodox
Church reportedly raised no objection at the time, since 1989, the
Baptists have invested considerable time and money restoring the
building for their 100-person congregation. In 1993, the Orthodox
diocese started pushing for the building to be given to them, and a
commission appointed to study the issue recommended that the Orthodox
diocese pay the Baptists compensation so that they could purchase an
alternative location. Since then, the Baptists charge, the Orthodox
diocese has pushed for the church to be restituted without any
compensation, and has used its connections with local officials to
pressure the Baptists to give up their claim to the building.
Cossacks, Orthodox hard-liners, and even neo-Nazis from the Slavic
Union (abbreviated "SS" in Russian) have held protests outside the
church. The vandalism took place on November 4, a relatively new
holiday proclaimed by the Russian government that was immediately
appropriated by extremist nationalists, some of whom held an
"aggressive" religious procession that passed by the church shortly
before the windows were broken. There is no mention in the report of
police investigating the incident.
Racist Death Threats in Balakhna, Russia
FSU Monitor, November 17, 2008
Someone posted death threats on two cars belonging to ethnic
minorities in Balakhna, Russia (Nizhny Novgorod region), according to
a November 13, 2008 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center.
The leaflets read, "Every day we are following your children and at
any point we can strike" and the far-right slogan "Russia for
Russians." Local police are investigating the incident as "hooliganism."
Russian Church against defining holodomor as genocide, but urges to
denounce Bolshevik actions that caused it
Interfax Religion, November 18, 2008
Moscow, November 18, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate believes
actions of Bolsheviks that caused mass famine of the 1930s should be
decisively assessed, but urges to renounce attempts to consider the
"The theme of mass holodomor of the 1930s gives grounds for thinking
both in Ukraine and in Russia. Kiev should understand that this
tragedy didn't affect only Ukrainian people, and Moscow should
decisively condemn Bolshevik actions that resulted in mass famine,"
Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External
Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion on
It is evident for him, that these "actions were consciously aimed to
wipe out the whole classes of nation." He also fully agrees with the
position of the Kiev vicar Bishop Alexander of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky
who said about the position of the Ukrainian Church to holodomor as
genocide: "We tried to avoid this word, because genocide is a crime of
one nation against another."
"Genocide is historically defined as an act committed to annihilate
people on national or religious basis, and it wasn't the case with
mass famine of the 1930s," the priest is convinced.
"There were social repressions. People of various nationalities
suffered, peasants suffered as they were Christian and contrary to the
myths of Soviet propaganda didn't destroy churches, but stood for
them, rebelled against Bolsheviks and didn't want to put up with
collectivization and other monstrous experiments on Russian, Ukrainian
and other peoples," Fr. Vsevolod said.
According to him, "Bolsheviks indeed tried to annihilate peasants as
a class Russia was based on and actions of that times so-called
Bolshevik power should be decisively assessed.'
The interviewee of the agency said that "these crimes may and should
be named unacceptable, unprecedented annihilation of our own people on
social basis." According to him, it is also necessary to pay homage to
the victims of mass famine on national level.
"There is no one to try for this crime - the Lord Himself judged the
guilty if they didn't repent, but I believe that to call crime a
crime, to call the involved structures criminal, would be very useful
not only for assessing the past, but for creating decent future as
well," the Russian Church official said.
Russian Newsweek warned not to incite ethnic, religious enmity
Interfax Religion, November 18, 2008
Moscow, November 18, Interfax - The Moscow Prosecutor's Office has
warned the Russian Newsweek magazine that publishing stories
instigating ethnic and religious hatred is illegal and unacceptable.
The warning was issued to the editor-in-chief following an inquiry
conducted by the prosecutor's office of Moscow's North-Еastern
District, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office said.
"Issue 40 of September 29 to October 5 2008 carried two stories
entitled "He Who Comes with the Mosque" (a play on the phrase "He who
comes to Russia with the sword will perish by the sword" and "Mosque
Carriers," in which Muslims and Christians are in opposition," the
prosecutor's office said.
"The articles in question have captions satirizing the Prophet
Muhammad, taken, among other photos, from the Danish newspaper
Jullands-Posten, which provoked mass ethnic and religious disturbances
in Europe back in 2005. The way the information was presented, as well
as the illustrations and photographs attached, can sound insulting and
humiliating for social groups professing Islam, shape a negative image
of Muslims, and picture the Muslim and Christian cultures as opposed
to one another," the prosecutors said.
Sex minorities accuse Yabloko party in homophobia
Interfax Religion, November 19, 2008
Moscow, November 19, Interfax - Russian sex minorities criticize the
Yabloko political party for its allegedly homophobe position.
"Under its former leaders, we knew the party as homophobic and lost
any connection to its "democratic" mask. However, we didn't expect
that under new central leaders it may join to opposing peaceful gay
prides held in all democratic countries of the world," a sex minority
leader Nicolay Alexeyev has told Interfax.
He reminded that the Yabloko Tambov branch urged Tambov authorities
to suppress public gay and lesbian events by all possible legal means.
"We are against gay prides and we don't want our children to grow in
such a society," the interviewee of the agency quoted an address of
the party regional branch to the Tambov Mayor Pyotr Chernoivanov.
He reported that sex minorities planned to hold a piquet in Tambov on
October 10, and a march on October 18. Both events were banned, and
the Tambov Leninsky Court found the bans legal.
Alexeyev stated he would clear up the position on the sex minorities
in the Yabloko central office.
"I wonder if they share the opinion of their regional branches. If
they do, we will urge Russian gays and lesbians to boycott Yabloko and
not to vote for this party at the elections," the interviewee of the
agency went on to say.
Ukraine president says Russia not to blame for Stalin-era famine
RIA Novosti, November 19, 2008
KIEV, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine insists the Stalin-era
famine known as the Holodomor was an act of genocide against the
Ukrainian people, but does not blame any individual state for it, the
country's president said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a ceremony to unveil a memorial in a village in western
Ukraine, one of the areas hardest hit by the early 1930s famine,
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said, as quoted by his press
service: "Ukraine does not blame any nation or state for the great
Yushchenko said "the totalitarian Communist regime" was to blame for
Nationalist groups in ex-Soviet Ukraine have insisted Russia, as
legal successor to the former Soviet Union, must be responsible for
the tragedy and have demanded compensation.
