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Bulletin 4:25 (2010)

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 4, No. 25(106), 6 July 2010 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I
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      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 4, No. 25(106), 6 July 2010
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 15 - 30 June 2010

      [NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the
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      I NEWS: 15 - 30 June 2010

      Russians trust Patriarch Kirill the most - poll
      Interfax-Religion, June 17, 2010

      Moscow, June 17, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia heads the rating of people most trusted in Russia made up by the Synovate international research company.
      The majority of participants in the poll held in various regions of Russia chose the Patriarch when answering the question "Whom do you respect more?" the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported on Thursday.
      The second place in the rating was given to observer Vladimir Pozner, while the third one was shared by film director Nikita Mikhalkov, pediatrician Leonid Roshal and anchors Leonid Parfenov and Tina Kandelaki.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 20, June 18, 2010

      Next month, Russia will celebrate a new holiday following a decision by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church that is stirring up protest among non-Orthodox Russians, “The Moscow Times” reported on June 7. “Christianization of Rus Day” on July 28 will not be counted as a day off work, but it will be the country's ninth so-called "memorial holiday" such as Cosmonauts’ Day on April 12 and Constitution Day on December 12. The new holiday commemorates the baptism in 988 of Vladimir the Great, who accepted Christianity on behalf of his state, Kievan Rus, the predecessor to the Russian Empire.
      However, Protestant Christians and Muslims now demand their own holidays, too. Konstantin Bendas, a senior official with the Russian Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith, said that Christianization of Rus Day has created tensions between the Orthodox Church and other faiths. "The Protestants have a plan to set their holiday on October 31," Bendas said, referring to the day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of a Roman Catholic church and started the Reformation.
      Lawmakers in predominantly Muslim Tatarstan are calling for Russia to celebrate “the Day Islam Came to Russia” on May 16, the date in 922 when Islam was approved as a state religion in the Middle Volga region. Such a holiday would "contribute to an interfaith dialogue and strengthen the international authority of Russia," Tatarstan lawmakers said in a statement.
      Muslims comprise about 6% of Russia’s population, while less than 1% are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or Buddhist and 60 to 70% of Russians consider themselves Orthodox.
      A senior Orthodox official said that his church respects the other faiths but their holidays should not be recognized nationally like Christianization of Rus Day. "Russia is an Orthodox state, and we should not be ashamed of declaring it," said Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's department for church and society affairs.
      On June 1, President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law establishing the new holiday called by “The Moscow Times” “the latest manifestation of vibrant ties between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church and a chance for politicians to tout improved relations with Ukraine.” The State Duma and the Federation Council had approved the legislation earlier. In Ukraine, the date was declared a state holiday in 2008, prompting the Russian Orthodox Church to seek a similar decision in Russia.
      Sergei Markov, deputy chairman of the State Duma's Social and Religious Organizations Committee, said that the Duma backed the new holiday in recognition of improved ties with Ukraine after the election of President Viktor Yanukovych in February. "The main reason for the holiday is a vital improvement in relations with Ukraine. It's important now to have mutual dates," Markov told “The Moscow Times” that pointed out that an overwhelming 422 deputies approved the holiday in the 450-seat Duma in its third and final reading on May 21.
      Chaplin said that the new holiday will build closer ties between Russia and its predominantly Orthodox neighbors, Ukraine and Belarus. "Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have the same cultural roots that define people's lives," he said. A spokesman for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said that the church welcomed Russia's decision to celebrate the holiday as "an important event that unites brothers."


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 20, June 18, 2010

      Neo-Nazis are suspected of having been behind an arson attack on the apartment of a prominent anti-fascist activist in Izhevsk, according to the independent daily "Novaya Gazeta." On the evening of May 23, someone set Oleg Serebrennikov's apartment door on fire, while also shooting 11 bullets at it and leaving threatening graffiti behind. Police are said to be investigating.
      In February 2004, far-right thugs beat Serebrennikov, who was taking part in an anti-war demonstration.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 20, June 18, 2010

      The Nizhny Novgorod regional court handed down an odd mix of sentences to a murderous neo-Nazi gang, according to a June 16 report by the Nizhny Novgorod news agency. Aleksandr Degtyarev, found guilty of four murders and two attempted murders, got a life sentence. But at the same time, the court was strangely lenient toward other gang members: Artyom Surkov, found guilty of three murders and six attempted murders, got just ten years in a prison colony, while Maksim Alyoshin, found guilty of five attempted murders, got a similar sentence of nine years and six months in prison. The sentences reportedly conformed to the prosecutor's requests to the court.
      Degtyarev was detained after he murdered his college professor. The other victims were anti-fascists and members of ethnic minorities.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 20, June 18, 2010

      Only six of 234 xenophobic attacks in Russia last year targeted Jews, though antisemitism remains a problem in the country, according to a new survey prepared by local experts for the World Jewish Congress and reported on June 13 by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) from Moscow. The xenophobic attacks resulted in 80 deaths and at least 300 injured, the survey said. Of the six attacks against Jews, four occurred in Moscow, and in three cases the targets were Israeli citizens. Antisemitic vandalism targeted nine buildings occupied by Jewish organizations and 11 cemeteries or Holocaust memorials.
      In 2007 and 2008, eight attacks against Jews were registered each year.
      The survey’s authors attributed the low level of antisemitic violence not to the eradication of antisemitism but to the fact that Jews are hard to tell apart from the majority population. The victims were mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews whose mode of dress made them stand out. According to the authors, the bulk of antisemitic propaganda has shifted to the Internet, including social networks. Live Journal, the most popular blog service in Russia, is a hot spot for such propaganda as it gives space to neo-Nazi bloggers.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 20, June 18, 2010

      Russia’s Supreme Court has banned the National-Socialist Society, a radical group accused of numerous hate crimes, including dozens of racially motivated murders, Interfax reported on May 25. The organization was banned at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office, which said that the group was planning a coup d’etat to legalize racial discrimination, Itar-Tass reported. Thirteen members are on trial now in the Moscow District Military Court.
      Another ultranationalist group, Slavic Union, was banned for extremism by the Moscow City Court in April. In recent years, the group, whose initials in Russian are “SS,” had been allowed to take part in government-sanctioned far-right marches.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 20, June 18, 2010

      The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a 2004 ban by a Moscow court on the city’s branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses, RIA-Novosti reported on June 11. The Strasbourg-based court, which also ordered Russian authorities to pay a fine of 70,000 euros ($84,700), said that the ban was based on insufficient evidence. Both parties have three months to appeal the decision. The Moscow court banned Jehovah’s Witnesses on charges that included human rights violations, inducement to suicide, and proselytizing minors.
      The Russian government has launched a campaign of persecution against the Witnesses that lead to “extremism investigations” in several regions of the country.


