Tag Archives: United Russia

Playing the Homophobia Card, or, We Decided to Go Fascist Because We Ran Out of Other Ideas for Ruling the Country

Yesterday we posted an article on an attack on a Moscow gay nightclub by a group of armed men, along with a call by our comrades in the Russian Socialist Movement for the opposition to combat homophobia and other forms of xenophobia in Russia. Now, as it turns out, the victims of last week’s pogrom were actually themselves to blame:

Vitaly Milonov, a deputy in the St. Petersburg legislative assembly from United Russia, is co-author of the notorious law forbidding “promotion of homosexuality.” He blamed the incident in the club on gay people themselves. He said in an interview with Snob.ru that the incident was the “result of the obnoxious, crude and permissive behavior of the gay community. …What other reaction could there be when, in response to democratic actions, they run around like jackals at consulates, beg for another grant and write letters demanding that the authorities be punished? This is a warning to the gay community so that they don’t forget that they live in the Russian Federation, a country with a healthy historical and cultural legacy.”

In case anyone missed that, let us spell it out in plain English: an elected official from Russia’s second largest city, its so-called “window on Europe,” has condoned mob violence against a particular group of his fellow citizens, blaming them—the victims—for the attack. This is fascism.

Oh, and remember Pussy Riot’s desperate attempt to warn their own fellow citizens and the rest of the world about the dangers of a fusion of church and state in Russia? Well, here’s what you get when the merger is a done deal and the gloves come off:

Sergei Rybko, a Russian Orthodox priest, spoke out more forcefully. “The Holy Scriptures instruct us to cast stones at all those guys with nontraditional orientation. As long as that scum is not banished from Russian land, I completely agree with people who are trying to cleanse our homeland of them. If the government won’t do it, then the people will,” he said an interview with Pravoslaviye i Mir (Orthodoxy and the World). He added that he regretted that because he is a priest, “he couldn’t take part in actions of this sort.”

Go here for Victor Davidoff’s insightful essay on what he calls a “witch hunt” against gays, from which we’ve taken the quotations, above.

And in case you were wondering, Russia does have laws against public hate speech. Mssrs. Milonov and Rybko could both be easily and successfully prosecuted for their comments—were it not the fact that, apparently, violent homophobia is now semi-official state policy in Russia.

Here’s another reminder of the grim details:


Russia must investigate gay friendly bar attack
Human Rights Watch
14 October 2012

MOSCOW: Russian authorities should promptly and effectively investigate a violent attack on a gay-friendly club in Moscow on October 11, Human Rights Watch said. The attack took place several days after People’s Council, a nationalist organization, said publicly that homosexuality is “a grave sin” and that it would try to close down gay clubs.

Soon after 9 p.m. on October 11, between 15 and 20 black-clad men wearing surgical masks ran into the 7FreeDays Club, which was hosting a party organized by gay activists in celebration of National Coming Out Day. The attackers rampaged through the bar, throwing chairs and bottles at guests and staff, kicking people, and destroying property. The attacks took place in the context of a sinister legislative trend in which many Russian regions are passing laws to ban “homosexual propaganda.”

“Russia’s leadership has stood by as regions have adopted blatantly homophobic laws,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These laws cannot but encourage attacks like the one last night.”

An ambulance worker at the scene told a correspondent for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta that four people had head injuries and that two of them had to be hospitalized. Several others had bruises and other minor injuries.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that about 70 people were at the party when the attackers arrived. The witnesses said that the attackers had at least two guns, which may have been stun guns, and mace. They rushed into the premises screaming, “You wanted a pogrom? You wanted a fight? You got it!” and proceeded to destroy the club. They held the bartender at gunpoint, forced her face down on the floor, and started smashing the bar, breaking bottles and glasses over her head. They also smashed plates and glasses, overturned tables, and threw chairs and other objects directly at the guests.

The three witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that most injuries were caused by flying furniture and other objects. The attackers, who wore heavy boots, also kicked people, some in the head. One young woman’s eyeglasses were broken by a flying object, and shreds of glass got into her eye. The ambulance workers, who arrived at the club shortly after the attack, provided medical assistance to several people and took two people with head injuries to the hospital.

An activist who was at the club during the attack told Human Rights Watch that although there is a police station close to the club, it took the police half an hour to arrive after they were called.

“The authorities need to send an unambiguous signal that homophobia will not be tolerated, and the first step should be to investigate and prosecute the attackers,” Williamson said. “The second step should be to annul the homophobic laws. They are discriminatory, they violate Russia’s international obligations, and they have no place in a society that upholds the rule of law.”

People’s Council and several other conservative groups have called on the Moscow city council to adopt a law banning “homosexual propaganda.” Such a law has already been submitted to Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma. Legislatures in nine Russian regions have adopted these laws, and similar measures are pending in another seven. The laws use the pretext of protecting children from pedophilia and “immoral behavior.” The propaganda bans are so vague and broad that they could be applied to anyone displaying a rainbow flag, wearing a T-shirt with a gay-friendly logo, or holding a gay-friendly-themed rally.

