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Bulletin 3:16 (2009)

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    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 3, No. 16(58), 2 July 2009 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I NEWS:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2 10:53 AM
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      THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 3, No. 16(58), 2 July 2009
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 16 - 30 June 2009
      II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
      III ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS

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      homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of
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      ===========================


      I NEWS: 16 - 30 June 2009

      POLITICAL TEMPERATURE: OPINION POLLS: WISHING THE USSR NEVER DISINTEGRATED, THE RUSSIANS WANT TO LIVE IN RUSSIA ALL THE SAME
      By: Anton Ignatov
      Rossiiskiye Vesti, No 22, June 2009

      Considering the crisis under way, opinion polls sometimes produce sensations. A good deal of politicians focused attention on results of the opinion poll Levada-Center sociologists had conducted not long ago. The results were interesting enough to warrant this attention.
      Most Russians (60%) were convinced that sovereignty had verily benefited Russia. Whenever they recall the late USSR, most Russians only long (and dimly at that) for the status of a world power, for the guaranteed prosperity however meager it was, and for the feeling of being part of a colossal multi-ethnic community. Sociologists point out, however, that "Soviet patriotism" was replaced with "Russian patriotism" and that the transition was fairly swift. Mentality of the Russians evolved, contrary to the elaborations from some political scientists on how the Russians were now accustomed to regarding their country only as a "vast economic territory" and nothing else.
      Also importantly, the state aspect in Russian patriotism these days prevails over the ethnic one. Sociologists claim that two respondents out of every three were prepared to vote politicians who promoted slogans of patriotism but without an emphasis on ethnic distinctiveness.
      This factor is important indeed, particularly in the light of the efforts on the part of certain political forces to play the ethnic card.
      It is necessary to admit in the meantime that upbringing of a whole generation of the Russians takes place in the conditions that are far from favorable and that entail a great deal of losses, quite unwarranted more often than not.
      --------

      Racist Stabbing in Moscow
      UCSJ, June 16, 2009

      Police in Moscow detained two suspects identified as neo-Nazis in
      connection with a racist attack, according to a June 15, 2009 report
      by the web site Jewish.ru. The suspects allegedly stabbed a 24 year
      old ethnic Kyrgyz man while screaming racist slogans. The alleged
      assailants, one of whom is a university student, reportedly confessed
      to attacking their victim out of ethnic animosity, but so far they
      only face charges of "hooliganism."

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/racist-stabbing-moscow-0
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      Attempts To Falsify History To Be Countered��"Naryshkin
      Itar-Tass, June 17, 2009

      IRKUTSK, June 17 (Itar-Tass) - The creation by the Russian President of the commission for counteracting the attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia's interests will not result in the re-writing of papers on history, Sergei Naryshkin, chief of staff of the Russian President, said here on Wednesday. He stressed that the commission would not become a supervising authority stimulating the authors of historic studies to draw conclusions serving political objectives.
      Speaking at an international conference on the developments in the area of the Halhin-Gol River, Mongolia, in 1939, he said that "the commission will be the organising body for ensuring the protection of our own history against dishonest attempts to distort it."
      "Some people warn us against the politicising of history. The commission will never do it," Naryshkin assured. "Unfortunately, another process is going on: the falsified history is being politicised in the offices of top officials of some countries. Problems of practical policy in relations with Russia are being substituted by discussions about the past. Territorial and material claims to Russia are being formed, and questions on some compensations are being raised on the basis of pseudo-historic materials."
      In the opinion of Naryshkin, the decision of the President to create the commission "will objectively enhance the prestige of the historic science in society." "We have been given a chance to take advantage of it and to enhance the importance of Russia's historic science and to bring the historic knowledge and education to a new, higher level," he said.
      The decree of President Dmitry Medvedev on the creation of the commission under the Russian President for counteracting the attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia's interests was signed a month ago. The commission will be made up of representatives of various ministries and agencies, including the Defence Ministry, the Federal Security Service (FSB), the External Intelligence Service, the State Duma, the Russian Academy of Sciences and a number of public organisations.
      According to the decree, the main tasks of the commission include "the summing up and the analysis of information about the falsification of historic facts and developments, aimed at undermining Russia's international prestige, and the drafting of corresponding documents for the president". Aside from it, the commission will work out a strategy of counteracting the attempts to falsify historic facts and developments, and will draft corresponding proposals to the President on taking concrete measures for counteracting and responding in an adequate way to the attempts to falsify historic facts, as well as for neutralizing their possible negative consequences.
      In order to be able to fulfil the tasks set before it, the commission has been given the right to request and receive the materials it might need from state bodies and public organisations, and to invite their representatives to its meetings. Members of the commission are working in it on a voluntary basis. It is to meet no less than twice a year.
      -----

      Zyuganov: Every third CPRF member is a believer
      Interfax-Religion, June 17, 2009

      Moscow, June 17, Interfax - Leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Zyuganov acknowledges a large number of believers among communists.
      "Every third communist is a believer," Gennady Zyuganov said at a meeting with young deputies of all levels representing four Parliament factions held in the State Duma.
      Communist leader Zyuganov bathes in the ice-hole each year on the Epiphany.
      He has repeatedly stated an important role of the Russian Orthodox Church for the society, and expressed his opinion that the Church and communists have common objectives. The communist leader is traditionally a member of the meetings of the World Russian Peoples' Council.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=6129
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      Angry Russia Says Forgotten At D-Day Ceremony
      AFP, June 18, 2009

      MOSCOW (AFP)--Russia Thursday protested that its role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II had gone unrecognised at this month's D-Day ceremonies.
      Only U.S. President Barack Obama mentioned the Soviet Union's contribution to defeating fascism and its horrendous losses at the ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the landings, foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said.
      Neither French President Nicolas Sarkozy, hosting the ceremony on the Normandy beaches, nor U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, nor Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to the Soviet Union in their speeches, he said.
      "Not a single word was said (in these speeches) about the decisive role in the victory of the Soviet Union, which took the hardest blows from Hitler's army and sustained the heaviest casualties," Nesterenko said.
      "The liberation of Europe would not have been possible if millions of our soldiers had not given up their blood and lives in battles against the strongest units of Hitler's army."
      Nesterenko's comments reflect lingering bitterness in Russia that the massive contribution of Soviet forces has been under-rated in the West.
      Historians believe that some 27 million people in the Soviet Union lost their lives in World War II, a far higher toll than the rest of the Allies combined.
      Even during their alliance, relations between the Soviet Union and the West were never smooth with Stalin repeatedly expressing impatience with the Allies' delays in opening the new front to take the pressure off his troops.
      "We do not want to diminish the importance of the battle for Normandy and put into question the bravery of the soldiers of our Allies," said Nesterenko.
      "But we are in favour of correct interpretations of the course of the war and its outcomes."
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      Moscow Court Sentences Six Neo-Nazis to Prison for Murder
      UCSJ, June 18, 2009

