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Bulletin 4:13 (2010)

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 4, No. 13(94), 3 April 2010 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2010
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      THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 4, No. 13(94), 3 April 2010
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 12 - 31 March 2010
      II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS
      III PRIMARY SOURCES

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      ===============================


      I NEWS: 12 - 31 March 2010

      South Koreans Advised to Avoid Russia
      The Moscow Times, Issue 436, March 12, 2010

      South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has recommended that its citizens refrain from traveling to Russia because of a risk of violence against them, Itar-Tass reported Thursday. The warning came after a South Korean student was seriously wounded in an attack by three masked young men in Moscow, the report said. Last month, another South Korean student was killed in the Altai regional capital, Barnaul, by three young men. A total of 934 students from South Korea were studying in Russia in 2009, the Korea Times newspaper reported, citing figures by the South Korean Ministry of Science and Technology.

      http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/south-koreans-advised-to-avoid-russia/401443.html
      ------

      Kaliningrad Court Sentences Six Far-Right Activists for Racist Attacks
      UCSJ, March 17, 2010

      A court in Kaliningrad, Russia sentenced six members of a far-right group after finding them guilty of several racist attacks, according to a March 4, 2010 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. The six victims of the group were attacked throughout February 2008. The court found the defendants guilty of assault and "hooliganism" motivated by ethnic hatred. Sentences ranged from suspended sentences to seven and a half years in prison. There is no precise information in the report about the extent of the victims' injuries.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/kaliningrad-court-sentences-six-far-right-activists-racist-attacks
      ------

      Russian Patriarch dismisses political pluralism as 'toy'
      Interfax-Religion, March 18, 2010

      Yerevan, March 18, Interfax â€" Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia revealed his skeptical attitude to the idea of political pluralism.
      "The idea of political pluralism is not our church idea," Patriarch Kirill said on Thursday at his meeting with lecturers and students of the Yerevan State University.
      The Patriarch said he realized that such a statement could cause stormy criticism of journalists.
      "However, I'd say it fair and square: these things are toys, tribute to fashion, living in the moment. [If] today it seems rational, then play with the toys," Patriarch Kirill said.
      "If you want to play, then play, but someone should think about the unity exceeding political parties," he further said.
      According to him, "values of tradition and Christian faith are shared values for the whole nation," and "shared spiritual space doesn't have anything to do with political geography. It can coincide or not coincide with political borders."

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=7050
      ----

      Patriarch Kirill urges to fight against rising Christianophobia in Europe
      Interfax-Religion, March 18, 2010

      Yerevan, March 18, Interfax â€" Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is concerned about rising anti-Christian moods in many European states.
      Speaking on Thursday at the Yerevan State University, the Patriarch said that in present day Europe "anti-Christian context" of the public life became more perceptible and "bright examples of Christianophobia" were more frequent.
      As the most illustrative example, Patriarch Kirill pointed out to the Strasbourg Court decision to cross ban in Italian schools and stressed that the court arrived at "the unfair conclusion."
      "All Christians should unite in order to expose this phenomenon and not to allow excluding Christian values from life of modern Europe and the entire world," Patriarch Kirill believes.
      He noted that Christian symbols disappeared from social life in Europe "in result of incorrect interpretation of human rights." Thus, according to the Patriarch, Great Britain introduced a ban on using the word "Christmas" in order not to "offend certain religious minorities."
      The Patriarch further said that he more than once talked to Muslims of those countries where such bans were introduced and they claimed that cross and other Christian symbols did not hurt their religious feelings.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=7049
      -----

      TWO RUSSIAN PARTIES WITH ANTISEMITIC DEPUTIES FORGE AHEAD
      Bigotry Monitorâ€"UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 11, March 19, 2010

      Two political parties with antisemitic elements attracted more voters in Russian regional elections, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported from Moscow on March 16.
      The Communist Party led by Gennady Zyuganov received as much as 25% of Sunday's vote in some regional parliaments, and the Liberal-Democratic Party led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky won up to 19% in some precincts. ”Neither party had done as well since the mid-1990s,” JTA noted. Both parties have prominent members who have made publicly antisemitic statements. In 2005, a group of State Duma deputies, many from the Communist Party, asked the prosecutor general to ban all Jewish organizations as “extremist.” The anti-Western Liberal-Democratic Party represents a wide spectrum of nationalist movements.
      “However, the election campaign was largely free of extremist slogans,” the JTA reported. “Experts attributed the success of the opposition parties to a protest vote against the pro-Kremlin party, United Russia.” Voters in eight regions chose new regional parliaments, and regional and municipal elections were conducted in 76 of the country’s 83 regions.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-10-number-11-march-19-2010
      ------

      RUSSIAN SKINHEADS GUILTY OF MURDER IN RACE-DRIVEN ATTACKS
      Bigotry Monitorâ€"UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 11, March 19, 2010

      In St. Petersburg, eleven skinheads were found guilty of hate crimes, including murder, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on March 15. A jury found that members of the group stabbed Moldovan, Armenian, Uzbek, and Cameroonian nationals in separate attacks in February 2007. One of the victims died of his wounds.
      The jury ruled there were no mitigating circumstances in most of the attacks. All the defendants are young men from St. Petersburg or Leningrad Oblast.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-10-number-11-march-19-2010
      -----

      KALININGRAD COURT SENTENCES 6 FAR-RIGHT ACTIVISTS
      Bigotry Monitorâ€"UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 11, March 19, 2010

      A court in Kaliningrad sentenced six members of a far-right group after finding them guilty of several racist attacks, according to a March 4 report by the Sova Center for Information and Analysis. The group’s six victims were attacked in February 2008. The court found the defendants guilty of assault and "hooliganism" motivated by ethnic hatred. Sentences ranged from suspended sentences to seven and a half years in prison.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-10-number-11-march-19-2010
      -----

      International Congress On Russian Language To Open In Moscow
      Itar-Tass, March 20, 2010

