Tag Archives: Russia antifascists

How the Nizhniy Novgorod Police Celebrated May Day

A Nizhny Novgorod May Day with the Gestapo: The Arrest and Torture of Antifascists at the Avtozavod District Police Precinct

May First in Nizhniy Novgorod Turned into a Celebration of Genuine Police Sadism

A group of young people strolling in the Avtozavod District Park of Culture and Rest aroused the suspicions of police officers. For the OMON, the crowd of 14 people and their outward appearance (several of them were members of the antifa movement) served as an excellent excuse for arrest, torture, and the application of the most perverse “investigative techniques.” According to the detainees, the police did not even explain to them what they had been taken in for. When one of the fellows attempted to ask for the surname and ID of the officer arresting him, the police began beating him and kicking his legs into the “splits” position.

The young men were taken to the Avtozavod District police precinct, where they were subjected to torture and beatings first by OMON officers, then by officers from the Center for Extremism Prevention (Center “E”) who arrived at the precinct.

The detainees were first tortured by OMON officers, who forced them to sit handcuffed in a crouching position with their arms behind their heads for at least half an hour. In this position, a person’s muscles begin to cramp, but any attempt to move was punished with blows delivered through pea-jackets (so as not to leave any bruises) with billy clubs. The detainees were also forced to do push-ups while the police officers stepped on their hands. This “phys-ed lesson” was accompanied by curses and anti-Semitic, homophobic, and flagrantly fascist utterances on the part of the police.

Here is an excerpt from a conversation between one of the torture victims and his tormenter:

OMON Officer: You’re really doing them push-ups! You some kind of big athlete?

Antifascist: Yes.

OMON Officer: Maybe you’d like to go toe to toe? (laughs)

Antifascist: Let’s do it.

OMON Officer: You some kind of badass?

Antifascist: It’s better than doing push-ups.

Center “E” officers then arrived at the scene. In retrospect, all the torments administered by the OMON came to seem not so “egregious.”

One of the antifascists was beaten on the kidneys through pea-jackets. When this had no effect, he was trussed up with ropes in a contorted position and covered with pea-jackets. Two officers sat on him and held him in this pose for half an hour. Any movement on their or his part caused him excruciating pain. They demanded that he sign a piece of paper indicating his consent to cooperate with Center “E”. After two hours of interrogation, he was forced to incriminate himself by confessing on videotape that he had attempted to organize a (failed) attack on neo-Nazis.

Center “E” officers threatened to give the ne0-Nazis all their video recordings (in which the faces of the antifascists are visible) as well their home addresses and other information. In this way they attempted to blackmail the detainees into signing cooperation agreements with Center “E”.

One of the antifascists was intentionally led into a room at the same precinct where detained neo-Nazis were being processed. (The police were much more polite in their treatment of them. They did not torture them, but only copied their passport information and fingerprinted them.) The Center “E” officers addressed the antifascist by his nickname, which is known to the Nazis, and threatened to give them his address. As one officer said to him, “You do realize that if we leak your address to the boneheads they’ll kill you?”

During interrogations, Center “E” officers held open the eyelids of the detainees and threatened to extinguish their cigarette butts in their eyeballs. They also beat them on the kidneys. The entire proceedings were videotaped, and the officers warned that the detainees would have problems at work and school if they refused to cooperate.

As this was going on, the well-known Nizhniy Novgorod neo-fascist Maxim (aka Shaggy) was freely walking about the precinct house. He had already videotaped the antifascists unhindered when the police were detaining them in the park. In neo-Nazi circles, it is widely known that this person is a member of DPNI (the Movement against Illegal Immigration.) He was also a friend of Sergei “Onyx” Ionnikov, who had already been convicted and served time for inciting ethnic hatred and is now under arrest once again, this time for the murder of a young Nizhniy Novgorod man. There is evidence that Maxim aka “Shaggy” was also detained after the attack in which the young man was murdered.

Onyx and Shaggy

All this circumstantial evidence forces us to conclude that Center “E” uses DPNI members as provocateurs. The antifascists overheard one officer say, “That Oleg Ivanov fucked me over again. He promised there would be Nazi-autonomes, but they didn’t show up!” (Oleg Ivanov is the leader of DPNI’s Nizhniy Novgorod branch.)

The young people were released after five hours in custody. They were formally charged with swearing in public and sentenced to pay an administrative fine. Just imagine it: 14 antifascists gather in a public place and swear loudly! Such actions are not only deserving of indignation, but also of the most Inquisition-like tortures and punishments. This, apparently, is the “extremism” that Center “E” is charged with combatting.

