Tag Archives: legal nihilism

Legal Nihilism, Medieval Obscurantism and Linguistic Collapse: The Charges against Nadya Tolokonnikova

The notice of formal charges against Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, as filed on May 21, 2012, by Lieutenant Colonel A.V. Ranchenkov, judicial investigator of the second bureau of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Directorate of the Directorate for Internal Affairs for the Central Administrative District of the Main Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for the City of Moscow, and reproduced in the LiveJournal blog of attorney Mark Feygin.

The so-called content of Lieutenant Colonel Ranchenkov’s “formal charges” is such a potent mix of medieval obscurantism, newspeak and a plagiarized high school term paper that you involuntarily imagine you’re reading an elaborate parody. But it’s not a parody: it’s all the “Russian justice system” has managed to cobble together after holding Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alyokhina and Katya Samutsevich in jail for three months and counting. Never mind that “formal charges” of this sort would be laughed out of court in any country that has even a figment of a real legal system. What’s worse is the implied message: we don’t even have to try and make a real case, because the verdict will just be phoned in to the judge when the case goes to trial. Worse still, after reading this crap, is the sense of total societal and linguistic collapse. Not to mention the overwhelming impression of “legal nihilism,” to invoke a phrase beloved of Russia’s previous so-called president.

We would usually attempt a total or partial translation of the above so-called legal document. But this is beyond our powers in this case. Besides, we have what is left of our immortal souls to worry about, and prolonged contact with satanic texts like the one above is prescribed for actual Christians. So instead we’ll encourage you to contribute to the legal defense of Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich.

For contributions in US dollars:
ZAO Raiffeisenbank
SWIFT: RZBMRUMM
Beneficiary account number: 40817840101000100239
Beneficiary name: Feygin Mark Zakharovich
Details for payment: legal services in the case of PR

For contributions in Euros:
ZAO Raiffeisenbank
SWIFT: RZBMRUMM
Beneficiary account number: 40817978701000488760
Beneficiary name: Feygin Mark Zakharovich
Details for payment: legal services in the case of PR

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“In the Middle of a Reactionary Crowd”: Attacks on Journalists in the Moscow Region

Better late than never, we guess: the New York Times on the wave of assaults on opposition and muckracking journalists in the Moscow Region, including Mikhail Beketov and Yuri Grachev, in 2008–2009, and the “failure” of law enforcement officials to make headway in the investigations of these crimes. Especially touching is the story of Pyotr Lipatov:

Farther up the M-10 Highway is Klin, where an opposition rally was held in March 2009 to protest corruption and increases in utility rates.

As Pyotr Lipatov, editor of an opposition newspaper called Consensus and Truth, was leaving the rally, three men pushed him to the ground and punched him repeatedly on the head. “Even when I was unconscious, they didn’t let me go,” Mr. Lipatov said.

This beating was recorded on video by protesters. Mr. Lipatov’s colleagues used the video to track down the men who beat him. They were police officers.

While Mr. Lipatov, 28, was recovering in the hospital, he said two other police officers visited and urged him to sign a statement saying that he had provoked the attack. He refused. The police then issued a statement.

“According to Lipatov, filming the meeting with his camera, he found himself in the middle of a reactionary crowd, was pushed and fell to the ground,” the statement said. Two videos of the demonstration show a different sequence of events.

Officials later acknowledged that police officers had been involved in the attack, but they still brought no charges. Instead, they raided Mr. Lipatov’s offices, seized computers and brought a criminal extremism suit against him. They asserted that he had sought to foment “negative stereotypes and negative images of members of the security forces.”

Fearing for his safety and more criminal charges, he quit.

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How Things Were Done in Petersburg: The Destruction of Submariners Garden

The current regime presents itself, at home and abroad, as having brought “stability” and prosperity to Russia. Russians, the storyline goes, are enjoying the fruits of their new consumerist society, and thus social conflict, much less outright resistance to the powers that be, is insignificant: Russians are buying into this new “de-ideologized” ideology because it allows them to buy a better life. Closer to the ground, however, the picture looks different. In fact, all over Russia, workers are struggling to create independent trade unions and improve the conditions of their work; antifascists are battling to stop the scourge of neo-Nazi attacks on the country’s minorities and foreign residents; and human rights activists, oppositionists, and just ordinary folk are working to make the country’s commitment to democracy and law meaningful (to mention only a few, obvious examples). Because the regime has a near-total lock on the media, most of these conflicts are kept out of the public view, or presented to the public in a distorting mirror. And, it has to be said, the numbers of resisters nationwide are such that it would be wrong to say that society at large is (for now) gripped by a revolutionary mood.

In Petersburg, the most significant front in this “quiet” or “cold” civil war in the past few years has been the conflict surrounding the rampant architectural redevelopment of the city. The attention of observers both foreign and domestic has been focused on mega-projects (such as the planned 400-meter skyscraper that will serve as the centerpiece of Gazprom’s Okhta Center, just across the Neva River from downtown Petersburg), the demolition of the city’s grand, plentiful “architectural heritage,” and the creative, nonviolent resistance mounted by such groups as Living City. Less attention is paid to efforts to prevent infill construction, which has become a particular plague in the city’s “non-classical” outlying neighborhoods, most of which were built during the post-Stalin, pre-perestroika period. Continue reading

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Filed under activism, film and video, interviews, political repression, Russian society, urban movements (right to the city)