      MOSCOW, March 20 (Itar-Tass) - The fourth international congress "Russian Language: Historical Fate and the Present" will open at the philological department of the Moscow State University on Saturday.
      "One of the main tasks of this congress is to try to work out a certain language policy," the department's dean Marina Remneva said. "In order to do that we should, first of all, admit that the Russian language should become a consolidating force in society," Remneva went on to say.
      "About a thousand reports devoted to problems of contemporary Russian language will be delivered in the three days of the congress' work. Indeed, this is a large-scale event. We are expecting about 700 reporters," Anatoly Polikarpov, the deputy chairman of the organizing committee, told Itar-Tass.
      The most urgent topics for discussion include "Russian Language in the Internet", "Problems of School and High School Education" and "Comparative Literary Criticism".
      In the meantime, the 10th International Forum of Russian language scholars began its work in Yalta, the Crimea, on Friday. The opening ceremony held at the Chekhov Theatre had been preceded by a prayer led by Metropolitan Lazar for Simferopol and the Crimea.
      Professor Vladimir Kazarin, the chairman of the organizing committee, said in his speech that the annual forum of Russian language scholars was positioning Ukraine primarily as a country where Russian is a native language, where it's indigenous and where it feels at home.
      Second, the forum draws together linguists not only from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine but also scholars in Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian, Czech, Serbian, Slovenian and Slovakian languages.
      Guests from Germany, Turkey and China are attending the forum as guests.
      Vsevolod Loskutov, the minister-counsellor of the Russian embassy in Ukraine, greeted the participants. He read out a message of greetings from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
      The Russian foreign minister believes that the forum of Russian language scholars will contribute to Russian-Ukrainian relations. He said he was sure that the 10th international forum of Russian-language scholars would become a major educational and cultural event for Ukraine, Russia and many other countries.
      "Today, there are real opportunities for deepening Russian-Ukrainian humanitarian cooperation which strengthens an entire set of relations between Russia and Ukraine," Lavrov said in his message.
      He added that the forum's contribution to achieving that noble goal is invaluable. The more so, that the forum is being held ahead of the celebrations of the 65th anniversary of Victory over fascism.
      -----

      No grounds for concern' over racist attacks in Russia - migration service
      Interfax, March 20, 2010

      Moscow, 20 March: The Federal Migration Service (FMS) does not agree with the opinion that the level of xenophobia and attacks because of ethnic intolerance have taken on menacing proportions.
      "To say that in Russia foreign citizens are being victimized en masse is stupid. There are isolated incidents. There are no grounds for concern," the deputy head of the international and public relations directorate of the FMS, Konstantin Poltoranin, told Interfax today.
      He reported that crimes due to aggressive xenophobia are committed in some Russian regions.
      "Such attacks are an echo of various ill-conceived populist statements which some of our politicians and officials make," Poltoranin said.
      According to him, xenophobic crimes harm the image of the country and are interpreted negatively in neighbouring countries.
      Poltoranin also said that a new subdivision will be created in the FMS which will work on issues of increasing tolerance.
      "The decision has been taking on creating a directorate in the FMS which will work on issues of tolerance and the integration of foreign citizens. This directorate will cooperate closely with Russian state structures and will work with ethnic diasporas and public organizations, including human rights activists," Poltoranin said.
      Director of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau Aleksandr Brod told Interfax today that from January to mid-March, 31 xenophobic attacks were recorded in Russia; as a result 10 people were killed and 28 were injured.
      Citing the results of monitoring, Brod reported that most aggressive xenophobic attacks this year have been recorded in Moscow and Moscow Region, Altay Territory, Vladivostok, Nizhniy Novgorod and Kaliningrad Regions and St Petersburg.
      In Russia this year, Kyrgyz nationals, Koreans, Russians, Uzbeks and people from Africa have most often been the target of attacks by radical nationalists.
      Rights activists have said that activists of radical nationalist organizations who attack people from the Caucasus and Central Asia, representatives of youth subcultures and sexual minorities, number tens of thousands in Russia.
      At the end of January 2010 the Sova centre, which also monitors xenophobia, distributed a report which noted that the number of xenophobic attacks in the Russian Federation has begun to decrease in recent years.
      "The year 2009 was the first in more than the six-year history of our monitoring when the number of incidents connected with racist and neo-Nazi violence has substantially decreased, although its level remains frighteningly high," it says in the Sova report.
      It notes that in 2008 and 2009 the law-enforcement agencies eliminated the largest and most aggressive ultra-right-wing groups in Moscow Region.
      -----

      Two Jehovah's Witnesses Sentenced for Distributing Literature
      UCSJ, March 21, 2010

      A court in Russia's Krasnodar region found two Jehovah's Witnesses guilty of distributing "extremist literature" according to a March 15, 2010 report posted on the news web site regions.ru. The Tuapse district court found the defendants guilty, based on the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses literature is now on the central government's list of banned extremist material. Both were fined (1,000 and 2,000 rubles, respectively) and their literature was destroyed.
      Since a court ruling in Taganrog late last year classified the Jehovah's Witnesses as "extremist" they have faced a sharp increase in persecution at the hands of regional government officials.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/two-jehovahs-witnesses-sentenced-distributing-literature
      -------

      Taganrog Prosecutor Interrogates Jehovah's Witness Leader
      UCSJ, March 21, 2010

      The deputy prosecutor of Taganrog, Russia (Rostov region) interrogated the former head of the local Jehovah's Witness congregation, an action that led to fears that further persecution of that faith is just around the corner, according to a March 17, 2010 report by the news web site Kavkavsky Uzel. The March 12 interrogation of Nikolai Trotsyuk, who headed the local Jehovah's Witness congregation until it was ordered disbanded by a local court as an "extremist organization," was motivated by Mr. Trotsyuk's continuing to organize worship services for his fellow congregants. This led to a threat by the prosecutor to charge him with running a "liquidated organization" which could lead to up to 3 years in prison.
      However, Mr. Trotsyuk's lawyer argues that the Constitution still guarantees his right to expressing his religious beliefs, either on his own, or with others.
      Late last year, a court in Taganrog declared Jehovah's Witness to be an extremist organization, setting up a wave of persecution in several regions of the country.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/taganrog-prosecutor-interrogates-jehovahs-witness-leader
      ------

      Moscow authorities create map of ethnic tension sites
      RIA Novosti, March 22, 2010

      MOSCOW, March 22 (RIA Novosti)-Moscow authorities will create a map showing the main areas of ethnic tension in the city, a Russian government daily reported.
      Russia has seen a wave of racially motivated crimes since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Routine attacks by skinheads and gangs of youths on foreigners and people with non-Slavic features are a regular occurrence in Moscow, which hosts many foreign university students, foreign workers and tourists.
      In an interview published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Moscow committee for interregional relations and national policy chairman Mikhail Solomentsev said special groups with good knowledge of race-hate hot spots and the necessary measures to take to prevent flare-ups have already been created. These groups include representatives from the police and security services, and culture, education, social and sport departments.
      "So far only a rough version of the map is available. When the groups begin to work in full we will be able to update it on-line," Solomentsev said.
      He said there are several such sites in the city which need to be taken under control and eliminated. The city does not have any districts similar to China towns where people coming from other countries live together, speaking their own languages and following their own traditions.
      Solomentsev also said that a new draft law prepared by the committee proposes tougher punishment for racially or religiously motivated crimes.
      In February, Moscow City Court sentenced a group of ultranationalist skinheads, known as the White Wolves, to jail sentences ranging from six to 23 years for a series of race-hate murders.
      Russia's reputation abroad has been badly affected by the racial attacks. This month South Korea officially classified Russia as a dangerous place for its nationals to travel to. Seoul issued a temporary travel advisory lasting from March 11 until May 31 after one South Korean student was killed and another injured in separate incidents in Moscow and south Siberia in early March.
      The U.S. 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights, published on March 11, said the number of racially or religiously motivated crimes in Russia had declined, but ethnic discrimination is still a matter of concern.
      ------

