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oD Russia


"У нас и без "Платона" много причин протестовать"

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:35:53 +0000

Российские дальнобойщики, протестующие против "Платона", признаны иностранным агентом. В ответ водители проведут всеобщую десятидневную забастовку, которая назначена на 15 декабря. Михаил Курбатов. Фото: Юлия Королева. Все права защищены.Организация перевозчиков России (ОПР) - одно из крупнейших независимых объединений дальнобойщиков, возникшее на фоне борьбе водителей большегрузов с системой "Платон". Их протесты продолжаются уже более двух лет с переменным успехом. Всего, по словам председателя мурманского областного отделения ОПР Марии Пазухиной, в организации состоят более 500 человек. Регулярно переводят пожертвования около 7000 человек. В декабре власти признали ОПР иностранным агентом, и водители решили ответить всероссийской забастовкой.В преддверии акции протеста Михаил Курбатов - дальнобойщик родом из Нижнего Новгорода и один из первых участников организации - рассказал oDR о том, как силовые органы пытаются запугать перевозчиков, почему водители не согласны на нынешние условия и как они планируют бороться за полную отмену "Платона".С чего начался протест дальнобойщиков?Все началось с объявления о введении системы "Платон".Это специальная система взимания платы с большегрузов: водитель регистрируется, устанавливает в кабине аппарат, который рассчитает, сколько всего километров он проехал и сколько за это нужно заплатить. Сейчас цена за километр - 1 рубль 91 копейка. Есть и штраф за неустановку "Платона": первый - 400 тыс. рублей, второй - уже миллион.Акции сопротивления этой системе начались по нарастающей. Многие испугались штрафов и зарегистрировались от неизбежности. Систему запустили, но она заработала не сразу. Все были на таком нервяке - из-за риска штрафов невозможно было работать. Это спровоцировало первую акцию протеста 11 декабря 2015."Акция называлась "Улитка" - по задумке большегрузы должны были двигаться со скоростью не более 5 километров в час, чтобы "закупорить" федеральные трассы"Акция называлась "Улитка" - по задумке большегрузы должны были двигаться со скоростью не более 5 километров в час, чтобы "закупорить" федеральные трассы. Я на тот момент был в Тюменской области, где участвовал в протесте. Мы полностью остановили федеральную трассу. Полицейск[...]

Igor Yasin: “If there’s no freedom of assembly for LGBT, there’s none for anyone else”

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 20:14:11 +0000

Russian activist Igor Yasin on attitudes towards LGBT in Russia’s regions, why the opposition has a homophobia problem, and how to assert your rights — and still be heard. RU Igor Yasin. Photo(c): Yulia Koroleva. All rights reserved.Life isn’t easy for representatives of Russia’s LGBT community who don’t hide their sexual orientation. A 2013 law on “gay propaganda” has, in effect, legalised LGBT discrimination. Today, when Russian courts examine offences committed against LGBT people, they often do not even establish hate as a motivating factor.As part of oDR’s series on Russian civic activists (check out our other articles here and here), I spoke to Igor Yasin, one of the leaders of the Rainbow Association, an organiser of public meetings in support of LGBT and co-chair of the Union of Journalists, about attitudes towards LGBT in Russia’s regions, why the Russian opposition has a homophobia problem and how to speak about your rights and be heard.How did you come to activism?Igor Yasin: I was finishing my undergraduate degree in Egypt, at Cairo University, where I got interested in politics. I first took part in street protest in 2003, in anti-war demonstrations. When I returned to Russia, I decided to figure out what was happening here politically. At that point, I’d already realised left-wing views chimed with mine. I began searching online about organisations and found AKM [Avantgarde of Red Youth, the youth wing of Working Russia; its leader is Sergey Udaltsov - ed.], and spoke to a few of its activists. Later, I found Socialist Resistance, which was then renamed to the Committee for the Workers’ International. Back then, this was one of the few organisations that was organising in support of LGBT rights.What did your activism consist of at the beginning?IY: At first, I took part in demonstrations against Russian military actions in Chechnya, and later, against the monetisation of benefits in 2005. In autumn 2006, we organised an anti-fascist campaign against celebrating Unity Day, a new Russian public holiday which the ultra-right was using to its own ends. Public actions in support of LGBT rights started in 2006, and at that time the GayRussia organisation tried to hold its first pride event. This provoked a public discussion, including among Russian leftists. It turned out that not everyone in our society was a homophobe. That’s when I found out we had a lot in common and began to work together.Was Russian society ready to discuss LGBT rights back then?IY: People’s ideas about LGBT people were formed by the Russian tabloid press: they wrote about LGBT people as some kind of freaks, they wrote about sex, but not about rights or politics. We wanted to change this, to start a discussion about real problems. And it was hard. We had hopes that holding a pride event would help change the situation in Russia, but we were disillusioned fairly quickly. This was mostly due to personal circumstances, but everything played its own role — there was no escape from discussing LGBT rights.The state and the authorities have created an atmosphere of impunity, in which attacks and crimes against LGBT people aren’t investigatedIn 2010, we started a campaign for a “March of Equality” — an attempt to unite various social groups in the fight for universal equality. At its base, the march was organised around LGBT and feminist ideas. That’s when Russia had the first attempts to pass a law banning propagandising homosexuality among underage children.What’s wrong with pride events? Why didn’t it work out?IY: The head of GayRussia, who was trying to organise the pride event, wasn’t planning to build a movement like Harvey Milk. There were a lot of arguments, discussions inside the community about whether was even worth going to public actions. This wasn’t a question for me. But the approach of the pride organisers led to a situation where people simply stopped seeing the reason for going out onto the str[...]