The famine was caused by forced collectivization. Estimates as to the
amount of victims in Ukraine vary greatly, with some 2 million being
the lower end of the scale. British historian Robert Service has
suggested that some 14 million people lost their lives.
The famine also took the lives of millions of people from different
ethnic groups in vast territories in the North Caucasus, the Volga
region, central Russia, Kazakhstan, west Siberia, and the south Urals.
Ukraine is holding Holodomor commemoration events on November 17
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declined to attend the events,
saying in a letter to Yushchenko last week that Kiev has used the
famine to drive a wedge between Ukraine and Russia. He also urged
efforts to forge a common position on the tragedy.
"Ukraine has been using the tragic events of the early 1930s to
achieve its political ends," Medvedev said.
Kiev's attempts to declare the Holodomor an act of genocide by the
Soviet authorities are "aimed at disuniting our nations, which have
for centuries been linked by historical, cultural and spiritual bonds,
special friendship and mutual trust," Medvedev said.
"At the moment, I do not believe my participation in Holodomor
commemoration events is possible," Medvedev said.
Kiev said it was disappointed by the statement.
Ukraine has been seeking international recognition for the Stalin-era
famine as an act of genocide. The United Nations refused last month to
include the famine on its agenda, supporting Russia's recommendation.
Eight heads of state, including the presidents of the three ex-Soviet
Baltic states, Poland and Georgia, were reported to be due to attend a
forum and commemoration events on this week's 75th anniversary of the
Holodomor. Some 40 foreign delegations are also expected to attend.
Youths Stab Uzbek Man to Death on Petersburg Train
FSU Monitor, November 19, 2008
A group of youths, some of whom may have been soccer hooligans, beat
and stabbed an Uzbek man to death on a suburban commuter train,
according to a November 16, 2008 report by the local news web site
Fontanka.ru. The attack took place on November 15 aboard the
Roshchino-St. Petersburg line. Police are investigating the killing as
manslaughter, so far without any reference to hate crimes statutes.
Did Neo-Nazis Blow Up Lenin Statue in Ryazan?
FSU Monitor, November 19, 2008
Police suspect that neo-Nazis blew up a statue of Lenin in Ryazan,
Russia, according to a November 18, 2008 article in the national daily
"Komsomolskaya Pravda." Last Sunday night, someone place a homemade
bomb at the base of the statue, located on the outskirts of town, and
painted a swastika and a crossed out Star of David on the statue's
foundations. Nobody has yet been detained in connection with the bombing.
Ukrainian History Textbooks Falser Than Soviet Materials Markov
Itar-Tass, November 21, 2008.
DONETSK, November 21 (Itar-Tass) -- History textbooks issued in modern
Ukraine have more falsified data than Soviet materials, State Duma
deputy Sergei Markov said at a conference entitled "The Great Famine
of the 1930s in the USSR: Historical and Political Viewpoints" in
Kharkov on Friday.
More than 60 researchers, politicians and legal experts from Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan took part in the event.
In his opinion, joint teams of Ukrainian, Russian and European
researchers should write general history textbooks in order not to
incite inter-ethnic discord. "Such an incitement is a criminal
offense," the lawmaker said.
"Ukrainian historians experience bigger pressure than Russian ones,"
laboratory head of Moscow State University's History Department
Mikhail Dmitriyev said.
He suggested continuing the Great Famine debates on television and in
Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin opposed attempts to
distort history and to find Great Famine culprits. Although every
republic suffered from the Great Famine, "attempts are being made to
pin the genocide tag only to Ukraine," he said. "That is
"The Great Famine concept of genocide of the Ukrainian people, which
is being spread by certain Ukrainian politicians, does not comply with
the historic truth and has no material evidence," the conference
resolution runs. "This concept does not target for remembrance of
Great Famine victims but aims to incite discord between nationalities,
Russophobia and anti-Semitism. The Great Famine was a tragedy shared
by all peoples."
Murmansk Orthodox Diocese Launches Campaign Against Pentecostal Church
FSU Monitor, November 21, 2008
The Murmansk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church has launched a
campaign against the construction of a Pentecostal church in the city,
according to a November 14, 2008 report by the Slavic Law Center, an
NGO that specializes in defending the rights of minority Christians in
Russia. The diocese has reportedly distributed leaflets calling for
"struggle" against the Pentecostal " totalitarian sect" which
supposedly "strives for the domination over the minds and souls of
residents of our city." The diocese's web site accused Russian
Pentecostals of "no longer being Russian by mentality" by turning
their backs on the Orthodox church, and accused the Pentecostals of
"proselytizing extremism"--dangerous language in the wake of numerous
spurious applications of Russia's law on extremism against political
dissidents in recent years. The Slavic Law Center's report pointed out
numerous instances of violence, vandalism and other crimes affecting
minority Christians after similar campaigns were launched in other
cities, and added that inciting religious hatred is illegal under
PUTIN: DRUG COPS TOO MAY BAR FOREIGNERS FROM ENTERING RUSSIA.
Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's weekly newsletter, Volume 8, Number 46,
November 21, 2008
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has authorized the Federal Drug Control
Service to bar foreigners it deems "undesirable" from entering the
country, "The Moscow Times" reported on November 18. The service joins
eight other federal ministries and agencies authorized to bar
foreigners from Russian territory under the federal immigration law,
according to a decree signed by Putin last week. The other agencies
are the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security
Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Defense Ministry, the
Justice Ministry, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service, and the
Health and Social Development Ministry.
The newspaper noted that "numerous foreign businessmen, journalists,
and human rights activists have been banned from entering the country
in recent years under Article 27 of the immigration law, many of whom
claim that they were targeted for political reasons or as part of
illegal attacks on their businesses and assets in Russia. In several
of these cases, authorities have cited Point 1 of Article 27 of the
immigration law, which states that a foreigner can be barred entry in
order `to safeguard military preparedness, state security and public
order of the Russian Federation, or the health and safety of its
HARD TIMES AHEAD FOR MIGRANTS IN RUSSIA
Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's weekly newsletter, Volume 8, Number 46,
November 21, 2008
While the economic crisis deepens in Russia, there are no reliable
figures as yet for the number of those laid off, and as yet no
statistics for either a crime wave by migrants or hate crimes
targeting them. But observers offer predictions that are not encouraging.