      The Moscow City Court sentenced six neo-Nazis to between seven and 19
      years in prison after finding them guilty of murder motivated by
      ethnic hatred, a rarely applied hate crimes statute, according to a
      June 18, 2009 report by the ITAR-TASS news service. On June 10, 2007
      the defendants attacked two men from Dagestan, killing one of them.
      The guilty verdict was handed down by a jury; most criminal cases in
      Russia are still handled by judges alone.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/moscow-court-sentences-six-neo-nazis-prison-murder
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      Kostroma Court Sentences Neo-Nazi for Attacking Ethnic Russian Youth
      UCSJ, June 18, 2009

      Kostroma Court Sentences Neo-Nazi for Attacking Ethnic Russian Youth
      A court in Kostroma, Russia sentenced a neo-Nazi to three years in
      prison for beating a 16-year-old ethnic Russian boy, according to a
      June 18, 2009 report by the Sova
      Information-Analytical Center. The 21-year-old suspect assaulted his
      victim in January and has a previous robbery conviction, which Sova
      initially reported as an "attack on a non-Slavic person."
      What makes this case different from the hundreds of attacks on ethnic
      and religious minorities that take place in Russia every year is that
      the suspect was convicted of hate crimes charges for attacking a
      "member of a social group"--in this case, a fan of punk rock music.
      Neo-Nazis regularly attack anti-fascist activists, many of whom listen
      to punk rock, and routinely face nothing more than "hooliganism" or
      ordinary assault and murder charges. This conviction, therefore, could
      set an important precedent.
      http://www.ucsj.org/news/kostroma-court-sentences-neo-nazi-attacking-ethnic-russian-youth
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      Editor of Antisemitic Newspaper Gets Slap on the Wrist
      UCSJ, June 18, 2009

      The editor of one of Russia's most viciously antisemitic newspapers
      received a suspended sentences on extremism charges, according to a
      June 18, 2009 report by Jewish.ru. The Savelevsky court in Moscow
      sentenced Yuri Mukhin, editor of "Duel," to a suspended sentence of
      two years imprisonment after finding him guilty of "publicly calling
      for extremist activity through the media." The charges stem from an
      article in which Mr. Mukhin called for "the total destruction of the
      kike state of Russia" ending the article with the slogan "Death to
      Russia!" After years of demonizing Jews with impunity, this article
      attracted the attention of prosecutors, who shut "Duel" down last
      month under anti-extremism laws.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/editor-of-antisemitic-newspaper-gets-slap-wrist
      ---------

      MORE THAN A DOZEN NEO-NAZIS DETAINED IN STAVROPOL REGION
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 9, Number 24, June 19, 2009

      Police in Georgievsk, Stavropol Region, detained over a dozen neo-Nazis in connection with a series of assaults, according to a June 15 report by the web site Kavkazsky Uzel. The detentions took place in the wake of a June 3 attack on an ethnic Armenian student who was walking with his girlfriend. Armed with metal pipes, the suspects allegedly beat and kicked their victim before moving on to two ethnic Russians whom they apparently mistook for ethnic minorities. One of the victims was quoted in the report as saying that the assailants yelled racist slogans and did not listen when he pleaded that he was Russian too.
      Police say they found a Molotov cocktail with lettering on it referring to a "National Slavic Front for the Liberation of Russia" as well as leaflets by the neo-Nazi group Russian National Unity. Police also linked one of the neo-Nazis to an organized crime group active in the region and reportedly found masks, gloves, and several weapons in one of the suspects' cars. Nevertheless, the suspects face only charges of "hooliganism" rather than hate crimes or extremism charges.
      Stavropol police continue to investigate the May 2009 murders of two Dagestani students and are looking into the possibility that the killers acted out of ethnic hatred.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-24-june-19-2009
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      NEO-NAZI CHARGED WITH KILLING A STUDENT
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 9, Number 24, June 19, 2009

      Prosecutors in St. Petersburg charged a neo-Nazi with "murder motivated by hooliganism" after he allegedly killed a student that he thought was an anti-fascist activist, according to a June 10 report by the Sova Center for Information and Analysis. The killing took place on April 20 of this year��"Adolf Hitler's birthday, a time of increased neo-Nazi violence in Russia. Vladimir Sosnikhin and three other neo-Nazis allegedly attacked the victim, Denis Edzauskin, and a friend of his as a form of revenge for a brawl the previous day with anti-fascists.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-24-june-19-2009
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      ANOTHER NEO-NAZI WOULD-BE BOMBER DETAINED
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 9, Number 24, June 19, 2009

      Moscow police have detained a neo-Nazi they accuse of plotting to set off a bomb as part of a wider "Day of Anger" campaign organized by extremist web sites, according to a June 11 report by the Newsru.com web site. The suspect, whose name was not released because he is 16, allegedly planned to set off eight kilograms of TNT in a crowded place somewhere in the city on May 5 of this year. Details in the report are sketchy, but police apparently prevented the explosion after identifying the suspect through his Internet postings before the planned bombing. Police reportedly found in the suspect's room "literature of an extremist character and a portrait of Hitler hanging on the center of his wall," along with six handmade explosive devices and instructions on how to build bombs, downloaded from the Internet. Psychiatrists are currently examining the suspect, who allegedly refuses to admit that what he was planning was wrong in any way, to determine if he is psychologically competent to stand trial.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-24-june-19-2009
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      Russia commemorates start of Great Patriotic War
      RIA Novosti, June 22, 2009