Free Russia Forum: sanctions and boycotts

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:18:12 +0000

Russia’s opposition remains weak and divided — but the latest forum in Vilnius could hint at consolidation down the road. RU Garry Kasparov - one of the organizers of the "Free Russia Forum". Photo(c): Andrei Kalikh. All rights reserved.In early December, Vilnius once again hosted the fourth Free Russia Forum. This, the Russian opposition’s main annual get-together, is normally described by the pro-Kremlin media as a fugitive émigré coven, but is nothing of the sort. A good half of the participants actually reside in Russia, but there is a compelling reason for holding the Forum elsewhere – it just wouldn’t be allowed to happen at home. Like-minded people criticise the Forum for trying to bring together oppositionists of all hues (it is attended by Democrats, left-wingers and Russian ultra nationalists). This means that it rarely arrives at any concrete conclusions: people come, argue and go home again, giving the media an excuse for further criticism in its wake. I shall therefore refrain from analysing panel sessions with titles such as “The Putin Regime in the International Arena”, “Russia caught on the FSB’s Hook” and “The Centenary of the October Disaster”. Their speakers – academics, politicians and journalists – did an excellent job of describing the place and role of today’s Russia in the international political sphere. I would rather concentrate on the Forum’s “product” – the concrete recommendations for further opposition activity that came out of it. Three other discussions were devoted to these questions: fighting the Kremlin’s propaganda machine; what to do about the forthcoming elections and the possibility of further sanctions. Running the propagandist gauntlet The forum began with the traditional Russian game of “Avoid the propagandist”. To get into the auditorium where the sessions took place, delegates had to run the gauntlet of reporters and Russian TV crews milling around in the foyer. The security people wouldn’t let these into the auditorium, so people with cameras and microphones squeezed up to this or that delegate outside, hoping for a picture and a soundbite. Ivan Tyutrin is one of the few opposition politicians who agreed to an interview with propaganda television. Photo(c): Andrei Kalikh. All rights reserved.The most sensible thing to do in this situation would be to walk past in silence. But the participants inevitably included missionaries who insisted on trying to win others over to their unwinnable points of view, to the joy of the TV crews. Politician Ivan Tyutrin, one of the forum organisers, buttonholed by “Rossiya-1” reporter Yelena Yerofeyeva was patiently explaining to her why she and her fellow hacks would not be admitted to the Forum: “Because you are not journalists, but propagandists. You support the war in Donbas and the occupation of Crimea; you tell lies about the opposition and Russia’s economic situation, and we won’t let you in because you will only tell lies about this as well. When your bosses are kicked out, then we’ll talk to you”. To which Yerofeyeva responded: “But I personally don’t support anyone. I’m not part of the propaganda! I never lie!” It turned out just as well that Yerofeyeva was kept out of the auditorium — she lies through her teeth. Her report, shown to half the world that evening on the main Russian state news channel, was full of delegates’ statements taken out of context and her own disparaging comments, such as “Unreliable media were kept out of the Forum, but reliable ones were also notable by their absence.” "Enemies of the people" according to the version of Rossiya TV channel. Screenshot Rossiya TV.In fact, correspondents from opposition media such as RFERL, Kasparov.Ru, and some local Lithuanian- and Russian-language outlets reported on the sessions, although, surprisingly enough, Yerofeyeva’s interview with Tyutrin didn’t make [...]

Игры на поражение

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:42:48 +0000

Тезис "О спорт, ты - мир" безнадежно устарел. Большой спорт под звуки национальных гимнов, существующий на деньги налогоплательщиков, служит только вражде. Олимпийский стадион в Берлине, где прошли летние игры 1936 года. CC BY-SA 2.0 Luke McKernan/Flickr. Когда "наш ласковый Миша", пугающее антропоморфное существо без шеи и с непропорционально большой головой, в августе 1980 года улетал в вечернее московское небо, советские граждане горячо верили двум взаимоисключающим тезисам. С одной стороны, Олимпийские игры - это праздник молодости и спорта, в котором главное - не победить, а участвовать, с другой - мы всех победили! Мы всех сделали, завоевали больше всех медалей, мы круче всех, и пиндосов этих неприехавших опустили, и даже на закрытии Олимпиады подняли флаг Лос-Анджелеса, а не США.На войне как на войнеОй, нет. Это звучало иначе. Конечно, никто не говорил "пиндосы" в 1980 году. Но выбор конкретного эпитета не отменяет общих принципов полемики."Как можно уложить в голове запрет на участие в открытии и закрытии Олимпийских игр?! До чего мы дошли?! Сломить великую державу Россию?! Нет, не получится. У этой страны – большими буквами Россия – есть армия, ядерное оружие и великие люди", - говорит подполковник запаса, доверенное лицо партии "Единая Россия", член Патриаршего совета по культуре, дважды олимпийская чемпионка Светлана Хоркина."Те, кого туда возьмут, будут для меня героями, потому что они ушли на войну и будут защищать нашу страну таким способом. Мы защищаем Родину", - говорит Член политического совета партии "Единая Россия", президент Федерации лыжных гонок России, трехкратная олимпийская чемпионка Елена Вяльбе.Политика появляется в спорте вместе с национальным флагом"Как они нас боятся. Ребята извините, не смогли защитить", - пишет член Генерального совета партии "Единая Россия", бывший депутат Государственной Думы, трижды победитель Олимпиад Ирина Роднина."Это вообще безобразие, которое разрушает очень важный институт международного сотрудничества. Я был с самого начала за то, чтобы все восстановить, как положено. В отношении российских спортсменов должно быть полное позитивное решение", - говорит бывший президент СССР Михаил Горбачев.И все эти л[...]

