Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Bulletin 3:24 (2009)

Expand Messages
  • andreumland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 3, No. 24(66), 5 September 2009 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 3, No. 24(66), 5 September 2009
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 16 August - 1 September 2009
      II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
      III PRIMARY SOURCES
      IV ANNOTATIONS OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS

      [NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the
      homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of
      the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of
      the - otherwise truncated - issue will appear.]
      ===========================


      I NEWS: 16 August - 1 September 2009

      USSR Had No Alternative To Pact With Germany In 1939
      Interfax-AVN, August 17, 2009

      MOSCOW. Aug 17 (Interfax-AVN) - The former Soviet Union had no other choice but sign the non-aggression pact with Germany in August 1939, according to documents declassified by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
      "By signing the Munich Agreement in 1938, the British and French governments staked on a deal with Hitler. Their delegations thwarted the Moscow negotiations on the anti-Hitler coalition in August 1939," says a report of the Foreign Intelligence Service's public relations and media bureau received by Interfax on Monday. The report was dedicated to the release of declassified documents under the title "The Baltic Region and Geo-Policy."
      Intelligence materials collected in 1935-1945 uncovered the actual intentions of statesmen of leading European countries, the service said.
      Confidential notes of the foreign ministries of the leading nations, which were included in the brochure, gave the Soviet political administration a clear idea of the opinion of European and U.S. leaders about military and strategic changes in pre-war Europe, the service said.
      "Thus, the only possible way of self-defense of the former Soviet Union was the signing of the non-aggression pact with Germany on August 23, 1939. That document prevented the Nazi occupation of the Baltic area and its transformation into a bridgehead for the attack on the Soviet Union," the service said.
      The declassified documents from the archives of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service will broaden the readers' knowledge about the Western attitude to the Baltic subject through the prism of the real military and political situation of the 1930s-1940s, the service said.
      -------

      Neo-Nazi Would Be Terrorist Gets Additional Sentence
      UCSJ, August 18, 2009

      A neo-Nazi who planned to detonate a bomb inside an Izhevsk, Russia
      courthouse was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of
      illegal possession of explosives, according to an August 12, 2009
      report by the regions.ru web site. Aleksandr Krinitsyn already faces
      two years in prison stemming from what was a suspended sentence for
      painting a swastika and antisemitic insults on a local Jewish
      community center. In addition, a court found him guilty of assaulting
      an anti-fascist activist and tacked on an additional three year
      sentence. There were indications in previous media reports that Mr.
      Krinitsyn may have planned his act of terrorism as a suicide bombing,
      which would have been a first for Russian neo-Nazis. However, his
      carelessness with explosives resulted in serious injury, leading
      police to investigate and ultimately arrest him before he could carry
      out the attack.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/neo-nazi-would-be-terrorist-gets-additional-sentence
      --------

      Novgorod Court Fines Man for Swastika Tattoo
      UCSJ, August 18, 2009

      A Russian court sentenced a man for having a swastika tattoo, citing a
      rarely applied law that prohibits "the public display of Nazi symbols"
      according to an August 17, 2009 report by the Sova
      Information-Analytical Center. The civil court fined the man, who is
      not named in the report, 1,000 rubles and ordered him to remove the
      tattoo. The judge justified the decision by pointing out in the
      verdict that the tattoo is on the defendant's right hand and is
      therefore "visible to people around him."
      http://www.ucsj.org/news/novgorod-court-fines-man-swastika-tattoo
      --------

      Volgograd Court Hands Down Mild Sentences to Murderers of Two Roma
      UCSJ, August 18, 2009

      The Volgograd regional court sentenced eight people to widely ranging
      prison terms after a jury found them guilty earlier this year of
      attacking a Roma (Gypsy) camp and killing two victims, according to an
      August 18, 2009 report by the Kavkavsky Uzel web site, which monitors
      news in the Northern Caucasus region. On April 14, 2006 the defendants
      attacked the campground while the Roma were sleeping. As they were
      attacking nine men, women, and children with metal pipes and sticks,
      the defendants reportedly shouted neo-Nazi slogans as they beat two of
      their victims--a man and a woman--to death. The remaining victims were
      injured, including an elderly woman with a broken jaw and a
      14-year-old girl with a skull fracture; both of those victims were
      hospitalized.
      For this particularly savage crime, one of the defendants--the only
      one who admitted to being a neo-Nazi--was sentenced to a mere 11 years
      in prison. The others got off even easier--some received as few as
      four or six month sentences, and one was ordered released for time
      served in pre-trial detention.
      The web site added details about another recent attack on Roma in
      Russia which seemed to feature similarly lax punishment for the
      alleged assailants. On February 25, 2008 two men allegedly murdered a
      24 year old Roma man and his one and a half year old daughter in the
      village of Ignatovka (Ulyanovsk region). Police detained two suspects,
      but almost immediately released one of them, despite the fact that
      according to a local Roma community leader, he openly threatened to
      burn down the homes of Roma in the village. It is not clear from the
      report if the other suspect is awaiting trial.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/volgograd-court-hands-down-mild-sentences-murderers-of-two-roma
      ---------

      Over 100 Orthodox clerics were decorated during the war against fascists
      Interfax-Religion, August 19, 2009

      Moscow, August 19, Interfax – More than hundred clerics of the Russian Church were awarded orders and medals for the years of World War II, Deputy Commander-in-Chief for military and scientific work of Russian Interior Ministry internal military forces General-Colonel Valery Baranov said.
      "From the first days of the Great Patriotic War, the Church initiated fund raising for the front. Only parishes of Leningrad collected 2,144 thousand rubles by the end of 1941. This number had been growing and totaled to 300 million rubles by the end of the war," Baranov was quoted as saying by the Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Wednesday.
      Believers of the Saratov Region only in 1943 collected 2.3 million rubles, which were donated to Dimitry Donskoy Tank Convoy and Alexander Nevsky Air Squadron.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=6347
      ---------

      Most of Russians proud to hear national anthem, few know words – poll
      Interfax, August 20, 2009

      MOSCOW. Aug 20 (Interfax) - Russian citizens' awareness of state symbols grows year to year, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) told Interfax on Thursday.
      The best-known state symbol is the national emblem, the sociologists said. The number of Russians who know what the national emblem is grew from 83% in 2004 to 86%.
      The rate is 91% for educated respondents, compared to 86-88% of Russians with secondary and vocational training and 65% with primary education.
      The flag is less known. Sixty percent know the national flag colors and their order, as compared to 54% in 2004. Some 32-34% are still able to name only the national flag colors. Only 5% give the complete correct answer to the question.
      Younger Russians fare better, they know the national flag (75% of respondents aged from 18 through 24, compared to 46-65% of older people).
      Respondents know less about the national anthem. Thirty-nine percent of respondents are able to cite the anthem's first line, against 33% in 2007. The number of respondents unable to cite the anthem's first line is practically unchanged, 34-36%.
      Fifty-six percent of Russians say they feel proud to hear the national anthem. Fifty-two percent have the same emotion when they see the national flag, and 49% when they see the national emblem.
      Twenty-nine percent like the flag, 28% the national emblem and 25% the national anthem.
      Some 14-17% of citizens are indifferent to state symbols, and 1-2% is irritated by them.
      Russia will mark the State Flag Day on August 22. The holiday was established with a presidential ordinance in 1994.
      ----------

      Racist Attack in Moscow
      UCSJ, August 20, 2009

      Two young men armed with sharp metal objects attacked a pair of ethnic minority children in Moscow while reportedly making racist insults, according to an August 19, 2009 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. On August 16, the men (aged 18-20, according to witnesses) attacked the eight graders (one from Armenia, another from Chechnya) near the Polyarny movie theater. The arrival of
      a police patrol scared off the attackers, whom the boys were fighting off with some success using skills they learned in kickboxing classes. Unfortunately, both were injured in the attack, and one boy had to
      seek medical attention for a gash on his face. Police were unable to detain the assailants.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/racist-attack-moscow
      ---------

      Neo-Nazi Fugitive Detained in Moscow
      UCSJ, August 20, 2009

      A purported neo-Nazi gang leader allegedly responsible for 15 murders,
      including that of a well known Jewish violinist and an ethnic Yakut
      chess master, was detained at a Moscow train station as he prepared to
      leave for Ukraine, according to an August 15, 2009 article in the
      national daily "Kommersant." Vasily Krivets was arrested last year,
      but managed to escape custody under suspicious circumstances. Police
      investigators led him, in handcuffs, on October 20 to the place where
      he allegedly killed the violinist. Mr. Krivets somehow slipped the
      handcuffs and ran off, subsequently eluding police for almost a year.
      Criminal charges of negligence were filed against the escorting
      officers, but it is not clear if any convictions were achieved.
      Thirteen of Mr. Krivets' fellow gang members were later convicted of
      participating to various degrees in the 15 murders, but received
      shockingly mild sentences of just 3-9 years in prison, "Kommersant"
      reported.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/neo-nazi-fugitive-detained-moscow
      --------

      Deadly Inter-Ethnic Clash in Stavropol Region
      UCSJ, August 20, 2009

      An inter-ethnic clash in Russia's Stavropol region left one dead and several injured, according to an August 20, 2009 report by Ekho Moskvy. On August 19, a group of Dargins--an ethnic minority from
      Dagestan--reportedly beat up an ethnic Russian man in the village of Peladiada. The man called relatives and friends to help, and the conflict snowballed into an inter-ethnic brawl involving up to 300 people, some of them armed with automatic weapons. One Dargin was killed and several other people, including an ethnic Russian storekeeper, were injured. Local sources allege that at least one policeman was among the ethnic Russians who came to the village, but that has not been confirmed. Earlier this summer, Dargins and Nogays were involved in a similarly massive brawl in the Stavropol region, which borders the restive Northern Caucasus.

      http://www.ucsj.org/deadly-inter-ethnic-clash-stavropol-region
      --------

      Patriarch Kirill: Courage and faith of the Solovki camp prisoners are benchmarks for today's Russia
      Interfax, August 21, 2009

      Arkhangelsk, August 21, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia points out courage and spirit of the Solovki prison camp as an example to contemporaries.
      "This is the place where our grandfathers and fathers suffered, but even under mortal danger they abode in Christ, notwithstanding death. There was no other power stronger than the power of their faith and prayers to save the prisoners," Patriarch Kirill said Friday at a sermon at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in the Solovetsky monastery which was turned into the camp prison in 1920s.
      Patriarch Kirill remembered that his grandfather Vasily Gundyayev had been among the first prisoners of the Solovetsky prison camp, and when asked about that time, his grandfather "spoke of the most dreadful things very quietly and peacefully," as he would talk about some every day affairs.
      Many believers, including the clergy, bishops, and monks became prisoners of the Solovki camp during the Soviet era, but they had set "a great example to unbeliervers and those who really suffered" with their lives, prayers and services conducted in the hardest times, Patriarch said.
      Patriarch believes that it is such challenging situation of "spiritual extremism", poverty, starvation and hardships requiring the most courage and strength from the people that allows "them to see God, it is such situation that provides real religious experience and true faith, rather than empty reasoning and deliberation about God."
      According to Patriarch, the history of the Soviet period of the Solovetsky Islands and the example of those Orthodox believers who found themselves imprisoned here explicitly define the way that Russia should follow today. "One should be deaf and blind to history lessons" not to be aware of this fact.
      ------

      MGIMO publishes book against attempts to falsify WW2 history
      Interfax, August 24, 2009

      MOSCOW. Aug 24 (Interfax) - The Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) has posted a selection of articles deterring attempts to falsify history. Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, head of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergei Naryshkin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov wrote the articles.
      "The MGIMO University posted a selection of articles dedicated to international relations shortly before the Hitler aggression on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the WW2," says a Monday press release of MGIMO.
      The book was published in cooperation with the Russian Presidential Commission for the Prevention of History Falsification Attempts Damaging for Russian Interests.
      President Dmitry Medvedev wrote the introductory article and urged the importance of the prevention of attempts to rewrite history. "WW2 lessons have no time limit. We must know them and firmly respond to any attempts to distort history, to slander real heroes and to whitewash
      criminals," Medvedev wrote.
      Falsified versions of WW2 present a real danger to the modern world, Mironov said.
      "The trend of re-evaluation of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements of 1945, which determined the modern world order, does not look innocent against the current background of global threats. Time has come to use international legal instruments accessible for us," he said.
      The book contains articles by Russian prominent statesmen, historians from MGIMO and leading institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences, analytical materials of several foreign authors, and recently declassified intelligence materials, which shed light on the international situation of the late 1930s.
      -------

      Jury finds man guilty of killing Jesuit priest in Moscow
      Interfax-Religion, August 24, 2009