RACIST POLICEMEN AND HOSTILE PUBLIC. "Too many of Russia's police
officers are corrupt, venal, and racist," wrote in the "St. Petersburg
Times" of November 18 Alexei Bayer, a native Muscovite who is now a
New York-based economist. "In addition to illegal immigrants,
non-Slavic immigrants--and even Russian citizens of different
ethnicities--are in danger of being stopped, harassed, and shaken down
for bribes by uniformed officers." As a consequence, Bayer continued,
when immigrants fall victim to crime, they do not usually go to the
local police station. "Instead, they buy protection from tough guys in
their own communities," he added. "Even when the authorities genuinely
attempt to fight crime, immigrants don't make good allies. They rarely
volunteer information about unlawful activities, nor are they eager to
testify against their own."
Bayer noted that "ethnic mafias plague most immigrant communities,
benefiting from isolation, distrust, and fear. Disdain on the part of
the indigenous population contributes to the problem." He found that
the kind of community outreach practiced by the New York City Police
Department is "inconceivable," He argued: "Even during the time of
prosperity, dreadful policing methods and social attitudes were
tailor-made for the spread of ethnic mafias. The current economic
crisis could unleash a crime wave and leave in its wake an entrenched
infrastructure of ethnic organized crime."
Bayer pointed out that immigrant workers thrown out into the street
come from desperately poor and war-ravaged countries and they have no
place to go. "Given the corruption and inefficiency of the country's
bureaucracy, deporting them will be difficult," he wrote. "But in the
absence of legal jobs, it is easy to guess the kinds of activities
into which they will be drawn."
MIGRANTS MAY NOT TURN TO CRIME YET EXPLOSIONS ARE POSSIBLE. "The
International Monetary Fund has told the Russian government that guest
workers who lose their jobs in the current economic crisis may turn to
crime, a warning that is almost certainly exacerbating interethnic
tensions among some groups even though there is relatively little
evidence so far to support it," wrote Paul Goble, former U.S.
government expert on nationalities in the USSR, in his blog "Window on
Eurasia" dated November 18.
According to Goble, even when migrant workers from Central Asia or the
Caucasus lose their jobs in sectors hit by the economic crisis, they
can often find work, albeit at lower pay, in other sectors more
successfully than ethnic Russians can. As a result, Goble suggested,
relatively few turn to crime.
On the other hand, "many ethnic Russians are only too eager to believe
that most migrants are potential criminals," Goble averred, "and some
Russians reportedly are buying guns in order to be in a position to
defend themselves against a migrant onslaught." Goble forecast "a
potentially explosive situation at some point in the future,
especially in cities like Moscow where there are sizeable and easily
identifiable migrant groups and where many Russians who have lost or
are at risk of losing their jobs are all too ready to blame others,
including migrants, for their own woes."
PROSECUTION RATE LAGS BEHIND HATE CRIMES. "Criminal prosecution rates
trail significantly behind the rates of hate crimes," said director
Alexander Verkhovsky of the recently renamed Sova Center for
Information and Analysis at a panel discussion at the U.S. Commission
on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on November 19 in
Washington. Convictions occur in fewer than 10% of the cases Sova has
been able to document. "Since the actual incidence of hate crimes is
likely far higher (whereas the information on convictions is more
readily available and likely more accurate), it is likely that the
actual rate of convictions is much lower," he said. "Thus, though the
number of racist attacks has increased by at least 15% per year since
2004, there were only 23 convictions reported in 2007, down from 33 in
Verkhovsky pointed out that youth movements such as the Young Guard
and Locals are adopting anti-immigrant rhetoric and that "groups with
coordinators who have good standing with the authorities are allowed
to march." As for the authorities, "they just imitate the fight
against extremism--as usual, they are fighting against statistics." He
predicted that the "overall level of nationalist mobilization will
increase." But as a professional researcher relying on numbers,
Verkhovsky cautioned that it is too early to tell how the current
economic crisis will affect hate crimes.
Moscow Patriarchate Floats Idea of "Orthodox Militia," Opponents Warn
of Possible Vigilantism, Inter-Religious Conflict
FSU Monitor, November 24, 2008
The Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church has proposed
setting up "Orthodox militias" (druzhiny) in order to "keep order" on
the streets, according to a November 20, 2008 report by the Sova
Information-Analytical Center. Church spokesman Father Vsevolod
Chaplin pitched the idea to the MVD, which is reviewing the proposal.
He argued in a recent radio interview that: "We have a lot of people
and groups who could... bring order in the places where they live, and
through that bring order to all of Russia." Valery Girbakin, an MVD
official, seemed to discourage the idea (though he did not rule it out
categorically) by pointing out that there are no laws governing the
use of druzhiny, a concept developed in the late Soviet period that
involved local citizens, some armed with clubs, helping police, though
usually not getting directly involved in the apprehension of
criminals. Whether such a concept could lead to vigilante justice in
the more unstable and violent climate of post-Soviet Russia is an open
At least one predominantly Muslim organization, the Russian Congress
of Peoples of the Caucasus, blasted the initiative, expressing worry
that it could lead to even more inter-religious conflict. Svetlana
Gannushkina, a refugee rights advocate, reacted by saying that the
Church should concentrate on instilling moral values in parishioners
in order to reduce crime, while human rights advocate Lev Ponomaryov
added that the proposal is one more step towards society admitting
that the government is helpless to control crime, and therefore a de
facto call for vigilantism.
Far-Right Leader Faces Incitement Charges
FSU Monitor, November 24, 2008
The head of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), Aleksandr
Belov, faces charges of inciting ethnic hatred, according to a
November 24, 2008 report by the RIA-Novosti news agency. The charges
stem from statements he allegedly made at last year's "Russian
March"--an annual gathering of far-right and neo-Nazi groups that
police rarely interfere with. The DPNI is Russia's largest far-right
group, and though it has suffered a split in leadership, its ideas are
becoming more mainstream.
Inter-Ethnic Clashes Becoming More Common on Moscow Campuses
FSU Monitor, November 24, 2008
Inter-ethnic violence is becoming more common on the campuses of
several of Moscow's universities, according to a November 18, 2008
report by the Rosbalt news agency. The Moscow city police announced
the finding, and criticized the university administrations for not
promoting tolerance. The police report called for universities to
expel students who start inter-ethnic brawls, which in some cases
involve students from countries that have tense relationships, such as
Azerbaijan and Armenia. There is no mention in the report about ethnic
Russian students taking part in the violence, despite media reports
indicating that it's a serious problem.