Debt and poverty: the thriving business of high-risk moneylenders in Russia

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:03:10 +0000

In Russia, loansharks and payday lenders masquerade as “microfinance” organisations to attract clients. But for many people, short-term loans are a way of life. “We hand out money” reads an advert for easy credit in Moscow, October 2017. Photo (c): Maxim Blinov / RIA Novosti. All rights reserved.“Avoid multiple loans. With several loans you are at greater risk of over-indebtedness,” warns the Warsaw-based Microfinance Center in a recent education campaign directed at users of microcredits in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia.Russia is rarely referred to when discussing modern microfinance, but here the business of old-school moneylenders has thrived for several years. The warning not to take multiple loans could be addressed precisely to clients of Russian payday lenders and loansharks. Companies usually offer loans from 1,000 to 5,000 roubles (£12-£62), and charge 732% per annum. Some of them have loans of tens of thousands of roubles available. With such enormous interest rates, clients of moneylenders often have difficulties repaying these apparently harmless sums. Taking one loan to pay back another or even incurring several loans from different organisations is a common strategy to deal with this. A typical borrower is likely to fall into a debt trap and become insolvent.  The issue of high-risk payday lenders and loansharks emerged in Russia following the 2010 law on microfinance organisations. The law legalised this kind of borrowing, but did restrain interest rate companies are allowed to charge. Many companies could now register as “microfinance organisations”, confusing the public. The law obscured the difference between responsible representatives of the microfinance industry and dubious moneylenders, of which the latter took advantage.In the wake of Russia’s 2014-2015 economic crisis, Russians are increasingly inclined to take microloans to cover large expenses, or simply to survive until paydayMoneylenders fill a niche in the Russian financial system by lending to clients considered unbankable by standard commercial banks. Many clients of microfinance organisations turn to them after commercial banks refuse to lend. Unbankable individuals are equally the target group of responsible, socially-oriented microfinance organisations. Yet the latter are not only in the minority: they are much less well-known to the public, which means they can’t address the huge demand for microloans in the Russian economy.Furthermore, organisations prefer to lend to owners of small businesses, including in agriculture — the main target of development-oriented microfinance. In the face of inflation and the fall in real incomes in the wake of Russia’s 2014-2015 economic crisis, however, Russians are increasingly inclined to take microloans to cover large expenses, such as visiting a doctor or paying for surgery, but also mortgage instalments that could not be covered from other sources or expenses for consumer goods. Many clients of microfinance organisations simply need to survive until payday.Fake and real microfinanceInternationally, the microfinance industry has a remarkably positive reputation as an effective instrument to fight poverty. In Russia, however, this reputation has become abused by dubious business.For example, the World-Bank-related microfinance organisation Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) reported the case of a company called Aktiv Den'gi (Active Money) that pretended to represent the “good” microfinance industry, referring in its advertisements to microfinance inventor Muhammad Yunus. This company offered small consumer credits at supermarkets in provincial Russian towns that were mostly used to finance purchases of consumer goods such as televisions or mobile phones. Some customers used them to cover their everyday expenses, for which their salary was not sufficient. Yet, by[...]

"Если и стреляться, то хотя бы в офисе банка, чтобы был какой-то резонанс"

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:24:18 +0000

Дефолту 2014 года исполнилось три года, а проблема валютных ипотечных заемщиков в России до сих пор остается нерешенной. Чтобы привлечь внимание властей, ипотечники вынуждены идти на крайние меры. Одиночные пикеты участников ВДВЗ у Министерства иностранных дел.Спустя четыре месяца после возобновления государственной программы помощи ипотечным заемщикам, попавшим в сложные жизненные ситуации, держатели валютных кредитов продолжают пикетировать правительственные здания в Москве. Заемщики называют меры поддержки со стороны властей фарсом и требуют реальной помощи.Домой или в тюрьмуДмитрий Юрин, участник Всероссийского движения валютных заемщиков (ВДВЗ) из Санкт-Петербурга, старается жить на 200 рублей в день. Он официально безработный, не может выплачивать ежемесячные взносы за однокомнатную квартиру, которую взял в ипотеку, от него ушла жена и требует алименты на содержание общего ребенка. Несмотря на это, у Юрина большие планы на ближайший год: "Я намерен к марту либо отбить свою квартиру, либо сесть в тюрьму. Как раз будут выборы, в них, наверняка, будет участвовать Путин. И я в эти дни пойду в банк с лозунгами против него, чтобы привлечь внимание к проблеме и стать политзаключенным, как Дадин. А потом эмигрирую. Зачем мне жить в такой стране? Здесь настоящее крепостное право до сих пор, абсолютно феодальный характер между человеком и властью", - делится он.Свою "однушку" площадью 27 кв.м. Дмитрий приобрел в 2007 году. Квартира должна была стать жилищным стартом для него и его супруги. Юрин планировал выплатить ипотеку за семь лет. Он работал специалистом по маркетингу в петербургском представительстве японской фирмы Panasonic, получал зарплату в долларах, а потому и кредит решил брать в американской валюте. "В то время казалось, что ситуация с кризисами в прошлом, что это что-то такое связанное с семибанкирщиной, периодом первоначального накопления капитала. Теперь пришел народный вождь, подъем во всем, возрождение страны. Я тогда был патриотом. Поддерживал власть вплоть до 2014 года".Экономические потрясения 2008 года семья Юриных пережила, хотя и пришлось находить дополнительные заработки. А вот валютны[...]

"Ксюша, Лёша" и "список Путина": оппозиция призвала к бойкоту выборов и расширению санкционного списка

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:53:11 +0000

Выбор заграницы в качестве места проведения IV Форума свободной России абсолютно оправдан - на родине Форум просто не дали бы провести. English Гарри Каспаров - один из организаторов "Форума свободной России". (c) Андрей Калих, все права защищены.В начале декабря в Вильнюсе прошел IV Форум свободной России. Прокремлевскими СМИ главное мероприятие российской оппозиции обычно описывается как шабаш беглой эмиграции, что с реальностью не имеет ничего общего: добрая половина участников приезжает из России. Единомышленники критикуют ФСР за то, что он пытается объединить оппозиционеров всех мастей - в его заседаниях участвуют и демократы, и левые, и русские националисты. В результате, встречи, как правило, ничем конкретным не заканчиваются: поспорили и разошлись, что дает повод для дополнительной критики.Поэтому я намеренно оставляю за рамками анализа "констатирующие" панели прошедшего Форума - "Путинский режим на международной арене", "Россия на чекистском крюке" и "Столетие октябрьской катастрофы". Их спикеры - ученые, политики и журналисты - блестяще справились с задачей четко описать место и роль сегодняшней России в международном политическом пространстве. Мне же хотелось бы сконцентрироваться на "продукте" Форума - конкретных рекомендациях для дальнейших действий российской оппозиции. Этим вопросам были посвящены три другие дискуссии: о противостоянии кремлевской пропаганде, отношении к предстоящим выборам и возможностях расширения списка санкций.Убежать от пропагандистовФорум начался с традиционного русского квеста "Убеги от пропагандиста". Чтобы попасть в зал, его участникам надо было пройти через толпу корреспондентов и операторов российских ТВ-каналов, кучковавшихся в фойе. В зал их не пускали охранники, и люди с камерами и микрофонами бросались то к одному, то к другому участнику в надежде спровоцировать на "картинку". Иван Тютрин - один из немногих оппозиционных политиков, кто согласился на интервью пропагандистскому телевидению. (с) Андрей Калих, все права защищены. Самым разумным в этой ситуации было бы молча пройти мимо, однако среди участников обязательно находились "[...]