      Public Chamber Worries About Xenophobia Rise in Russia
      Interfax, March 22, 2010

      MOSCOW. March 22 (Interfax) - The Russian Public Chamber has noted the dangerous growth of xenophobia and anti-migrant attitudes.
      "Xenophobia and ethnic discrimination has been flourishing in Russia, and anti-migrant attitudes have become a norm for politicians as well," Moscow Human Rights Bureau Director, Public Chamber member Alexander Brod said at a forum addressing migrant issues.
      The Public Chamber "constantly receives complaints from foreign nationals who complain about extortions by law enforcement agencies," he said.
      "We receive serious complaints over discrimination. A total of 31 attacks on ethnic minorities have been registered over the past three months: 10 people were killed and 28 seriously injured," Brod said.
      The majority of Russians share xenophobic attitudes, he said referring to opinion polls. "Only 15% of Russians think migration is positive. The number of Russians tolerant to migrants is below 25%. Youths agree with the most severe measures against migrants and minorities," Brod said.
      "Russia needs to create federal programs to breed tolerance and ability to hold intercultural and international dialog," he said.
      The Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) does not agree that the scale of xenophobia and ethnic hatred attacks is threatening.
      "It is silly to say that foreign nationals are widely persecuted in Russia. There are single cases. There is no reason to worry," FMS international and public affairs department deputy director Konstantin Poltoranin told Interfax.
      There are xenophobic crimes in some Russian regions, but they are "an echo of various ill thought-out statements by our politicians and officials," he said, noting that the FMS will create a unit responsible for increasing tolerance in Russia.
      According to human rights organizations, there are thousands of radical national organizations' activists who attack people mainly from the Caucasus and representatives of youth subcultures and sexual minorities.
      The Sova center which monitors xenophobia in Russia reported in late January 2010 that the number of xenophobic attacks over the past several years in Russia was falling.
      ------

      Village Mayor in Khabarovsk Allegedly Led Assault on Baptists
      UCSJ, March 22, 2010

      The mayor of a rural settlement in Russia's far eastern Khabarovsk region allegedly led an assault on local Baptists, according to a March 11, 2010 report by the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, an NGO that specializes in the legal protection of religious minorities in Russia. Sergey Borisov, head of administration for the Obor rural settlement, allegedly entered a small building where Baptists were holding prayer services and demanded that the pastor and the deacon of the church come with him for an "official conversation." When they refused, the mayor and other men allegedly beat them and dragged the Baptists into a car. The beating was so savage that the blood of one of the victims reportedly spattered onto the car. One of the victims ended up in the hospital, where an operation was performed on him. Several witnesses reportedly viewed the assault, and when some parishioners tried to stop it, they were allegedly roughed up too.
      The Baptists claim that the mayor declared that he was Russian Orthodox and therefore would not tolerate the presence of other believers in his village. The mayor, in turn, claimed that the Baptists refused to present their documents when ordered to, and that they beat up one of the men who accompanied him. Police are
      investigating the incident, and the Baptists have also appealed to the regional anti-extremism unit to investigate the alleged assault as a hate crime.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/village-mayor-khabarovsk-allegedly-led-assault-baptists
      ----

      Stalin images will not be present at victory celebrations
      RIA Novosti, March 23, 2010

      MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti)-Images of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin will not be used in street decorations at celebrations of Russia's victory over Nazi Germany in Moscow on May 9, a source in the organizing committee led by President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday.
      "Such things weren't even made in Soviet times," a source from the committee, led by the President Dmitry Medvedev said.
      His remark ended a heated public debate, sparked by an initiative by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov to decorate the capital with posters of Stalin for Victory Day. The plan provoked anger from human right activists, who said they would launch protests if the plan went ahead.
      Stalin has not been present in Moscow's Victory Day decorations since the Soviet era, but his name still provokes controversy in Russia.
      Between the 1930s and 1950s millions of people were executed on false charges of espionage, sabotage and anti-Soviet propaganda or died of starvation, disease or exposure in labor camps.
      According to official statistics, 52 million people were convicted on political charges during Stalin's regime and 6 million were expelled from cities without proper trials.
      However, many people believe it was Stalin's leadership that pulled the Soviet Union through its darkest hour and freed Europe from the tyranny of Nazism.
      ------

      Majority of Russians continue to see USA as 'aggressor' - poll
      Interfax, March 23, 2010