      Russian Church backs up "Muscovite's Code"
      Interfax-Religion, June 18, 2010

      Moscow, June 18, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has supported the idea of working out a code of behavior in the Russian capital for newcomers.
      "The idea is very correct. Certainly the document of such kind should be balanced and serious," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion.
      According to him, people should understand themselves "where it is allowed to make barbeque and decide what cloths to wear, but more important things should be a subject of the fixed social pact."
      "Sufficient knowledge of the Russian language, our culture, norms of conduct customary in the city, respect to its traditions and historic character should be a standard for each person living and working in Moscow. This standard should be fixed," the priest believes.
      At the same time he is sure there is no need to adopt a special law, but "we need to discuss and publish a certain set of rules and then consider it, when hiring a person, promoting him or her to leading positions or just deciding whether this person is allowed in decent society."


      Blast rocks Russian synagogue
      IOL, June 21, 2010

      Moscow - A bomb blast rocked a synagogue in Russia on Monday, drawing condemnation from the country's Jewish community, who linked the attack with the upcoming anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Russia.
      Regional police said that an explosive device went off just outside a synagogue in the central Russian city of Tver in the early hours of Monday, ripping a hole in its metal door and partially damaging its entrance hall.
      Police said in a statement no one was injured in the blast, which damaged windows in 10 apartments nearby.
      Police said the incident had been classified as an act of hooliganism linked to political, racial or religious hatred and that a criminal case had been opened.
      A local leader of the Tver Jewish community, Vladimir Spivak, said one resident had suffered a light injury in the explosion and was taken to a hospital.
      The blast caused an outcry among the country's Jewish communities.
      "The explosion was a culmination of repeated attacks on practicing Jews," Russia's Federation of Jewish Communities said in a statement.
      "Before this anti-Semitic slogans had appeared on the synagogue's walls, leaflets of anti-Semitic content had been circulated in the city and 140 gravestones at the Jewish part of the city cemetery had been defaced in 2009."
      Jewish leaders also linked the blast with the anniversary of the start of World War II in Russia, where it is known as the Great Patriotic War, which the country marks on Tuesday.
      "The blast is not only an offence for the Jewish population but a terrible reminder of World War II victims," the Moscow Jewish Religious Community said in a statement.
      Religious and hate crimes are a relatively frequent occurrence in Russia.


      Russian survey shows public awareness of Second World War in decline
      Ekho Moskvy, June 22, 2010, BBC Monitoring

      (Presenter) The overwhelming majority of Russians have relatives who fought in the war (the Second World War), but their awareness of the details of their lives is declining. Those are the findings from a nationwide survey conducted by the All-Russian Centre for the Study of Public Opinion, as the centre's communications director, Olga Kamenchuk, told us.
      (Kamenchuk) In their own way, the data we obtained are sad. It turns out that, on the one hand, the overwhelming majority of Russians have relatives who took part in the war, but unfortunately only one in three Russians knows about the details of their lives. In addition, as a rule, it was older, better educated people who thought about the fact that their parents and their grandfathers fought in the war. In fact, families are discussing the subject of the war less and less often.
      Five years ago, people talked more about the war. At that time, three-quarters of Russians surveyed talked about what happened during the war, whereas now that figure is two-thirds. Overall, it is elderly Russians who are more likely to talk about the war - they were directly affected by it - as well as those who have relatives who took part in the war.
      As a rule, these conversations aren't relevant to the youngest Russians, in other words Russians of student age.
      (BBCM note: The survey was carried out to coincide with the 69th anniversary of the German invasion of the USSR.)

      Suspended Sentence for Mosque Vandal
      UCSJ, June 22, 2010

      A man convicted of painting a swastika on a mosque was given a one year suspended sentence, according to a June 17, 2010 report by the Itar-Tass news agency.
      Dmitry Shuravin painted the swastika and an "extremist slogan" on the mosque on April 8 of this year in Kurgan, Russia. He was convicted under a rarely used statute--"vandalism motivated by ethnic or religious hatred."


      Omsk Police Detain Neo-Nazis on Hate Crime Murder Charges
      UCSJ, June 22, 2010

      Police in Omsk, Russia detained three neo-Nazis on hate crimes murder charges,
      according to a June 16, 2010 report posted on Jewish.ru. The suspects allegedly killed two ethnic minorities, stabbing one nearly 40 times, before police tracked them down. Police allegedly found extremist literature in the suspects' possession, along with two notches on one suspect's knife, allegedly to mark each victim that they killed.


      Orthodox human rights advocate blames liberals in rehabilitation of fascism
      Interfax-Religion, June 22, 2010

      Kiev, June 22, Interfax - Director of the Human Rights Center of the World Russian People's Council Roman Silantyev believes "liberal human rights advocates and journalists" are much to blame in rehabilitation of fascism.
      Speaking at the organizational conference of the World without Nazism international human rights movement in Kiev, Silantyev noted that "they were so ardently fighting against "cursed past" and called their opponents fascists that eventually equaled Stalin to Hitler, a Red Army soldier to an SS-man."
      According to him, "the so-called anti-fascists" made their contribution to this destructive process, as "thanks to their hooligan demarches general public considers them an aggressive association of marginal minorities rather than fighters against fascist ideology."
      In his turn, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, speaking at the forum, said that today not only individuals, but also whole states manipulate various radical movements at the post-Soviet space seeking geopolitical bonuses.
      According to him, the USSR treated left movements all around the world the same way in the past, then the Western countries in early 1940s. Today the object of manipulation is "pseudoreligious radicals and aggressive nationalists."
      The priest believes that nowadays there are many temptations to fall into neo-Nazism. One of them is "original" interpretation of history after the eye-witnesses who could have told the truth died."
      Fr. Vsevolod urged anti-fascist forces to unite and jointly think over the tactics and strategy of struggling against neo-fascism.