Мәскәү Татарстанны телсез калдырды

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:26:13 +0000

Татар теленә бәрелү- соңгы ел эчендә Мәскәү ягыннан беренче генә бәрелү түгел. RU, English Татар теле дәреслек, ноябрь аенда, 2017 елда. Фото (c): Максим Богодвид / РИА Новости.2017 елның 29 ноябрендә Татарстан Республикасының Дәүләт Советы , Мәскәү тарафыннан кертелгән, яңа уку планын кабул итте. Әлеге план буенча татар телен мәктәпләрдә ата-аналарның ирекле ризалыгы белән һәм бары тик атнасына 2 сәгат күләмендә өйрәнергә була. Ничек чирек гасыр буена республикабызда татар телен мәктәпләрдә мәҗбүри өйрәткәннәр һәм ни сәбәпле 2017 елда баш мөстәкыйльлек билгесен югалтуга килдек?Уникаль килешүРоссия Федерациясендә татар теле таралганлык буенча һәм туган телендә сөйләшүчеләр буенча икенче урынны алып тора. 2010 елда узган халык санын исәпкә алу мәгълүмәтләре буенча илдә 4,3 миллион кеше татар телендә сөйләшкән (Советлар союзында 1989 елда бу сан - 5,1 миллион тәшкил иткән).1980 еллар ахырында җәмгыять демократиягә һәм үзәкчелекне таркатуга юл алу сәбәпле, Россия милли телләре яңа сулыш алып китә. Борис Ельцинның Казанда вакытында "мөстәкыйльлекне теләгәнегезчә алыгыз" дигәнен җирле милли элита татар теленә юл ачылуы дип кабул итә. 1992 елда Республика Парламенты кабул иткән канунына нигезләнеп татар теле, рус теле белән бер тигез булып Татарстанның дәуләт теленә әйләнә. Бу статус Татарстан Конституциясенә дә кертелә. "Россия Федерациясе дәүләт хакимияте органнары һәм Татарстан Республикасы дәүләт хакимияте органнары арасында эшләр һәм вәкаләтләр бүлешү турында Шартнамә" дигән махсус килешү барлыкка килүеннән соң Республика җитәкчеләренең сәяси масаю хисе артканнан артты.Мәгариф өлкәсендә бу узгәрешләр татар теле дәресләрен мәҗбүри рәвештә артуга китерде. Мин бик яхшы хәтерлим, 1990 елларда безнең сыйныф укучыларын, татар телен белү дәрәҗәсенә карап, рус һәм татар төркемнәренә бүлеп укыттылар. Ләкин татарларга, мәсәлән минем өчен, тумышым беләм татар булып та, уку җиңел бирелмәде - өй эшләрен әти-әниләр белән генә түгел- алар күбесенчә, сөйләм телен генә үзләштергән иде, әби-бабайлар ярдәме белән әзерләргә туры килә иде. Эш шунда - дәреслекләрне милли мәктәпләрдә укып чыкк[...]

Death by disdain: the fate of drug users in Russian-occupied territories

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:28:18 +0000

With replacement therapy now illegal, drug users in Russian-occupied Crimea and the self-proclaimed republics of the Donbas are finding it hard to survive. RU Yevgeny Selin. Source: Facebook.In 2014, Donetsk native Yevgeny Selin had his own business, a car and an apartment he bought with his own money. Besides work, Selin was involved in civil society, fighting for the rights of addicts, and was in contact with representatives of Ukraine’s Ministry of Health.As Yevgeny recalls, his life had been very different just a few years prior. “There were good times and bad times, but mostly it was bad times. I was totally addicted to heroin — I started using when I was around 13 or 14. When we were boys we used to look for or steal poppies in other people’s gardens, this was in the Oryol region, where I used to live, poppies grow everywhere. It was harder in the winter, you had to steal more. Then I moved to Ukraine and started taking crystal meth. When you’re using, you’re always either looking for money or drugs. Or you’re doing the drugs — you do them and go to sleep. And that’s your life.”In 2008, Yevgeny’s life began to change. A programme from drug replacement therapy was launched in Ukraine, sponsored by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Ukraine’s parliament had stated that therapy standards “are in line with Ukrainian legislation” back in 2004, which was when the first pilot programs for the therapy were launched in Kherson and Kyiv.Methadone replacement therapy, to be more precise, is practiced in all EU countries, as well as in the USA, India, Cambodia and China. There are 1.3m patients enrolled in treatment today. However, the therapy is banned in Russia. Russia’s top narcologist, Yevgeny Bryun, told oDR that “methadone therapy is just a business,” and that Russia will never have such programmes. For addicts from Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Russian jurisdiction spelt disaster.Goodbye to withdrawal symptomsHIV rates in Ukraine remain high: 0.5% of the population lives with HIV, and 60% of those people are drug users who use needles. It is believed that replacement therapy will curb the HIV infection rate, because instead of injecting street drugs, addicts will take medicine such as Metadol (active ingredient: methadone) or Ednok (active ingredient: buprenorphine).Drug replacement therapy does not result in withdrawal symptoms or euphoria. Typically, the patient comes to a distribution site, gets a glass with the medicine in liquid form, drinks it, and leaves. The addicts no longer have to look for drugs, they stop having problems with the law, and they start having free time — time they used to spend on searching for drugs or money.Drug replacement therapy does not result in withdrawal symptoms or euphoriaPeople who have regularly taken opioid drugs (such as heroin) for over three years can participate in the program. Pregnancy or a serious chronic disease — for example, if the patient is living with HIV — are other factors that determine one’s inclusion in the programme. When an addict decides to start replacement therapy they submit an application, sign an agreement to not sell the medicine, go through medical tests, and visit a narcologist (i.e. an addiction specialist).The final decision for inclusion in the program is made by a multidisciplinary committee: two doctors, a social worker and a local project leader. When therapy begins, the doses are gradually increased so that the medicine completely replaces street drugs. Clients of the Alliance’s programme. Photo: Natalya Kravchuk, Sergey Krylatov. All rights reserved.The first effects from therapy become evident within three months: most patients report that their physical and mental health is better and that they[...]