      Moscow, 23 March: Sociologists from the Levada Centre have recorded a reduction in the number of Russians who believe it necessary for Russia to maintain close relations with the USA and to develop ties with NATO.
      At the present time, only 14 per cent of Russians advocate the Russian leadership striving for closer relations with the USA, while in spring 2003 there were 10 per cent more supporters of such a policy, sociologists from the Levada Centre told Interfax today, according to the results of an all-Russian poll in March.
      The research also shows that during the period which has passed the number of respondents who favour a wider diplomatic gap between Russia and America has virtually not changed (36-38 per cent). However, keeping the existing status quo in relations between Moscow and Washington has begun to a suit a growing number of citizens - at present, 40 per cent of respondents advocate preserving the current state of Russian-American relations against 19 per cent seven years ago.
      "This data is evidence of support by the Russian population for the Kremlin's consistently tough position concerning the United States' foreign policy - the wars in Iraq, unilateral rejection of a treaty on air defence, policies on deploying air defence systems in Europe and so on," the Levada Centre commented on the results of the poll.
      According to its data, most often, supporters of closer relations between Russia and the USA are men (16 per cent), Russians aged 25-39 (18 per cent), those with a higher education (19 per cent) and with high consumer status (17 per cent). A policy of distance from the USA is more attractive for women (38 per cent), Russians with a specialized secondary education (40 per cent), those who have a high consumer status (41 per cent) and residents of large cities (43 per cent). Maintaining existing relations between Russia and the USA to a large extent suits respondents aged 40-54 (44 per cent), with a secondary education (48 per cent), with a low consumer status (47 per cent) and also residents of Moscow (47 per cent).
      The vast majority of Russians (73 per cent) believe the USA to be "the aggressor which is striving to take all the countries of the world under control"; only 8 per cent see in this country "a defender of peace, democracy and order in the whole world". In the last seven years, according to the Levada Centre's data, the number of such respondents has virtually not changed.
      A positive attitude to the United States, as a rule, is characteristic for young Russians (25-39 years) and to a large extent men and people whose world-view formed during the period of perestroika (12 per cent), sociologists note. According to their data, generally, respondents aged 55 and older, who are accustomed since childhood to seeing the USA as their country's enemy, see aggressive and predatory motives in the USA's actions.
      The poll also showed that in recent years Russians have changed their opinion about the nature of mutual relations between NATO and Russia.
      If in 2004 only 10 per cent of respondents believed that Russia must oppose NATO expansion with the help of defensive alliances then in 2010 25 per cent already share this opinion. The number of those who would consider cooperation with NATO desirable in the interests of common security or for humanitarian reasons has decreased from 33 to 26 per cent. However, Russians' desire to adopt a neutral position on foreign policy and non-alignment to any military blocs is increasing on the whole - from 31 to 37 per cent, the sociologists have stated.
      Only 3 per cent of citizens regard the entry of Russia to NATO positively - more often this is young people aged 18-24 (5 per cent), respondents with a specialized secondary education (4 per cent), with high consumer status (7 per cent) and residents of rural areas (4 per cent). Respondents aged 25-39 (36 per cent) believe it necessary to cooperate with NATO in the interests of common security, as do those with a specialized secondary education (31 per cent) and residents of Moscow (36 per cent). Russians aged 55 and older (32 per cent) take an aggressive position on the issue of NATO expansion, as do those with a lower-than-secondary education (28 per cent), and also with a higher education (27 per cent) and residents of large cities (31 per cent). Men (40 per cent), respondents aged 40-54 (41 per cent), with a secondary education (41 per cent) and also residents of Moscow (46 per cent) want to retain neutrality concerning military blocs.
      -------

      Russian governor calls for public assessment of Stalin's rule in online blog
      Interfax, March 23, 2010

      Kirov, 23 March: The conflicts arising over the appearance of posters depicting Stalin on city streets are inevitable until an assessment is given at the state level in Russia of the Stalin era in history, Kirov Region Governor Nikita Belykh has said.
      "We have no law on lustration. We haven't had anything like denazification in Germany. What is happening now (and the incident in Kirov is not the only one, to put it mildly) is the result of the lack of any stance from society and the state," Belykh wrote in his internet blog regarding the appearance of Stalin's image on Kirov advertising hoardings for the Victory Day celebrations.
      The governor stressed that he did not regard the argument in favour of displaying Stalin's image, that "it is part of our history", as justified.
      "This doesn't mean that we should just calmly talk about this without any making any assessments about it. What kind of processes would be taking place in the country now if there had not been assessments like these? Assessing history does not mean rejecting it. It is necessary," Belykh notes.
      In the governor's view, the position of the state and society regarding the era of Stalin's rule "should be formulated and announced clearly and unambiguously".
      "But the concepts should not be substituted: it is an assessment of Stalin's activities, not of the country and its citizens. There cannot be anything offensive for veterans in an assessment like this. Their feats last forever and can never be disputed by anyone," Belykh stressed.
      It was reported earlier that on streets on the outskirts of Kirov three hoardings appeared displaying images of military chiefs from the Great Patriotic War (USSR's war against Nazi Germany in 1941-45) era, including Stalin. The advertising agency which put up these hoardings without the permission of the local organizing committee for the Victory Day celebrations pulled them down at the first request. However, applications were subsequently submitted to the organizing committee to approve a series of posters entitled "Marshals of the Soviet Union", among whom Stalin will be depicted. The organizing committee gave permission for these posters to be displayed.
      The appearance of Stalin's image has provoked a negative reaction from victims of political repression.
      -----

      Top Migration Agency Official Denies Racism is a Problem in Russia
      UCSJ, March 24, 2010

      'No grounds for concern' over racist attacks in Russia - migration service Interfax
      Moscow, 20 March: The Federal Migration Service (FMS) does not agree with the opinion that the level of xenophobia and attacks because of ethnic intolerance have taken on menacing proportions.
      "To say that in Russia foreign citizens are being victimized en masse is stupid. There are isolated incidents. There are no grounds for concern," the deputy head of the international and public relations directorate of the FMS, Konstantin Poltoranin, told Interfax today.
      He reported that crimes due to aggressive xenophobia are committed in some Russian regions.
      "Such attacks are an echo of various ill-conceived populist statements which some of our politicians and officials make," Poltoranin said.
      According to him, xenophobic crimes harm the image of the country and are interpreted negatively in neighbouring countries.
      Poltoranin also said that a new subdivision will be created in the FMS which will work on issues of increasing tolerance.
      "The decision has been taking on creating a directorate in the FMS which will work on issues of tolerance and the integration of foreign citizens. This directorate will cooperate closely with Russian state structures and will work with ethnic diasporas and public organizations, including human rights activists," Poltoranin said.
      Director of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau Aleksandr Brod told Interfax today that from January to mid-March, 31 xenophobic attacks were recorded in Russia; as a result 10 people were killed and 28 were injured.
      Citing the results of monitoring, Brod reported that most aggressive xenophobic attacks this year have been recorded in Moscow and Moscow Region, Altay Territory, Vladivostok, Nizhniy Novgorod and Kaliningrad Regions and St Petersburg.
      In Russia this year, Kyrgyz nationals, Koreans, Russians, Uzbeks and people from Africa have most often been the target of attacks by radical nationalists.
      Rights activists have said that activists of radical nationalist organizations who attack people from the Caucasus and Central Asia, representatives of youth subcultures and sexual minorities, number tens of thousands in Russia.
      At the end of January 2010 the Sova centre, which also monitors xenophobia, distributed a report which noted that the number of xenophobic attacks in the Russian Federation has begun to decrease in recent years.
      "The year 2009 was the first in more than the six-year history of our monitoring when the number of incidents connected with racist and neo-Nazi violence has substantially decreased, although its level remains frighteningly high," it says in the Sova report.
      It notes that in 2008 and 2009 the law-enforcement agencies eliminated the largest and most aggressive ultra-right-wing groups in Moscow Region.