Neo-Nazi Stabbing in Nizhny Novgorod
FSU Monitor, November 25, 2008
Two neo-Nazi youths stabbed an Azeri man in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
according to a November 25, 2008 report on the web site Jewish.ru. The
victim was stabbed in the stomach and shoulder. Without giving any
details, the report mentions that the attack was motivated by racism
and that police are investigating the crime.
Antisemitic Newspaper in Moscow Classified as Extremist
FSU Monitor, November 25, 2008
A court in Moscow has classified as extremist one the country's most
infamous antisemitic newspapers, according to a Novembrer 25, 2008
report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center citing far-right web
sites. The Zamoskvoretsky district court in Moscow ruled on November
24 that the newspaper "Duel" had published an extremist article in its
July 4, 2006 edition. The paper's editor, Yuri Mukhin, was originally
charged in January 2008. In April 2007, the government's media agency
issued an official warning to "Duel" because of the same article
("Death to Russia!"), which characterized Russia as a state ruled by
"kikes" intent on continuing their domination of their "Russian
slaves." On the basis of this warning, a court ordered that "Duel" be
shut down, but the Moscow City Court struck that ruling down in
Moscow Patriarchate urges Muslims, Jews and Buddhist to form voluntary
Interfax Religion, November 25, 2008
Moscow, November 25, Interfax Deputy chairman of the Moscow
Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest
Vsevolod Chaplin suggested that representatives of other religions
should participate in organizing people's guards in Russia.
"I don't see any obstacles to making people's guards interreligious,
at least, where followers of other religions will be ready to
participate in them. It would make the guards stronger," Fr. Vsevolod
said to Interfax-Religion.
No secret, he said, "it takes Orthodox people too long to get ready,
and than they sometimes give up the idea, and they are often too kind."
"Muslims are more decisive, real warriors. They can seriously
frighten alcohol and drug dealers, who accustom youth to drinking and
smoking. Jews are cool. ZAHAL, Mossad, Beitar the very names should
make skinheads take a run and start growing a pacific hair if not
side-locks," Fr. Vsevolod jokingly said.
"The glory of Buddhist martial art gives confidence: one look of a
Buddhist guard will trance any hooligan," he further said.
The priest confessed that the only guard he won't join is the one of
"left-wingers, people of nontraditional for Russia pro-Western
orientation, that are sometimes called human rights advocated here."
"Though I don't think they will participate in any guard at all as it
is much easier, prestige and profitable to fight with Kremlin for
Khodorkovsky's rights," the interviewee of the agency said.
According to the Russian Church representative, "today it is not
Kremlin that violates rights of ordinary people, but rather mafia,
bandits and hooligans together with officials who cover them up, but
most pro-Western human rights advocates, alas, don't pay any attention
Poll shows dislike of USA, Georgia a bit less widespread in Russia
Interfax, November 27, 2008
Moscow, 27 November: In the last three months, the Russian public's
attitude to the USA, the European Union and Georgia has improved to
some extent, while their attitude to Ukraine has deteriorated,
pollsters' findings show.
In the November poll, 33 per cent of Russians said they had a
positive attitude to the USA, whereas in September the number was 10
percentage points lower, Interfax was told at Levada Centre on
Thursday (27 November). The number of our compatriots who dislike the
USA has fallen from 67 to 51 per cent over this period.
In November, 27 per cent of participants in the poll said they mostly
disliked the EU, whereas in September their number stood at 39 per
cent. Positive feelings towards the European Union are currently
displayed by 53 per cent of respondents, compared with 45 per cent
three months ago.
According to pollsters' figures, the share of Russians with a
negative attitude to Georgia has decreased from 75 to 69 per cent
between September and the present, and the number of positive
responses has increased somewhat (17 to 19 per cent).
Meanwhile the Levada Centre poll carried out in 128 population
centres in 46 constituent parts of the Russian Federation showed that
there were now fewer Russians saying they had a positive attitude to
Ukraine: the number was down from 37 per cent in September to 34 per
cent in November. More than half (53 per cent) of Russian citizens
still say their attitude to Ukraine is negative.
Journalist's Investigation Proved No Murder in Irkutsk
SOVA Center, November 27, 2008
On November 27, 2008, one of the Irkutsk news-papers published the
results of an investigation which showed that the high profile murder
of 16 year-old Olga Rukosyla didn't take place. Moreover, there was no
such a girl with such a name.
The disclaimer was made by an Irkutsk newspaper "SM Nomer Odin" in
cooperation with the Irkutsk and Moscow antifascists.
The sources of the disinformation turned out to be a young man and a
girl from Irkutsk who had introduced themselves as friends of the
victim (the young man had even showed an ID card of a police officer
and said that he had been investigating the murder).
The motives of the falsifiers are not known.
The details of the journalist investigation you can find here:
http://pressa.irk.ru/sm/2008/47/015004.html (in Russian).
INTERIOR MINISTRY STUDIES ETHNIC MINORITIES SCOPE OF EXTREMISM MORE
THAN TRIPLED IN RUSSIA OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS
By: Valery Kurnosov
Gazeta, November 28, 2008
According to Yuri Kokov, Chief of the Department of Extremism of
the Interior Ministry, extremist crimes in Russia more than tripled
over the last four years.
All-Russian conference took place to discuss participation of the
Interior Ministry and Federal Service of Immigration in observance of
ethnic minorities' rights and freedoms. Once the discussion began, it
was discovered before long that the Russians themselves were an ethnic
minority in nearly 30 Federation subjects. Moreover, the overall
population of the Russian Federation went down by 116,000 between
January and September when it was finally gauged at 142 million.
Deputy Interior Minister Yevgeny Shtokolov plainly said that the
Russian state needed foreign workforce if its development was to continue.
As matters stand, immigration control in Russia is anything but
tight or efficient. More than 800,000 foreigners were registered in
the Moscow region this year but only 250,000 of them had work permits.
The Federal Service of Immigration voided 13,000 work permits in the
Moscow region in the first nine months of the year. Situation in other
Russian regions is analogous.