Москва оставила Татарстан без языка

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 21:24:22 +0000

Удар по татарскому языку — не единственный, что был нанесен республике Москвой за последний год. English, Татарча Учебник татарского языка, Ноябрь 2017 г. Фото (c): Максим Богодвид / РИА Новости. Все права защищены.29 ноября 2017 года государственный совет Республики Татарстан одобрил вариант учебного плана, спущенный Москвой, в соответствии с которым татарский язык может изучаться в школах лишь с добровольного согласия родителей учеников — и не более двух часов в неделю. Как в республике на протяжении четверти века в обязательном порядке детей обучали татарскому языку, и почему в 2017 году одному из главных атрибутов суверенитета пришел конец?Уникальный договорТатарский язык является вторым по распространенности и по количеству говорящих национальным языком в Российской Федерации. Так, по состоянию на 2010 год около 4,3 миллиона человек в стране говорили на татарском языке (в СССР в соответствии с переписью 1989 года — 5,1 миллиона).В конце 1980-х годов благодаря демократизации общества и курсу на децентрализацию языки народов России получили «второе дыхание». Заявление Бориса Ельцина «Берите суверенитета столько, сколько сможете проглотить», прозвучавшее в Казани, было воспринято местной национальной элитой как «зеленый свет» для развития татарского языка.В 1992 году - в соответствии с принятым республиканским парламентом законом - татарский язык, наряду с русским, стал государственным языком Татарстана. Этот статус был закреплен и в Конституции региона. Политические амбиции руководства республики резко возросли после заключения с РФ уникального договора «О разграничении предметов ведения и взаимном делегировании полномочий».В образовательной сфере это сказалось на увеличении обязательных часов татарского языка в школах. Я прекрасно помню, как в 1990-е годы учеников нашего класса в зависимости от уровня знания языка делили на «татарскую» и «русскую» группы. Но даже для самих татар, коим являюсь и я, обучение татарскому языку давалось нелегко — приходилось выполнять домашние задания не столько с родителями, которые знали, в основном, разговор[...]

Beyond the scandal: what is Ukraine’s new education law really about?

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:54:34 +0000

After three years of discussion, Ukraine has adopted a new framework law on education. It’s only caused more debate. RU Photo (CC BY-SA 2.5): Vodnik / Wiki. Some rights reserved.Ukraine’s new law on education came into force on 28 September: the previous regulatory document had been around for 26 years. This new law has been four years in the making: three to debate its content and one for amendments between its first and second reading (100 were added at this stage).After the law was finally passed, Ukraine’s Minister of Education Liliya Grinevich called it “the key instrument for modernising Ukraine’s education system and bringing it up to EU standards”. In Hungary and Romania, however, a serious row has arisen over Paragraph Seven of the new law, which regulates the language of instruction for Ukraine’s ethnic minorities. The Hungarian government reacted to the new law by threatening to “hit back hard over Ukraine’s future” —in other words, to block any Ukrainian initiatives within the European Union’s Eastern Partnership and initiate a re-examination of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. In September, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis cancelled a visit to Ukraine, saying he was “unpleasantly surprised” that the Ukrainian Parliament had, “without any preliminary discussion with Ukraine’s partners”, passed a law “placing strict limits on the rights of ethnic minorities to be taught in their own language(s)”.On 28 September, Ukraine sent the text of the new legislation to the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission; meanwhile the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) announced that it failed to “ensure the necessary balance between the country’s state language and the languages of its ethnic minorities” but refrained from any further comment. The Venice Commission’s adjudication is due to be published by the end of the year. Anna Novosad. Source: Youtube.The Ukrainian government categorically disagrees with PACE’s conclusion: “PACE has effectively taken the Venice Commission’s function upon itself and come to its own conclusion,” Anna Novosad, the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education’s Office for International Cooperation and European Integration, tells me. “This right belongs to our parliamentarians, just as they had the right to make amendments to the draft law from the day it was proposed. And we can respond to the EU’s concerns with our own concerns about such a prejudiced attitude to Ukraine. We know that it was the Hungarian deputies and the Romanian delegation that pushed for that conclusion. It’s annoying for a row like this to break out after all the explanations, meetings and debates that have taken place. I hope that the Venice Commission will listen to our arguments and take them into account.”What do the new language regulations mean in practice?There are currently around 400,000 members of ethnic minorities in Ukrainian schools. 356,000 of them are ethnic Russians, who have 581 schools where teaching takes place in Russian, while slightly over 16,000 children attend 75 Romanian-language schools and 71 Hungarian-language schools. There are also three schools where the teaching language is Moldovan and five - Polish.A large proportion of Ukraine’s ethnic minority communities live in Zakarpattia, in south-western Ukraine. In 2017, 54% of the region’s school leavers couldn’t pass the basic exam — an external Ukrainian language test that is obligatory for being accepted into higher education, and so couldn’t go on to study at a Ukrainian university. This fact was one of the official reasons for increasing the use of Ukrainian as a teaching medium in schools.Children from Ukraine’s ethnic mi[...]