      http://www.ucsj.org/news/top-migration-agency-official-denies-racism-problem-russia
      ----

      Russians Trust Patriarch Kirill â€" Poll
      Interfax-Religion, March 25, 2010

      MOSCOW. March 25 (Interfax) - Patriarch Kirill has for the first time made it to the list of the most trusted Russian politicians, sociologists from the Levada Center told Interfax.
      Patriarch Kirill is sixth on the list of the ten most trusted politicians in Russia (eight percent of the respondents surveyed in a poll conducted March 19-23 in 46 regions of Russia by the Levada Center said they trust him).
      The top officials on the list are still the Russian president and prime minister.
      In March, three-fourths of Russian citizens (75%) said they approve of Dmitry Medvedev's performance as president and 43% of the respondents said they trust the president, the Levada Center told Interfax.
      Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said they are happy with Vladimir Putin's performance as prime minister and 50% said they trust him.
      The high level of trust in the country's top officials is confirmed by a nationwide study conducted by VTsIOM on March 20-21. The poll showed that 71% and 72% of the respondents are happy with the performance of the president and prime minister, and 46% and 51% of the respondents said they trust them.
      A study conducted by the Levada Center indicates that the list of Russia's most trusted politicians in March also included Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu (15%), Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky (10% each), the Kemerovo region's Governor Aman Tuleyev (7%), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (5%), Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov (5%), and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov (5%).
      Fourteen percent of those polled said they do not trusty any of Russia's politicians.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=7078
      ----

      RF To Make Public Official Losses In Great Patriotic War In April
      Itar-Tass, March 26, 2010

      MOSCOW, March 26 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia will make public the country's official losses in the Great Patriotic War in April, the chief of the Defence Ministry's department for immortalizing those fallen for the defence of the Fatherland, Maj. Gen. Alexander Kirilin told reporters on Friday.
      "Currently the intergovernmental committee for the calculation of the losses in the Great Patriotic War is finalizing its work. The previous meeting prior to the last meeting of the committee was held two days ago, and we will approve the statistical results and submit it to the government and the president in April," the general said.
      The general elaborated that along with representatives of the Defence Ministry officials from the Interior Ministry, the Federal State Statistics Service, the Federal Archives Agency and other agencies are working in the committee. "Our results will mainly confirm the figures announced by the committees in 1966 and 1989 on the Soviet Union losses in the Great Patriotic War," Kirilin said. He recalled that the overall human losses of the country are estimated at 26,600,000 people and the losses of the Armed Forces - at 8,860,400 people. "We will never clarify the fate of about 500,000 servicemen, who drowned, burnt down in the tanks and were killed by artillery shells," the general said.
      ---

      MOSCOW TO PRODUCE MAP OF ETHNIC TENSION SITES
      Bigotry Monitorâ€"UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 12, March 26, 2010

      Moscow authorities will create a map showing the main areas of ethnic tension in the city, RIA Novosti reported on March 22. In an interview published in “Rossiyskaya Gazeta,” Moscow committee for interregional relations and national policy chairman Mikhail Solomentsev said special groups with knowledge of race-hate hot spots and the necessary measures to take to prevent flare-ups have already been created. These groups include representatives from the police and security services, and culture, education, social and sport departments. He said that several such sites in the city need to be taken under control and eliminated. The city does not have any districts similar to Chinatowns where people coming from other countries live together, speak their languages, and follow their traditions.
      Solomentsev said that a new draft law prepared by his committee proposes tougher punishment for racially or religiously motivated crimes.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-10-number-12-march-26-2010
      -----

      STALIN WILL NOT BE AN ICON OF WWII VICTORY DAY IN MOSCOW
      Bigotry Monitorâ€"UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 12, March 26, 2010

      Images of Soviet dictator Yosif Stalin will not be used in street decorations at celebrations of Russia's victory over Nazi Germany in Moscow on May 9, a source in the organizing committee led by President Dmitry Medvedev told RIA Novosti on March 23. "Such things weren't even made in Soviet times," a source from the committee said.
      According to the semi-official Russian news agency, the remark “ended a heated public debate, sparked by an initiative by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov to decorate the capital with posters of Stalin for Victory Day. The plan provoked anger from human right activists, who said they would launch protests if the plan went ahead.”
      Stalin posters have not been present in Moscow's Victory Day decorations since the Soviet era. His name triggers memories of the 1930s and 1940s when millions of people were executed on false charges of espionage, sabotage, and anti-Soviet propaganda or died of starvation, disease or cold in labor camps.

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-10-number-12-march-26-2010
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      RUSSIAN JEWISH GROUP OPPOSES REVISING SOVIET ROLE IN WWII
      Bigotry Monitorâ€"UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 12, March 26, 2010

      The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR) is concerned with the decision of Moldovan government to compare Soviet soldiers to supporters of Marshal Ion Antonescu who fought alongside of Hitler's Germany. In a statement released on March 23, FEOR argued that recent events in the Republic of Moldova “can be considered especially blasphemous on the threshold of the 65th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War."
      “Thus,” Interfax noted, “the major Jewish organization in Russia responded to a recent decision of Moldavian authorities to decorate with jubilee victory medals both Soviet veterans and members of the occupational Romanian Army.”
      "Year after year, the Jewish community of Russia has urged governments of the Baltic states and all the countries trying to falsify results of World War II to give independent evaluation to the facts of execution performed by the Fascist units on peaceful citizens of their countries and collaboration during the war,” the FEOR statement said. “However, leaders of the countries have not given any balanced and multilateral evaluation of these events."

      http://www.ucsj.org/bigotry-monitor/volume-9-2009/volume-10-number-12-march-26-2010
      ------

      Notorious journalist backs up the idea to take out word "God" from Russian anthem
      Interfax-Religion, March 26, 2010

      Moscow, March 26, Interfax â€" Journalist-atheist Alexander Nikonov backed up the proposal of the Communist State Duma MP Boris Kashin to take out the word "God" from national anthem of Russia.
      "Religion should be private and secular matter. It's absolutely impossible to promote private and intimate matters to state level," he told Interfax on Friday.
      "The word "God" for us is a stone in the boot. It only makes walking harder. Any merger between the Church and state ends up bad as it was for instance in 1917," Nikonov said.
      Earlier in November 2005, he applied to the Constitutional Court with an appeal to check if the Russian national anthem corresponded to the Basic law.
      Some time earlier Nikonov in his article "Finish him off to ease sufferings!" in the SPID-INFO paper proposed to kill "weak minded" children right after their birth as according to him, "if moron is born to a family, it is a tragedy" and people give birth to children "for pleasure, but not for sufferings." He further wrote that "absolute majority of normal people surrender defective children to the state."
      "Liquidation of a newly-born in its core does not differ from an abortion or the so-called artificial labor (super late term abortion) as in both cases we interrupt vital functions of a billet for the future personality, but not a self-identified human person. And what if a billet is defective…" the journalist summed up.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=7085
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      "Nazi Bible" blacklisted as extremist in Russia
      Interfax-Religion, March 26, 2010