Interior Ministry experts meanwhile claim that growth of
unemployment among immigrants by only 1% foments a 5% increase in
crime rate. Considering the economic and financial crisis under way,
waves of immigration from Central Asia and the Caucasus may complicate
the situation in Russia and stir violence in the locals. In fact,
something like this is already happening. Twelve youth gangs were
neutralized in Moscow, Moscow region, and St.Petersburg this year. Law
enforcement agencies suspect them of 46 crimes fuelled by ethnic
hatred including 34 murders and 2 attempts.
Participants of the conference outlined anti-extremism measures to
be taken by the Interior Ministry, Federal Service of Immigration, and
Justice Ministry with help from the Public House.
Russian Church urges to set up a commemoration day for victims of
Interfax Religion, November 28, 2008
Moscow, November 28, Interfax Russia should dedicate a special day
for commemorating victims of mass famine of the 1930s, the Moscow
"I think Russia as the most effected should take control and confirm
the correct interpretation of the events. The wisest thing is to
commemorate all the victims of famine on November 22," Acting
Secretary for Church and Society of the Moscow Patriarchate Department
for External Church Relations Fr. Georgy Ryabykh told Interfax-Religion.
He noted that "Moscow Epiphany Cathedral has conducted requiem for
all victims of Soviet famine for several years." Besides, the priest
reminded Alexy II's words at the Bishops' Council 2008: "Our Church
prayerfully commemorates all Her children who became involuntary
victims of atheistic policy that especially affected the farmers."
"Such commemoration date is the debt to memory of our compatriots who
were hard-working people, loved their Motherland and were devoted to
their faith. We don't have to absorb in self-reproaches and write
declarations of repentance. We need to remember and commemorate them,"
the priest is convinced.
According to him, such an initiative is "the best way to destroy
intrigues against Russian-Ukrainian friendship." "For example,
celebrating Christmas was timed to the day devoted to the pagan god of
sun. Who remembers the pagan festival today? However everyone
celebrates Christmas," Fr. Georgy said.
November 2008. Monthly Summary
SOVA Center, December 1, 2008
In November 2008, not less than 18 people, including 3 fatalities,
became victims of racist and neo-nazi violence in Russia. Beside
Moscow, the crimes were reported in St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod,
Penza and Kaliningrad. For comparison, in November 2007, we recorded
70 victims, including 4 fatalities.
In total, since the beginning of 2008, not less than 82 people died
and 348 were injured. In the same time period in 2007, 75 people died
and 563 were injured. The considerable growth of the number of deaths
lets us presume that the real number of injured people is higher than
the one we have recorded, because many of the non-fatal violent hate
crimes go underreported.
Beside Moscow region (48 killed and 167 injured people) and St.
Petersburg region (15 killed and 34 injured people), attacks were
reported in 37 regions of Russia, including Voronezh (2 killed, 17
injured), Yekaterinburg (4 killed, 14 injured) and Nizhny Novgorod (2
killed, 12 injured).
People coming from the Central Asia form, as before, the group of the
most frequent victims of hate crimes: in 2008, there are 46 killed and
94 injured people.
So called "Russian March" on November 4, caused traditional tension
in Russia. Rallies and marches were organized in 13 Russian cities,
and not less than in 2 of them (Moscow and St. Petersburg) the
manifestations were accompanied with racially motivated attacks.
Photos from the Moscow events are available here, here, here and here
(photos on the last link are available for publication in better
In November 2008, only one verdict for hate motivated violence was
issued: in Kaluga region, 8 neo-nazis (including 6 minors) were
convicted of a series of hate motivated robberies resulting in a death
of one person. All the participants of the group were convicted, but
prosecutor is going to appeal the sentence considering it to be too
mild (they got from 2 years of suspended sentence to 6 years of penal
There was only one verdict for a non-violent crime in November, for
"extremist calls" (article 280 of the Criminal Code). These calls to
extremism (including some racist remarks) were posted on an Internet
forum. This only proves that the law enforcements tend to prosecute
singular and low profile statements rather than to fight with popular
and influential hate websites.
In all, since the beginning of the year, there were not less than 25
verdicts for violent hate crimes against 87 people and 38 verdicts for
hate propaganda against 50 people.
The federal List of Extremist Materials was enlarged in November. The
number of entries grew from 277 to 291. However, in reality there are
282 titles of the materials, because 9 materials were put on the list
II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
RNB November 30, 2008-Features
Event Summary Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent: Faith and Power in the New
Kennan Institute, October 20, 2008
"The Russian Orthodox Church has re-branded itself as the repository
of Russian patriotism," said John Garrard, Professor of Russian
Studies, University of Arizona, and former fellow, Woodrow Wilson
Center, at a 20 October lecture at the Kennan Institute on the growing
influence of Russian Orthodoxy in Russian society. John Garrard and
Carol Garrard, independent scholar and author, Tucson, Arizona,
identified the formal beginning of the resurgence of Orthodoxy in
Russia to the summer of 1987 when the then Russian Patriarch Pimen and
the patriarch from Constantinople formally met in Moscow for the first
time in almost 400 years. As described in the Garrards' recently
published book, Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent: Faith and Power in the
New Russia (Princeton University Press, 2008), this meeting started a
radical transformation in Church-State relations that began under
Mikhail Gorbachev and accelerated in post-Soviet Russia.
The Garrards focused on three major events in 1990 as a means to
describe the expansion of the Russian church and its current position
in Russian society. The first development concerned the passing of the
1990 USSR law on freedom of conscience and religious organizations,
which Professor Garrard argued was perhaps the high point of
Gorbachev's campaign for perestroika and glasnost. This law declared
all faiths and religious denominations equal under the law and
mandated freedom of conscience. Professor Garrard pointed out,
however, that the law unexpectedly led to the opening of the
floodgates of Western Christian evangelists and missionaries. The
Orthodox Church subsequently lobbied against the 1990 law and in 1997,
in an effort to curb Western proselytizers, the Duma passed a new law
on freedom of conscience and religious organizations. While
recognizing Russia as a secular state, the 1997 law granted a more
privileged place to Orthodoxy, recognizing the Church as "coterminous
with the State from its very beginnings and as an essential ally in
the formation of an independent Russia." This 1997 law made it quite
difficult for foreign Christian groups to officially register and to
proselytize, although the Dumaat the Church's insistencedeclined to
make Orthodoxy the official state religion. Professor Garrard noted
that the passing of the 1997 law emboldened the Russian Orthodox
Church to strengthen its position in Russian society through the use
of "soft power." While later attempts to introduce Orthodoxy
curriculum into state schools failed, the Church nevertheless has
established its own thriving network of schools and seminaries.