Russia is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which impose obligations on countries to protect the right of individuals not to be discriminated against, and the rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression. Russia also supported March 2010 recommendations from the Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe to end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The recommendations include provisions to safeguard freedom of assembly and expression without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The European Court of Human Rights has firmly rejected an argument by the Russian government that there is no general consensus on issues relating to the treatment of “sexual minorities.” In a case against Russia for failing to uphold the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to peaceful assembly and expression, the court affirmed that there is “no ambiguity” about “the right of individuals to openly identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or any other sexual minority, and to promote their rights and freedoms, in particular by exercising their freedom of peaceful assembly.”

In September, Russia sponsored a resolution on “traditional values” at the United Nations Human Rights Council that threatens the rights of LGBT people and women in particular. It passed on September 27. The resolution contravenes the central principles of the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch said.

“It’s bad enough that the Russian government is not stopping discrimination against LGBT people in Russia,” Williamson said. “It’s particularly disturbing that the government is essentially promoting a position that will be used to silence LGBT people and groups around the world. Russia should strengthen, not undo, protection for universal rights.”

One slight correction to Mr. Williamson’s essentially correct sentiments: the Russian leadership hasn’t “stood by,” as he puts it, while some of the country’s regions have adopted homophobic laws. They are behind these laws.

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Our Russian Election Day Special

Russia: Was There a Ballot Box?
By Chto Delat (St. Petersburg, Russia)
March 12, 2012

It is no secret that an overwhelming amount of corruption pervades Russia’s civic and economic life. And this [past] winter’s parliamentary and presidential elections proved to be no exception. Anyone who has taken an active interest in the practice of so-called “free and democratic” Russian elections can attest to their being rigged or skewed, to a greater or lesser degree, since 1993. This was especially the case with post-Soviet Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, and his “triumphant” re-election in 1996.

In light of this, it was widely anticipated that in the most recent elections, the ruling party, United Russia, and the campaign of presidential candidate Vladimir Putin—which were, in fact, one and the same entity—would engage in massive electoral fraud to secure vote majorities. Which is why the simple demand for “fair elections,” first made this past winter by a widespread grassroots election monitoring movement, was not just a radical call for change, but also one that proved capable—albeit temporarily and incompletely—of uniting opposition parties and ordinary citizens across the country’s political spectrum.

The grassroots movement turned this unprecedented opportunity to challenge the status quo into a palpable reality, with the main goal of impeding any attempts to manipulate and falsify election results, or, at the very least, documenting them.

No one, however, could have predicted this movement would become so popular among segments of the population that have previously been averse to politics. Young professionals—including lawyers, artists, economists, journalists and academics—suddenly enlisted as volunteer observers at polling stations. They drafted legal complaints and attended protest marches and rallies after monitors revealed the monstrous and despicable tricks the authorities employed to tip the elections in their favor.

This film, shot by the Mobile Observers Group for the Petrograd District of St. Petersburg on March 4, 2012, recounts what the group considers to be a run-of-the-mill instance of electoral fraud: a portable ballot box that should have been used by workers at a local market was stuffed, unbeknownst to the constituents, with ballots marked for Putin. It was impossible, however, to prove conclusively that the fraud had taken place because the “victims” themselves either could care less about what had happened or were too disempowered to do anything about it other than to wish the observers success in their mission.

The most dramatic result of the work done by the Mobile Observers Group was not the evidence it offered of electoral violations, but rather its exposure of the traditional division of Russia into two classes of people: those who recognize the need to act as free citizens and defend common civic interests, and those who remain indifferent. Only time will tell how this conflict, recurrent throughout Russian history, is resolved in its most recent incidence.


Editor’s Note. Although this little bit of exposé reporting might seem like “ancient history” to some, we thought it was worth posting, because elections were held in various Russian regions and cities today (October 14). The effects on the voting population of the system of total fraud sketched above were best demonstrated in Vladivostok, where the turnout was LESS THAN 11% for elections to the city council. As Komsomolskaya Pravda notes, the turnout in Vladivostok was lowest in precincts where the greatest number of candidates had been tossed off the ballot before election day, while it was highest in the single precinct where all candidates were allowed to run.

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Petersburg: Rocking the Vote

The St. Petersburg Times
December 14, 2011
More Than 10,000 Gather at Biggest Rally in 10 Years
By Sergey Chernov

Semi-spontaneous protests against widespread fraud favoring pro-Kremlin party United Russia at the Dec. 4 State Duma and St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly elections resulted in the biggest rally St. Petersburg has seen in the past decade, drawing more than 10,000 on Saturday.

Part of the national campaign of protests demanding the annulment of election results because of multiple violations — the largest being a rally in Moscow attended by between 25,000 to 150,000, according to various estimates — the St. Petersburg rally was organized via Vkontakte (the Russian equivalent of Facebook) originally as an unauthorized assembly on Ploshchad Vosstaniya in central St. Petersburg.