      Moscow, March 26, Interfax â€" Hitler's Mein Kampf has been recognized as an extremist book at the motion of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office.
      "After the enforcement of the court ruling, the work by the leader of the German National Socialist Workers' Party, the greatest Nazi war criminal Adolf Hitler will be entered in the Federal List of Extremist Materials," a report on the website of the Prosecutor General's Office says.
      So far Hitler's book has not been officially regarded as extremist, it says. "It has been in free access on some Internet resources and has been semi-legally sold by book traders as it was not prohibited," the report says.
      The book "expresses Hitler's ideas that justify discrimination and the extermination of members of so-called non-Aryan races," it says.
      Including it in the Federal List of Extremist Materials is logical for the country suffered from Nazism, President of the Foundation for Effective Politics Gleb Pavlovsky believes.
      "Extremist book was called extremist. Mein Kampf is regarded "Nazi Bible" all around the world. This book is full of racist malicious inventions referring to various nations," Pavlovsky told Interfax on Friday.
      He believes Mein Kampf can be kept in scientific libraries as a source for historical research and "the motion of the Prosecutor's Office can't prevent it from scientific usage."

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=7084
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      “Actual problems of hate crime prevention and application of anti-extremism legislation” Seminar in Moscow
      SOVA Center, March 26, 2010

      On March 11, 2010, an expert council of the Ombudsman of Russian Federation and the SOVA center held a seminar entitled “Actual problems of hate crime prevention and application of anti-extremism legislation”.
      Participating in the seminar were government experts and representatives of the Ombudsman personnel, both houses of the Federal Assembly, the Office of the Attorney General, Supreme Court, Ministry of Interior (department of counter-extremism), UNHCR, Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the sphere of communications, information technology and mass communications), interested Russian and foreign NGOs, as well as ODIHR OSCE, including the collective authors of “Hate Crime Laws â€" A Practical Guide”.
      Discussion focused on common principles of legislation against hate crimes (principles of evidence, defense of social groups and other debated topics), as well as concrete aspects of law enforcement (use of examination, law enforcement agency professionals and courts, etc.).
      Opening speeches were made by the vice-director of the Ombudsman’s Office, Georgii Kunadze, chairman of the department of tolerance and non-discrimination of ODIHR OSCE, Floriana Hohenberg, and vice-director of the Council of the Federation’s Committee on defense and safety, Vladimir Melnikov.
      The highlight of the discussion was a presentation of the book released by ODIHR OSCE, which contains a survey of founding principles and instances of disagreement between legal systems of countries in the OSCE in legislation against violent crimes grounded in hate. The book also contains recommendations for improving this legislation in terms of different parameters including historical legal systems and so on. The book was co-authored by Allison Jernow.
      Additional speakers included: Innokentii Grekov (Human Rights First), Vladimir Makarov (Ministry’s of Interior Department of Counter-extremism), Alexei Zhafyarov (Office of Attorney General), Nikolai Novikov (Roskomnadzor), and Alexander Verkhovsky (the SOVA Center).
      Other participants included Valentin Gefter (Human Rights' Institute), Oleg Zatelepin (Supreme Court), Ashot Airapetyan (Center for Interethnic Cooperation), Evgeny Proshechkin (Moscow Anti-fascist Center), Ramil Akhmetgaliev (Association «AGORA»), Dmitrii Dubrovskii (Russian Museum of Ethnography), Simeon Charnii (MBHR), Anita Soboleva («Jurix») and others.
      We plan to publish recommendations made at the seminar later. Here we point out only a few items:
      At the seminar, clarity was not achieved regarding one of the hardest questions â€" the use of examination. The Attorney General's office and Ministry of Interior believe, that examination carried out under orders of the prosecutor’s office is the result of the fact that the court considers examination indispensible evidence.
      The Attorney General's office and the Ministry of Interior agreed with the proposal of the representative of OSCE and civil society about the necessity of educating their personnel. In the discussion an opinion emerged that it is essential to combine international and domestic experience. For this, the experts of OSCE could help the experts at the Ministry of Interior Academy and other internal structures in the preparation of suitable courses.
      V. Makarov announced that the active priority of Ministry of Interior 's Department of Counter-extremism is resistance specifically against violent crimes rooted in nationalism, racism, and religious hate.
      A. Zhafyarov said, that the amount of registered crimes of extremist nature in 2009, by V. Makarov's statistics â€" 548, which represent an increase of 19% since 2008, are still behind the actual amount of crimes committed. He agreed with the observation that the lack of cases opened under article 282.1 (creation of an extremist community) and reported that the Attorney General will look into open cases with the objective of including article 282.1 of the Criminal Code.

      http://xeno.sova-center.ru/6BA2468/6BB41EE/E94620C
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      Parents Can Complain To Governors On How Religious Studies Go
      Itar-Tass, March 30, 2010

      MOSCOW, March 30 (Itar-Tass) -- Tuition of the fundamentals of religious cultures begins as an experiment in schools in 19 Russian regions as of April 1. After several years of disputes and intensive work there is still concern about how the new course of the Fundamentals of the Religious Cultures and Secular Ethics will be taught in schools. The Ministry of Education and Science suggested that the regions set up special coordinating bodies under the governors or deputy governors to observe the purity of the experiment, Russian Deputy Education Minister Isaak Kalina told a news conference on Tuesday.
      The Interdepartmental Coordination Council for assessing the new school subject, headed by Russian Minister of Education and Science Andrei Fursenko, includes the presidential envoys of the districts, who will report to the minister about errors and drawbacks.
      School pupils' parents will be able to complain to district education departments if they get the impression their children are not rightly taught at the lessons on religion. The complaints will then be redirected to the governors or deputy governors of regions. "The experiment will last for two years," Kalina said.
      It will first apply to pupils of the fourth grade. They will be able to choose, with parental advice, the study of the fundamentals of one religious culture from among the four confessions - Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism - the four world religious cultures, or secular ethics. No marks will be given during the experiment, or later on.
      Alexander Kondakov, the director-general of the Prosveshcheniye (Enlightenment) Publishing House, said that in the working out of textbooks to be supplied to schools the emphasis was given to ensuring that there should be no split among school pupils according to confessions. Each course is aimed at bringing up pupils in the spirit of tolerance and interest in religious studies. A handbook for parents has been published regarding this course, so they could know what and how their children will be taught.
      -----