After the beatings he underwent, one of the detainees was barely able to walk; he is now recovering at home. None of the detainees was able to understand  the reason for the cruel treatment they suffered.

***

Joint News Conference following Russian-Danish Talks. April 28, 2010, Copenhagen

QUESTION: Mr President of Russia, I know that this is a question that you’ve been asked more than once and maybe you are tired of it, but I recently saw that 66 percent of Russians believe that Mr Putin is the one who controls the country. Who actually takes decisions in Russia today?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Good question, even though it has perhaps grown somewhat tired; but every question asked at a news conference is good.

You know, Russia is controlled by the Russian people – not Medvedev, not Putin, nor anyone else. This is the first thing.

[…]

Dima and Lars

LARS LOKKE RASMUSSEN: I must say that I was struck by the President’s very strong endorsement of the importance of pluralism and of respecting human rights, and I was struck by the progress that we have seen in this area. But I talked about some of the concerns that Danes have, for example, regarding the murders of journalists in Russia. I expressed my wish that these cases be investigated and that the perpetrators be prosecuted. Denmark’s position on this issue is well known.

[…]

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Let me say a couple of words here too because, first, this topic is important and, second, it is traditional for Danish society and several other countries where such questions are of concern for many people. This is a good thing.

What can I say? First of all, as a matter of fact such topics can never poison the atmosphere because this is a normal issue to bring up. That’s the first thing.

Second: we really do always discuss this sort of questions. I told Mr Prime Minister that we are open to the idea of these topics being discussed with representatives of the Government, representatives of civil society, and representatives of nongovernmental organisations. That said, these are our problems and we will solve them on our own and independently. We don’t need any help from others on this issue – we have to deal with them ourselves.

Finally, there’s one more thing. Of course every crime committed should be investigated, but I do not think that the President or law enforcement agencies should be exclusively preoccupied with the murder of journalists or any other group that share a given professional capacity.

We should seek to eliminate all crimes of this nature because violence against the person constitutes the gravest crime in the Criminal Code of any nation, including ours.

So these issues need to be addressed without picking and choosing, and that’s what Mr Prime Minister and I talked about. I think this is useful, but again I would stress that these issues fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian state and of me as President of Russia.

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Andrei Loshak: Why I’ll Be Marching on January 19th

After they initially had their request for permission to march on January 19 turned down by Moscow city authorities, the January 19 Committee have reached a compromise that will allow both parties to have their cake and eat it too: two standing demos or pickets (at Petrovsky Bulvar, 4, and Chistye Prudy, next to the monument to Griboyedov) with start times staggered an hour apart and with guaranteed safe passage down the boulevards between points A and B. The start time at Petrovsky Bulvar is 19.01; at Chistye Prudy, 20.00. Here is the map of the planned route. If you’re in Moscow on the 19th, join the march! If you’re not, make your way to the nearest Russian embassy or consulate and make your voice heard in memory of Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, and all the other hundreds of people who have been killed and injured by neo-Nazis in Russia over the past several years. Basta!

The January 19 protest action has been publicly endorsed by such folks as writers Boris Strugatsky and Linor Goralik, filmmakers Alexander Mitta and Boris Khlebnikov, musician Andrei Makarevich, artist Vladimir Dubossarsky, and many others.

One of the people who will be marching on January 19 is well-known TV and print journalist Andrei Loshak. He published the following column on the arts and culture website OpenSpace.Ru the other day explaining why he’ll be there.

On the nineteenth of January I plan to take part in a march (which has been curtailed by the mayor’s office to a picket) for the first time in my life. If I’d been at marches in the past, it was only in my capacity as a reporter. I might have been sympathetic to the demonstrators or, on the contrary, felt disgust towards them, but one way or another there was always a distance between them and me, a distance that for various reasons I didn’t want to reduce. But here there is no distance. You walk with a crowd of strangers, and that is the whole purpose.

Of course when “dissenters” [i.e., as at the oppositional Marches of Dissenters] get beaten up [by the police], I feel like intervening and stopping the injustice, because clubbing unarmed elderly people is at very least mean. But I have no urge to embrace the cause of their leaders. I’ll never be able to believe [ex-prime minister Mikhail] Kasyanov with his buttery eyes. I can’t even believe in Khodorkovsky, although I have a lot of sympathy for him. I don’t believe him because he once screwed over a friend of me on a business deal. So I can’t believe in him as the future Saviour, however much I’d like to sometimes. For me, if the imprisoned oligarch is the conscience of the age, then that status comes with some major reservations.

