Posts Tagged ‘assaults’
Last weekend in Russia was really hot. 7,000 to 12,000 people participated in a protest in Kaliningrad on January 30. The rally oranized by Solidarnost was supported even by relatively loyal KPRF, Yabloko, LDPR and many civic groups. The action was dedicated to raising of transport tax and communal tariffs by the regional government but soon became a political event when participants demanded resignation of Vladimir Putin’s government. It was the largest protest in recent years.
The other day, Moscow and St Petersburg were protesting. Despite the smaller figures of participants, the actions were just as dramatic. About 700 Moscow citizens came to Triumfalnaya Square to demand freedom of assembly knowing that the police will be beating and arresting people. They were right: about 150 participants of the peacceful protest were arrested including Boris Nemtsov and winner of 2009 Andrei Sakharov Prize Oleg Orlov. Dozens were arrested in St Petersburg. Organizers plan next action for March 31 and claim that they won’t give up until the government begins to respect the right of association.
A few hours before, opposition activists were attacked at a Moscow metro station by mobsters armed with sticks. Several young people were injured but in the end they managed to hold a surprise march in the city center. About 100 people walked down Sadovoe Ring with opposition slogans and disappeared minutes before police showed up.
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):
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.
Elizabeta Klepikova, shown above, a member of the Oborona (“Defense”) youth political action organization, wrote the following on a Russian blog on March 20th (her screen name is Whitecup and she has her own blog as well, with pink petals for her avatar):
Today I stood alone in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russian Federation, holding high my picket banner, calling for the release of jailed Yabloko party leader Maxim Reznick. Hardly had I take my place before I was approached by police officers who demanded my identification. It seems that the sight a lone protester greatly antagonized them.
The name “Yabloko” sounds like the Russian word “apple,” which is why Elizabeta is holding the fruit in the photograph.
You probably can guess what happened next, though perhaps the manner in which it occurred you will not suspect. The officers told Elisabeta that she should be careful about standing around alone in that neighborhood as there were all sorts of dangerous characters about. And no sooner had they departed than a crew of young thugs appeared, approached the young lady and tried to rip the sign out of her hands. She fought back, they knocked her to the ground and fled. Meanwhile, not a single member of the “law enforcement agency” she was standing in front of lifted a finger to help her. She approached the nearest policeman and asked to register a complaint, but he refused to take it. She called the police by phone, nobody responded. When she called back, she was accused of illegal picketing, so she walked herself to a nearby hospital to have her injuries treated. The nurse who attended her said: “Nothing will ever be accomplished in this country, certainly not justice.”
Note: This translation of a Russian blog post was supplied by the Publius Pundit blog.