The Garrards identified the discovery in 1990 of the remains of St.
Serafim of Sarov (1759-1833), a Russian ascetic hermit, as the second
major event in Russia's religious revival. A veritable cult formed
around Serafim upon the finding of his bones. This new enthusiasm
culminated in the Russian Orthodox Church declaring 2003, the
centenary of his canonization, to be the "Year of St. Serafim."
Professor Garrard explained that Russia's present-day reverence for
St. Serafim is partly due to his relationship to the last Tsar and his
murdered family, as well as his prediction that Russia would overcome
its humiliation as a nation and rise to greatness once again. The
return of the relics of St. Serafim, argued Professor Garrard, came to
symbolize the broader themes of restoration and renewal of the Russian
Finally, the election of Alexy Ridiger as Patriarch Alexy II
represented the third event in 1990 that cemented the new relationship
between Church and State in Russia, according to John and Carol
Garrard. Prior to the break-up of the Soviet Union, Alexy II worked
for the KGB, an experience which the Garrards suggested made for a
smooth relationship with another prominent former KGB agent, former
President Vladimir Putin. PROFESSOR Garrard stated that one of the
first things Alexy II did as Patriarch was to fight for the return of
Church real estate, art, and relics from the state. More importantly,
Alexy II played a significant role in the August 1991 coup by invoking
the power of the Church against the coup plotters. At the height of
the August 1991 crisis, Alexy II made a direct appeal to the Army: "We
call upon the whole of our nation, and particularly our army, to show
support, and not to permit shedding of fraternal blood." Since this
crucial turning point, PROFESSOR Garrard noted, Alexy II has served as
a critical conciliatory figure in Russian society.
In summary, the Garrards argued that the interplay between the above
three eventsthe law on freedom of conscience, the rediscovery of the
relics of St. Serafim, and the election of Alexy IItransformed the
face of Russia. These events ultimately enabled the Church to forge a
special relationship with the Russian state without subjecting itself
to direct state control. While actual church attendance remains
stagnant, noted the Garrards, the Church still has been able to
attract large numbers of volunteers to repair and restore its
buildings and relics. For an increasing number of Russia's citizens,
concluded the Garrards, being Orthodox and being Russian are one in
Dumb and dumber: US foreign policy on Russia has vacillated wildly,
from indulgence to overt aggression. Will Obama get Russia right?
By: David Hearst
The Guardian, November 15, 2008
If diplomats were sportsmen, and their policies were medals, the
western embassies in Moscow would surely hold the world record for
getting Russia wrong. It matters not whether the gates of the Kremlin
are open, as they were under Boris Yeltsin, or shut as they are now
under Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin. The result is the same:
In the 1990s when the doors and windows of the Kremlin were wide open
(too wide open) to western advisers, and when they had a man in charge
whom they thought of as "theirs", the diplomats spent most of the
decade looking the other way when things went wrong.
This was more difficult that it sounds. The American embassy had a
frontline view of the action when Boris Yeltsin opened fire on the
Russian parliament, known as the White House, a couple of hundred
yards away. Snipers from the presidential bodyguard shot at their own
forces to get them to storm the building, and prisoners led from the
burning building were summarily executed, and yet the Clinton
administration said nothing. This is of some relevance today because
some of the Americans who were in Moscow in 1993 then are back
advising Barack Obama now.
Three years later, Yeltsin learned how to squeeze out the moderate
democratic opposition in a presidential election by whipping up fears
that Russia was about to plunge into civil war. As a result,
independent television coverage was crushed. Again, silence. Three
years after that, western governments were looking the wrong way when
Vladimir Putin emerged onto the scene. The script said that the threat
to the neoliberal reform programme would come from unrepentant
communists, from the hidden ranks of former KGB officers. But that was
not the way it turned out.
Putin had been a middle-ranking KGB officer, but it was not the KGB
who propelled him into power but the people we mislabelled as
democrats and reformers. Putin was hand-picked by Yeltsin to deal with
a greater political threat, the challenge of an old Soviet hand,
Yevgeny Primakov. Primakov was not the nemesis of the Yeltsin era, but
the man he himself had chosen to keep his family's dirty financial
secrets, a duty Putin performs to this day.
It is an inconvenient truth for the massed ranks of analysts who see
in Russia's invasion of Georgia a return to the Soviet Union or a
mini-USSR. But it is still true that the seeds of Putin's brand of
autocracy and nationalism were planted long before his arrival onto
the Russian political stage. And they were sown not just by the
communists, but by the Russian Orthodox Church and by those whom the
west hailed as liberal reformers. If you think that the Soviets had a
problem with retreat from empire, just look at a Russian Orthodox
vision of Russia's near-abroad. Or read the views of another
anti-Soviet hero, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, on Ukraine.
In the space of just one decade from 1992-2002, a short time in
Russia's history, a pro-western communist regime turned into an
anti-western capitalist one. A triumph of western diplomacy.
Western policies continue to stoke the fires of Russian nationalism.
The missile defence shield is a good example. There are technical
doubts as to whether it works, or whether Iran has got a ballistic
missile capable of reaching western Europe. But in the symbolic world
of threats and counterthreats, the ghost system has already taken on a
strategic life of its own.
No more so than when America announced it was going to protect the as
yet non-functioning missile base in Poland with Patriot missiles, a
decision made in the heat of Russia's brief war with Georgia this
summer. Washington undermined its own argument that the missile
defence system in Poland was no threat to Russia, by making the
defense of the base a direct response to events in Georgia. That is
the folly of linking a dispute over missile defence in Poland with
events in Georgia. It not only undermines the US's own argument that
this system has nothing to do with Russia, but it feeds straight into
the Kremlin's nationalist mindset of encirclement.