Moscow leaves Tatarstan speechless

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:09:37 +0000

The recent demotion of the status of the Tatar language is one of a growing number of moves made by Moscow against the wealthy and autonomously-minded republic of Tatarstan. RU, Татарча November 2017: a Tatar language schoolbook. (c) Maxim Bogodvid / RIA Novosti. All rights reserved.On 29 November 2017, the state council of the Republic of Tatarstan, a wealthy autonomous region in Russia’s Volga region, passed a version of the school curriculum proposed by Moscow. According to this document, the Tatar language may now only be studied in the region’s schools only with the consent of pupils’ parents — and for no longer than two hours a week.The Tatar language was once obligatory in all Tatarstan schools — so why, 25 years on, has one of the last attributes of the region’s autonomy and sovereignty finally met its end?A very unique agreementTatar, of the Turkic language family, counts as Russia’s second language — both by geographic distribution and number of native speakers. As of 2010, nearly 4.3m people declared themselves to be Tatar speakers (the USSR’s census of 1989 put their number at 5.1m).In the late 1980s, the democratisation of Soviet society and moves towards decentralisation helped to revive the country’s indigenous languages. Boris Yeltsin’s August 1990 declaration in Tatarstan’s capital of Kazan that Russia’s regions should “take as much sovereignty as they [could] swallow” was seen as a green light by the region’s national elites, who were eager to develop the Tatar language.In the late 1980s, the democratisation of Soviet society and moves towards decentralisation helped to revive the country’s indigenous languagesIn 1992, in accordance with a law passed by the regional parliament, Tatar became the official language of Tatarstan, alongside Russian. This status was also fixed in the constitution of the autonomous republic. The political ambitions of Tatarstan’s leaders grew strongly after the region signed a unique bilateral agreement on the “delimitation of jurisdictions and mutual delegation of authority” with Moscow. The Qolşärif Mosque, largest mosque in Tatarstan's capital, in the grounds of the Kazan Kremlin. Photo CC-by-NC-2.0: Vladimir Varfolomeev / Flickr. Some rights reserved.When it came to education, this had an impact on the compulsory hours of Tatar-language study in local schools. I remember very well how in the 1990s, students of our class were divided into “Tatar” and “Russian” groups, depending on their knowledge of the language. But even for Tatars like myself, studying the language was no mean feat — help with my homework came not so much from my parents, who largely only knew spoken Tatar, but from my grandparents. True enough, the authors of our textbooks were trained specialists who had completed Tatar-language academies and mastered the language to perfection. But it still seemed as though nobody in a position of authority had seriously thought up a methodology for teaching Tatar to other nationalities.Dissatisfaction among the mums and dads wasn’t helped by the fact that due to the increase in Tatar language lessons, the number of hours devoted to Russian language and literature were decreased. Out of the overall 35 hours of study a week (no longer required by today’s standards), six were spent studying Tatar. Admittedly, a few complaints about this from pupils’ parents were largely ignored by the republic’s authorities, and the federal authorities, so it seemed, weren’t interested in the issue.For 25 years, the republic’s authorities did not bother to reform the system for teaching Tatar in schools, despite numerous declarations that they would do soThus[...]

Six years of OVD-Info

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 12:55:50 +0000

Hundreds of hours spent on the phone, online and in court — this is what it means to monitor politically-motivated arrests in Russia.  In December 2011, thousands took to Russia’s streets to protest electoral fraud in what became a push against Putin’s status quo. Source: OVD-Info. We continue our partnership with OVD-Info, an NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday, we bring you the latest information on freedom of assembly. Six years ago, on 5 December 2011, a rally took place in the Chistye Prudy area, Moscow. This protest against the results of the State Duma elections marked the start of the protest movement of the 2010s. The rally ended up with mass arrests — and that same evening OVD-Info was born. The project was initiated by two people: a computer programmer and a journalist.Today, we have a couple of dozen staff and hundred volunteers in five cities. We are creating our own legal consultation service: we gather and analyse data to assess the scale of repressions and, most important, we provide legal assistance independently. We have accurate information, we know what it means, and we can help.In 2017 alone we have assisted 938 people (almost a thousand!) in Moscow police stations, 381 in Russian courts, and we are already helping 25 to make applications to the European Court of Human Rights. Over the same time, our telephone hotline has received 6,256 calls, and delivered 274 hours (and 55 minutes) of support to people who have met with violations of their civil rights.The best gift to us — and to those who have suffered persecution — is to tell your friends about OVD-Info and to support the project. Thanks to your help we are developing and learning to provide more, and more effective, assistance. You can help us here.The week in fullWe have one piece of truly good news to share with you: Yury Kuly, convicted in the 26 March Case, has been released from prison. He was sentenced to eight months for helping an elderly person who was attacked by a police officer. True, there is also sad news: another defendant in this case, the engineer Dmitry Krepkin, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.    26 March 2017: Dmitry Krepkin, Tverskaya Square, Moscow.Not everyone knows that after the “Don’t Call Him Dimon” rally, nine people in three cities were charged with criminal offences. We have brought together detailed information about these cases and those charged. This includes: video, illustrations, how the detentions took place, what the charges were, news about the investigations and trials, and also how to write to the defendants.On 5 December, Russia’s Ministry of Justice named the first nine media organizations to be designated as “foreign agents”. These included Voice of America, Radio Svoboda, Idel.Realii, Kavkaz.Realii and Krym.Realii. Henceforth, these media outlets must report regularly to the Ministry of Justice on their activities and finances, and mark their output with the label “foreign agent”.Dmitry Bogatov, the Moscow Tor node operator who faces extremism charges, has undergone a lie-detector test. Its results show Bogatov is innocent. However, the investigator in the case has refused to add the results of the test to the materials of the case. The investigator believes that the specialists who conducted the test were not competent. Bogatov is charged with inciting mass riots on the basis of communications sent from his IP address.Officials in Irkutsk have found a novel method of fighting against Alexey Navalny’s local election campaign headquarters. They have ordered that the toilet facilities in the extension to the building dated 1830,[...]

