Tag Archives: Vitaly Milonov

Mark Knopfler Is a True Friend of the Russian People

This is what everyone who is in Mark Knopfler’s position should do. Not “try and talk some sense” into fascist homophobes like Vitaly Milonov, as the otherwise admirable Stephen Fry recently did. Or “stand in solidarity” with political prisoners Pussy Riot on a Moscow concert stage, as Madonna did, all the while raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in concert fees. The first tack violates the old anti-fascist “no platform” rule, while the second does that, too, while also generating tons of buzz for the Milonovites. More important, it rewards the relatively well-off strata of the Russian urban populace, the people who can afford tickets to Madonna and Knopfler concerts and the like, who are in fact the real bulwark of Putinism (rather than some imaginary post-Soviet “conservative” provincial “grassroots” post-proletariat), at least (but only at least) insofar as these people have been mostly absent from the fight against Putinism or any of its manifestations. In fact, if nothing else, Knopfler’s one-man boycott of their cities might alert otherwise “blissfully” unaware Petersburgers and Muscovites to the recent prosecutorial raids against NGOs in the country, which have included not only (as Knopfler mentions in his statement) Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but hundreds of lesser organizations like the Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg, the Caritas Catholic charity’s support center for disabled children in the city, the Petersburg rights organizations Citizens Watch and Coming Out (Vykhod), as well as the NGO Development Center, the German-Russian Exchange, the Centre for Independent Social Research, the Institute for Information Freedom Development and the offices of the LGBT film festival Side by Side (to mention only a few), as well as branches of Alliance Française in several other major Russian cities.

We recently reflected, so to speak, on the odd news that Manifesta, the ultra-progressive European biennial of contemporary art, had chosen Petersburg—once the “cradle of three revolutions,” now a depressive semi-fascist dump ruled over by dreary officially titled bandits in bad suits who think that legislative homophobia and “Cossacks” are a terrific way of preventing their subject population from noticing the really obvious drawbacks in their continuing “governance” of the city—for its super-serious high-brow art hootenanny next year. Upon hearing this same news, Russian contemporary art curatorial doyenne Olga Sviblova commented, “[T]here’s no reason to get all stirred up about it being in St Petersburg. We have already spent 20 years living in a normal, free country, just the same as any others.” This is manifestly not the case, and it is only by pulling (temporarily, we hope) the plug on their supply of entertainment and cultural labor that people outside Russia who are in a position to do so can show real solidarity with Russian political prisoners, local NGOs, and other people and groups targeted by the Putinist police state.

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www.markknopfler.com

Russia dates cancelled

Thursday – Apr 04, 2013

Mark’s June 7 show in Moscow and June 8 date in St. Petersburg have been cancelled. Ticket holders should contact their point of purchase for refunds.

Please see Mark’s official statement below:

Given the crackdown by Russian authorities on groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, I have regretfully decided to cancel my upcoming concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg in June. I have always loved playing in Russia and have great affection for the country and the people. I hope the current climate will change soon.

MK

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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:

www.bikyamasr.com

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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Kafka on the Neva: Petersburg Officials Charge LGBT Activists under Anti-Gay Law after First Authorizing Then Banning Gay Pride Rally

Petersburg Gay Pride Event Banned, Organizers Charged under Anti-Gay Law
By Sergey Chernov, The St. Petersburg Times

On Thursday evening, City Hall banned the Petersburg gay pride rally it had authorized on Tuesday and formally charged organizers with violating the city’s infamous anti-gay law. But organizers said they would go ahead with the rally despite the ban.

Organizers said that City Hall explained to them that it had imposed the ban because local media had reported it as a “gay pride event (parade),” rather than a “march and a stationary rally against the violations of LGBT people’s rights,” as the event was described in the application submitted to City Hall last week.

The organizers were summoned to City Hall on Thursday and informed it was “not possible” to hold the event and that they would be held legally liable if they went ahead with it.

According to St. Petersburg Gay Pride chair Yury Gavrikov, who is also chair of the local LGBT rights organization Ravnopraviye (Equality), after handing them the official rejection notice, the head of City Hall’s law and order committee Leonid Bogdanov told him and another organizer, Sergei Volkov, that a law enforcement official wanted to talk with them.

A police officer then entered the room and charged the two activists with violating the law forbidding “promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors,” Gavrikov said.