None of this is to excuse what is going in the Kremlin. Isolation and
autocracy are, and always were, bad for Russia. At a time when Russia
should have used its huge oil and gas reserves, or its language,
education system, and greater industrial wealth, as a form of soft
power with its weaker neighbours, it did the opposite. Now that the
oil price is falling, and the crash in the world banking system has
created a large hole in Russia's economy, Putin and Medvedev may well
find Russia will need western investment to renew keys parts of
infrastructure in the oil and gas industry. Once again the pendulum
will swing. But the pattern is the same. Throw all the windows open
and then slam them shut. There are surely more sophisticated forms of
A Better Reply
By: Sergey Strokan
Kommersant, November 17, 2008
The dispute over the Holodomor is only a fragment of a major battle
for history between Moscow and Kiev. This issue is much sharper than
discussions about Mazepa and Poltava. You can still find witnesses of
those events, and unexpectedly come across traces of the Holodomor.
This summer my relative from the Poltava area started digging a well
in his yard and dug out three children's skulls. Neither he nor his
family admitted that there can be human remains in the yard, where
hens peacefully wander. As a child, I heard several stories about
rural cannibalism, when people lured children to their places with a
sweet and ate them.
Although the Holodomor of the 1930s is a common tragedy for both
Ukrainians and Russians, today they organize commemoration campaigns
in Ukraine only. Not long ago, coming to my native village after a
five-year break, I was surprised to find a small monument to victims
of the Holodomor.
It is clear that erecting monuments to victims of a humanitarian
catastrophe of the Soviet era, the Ukrainian Government perverts
history in search of the sources of the Ukrainian identity and
fundamental principles of its statehood. After all, admitting genocide
in Ukraine, which is deliberate annihilation of the Ukrainian people,
it will turn out that it was Ukrainians that committed the crime. Who
were then those party activists in the Kharkiv and Poltava Regions?
The Ukrainian political elite, which has to overcome a deep fissure
today, regards the Holodomor as one of the few words, able to somehow
unite the nation, except for, perhaps, Ukrainian communists. That is
why sinking President Yushchenko catches at the straw of the
Holodomor. Unfortunately, commemoration of victims appears to have
much to do with political PR.
But could the Ukrainian Government hype this issue if Russia behaved
a different way, if it had raised this question before President
Yushchenko did it, if it had resolutely condemned the crimes of the
Stalin regime? Why didn't President Medvedev go to Kiev and use the
chance to tell the truth and avert speculation?
Such things didn't take place, which is in fact natural. Since the
demise of the Soviet Union, Moscow has avoided articulating its
attitude towards the Stalin era's legacy. Apart from the Holodomor, it
concerns Katyn, Belomorkanal and other tragedies. Meanwhile such a
position is fraught with heavy costs: in a situation like this, the
Russian government is perceived by many as the successor of the Stalin
So, instead of writing a reply to President Yushchenko, Dmitry
Medvedev should consider erecting monuments to victims of starvation
in the Volga area.
Grymov's `Strangers' Accused of Anti-Americanism
By: Ezekiel Pfeifer
St. Petersburg Times, November 18, 2008
Russian filmmakers are not known for their glowing portraits of
American culture. From the 1948 Soviet propaganda film "The Russian
Question" about a communist-bashing American newspaper editor to the
immensely popular film "Brother 2," in which a young Russian man
rampages through back-stabbing hoodlums in Chicago, there is no
shortage of anti-Americanism in the country's cinema.
Now in 2008, filmmaker Yury Grymov adds his film to the genre.
Americans "place themselves higher than all other peoples of the
earth," said Grymov in an online journal written during the shooting
of his new feature "Strangers," which opened in Moscow on Thursday.
"They forcibly attempt to inculcate their morality and their modes of
behavior. And what is most frightening of all, they sincerely suggest
that they are committing a charitable act."
"Strangers" was shot in Egypt but is set in a deliberately vague
"somewhere in the East," where an American medical team arrives to
provide vaccinations to children living near a war zone. The vagueness
of the film's location inevitably suggests connections to the current
U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After this par-for-the-course Hollywood setup, though, the script and
acting become so loopy and exaggerated that the director's agenda of
showing the folly of letting Americans into any country with a desert
becomes overwhelmingly apparent.
When the ragtag group arrives on screen in its Toyota Land Cruisers,
they are shown as culturally inept fools, blasting music from their
SUVs and starting to dance before splashing each other with buckets of
water from a nearby desert lake.
After settling into their miserable quarters, the female lead, Jane,
played by a Texas actress named Scarlett McAlister, starts flirting
with their Arab security guard, quickly seducing him despite the
presence of her husband Tom, also played by an American, Mark Adam.
Meanwhile, Tom, the leader of the culturally crass band, finds a group
of Russian military engineers and begins flinging insults at them
about their "totalitarian minds" when they refuse to let the group
into the village.
The other doctors a gay couple who befriends a young Arab boy only
to traumatize him when he sees them having sex and a spiteful, awkward
older woman make up the collection of utterly unsympathetic people
that Grymov sees as typical American abroad.
Without giving the rest away, the Americans continue to be not very
nice, do something especially not nice and get away with it.
As you can guess, Grymov's film has no truck with subtlety, but its
bluntness doesn't hide the fact that it is a lumbering mishmash of a
movie, painfully combing elements of a thriller, a melodrama and a
moralistic allegory. Through skull-bashing and lust-driven sex,
tear-jerking child rescues and despondent wailing, the director has
thrown together a virulent creative response to American imperialism
but not much of a movie.
The film has made waves in Russian papers and on Russian television
after it was erroneously reported that it was banned from the United
States after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice supposedly
intervened. This story has all the trademarks of a deliberate PR move.
However, in interviews Grymov has denied any knowledge of how it
The film might have been expected to win rave reviews in a country
where anti-Americanism is more the norm than the exception, but
Russian reviewers have found the director's slant so overbearing as to
"If, in the beginning, the Americans are depicted as being `friendly
but stupid,' then later they seem to be possessors of all the most
abominable qualities found in homo sapiens," judged Vassa Petrova, a
film critic for the Russian film site Nashfilm.ru, which publishes
reviews of new Russian media. "The filmmakers, trying to show the
process of intrusion of one culture into another, utterly forgot about
the fact that cultures are not split into the bad and the good but
into the similar and the dissimilar."