Grift, graft, and the Saakashvili show

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 12:49:48 +0000

Anti-corruption intrigue and opposition fanfare are leaving Ukrainians and the west disillusioned with Poroshenko’s politics. 5 December: former Georgian president and Odesa regional govenror Mikheil Saakashvili is detained in downtown Kyiv. (c) Serg Glovny/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved.An embattled and tired former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili emerged briefly in the protest campsite he helped to create outside Ukraine’s parliament last night. Losing his voice, Saakashvili spoke quietly to again deny the charges by the authorities that he accepted money from Ukraine’s previous pro-Russian regime. Saakashvili is experiencing first-hand the rollercoaster ride of Ukrainian politics. The ex-statesman has been reduced to sleeping on the floor of a tent to avoid detention, just metres away from the Ukrainian presidential administration he once frequented.When Saakashvili became the governor of the Odesa region almost three years ago, at the invitation of his university classmate Petro Poroshenko, it was a different time. The tacit support that existed for President Poroshenko and his team is now crumbling, with Saakashvili being just one of many who criticises their dedication to reform. With the events of the last week, Ukraine’s western partners have become the latest to openly criticise the president.Ukraine’s security services botched an effort to detain Saakashvili on 5 December when they raided his apartment accusing him of planning a coup. In what turned into a worldwide spectacle, Saakashvili climbed up onto the roof to allow time for his supporters to gather below, he has said. He was dragged from the rooftop and into a van, but his supporters successfully blocked its exit and after several hours of pushing and shoving, freed Saakashvili. With his emboldened supporters, who numbered roughly 1,000, Saakashvili marched to the protest camp where he has remained.Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who released a disputed recording as evidence of Saakashvili being a Russian agent, said he had 24 hours to hand himself in. But the deadline came and went, the authorities seemingly unwilling to risk further violent confrontation as supporters placed piles bricks around the perimeter of the campsite.The decision to try to detain Saakashvili in broad daylight when he had fallen off the media radar appeared illogical and ended in global embarrassment for Ukraine’s authorities. It also sparked the usual round of intrigue, central to Ukrainian political circles: “Was Poroshenko being set up by his opponents to look like a fool with this botched arrest? Is this a sign of Poroshenko becoming authoritarian? Is the recording genuine? If not Russia, who is financing Saakashvili?”The authorities’ manhandling of Saakashvili failed to win him any significant increase in supporters and his calls to oust Poroshenko continue to fall on deaf earsThe answers to these questions remains to be seen. Saakashvili has always been a fierce Putin opponent, but he has refused to name his sponsors, saying they will be targeted by Ukraine's security services.The authorities’ manhandling of Saakashvili failed to win him any significant increase in supporters and his calls to oust Poroshenko continue to fall on deaf ears. Ukrainians are completely disillusioned with all politicians after the 2014 Maidan, after which their standards of living dropped dramatically, according to political technologist, Volodymyr Fesenko. Prosecutor general of Ukraine Yury Lutsenko briefs the press about the detention of Mikheil Saakashvili on 5 December. Photo (c): Pavlo Bagmut/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights re[...]

Закон об образовании в Украине: почему языковой вопрос снова встал поперек горла

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 11:50:22 +0000

Спустя три года активного обсуждения Украина приняла новый рамочный закон об образовании. Несмотря на прогрессивность его норм, Европа обратила внимание на закон в основном из-за языка обучения в школах. English Фото (CC BY-SA 2.5): Водник / Викисклад. Некоторые права защищены.28 сентября в Украине вступил в силу новый закон об образовании. До этого сфера регулировалась нормами 26-летней давности. Обсуждали закон последние три года, еще год он находился на доработке между первым и вторым чтением, за время которого прибавил 100 поправок.После принятия закона министр образования Украины Лилия Гриневич назвала его "основным инструментом модернизации украинского образования и приближения к стандартам ЕС", в то же время в Венгрии и Румынии разгорелся нешуточный скандал по поводу седьмой статьи, которая регулирует язык обучения национальных меньшинств в Украине.В ответ на его подписание Венгрия пообещала "больно ударить по будущему Украины" – блокировать любые инициативы страны в рамках участия в "Восточном партнерстве" и инициировать пересмотр соглашения об ассоциации между ЕС и Украиной. Президент Румынии Клаус Йоханнис отменил визит в Украину, поскольку был "неприятно удивлен" тем, что Верховная Рада "без предварительных обсуждений с партнерами Украины" приняла закон, который "жестко ограничивает права национальных меньшинств обучаться на родном языке".28 сентября Украина отправила текст нового закона об образовании на экспертизу Венецианской комиссии. Тем временем в своей резолюции ПАСЕ заявила, что он "не обеспечивает должного баланса между государственным языком и языками нацменьшинств", но от дальнейших оценок отказалась. Результат анализа Венецианской комиссии будет оглашен к концу года. Анна Новосад. Источник: Youtube.С таким мнением украинская сторона категорически не согласна. "Парламентская ассамблея Совета Европы фактически приняла на себя функцию Венецианской комиссии и уже вынесла свое заключение. Это право депутатов. Так же, как это было право наших депута[...]