      Moscow, August 24 Interfax - A jury at the Moscow City Court has found Mikhail Orekhov guilty of killing one of the two Jesuit priests who were found dead in a Moscow apartment in October 2008.
      The jury found Orekhov guilty of killing Fr. Victor Betancourt, a priest from the Independent Russian Regional Society of Jesus, Moscow City Court spokesperson Anna Usachyova told Interfax.
      Orekhov had been originally charged with committing both murders. The investigation insisted that Orekhov had also killed Fr. Otto Messmer, but the jury found Orekhov not guilty of this crime.
      The jury also ruled that Orekhov did not deserve clemency.
      "The investigation has determined that Orekhov decided to murder Betancourt while being intoxicated on the basis of a personal conflict, after the victim had tried to induce the Russian to commit a joint sex act," the Investigative Committee said earlier.
      It said Orekhov had hit the priest on the head with a dumbbell at least 11 times.
      The investigation believed that the purpose of the other murder was to conceal the previous one and that Orekhov killed Messmer when the latter returned from Germany to the apartment where Betancourt had been murdered.
      "Orekhov introduced himself to Messmer as a friend of [Betancourt's], followed him into a room, and killed him the same way," the Committee said.
      Orekhov was arrested on November 6, 2008.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=6360
      --------

      Possible Hate Crime Murder in St. Petersburg
      UCSJ, August 27, 2009

      Police investigators believe that the murder of an Azeri man in St.
      Petersburg may have been the work of extreme nationalists, according
      to an August 23, 2009 report by the web site Kavkazsky Uzel, which
      monitors news in the Caucasus. On August 20, a group of unknown
      assailants stabbed Vasif Odzhagverdiev to death near his home. Another
      Azeri, Arza Dzhafarov, survived the attack and remains in serious
      condition in a local hospital. Police are questioning the surviving
      victim for details on the attackers.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/possible-hate-crime-murder-st-petersburg
      ---------

      Moscow Police Detain Neo-Nazi in Alleged Bomb Plot
      UCSJ, August 27, 2009

      Police in Moscow attached to an anti-extremism unit detained a 16 year
      old neo-Nazi after reportedly thwarting his attempt to set off a bomb
      near a World War II memorial, according to an August 25, 2009 report
      by the news web site Gazeta.ru. The suspect, who was not named in the
      report, was reportedly in possession of two kilograms of explosives
      and has confessed to wanting to "scare the city's population."
      Investigators have linked him to other bombings, details of which he
      allegedly kept on his computer. According to police sources, the
      suspect attempted to burn down a church in Kolomenskoe, set off a bomb
      targeting market traders at the Tushinsky market on September 23 which
      injured five people, and bombed a market stall inside an underpass on
      May 2, 2009 that resulted in two injuries. Prosecutors have not yet
      filed charges against the suspect, who may be linked to even more
      bombings. According to a video report available on the Gazeta.ru site,
      police also found extremist literature in the suspect's home.
      This May, police detained another teenage neo-Nazi and charged him
      with planning to set off a bomb during Victory Day celebrations. In
      January of this year, police detained two teenage neo-Nazis in
      connection with a series of bombings targeting churches and a
      McDonalds, along with several hate crimes murders.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/moscow-police-detain-neo-nazi-alleged-bomb-plot
      --------

      Commission on counteracting history falsification meets in Kremlin
      Itar-Tass, August 28, 2009

      MOSCOW, August 28 (Itar-Tass) - Presidential chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin convened the first meeting of the commission under the Russian president on counteracting the falsification of history to the detriment of Russian interests.
      Naryshkin, who chairs the commission, is confident that Russia is provocatively blamed for events and tragedies of World War II. "In the huge information flow of the modern world, we increasingly often encounter the facts of a biased, and sometimes cynical attitude to the history of our country, and European and world history," said Naryshkin.
      President Dmitry Medvedev appointed him chairman of the commission on May 19.
      "Revisionists make the emphasis on the so-called new historic approach to the modern Russian history and events related to World War II. The revision of the World War II history aims to revise the geopolitical results of the war," Naryshkin underlined.
      "Russia, as historic successor of the Soviet Union, is provocatively blamed for events and tragedies of those years, which prepares a base for making claims against our country: political, financial and territorial.
      "At the enemies' order, attempts are being made to distort events and facts of other periods in the development of the Russian state. Therefore, the Russian president took a timely and expedient decision to set up a commission under the president to counteract the falsification of history to the detriment of Russia's interests," Naryshkin said.
      He suggested that the participants in the meeting discuss the situation with history teaching in Russia, the possible measures of state and public support of this process, with the view of protecting it from falsification attempts.
      The commission is expected to consider the foreign practice of government regulation and support of national history, and the measures to promote political interests by means of the science of history.
      Medvedev signed the decree to set up the commission on May 19.
      In June, 78 percent of Russians supported the decision, according to a report by the VTSIOM public opinion study center.
      Among the key objectives of the commission are "generalization and analysis of the information on the falsification of historic facts and events, aimed at belittling Russia's international prestige, and preparation of the relevant reports for the president."
      In addition, the commission will work on a strategy to counteract the attempts to falsify history, and draw proposals for the president on the measures and adequate response to such attempts, as well as neutralization of possible negative manifestations.
      The commission has the right to request the necessary materials from federal government bodies.
      It includes representatives of various ministries and departments, including the Defense Ministry, the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the State Duma, the Russian Academy of Sciences and public organizations.
      -------

      History Falsification Will Avail Nothing, Commission Warns
      Itar-Tass, August 28, 2009