      MOSCOW, June 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia remembers on Monday the start of the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, the term used in Russia and other ex-Soviet states to describe WWII.
      Nazi Germany and its allies attacked the country's west, delivering massive air strikes on key air, railroad and military facilities and advancing 250-300 km deep into Soviet territory on June 22, 1941.
      The war, planned to be a matter of months, lasted for four years and became the world's bloodiest conflict in history. At least 26.5 million Soviet civilians and soldiers died during the conflict, according to official statistics.
      Veterans, survivors, officials, and scores of younger people are visiting war memorials in Russia's major cities. In Moscow, people have been laying flowers and lighting candles in Victory Park, the center of annual Victory Day celebrations.
      President Dmitry Medvedev, along with visiting Moldovan leader Vladimir Voronin and other top officials, has laid a wreath of flowers at the symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall.
      Senior members of the Communist Party laid flowers at the graves of Joseph Stalin and top war-time commanders.
      Russians were invited to light candles on their windowsills at 4:00 a.m., the time of the start of the invasion, in a campaign launched by the ruling United Russia party and supported by the Orthodox Church.
      The pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi (Ours) said 10,000 people would gather on Vorobyovy Hills in Moscow's southwest later on Monday, to tie bells to trees and light candles to form "an alley of memory" in the park.
      The group has also launched a website featuring pop stars' video addresses to veterans.
      "Let's not forget that it [the war] is part of our history. I love you, grandmas and grandpas," famous pop singer Vladimir Presnyakov said in his video address.
      "I want to remind you all that...on June 22 we must all remember those people who made our days so bright and sunny," said 2008 Eurovision winner Dima Bilan.
      Events planned by another Kremlin-backed group include pickets near the embassies of Estonia, Latvia and other former Soviet republics which Moscow has accused of "distorting history" by "glorifying" former Nazi fighters and persecuting Red Army veterans as war criminals. Activists said they would play war-time air raid alerts in front of the embassies.
      The war started with Russia badly disadvantaged as the Red Army was poorly armed, and most of its professional commanders had been executed or imprisoned during the 1937-1938 Stalinist reprisals. Stalin, who was caught unaware despite repeated intelligence warnings, only made his first address to the nation almost two weeks after the war was unleashed.
      The anniversary of the attack was not officially marked until the 1990s. It is now officially named the Day of Memory and Sorrow. National flags are flown half mast in Russia and other former Soviet states on this day and light entertainment programs are forbidden.
      "The day reminds us of those who perished, who were tortured to death in Nazi prisons, died of starvation and other hardships. We mourn for those who gave their lives fulfilling their duty to protect the Motherland," an official statement on the establishment of the holiday said.
      ------

      Thousands of pro-Kremlin youth gather to remember war
      AFP, June 22, 2009

      MOSCOW, June 22 2009-Thousands of young Russians crammed into a Moscow square at dawn on Monday in a demonstration called by a pro-Kremlin youth group to keep alive the memory of Soviet heroism in World War II.
      On the 68th anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, the controversial youth group Nashi (Us) bussed in activists from around the country to remember the sacrifices of their grandparents in the war.
      The Kremlin has made remembrance of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany a cornerstone of its thinking and has lashed out at what it says are attempts to deny the historical truth, especially by West-leaning ex-Communist states.
      The participants held candles in a park at Sparrow Hills in western Moscow as dawn broke over the Moscow river below. They then went on to attach thousands of bells to trees to create an "alley of memory."
      "They (the Soviet troops) were victorious. They went home then and they then rebuilt everything that was destroyed. They then sent a man into space. We thank you and we bow down low in front of you," Nashi leader Nikita Borovikov declared in a speech.
      Nashi -- which emerged under Vladimir Putin's presidency and is clearly modelled on Communist-era youth groups -- boasted that it mustered 15,000 people in the rally at 4:00 am (midnight GMT).
      An AFP correspondent saw thousands of people crammed into the square in front of Moscow State University amid a heavy police presence. Dozens of buses that had brought them from provincial cities were lined up on the road.
      Loudspeakers re-broadcast a famous Soviet radio broadcast that announced the pre-dawn invasion of German troops on June 22, 1941 at the start of Hitler's Operation Barbarossa, aimed at conquering the Soviet Union.
      ---------

      The Candle of Memory action launched in Moscow to commemorate the onset of the Great Patriotic War
      Interfax-Religion, June 22, 2009

      Moscow, June 22, Interfax ��" The Candle of Memory was lit at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Aleksandrovsky Sad (Alexander’s Garden) on Sunday evening to commemorate the war victims.
      “Lightning of the Memory Candle is a tribute of respect, a tribute to heroes who perished for our Motherland. It’s very important for us to start a new tradition, to make every Russian family commemorate perished heroes on this day,” Head of the State Duma Committee for public associations and religious organizations Sergey Popov said.
      He expressed hope there would be more burning candles in the dark city each year.
      Before lightning the candle, participants in the ceremony laid flowers to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Candle of Memory was placed in a lantern decorated with flowers. Then the procession in automobiles accompanied by bikers headed to the Victory Memorial at the Poklonnaya Gora where activists of Orthodox, youth and patriotic organizations and war veterans welcomed it.
      Thousands of candles were lit from the Candle of Memory at the Poklonnaya Gora to commemorate those killed during the Great Patriotic War.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=6140
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      Inter-Ethnic Violence in Adygeya
      UCSJ, June 23, 2009

      An inter-ethnic clash between local residents of Maykop, Russia
      (Republic of Adygeya) resulted in several injuries and accusations by
      the victims that the police stood by passively and watched, according
      to a June 17, 2009 report by the web site Kavkazsky Uzel, which
      monitors developments in the Northern Caucasus. According to the
      report, which relied heavily on victims' accounts, on the night of
      June 10 a group of 30-40 ethnic Adygeys attacked a smaller, mixed
      group of friends made up of Chechens, Ingush, Ossetians, Azeris and
      Adygeys. "Without saying a word, they attacked us," a victim recalled.
      "Four men beat me. I lost consciousness twice. Policemen woke me up
      and they took me to the hospital."
      A police spokesman stated that there is no record of such an attack
      taking place in Maykop that night, but Kavkazsky Uzel quoted a low
      ranking officer, Rustam Napsaev, saying that, "Yes, there definitely
      was a massive brawl after which people with various injuries went to
      the hospital." According to one victim, Mr. Napsaev persuaded him not
      to report the incident, saying that the attackers would receive at
      most a fine, an accusation that Mr. Napsaev denied.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/inter-ethnic-violence-adygeya
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      Police Officer Gets Suspended Sentence for Abusing Purported Neo-Nazi
      UCSJ, June 23, 2009

      A St. Petersburg court sentenced a former police officer to a four
      years suspended sentence for abusing a suspect in connection with a
      series of neo-Nazi murders and assaults, according to a June 22, 2009
      report by the Regnum news agency. Nikolai Timoshenko had already lost
      his job after a video surfaced of him placing the suspect inside an
      uncomfortably tight bullet proof vest while interrogating him in 2007.
      The suspect, Andrey Chervotkin, was picked up along with several
      others in connection with two murders and a well-publicized assault on
      a politically connected reporter from the Tuva Republic, Sayana
      Mongush. Mr. Chervotkin had refused to testify when the vest was
      placed on him. Numerous human rights reports have documented the
      systematic use of far more violent forms of torture by Russian police,
      who are rarely brought to account for their abuses.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/police-officer-gets-suspended-sentence-abusing-purported-neo-nazi
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      Problem Of Shrinkage Of Russian Language Area Acute - RF ForMin
      Itar-Tass, June 24, 2009

