Daily Archives: December 6, 2011

Ilya Budraitskis: A Lone Red Flag

If the social upheaval that has just begun ends with the dismantling of the current regime — and I have no doubt that this will happen sooner or later — it will not only be Putin, United Russia, and Vasily Yakimenko and his lads who are sent to the rubbish heap. The final, irrevocable end will also come to the rotten political system built on the ruins of the parliament [the Supreme Soviet and Congress of People’s Deputies] that was executed in October 1993.

It was back then that this insulting set of false alternatives — Zyuganov, LDPR, Yavlinsky, and the “center-left” shit that constantly changes its dull leaders — was approved.  All of them have been an integral part of “managed democracy,” established by Yeltsin and brought to its present perfection by Putin over the past decade. And all of them must share with it responsibility for the privatization, impoverishment, and trampled rights and dignity of our unhappy, downtrodden population.

And of course, the most cynical and depraved part of this campaign has been the leadership of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). The degree of their contempt for their own people, their thousands of honest, dedicated rank-and-file activists, and their millions of sincere voters is beyond belief. While United Russia and its predecessors falsified and stole votes from other parties, the Communist Party bosses sold the votes of their own supporters. They sold them for comfortable and predictable seats in the Duma, for the opportunity to huff and puff on TV while continuing to pose as the “only real opposition.” They sold them so as to avoid responsibility for anything whatsoever.

They did it in 1993 by running in the infamous elections on the ashes of the [Russian] White House [seat of the first post-Soviet Russian parliament]. They did it in 1996 by handing over their victory to Yeltsin and, in 2000, by submitting to Putin. And finally today, they are again ready to take their seats in the new Duma.

Yesterday, before going to Chistoprudny Boulevard [for the opposition rally] I went to the Communist Party rally, where rosy-cheeked mandarins were “recapping” the election results. It was like some incredibly perverse mockery of common sense. Half of our votes were stolen, they (Rashkin and Klychkov) said. There were gross violations [of election law] at almost every polling station. These elections are illegitimate, criminal. But even in these difficult conditions we have been able to increase the number of our seats in the Duma, and now we are ready to fight for the rights of working people with renewed vigor and even more effectively in the new parliament.

I stood there and thought about how doubly, triply disgusting this deal was, this deal carried out for the umpteenth time under the red flag, under the name “Communist Party,” which was deftly privatized in the wild nineties by a gang of petty grifters.

An hour later, already standing amidst the crowd on Chistoprudny, I suddenly saw a lone red flag shoot up, a flag emblazoned with the hammer and sickle, with the words “Communist Party.” And this struck me as genuinely important, for more than seeing Zyuganov and his accomplices before the tribunal of history, I would like to see the once-deceived rank-and-file members and supporters of the Communist Party alongside me on streets risen in rebellion.

Ilya Budraitskis is an activist with the Russian Socialist Movement.

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Amnesty International: Hundreds held in Russian election protests


5 December 2011

Hundreds held in Russian election protests

The Russian authorities must release all of the peaceful protesters detained over the weekend amid allegations of fraud in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, Amnesty International said today.

More than 300 opposition activists and bystanders were reportedly arrested by police in cities across Russia amid protests against alleged manipulation of votes by presidential candidate Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

“These disgraceful detentions highlight once again the failure of the Russian government to respect its citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly,” said Nicola Duckworth, Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme.

“The vast majority of those arrested since Sunday have sought merely to peacefully express their protest. They are prisoners of conscience and they must be released immediately.”

Across Russia police moved swiftly to pre-empt and disperse potential protests. In Moscow, opposition parties called for demonstrations on Red Square and Triumfalnaya Square against election fraud. Police responded by detaining potential demonstrators and onlookers.

Several well known opposition activists were detained at home or on their way to demonstrations, with some being sentenced to up to 10 days of administrative detention.

“Our staff in Moscow watched as several peaceful people were whisked off the street by police without any provocation,” said Nicola Duckworth.

“Others didn’t even make it to the protests and were instead seized pre-emptively.”

Among the opposition politicians detained is Andrei Gorin from the Other Russia, who was reportedly beaten and sentenced to 10 days’ administrative detention.

Left Front activist Sergey Udaltsov was arrested by plain clothes police officers on his way to a demonstration and has been sentenced to five days’ administrative detention.

Amnesty International is also concerned about the harassment of Golos, an independent election monitoring NGO.

Golos head Lilya Shibanova was detained at Moscow airport and her computer was confiscated, with police claiming its software may pose a security risk.

The NGO was fined for allegedly violating its obligations as an independent election monitor, while its website also came under attack from hackers.

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