      MOSCOW, August 28 (Itar-Tass) - The commission on counteracting the falsification of history to the detriment of Russian interests prepared a report for President Dmitry Medvedev, following its first session on Friday.
      The report contains proposals on the Commission's work.
      After the 2-hour session, a commission member, MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations) rector Anatoly Torkunov said the reasons behind the beginning of World War II is regarded as most acute by the Commission.
      "This issue is used today to conduct the so-called 'historical politics,' an extremely dangerous phenomenon," Torkunov said.
      The post-war generation managed to consolidate and create pan-European organizations, in which the USSR took a most active part, Russia could learn from them. "Regrettably, there are representatives of science and political circles who believe that this kind of historical politics can bring them dividends, but never in history, at any stage of humanity's development did 'historical politics' bring any good," the scientist said.
      "Of course, history can be on the agenda of politicians' discussions, but in the long run it remains historians' business, not politicians' one," he remarked.
      Another participant in the meeting, director of the Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN), Alexander Chubaryan said the Commission had mostly discussed the guidelines for its works, in the first place the teaching of history in Russia.
      "That we have some 100 different history textbooks at schools is nonsense," he said.
      According to Chubaryan, "A RAN in School" project has been prepared, to work out aids for history teachers in schools.
      One of the priorities for the Commission is to tackle the issue of the distortion of World War II facts.
      "Even historians in former Soviet republics interpret them differently," he went on to say.
      He warned them against "determining the national identity at the expense of others."
      "You do not want to build national identity at other's expense in the search for external danger," the academician said.
      One of the objectives of history is to enable our historians to find ways of cooperation in the international arena.
      It is necessary to clearly show that decisions on the World War II history were made through consensus.
      "So when they're trying to accuse us of acting at our own discretion in Eastern Europe in 1944 and 1945, - it is not true, we were acting under coordinated decision," Chubaryan said.
      Opening the Commission's meeting on Friday, its chairman Sergei Naryshkin called for resisting the efforts by enemies to twist historic facts to damage Russia's international reputation.
      "Revisionists make the emphasis on the so-called new historic approach to the modern Russian history and events related to World War II. The revision of the World War II history aims to revise the geopolitical results of the war," Naryshkin underlined.
      "Russia, as historic successor of the Soviet Union, is provocatively blamed for events and tragedies of those years, which prepares a base for making claims against our country: political, financial and territorial.
      "At the enemies' order, attempts are being made to distort events and facts of other periods in the development of the Russian state. Therefore, the Russian president took a timely and expedient decision to set up a commission under the president to counteract the falsification of history to the detriment of Russia's interests," he said.
      Medvedev signed the decree to set up the commission on May 19.
      In June, 78 percent of Russians supported the decision, according to a report by the VTSIOM public opinion study center.
      Among the key objectives of the commission are "generalization and analysis of the information on the falsification of historic facts and events, aimed at belittling Russia's international prestige, and preparation of the relevant reports for the president."
      In addition, the commission will work on a strategy to counteract the attempts to falsify history, and draw proposals for the president on the measures and adequate response to such attempts, as well as neutralization of possible negative manifestations.
      The commission has the right to request the necessary materials from federal government bodies.
      It includes representatives of various ministries and departments, including the Defense Ministry, the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the State Duma, the Russian Academy of Sciences and public organizations.
      Naryshkin said the Commission would tackle the problem of the quality of history textbooks in the country.
      "It's necessary to fix the significance of history knowledge at a higher level, so the Commission intends to draw attention to the quality of history textbooks," he said.
      -----

      Russian rights leader concerned by history commission's plans
      Report by Ekho Moskvy, BBC Monitoring, August 28, 2009

      Moscow, 28 August: The intention of the commission against attempts to falsify history to deal with school textbooks "is of great concern", Arseniy Roginskiy, the Memorial human rights society's chairman of the board, has told Radio Ekho Moskvy in an interview.
      "I still think the formation of this commission either pointless or harmful. It seems to me that history books must be dealt with by the commissions of historians which exist as part of the system of education ministries, both central and regional," he said.
      He is convinced that "there can be a wide variety of textbooks, although if the central commission started to edit these textbooks and create some kind of a single version of our national history, it would be highly reminiscent of the (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) Central Committee Ideology Commission. The creation of a single ideological neat myth about our history is impermissible. That would be going back to our past, to ideological censorship," he said.
      At the same time, Roginskiy said, what Commission Chairman (and presidential chief of staff) Sergey Naryshkin said about the "circulation of new and declassified documents" is "important and sensible": "If they do something about that, it would be very good. The first thing I would like to ask them to do is to declassify the Katyn file."
      -----

      NEO-NAZIS ATTACK ANTI-FASCIST CONCERT
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's Weekly Newsletter, Volume 9, Number 32, August 28, 2009

      Neo-Nazis attacked an anti-fascist concert in Kirov, according to an August 25 report by the Sova Center for Information and Analysis. The brawl took place on August 14 in a bar. Police detained youths from both sides, but then let them go.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-32-august-28-2009
      ------

      NEO-NAZI FUGITIVE DETAINED
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's Weekly Newsletter, Volume 9, Number 32, August 28, 2009

      A purported neo-Nazi gang leader allegedly responsible for 15 murders, including that of a well-known Jewish violinist and an ethnic Yakut chess master, was detained at a Moscow train station as he prepared to leave for Ukraine, according to the national daily "Kommersant" dated August 15. Vasily Krivets was arrested last year but escaped custody under suspicious circumstances. On October 20, police investigators led him in handcuffs to the place where he allegedly killed the violinist. Krivets slipped off his handcuffs and ran away, and subsequently eluded police for almost a year.
      Criminal charges of negligence were filed against the escorting officers, but it is not clear if any convictions have been achieved. Thirteen of Krivets' fellow gang members have been convicted of participating in the 15 murders, but received shockingly mild sentences of 3-to-9 years in prison, according to "Kommersant."

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-32-august-28-2009
      ------

      ARSON ATTACK ON BAPTIST CHURCH IN VLADIVOSTOK
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's Weekly Newsletter, Volume 9, Number 32, August 28, 2009

      Someone threw two Molotov cocktails at a Baptist church in Vladivostok on August 22, but the firebombs did not ignite, according to the local supplement to the national daily "Komsomolskaya Pravda." It is not clear if police are investigating the crime as a hate crime or as an ordinary arson.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-32-august-28-2009
      ------

      RAZING OF CHERKIZOVSKY MARKET BEGAN
      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's Weekly Newsletter, Volume 9, Number 32, August 28, 2009

      On August 18, Moscow city authorities began demolishing the sprawling Cherkizovsky Market that City Hall had shut down on June 29, citing sanitary and safety violations, along with smuggling charges against traders, "The Moscow Times" reported on August 19. The once-bustling, 300-hectare bazaar was deserted except for several photographers and reporters, a few guards, and some migrants helping to clean up the site.
      "Several migrants hung onto a fence surrounding the market and silently watched a crane lifting an empty pavilion onto a truck," "The Times" reported. "They said they came to see the market one last time."
      For years, the popular market complex employed tens of thousands of migrants, but only a few dozen were there to witness the demolition. Some of them found jobs elsewhere in the city, but many have left for their homes in the Far East or Central Asia amid signals that City Hall wants them out of the capital.