      Ritual slaughter of sheep inspired Petersburg MPs to make up a code of behavior for guests
      Interfax-Religion, June 23, 2010

      St. Petersburg, June 23, Interfax - Petersburg lawmakers accepted a deputy inquiry from the Liberal Democratic Party leader Yelena Babich as she asked the city governor to work out a code of rules for "Northern capital" guests.
      Speaking to her colleagues at the legislative assembly, she noted that the bright example of disrespect to Petersburg culture is sheep sacrifice in the city center.
      "People don't understand that they mustn't do it," Babich said.
      The MP suggested distributing the code in ethnic diasporas. The document should reflect traditions of Petersburg manner of dressing, civilized conduct, common decencies.
      As was reported, in December 2009, Petersburg deputies raged at sacrifice of some sheep in the city center during Muslim feast Kurban-Bairam. They asked city governor Valentina Matvienko to investigate the matter.
      The deputy's inquiry mentions that it took place at the street where all could see and "citizens called for the police, but when officers arrived they did nothing to stop it referring to the lack of corresponding legal base."
      Responding to the parliament, Matvienko said that those who kill animals in impropriate places are subjected to administrative responsibility. Moreover, slaughtering animals in presence of underage persons have signs of the crime envisaged by Article 245 of Russia's Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).


      Likely Hate Crime in Perm Region
      UCSJ, June 25, 2010

      Cars belonging to two ethnic Georgians were torched in nearly simultaneous arsons, incidents that local police are investigating as potential hate crimes, according to a
      June 16, 2010 article in the local supplement to the national daily "Komsomolskaya Pravda." The cars--a Nissan and a Volswagen--we set on fire late on the night of June 15 in Kudymkar, Russia (Perm region).


      Suspended Sentence for Antisemitic Vandal
      UCSJ, June 25, 2010

      A court in Izhevsk, Russia (Republic of Udmurtiya) gave a one year suspended sentence to a man who painted swastikas and antisemitic threats on the walls of the local Jewish community center, according to a June 15, 2010 report by Jewish.ru. Andrey Mokrushin and an unidentified youth, both of whom are members of the neo-Nazi group Russian National Unity, committed the crime on March 12, 2010.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 21, June 25, 2010

      But perhaps the most surprising development in the hectic pre-summit days was that “to the surprise of human rights activists and their own colleagues,” Russian delegates to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly approved on June 22 a harshly critical draft resolution on Russia’s North Caucasus policy, “The New York Times” reported. The resolution says that “human rights violations and the climate of complete impunity were bound to foster the rise of extremist movements.”
      This is not the first time the Strasbourg-based assembly has issued a damning assessment of human rights in the North Caucasus “where separatist wars in the 1990s have given way to a persistent insurgency,” “The Times” wrote. “But never in 14 years of membership has Russia’s delegation voted to approve one, much less praised it as objective and balanced.”
      According to “The Times,” delegates welcomed the vote--132 in favor, with six abstentions--as a historic moment, and the author of the resolution called it a “major signal” of a shift in Russia’s approach to the region under President Medvedev. “I think it shows that they understand the situation must change, and that they actually want to change something,” said the author, Dick Marty, a former prosecutor from Switzerland. “We are far from having found a solution, but I believe we are entering a new era, a period where dialog might be possible.”
      Oleg Orlov of the human rights group Memorial, called Marty’s research “excellent, objective, and harrowing,” and said that the near-unanimous support from the Russian delegation shocked him. But he was more cautious in assessing its significance, saying it could turn out to be “a smokescreen, what we call in Russia a ‘Potemkin village,’ ” designed to deflect complaints raised in the West.
      The resolution cited the European Court of Human Rights that found the authorities engaged in torture and extrajudicial killings, and declared that Russia’s failure to punish these crimes feeds “the nefarious cycle of violence.”
      The resolution criticized Chechnya Presidenrt Ramzan A. Kadyrov for nurturing “a climate of pervading fear.” Kadyrov’s degree of personal power, the resolution said, “appears disgraceful in a democracy.”
      As the vote approached, Russian delegates said they had negotiated to remove the resolution’s harshest language, such as a section that characterized Kadyrov’s rule as “a cult of personality,” “The Times” reported. Once those changes were made, “practically all the resulting part is satisfactory to us,” Leonid E. Slutsky, first deputy chairman of the State Duma’s international relations committee, told the daily “Kommersant.” “It is not complimentary, but it is not biased.”
      According to “The Times,” Marty was “effusive” in his thanks to Russian delegates who assisted him during his research. He said that the report “could have turned into a clash between two camps.” Some of Marty’s toughest comments were directed against European governments which he said were hesitant to challenge Russia on its human rights record.
      An accompanying report cited the murder of Umar Israilov, shot in Vienna in January 2009 as he prepared to testify against Kadyrov, and it said that police have evidence that Kadyrov’s associates were involved. According to Marty, one key witness in the murder, refused protection by Austrian authorities, was killed after his return to Russia, and that a second witness was killed in Azerbaijan.
      “I quoted a former judge of the court who said very recently to me, ‘You know, unfortunately today, gas carries more weight than human rights,’ ” Marty said at a news conference. Austria’s response to Israilov’s murder, he said, “shows the degree to which authorities in European countries are willing to act in a way that is not consistent with the elegant pronouncements on human rights which they emit so often.”


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ’s weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 21, June 25, 2010

      Chechen women say that police had targeted them with paintball pellets for not wearing headscarves, outraging rights activists, Reuters reported from Grozny on June 21. "A car carrying men in military uniform slowed down to approach us, one started filming on his mobile phone, and when they sped away we noticed paint all over our clothes," a woman in Grozny was quoted as saying. Several witnesses told Reuters that men in camouflage, which is what many Chechen police and security officers wear, had fired paintball guns at women from cars in multiple incidents this month. The Interior Ministry declined to comment.
      “The attacks highlight tension over efforts by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to enforce Muslim-inspired rules that in some cases violate Russia's Constitution,” the news agency added.
      "This paintballing is an obvious Kadyrov rule just used to strengthen and tighten his grip over his tiny republic," Reuters quoted Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, as saying. The human rights group Memorial said that it believed police were behind the attacks that fired the paint at women's faces and necks. According to local media, there were about 12 such attacks.
      Last week, fliers from the self-proclaimed paintballers appeared in the city of Gudermes, site of Kadyrov's opulent residence, warning women that if they did not cover their heads the attackers will be "forced to resort to tougher measures." "Isn't it nasty for you, while dressed defiantly, with your head uncovered, to hear various obscene 'compliments' and proposals? Think again!" the flier read, according to a copy posted on the Caucasus Knot web site.