The Vkontakte group was called “We didn’t elect crooks and thieves,” the “party of crooks and thieves” being a popular name for United Russia coined by Moscow opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

"Putin is a thief!"

During the rally buildup, Vkontakte’s CEO Pavel Durov was summoned to the St. Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office on Friday after he publicly rejected demands by the Federal Security Service to shut down anti-fraud protest groups on his social network, while St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko condemned the protests as foreign interference.

“I can’t call what’s happening in our city anything other than a provocation, carefully planned abroad,” Poltavchenko said, speaking on the City Hall-financed Sankt-Peterburg cable TV channel Friday.

On the same day, St. Petersburg police chief Mikhail Sukhodolsky warned the public against participating in “unsanctioned protests,” arguing that using massive police force to break up protests results in crime-prone areas being left without police presence.

Before Saturday’s sanctioned rally, daily protests near Gostiny Dvor were held from Dec. 4 through Thursday, Dec. 8, resulting in around 630 to 640 arrests in total, according to Memorial human rights group. Tuesday saw the highest number of arrests at 247.

Those arrested, many of whom were held for one to two days in police precincts, were charged with violating the rules on holding assemblies and with failure to follow police orders. A number were sentenced to three to 15 days in custody.

Filipp Kostenko, sentenced to 15 days, and Viktor Demyanenko, sentenced to 10 days, are holding a hunger strike, Memorial said in an e-mail. Also in custody are Alexander Yashin (13 days), Alexander Martynov (10) as well as Pavel Kushch, Ilya Kostaryov and Dmitry Sharov, whose sentences are unknown. They are expected to be released between Dec. 15 and 21.

Human rights groups and the opposition said the arrests were illegal, as they violated the constitution and international agreements that Russia had signed.

The Russian law on public assemblies adopted in 2004 requires that organizers submit an application 15 days before a rally is held. Therefore the earliest protest the organizers had time to apply for would have been held on Dec. 18.

Preparation for Saturday’s rally was somewhat chaotic, as some groups urged people to meet at other sites, while the eventual site of the standup rally was not named until Friday evening after last-minute negotiations with City Hall were held.

United Civil Front (OGF) local leader Olga Kurnosova, who initiated the talks, said Tuesday that authorization was received in an “unprecedented manner.”

“Poltavchenko gave orders to police chief Sukhodolsky to provide all kinds of assistance to those rallying on Pionerskaya Ploshchad,” she said by phone Tuesday.

Hundreds, however, gathered at Ploshchad Vosstaniya and marched to Pionerskaya Ploshchad without the police attempting to stop or disperse them, except for a small clash on Nevsky Prospekt that resulted in about 10 arrests.

The rally drew a broad range of political groups, from anarchists to nationalists, but it was ordinary citizens enraged by electoral fraud who dominated the event. Many couldn’t get onto the square because of a lack of space and police cordons, and stood in nearby areas and streets, trying to listen to the speeches.

In addition to the annulment of the election results, the rally’s demands included change to restrictive election legislation, the registration of all political parties and punishment of Central Election Commission chairman Vladimir Churov. The authorities were given a week until the next rally — to be held at the same place on Dec. 18 — to react to the demands.

Yabloko, which won six seats out of the 50 in the Legislative Assembly, added to the chaos surrounding the organization of the rally by sending out a statement Friday evening urging people not to come to what it called an “unauthorized protest” on Ploshchad Vosstaniya, but to come to a “peaceful assembly” near Kazan Cathedral instead.

“Provocateurs from the ‘opposition’ and the current authoritarian regime are jointly driving the situation to bloodshed,” Yabloko’s local chair Maxim Reznik wrote. After finding out that City Hall had approved a rally on Pionerskaya Ploshchad, Reznik later encouraged people to go there.

Speaking to several dozen at a small rally near Kazan Cathedral, Reznik said that the cancelation of the election results that the “radical opposition” is demanding coincides with the interests of city authorities. Explaining his position by phone Tuesday, he said that the official results of the elections should be corrected and changed to the real results of the voting, rather than cancelled altogether.

Reznik said that the opposition had taken “half the seats” in the Legislative Assembly, including Yabloko’s eight seats, A Just Russia’s 12 seats and the Communist Party’s seven seats, as opposed to United Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia’s 20 and 5 seats, respectively.

Yabloko was not allowed to take part in local elections in 2007, when a number of signatures they collected were declared “invalid,” and had been absent from the Legislative Assembly until now.

Later Reznik came to Pionerskaya Ploshchad, where the main rally was held, but was not allowed to speak by the organizers, he said. Kurnosova said Tuesday that she, as the organizer, had not been approached by Reznik.

Yabloko’s Yuly Rybakov, who did speak at the rally, directed his criticism toward “communist extremists and National Bolsheviks,” rather than to the authorities.

He said the radicals would try to engage the non-political young people who attended the rally in their networks.

