The Power of the Waltz to Shape Troubled Young Minds

Russian police wants to know what young people read and listen to

Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev has said that the activity of some internet resources should be restricted to prevent extremism among the youth.

Young people are very often influenced by others, and they commit “the most audacious and cynical crimes on the grounds of national, racial or religious hatred,” Police Chief Rashid Nurgaliev said. He was speaking at the first regional meeting of the new interdepartmental counter-extremist commission in Novosibirsk on Tuesday.

President Dmitry Medvedev created the new body last week in order to combine the efforts of 16 ministries and state agencies to prevent extremism and remove the conditions which fuel it.

Young people should be protected from harmful influence, Nurgaliev said, adding that they are supposed to “continue and develop the traditions of a multinational country that has many faiths.” The authorities and law enforcement agencies are bound to study the situation in the regions so that the state can develop “adequate measures of response”, the minister noted.

To prevent extremism, it is necessary to know the cultural preferences of young people in regards to music, literature and movies, the police chief believes. The monitoring of what people listen to, read, and watch is also long overdue, the minister stressed. Many cultural values that have united people for years, including such important facets of our musical heritage as love songs and waltzes, have been forgotten in the recent times, he noted.  

Russian waltz instructors

Quite recently, however, employers and members of selection committees in universities were interested in young people’s musical and literature preferences, Nurgaliev said. He added it was necessary to see if their current musical preferences are “one-sided.”

The mass media could play its part in preventing extremist manifestations, the police chief said. But he also called for placing restrictions on the activities of some internet resources. The Internet has become “a means of organizing extremist or even terrorist actions,” he noted. The work of certain websites should be limited, “without infringing on the freedom to exchange information,” Nurgaliev said.

The new commission, headed by the interior minister, will coordinate the efforts of the federal and regional authorities in fighting extremism. The police chief has no doubts that the body will bring about real results in the fight against this evil.


The St. Petersburg Times
August 3, 2011
Dozens of Arrests Made at Strategy 31 Meeting
By Sergey Chernov

Around 70 were detained as the police shut down a peaceful rally in defense of the right of assembly on Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s main street, on Sunday, the organizers said. The police admitted to “around 50” arrests during the demo which drew from 500 to 700 people.

The detained were charged with violation of the regulations on holding public events and failure to obey police officers’ orders.

Five people were released later on the same day after being brought to a court that agreed to move their cases’ hearing to their local courts, but most were left at four police precincts overnight. Two women were hospitalized after they fell ill in police precincts, according to the organizers.

Court hearings continued on Monday.

Apart from dispersing the rally, the authorities made preventive arrests, a practice they have not used since the Strategy 31 campaign was launched in St. Petersburg in January 2010.

Olga Kurnosova, the local chair of the United Civil Front and one of the rally’s organizers, said she was detained by plainclothes men, who refused to introduce themselves, near her home as she was heading to the demo. She said she was held in the car for around three hours.

“They were trying to brainwash me telling me that it’s time to stop demonstrating on the 31st day of the month, that I had better think about my children and nonsense like that,” Kurnosova said by phone Monday.

Three activists of the Other Russia political party were detained before they reached the site near Gostiny Dvor, where the event was held.

The police have frequently shown unnecessary cruelty. The St. Petersburg Times witnessed two women being dragged by their wrists, with their backs dragging across the ground. One of them, Alexandra Kachko, had her wrist broken by an unidentified policeman during the May 31 demo.

A passing Navy veteran, celebrating Navy Day which also fell on July 31, was evidently shocked by how Kachko was treated and tried to speak out on her behalf to a police officer. He was also seized and put in the bus, where the detained were held.

The police officers also were seen twisting arms and feet of the detained as they made arrests and pushing people around. Although they tended to arrest people who identified themselves as demonstrators by sitting on the ground or shouting slogans such as “Russia Will Be Free,” a number of the arrested were passers-by and onlookers.

The police claimed that one demonstrator kicked an officer in the jaw, but did not give the name. They said a criminal case would be filed against the alleged offender.

Author Nina Katerli, who came to the demo for the first time with a homemade poster to support a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin into Congress in May to freeze assets and block visas of individuals who commit gross human-rights violations against whistleblowers and activists in the Russian Federation, only just managed to escape arrest.

Katerli, 77, who walks with a stick because of a broken leg, said she wanted to make a speech to urge U.S. sanctions against Russian officials connected to the persecution of imprisoned businessmen Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.

“But I failed, because, first, I had no microphone or anything, and, secondly, as soon as I came I was seized and dragged towards the police bus,” she said by phone Monday.

Katerli said she was won back by people around who were indignant at the sight of her being dragged and that they prevented the police from detaining her until a senior officer arrived and ordered that she be left.

She described the arrests of the activists as “illegal” and a “violation of the constitution.” “Before Putin, you didn’t need any sanctions to hold a demo, it’s outrageous that Putin introduced them,” Katerli said.

Kurnosova said that the participation of Katerli was important. “It’s crucial that people have started to come with their own agendas,” she said.

“Even if they arrest the leaders, people will be coming to the demo on their own; the authorities have to understand that this tactic doesn’t work. The fact that people come to the rally is perhaps the campaign’s main result in the long run.”

The Other Russia local chair Andrei Dmitriyev said that the St. Petersburg authorities showed more intolerance to the demonstrators than the Moscow authorities.

“If in Moscow, they let people sit for two hours and only began arresting people when there was an attempted march, in St. Petersburg they shut down the demo as soon as people sat down on the ground,” he said.

Photos by Sergey Chernov. See his complete photo reportage of the protest and arrests here and here.

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Filed under activism, political repression, protests, Russian society

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