      Russian Orthodox Church and Catholic Church of Poland seek to reconcile people of two countries
      Interfax-Religion, June 25, 2010

      Moscow, June 25, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate and the Catholic Church work on a joint document covering church contribution to Russia-Poland reconciliation.
      The first session of the working group of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church in Poland on the elaboration of a document on the contribution of Churches to reconciliation between peoples of Russia and Poland took place in Warsaw on June 24, the synodal Department for External Church Relations reports.
      The Moscow Patriarchate was represented by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the DECR, the Catholic Church in Poland - by the Primate of Poland Archbishop Henryk Muszynski.
      The working group discussed two versions of the document prepared by the Orthodox and Catholic delegations, reached agreement on its structure and main contents, and decided that they will consider the grievances of the past in the spirit of Christ compassion and mutual forgiveness, whereas experts will make thorough research into the authenticity of historical facts and interpret them. The major part of the document will contain definitions of the spheres of cooperation between the two Churches at present and in the future for the good of the peoples of Poland and Russia.
      The next session is due to take place in Moscow.


      Conference In Moscow Suburb Busts Immigration Myths
      Itar-Tass, June 27, 2010

      MOSCOW, June 27 (Itar-Tass) -- Immigration in Russia is not as massive and dangerous as some claim, said delegates to an international conference, "Immigration in Russia: Social Challenges", which ended in a Moscow suburb on Sunday.
      The Center for Ethno-Political and Regional Studies organized the event.
      "There are many immigration myths and stereotypes," Executive Secretary of the Public Advisory Council of the Federal Migration Service's Moscow branch Yuri Moskovsky told Itar-Tass. "Claims that dozens of millions of migrants are staying in Russia are wrong. The Federal Migration Service estimates the migrant population at five to seven million. The number differs depending on the season and economic circumstances."
      About 350,000 foreign citizens are permanently staying Moscow. Ten percent of them come from Uzbekistan, ten percent from Tajikistan, ten percent from Kyrgyzstan, twenty percent from Ukraine and about 8,000 from China, he said.
      No more than ten percent of migrants are illegal, he said. "It is much easier for a migrant to be registered than to hide from the police. It is a bigger challenge to be an unregistered migrant in Moscow than to drive without a license," he noted.
      Another myth is that many migrants are criminal, Moskovsky said. "Foreigners and stateless persons perpetrated 4,900 crimes in Russia in January 2010. That was slightly more than 2% of all crimes. Meanwhile, foreigners amount to 4% of the entire population," he said.
      Finally, migrants do not send as much money home as they are rumored to, Moskovsky said. "There is no precise information, and the estimates vary from $6 billion to $15 billion. In fact, the money transfers must be viewed within the general socioeconomic context. Private capital exports from Russia stood at $130 billion in 2009, according to the Central Bank," he said.
      "Migrants bring home goods they buy in Russia. According to some estimates, migrants bring 7-8 rubles in revenues per every ruble they earn," the expert said.
      "We need to know the general migration situation in the country. That is not only immigration but also internal migration," Academic Secretary of the Public Council under the Federal Migration Service's Moscow branch Alexander Gasparishvili said. "There must be serious research. It is abnormal that Western researchers know the local migration situation better than their Russian colleagues."

      Fascist publication posted on web ruled extremist
      Interfax-Religion, June 28, 2010

      Moscow, June 28, Interfax - Following a petition lodged by Moscow prosecutors, the Oktyabrsky district court in the town of Izhevsk ruled that an online publication called Bely Bukvar contained extremist material.
      "A specialist from the Institute of Criminology at the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Center of Special Systems has concluded that Bely Bukvar contains calls for extremist activity through violent actions [including murders] motivated by ethnic, racial and religious hatred," the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement on Monday.
      The material "creates positive images of the so-called skinheads, persons associated with the fascist ideology and troublemakers," the statement said.
      The existence of the Bely Bukvar publication was brought to light in November 2008 after it was shown on a television program, leading the FSB to launch a criminal inquiry into the matter.


      Religion is important for most Russians - poll
      Interfax-Religion, June 28, 2010

      Moscow, June 28, Interfax - Majority of Russians (68 percent) appreciate religion (compared to 63 percent five years ago.)
      Women attach more importance to religion (75 percent compared to 61 percent among men), the Russian Public Opinion Research Center told Interfax summing up the results of a poll held in May in 140 cities and towns of 42 country's regions.
      Religion is the most important value for 25-34 year-old (72 percent) and 45-59 year-old respondents (71 percent.)
      Russians believe the most important field in their life is family - 97 percent participants in the poll mentioned it. The second in order of importance is friendship (92 percent.)


      Organizers of gay prides in Moscow and Petersburg have chosen dates for their actions in 2011
      Interfax-Religion, June 29, 2010

      St. Petersburg, June 29, Interfax - The Organizational Committee of the Slavic gay pride specified the date of its parades in Moscow, Petersburg and Minsk in 2011.
      It is planned to hold a gay pride in Moscow on May 28, in Minsk and "Northern capital" on June 11 and June 25, 2011 correspondingly, message of the organizational committee conveyed to Interfax reads.
      The 3rd gay pride will be timed for the next anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York that marked the beginning of the modern world gay movement.
      The first Slavic gay pride took place in Moscow on May 16, 2009. About 40 activists of gay movement were detained in Vorobyovy Gory. During the second Slavic gay pride in Minsk on May 15, 2010, the law enforcement agencies arrested eight participants in the event. According to the organizational committee, two of St. Petersburg residents detained during the manifestation are still under arrest waiting for the trial.