According to the Other Russia party’s local chair Andrei Dmitriyev, the authorities are unlikely to meet the rally’s demands.

“People shouldn’t just let off steam, which is obviously the tactic chosen by the authorities,” Dmitriyev said.

“It’s smart enough for them. They did not use violence during the rally, and issued a permit to Kurnosova quickly enough. They’re waiting for the wave to calm down and everything to return to normal.”

Despite the ultimatum to either hold new elections or face a new wave of protests, Poltavchenko failed to react and the City Election Committee confirmed the election results Monday, he said.

“That’s why we should increase protest activity and radicalize these protest activities,” Dmitriyev said. “If rallies on Pionerskaya Ploshchad can’t force Poltavchenko to react, they should move closer to City Hall.”

In connection with Saturday’s protests, 45 were detained in central St. Petersburg, the police told Interfax. Twenty-seven were detained on Senatskaya Ploshchad for a flash mob called “The Funeral of Democracy,” during which participants stood with their mouths taped shut, holding candles.

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The Politicization of Young Russians, Part 2

December 7, 2011. Pushkin Square, Moscow: United Russia “victory rally”

dstebakov: “A so-called rally in support of the legitimacy of the elections and United Russia’s victory. In fact, most of the demonstrators came here against their will. They were either tricked or forced [into attending the rally].


Meanwhile, Lenta.Ru reported today that the Moscow Municipal Department of Education has ordered schools in the city’s Central Administrative District to make tomorrow, December 10, a full school day (from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) for forms nine through eleven. In addition to administering a Russian language test to students, the schools have been ordered to have home room teachers conduct a “supplemental discussion” with students on the “rules of safe behavior in the city.” This discussion is to take place at 5:30 p.m.

Tomorrow, both authorized and “unauthorized” protest rallies against massive vote rigging and other “irregularities” in this past Sunday’s parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in central Moscow.

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Russian Socialist Movement: “Let the Streets Speak!”


The most boring election campaign in the past twenty years has ended with a crushing moral defeat for the establishment. It hardly matters whether United Russia will gain a super-majority in the Duma or has to share seats with LDPR or A Just Russia. What matters is that, despite all the invocations of stability, all the clever scenarios and vote rigging, the Russian people have loudly declared their right to change. The elections have powerfully demonstrated a lack of confidence in the entire political system as embodied by the “party of swindlers and thieves.” Amidst the suffocating atmosphere of stagnation and hopelessness something new can be sensed in the air. Is it a quickly passing Thaw? An Arab Spring? A February Revolution?

From now on, we are faced with an old regime that is unpopular and illegitimate in the eyes of the active part of society, a regime that will inevitably attempt to govern in the old way even as this becomes more and more problematic. On the other hand, we see a huge mass of people who hate the party of swindlers and thieves. What is more, these people publicly humiliated the regime on December 4, only to be cruelly deceived once again. Finally, we have an utterly false and impotent “systemic” opposition, an opposition that people voted for according to the “anyone but them” principle, and whose electoral success was bad news even for itself. As part of the establishment, the systemic parties will undoubtedly seek to form blocs and coalitions with United Russia. The only question is whether they will be able to settle on a price. Echoing Dmitry Medvedev, Sergei Neverov, secretary of the United Russia General Council Presidium, has already said that the party is counting on forming strategic alliances with LDPR and A Just Russia. “This will be […] a parliament in which there is serious discussion,” he said. “The opposition are not enemies. The opposition are people who have an alternative opinion, a different opinion. And if this opinion coincides [with ours] on certain questions, then they’re welcome! We’re ready to cooperate,” said Andrei Vorobyov, chair of United Russia’s central executive committee. He opened wide his liberal arms even as police on the streets of Moscow and Petersburg were beating up demonstrators protesting election fraud.

“Politics is the art of compromise, an art that allows one to find a balance between different political groups,” Nikolai Levichev, the chair of A Just Russia, diplomatically declared a few hours after the vote. “Vladimir Putin has spoken of the need to overcome social inequality. We agree with this, but everything depends on what paths are proposed. If these paths don’t suit us, then there will be no coalition.” Hence, the head of the “party of swindlers and thieves” is pursuing the same good ends as A Just Russia, only the paths taken are a bit different. Well, well, we’ll see what happens next.

Igor Lebedev, leader of the LDPR faction in the Duma, is even more straightforward, engaging in outright bargaining, without any ideological embellishments. “We are ready for conversation and reasonable dialogue, but only as equal partners, not as stooges.”

It is obvious that, with such an “opposition,” working people should not expect any progressive changes in their lives. There has never been and never will be anything in the histories of these parties, including the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, other than treachery. The handful of trade unionists and social activists who have made it into the Duma and the regional parliaments on the Communist and Just Russia lists will be unable to affect the essence of their policies. The most they can do is to lend support as they are able to the extra-parliamentary movement, as such people as Oleg Shein, Oleg Smolin, and several others have done in past Dumas. At a time when genuine trade unions and civic movements are weak, and pressure from the repressive security forces will grow, this is important albeit secondary.