      Dozens of illegal migrants were deported following the shutdown and many others were left in financial straits. The city has promised to help find new trading space for Russians who had been selling domestically made goods, but Mayor Yury Luzhkov said in July that helping accommodate "our friends from China is not our job."
      Denis Saakyan, 38, and Artur Sarkisyan, 32, told "The Times" that they were going home to Armenia after working at the market for nine years because they did not expect to find other jobs in Moscow. Saakyan said renting space at other Moscow markets was too expensive and lambasted city authorities for shutting down the market. "They closed all of our options," he said.
      "Windows of many kiosks showed merchandise--boxes of cigarettes, cookies and candy--scattered on floors," "The Times" noted. "A man in sunglasses and a baseball cap sat on a chair, waving a large Russian flag." When asked if he was guarding the kiosks from looters, he nodded but refused to talk.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-9-number-32-august-28-2009
      ------

      Africans 'under siege' in Moscow
      BBC News, August 31, 2009

      Nearly 60% of black and African people living in Russia's capital Moscow have been physically assaulted in racially motivated attacks, says a new study.
      Africans working or studying in the city live in constant fear of attack, according to the report by the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy.
      A quarter of 200 people surveyed said they had been assaulted more than once. Some 80% had been verbally abused.
      But the number of assaults was down from the MPC's last survey in 2002.
      The report's clear conclusion was that Africans living in Russia exist in a state of virtual siege, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield Hayes in Moscow.
      Extreme violence
      Many of the African respondents said they:
      Avoided using the Moscow metro
      Were also careful to avoid crowded public places
      Did not go out on Russian national holidays or on days when there were football matches
      Many of the attacks on Africans were pre-meditated and extremely violent, the report found.
      One Nigerian migrant interviewed by the BBC had been repeatedly stabbed in the back and then shot.
      Another man said his attacker had attempted to remove his scalp.
      Officially there are some 10,000 Africans living in Moscow, but far more are believed to live there illegally - many as economic migrants.
      The Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy is an English-speaking interdenominational Christian congregation that has ministered to Moscow's foreign community since 1962.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/8230158.stm
      ---------

      Putin condemns Nazi-Soviet pact
      BBC, August 31, 2009

      Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has condemned the Nazi-Soviet pact signed a week before Germany's 1939 invasion of Poland as "immoral".
      In a piece for the Polish paper Gazeta Wyborcza, he also expressed sorrow for a Soviet massacre of Poles in 1940.
      His words were an attempt to ease bilateral tensions over World War II.
      Mr Putin is among several statesmen attending a service in the Polish port city of Gdansk on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of Poland's invasion.
      "Our duty is to remove the burden of distrust and prejudice left from the past in Polish-Russian relations," said Mr Putin in the article, which was also published on the Russian government website.
      "Our duty... is to turn the page and start to write a new one."
      But he added that the Soviet Union had felt obliged to sign the non-aggression treaty due to the failure of Western European powers to present a united front against Nazi Germany.
      Katyn regret
      Memories of the 1939 pact - in which the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany essentially agreed to carve up Poland and the Baltic States between them - have long soured relations between Warsaw and Moscow.
      Within a month of the pact being signed, Soviet troops had invaded and occupied parts of eastern Poland.
      "It is possible to condemn - and with good reason - the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact concluded in August 1939," wrote Mr Putin, referring to the two foreign ministers who signed the pact at the Kremlin.
      "Today we understand that any form of agreement with the Nazi regime was unacceptable from the moral point of view and had no chance of being realised."
      He added that Russian people "understand all too well the acute emotions of Poles in connection with Katyn".
      In 1940 Soviet secret police massacred more than 21,000 army officers and intellectuals on Stalin's direct orders in the Katyn forest near the city of Smolensk.
      Moscow only took responsibility for the killings in 1990, having previously blamed the massacre on the Nazis.
      -------

      Medvedev Urges Schoolchildren To Learn To Understand Each Other
      Itar-Tass, August 31, 2009

      MOSCOW, August 31 (Itar-Tass) -- President Dmitry Medvedev congratulated schoolchildren with Day of Knowledge and the beginning of a new academic year on September 1 and urged them to learn to understand each other in order to preserve the unity of multi-ethnic Russia.
      "Today all of us adults are slightly envious of you sitting behind your desks at school, for school years are undoubtedly the most exciting, the most eventful and the most unforgettable period in one's life and at the same time the most responsible one. In fact, education becomes the main basis for a successful career and normal and decent life in all respects," the president said in his address posted on his official website on Monday.
      "The world changes all the time, it becomes increasingly complex, and science and technologies develop rapidly. All this requires constant learning and constant perfection of one's abilities and professional skills," he said.
      "We pin our hope on you. We believe that you, our children, are the ablest, the most endowed and the brightest and will achieve what you dream about. Your boldness, resourcefulness, creativity and ability to come up with new ideas, and finally your desire to change the world will secure a worthy future to each and all of you," Medvedev said.
      According to the president, "Modern people should be educated and show respect for and interest in other people's views and convictions. But apart from requisite personal qualities, a critical condition for success is peace and order in our common home - Russia."
      "There are over 140 million of us. We are very different. More than 180 peoples live in our country, and each of them has unique cultural features. We speak more than 230 languages, and all together we make up one multiethnic people. There are Orthodox believers, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and representatives of other religions among us. Together we form a vibrant and harmonious unity, our spiritual space," Medvedev said.
      "Learn to understand each other. Take care of each other and of the unique, big and wonderful world of Russia," he said.
      "I am Russian by nationality. But as far as I can remember I have always been surrounded by people of different ethnic backgrounds. We made friends, we studied and worked together, and simply lived next to each other. And actually we continue to work and be friends. There are millions of examples of such inter-ethnic relationships. Every person has them. We have a common history and a common future. For centuries, mutual understanding and assistance between people of different cultural backgrounds have provided the basis for the historical development of the nation. And we should constantly learn to accept each other as we are irrespective of ethnic or religious background, convictions or customs, to learn to respect each other and safeguard inter-ethnic accord in our country," the president said.
      "Unfortunately, conflicts often break out in the modern world. There are those who seek to make peoples quarrel with each other in order to achieve their own selfish purposes," Medvedev said. "But they will not succeed. We are stronger. Because friendship and good-neighbourliness are stronger than evil and hatred."
      -------

      Falsification Of WW II Aims To Lay Political, Financial Claims On Russia
      Interfax-AVN, August 31, 2009

      MOSCOW. Aug 31 (Interfax-AVN) - Moscow is being provocatively portrayed as the perpetrator of the events and tragedies of World War II, presidential chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin said on Friday.
      "While professing their new approach to history, revisionists are laying the main emphasis on Russia's contemporary history, on events connected with World War II. The revision of the history of World War II aims to reassess the geopolitical outcome of that war," said Naryshkin, who was appointed chairman of the presidential commission for countering attempts to falsify history damaging Russia's interests by President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday.
      "Russia, as the historical successor of the Soviet Union, is being provocatively portrayed as the perpetrator of the events and tragedies of those years, in a bid to form the groundwork for laying political, financial and territorial claims on our country," he said.
      "In a huge flow of information on the present-day world one gets confronted with an increasing number of instances of biased and sometimes cynical attitude to the history of our country, Europe and the world as a whole," Naryshkin said.
      "Attempts are also being made to distort events and facts in other periods in the history of the Russian state, as well," he said. Therefore, the president "made the timely and important decision to form a presidential commission for countering attempts to falsify history that are damaging to Russia's interests," Naryshkin said.
      ------