      Russia should formulate stance on Soviet past once and for all - senior MP
      Interfax, June 30, 2010

      Moscow, 30 June: Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev says a common approach to the Soviet past should be drawn up in Russia. "It appears to be high time to draw up a set of principles, a kind of Russia's 'historical doctrine', above all, as regards the Soviet period, which our partners would be able to understand and which would free us from the need to routinely react to any provocations which mainly count precisely on our aggressive response," Kosachev wrote in his blog.
      He believes that this should be the way Russia reacts to the numerous initiatives of the states of Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet space, which pass their judgment on the Soviet period of history.
      In Kosachev's view, the main components of the "doctrine" could be as follows: "Russia fulfils the obligations of the USSR as a state, but it does not answer either morally or legally for the actions of the Soviet authorities; Russia does not accept claims of a political, legal or financial nature against it for the violations by Soviet authorities of the standards of national or international law effective at the time (let alone those that came into being later)."
      At the same time he believes that every post-Soviet state has the right to pass its judgment on the actions of the Soviet authorities inside the country.
      However, assessing the USSR's foreign policy as a subject for historical analysis, and not for political initiatives. "Decision made in the Soviet period in this sphere may be reviewed only with the agreement of all the parties concerned," Kosachev believes.
      He said that Russia, as the successor state of the USSR, "expects its partners to show goodwill in resolving issues related to the position of the people whose lives were shaped by decisions made by Soviet authorities, and to the immovable historic legacy of the Soviet period (monuments and memorials), on the basis of contractual practice wherever possible".
      The MP also believes it is strange that Russia has to react on its own every time to the assessments made by a number of countries which describe the Soviet regime as one of occupation and totalitarian, and sometimes equate Nazism and Communism. "Strangely, Russia has to counter practically on its own the efforts to portray the history of the USSR without any nuances and in all shades of black. It is strange because our society is to no lesser extent the victim of the erstwhile regime, was no less articulate in condemning the crimes of Stalin's totalitarianism, and acted on its own, without external intervention and democratically, to remove the Communist ideology from power," Kosachev notes.
      In his opinion, the present-day Russia finds itself in a trap. "By standing up for the purity of history, even with the best intentions, we appear, at least in the eyes of the unenlightened man in the street abroad, as something not far short of advocates of the Soviet regime, and Russia turns, in the perception of the public, into a successor to USSR's policies, not just its status, thus making it possible to question its reliability as a partner in preventing the return of authoritarianism," the MP believes.
      Kosachev stresses that "only the Russian Communists derive pleasure from our 'scraps over history' with the Europeans: the work is done for them, they have no responsibility and do not even have to apologize".
      The MP notes that this state of affairs does real damage to the country's reputation: "The problem lies in the lack of system in our approaches, in our constantly late reactions to specific decisions and situations, the number and scale of which keep increasing."

      Russia's info presence in CIS has decreased significantly over last 15 years - Duma
      Interfax, July 1, 2010

      MOSCOW. July 1 (Interfax) - Obstacles are being raised in countries of the Commonwealth of Independent Sates and of the Baltic region, which hamper normal development of the Russian-language information space, the State Duma said.
      "Russia's information presence in neighboring countries has shrunk significantly over the past 15 years," says a draft resolution of the parliamentary hearings on Thursday of the position of and support for Russian-language mass media in CIS countries, and in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
      The governing elites of the post-Soviet states knowingly press out the Russian language to suit the political situation, often using economic levers, and cut time for Russian mass media. The information vacuum is being filled by other foreign resources, interested in expanding their presence in the post-Soviet space," the draft resolution says.
      Russia must "ensure its information presence fully in neighboring countries," it says.

      Rights campaigners turn to UN over trial of blasphemous exhibit organizers
      Interfax-Religion, July 1, 2010

      Moscow, July 1, Interfax - Veterans of the Russian rights movements have turned to the UN human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, in connection with the trial of organizers of the Banned Art 2006 exhibit.
      Prosecutors requested that ex-director of the Andrey Sakharov museum and public center Yury Samodurov and ex-head of the Tretyakov Gallery's modern trends department Andrey Yerofeyev be sentenced to three years in jail for inciting enmity.
      The rights activists' letter to Pillay was signed by prominent rights campaigners Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Yelena Bonner, Vladimir Bukovsky, Sergey Kovalyov, Pavel Litvinov and Arseny Roginsky.
      The indictment says that Samodurov and Yerofeyev organized the Banned Art 2006 exhibit in March 2007, where works were displayed carrying humiliating and insulting images hostile to the Christian religion and believers.
      Both reject the accusations.