Now the streets must become the arena of political struggle. Russia will either take its place in the global anti-capitalist movement, or again sink into apathy and stagnation. Voting for “anyone but them” should be replaced by the struggle for clearly perceived social interests. New, independent political forces must replace the old corrupt parties. If the left wants to be such a force, it must become a party of action. We must confront nationalist populism, which derives political capital from anti-immigrant rhetoric, with the simple, clear idea of the struggle against the bourgeoisie and the parasitic bureaucracy inseparable from it, against the rich bastards who have commissioned the hideous farce known as Russian politics!

The Russian Socialist Movement’s appeal: “Everyone into the streets! Russia for working people!”

These should be your demands:

Cancel the results of the fake elections!

An end to repression: the police and the army on the side of the people!

The president and government must resign!

No coalitions and agreements between opposition parties and United Russia!

Free elections involving all parties and social movements!

Freedom of rallies, marches and strikes!

Free education and healthcare: suspend Federal Law No. 83 and other anti-social laws!

Nationalization of banks, oil and gas resources!

Progressive taxation: let the rich pay for their crisis!

Price controls on consumer goods!

Worker control in the workplace: worker participation in management and distribution of profits!

Revolution – Democracy – Socialism!

December 6, 2011 

Russian Socialist Movement


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Post-Election Police Crackdown on Petersburg Protesters

The St. Petersburg Times
December 7, 2011
Police Crack Down on Protesters on Nevsky Prospekt

By Sergey Chernov

Police detained dozens who peacefully protested against widespread violations in the State Duma elections. These violations allegedly increased the percentage of votes for United Russia, while reducing vote totals for rival parties. This tendency was also noted in St. Petersburg.

An estimated 1,000 came to protest the violations at Gostiny Dvor Metro Station on Nevsky Prospekt in central St. Petersburg, Monday — three times as many protesters as on election evening, Sunday.

The Monday protest was not organized by any political group and mainly consisted of people who had not previously participated in protest rallies. They organized the protest via the Russian social network Vkontakte (the country’s equivalent of Facebook), as soon as reports about large-scale ballot-stuffing, expulsion of observers and rigging of the the results started to appear.

“It was mostly students from various universities, active Internet users,” Maxim Tomchin, one of the organizers said.

Tomchin said the protesters came together via several groups on Vkontakte which were launched by St. Petersburg residents for the elections. He was an administrator of one of the groups.

“Originally, we were urging people to vote for any party except United Russia, but as news about violations started to come on Sunday, three groups were formed to protest them,” he said.

“We had no idea what an unauthorized rally was and how the authorities would react to that.”

Police reacted by surging into the crowd and arresting people, as they did during the Sunday rally that featured parties not allowed to participate in elections.

Police said that about 150 were arrested (about 120 near Gostiny Dvor and about 30 near Moscow Railway Station). Human rights activists said that for most of them it was the first time they had been arrested and they did not know how to behave in a police precinct or what their rights were.

According to Tomchin, after the rally, participants split into three large groups.

The largest group chose to act by holding authorized events, while a smaller group — which included participants who had been detained on Monday — became more radical and decided to continue protesting the following day. The smallest group “got scared and decided not to participate at all.”

Tomchin said he submitted an application to City Hall Tuesday to hold a meeting on Dec. 18. The Other Russia, Yabloko Democratic Party, the People’s Freedom Party (Parnas) and Solidarity Democratic Movement have backed the rally. According to a Russian law introduced by Putin, authorities must be warned about any planned rally 15 days in advance.

Tomchin said his group, while remaining non-partisan, will demand the election results be revised and is preparing to counter these kind of violations at the upcoming presidential elections.

He said the upcoming rally’s Vkontakte group was growing quickly, with one or two people joining every minute.

Maxim Reznik, local chair of Yabloko, said his party will meet A Just Russia and the Communist Party (KPRF) to discuss possible joint protests on Wednesday.

He compared the struggle of observers against violations to the Battle of Stalingrad, a fiercely fought WWII battle. “We will act in every way to dispute the results and organize a massive rally,” Reznik said. “It’s important to get a lot of people together.”

On Sunday, 300 to 400 protesters gathered at the same site near Gostiny Dvor as elections were taking place.

These protesters argued that the elections were not legal because the authorities repeatedly refused to register several oppositional parties including The Other Russia, Parnas, and the Russian United Labor Front (ROT Front).

“Your elections are a farce” was one of the slogans. Some protesters held an image of Putin’s face with a line struck through it. According to police, 65 people were arrested on Sunday and charged with both failure to follow police orders and violating the rules of assembly. Activists said that more than 90 were arrested.

On Monday, three Other Russia activists, Andrei Milyuk, Sergei Chepiga and Sergei Chekunov, were sentenced to three days each in custody.