Despite the film's much-discussed anti-American stance and Grymov's
articulate diatribe, the director is not known for having a political
consciousness. He gained fame with his philosophical 1998 film "Mumu,"
based on the Ivan Turgenev short story, and the 2005 screen adaptation
of a popular Russian novel, "The Case of Kukotskiy," neither of which
contains any hints of the culture war that "Strangers" tries to depict.
"I wanted to make a film that's current," explained Grymov in a
recent interview. "The film is about the need to think very intensely
about oneself and not to mess up when acting by your own set of rules
in a foreign temple. I wanted to bring up a very important point about
double morality, about how it happens in America, in Russia, about how
you can't come into a foreign place and impose your own morality on
The film's markedly negative characterizations of the generic Arabs
many of whom become unpredictably crazed at times and none of whom
utters a single subtitled or dubbed word support the notion that, for
Grymov, the bad guys are not just the Americans. However, Grymov's
inclusion of Russia in his denouncement of cultural insensitivity,
does not mesh with the film, where the Russian characters are
universally heroic, intelligent and whimsical, the innocent victims of
Arab and American aggression and stupidity.
This attitude has historical logic according to Susan Larsen, a
scholar of Soviet and Russian film and a professor at the University
of Chicago. Shame over the snags Russia has faced along its southern
border and in the Middle East could explain Grymov's turn against the
U.S. as it faces similar problems, Larsen suggests.
"Self-definition frequently depends on the construction of a handy,
negative `other,'" Larsen said. "And while Americans are handy
`others' at the moment, they're not the only ones."
The way Grymov tells it, the film is not about any particular place
or event not Iraq, Afghanistan, or Chechnya although these are
obvious analogs for the setting and participants.
When pressed, the filmmaker began to backpedal, denying the work's
political message that he himself had previously declared.
"Everybody's writing that we're bearing down on Americans and I
think: `What's that about?'" Grymov said. "I see a lot a films where
Americans very severely press on Russians. And it's not a big deal!
And we made a film in which Americans showed themselves as rough, not
very pleasant people and Russians say: `What are you doing offending
America like that?'
"How can you offend America? In America there's a lot of good things
and a lot of bad, a lot of different things. And I don't think that
the film is about the U.S. It's a made-up story. Why do you have to
apply the film to all of America?"
Opposition to Russian military reforms grows
By: MIKE ECKEL
AP, November 18, 2008
MOSCOW (AP) The Kremlin is grappling with a growing opposition in the
military to the most sweeping overhaul of Russia's armed forces in
over a generation.
Retired generals warned Tuesday that reforms aimed at modernizing the
1.1 million-member armed forces are destroying Russia's military
capability and called for Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to be
sacked and prosecuted.
The warnings most public criticism of the reforms to date and reflect
rising anger among uniformed and civilian military officials.
"This isn't reform. You can't call the destruction of the army
reform," Ret. Col. Vladimir Kvachkov said.
Serdyukov, a former head of the federal tax agency, was appointed
defense minister in February 2007 by then-President Vladimir Putin in
what was seen as a move to bring order to military finances and combat
He has presided over sometimes painful reorganizations that have
drawn increasingly loud grumbling from generals upset with initiatives
that include selling off lucrative military land, such as prime real
estate in downtown Moscow, and moving the navy headquarters.
Last month, he announced the most detailed changes yet, cutting
hundreds of generals, disbanding nine of every ten army units and
abolishing a balky Soviet-era structure that focused on divisions and
regiments in favor of smaller brigades. The number of junior officers,
such as lieutenants, will be increased by 10,000 to 60,000.
At a news conference in Moscow, several top retired generals agreed
reforms were needed but argued that Serdyukov's plans were destructive.
Retired Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the former head of the Defense
Ministry's international cooperation department, called Serdyukov "the
furniture dealer" a reference to his past experience running a St.
Petersburg furniture retailer and accused him having no authority to
carry out the reforms.
He accused Serdyukov of embezzling defense ministry funding, and
called for criminal investigation of his actions. In the past, he
said, Serdyukov had inflicted on the army "more harm than a NATO agent."
Kvachkov, a former top military intelligence officer, likened
Serdyukov to Anatoly Chubais the Yeltsin-era official who is reviled
by most Russians for overseeing the massive privatization of Russian
industry in the 1990s. Kvachkov was recently acquitted in connection
with an assassination attempt on Chubais.
He also suggested the Kremlin could face open revolt if the reforms
are not changed.
"If the current leadership doesn't want to defend our Motherland,
then we ourselves will find a way to defend the Motherland," he said.
He refused to elaborate.
The reforms come at a delicate time for the Kremlin. Russian national
pride has surged amid a decade-long economic boom. Extensive state-run
TV coverage of military maneuvers such as sending long-range bombers
on trans-Atlantic missions or a naval flotilla to the Caribbean for
exercises have given Russians renewed confidence in their armed forces.
Pride has also surged in the wake of the August war in the South
Caucasus, where Russian troops humiliated Georgia's US-trained armed
Military observer Alexander Golts said the biggest danger comes from
a demobilized officer corps, who face bleak job prospects as the
economic crisis deepens. He likened the situation to that after World
War I, when a defeated Germany and the weak Weimar government gave
rise to the Nazis.
"And 100,000 30-to-40-year-old guys, embittered by the government
this is pretty powerful explosive material. The analogy to the Weimar
Republic is obvious," he wrote in a recent online column.
Alexander Konovalov, head of the think-tank Institute for Strategic
Assessment, praised Serdyukov for working to streamline the balky and
inefficient armed forces. But he said the failure to discuss the plans
with broader public could backfire.
"It's too dangerous to play games with the military," Konovalov said.
"They know how to handle weapons, and they could be tempted to use
Associated Press Writer Vladimir Isachenkov contributed to this report.
Russia's "Nashi" Youth Movement: The Rise and Fall of a Putin-Era
Political Technology Project
By Regina Heller, Hamburg
RUSSIAN ANALYTICAL DIGEST, 18 November 2008 / No. 50
Abstract: The Russian Nashi (Ours) youth movement is the best known
and most successful of the government-friendly youth organizations
that sprang up in Russia in recent years. However, Nashi, mainly known
for its headline-grabbing events and aggressive behavior towards the
opposition, is not a grassroots youth movement, but a Putin-era
political technology project. Nashi was founded in response to the
"Color Revolutions" in the post-Soviet space in order to foster
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