      June 2010. Monthly Summary
      SOVA Center, July 01, 2010

      In June 2010, a sharp decline of racist and neo-Nazi attacks was registered. A young girl from Yakutia became a victim of an attack in Moscow, a Krishnaite was beaten in Yaroslavl region and a female Jehovah’s Witnesses member in Yekaterinburg. In the same period of 2009, two people were killed and 29 wounded. Due to the natural delay of data collection, the current information on 2010 do not reflect the real situation. We now become aware of most of incidents at least one or two months late.
      In all, from the beginning of the year, 19 were killed and 146 wounded in 33 regions of Russia.
      We deliberately did not include people who suffered from a group known as ‘Primorye partisans’ who committed attacks mostly against officials of law enforcement services in Primorsky Kray in the amount of victims. Although there were ultra-rightists in that group, so far we cannot confirm or deny with confidence that their attacks were based on ultra-rightist ideological grounds. However, we cannot do without noting that this story did not only draw a wide response in the public but also was richly used by the neo-Nazi propaganda for advertising.
      In June, a number of vandalism attacks was registered where ultra-rightists can be suspected of involvement. The one that drew the widest response was an explosion near the doors of a synagogue in Tver on June 20. In addition, a Muslim cemetery was profaned in Chelyabinsk and an Orthodox cross at the laying of a church in Penza.
      In June 2010, at least three guilty verdicts were issued in the cases on racist violence with a hate motive: in Nizhny Novgorod, Izhevsk and Podmoskovye. Seven people were convicted, four were released because the period of limitation expired.
      In all, from the beginning of the year, at least 41 sentence was passed for violence with a hate motive. 144 people were convicted within these hearings (50 of them were released or given suspended sentences without any additional sanctions).
      At least four sentenced were passed for xenophobic propaganda: in Volgograd, Izhevsk, Chelyabinsk and Yugra. Seven people were convicted, four of them given suspended sentences without additional sanctions.
      The retrial against Alexander Yaremenko, editor-in-chief of the Russkoe Zabaikalye newspaper that was planned for June 2010, failed to finish because the defendant escaped from the court. Yeremenko’s case on hate incitement was sent for retrial after the Zabaikalye district court cancel the conviction judgment of 2009.
      In all, from the beginning of 2010, 26 sentences were issued for xenophobic propaganda under article 282 (inciting hate), 4 under article 280 (claims to extremist activity) and one under the both articles. 32, 4 people and one person were convicted respectively, 22 of them were given suspended sentences without additional sanctions.
      We should mention two sentences more issued in June. First, a person was punished for attempting an explosion of a church in Vladimir. He was convicted not only for inciting hate (article 282 part 1) but also for hooliganism with a hate motive (article 213 part 1b) and illegal trade of explosives (article 223 part 1). And in Kurgan, a sentenced for profaning a mosque was issued under a rather rare article 214 part 2 (vandalism with a hate motive). Such crimes are usually qualified by law enforcement services under article 282 for some reason.
      In June 2010, the Federal List of Extremist Materials was updated only once. It grew from 617 to 621 item.
      Only in June 2010, a decision to ban the book The Strike of the Russian Gods (item 289) was finally taken although it was included in the list in November 2008. On the other hand, the decision to ban the website UfaGub (item 373) as extremist was cancelled.
      Thus, as of June 30, the list contains of 621 items of which 33 are included twice and 5 are put in the list inappropriately for the court decisions on banning them as extremist are cancelled; one entry is annulled.
      The most significant event in the normative legal sphere was the approval and publication of a June 15, 2010 resolution of the Supreme Court plenary session ‘On the practice of the use of the Law on Media by the courts.’ The resolution in particular is meant to defend the media from the increasing practice of persecution on anti-extremist grounds such as readers’ comments at web forums, quotations of others’ statements, etc.
      On the other hand, the Constitutional Court did not take into account a claim to explain the juridical sense of the ‘social group’ concept. This will certainly stimulate the continuation of the practice of a free and far too wide interpretation of this concept by those who apply laws. Thus, for instance, a criminal case was instigated in June 2010 under article 282 for inciting hate against the social group ‘police’, this time in a publication in Vechernyaya Ryazan newspaper.
      The practice of illegitimate use of anti-extremist laws does not stop.
      Thus, in June a bill was approved in the first reading crucially widening the authorities of the Federal Security Service in the area of administrative persecution for ‘extremist’ activity. The bill in particular becomes an instrument to intimidate opposition and social activists, exert pressure on them with no possibility to counteract it in any way.
      The anti-extremist legislation is still being used as an instrument to limit the freedom of conscience. Thus, a pressure against the followers of Jehovah’s Witnesses is going on everywhere. Besides, it has become known in June that the religious literature of the Ron Hubbard’s followers was found extremist in many cases. This opens possibilities to persecute the followers of this belief as well.
      The criminal, administrative or even ‘informal’ persecution of opposition and social activists, National Bolsheviks, first of all, does not stop.



      Supreme Court: Web Sites Can't Be Closed for Forum Posts
      By: Natalya Krainova
      Moscow Times, June 16, 2010

      Online media outlets can only be shut down for extremist comments left on their forums if they fail to comply with official requests to delete the comments, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, RIA-Novosti reported.
      User posts on forums without moderation are to be treated the same way as live speeches on radio or television, for which the broadcasters cannot be held responsible, said Supreme Court deputy chief justice Vasily Nechayev.
      The ruling only covers forums of web sites that are registered as media outlets.
      Federal anti-extremist legislation allows courts to close media outlets that receive two warnings for extremist content, which includes promoting hatred based on ethnicity, social status and profession, as well as calling for the violent overthrow of the government.
      Promoting extremism is punishable by up to three years in prison and up to five years if done through the mass media.
      Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling, authorities had the option of shutting down online media outlets for comments on their forums, even if the comments were not endorsed by the editors.
      Ura.ru, the biggest news web site in the Urals known for its critical coverage of local authorities, faced closure after receiving two warnings for extremism over forum comments in April 2009. Federal authorities have not pushed for its closure, and Ura.ru editors have called the situation a blackmail attempt by local officials.
      In March 2009, Kemerovo prosecutors charged an opposition activist, Dmitry Solovyov, with hate speech for posting someone else's critical comments about law enforcement officials on his blog.
      In July 2008, the Syktyvkar City Court handed blogger Savva Terentyev a one-year suspended sentence for a controversial post saying police officers should be "burned at the stake" in city squares from time to time, "like in Auschwitz."

      By: Oleg Sobolev
      Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 16, 2010

      Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin presented a report to the national leadership on performance of law enforcement agencies on Triumphalnaya Square where protests within the framework of Eduard Limonov's Strategy 31 had been dispersed in late May.
      No details of the report are available. It is only known that ombudsman condemned law enforcement agencies for brutality. Even that, however, earned him criticism from the Public House, human rights community, and Jewish organizations.
      The ombudsman was reminded that the protests in question had been organized by Limonov, a renowned extremist. Said Valery Engel, Senior Vice President of the Global Congress of Russian-Speaking Jews, "Supporting freedom of assembly in general, I cannot help liking it that actions such as this are organized by men like Limonov."
      Said Olga Kostina of human rights organization Resistance and Public House, "Lukin is undeniably selective in what he calls his struggle for human rights and freedoms. He is active only when the matter concerns the people he himself sympathizes with. Whenever it comes down to the people he is indifferent to, he never speaks up... I know for a fact that he was approached in the name of Vera Trifonova who was dying in the detention cell then. He never helped her. His office made some formal reply and that was that."

      Moscow City to Codify ‘Unwritten Rules’ for Non-Russians in Russian Capital
      By: Paul Goble
      Window on Eurasia, June 16, 2010

      Vienna, June 16 - A senior Moscow Duma official says that his city plans to “work up a collection of rules” which will help those coming to Moscow to fit in with the style of life of the Russian city and know from a pamphlet to be published outlining “what is acceptable and what isn’t” for all residents in what he described as an “ethnic Russian” city.
      In an interview published in today’s “Rossiiskaya gazeta,” Mikhail Solomentsev, the chairman the city Duma’s committee on inter-regional ties and nationality policy, said that such a set of rules will help unite newcomers with longtime residents by stressing what the two have in common rather than what separates them (www.rg.ru/2010/06/16/solomencev.html).
      But his comments about this plan make it clear that he believes it is migrant workers and non-Russians who must adapt rather than the Russians into whose city the former have moved, an attitude that almost certainly will exacerbate the already tense ethnic relations in Moscow whatever Solomentsev in fact hopes for.
      The paper’s Lyubov Pyatiletova asked the Moscow city Duma official to explain why in the city’s recently adopted conception of nationality policy, “it is written that Moscow is not only a megalopolis and the capital of Russia but also that it is an [ethnic] Russian city,” given that “representatives of more than 160 nationalities live in it.”
      Solomentsev replied that this provision of the conception “means that Moscow is a city, the way of life of which is based on Russian culture and traditions laid down over the course of the centuries and that all who come here to live must take that into account.” By specifying this, he continued, it will help “all residents of the capital without exception to become Muscovites.”
      That in turn means that they will be “members of a community which is greater than a nationality to the extent that in it are intermixed various cultures each of which has its own Muscovite style of life and its own rules of behavior. Look at any arrival,” he said, “and how he chances after literally five years here!”
      Up to now, he continued, there “exist unwritten rules which residents of our city must follow. For example, not to sacrifice a sheep in a courtyard, not to cook shashlyk on a balcony, not to go about the city in national dress, and to speak Russian.” But given the influx of gastarbeiters, some do not know these “unwritten” requirements.
      Consequently, he said, “in the near future we want to develop a collection of rules which will help those who come here and remain in Moscow as permanent residents to fit in.” Diaspora groups have been asked to help, Solomentsev said, and “when we receive their proposals, we will invite scholars and as a result will be worked out the Muscovite’s code of conduct.”
      “An individual will arrive, and those from his area already living here will give him this booklet: look and recognize that here this is acceptable and this is not acceptable.”
      Pyatiletova suggested that this represented a major change in a city where up until now the government has “considered it necessary to help preserve the culture and language of representatives of other cultures.” Does the shift Solomentsev proposes mean that national language schools will cease to exist?
      Solomentsev came very close to saying exactly that. He suggested that “the ethnic component” in schools “will be preserved” but only outside of the normal curriculum. Students can study their native language or dances and the like, he suggested “after their lessons and possibly in another place.”
      That approach, he continued, reflects the judgment of city officials that Moscow should “stress not what divides the representatives of various nationalities but what unites them,” just as the Soviet leadership did during World War II, and consequently it is entirely appropriate for Russia now.
      Just how committed Solomentsev and those of like mind in the Moscow city government are to Russian acculturation if not Russian assimilation of members of other nationalities was highlighted in two other comments he made about the future of nationality policy in the Russian capital.
      On the one hand, he noted that the city Duma has proposed to the all-Russia one that Russian law be changed so that no one charged with any crime involving ethnic or religious hatred could ask for a jury trial. In a multi-national state like the Russian Federation, such crimes are, like terrorism, directed against the state.
      And on the other, Solomentsev said that Muscovites feel they are being overrun by non-Russian gastarbeiters whatever the official statistics say. Such feelings reflect the failure of the central Russian government to adopt a sensible policy limiting migration, he continued, and the city is not to blame.
      Solomentsev’s approach would be dangerous enough even if it remained limited to the city of Moscow, but the Russian capital has often been the originator of dangerous ideas that have either spread to other cities and regions of the Russian Federation or been adopted by the central government.
      In either case, the Russianizing and Russifying impulses behind what Solomentsev is proposing, however popular they may be among ethnic Russians, are certain to be viewed in a very different and more negative way by the nearly one-quarter of the population of that country that belong to other nations.


      ROAR: Scholars decide if "a uniform history textbook" may fight misinterpretation
      By: Sergei Borisov
      www.russiatoday.com, June 18, 2010