      Russia, Poland to create joint centers to study Katyn tragedy – Tusk
      Interfax, September 1, 2009

      SOPOT (Poland). Sept 1 (Interfax) - Russia and Poland have reached an agreement to create two joint centers to study the Katyn massacre, said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
      "The creation of Russian-Polish centers and institutions, which will study historical issues, including the Katyn massacre, show that we can achieve mutual understanding, step by step," Tusk said at press conference given jointly with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
      Putin and Tusk are currently attending the events marking the anniversary of the beginning of WW II in Poland.
      "We have agreed that the group on difficult historical issues will experience less influence from politics," Tusk said.
      ------

      Fence to Protect Omsk Jewish Cemetery Completed
      UCSJ, September1, 2009

      A new metal fence was erected to protect a Jewish cemetery in Omsk,
      Russia from vandals, according to an August 31, 2009 report posted on
      Jewish.ru. The funding came from the Jewish community and the city
      government. The project began a year ago on the initiative of the
      region's chief rabbi, Osher Krichevsky.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/fence-protect-omsk-jewish-cemetery-completed
      --------

      Russian Political Party Incites Anti-Migrant Hatred
      UCSJ, September 1, 2009

      The Moscow city branch of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic
      Party of Russia (LDPR) presented its list of candidates for upcoming
      municipal elections, and almost immediately put out leaflets replete
      with xenophobia, according to an August 26, 2009 report by the Sova
      Information-Analytical Center. The LDPR leaflets contrast good, honest
      "native residents" of Moscow with "children of the mountains" (meaning
      the Caucasus) whom the author of the leaflets considers "arrogant" and
      criminal. The pervasive problem of official corruption in Moscow is
      blamed on migrants who supposedly "register entire villages in
      exchange for bribes" thus depriving "native residents" of housing.
      "Illiterate guest workers" in the construction industry lower that
      sector's prestige, the leaflet claims, calling for "uninvited guests"
      to leave so that "the profession of a Moscow construction builder can
      become respectable" again.
      It is not mentioned in the report if anybody has filed an official
      complaint against the LDPR for what appears to be a violation of the
      country's hate speech laws. Despite its reputation as an
      ultra-nationalist party, the LDPR has historically worked closely with
      the Kremlin in the State Duma, and derives a certain amount of
      impunity from that relationship.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/russian-political-party-incites-anti-migrant-hatred
      ==========================


      II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS

      The Leaders and the Dreamers: All Human Beings Are Free to Agree or Disagree with Alexander Solzhenitsyn as Long as They Understand His Reasoning
      By Alexander Arkhangelsky
      RIA Novosti August 5, 2009

      The dream of the great writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who withstood the seduction of direct politics, cannot be discussed rationally, the way we discuss a party's program or an economist's plan: a writer creates an image that we can like or not like, that lives according to its own, autonomous laws. The main and the only question is: does this image possess inner power? If it does, then this is enough to accept (or reject) it. Not to pick it apart and convert it into an instruction manual, but to consider it as a whole, and then either continue dreaming along with the writer and "pushing" this dream into reality, or look for other dreamers.
      Remembering Alexander Isaevich Solzhenitsyn a year after his death, we can decipher, through the greetings and respectful speeches, an echo of a myriad of displeased voices. Some (and for some reason, there are more of these) take posthumous revenge on the great writer for his having locked horns with communism, having accepted the disintegration of the red empire (juxtaposing it with a union of the Slavic peoples plus Kazakhstan), having considered Joseph Stalin to be a pure villain and General Andrei Vlasov—a tragic figure worthy of compassion. Others are extremely displeased with Solzhenitsyn's refusal to run after the European Komsomol—his hopes for an independent development path for the Russian civilization (not American, not Chinese, but Russian) appear naïve, if not dangerous. Yet others cannot forgive him for his late two-volume work "Two Hundred Years Together." And some say that the evil is rooted in "Putinism:" Solzhenitsyn spent his entire life fighting against the deadly system, wrote letters to the leaders, but in his last few years he accepted, acquitted and supported that same elite that values its Soviet heritage and refuses to part with the bloodthirsty system for good, speaking of Stalin without sympathy but with respect, simultaneously cultivating its particularly Russian roots. They compare his choice to that of Maxim Gorky in the last year of the latter's life—a way from the zenith of grandeur to the pediment of power.
      I am not about to rebuff the accusations against Solzhenitsyn or to support them— I just think that we should look at everything differently. What did Alexander Isaevich spend his whole life fighting against? Not for the right to expose Stalin and not for the tactical principles of the mutual relationship with the West. And especially not for the formula of the Jews' participation in Russian history. He fought for a Russia where there would be no place left for both communism and the mercantile spirit, where the ethnic beginning grew into a panhuman one without getting lost in it. He dreamt of a Russia that would preserve its inner scale, but would also be able to measure it against a human being, a citizen, an ordinary person, to freeze at the edge of a cliff, catch its balance and go in a different direction. As is the case with any dream, this one too promised not only and not as many joyful revelations as it did endless vacillation: isn't it too late? Hasn't the time run out? Is there any historical time left, or has the Russian civilization overstrained itself? Will it step right into the abyss?
      As a dreaming writer, Solzhenitsyn undoubtedly looked back at the two greatest examples of the Russian 20th century. At Gorky, who so dreamt of justice that he got involved in the political work of dehumanizing the people, and finally even became a kind-hearted, crying toy in the hands of the NKVD. And at Leo Tolstoy, who zealously preached the dream of a Russian truth, who consciously undermined the authority of the flawed government and aided the upcoming revolution so much that Vladimir Solovyov (one more genius dreamer of the universal reconciliation of the churches and the Russian way out of the common schism) called him an Antichrist. Unlike Gorky, Solzhenitsyn did not allow himself to get involved in politics, and did not allow himself to undermine the authority which, as he believed, helped stop the country from falling off the edge of a cliff.
      As for the standoffs, Solzhenitsyn did not fight against Leonid Brezhnev or Yuri Andropov per se—he fought against everything that prevented his dream from getting realized. If the "leaders" reacted to his famous letter he wouldn't have thought twice about making a nonaggression pact with them, within the timeframe and framework that corresponded to his idea of the necessary speed on the way toward his dream of Russia. In the same manner he refused to support Boris Yeltsin because he didn't believe in the latter being prepared to move in the suggested direction, and moderately cooperated with Putin, because he truly hoped that the latter wants to be a second Fyodor Stolypin for the country, wants to stop it on the verge of demise and, having tamed it, will also move it in the same direction, toward the dream. Everyone is free to accept or not accept Solzhenitsyn's choice. But first we need to understand the reasons behind this choice, and only then pass a judgment.
      But now the most important thing: it is rooted in the word "free." Whether Solzhenitsyn was wrong in his late assessment regarding those currently in power or if he was impeccably right, as a result of the heroism of his social and literary life we've arrived at such a stage of self-development that it doesn't matter in the least. The country has degraded in many other respects, but in this one it has developed amazingly, not in the least thanks to the fact that Solzhenitsyn stubbornly refused to get involved in politics on trifles, to pass judgments and give recipes. He only spoke out on large-scale occasions and based on principle. Not who with whom, for whom and how, but based on what principles, with what serious goals, in the name of what? Many criticized him for it, as in, "why are you silent? Quick, give us some direction!" But he refused to give out directions. Instead, he offered reference points. As a result, the best in the teaching tradition of the Russian classics has been preserved. A great writer talks to society about what is most important. While the worst has lost power—getting involved in politics with and without reason, stripping yourself off moral authority.
      Who exactly Gorky is with was important for the country and the world. Much depended on who today's Tolstoy is against. While who Solzhenitsyn is with, and whom against, is interesting and must be thought over and interpreted, but it is just another fact of his great biography. The Russian writer indicates the point of the general moral countdown, reminds the world about its imperfection and of the fact that a higher truth does exist. But he does not issue a patent of nobility to a politician. And does not take that patent away. It's just that in specific historic circumstances he takes a certain side. And he has the right to do that, just like any of us.