A number of activists complained about police beatings. Olga Kurnosova, the local chair of The United Civil Front (OGF), who was arrested on Sunday, said Tuesday she had a suspected concussion and many bruises.

Other Russia activist Igor Chepkasov said policemen beat detained protesters in a bus. During the beatings they broke a window in the bus in which he was being held.

Other Russia’s local chair Andrei Dmitriyev sees the Monday rally as a good sign. He said his party’s activists were not aware of the event in advance and headed there when they heard the news.

“On Sunday, it was as expected; a group of opposition activists and concerned citizens came to protest at Gostiny Dvor or Triumfalnaya Ploshchad [in Moscow] and got detained by the police,” Dmitriyev said.

“We thought it would be a one-time thing and that there would not be massive people’s protests. Ten thousand people came to the rally in Moscow and a thousand came to Gostiny Dvor. This is very serious, especially because they are not political activists, but ordinary people who are upset by the elections and who are not prepared to tolerate this.

“People feel deceived, they feel that their victory has been stolen, they feel injustice. They’ve started to realize that the question of power can’t be solved through elections. This is a very bad sign for the authorities.”

On Tuesday, protests at Gostiny Dvor continued. Police started detaining protesters at around 7 p.m.

Editor’s Note. According to official sources, 247 people were detained during Tuesday evening’s protests in downtown Petersburg.

Photo: http://vkontakte.ru/beliy_volk

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“Anti-Devil”: “Performance Art” as a Weapon of the Kleptocratic Police State



At 8:00 p.m. on December 4, the action “Anti-Devil,” an art house-style theatrical performance based on F.M. Dostoevsky’s novel “The Devils,” will begin on Saint Isaac’s Square. A phrase by the great writer — “The finest people must unite!” — is the action’s leitmotif. We call on people to unite against turmoil and social upheaval, and for the legitimacy of the authorities, as confirmed during the elections.

The stage will be erected on the Blue Bridge, right in front of the Mariinsky Palace [home of the Petersburg Legislative Assembly]. Petersburg actors, artists, dancers and musicians will perform key dialogues from the novel, as well as original numbers and performances dealing with the deeds of devils in Russia. Artist Daniil Tikhonov will present a new, relevant drawing from his acclaimed series “Dostoevsky FM.”

The Russian folk proverb “Stomp your feet, devils, but not in our forest!” will serve as the main slogan of this massive ritual.

The action, produced and directed by Yana Bogdanova, has been initiated by the Angry Artists art community.

The Arts Faculty of Saint Petersburg State University (Valery Gergiev, dean), the New Man Institute (Sergei Bugaev Afrika), and the Saint Petersburg Arts Support Center (Alexei Sergienko) have already expressed their support for the creation of [this] original performance.

Andrei Tatarinov, member, Russian Federation Public Chamber:
“Devils are temptations and the people who succumb to them. It was thus in the Russian Empire, and so it is [today] in the Russian Federation. Greed, the consumerist itch, and unbelief generate provocateurs, traitors and criminals of all stripes. Just like Dostoevsky’s ‘The Devils,” our theatrical performance is about those who for their own benefit or out of confusion fervently desire the collapse of society and state.”

Admission is free for viewers.
The event has been authorized by the Saint Petersburg Municipal Administration.

UPDATE. Not that it should surprise us, but only activists from The Other Russia party had the moxy to challenge this little bit of police-state “artistic” demonism, endorsed by world-famous Petersburg cultural maestros Sergei Bugaev Afrika and Valery Gergiev.

04-12-2011, 22:11:40 // Saint Petersburg
The Protest Action Near Gostiny Dvor Ended Outside the Electoral Commission

At 8:00 p.m. in Saint Petersburg, when voting had officially ended, activists from The Other Russia who had not been detained near Gostiny Dvor metro station appeared outside the Mariinsky Palace, where the city’s electoral commission is headquartered. There, on the Blue Bridge, a pro-Kremlin action sponsored by the Young Guards, entitled “Anti-Devil,” was getting under way.

Two Other Russia activists, Oleg Bespalov and Yevgeny Pavlenko, climbed onto the stage that had been set up by the Young Guards. The activists set off flares and being chanting, “Your elections are a farce!” The protesters were fairly roughly detained by the security hired by the pro-Kremlin youth and turned over to police. Oleg Bespalov was beaten up. After the arrests, police officers summoned one of the organizers of the pro-Kremlin happening and demanded that she file a written criminal complaint [against the arrested activists].

Yevgeny Pavlenko and Oleg Bespalov have been taken to police precinct No. 2. Both were badly beaten and there are fears that they have suffered concussions, but Center “E” officers [anti-“extremism police] who arrived [at the station] are refusing to let doctors take them to hospital.


Photo by Vladimir Telegin.

