Posts Tagged ‘video’
This weekend, I participated in Anti-Seliger Forum: a sort of festival/summer camp for civil activists, organized by Khimki Forest defenders not far from Moscow. This was one of the most significant opposition (or, better to say, independent of the government) events of the last year in Russia, an attempt, apparently successful, to reach out to a broader part of the society. According to different estimates, from 1000 to 3000 people participated in it over four days.
I presented a new project that we at Vision of Tomorrow Fund have been preparing for several months: Civil Leadership School. Its goal is to create a community of capable, effective and smart activists who will become the leaders of Russia’s civil society in this decade. Through their participation in the School, they will take part in trainings, engage in discussions, gain useful contacts and get to know each other. Best experts will be invited to speak at the School’s events.
For more on the School, check out CivilLeaders.ru (the full Website in both Russian and English will be launched soon). If you understand Russian, you may also watch the very presentation speech at the Anti-Seliger:
My interview for International Center on Nonviolent Conflict about Oborona and the Russian democratic movement in general.
According to Russian media (in Russian), Ministry of Home Affairs (whose main agency is police) held tactical maneuvers in Moscow suburbs today. During these maneuvers, SWAT troops were trained to disperse, according to the script, “a group of senior citizens that protested social injustice and blocked a federal highway.” In order to do this, the whole arsenal was used by the police: water cannons, shock grenades, and tear gas. Troops blocked and arrested some of the “senior citizens.”
Minister Rashid Nurgaliev was watching the maneuvers and was apparently satisfied. A lot of civilian journalists couldn’t share his optimism. Even the reports of government TV called the event “very strange.” Here is a report of Vesti news TV channel (one of the most official TV channels owned by the government, in Russian):
Of course, when the scandal broke out, MHA hurried to deny any references to senior people in their maneuvers’ script, the use of water cannons and the very fact of maneuvers; state TV channels removed their news reports from their Web sites. Fortunately, somebody saved the clips and uploaded them to YouTube.
An investment fund called Hermitage Capital Management accuse Russian police and tax authorities of participating in a fraud, which costed Russian taxpayers $230,000,000. According to their film, an organized group of high-ranking officers bribed judges and lawyers, faked documents and criminal cases to steal more than one billion US dollars from the fund (which didn’t work) and 4 billion roubles from the Russian budget. Trying to conceal the crime, corrupted officers fabricated cases against HCM itself. Yesterday, HCM CEO William Browder and legal adviser Sergey Magnitskiy were charged with tax evasion.
I don’t know the details of the case, so I can’t judge what is true in this movie and what is not. But the story is, unfortunately, very lifelike. No doubt, this could really happen in Russia.
I haven’t recently had time to blog here a lot, sorry about that. Here are some interesting things that happened in the last month or two:
1. Oborona started its English blog (not so many entries yet) and held its second summer training camp Partizan-2009 near Volga river. The camp lasted four days and was packed with training, workshops, discussions etc. Journalists and guests from other democratic organizations participated along with Oborona activists.
Here are some camp photos and a video clip (in Russian):
3. For the first time, an individual is sent to prison officially for criticizing the government. Alexey Nikiforov, an opposition leader in Yekaterinburg, was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment for “extremism”: his “crime” was organizing of several peaceful and legal public protest actions. The court considered slogans “Down with the police state!” and “I don’t want to live in a fascist state” extremism. Previously, courts used to sentence “extremists” to conditional terms, not the real ones.
4. Another court in Krasnodarsky Kray found the slogan “Freedom is not given, it is taken” extremism and ordered to ban Novorossiysk Committee for Human Rights, which used that slogan at one public action. The court decision says,
…the call to “take” freedom means that individual rights have priority over the state’s [rights]. Thus, the slogan “Freedom is not given, it is taken” is of extremist nature.
5. While Dmitry Medvedev calls (once again) to “strengthen democracy” and even criticizes political repression (abstract, not the ones that take place in today’s Russia), one of the Moscow’s busiest metro stations Kurskaya now proudly features a quotation from the Soviet anthem of 1943:
Stalin brought us up — on loyalty to the people,
He inspired us to labor and to heroism.
6. All seven Solidarity’s candidates to the Moscow City Duma were denied registration by the Electoral Commissions. In some cases, the reasons were unbelievably absurd and almost unexplainable (like lack of certain unnecessary hints in subscription forms). Even members of the “official opposition” Pravoe Delo (Right Cause) party were also denied registration. Therefore, there will be almost no competition in these elections.
Yesterday Russian police arrested a man in connection with the murder of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova. He wasn’t a killer, her killers will not be punished. The man was arrested for organizing a demonstration in her memory in the center of Moscow. The action was legal but the police said that “too many people” came to mourn Estemirova, grabbed the 70-years-old organizer by his arms and dragged him to a police van. Several people who protested or tried to prevent the arrest were beaten by the riot police. This is how it happened:
The arrested old man is Viktor Sokirko. He was a political prisoner under Brezhnev. Now he became a prisoner of Putin’s regime.
The second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev started on Tuesday. Putin’s goal is apparent: Khodorkovsky must stay in prison forever… given that Putin himself stays in power forever, of course.
The court of law was surrounded by riot police and plainclothes operatives since early morning, you couldn’t even freely enter the block where the court is located. Of course, it had nothing to do with terrorism. What the police was afraid of is just a small peaceful demonstration of Khodorkovsky’s supporters. They brought flowers for him, chanted “Freedom!”—and were arrested for that.
Two activists of Oborona managed to put a 10-meter-long banner “Free Khodorkovsky!” on a roof of Bohdan Khmelnitsky bridge opposite to the court. They were arrested minutes later.
Saturday was marked by new protests in Moscow and in other cities. Oborona together with other movements organized a march in the center of Moscow. It was banned by the administration but the police failed to stop it. But some 20 mobsters attacked the participants, both men and women. The protesters offered resistance but several participants of the rally were wounded seriously. The police refused to investigate the incident.
The witnesses and victims of the attack speak out (English subtitles):
Oborona held a field training for its activists in Moscow yesterday. It looked like a game, a city quest, the very popular genre of youth activity in modern Moscow. The participants were split into several teams and had to complete certain tasks in different parts of the city. The difference from such regular games was the nature of those tasks. One of them was, for instance, to hand a banner on a bridge. The banner read “31 January Dissenters’ Day”. This is how it was performed by the trainees: