Archive for January 2009
Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) published a letter (in Russian) they’d received from the police with lists of students arrested at the Dissenters’ March on December 14. The police called these students extremists and demanded that the universities “eliminate circumstances that made such violations possible and decide on the need to continue educating abovementioned students”. Simply speaking, the police demanded to expel these students from the university.
HSE, which is known for its liberal and quite independent stance, claimed that it wouldn’t expel anyone because all the students are at good standing and such demands are illegal. However, all of the students in the list had to write some reports for the dean and their case will be examined by a special commission. By the way, I myself graduated from HSE last year and they helped me out many times when I got arrested or detained at Dissenters’ Marches and at other occasions. It is probably the only remaining institution in Moscow where having your personal point of view is encouraged, not punished.
The problem is, however, that HSE wasn’t obviously the only place where the police sent such letters. But it was the only university to protest. We can only guess (or wait and see) what others will do.
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:
Yevgeny Chichvarkin, one of the leaders of the Kremlin’s puppet party Right Cause and a businessman, reportedly “emigrated to an undisclosed country”, i.e. escaped from Russia. The reason for that was criminal prosecution of him as a former shareholder of EuroSet mobile phone retailer chain. Previous administrative measures have already “convinced” him to sell his shares (a widespread way of taking over someone else’s business in Russia) but his foes didn’t leave him alone.
The irony here is that Right Cause openly admits cooperation with Kremlin and claims to be a mediator between the enterpreneurs and the government. Their leaders repeatedly said that the authorities are willing to help Russian business but it’s mainly the non-conformist opposition that ruins it all. Now that they even failed to defend themselves against the siloviki, Chichvarkin will have to continue supporting the government from exile.
A well-known attorney Stanislav Markelov and a young journalist Anastasia Baburova were assassinated on Monday not far from Kremlin. The murderer shot the lawyer in the head with a gun with silencer, the reporter tried to catch the hitman but was also shot dead.
Markelov had represented victims in many outspoken political suits including many war crimes in Chechnya. He was, for instance, involved in the case of Yury Budanov, a former colonel of Russian Army who had raped and killed a Chechen girl in 2000. By the way, Budanov was early released from the prison just a few days ago. He appears to have very influential supporters both in the army and in the government (like the governor of Ulyanovsk region Vladimir Shamanov).
Anastasia Baburova started to work in Novaya Gazeta (where Anna Politkovskaya had worked) only recently. She wrote about youth political groups including the Neo-Nazis, Novaya Gazeta reports.
This crime was added to the long bloody record of political murders in Putin’s Russia. Journalists who dared to investigate political crimes often become their next victims but it’s the first time when a lawyer is killed for political purposes.