Gavrikov and Volkov were told that they since they had distributed information about the previously authorized event to the website GayRussia.ru and local newspapers Nevskoye Vremya and Metro, they had “promote[d] the social equality of same-sex relationships and traditional marriage” among minors and thus violated the law.

“It means that first they authorized the event and then charged us with giving information about it to the media,” Gavrikov said late on Thursday, adding that he and Volkov had been detained in City Hall for more than two hours.

He also said that City Hall had insisted that all the eight people who signed the application for the event come to the meeting, but authorities had not specified that its purpose would be to ban the rally and charge them with violating the anti-gay law.

Although they already face substantial fines, St. Petersburg Gay Pride organizers said they would go ahead with the rally, scheduled for Saturday, July 7, despite the ban. They will announce the time and site at a press conference scheduled for noon on Friday.

Two previous gay pride events in St. Petersburg – on Palace Square, in 2010, and on Senate Square near the Bronze Horseman monument, in 2011 – were banned by City Hall on questionable grounds, but activists attempted to hold them anyway, resulting in arrests.

Last year, the event was attacked by a number of young men, some with their faces hidden. They managed to punch at least two LGBT activists before police arrested the activists themselves.

“The authorization was rescinded due to the fact that the format of the application did not correspond to the actual event that the LGBT activists were planning to hold,” St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko’s spokesman Andrei Kibitov told RIA Novosti.

Kibitov added that the ban was also influenced by complaints from the public. “A great number of calls and emails have been received not only from St. Petersburg, but from the other Russian cities as well, asking [us] to cancel the gay parade,” he was quoted as saying.

The “anti-propaganda” law, introduced as a bill by local United Russia  deputy Vitaly Milonov in November 2011 and signed into law by Governor Poltavchenko this past March, imposes fines of 5,000 rubles ($154) on individuals, 50,000 rubles ($1,537) on officials, and 250,000 to 500,000 rubles ($7,686–15,373) on organizations that violate the law.

The St. Petersburg Gay Pride march was initially authorized Tuesday to be held in the remote and mostly deserted Polyustrovsky Park at 2 p.m., Saturday, July 7. The site was suggested by City Hall as an alternative after it rejected all the more central routes and sites suggested by organizers.

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Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Immigrants in Petersburg (May 17, 2012)

Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Immigrants
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
May 23, 2012

An authorized International Day Against Homophobia rally held in Petrovsky Park on the Petrograd Side of the city was broken up by ultranationalists and Orthodox radicals and ended with attacks and mass beatings Thursday [May 17].

A man shot at two demonstrators with a gun firing irritant fluid, and then a militant crowd smashed windows in two buses carrying Central Asian migrant workers — whom they initially mistook for departing LGBT activists — with stones and attacked those inside one of the buses when it came to a standstill.

Called the Rainbow Flash Mob, the rally — which had been officially authorized by the Petrogradsky district administration — was stopped about half an hour after its start time when the police, who were present in large numbers at the scene, told the organizers that they would not be able to hold back the anti-gay protesters for long, according to the LGBT rights group Vykhod (Coming Out).

Despite their massive presence, the police did not attempt to disperse an aggressive crowd that gathered near the rally site shouting homophobic slogans, firing rubber bullet and irritant guns and throwing objects.

Video footage from Piter.tv shows menacing-looking young men — many with their faces hidden by medical masks or black cloth — clapping rhythmically and chanting, “We will hang and bury you!”

Yevgeny Zubarev, a reporter with Piter.tv, said rubber bullets were also fired at journalists, as he was nearly hit by one.

OMON riot police officers stood in a line, preventing the radicals from entering the rally, but did nothing to stop the threats being made.

The anti-gay protesters, of whom there were more than 200, included Orthodox activists, nationalists and young men who resembled neo-Nazis or football hooligans. One young man, who held an offensive anti-gay sign, was wearing a scarf with the logo and name of the Young Guard, United Russia’s youth organization.

The first attack occurred soon after the rally began, when a man wearing a suit and tie and glasses discharged a pistol firing irritant fluid at a woman who was holding colored balloons, and then shot at a man who rushed to help her. A video on the Piter.tv web site shows him shooting at people and shouting “Sodomy is a deadly sin” as he was being led away by a police officer.

The police told the organizers to end the rally, which was scheduled to last from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., after about 30 minutes, arguing that officers would not be able to hold the crowd for long. Only two of the scheduled speakers had time to make speeches.