      MOSCOW, June 24 (Itar-Tass) -- The area of the Russian language use is shrinking, and this problem remains extremely acute, particularly in Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and some other countries, Alexander Chepurin, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for work with compatriots abroad, said in an interview with the journal Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn (International Affairs).
      "The problem of keeping the positions of the Russian language abroad is not easy," he said. "The problem of the shrinkage of the area of the Russian language, the inadequate status of the Russian language in countries and regions where the Russian-speaking population is quite large remains extremely acute, as seen from the example of Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and some other countries," he said.
      "Theoretically, the legislative base that exists in a number of former Soviet republics, now independent states, ensures the observance of the rights of Russians and other minorities," Chepurin said, adding, "However, in reality the existing laws don't work because of the lack of proportionate representation of ethnic Russians in various branches of authorities. The creeping discrimination against education in the Russian language, against the Russian language goes on."
      "Thus, Estonia and Latvia pursue the obvious course at crowding out people of the non-titular nation. There are efforts at disuniting the Russian-speaking population and splitting their organizations," Chepurin said.
      "The Russian language has been classified as a foreign language in Estonia, even though it is the mother tongue for more than 40 percent of the country's population, and more than 70 percent of the population can speak Russian," he said, adding, "There is a ban on speaking Russian in state institutions."
      "There are huge problems in Ukraine where the Russian community of eight million wages a desperate fight for its ethno-cultural rights," the official said.
      "I must stress the exceptional importance of public diplomacy, of the foreign policy of 'soft force'," Chepurin said. "It is important to use this tool to minimise the negative background and enhance the positive background for Russia abroad, to counteract Russophobia," he said.
      "This is ever more important as a large- scale propaganda campaign has been launched in a number of countries to discredit the changes that have taken place in contemporary Russia," Chepurin said. "Diplomatic institutions play an important part in the work with the Russian diaspora. It is important to broaden the network of regions cooperating directly with compatriots' organizations, to prompt them to adopt regional programmes for compatriots' support, following the example of Moscow, St Petersburg, Tatarstan, and Moscow region."
      Chepurin believes the future of the Russian diaspora, the global community of ethnic Russians, largely depends on the ability to maintain a positive dialogue with the authorities of countries where ethnic Russians reside and with international organizations to uphold their lawful rights and interests.
      The World Forum of Compatriots due in Moscow in December 2009 will be faced with questions of vital importance for all Russians residing abroad," Chepurin said. "Are our common actions to rally the compatriots and form the global Russian ethno-cultural pole effective enough? What should be done to give an additional impetus to the development of all-round cooperation between Russia and the diaspora? Do the compatriots residing abroad feel Russia's support for their lawful interests? What can be learned from the experience of other countries?"
      The Russian diaspora, the global community of ethnic Russians numbering 30 million, is the world's second largest after the Chinese diaspora. After the Soviet Union's break up in 1991 some 20 million Russians stayed on the territories of former Soviet republics while nearly 10 million Russians found themselves abroad as a result of six waves of emigration beginning from the last quarter of the 19th century.
      -----

      Antisemitic Vandalism in Abakan, Russia
      UCSJ, June 25, 2009

      Someone painted a swastika on the doors of a Jewish community center
      in Abakan, Russia (Republic of Khakasiya) according to a June 23, 2009
      report posted on izrus.co.il, a Russian language Israeli web site that
      follows developments in Israel and the former Soviet Union. The
      community center was targeted on June 19; police are investigating the
      incident.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/antisemitic-vandalism-abakan-russia
      ---------

      Neo-Nazi Gang Members Get Long Prison Terms in Barnaul, Russia
      UCSJ, June 25, 2009

      Five members of a neo-Nazi gang in Barnaul, Russia (Altay Kray)
      received long prison sentences after a court found them guilty of ten
      attacks, including two murders, according to a June 23, 2009 report
      posted on the Russian language web site of Radio Liberty. The "Wolves
      of Odin" gang was found guilty of forming an extremist group,
      recruiting under-aged youths into a criminal group, and murder
      motivated by ethnic hatred. Two of their victims, an ethnic Azeri and
      a resident of the neighboring Altay Republic, died at the hands of the
      gang, which was also held responsible for eight other attacks on
      citizens of China, Tajikistan, and ethnic minorities from other parts
      of Russia. The gang's leader, Aleksey Kelber, got a 23 year sentence,
      while other members of the gang were sentenced to between nine and 19
      years in prison. Their trial was held in closed session.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/neo-nazi-gang-members-get-long-prison-terms-barnaul-russia
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      Petersburg Prosecutors Change "Hooliganism" Case to Hate Crimes Investigation
      UCSJ, June 25, 2009

      Prosecutors in St. Petersburg, Russia have reclassified a
      "hooliganism" investigation to a hate crimes case, according to a June
      17, 2009 report by the local news web site fontanka.ru. Three
      suspects face the reclassified charges of "actions aimed at inciting
      ethnic hatred" and "attempted murder" in relation to two February 2007
      assaults. The victims include a woman from Moldova and a man from
      Cameroon. Police detained the suspects the same day as the crime, but
      initially ignored an eye witness who called the Russian equivalent of
      911 with information that the assailants looked like neo-Nazis.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/petersburg-prosecutors-change-hooliganism-case-hate-crimes-investigation
      -----

      BLOGGER FACES EXTREMISM CHARGES
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 9, Number 25, June 26, 2009

      Prosecutors in Russia's Samara Oblast have charged a local blogger with fomenting extremism, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on June 23. Dmitry Kirilin, 29, is accused of posting on his blog materials critical of former President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Prosecutors described the items as incitement to extremist action. Kirilin admitted to journalists that he had posted materials critical of Putin on his Livejournal blog and other Internet forums in 2006, but denied the extremism charges. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-25-june-26-2009
      -----

      AN ‘ALLEY OF MEMORY CREATED’��"BUT NO ALTERNATE ROUTES ALLOWED The Kremlin Perfects the Past
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 9, Number 25, June 26, 2009