      Russian converts to Orthodox faith increases, many not reading Bible â€" poll
      Interfax-Religion, March 30, 2010

      Moscow, March 30, Interfax - The percentage of Orthodox believers went up from 70% to 75% in Russia in 2009, reaching the highest level since the beginning of measurements, the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center told Interfax.
      When asked about their religious affiliation, 5% of the respondents named Islam (from 7% the year before), and less than 1% named Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and Buddhism.
      The number of atheists in 2009 went down to 8% from 16% in 2006.
      The overwhelming majority of Orthodox Russians (84%) have been baptized. At the same time, over one-third of those who consider themselves atheists (39%) have also been baptized.
      The poll shows that the percentage of those who have read the Bible and have not read it is equal (49%). The percentage of those who are familiar with the contents of the Holy Scripture is the highest among older people (60%), highly educated respondents (57%), and Orthodox believers (54%).
      Two-thirds of Russians (66%) perform religious rituals. However, 27% of the respondents said they only do so on holidays and 28% said they do so occasionally. This figure is higher among Orthodox believers (73% of the respondents who consider themselves Orthodox believers follow religious traditions). The percentage of those who do not perform religious rituals has gone down to 32% from 37% in 2006.
      One-fourth of the respondents said they believe new people are being converted to religion. One out of five Russians believe people have simply stopped hiding their religious feelings, 16% believe it is just an outward trend, and 17% said they are not noticing any changes in people's religious feelings.
      The poll was conducted on January 23-24. It surveyed 1,600 people living in 42 regions, territories, and republics of the Russian Federation.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=7098
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      Patriarch Kirill leaves behind many Russian politicians for his social authority, sociologist believes
      Interfax-Religion, March 31, 2010

      Moscow, March 31, Interfax â€" Russian sociologist believes one of Patriarch Kirill's of Moscow and All Russia achievements is that he managed to raise society's voice to the national level.
      "As to his social authority and reaction on various events, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill is much more important than many acting politicians," head of the Sociology Department of the Social Engineering Institute Mikhail Tarusin was cited as saying by the website of the Foma magazine.
      According to him, the Patriarch speaks about existing problems in such words that reflect opinion of many people, major part of Russian population.
      "However it's a mistake to think that His Holiness the Patriarch has become a politician when he entered a politician rating. Not at all, he remained a religious leader. Though he managed to raise society's voice to the national level," the sociologist said.
      He pointed out that when people in Russia think of national leaders, they recall only politicians.
      "There haven't been any social leaders in the country for a long time. Those, who wouldn't fight for power, who wouldn't seek people's respect and importance. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, being a religious leader, is in fact the first and the only social leader in modern-day Russia (of all-national character â€" IF)," Tarusin said.

      http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=7109
      ===========================


      II SURVEYS, ANALYSES, COMMENTS

      When Money Smells of Incense
      By Boris Falikov
      Gazeta.ru, March 15, 2010

      Educated men are increasingly showing a propensity for the church, but young students are often anti-clerically inclined.
      A scandal took place in the MIFI (Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute). Some future Russian nuclear scientists expressed dissatisfaction with Patriarch Kirill visiting them. And it was not so much the visit itself as the circumstances of it. In particular, that the institute's leadership should erect a wooden cross for the arrival of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. "What are we?" the students asked indignantly. "A secular higher-learning institution or an Orthodox seminary?"
      Student anti-clericalism is a normal thing. A couple of years ago in Catholic Italy, students of the La Sapienza University were upset by the decision of the administration to invite Pope Benedict there: they said he does not respect the exact sciences and in general is an obscurantist. The Pope thought about it and didn't come. Why stir up a conflict, especially since some of the professors supported the students?
      Meanwhile this conflict between the adherents of the worldly -- the secularists -- and conservative believers is picking up speed throughout the Western world. That wave has even washed up to our shores. The church is trying to increase its influence in society, and many do not like this. But the conflict between the anti-clerics and the clerics has its own national features in Russia.
      For example, take the head of the Ministry of Education, Andrey Fursenko. Of course, he was not anti-clerical from birth, but he was a firm supporter of the principle of cosmopolitanism in school. He was even subjected to public vilification for this in the "Christmas Readings". And not even two years passed before he said that the course "The Basics of Religious Cultures" could be taught to children without ceremony just as physics and mathematics. Or the story about the letter from the Academicians. It was a hard letter, nothing less than anti-clerical. It was signed by two Nobel Prize winners. But what about now? The rector of MGU (Moscow State University), although not a prize winner, is no slouch in the exact sciences, and he talked ecstatically about the pleasure he had received from discussing the problems of theoretical physics with Patriarch Kirill. No one will argue that we do not have an intellectual patriarch, but nevertheless it would perhaps be more interesting to talk to him about other topics. One can also chitchat about black holes and antimatter with one's colleagues. But the rector of MIFI, who met the patriarch by raising a cross in the territory under his supervision (one would like to understand the exact meaning of this symbolic act), was trying to teach his dilatory colleagues about the subtleties of Orthodox etiquette. Which way, for example, is more correct for venerating the hand of His Holiness.
      Of course, one could presume that our scientists and highest officials understood the full depth of their fall and all appealed at once. And basically, the letter was signed by one group and the cross raised by another. But that is not what this is about.
      It seems that representatives of the science and near-science establishment understood that it was necessary to conduct oneself appropriately with the Church in public. Even very appropriately.
      It would be easiest of all to explain that our duumvirate consists of two Orthodox people, that their spouses are also believers, that true sons of the Russian Orthodox Church are in key positions, and so on down the line. An intelligent and energetic politician has come to head the ROC, and he knows how to conduct himself in the corridors of power. How is the scientific elite of the country not to start coming under the Church after this? Otherwise they will not be understood.
      So that is how it is. But the speed of the process is striking. And it can be explained completely prosaically -- read, for economic reasons. It is no secret to anyone that our government has concentrated the main financial flows in its hands and is controlling them however it wants. All political and public organizations understand perfectly well that they have one feed trough, and they are desperately struggling for a position next to it. All of this is so obvious that it is not worth writing about. If it were not for one "but". In this division of the common pie, the leaders of the scientific community participate side by side with the leaders of the ROC.
      In today's world worn out from economic problems, the state increasingly emerges as the main donor and sponsor of all and everything. But the constitutional principles dividing Church and state are preserved to a significant degree in the civilized part of the world, and these do not permit the nose-to-nose confrontation of religious and secular leaders in the hustle for money.
      We also have similar principles. However, like many others, they are nothing more than decorations raised on the battlefield, on which there is an endless fight for the favor of those that hand out the money. And if decorations are laid out, they determine the rules of the game. They are simple. A battle for the division of resources that is merciless and not at all civilized never abates behind the scenes. But in front of the public, its participants must conduct themselves in the appropriate manner. It is very similar to a theater, in which life behind the scenes is full of intrigue and the favor of the director is achieved at any price. However, coming out onto the stage, the actors behave as their roles prescribe. And former rivals, if this is the will of the playwright, persuasively demonstrate the highest feelings for each other.
      We note that the anti-clerical letter of the academicians was written as a petition to the government, a sort of public outcry against the trampling of justice. But our government does not like openness. Instead we have stage scenery. Therefore, the outcry of the academicians was demonstrably not heard.
      However, the Church hierarchies have splendidly mastered the rules of the game. They have them in their blood. Firmly and pragmatically defending their corporate interests, they stand up before us as saintly and fatherly wise. One does not interfere with the other. It is much more difficult for their secular competitors. But having recognized their previous mistakes, they are trying with all their strength. And from this comes the awkward maneuvers from full-speed backward to full-speed forward and touching reminiscences of conversations about the structure of the Universe, the erecting of crosses in inappropriate places, and unfortunate attempts at kissing the interlocutor's hand.
      The participants of this game must play it. They are responsible people and understand that the flourishing and sometimes survival of the institutes subordinate to them depend on their actions. And thus, the young students are irrelevant to the politesse. They are without responsibility and prepossessingly free. And therefore, they express their feelings with sincere directness. And these feelings should put the Church on guard. In any case, it will hardly find any great reverence for itself in them.
      ---