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Vote Rigging in Russia: Reports from the Field

A journalist friend of ours just called and told us the following story. He had just got a call from a local musician, a member of an extremely popular local band with a national and international following. This musician had gone today to his polling station in Saint Petersburg to vote, only to be told that he had already voted! When polling station officials showed him the ballot he’d allegedly submitted, he tried to take a photograph of it. Polling station officials tried to have police detain him for this impudent civic act, but in the end let him go.

Meanwhile, his friend and band mate also tried to vote today, at another polling station in Russia’s “Northern Capital.” He was also informed by polling station officials that he, too, had “already voted.” What are the odds of an “irregularity” of this sort happening to two members of the same band at two different polling stations in a city of five million people?

So if and when, later today or tomorrow, Vladimir Churov (the chair of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission and a flagrant clown obviously appointed expressly for the purpose of totally discrediting the idea of free and fair elections in the minds of Russian voters) announces yet another “decisive” victory for United Russia, you, dear readers, should have no illusions: the fix was in from top to bottom, from Vladivostok to Smolensk, from the very beginning to the dismal, criminal end of this so-called election campaign.

If this isn’t the case, then it’s hard to imagine why the campaign to discredit the Golos Association, the only independent election monitoring organization in Russia, or today’s cyber attacks on the web sites of Golos, Echo of Moscow, and other media outlets were necessary.

Or consider this: a Nashi activist in Veliky Novgorod, caught red-handed the other day offering cash for absentee ballots:

And here, some nice old ladies at polling station no. 1484/1485 in Yekaterinburg are shown diligently engaged in filling out ballots ahead of time:

If you think these are “isolated” incidents (as Churov and his band of statistical pirates will no doubt claim), think again.

Finally, there’s such a thing as “soft” coercion, as witnessed by a Facebook friend of ours in Peterhof, a glorious imperial suburb of Petersburg:

I just got back from the polling station, where a friend and I unanimously voted for Yabloko [a democratic opposition party]. In the foyer of the school [where the polling station is located] there’s an exhibition of children’s drawings entitled “Our Strength Lies in Unity.” They think they’re so clever. But no, they’ve proven once again that they’re crooks.

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The United Russia Guide to Winning Hearts and Minds. Strategy 5: Turn Reality Upside Down, Accuse Voters of Being “Hysterical” Wives. If That Doesn’t Work, Kidnap Their Kids and Threaten to Cripple Them

And now a special treat for all our readers struggling to master the “great and mighty” Russian tongue:

Here’s what we learned from watching this campaign advert:

  • “Everything will be okay” (in Russia).
  • According to polls, between forty and sixty percent of voters “plan” to vote for United Russia on December 4.
  • The disembodied voice narrating the clip has “personally talked to thousands of people over the past week.”
  • Something about Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, and other gadgets: they were (apparently) invented by United Russia.
  • When it asked her “what has changed for the better during the past five years,” one young lady in Ivanovo told the disembodied voice that she now can go to a “3D movie theater” with her girlfriend.
  • Another person likes the fact that now “fat ducks” float in the river rather than “rusty refrigerators.”
  • Hence: everything is already okay (in Russia).
  • Everything sucks everywhere else: financial crisis, people (especially “darkies”) demonstrating in the streets, etc., etc.
  • The state is the husband, society is the wife.
  • The “wife” (society) can “divorce” the “husband” (the state) if “she” likes and run off with Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky or Navalny, but then when things go sour, don’t come running back to me.
  • Part of the reason that the “wife” (society) has these funny thoughts of running away from the “husband” (the state) is that she spends a lot of time surfing “social networks.” These cause her to “lose her mind.”
  • “People are smiling, the future exists, problems are being solved one after another.”
  • “The brain is used to live better and richer, not to ‘go into hysterics’ at the drop of a hat.”
  • It would be “unfair” to Medvedev if on December 4, 5, and 6, the only people on the streets of Moscow were those people who think they live in an “awful country.”
  • The disembodied voice will “personally” mobilize and transport “15,000 people” to Moscow on December 4.
  • If the disembodied voice and the 15,000 people it has assembled and transported to Moscow encounter anyone in the streets of Moscow who is “dissatisfied,” the disembodied voice will tell these inexplicably disgruntled people, “Smile! Everything will be okay!”


Meanwhile, back in the dark land of the inexplicably disgruntled…

December 1, 2011

On December 1, Yana Bannikova, a minor and the daughter of Olga Bannikova, secretary of the Bratsk CPRF municipal committee, was abducted in the vicinity of the Bratsk Music College, on Komsomolskaya Street. The 16-year-old was forcibly put into a car without license plates. Three masked men were involved in the abduction. After badly frightening the girl, they demanded that she tell her mother to stop campaigning for the CPRF. Otherwise, they promised to cripple the girl.

A kidnapping report has been filed with the Investigative Committee.

Thanks (so to speak) to Comrades M. and D. for the heads-up.