      http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=Politics&articleid=a1249487843
      ----------------------

      Russian public opinion and the Georgia war
      By Alexei Levinson
      Open Democracy, 24 August 2009

      The anniversary of an event is a time to remember. In the case of the war that began in the Caucasus this time last year, on 8 August, we risk returning to it not in memory, but in reality. The pundits rate the likelihood of another war at 50%, or even 80%. By the time this article appears we will know what has become of these predictions.
      The opinions of ordinary citizens of the Russian Federation were not a decisive factor in Russia's policy in the Caucasus, let alone the war. But a significant number of Russians, and sometimes the majority, agreed with the policymakers.
      Recent research by the Levada Center showed that both experts and "ordinary people" were firmly of the view that neither Georgia nor Russia needs a war right now. People were saying the same a year ago, on the eve of the war. But the rational arguments and common sense considerations of those who wanted a peaceful solution for the sake of all parties were overwhelmed by a different logic. It is important to understand this logic, because it is clearly this, not arguments about what the peoples "need" or "do not need", which will determine events now.
      The logic of the war parties
      We can suppose that Mikhail Saakashvili wanted a "small victorious war" in order to strengthen support for himself domestically. We can suppose that the behaviour of the South Ossetian leaders was similarly motivated. But this supposition does not remotely explain the actions of the Russian side. And it was these that transformed this conflict from a local incident in the Caucasus into an event that changed international politics, both in the Caucasus and in Russia itself.
      The Russian leadership did not need a war to support its popularity. Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev's approval ratings at that time were extremely high in August 2008 (80% and 70% respectively)[1] [0]. The successful war did mobilise public feelings in Russia, but to what purpose? There was no obvious reason for doing so.
      There is a theory that the start of the second Chechen campaign in 1999 [1] helped the previously unknown Putin gain popular support. Our data from public opinion surveys at the time shows that this theory, although it seems convincing, is not correct. But even if it were, in 2008 Putin did not need a war with Georgia, as he was not running for election. As for Medvedev, he had already been elected president, and like Putin before him, he enjoyed the support of the absolute majority of Russians (70% in May 2008) before he had had time to earn it.
      As with any event in society, there were many causes for the war. One year on, the policy of the Georgian leadership (35%), and a US desire to trigger a rift between Georgia and Russia" (34%) are seen as the main ones[i] [1]. But another theory is being discussed quietly, one which links the event to reactions of public opinion.
      Handling liberal expectations
      Long before the war, when Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov [2] were being touted for the role of Putin's successor, our surveys noted that while both nominees had equal numbers of supporters, they were of different kinds. In Russia's political tradition, supreme power (then represented by Vladimir Putin) does not have a definite political character. It may be authoritarian or liberal. It may make pro-western or anti-western gestures. There are about as many people who think that during his presidency Putin successfully "defended democracy and political freedoms in the country" as those who think the opposite. What remains constant is that power is made up of two parties, which identify themselves clearly with one of the two vectors.
      In the choice between Ivanov and Medvedev, the public wanted to see representatives of these two vectors. Medvedev was regarded as having liberal tendencies, although he had yet to demonstrate his adherence to a liberal path. Any signs he did make were immediately balanced out with opposite signs. But after his election, the dichotomy was transferred to a new duo: the prime minister and president. Indirect signs lead us to believe that certain elites began to see liberal tendencies in Medvedev.
      The position of those sectors of Russian business which showed an interest in political liberalisation can be ignored, as they are in no position to protect their interests. But as some of our respondents put it, the move from the "policy of Putin" to the imagined "policy of Medvedev" - imagined as an alternative! - was also followed in 2008 by some people who have not only the capital, but the political resources too. Supporters of liberal policy could also clearly count on significant international support. According to our respondents, the people who really run the country made a tough decision. Everyone whose hopes lay in this direction had to be given a clear signal: Medvedev is not an alternative to Putin, and he will not offer any different policy. The signal they gave was the war.
      The death of liberal hopes
      The result was dramatic. In May 2007 17% of Russians thought that Putin's successor would "gradually change political policy" and 5% thought that he would pursue "a completely new policy". But after the events of August 2008, these opinions were only held by 7% and 2% respectively.
      People's opinions have not changed today. The lesson has been learned. Those who expected a "thaw" realised that they would have to wait. Medvedev, betraying the hopes of all those who had dreamed of seeing a liberal and democrat in him, took the path (perhaps against his own will, which only made it more effective) that Russian leaders have not dared to tread since troops entered Czechoslovakia [3] and Afghanistan [4]. These precedents had shown there was no risk of a response military strike from the West, and there was nothing else to be afraid of. The subsequent recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in defiance of the world, was a way of making the situation irreversible.
      The dividend in defying Western opinion
      During the years of Gorbachev's presidency, Russian politicians and the public paid a lot of attention to Western opinion. In the Yeltsin period, Vladimir Zhirinovsky [5] made an important discovery on the Russian political scene. With his many speeches, he showed that in Russia one can oppose Western opinion, and this will not only go unpunished. It will give the politician a political dividend, and please people too.
      In the Putin years, the political elite and society learned this lesson. While being fully aware of what the world considered to be right and wrong, Russians were prepared to choose (at least in words) the latter. The position taken by the Russian leadership after the war had been "processed" by the mass conscience long before this. If in 2005, 27% of Russians believed that Abkhazia and South Ossetia should become independent nations, even more (36%) said that they should become part of Russia. Only 15% thought they should be returned to Georgia. Shortly before the war, in March 2008, the distribution of opinions was virtually unchanged: 26% were for independence, 33% for joining Russia. But the percentage of those saying that Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be returned to Georgia dropped to 11%. (There was an increase in the number of people who said they did not know).
      Politicians and the public also agreed on their attitude to the West's reaction. A poll we carried out a month after the end of the five-day war asked the following question: "Do you think that the sanctions western countries are threatening to impose on Russia in response to its policy in Georgia could have a serious influence on Russia?" 30% replied "yes", while 53% replied "no".
      [1] [5] Here and subsequently data is given from regular surveys by Levada Center among 1,600 people representing the population of the Russian Federation aged 18 and up.