Releasing more than 500 colored balloons into the air, the 100-plus participants left the park by bus for safety reasons. Provided by the organizers and the police, three buses left unnoticed in the opposite direction to where the counter-demonstrators were. They took passengers to the offices of Coming Out, as well as to several faraway metro stations.

However, at about the same time, two other buses — which happened to be carrying Central Asian migrant workers — were driving past the site, and a group of about 60 young men and women ran after them shouting anti-gay insults, throwing stones and at least one smoke bomb at them until most of the windows were broken.

Apparently they did not realize who was inside until they caught up with them as the buses slowed down on the bridge over the Zhdanovka River. Discovering that the passengers were not LGBT activists, however, did not cause them to end their attack.

As the second bus stopped, having apparently mounted the curb, the attackers started to climb through the broken windows in the rear of the bus and punch those inside while at least one delivered several blows through a side window.

As the attack continued, the bus passengers started to jump out from one of the front side windows and run away. The bus then managed to drive off as the attackers dispersed in the neighborhood.

The police watched from a distance and did not intervene.

According to LGBT activist Maria Yefremenkova, a young man and woman who were late for the rally were attacked by the same people afterwards as they were walking toward Petrovsky Park wearing rainbow paraphernalia.

On Friday, the police spokesman said that the police had failed to find any of the victims of the attacks on the buses.

“The bus is owned by one of the city’s enterprises, it was carrying the enterprise’s workers,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

“The owner declined to file a report due to the insignificance of the damages.”

The attacks went unreported on the police’s web site, where the May 17 bulletin included incidents such as a pickpocket being caught on a tram and two attempts to sell alcohol without a license.

A probe has however been ordered by the St. Petersburg police chief to investigate the actions of the police during the event, the police spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The man who discharged the pistol firing irritant fluid has reportedly been charged with hooliganism and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

There has been no reaction from the city authorities, although the city’s new ombudsman, Alexander Shishlov, released a statement Friday urging the police to find the organizers and participants of the attacks and instigate criminal proceedings against them.

The demo was supposed to be the first authorized LGBT rights event since the St. Petersburg law banning “the promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism to minors” came into force in March.

Photos courtesy of Sergey Chernov and Ridus.ru.

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What a Pogrom Looks Like (Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Migrant Workers in Petersburg)

SP Times Online • May 18, 2012

The International Day against Homophobia rally held in Petrovsky Park on the Petrograd Side of the city was stopped less than half an hour after its start time Thursday due to the large presence of anti-gay opponents who shouted homophobic slogans, fired gas and pellet guns and threw objects. Participants in the rally, which had been officially authorized by the Petrogradsky district administration, left the park by bus. The counter-demonstrators, who threw stones, eggs and smoke bombs, then attacked two buses carrying migrant workers, whom they mistook for the departing LGBT activists, smashed the windows in them and attacked some of the passengers traveling in one of them. The police watched from a distance and did not intervene. The demo was supposed to be the first authorized LGBT rights event since the St. Petersburg law banning “the promotion of sodomy … to minors” came into force in March.

Photos by Sergey Chernov. See his complete photo reportage of yesterday’s pogrom in “Russia’s fascism capital” (©) here.

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Internet channel Piter.TV aired an even more horrifying and damning report on yesterday’s pogrom. We would have liked (so to speak) to repost it here, but that proved impossible, so watch it here if you dare.

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Petersburg Lawmaker Elena Babich: Gays Shouldn’t Be Seen (and Jews Should Keep Quiet, Too)

Confronted last week at a book signing in a downtown Petersburg bookstore by LGBT rights activists, Elena Babich, a deputy in the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly representing the so-called Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and one of the most outspoken advocates of the anti-gay law proposed by Deputy Vitaly Milonov, was frank:

Babich said she had “very many” friends who are gay, but all of them led “covert” lifestyles, and advised that LGBT people should act so as not to be visible to the public. She then compared them to the Jewish community.

“It’s very important not to draw attention to oneself too much,” she said.

“One of the books that I have starts like this: The issue of same-sex love is somewhat like the Jewish problem. When there are too many Jews — in every field of management, on television, in the arts, everywhere — it ends badly for Jews themselves. They [Jews] always make efforts to regulate this aspect.”

Read the full story here.

 

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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.”

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www.zaks.ru/new/archive/view/67190
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.

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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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