      Ukrainian vs. Russian language: two tongues divide former Soviet republic: Ukraine's state language is Ukrainian. But 1 in 3 citizens of the former Soviet republic is a native Russian language speaker. The result is what locals call the 'Kiev compromise.'
      By: Fred Weir
      Christian Science Monitor, March 16, 2010

      Kiev, Ukraine ¬ They call it the "Kiev compromise," and it works like this:
      Two people meet and one begins talking in his or her preferred language ¬ say, Ukrainian. The other responds in Russian, and the conversation takes off, going back and forth, seemingly without missing a beat. If you didn't listen closely, you might never guess that there are two distinctly different languages in play.
      That compromise, as a stroll down any Kiev (Kyiv) avenue will confirm, is a mundane reality. It holds true across large swaths of central Ukraine. Head west, and Ukrainian gradually becomes the only language you hear. To the east or south, it's Russian that heavily dominates. Ask any Kievan what he or she thinks about it and you're liable to get a live-and-let-live sort of shrug, with the answer that they really don't think about it much at all. It's just part of getting along.
      Not so for politicians, who rate language as one of Ukraine's most divisive issues. The Constitution cites one state language, Ukrainian, but demographics show that 1 in 3 Ukrainians is a native Russian speaker, and about half say Russian is their first language. Political groups have sprung up to advocate on both sides.
      Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko leaned toward the nationalist point of view, and Russian-speaking groups assailed him angrily for decrees that ordered Ukrainian as the sole language to be used in courts, state service, and academia. Mr. Yushchenko, a fluent speaker of Russian, famously made his point during visits to Moscow by conversing with his Kremlin counterpart only through an interpreter.
      With the recent election of Viktor Yanukovich, from the heavily Russified eastern Ukraine, the debate is already assuming a contrary tone.
      The fact that President Yanukovich speaks publicly in Russian is "a taste of how things are going to be," says Vladimir Vyazivsky, a parliamentary deputy with Yushchenko's Our Ukraine movement. "It's terrible to imagine how [Yanukovich] is going to mistreat not just the Ukrainian language, but also Ukraine's culture and history in future," he says.
      Ukrainian nationalists say the solution is simple: Everyone who wants to live here should speak the eponymous language. "We need to create a united, integrated nation, and that means we must have one common language. Everyone must speak the state language, Ukrainian," says Pavlo Movchan, head of the pro-Ukrainian grass-roots group Prosvita.
      Reversing Russification
      Mr. Movchan argues that the prevalence of Russian in Ukraine is the result of more than three centuries of domination by Moscow, accompanied by an aggressive policy of Russification that should now be reversed.
      "The Ukrainian state must use the powers of central government to promote the primacy of Ukrainian through the education system, the media, courts, culture and so on," he says. "All states do this, and for us it's a matter of national urgency."
      Nationalists cite a variety of examples, including the United States, where, despite a large and growing Spanish-speaking minority, English remains the sole official language.
      When Yushchenko came into office, about 60 percent of TV programming was in Russian and 40 percent in Ukrainian, experts say. After five years of assertive "Ukrainianization," that ratio has been roughly reversed. But a quick survey of Kiev newsstands suggests Russian-language newspapers, books, and magazines remain by far the biggest slice of reading fare.
      Consider Canada
      Russian-language activists argue that analogies with monolingual countries do not apply because, they say, they are founding citizens of the state and not immigrants. "My ancestors have lived on what is now Ukrainian territory since the 18th century, and we've always been Russian speakers," says Lyudmilla Kydryavtseva, a professor of linguistics at Kiev's Shevchenko University.
      Ms. Kydryavtseva says she voted for Ukraine's independence in a 1991 referendum ¬ supported by more than 90 percent of the population ¬ that established the legal basis for Ukraine to break away from the Soviet Union.
      "When we voted for independence, no one told us we would be forced to change our age-old identity, to unlearn our native tongue and speak a different language. That wasn't part of the original deal," she says.
      Russian-language activists want to make Russian the second state language and point to countries with more than one official tongue, including Canada, Switzerland, and India. "There is this pervasive suggestion that if you speak Russian, you're not a loyal or true Ukrainian. This makes Russian-speakers feel like second- class citizens," says Ruslan Bortnik, vice chairman of Russian-Speaking Ukraine, an advocacy group.
      Living with compromise
      Yanukovich has pledged to improve the status of the Russian language as part of an effort to reconcile with Ukraine's main trading partner, Russia, after several years of frozen relations.
      On March 11, President Yanukovich said he would no longer seek to promote Russian to a state language, and two days later Ukrainian parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn warned that Russian would become the country's main language if given official status.
      For now, nationalists may be appeased. But critics say Yanukovich is playing with fire.
      "If Russian were <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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