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Vitaly Milonov, Petersburg Lawmaker

Vitaly Milonov

Kommersant Saint Petersburg
November 24, 2011


According to Vitaly Milonov, [consideration of the bill he introduced into the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly, which would make “promotion of homosexuality” an administrative offense punishable by fines] was postponed “due to legal ambiguity.” “There are certain slippery aspects in the wording of the bill that might hinder its implementation. Basically, these are terminological ambiguities. For example, the concept of ‘lesbianism.’ It could happen that residents of the Greek island of Lesbos who promote their own lifestyle would be subject to fines,” Mr. Milonov explained to Kommersant. In addition, there is no clarity in how the concept of ‘promotion’ [literally, “propaganda” of homosexuality] would be applied, which the legislative assembly’s legal office also pointed out. Vitaly Milonov admitted that his committee is now considering a legal analysis of the text of the bill prepared by the NGO Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms, which “the homosexualists sent” to Mr. Milonov. The multi-page text of the opinion (which Kommersant has obtained a copy of) concludes that the proposed bill is unconstitutional, contradicts a number of international conventions, and “also contains significant shortcomings [from the standpoint] of legal procedure.” Deputy Milonov had to agree with the legal experts and the sexual minorities, saying that now all amendments [to the bill] are being “put in order.”

However, a source in the Legislative Assembly has told Kommersant that deputies are unlikely to consider the bill on fines for gay agitators even at their final session [before the December 4 elections]. “We didn’t expect such a violent reaction in the press. The bill, which is Vitaly Milonov’s pet project, ended up on the agenda through a strange turn of events: United Russia thought that it might generate [positive] ‘campaign buzz’, winning over the conservative part of society. But now we see the opposite effect: the entire country has learned the names of the ‘main homophobes in Russia’ — Milonov and Babich. (LDPR deputy Elena Babich is an active supporter of punishments for gay propagandists.)  This might have a negative impact during the upcoming elections. The next  Legislative Assembly can decide what to do with this foul-smelling story,” the source in the Legislative Assembly told Kommersant.

The gay community notes with satisfaction the contrary effect [generated by] the United Russia initiative. Igor Kochetkov, director of the LGBT organization Coming Out, told Kommersant that if the bill becomes law he will “be the first to have it applied.” “As soon as the law takes effect, I’ll go right to the city prosecutor’s office and demand that Milonov and Babich be prosecuted for promotion of homosexuality,” Mr. Kochetkov promised. “You can’t imagine how people’s attention to our problems has grown after their public statements. We’ve literally been flooded with letters and calls of support. In Russia alone, we’ve collected over ten thousand signatures on a petition against passage of the law.”

Natalia Yevdokimova, secretary of the Petersburg Civil Rights Council and former three-time Legislative Assembly deputy, notes the “extreme illiteracy” of the amendments drafted by Mr. Milonov. “It’s bad enough that he uses non-legal terms, but ‘apples and oranges’ are also mixed up in this document. They want to cram a criminally punishable offense — promotion of pedophilia — into the law on administrative offenses, but pedophilia is purely a matter for the Criminal Code. And I’m confident that any court would immediately toss out these amendments for their flagrant illiteracy,” said Ms. Yevdokimova. It was unclear to her why this bill has appeared on the eve of the elections: “The pre-election stress is bad enough as it is in the entire city, in the country. It is unclear why United Russia wants to add fuel to the fire. It’s just stupid.”


March 8, 2010


Moreover, Milonov noted that former US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice “behaves like a monkey.” “Everyone in United Russia knows that Condoleeza Rice has monkey brains,” Milonov said.


The following was posted on November 21, 2011, on the LiveJournal blog of Sergei Shestakov, a deputy in Petersburg’s Avtovo municipal district council and a candidate in the upcoming elections to the Petersburg Legislative Assembly. A member of the A Just Russia party, he is running in the same electoral precinct as Vitaly Milonov.

Today I was informed that Vitaly Milonov was again buying off voters — this time not at his constituent outreach office, but at the Orbita movie theater. I decided to find out how much money from the budget Vitaly Milonov had blown on buying food packages.

A very long queue of dozens of people who had braved the cold after hearing about United Russia’s incredible generosity had formed outside the building.

In the Orbita theater itself, people who came were handed food parcels to the tune of six hundred rubles each. The plastic bags, emblazoned with the inscription “All-Russia Popular Front” and [the organization’s] emblem, each contained a tin of caviar, a box of candies, a cake, canned peas and corn, coffee, and other products. United Russian and Milonov campaign brochures had been carefully planted in each parcel. The people in [United Russia] scarves [who handed out the parcels] did not specify how to eat [the brochures].

When my campaign agent asked the staff (the women handing out the presents, who walked around in United Russia scarves) whether they thought this was bribery of voters, they confidently replied that it was the social security department that was handing everything out. The Milonov Social Security Department was generous: all the rooms were filled with boxes, and it was hard to elbow one’s way past them.

People stood outside in the light frost, waiting for rations, as if this were still the time of the Siege [of Leningrad, during WWII]. The fact that the products purchased were the cheapest, and not very fresh, hardly bothered them at all.


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