      Much like its Soviet predecessor, the Russian government defines history as a series of great Russian victories against foreign invaders, and the 68th anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union served as a convenient date for a commemoration.
      1. GERMAN INVASION OF 1941 RECALLED. On June 22, thousands of young Russians appeared at a Moscow square at 4 am in a demonstration organized by a Kremlin-created youth group Nashi to keep alive the memory of Soviet heroism in World War II. Activists were bussed in from different parts of the country, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, “to remember the sacrifices of their grandparents in the war,” that Iosif Stalin christened “The Great Patriotic War.” “Participants held candles in a park at Sparrow Hills in western Moscow as dawn broke over the Moscow river below,” the dispatch continued. “They then went on to attach thousands of bells to trees to create an ‘alley of memory.’"
      "They [the Soviet troops] were victorious,” Nashi leader Nikita Borovikov told the crowd. “They went home then and they then rebuilt everything that was destroyed. They then sent a man into space. We thank you and we bow down low in front of you."
      “The Kremlin has made remembrance of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany a cornerstone of its thinking and has lashed out at what it says are attempts to deny the historical truth, especially by West-leaning ex-Communist states,” AFP commented and noted that loudspeakers broadcast a Soviet radio announcement on the German invasion on June 22, 1941 at the start of Adolf Hitler's Operation Barbarossa, aimed at conquering the Soviet Union.
      But one imagines that not a word was said about the pact signed by the foreign ministers of the Third Reich and the USSR dividing Poland or about Stalin’s reluctance for several days to recognize that the man he trusted, Hitler, ordered the Wehrmacht to march into Soviet territory.
      Nashi claimed that it mustered 15,000 people at its commemoration. AFP noted that Nashi emerged under Vladimir Putin's presidency and is “clearly modeled on Communist-era youth groups.” An AFP correspondent also mentioned “a heavy police presence” at the rally.
      2. BACK INTO THE BUSINESS OF FALSIFYING HISTORY. “The Russian government has intensified its attempts to perfect the nation's past,” wrote Masha Lipman, editor of the Carnegie Moscow Center's “Pro et Contra” journal, in her monthly column for “The Washington Post” on June 20. Lipman cited an article posted on the Defense Ministry web site that offered a shockingly false thesis: Hitler's territorial claims on Poland were "moderate" and "can hardly be referred to as unsubstantiated." After Poland rejected these claims, seeking "to gain a great power status," the article went on, it was only natural that Germany would attack��"thus starting World War II.
      But after the article became the subject of news coverage and prompted discussion at home and abroad, it was removed from the site, Lipman reported. “Even if the Defense Ministry, or the government at large, would balk at supporting the theory of Poland's ‘guilt’ in provoking World War II, the publication of this article��"-‘Fabrications and falsifications in evaluating the role of the USSR on the eve and at early stages of WW2’--on an official site cannot be ignored. The article's title echoes the goal of a government commission established last month by President Dmitry Medvedev's decree: to oppose attempts to falsify history that damage Russia's interests.”
      Removal of the article from the web site suggests that someone high up in the government decided that the thesis went too far in distorting widely known facts. But the author and the Defense Ministry official who accepted the article for publication might well have thought that throwing some dirt on Poland is the right thing to do, as Poland should be punished for its historians’ explorations of events that are damaging Russia’s image, such as the details of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers, intellectuals, and clergy perpetrated by the Soviet Union.
      Lipman cited Sergey Markov, a Kremlin loyalist and member of the counter-falsification commission, as saying that Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine "have fully committed their government powers to finance falsifications of history." Markov said he plans "to liberate historians in Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, and Poland from the pressure of state dictatorship applied unto them."
      So once again, the goal is liberation.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-25-june-26-2009
      -----

      Gays denied permission to hold picket during Obama's visit
      Interfax, June 29, 2009

      Moscow, 29 June: Moscow authorities have refused the organizers of gay parades in the capital permission to hold pickets near the US Embassy during the visit of the president of this country, Barack Obama, to Russia.
      "On Monday, 29 June the local government of Moscow's Tsentralnyy administrative district informed the organizers of the gay parade outside the US Embassy in the Russian capital that it denies the right to hold the planned event," Nikolay Alekseyev, an organizer of the gay parade in Moscow, has told Interfax news agency.
      Alekseyev said that by this ban Moscow's authorities "had proven once again the policy of prohibiting any public events organized by sex minorities in Moscow".
      A letter of intention to hold a picket in support of same-sex marriages in the US outside the American embassy in Moscow was sent to the local government of the Tsentralnyy administrative district on 26 June.
      Despite the ban, the organizers of the event intend to stage it on 7 July - on the second day of US President Barack Obama's first official visit to Russia. "We intend to hold our picket regardless of the Moscow authorities' decision," Alekseyev said.
      The organizers of the picket decided to rephrase the slogan used in Obama's presidential race which sounded like "Yes We Can" and make it the main slogan of their event.
      "The activists will take part in the picket addressing the US president with slogans saying "Yes You Can", meaning the legalization of same-sex marriages. During his presidential race Obama pledged to seek the revocation of a federal act on marriage protection hampering the recognition of gay marriages in the US," Alekseyev said.
      Alekseyev also said that by holding the picket the activists "wanted to show their solidarity with American gays and lesbians who had been struggling for their civil rights for a number of years".
      Previously the Moscow authorities refused to permit sex minorities to hold any public events. It was prohibited to hold four gay parades in 2006-09. The organizers appealed against all bans to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
      ----------

      Moscow Regional Police Count Increased Number of Extremists
      UCSJ, June 29, 2009

      Police in the Moscow region have reported a sharp increase in the
      number of youths belonging to extremist groups, according to a June
      25, 2009 report by the Gazeta.ru news web site. Over the course of
      numerous investigations and preventative work throughout 2009, police
      identified over 140 youths who belong to extremist groups, including
      75 neo-Nazis. The remainder are members of the National Bolshevik
      Party and other unidentified groups. This figure is one and a half
      times higher than the same period last year, further evidence that the
      neo-Nazi movement is growing in Russia despite increased police
      measures to suppress it.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/moscow-regional-police-count-increased-number-of-extremists
      --------

      Novosibirsk Court Hands Down Mixed Verdict in Murder Case
      UCSJ, June 29, 2009

      The Novosibirsk regional court handed down one guilty and three not
      guilty verdicts in a trial of four neo-Nazis charged with murder
      motivated by ethnic hatred, according to a June 26, 2009 report by the
      regions.ru news web site. On January 12, 2008 the four defendants and
      other as yet unidentified youths left a restaurant and encountered a
      citizen of Turkey, Fatikh Essen, who worked in the city as a
      construction worker. The court determined that Roman Lyuborets, AKA
      "Jackal", killed Mr. Essen with a baseball bat and sentenced him to
      seven years in prison, and that his comrades then loudly celebrated
      his accomplishment on the street, bragging that he now had earned the
      right to wear white shoelaces, thus marking him as a neo-Nazi who has
      killed an ethnic minority. One of the neo-Nazis filmed the attack on a
      cell phone and posted it on far-right web sites, complete with
      swastikas and neo-Nazi slogans. The video shows that several people
      participated in the deadly assault, but it is of such poor quality
      that the assailants' faces cannot be clearly identified. The court
      therefore excluded the video from evidence and found the other three
      defendants not guilty. It is not clear from the report if the
      prosecution or Mr. Lyuborets' lawyers intend to appeal the verdict.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/novosibirsk-court-hands-down-mixed-verdict-murder-case
      --------

      Russians' use of mother-tongue getting worse - culture minister
      RIA Novosti, June 30, 2009