      http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/email/russian-public-opinion-and-the-georgia-war
      ---------------------

      MEDVEDEV'S STRANGE GIFT TO YUSHCHENKO
      By Yevgeny Kiselyov
      The Moscow Times, Aug 14, 2009

      There is an old Russian anecdote that would shock most people in the West, but it reflects the mores here all too well. A man comes home from work and no sooner does he step through the doorway than he wallops his wife with such a backhand that it sends her sprawling on the floor.
      "Vanya, what was that for? I didn't do anything wrong," she asks. "I know. If you really had done something wrong, I would have killed you!" he replies.
      I was immediately reminded of this joke after hearing President Dmitry Medvedev's video address posted on his blog Tuesday. Out of the blue, Medvedev struck out against President Viktor Yushchenko and announced that he would postpone sending Russia's new ambassador to Kiev, a political demarche that is roughly equivalent to recalling an ambassador entirely.
      Everybody was left scratching their heads and wondering, "What could have prompted such a disproportionately harsh speech by Medvedev?" The only thing worse than this would have been to break off diplomatic relations with Ukraine entirely, as Moscow did with Georgia last year and with Israel over 40 years ago.
      Recall that when Israel trounced its Arab enemies in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Soviet Union, which had placed all of its political eggs for that region in the Arab basket, broke off diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv out of spite.
      This example is a good illustration of the consequences of such reckless and poorly thought-out policies. For the 24 years during which the Soviet Union had no diplomatic relations with Israel, the Kremlin lost almost all influence in the Middle East. (Official relations were restored only in 1991, just weeks before the Soviet Union's collapse.)
      Today, Russia is formally a sponsor of the Middle East peace process, but that is probably more a weak consolation prize from the other participants in the negotiations than recognition of Moscow's actual influence in the region. Unfortunately, the same fate awaits Russia in the Caucasus. Just like with Israel, Moscow will one day — perhaps in 24 years? — need to establish normal diplomatic relations with Georgia once again.
      And the same scenario could unfold in Ukrainian relations if the Kremlin continues its inflammatory rhetoric. The arguments Medvedev used to defend his diplomatic attack against Kiev do not hold water. All of the problems the president mentioned do exist, but they first appeared long ago and most had arisen even before Yushchenko took office.
      They include the disagreements over the transit of Russian gas through Ukrainian territory, the future of Russia's Black Sea fleet, the status of the Russian language in Ukraine, conflicting interpretations of Russian-Ukrainian history and difficulties encountered by Russians doing business in Ukrainian markets, to name a few.
      Moreover, Medvedev clearly inflated the importance of these problems. They hardly justify the president of one country leveling such scathing statements at the president of a neighboring country.
      What is really going on?
      One conspiracy theory holds that Yushchenko violated some type of secret agreement between Moscow and Kiev concerning the only issue that Russia truly cares about — gas shipments. But this theory has not yet been substantiated.
      Another version of the conspiracy theory — which seems bizarre at first glance — suggests that Medvedev is actually trying to help Yushchenko's re-election bid by publicly lambasting him just before Ukraine's presidential election. According to this theory, by interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs, Medvedev will help increase Yushchenko's popularity by giving credence to his anti-Russian platform.
      After all, Yushchenko is practically the only presidential candidate who speaks openly about the so-called Russian threat to Ukraine's national independence.
      Yushchenko's critics have always held that he suffers from paranoia, but Yushchenko has had little hard evidence to support his alarmist anti-Russian statements. In this sense, Medvedev's speech is a huge gift for Yushchenko. Now he can say, "Look, I told you so. Russia is openly threatening us and trying to dictate our policies."
      The obvious question is: What does Moscow have to gain from this approach? However paradoxical it might seem, the so-called anti-Russian Yushchenko may actually be advantageous for Russia. Moscow views Yushchenko as a weak politician, but this presents an excellent opportunity that Moscow can exploit to its advantage.
      Yushchenko can do the Kremlin's work for it by continuing to paralyze Ukrainian politics through his constant bickering with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other opposition politicians. In addition, Yushchenko has always supported RosUkrEnergo, the shady intermediary for gas transports between Moscow and Kiev.
      True, this theory does have one major flaw: Yushchenko's electoral support is so low that Medvedev's help would probably be too little to boost Yushchenko's miserable ratings. Interestingly enough, in 1996, former President Boris Yeltsin had about the same level of support when he started his successful re-election campaign.
      The big difference, however, is that Yushchenko lacks Yeltsin's charisma and his notorious administrative resources. As former President Leonid Kuchma famously said, "Ukraine is not Russia."
      Therefore, it remains to be seen how Ukrainian voters will react to Moscow's new anti-Ukraine campaign. But if Medvedev's strategy is successful, we might see an amazing, come-from-behind victory for Yushchenko in January's presidential vote.

      http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1016/42/380785.htm
      -------------------------

      INITIATORS OF DMITRY MEDVEDEV'S ADDRESS TO THE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT HAVE MADE A STRATEGIC MISTAKE
      By Vitaly Bala
      Eurasian Home, August 13, 2009

      Dmitry Medvedev's address to his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko indicates that Russia is acting towards its neighbors like in the early nineties, when the doctrine on Moscow's exclusive interests in the former Soviet Union prevailed.
      This address is intended for both Ukrainian an<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.