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Bulletin 2:34 (2008)

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  • andreumland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 2, No. 34(39), 2 December 2008 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2008
      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

      [NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the
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      I NEWS: 15 – 30 November 2008

      Russians Call Great Patriotic War Of 1941-1945 Biggest Event of the
      20th Century
      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
      Revolution 1917.
      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
      Stalin regime.
      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
      tragedy genocide.
      "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
      the Holodomor.
      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
      through 22.
      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
      other media.
      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
      Russian law.


      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


      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."
      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
      February 2008.


      Moscow Patriarchate urges Muslims, Jews and Buddhist to form voluntary
      people's guards
      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
      to it."


      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).


      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
      1930s famine
      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
      Patriarchate believes.
      "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



      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
      the same.

      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:
      wilful incomprehension.
      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
      become ineffectual.
      "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
      another culture."
      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
      their skills."
      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
      "anti-oran<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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