      KHABAROVSK, June 30 (RIA Novosti) - People in Russia are speaking worse Russian and literacy rates are deteriorating, the culture minister said on Tuesday, suggesting that immigration was partially to blame.
      Alexander Avdeyev was speaking in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk during a meeting of a coordination council of the Culture Ministry aimed at finding ways to increase tolerance in society and develop interracial dialogue.
      Foreign workers poured into Russia during the economic boom, chiefly working in low-paid menial and construction jobs, but the financial crisis and rising levels of unemployment have put a strain on society and anti-immigrant sentiment has grown.
      "In many respects due to these migratory processes people have begun to speak worse Russian. This is already evident not only in everyday language, but also in the language we hear on radio and television," Avdeyev said.
      Reports last week said the mass communications ministry was drawing up a law that would institute fines for Russian officials and politicians who mispronounce words or use coarse language in interviews.
      "It is unacceptable... that officials freely use indecent language when speaking on the air. We have to fight against that," Tatyana Petrova, a member of a government Russian Language commission, told the Trud daily.
      Although Adveyev blamed immigration for the deterioration of the Russian language, the minister stressed the importance of respecting different cultures, particularly those of migrant workers.
      "All nationalities and peoples in Russia must feel secure and confident, so that there is no inter-ethnic tension," he said. "One of the threats of the 21st century is nationalistic extremism and the weakening of inter-ethnic tolerance. In our country we can and must avoid this."
      Adveyev added that making it easier for people to have access to the arts would help to overcome the threat of intolerance.
      -------

      Russian Church doesn’t approve of universal text-book for teaching religion at school
      Interfax-Religion, June 30, 2009

      Strasbourg, June 30, Interfax ��" The Moscow Patriarchate representative at the European Council Hegumen Filaret (Bulekov) speaks for such teaching religion in schools that will adequately reflect religious situation in the country.
      “I am sure there can’t be universal methods for teaching religions. A text-book or a teacher's -book written on generally approved principles will never “work,” if not adapted to concrete national or religious situation,” the priest said in Strasbourg at an annual meeting of the European Council on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, which was devoted to the teaching religion in school like the previous one.
      The priest believes that humanities, especially history, can be a model here. “Is it possible to imagine universal, general text-book of history for all countries-members of the European Council? It’s absolutely evident that methods of presenting historical material and its proportions will considerably differ from country to country. And it’s absolutely normal,” Fr. Filaret said.
      The priest further said that atheists “have never faced any difficulties in promoting their views in the contemporary history” and “educational system in post-Soviet countries is still based on anti-religious attitude.”

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=6173
      =====================


      II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS

      The Church of Vladimir Putin
      By: Stanislav Belkovskiy
      Yezhednevnyy Zhurnal, June 12, 2009

      Many specialists (especially foreign ones) who laboriously study contemporary Russia are prone to claim that Russia's ruling elite is dominated by genuinely devout Orthodox Christians and that the influence of the Orthodox Church is rapidly growing in general -- the Russian Federation as a country stands on the brink of wholesale clericalization. And one highly respected expert told me about four years ago in a strictly private conversation: "It seems as if they want to make Russia into an Orthodox Iran."
      The author of these lines,however, overcoming his fear of autumnal loneliness, boldly attempted to assert the reverse. Namely, that contemporary Russia's true religion is the cult of money. Which in turn serves as the basis of the ruling system (regime) -- a monetocracy. In conditions of a monetocracy Our Lord Jesus Christ must look like a total loser and a sap; the exemplar for universal imitation could be, on the contrary, Judas Iscariot. For our elite the Church is nothing more than a "Russian Soul Saving Corporation" that offers services aimed at relieving the soul's burden in various price categories.
      But recently my loneliness ended. Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin came resolutely to my aid.
      First was his visit to Helsinki (3 June 2009), where he commented on the actions of the Finnish consul who smuggled (five-year-old Anton) Salonen and his father out (of Russia) in the trunk of his diplomatic car -- a well-known story whose details we will not repeat.
      The gist of Putin's words was:"Look, if a functionary is concerned about humanitarian values, there is no place for him in the hierarchy of power. Let him go and work in a church."
      That's "church" with a small 'c.'
      So if you cannot engage in serious matters and look at the world pragmatically, push off to church and join other freaks like yourself.
      And on 10 June this year the premier visited the well-known arts businessman Ilya S. Glazunov in Moscow. In order to congratulate the latter on his 79th birthday, and also the 60th anniversary of his commercial activity. And during this friendly visit he subjected the holy princes and passion-bearers Boris and Gleb -- the first Russian saints --to systematic criticism.
      Here is what he said: "Boris and Gleb are, of course, saints, but one should fight for oneself and one's country, whereas they gave up without a fight. This cannot be an example for us; they lay down and waited to be killed."
      From Putin's words it follows that it is the murderer of the holy princes -- Svyatopolk the Accursed -- whose example should be followed. Now he indeed fought for himself, having had no intention of giving up without a fight. And he did not miss his chance; he seized the moment and cleared potential rivals from his path in the only way accessible to his understanding.
      Perhaps the time is not faraway when Svyatopolk the Accursed will be renamed Svyatopolk the Sovereign and reburied in the capital in the cemetery of Donskoy monastery. Having been awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation (posthumous).
      True, it is not known where Svyatopolk's legendary "stinking" remains lie. But in the era of nanotechnologies this is no obstacle. If necessary, the remains will be synthesized from any available dust/rot.
      This is how Russia's rulers understand Christianity and love the Church. Such are the signals, ladies and gentlemen.
      It is noteworthy that the Russian people have already reacted to this "clericalization" with a new generic joke:
      "Once upon a time a well-known Russian oligarch died.
      He ends up in the Proper Place. In the reception room he was met by the Authorized Representative. Carrying the oligarch's personal file under his arm.
      And the Authorized Representative says:
      "Esteemed oligarch, we have studied your file closely. The decision is unambiguous -- you go to hell.
      "What is this?! Why hell?", the oligarch howled. "I funded four churches and, three monasteries, and built five chapels! I paid for 23 banquets on Mt Athos! I gave the Russian Orthodox Church's administrator of affairs a brand new Maybakh with manual steering!"
      The Authorized Representative retires to confer. He quickly returns and says:
      "The decision is as follows. Your money will be returned. And then -- you go to hell!"
      However, they are not planning to go to hell just yet. They have other priorities. Russkiy Pioner, the journal for which for some time Premier Putin has been moonlighting as a columnist, the other day organized a big drunken party on the cruiser Aurora. With oysters and black caviar, governors and ministers. Representatives of the elite who had had a drop too many jumped off the cruiser into the warm June waters of the Neva River. To be fished out by their guards.
      Admittedly, by law it is forbidden to do such a thing on the museum-ship Aurora. But if you have big money, then you can. Everything is possible. This is the most important rule of a monetocracy.
      And this will have to be explained to the many, many specialists who continue to devoutly assert: Putin and co. are restoring the Soviet Union.
      Nothing more nor less.
      ----------