But there are things that aren’t relative. That is, things that are absolute, Nazism among them. It is racially pure, unadulterated, one hundred percent evil. It probably isn’t worth explaining what I mean because it is natural for people to think this way. Anyone who approaches this issue from a relativistic stance by that fact alone arouses serious suspicions. It was possible to doubt until 1933. After twelve years of Nazism in practice, how it is possible to make any concessions to it?

I have a friend named Alem. He was born in Moscow twenty-seven years ago. He went to an ordinary school on the outskirts of the city, and he was different from the rest of the kids in that his skin was slightly darker. His mother is Russian, his dad an Ethiopian. Alem turned out great: a tall man with luxurious dreadlocks, fine features, a toothy smile, and inexhaustible joie de vivre.  Alem was a genuine skateboarding virtuoso, an undisputed authority in this field. In April 2004, neo-Nazis jumped him in the metro. There were two of them. They were decently dressed young men, in white sneakers and jeans, not some sweaty-smelling Nazi skinhead lowlifes. When the train pulled up, these neat young men knocked Alem off his feet and for half a minute smashed his head against the granite platform. Then they ran (or maybe even walked) through the closing doors of the train and disappeared.  It all worked out quite neatly for them.

Alem was in a coma for five weeks. He had suffered a close craniocerebral injury and two cerebral hemorrhages. But he survived and for the past almost six years he has been learning to walk and speak again. On the inside he hasn’t changed at all: he is still the same fun-loving guy. He calls his wheelchair a “board” and he has covered it with skating stickers. Only the famous slogan “Skateboarding is not a crime” now looks a bit ominous. Sometimes he and I go to concerts of his favorite groups — Slipknot, Korn, Cypress Hill. At one of those concerts he leaned over to me and said, “The audience probably thinks I’m such a wild fan, but it’s just this tremor I have!” This is a typical example of Alem’s sarcasm, which is very much in the spirit of his favorite TV series, House.

He has likewise changed little on the outside. He still wears the same brands of clothing and has the same infectious smile, although he was forced to get rid of his dreadlocks. Over the past six years they had become seriously thin, and when his girlfriend left him there was no one to braid them. He is quite strong: from morning to night he walks from one end to the other of his one-bedroom apartment (which he shares with his mom and brother) with a walker, does exercises, and works to improve his diction. I can’t remember him ever once complaining.

Alem is a living verdict against the neo-Nazis. They ordinarily finish off their victims, but he miraculously survived and is thus a flagrant piece of evidence, irrefutable testimony to the reality of their evil deeds. In any other country he would have become a symbol of the struggle against neo-Nazism, but not in Russia, where no one has any use for him. Alem needs constant, expensive therapy, but the state has never given him any money for it, despite the dozens of letters written by Alem’s brother. Naturally, the criminals were also never found.

I sometimes try and imagine them. I guess that they’ve long ago forgotten about this incident — six years have passed, after all. They have changed, too. They have settled down, had kids, and grown beer bellies. Maybe they have even covered their swastika tattoos with Celtic patterns so that they can go to the beach when they’re abroad. Now they’re “oldsters,” and ordinary values — home, family, work — are in first place. They’re just like other people. Except for the fact that sometimes they do the Sieg Heil at a football match just for fun or over beers, amongst their kind, recall past exploits. Maybe, lowering their voices so the kids won’t hear, they recount how they crippled a “monkey” at Borovitskaya metro station.

My dream is that these Übermenschen would stop feeling like honorable family men. That they would tremble in fear because they’d been driven into the underground, a deep, stinking underground. That instead of going to the multiplexes and the Ashan hypermarkets on the weekends, they would have to move from apartment to apartment, use fake passports, and live every second with the animal fear that they could be captured at any moment. They would be made to understand that Valhalla is cancelled, that they face a perpetual Nuremberg Trial that begins in this world and continues in the next.

On January 19 of last year, they murdered Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov. Nastya and Stas were heroes. However sacrilegious it might sound, to be white and be killed by the fascists you have to earn it. They kill people who have fought evil long and fearlessly, who have tried to make its existence unbearable. The neo-Nazis usually lie in wait for such people with knives and guns. They kill so that other people, people who are a bit less bold and bit less committed, will stay at home and enjoy their tiny private joys and won’t venture out to where they’re not invited.

On January 19, Alem and I are going to the march in memory of Nastya and Stas, no matter how the mayor’s office might try to hamper it. To be more precise, I will be walking in the march and Alem will be riding alongside me on his “board.” Being apolitical in our society is considered good form. But this isn’t about politics. It’s pure ethics. Evil or good? Fascism or antifascism? Unfortunately, there is no such comfortable option as “neutrality.” Whose side are you on?

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