      Historians and politicians have discussed proposals to replace plenty of history textbooks with a united book for all schools.
      The State-Patriotic Club of the ruling United Party held a meeting on June 17, devoted to "a state history textbook." While some historians support "a pluralistic approach" in writing textbooks, others highlight such problems as an excessive number of textbooks and contradicting accepted interpretations of historic events. The scholars and public figures have tried to assess if a united history textbook could solve these problems.
      The topic became more acute as Russia was preparing to celebrate the 65th anniversary in WWII on May 9, and many stressed the need to oppose attempts to falsify history. "Manipulating facts of the Great Patriotic War and the Second World War is not only an infringement of our past, it is an infringement of our future," believes Irina Yarovaya, the co-ordinator of the State-Patriotic Club and a State Duma deputy.
      "A great number of textbooks have led to the situation where children get different ideas about historic events, which sometimes misrepresent reality." As a result, it forms a distorted perception of the country's history among pupils, she noted, adding that national identity of Russia should be preserved.
      Another Duma deputy from United Russia Vladimir Medinsky thinks that school textbooks should contain "a unified interpretation of history." He highlighted different commentaries in textbooks about the same historic events or different numbers of Russia's losses in the Second World War.
      This only confirms the need for two textbooks, one for compulsory education and another for schools specializing in humanities, Medinsky noted, speaking at a meeting of the State-Patriotic Club. It is impossible to track a set of textbooks, he said. "But we want to have one country, not a set of countries," he was quoted by Actualcomment.ru as saying.
      Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has made several comments recently about history textbooks. "The perception of the war is actually being formed by books when people start to read," he told Izvestia daily on May 7.
      "In this sense, the mission of a textbook, the mission of literature, on history is absolutely clear," the president said. "A lot of works have been published about the Great Patriotic War... but I think that the quintessence of these kinds of works should be included in textbooks, taking into account inadmissibility of distorting evident facts," he said.
      If children absorb "false information, it is difficult for them to change their point of view later," the president noted. "We all know how it was difficult for many our citizens when, after known events, they discovered very hard, dramatic pages of our history, connected with activities of some leaders of our state."
      In September 2009, Medvedev spoke against discussions becoming a part of the learning process. "I'm not against innovative or avant-garde perceptions of history," he said. "But these research works in no way should be turned into textbooks. Time is needed to recognize unorthodox views of history."
      "There are things that should not be subjects of a public discussion," the president added. Speaking about the events of the Second World War, he described as unacceptable discussions about "who started this war."
      According to a poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center VTsIOM, in autumn last year, 79 per cent of respondents believe that a uniform textbook is needed for all the schools to rule out confusion.
      Some 15 per cent of those polled supported the existence of several history textbooks and the right of a teacher to choose one. Around 21 per cent of these respondent are young Russians aged 18-24.
      The majority (84 per cent) of those speaking in favor of a single textbook are people who take an interest in the Russian history. Some 18 per cent of respondents supporting "pluralism" have never had a keen interest in the subject.
      The State-Patriotic Club supports the creation of a united textbook, Yarovaya said. At the same time, she stressed that a lot of special manuals and literature are published, and people are able to get extra information or study different views of particular events.
      Russia now really has many history textbooks, believes Vitaly Tretyakov, a political scientist and editor-in-chief of Political Class magazine. "They often express contradicting positions, at least they concern certain facts and certain periods of history," he noted.
      "For instance, some scholars assess the Soviet period of history in a positive way, others (more people) treat it negatively, and the third group consider this period as a movement sideways, to deadlock from the way the civilization has chosen," the analyst said.
      "I believe that history textbooks ¬ that is, historical knowledge which is transferred to every next generation by a previous one ¬ should not differ in absurd diversity of points of view and opinions," Tretyakov was quoted by Actualcomment.ru as saying.
      There are two possible options, he believes. First is having a settled position towards the history of the country, which is confirmed by relevant facts and works. "And a canonical textbook should convey this settled point of view," he said.
      "The second option is, unfortunately, our option," the analyst noted, referring to "the society that does not have a settled opinion of history as a whole or a particular period."
      While historians do not agree on views of a particular period, political institutions, and first of all, the president, should publicly and directly assess the period that provokes arguments, Tretyakov believes. "This opinion becomes canonical for some time," he said.
      "When a certain consensus is reached among professional historians about a particular period, these classical, canonical history textbooks will emerge themselves, and they will treat Russian history without any contradictions," he said.
      Some analysts doubt the country needs a uniform textbook. "Today, in the postmodern world, it is impossible to choose and establish one conception as a conception of the state," said Leonid Polyakov of the Higher School of Economics.
      "What is a universal history taught in schools, which helps bring up citizens of the country?" the analyst asked. "I think this question will remain open," he noted. "The simplest way is to follow historic facts punctually," he said, adding that "what happened is irreversible."
      Meanwhile, there are proposals to write a universal history textbook for schools of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The topic was discussed at the first congress of teachers and those working in the educational sphere of the CIS that took place in Astana, Kazakhstan, in April.
      However, even Russia's Deputy Education Minister Isaak Kalina assumed that the task was "unreal," Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said. Maximum of what could be achieved is a united manual for teachers of the CIS countries, he noted. He might have recalled polemics around last history textbooks in Russia, the paper said.
      The first manual for Russian and Ukrainian teachers may appear in October as part of the program of co-operation between the two countries in the sphere of education and science, the daily said. It will be prepared by historians of the Russian and Ukrainian academies of sciences, the paper added.

      Russian Orthodox, Muslims Deeply Split on Plans for ‘Code for Muscovites’
      By: Paul Goble
      Window on Eurasia, June 18, 2010

      Vienna, June 18 - Russian legislators reacted negatively to the Moscow city Duma’s proposal to compile a Code for Muscovites to inform newcomers to the city what kind of behavior is appropriate and what is not, but the very idea of such a code deeply split Russian Orthodox clergy who supported it and Muslim leaders who opposed it.
      The Regions.ru news agency as it often does surveyed the reaction of Russian parliamentarians and religious leaders to the Moscow city legislature’s plan to compose a Code for Muscovites, surveys that showed a clear divide between the legislators and the religious leaders and between the Russian Orthodox and Russian Muslims.
      The parliamentarians, the news agency summed up, “considered the proposal of the capital’s lawmakers to develop a Code of the Muscovite as illegal and discriminatory” and urged the city’s officials to enforce existing laws equally without “going beyond the framework of Russian legislation” (www.regions.ru/news/2297001/).
      Mikhail Nikolayev, the representative of the Sakha Republic in the Federation Council said that this “latest invention” of the Moscow city Duma “could create unnecessary tension in society leading in the end to inter-ethnic conflict.” As such, the code “’plays into the hand’ of extremist groups” who will be able to use it as a recruiting device.
      Khuseyn Chechenov, the representative of Kabardino-Balkaria in the Federation, in contrast, called the proposed code “useful” but since that it “must be written on the basis of all-human norms of behavior and must speak about tolerance, respect and restraint in relation to representatives of other nations and peoples.”
      Gadhimet Safaraliyev, a United Russia deputy in the Duma, called the proposal “a complete stupidity,” especially under conditions of a democratic society. He said that the initiative would lead to an outburst of “militia arbitrariness” as the guardians of order applied something that should not exist.
      The deputy continued that if Moscow officials continued in this way and act as if they needed an entirely separate set of laws to govern the behavior of the people living there, there would be only one more “initiative” they could take: to declare the Russian capital “a separate state” altogether.
      Viktor Shugedov, a Just Russia deputy in the Duma, was equally critical. He said that the proposed measure would “in fact be an effort to divide all citizens into Muscovites and ‘non-Muscovites’” even though “according to the Constitution, all citizens of the Russian Federation have equal rights, regardless of what region they come to Moscow.”
      And Zoya Stepanova, a United Russia Duma deputy, called the Moscow proposal “nonsense” because it “draws a border between Moscow and the rest of Russia. But the main thing is that this proposal contradicts the basic principles of the existence of a free democratic society.”
      When Regions.ru surveyed religious leaders, however, the results were different, with the seven Russian Orthodox Church clergy generally if in some cases cautiously in favor and the four Muslim leaders generally and in most cases unalterably opposed to the Moscow proposal (www.regions.ru/news/2297109/).
      Archpriest Vladimir Vigilyansky, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s press service, said that many countries require a language and even a culture examination for new arrivals and “such practice could be useful to us,” as long as such efforts are conducted in a way that does not offend the culture of the im<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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