      Propaganda or just good business?
      By: Dmitri Travin
      www.opendemocracy.net, June 16, 2009

      Soviet films were weapons of propaganda, but the pressures on a new blockbuster film like Vladimir Bortko's Taras Bulba are rather more familiar from Hollywood, in Dmitri Travin's view
      St. Petersburg economist and journalist. In the past Deputy Editor of the business weekly Delo. Since 2008 founder and Director of the Center for Modernization Studies at the European University in Sankt Petersburg. Author of "European Modernisation" (together with Ogar Marganiya), published in Russia in 2004.
      Vladimir Bortko is one of Russia's most famous film directors. His film "Taras Bulba" went on general release in April 2009. It was more of a political event than a cultural one. For it reflects the current mind set and its problems very clearly: the elite aspiring to become part of Western culture, while at the same time assuring Russians of its Russianness.
      The film attracted a great deal of attention for several reasons. Firstly, it was timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Nikolai Gogol, one of Russia's greatest writers, whose work is studied by every schoolchild in the country. Recently, events such as the anniversary of a major writer have become an occasion for a large-scale propaganda campaign. In Petersburg, for example, Gogol now looks down at passers-by from dozens of advertising posters on streets in the city centre.
      Secondly, "Taras Bulba" is a special story: it's very patriotic, which is not particularly typical of Gogol's work. At the centre of the tale are the Zaporozhian Cossacks, who were free and independent of the Tsar. They lived in what is now part of Ukraine and fought with Poland in the 15th-17th centuries (Gogol does not indicate the exact time of the events he describes). The story tells how Andrii, the son of the main character, Colonel Taras Bulba, betrays the Cossacks because of his love for a Polish woman. Taras kills his son with his own hands, demonstrating that loyalty to the nation is more important than any personal feelings of love. He himself eventually suffers a painful death at the hands of the Poles.
      Thirdly, Vladimir Bortko became famous during the late 1980s, when he made the excellent film based on the story "The Heart of a Dog" by Mikhail Bulgakov. Bulgakov was a major Russian (Soviet) writer of the first half of the 20th century, whose works were not popular with the Soviet authorities. "The Heart of a Dog" had a clear anti-Soviet message, poking fun at the values on which the Soviet state was founded. When "Taras Bulba" was released, many people were interested to see how Bortko, the critic of Soviet morals, would position himself now as a supporter of the state and a patriot.
      Predictably, "Taras Bulba" provoked bitter disputes. Russian filmgoers were divided into two groups: those who fully appreciated the filmmakers' patriotism, and those who had some serious questions for Mr. Bortko.
      Firstly, why did the director and screenwriter feel it necessary to rewrite Gogol? He is a classic of Russian literature, and not just some hack writing scripts for contemporary films.
      Secondly, how does the work of Vladimir Bortko as the director of the famous "Heart of a Dog" fit in with the work of Vladimir Bortko the director of "Taras Bulba"?
      Let us try to answer these questions.
      In Gogol's text the conflict between the Cossacks and the Poles arises because the Cossacks live by raiding their neighbours and are fed up with sitting around and doing nothing. They are spoiling for a battle with the Turkish Sultan. Their entire way of life is a series of battles and the capture of trophies. Cossacks are at war so often that they rarely live to old age or die a natural death.
      In Gogol's story the Koshevoy (leader elected by the Cossacks) refuses to start a war, saying that he has signed a peace treaty with the Sultan. The Cossacks then decide to have an election to replace the peace-loving Koshevoy, but at this moment refugees from the west bring them news of outrages inflicted by Poles and Jews on the defenceless Cossacks. The infuriated Cossacks immediately start a Jewish pogrom and take up arms against the Poles, rather than the Sultan.
      Typically, Gogol gives no evidence of the crimes committed by the Poles and Jews. According to the logic of his story, the Cossacks are so eager to fight that any excuse is enough for them, even an unreliable rumour: if they can't fight the Sultan, then they'll fight the Poles. However Bortko introduces a scene into the film in which refugees show Taras the corpse of his wife, who has been killed by the Poles. Thus the war started by the Cossacks is not just the result of inner aggression, but righteous revenge.
      The filmmakers have added an element that was not in the original text, but they have also omitted something very relevant. Gogol describes the brutality of the Cossacks thus: "The infants were beaten, women had their breasts cut off and those allowed to go free had the skin flayed off from the feet to the knees". In another passage (towards the end of the story) Cossacks even burn girls at the altars of Christian churches. They pick up infants on their spears and throw them into the flames from the burning women.
      In Mr. Bortko's film the Cossacks are also no angels, but their patriotism takes the form of inflicting punishment on their enemies in honest battle, whereas the Poles (a scene that is indeed in the original text) burn Taras alive and, before executing his eldest son Ostap, they break his arms and legs.
      Changing screenplays in this way is no surprise in Russia today, as making a film is an expensive process. State backing is vital and also gives filmmakers greater opportunities. "Taras Bulba" is currently being advertised extensively on state Russian television, which is undoubtedly helping the film to do well at the box office. Furthermore, we should note that in recent years Mr. Bortko has made two mini-series for television based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "The Idiot", and Mikhail Bulgakov's novel "The Master and Margarita". Screening these mini-series increases the director's popularity enormously, and ensures that viewers will be eager to see his latest film at the cinema.
      Gogol trod a very different path when he was writing in the 19th century. He was not set any propaganda objectives by the state. He was able to reflect historical reality honestly and became a great Russian writer because he wrote what was in his heart, without serving any political ends.
      So what does this mean? Are contemporary Russian filmmakers simply working to an ideological commission from the state? I don't think so. Things are probably more complicated, which explains the difference between the Bortko of "The Heart of a Dog" and the Bortko of "Taras Bulba". Whatever we feel about the moral and ethical aspects of his work, from a purely cinematic viewpoint it is always highly professional. Audiences are interested and the films do well at the box office. But to do well at the box office, it's not Gogol, Bulgakov, eternal human values or even one's own political beliefs that are important. What matters is what people are feeling and what they want to see at any given point in time.
      At the end of the 1980s a film like "The Heart of a Dog" couldn't fail. It was at the time of perestroika, the intelligentsia was riding high and the class values promoted by Kremlin propaganda were being rejected. Bortko's was successful.
      But today's propaganda teaches audiences that Russia is surrounded on all sides by perfidious enemies. In recent years we have been told that these enemies are Poland, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, the UK, and, of course, the USA. So filmgoers now need a quite different product from what they were offered 20 years ago. Vladimir Putin once described democrats as begging for scraps in foreign offices (in the sense of scrounging for grants and other forms of support). In this way Taras' treatment of his son Andrii acquires a contemporary meaning: in Putin's terms Andrii is begging for scraps from the Poles to win the love of a beautiful woman, and with it (one assumes) money and a high-ranking position.
      The priority in Mr. Bortko's big films is commercial success. Objectively his work may be serving Kremlin propaganda purposes at present, but actually propaganda has done more for him than he has for it. It has prepared an audience, who will certainly go and see a patriotic film like "Taras Bulba".
      Paradoxically, Bortko's patriotic film is in essence absolutely American and absolutely Hollywood. It has all the ingredients to make it a box office hit. Anything complex has been ruthlessly taken out. Bright colours, lavish costumes, attractive actors, beautiful melodies, enchanting landscapes and exciting battle scenes - Bortko has all this in abundance. He omits Gogol's lengthy reflections, not easily digestible for modern viewers who have been brought up on clips. The scenes of battle and torture and not too gory. Perhaps this is the main reason why Bortko does not show "cut-off breasts" and "flayed skin". If he had shown real torture and other things that are in Gogol, half the audience would have been scared stiff and run away before the end of the film.
      I should like to note in passing that the American style is very common in Russia today. Our spin doctors even create political anti-Americanism using American political experience. For example, a typical rally in support of Putin and his policies has nothing at all in common with gloomy Soviet rallies, which no one went to unless they had to. Political events today are organized as entertainment to attract young people.
      In this context there is one more important thing about the film. "Taras Bulba" is fundamentally different from Soviet patriotic films, in which enemies were often caricatured - the demonic German Fuehrer, the stupid enemies of the working class and the puny crusader knights of the Livonian Order, who were struck down in their dozens by Russian warriors. Today Russian viewers are not fooled by these cheap tricks. The Poles in Bortko's film are handsome and noble. The film bears all the hallmarks of an expensive, prestigious product that one does not regret having paid to see. It is fully up to Hollywood standards.
      While I was watching "Taras Bulba", I kept being reminded of the American film "The Patriot", with Mel Gibson in the lead role. Like Taras, he kills masses of enemies in revenge for the evil deeds they have committed. He gives his young children weapons too. The American patriot kills the English, the Russian patriot kills Poles. The point is not to turn the audience against foreigners. Britain is now a close friend of the USA, as we know. But if the viewers have the money and want patriotism, the filmmakers are perfectly happy to play this up. As they say, don't take it personally - it's just business.
      ----------

      Lesbian Couple Sue to Tie Knot
      By: Anna Malpas / The Moscow Times
      Moscow Times, June 17, 2009

      Two lesbians who were refused the right to marry at a Moscow registry office in May pressed ahead with their fight this week, filing an official complaint with the Tverskoi District Court.
      If it is rejected, the couple, Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shepitko, plan to take their complaint to the Moscow City Court and then to the European Court of Human Rights with the backing of leading gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev.
      "We intend to take the case to the highest level," Fedotova-Fet said by telephone Tuesday.
      While their case goes through the courts, the couple plans to register a same-sex marriage in Canada in August. "We're not really having a huge fancy wedding, we're just traveling to register our marriage," Fedotova-Fet said.
      The couple will then ask for the marriage to be recognized in Russia, and a "loophole" in Russian law makes this a real possibility, said Alexeyev, who is a lawyer.
      An article in the Family Code says that foreign-registered marriages between Russians must be recognized. It lists four exceptions including bigamy and incest but not same gender, he said.
      "It's sort of a loophole in the law that really allows us to fight for this," Alexeyev said.
      He was less optimistic about the legal fight to allow single-sex weddings in Russia.
      "I will be honest, we don't expect to win the case," Alexeyev said.
      He cited the Family Code's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and also a lack of precedents at the European Court of Human Rights.
      Another gay activist, Igor Petrov, the chairman of the Russian LGBT Network, also called the legal action "unrealistic."
      "The European Court of Human Rights has said several times that single-sex marriage is a matter for countries to decide internally," he said.
      Petrov pooh-poohed the idea of a Canadian same-sex marriage being recognized in Russia.
      "Unfortunately, it's not an option," he said, citing the Family Code's wording that a marriage can only be recognized "if it doesn't contravene Russian law."
      "People have come to us with questions like that, asking about marriage in Canada. We tell them that in Russia, such a marriage is not recognized," Petrov said.
      His organization advises gay couples to sign civil contracts on issues such as property ownership and medical consent, he said.
      Petrov questioned the urgency of same-sex marriage in Russia given the general attitudes toward gay people. "It's not the most high-priority task, because the level of homophobia in society is too high," he said.
      ------

      Russian children say USA 'enemy' but want to live in Beverly Hills
      RIA-Novosti, June 17, 2009

      Moscow, 17 June: Russian schoolchildren regard the USA as an enemy but still want to live in Beverly Hills on the Pacific coast and work for Coca Cola. These are the results of the opinion poll "Political conscience of teenagers" carried out by the State University - Higher School of Economics.
      In October-December 2008, the political research laboratory of the State University - Higher School of Economics carried out a poll among 300 teenagers, aged 13-18, residents of Moscow. Of them, 150 live in stable families and go to prestigious schools, and 150 are runaway children, the so-called street kids, whom the researchers met at railway stations, markets, hostels and isolation wards.
      To abolish the English language and conquer the USA
      Forty-eight per cent of Moscow schoolchildren and 23 per cent of street children believe that the USA is Russia's "enemy", first deputy head of the faculty of applied political sciences of the State University - Higher School of Economics Valeriya Kasamara said at a news conference at RIA Novosti. Twenty-three per cent of children from stable families believe Russia has no enemies. The teenagers also named Georgia as Russia's enemy (19 per cent of schoolchildren and 19 per cent of street children). Kasamara said the poll was carried out in October, when the press was still actively discussing the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.
      Moreover, the children described the Georgians as the Americans' henchmen.
      The street children see enemies in Fascists and people of non-Russian ethnic backgrounds from the former Soviet Union (Azeri, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Chechens), whom they regard as rivals (10 and 13 per cent respectively). Asked how Fascists could be considered as modern Russia's enemies, Kasamara said that many street children spend only three to five years in school, and their answers show their inadequate knowledge of history.
      The Moscow schoolchildren offer the following ways to oppose America: to abolish the English language, remove the USA from the position of world dominance or at least stop being dependent on the USA, or even such radical measures as wiping the USA off the face of the world.
      At the same time the children say they dream about owning a house in Beverly Hills on the Pacific coast and working as managers for Coca Cola.
      The street children believe that the ethnic issue can be resolved by dividing Moscow into quarters for the rich, the poor and ethnic non-Russians. Their peers from stable families want to ban foreigners from working in Russia to help Russians to find jobs more easily.
      Both rich and poor
      The majority of the teenagers, 79 per cent of <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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