Пиар во время чумы

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 14:17:10 +0000

Предновогодний сезон - время народных гуляний и праздничных ярмарок. Бюджетные инвестиции сгорают в фейерверках, хотя могли бы приносить доход. Сделать так, чтобы ярмарочный балаган не превратился в свинство - задача непростая. Фото: Дмитрий Лебедев, некоторые права защищены.Все, о работе уже никто не думает: скоро Новый год. Все мысли – о празднике.Скоро мы увидим, как загорятся деньги! Будут фейерверки, концерты, световые шоу, гирлянды и яркие поздравительные надписи повсюду. Это не наши, это бюджетные деньги, мы все равно не можем их контролировать – так что нам их не жалко – и они вот-вот вспыхнут повсюду, ура!Однажды я проснулся в небольшом городе от резкого запаха уксуса. Точнее, это была смесь уксуса с дымом: сочетание – жидкости для розжига  и  подгоревшего жира. Окна спальни выходили на главную улицу; я выглянул в окно – там был праздник, день города. Главная улица была перекрыта, по ней гуляли возбужденные люди, и им продавали шашлыки и пиво. Сплошь длинные ряды палаток, в которых не было ничего, кроме пива и шашлыков.Скоро мы увидим, как загорятся деньги! Вот, например, в столице в прошлом Новом году сожгли 6,6 млрд.руб. только в фонариках и гирляндах. А вместе с "событийными мероприятиями" - примерно полбюджета ненужного провинциального региончика. Поверьте, только в больших столицах празднично жгут куски ненужных бюджетов, а в маленьком, то есть бедном, городе – тут суют свинину в уксус, потом жарят на углях – и едят, запивая жирные куски дешевым пивом.Мы с коллегами-социологами, было дело, изучали городские праздники: считали, сколько пришло народу, кто именно пришел, сколько и на что потратился, какие вынес впечатления. И, конечно, изучали организаторов.Типичная ситуация: государственный центр народного творчества провел масленицу. Старушка-директор пришла в государственный же центр регионального развития рассказать социологам и экономистам, как все прошло:- Прежде, чем мы сможем оценить, удалась вам масленица или нет, все-таки хотел[...]

Синдром отмены: жестко, больно, страшно

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 11:30:05 +0000

В Крыму и самопровозглашенных республиках ДНР и ЛНР продолжают массово умирать наркопотребители. Эти смерти —результат отмены метадоновой терапии, которая действовала в Украине с 2008 года и которую Россия не признает. English Евгений Селин. Источник: facebook.В 2014 году у Евгения Селина из Донецка был свой бизнес, машина и квартира, которую он купил на собственные средства. Помимо работы, он занимался общественной деятельностью, отстаивал права наркозависимых и общался с представителями министерства здравоохранения Украины. Евгений вспоминает, что за несколько лет до этого его жизнь была совсем другой: "Было так: полоса белая, полоса черная, но, в основном, полосы были черные. Я плотно сидел на игле, употреблять начал с 13 или 14 лет. Сначала мы мальчишками искали или воровали мак с чужих огородов — это было в Орловской области, где я тогда жил, мак там везде растет. Зимой было сложнее, приходилось больше воровать. Потом я переехал в Украину и стал употреблять метадон в кристаллах. Как жил? Когда употребляешь, ты постоянно ищешь или деньги, или наркотик. Или колешься - укололся и уснул. Вся жизнь".В 2008 году жизнь Евгения стала меняться: в Украине стартовала программа заместительной поддерживающей терапии (ЗПТ), спонсором которой выступил "Глобальный фонд". Верховный совет Украины признал, что стандарты "отвечают законодательству" еще в 2004 году, и тогда же появились первые пробные сайты (пункты, где выдают препарат - чаще всего, больницы) в Херсоне и Киеве. Попрощаться с ломкойВ Украине был и остается высоким уровень ВИЧ-инфицированности: 0.5% населения живут с ВИЧ, из них 60% - это потребители инъекционных наркотиков. Считается, что заместительная терапия помогает снизить рост числа заболевших ВИЧ, так как наркопотребитель вместо инъекции уличных наркотиков (психоактивных веществ, изготовленных кустарно или медицинских препаратов, используемых не по назначению) будет принимать фармацевтические препараты "Метадол" (действующее вещество – метадон) и[...]

Georgia: Strasbourg’s scrutiny of the misuse of power

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 21:22:07 +0000

A new European Court of Human Rights ruling on the misuse of power in Georgia creates an important precedent in cases of political persecution. European Court of Human Rights. Photo(c): Winfried Rothermel/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. These are unsettling times for the human rights system which covers the whole European continent — 47 states from Ireland to Russia, from Norway to Turkey. Hostile politicians and commentators are wont to rail against judges sitting on the Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights, arguing that they unjustifiably extend their purview into sovereign, domestic affairs. The Court’s position as the legitimate apex of human rights adjudication is now further under threat by the rise of European populism and the far right, as well as the fallout from Brexit. The deluge of cases from Turkey after mass arrests following the failed coup in 2016, the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, and Russia’s unprecedented 2015 law that allows its Constitutional Court to pick and choose which European Court judgments to implement, have put further strain on the Court. Human rights are under serious challenge too in the European Union. Given, the executive’s exertion of control of the Constitutional Tribunal at the behest of the ruling Law and Justice Party in Poland, and the machinations of Viktor Orbán’s illiberal regime in Hungary (characterised as “rule of law backsliding” and creeping autocracy within the EU), as we scan the European horizon these days is it right to ask if the very principle of the rule of law is under threat? Last week’s judgment from the Strasbourg Court’s Grand Chamber concerning the circumstances of the criminal prosecution of Ivane Merabishvili, the former Minister of Interior and Prime Minister of Georgia, represents a significant moment and, indeed, test for democracy and the rule of law in Georgia. Merabishvili was a key figure within the United National Movement (UNM), the party led by Mikheil Saakashvili, which won the 2004 presidential and parliamentary elections, following the “Rose Revolution” the previous year. However, after the Georgian Dream Coalition won the 2012 parliamentary elections, a raft of former UNM Ministers and officials were prosecuted. In 2012 and 2013, a series of criminal investigations were opened against Merabishvili concerning his alleged use of a fake passport, for alleged embezzlement and abuse of authority concerning a state programme for job seekers and relating to a private house. This led to his arrest in May 2013 and his pre-trial detention. How do you prove that there was an ulterior purpose behind the instigation of criminal proceedings? Merabishvili sought to challenge the legality of his detention in Strasbourg, but more fundamentally, he argued, in effect that he was the subject of political prosecution, by raising one of the less well-known provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights – Article 18, which prevents governments and state bodies from restricting human rights for hidden, ulterior purposes — in other words, from acting in bad faith. It is a provision which has frequently been raised by petitioners to the European Court, but the Court has only found it to have been breached six times before — in cases against Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and Azerbaijan. For example, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, and a former Ukrainian Minister of Justice, Yuriy Lutsenko, both successfully complained to Strasbourg about criminal proceedings brou[...]

Humanism is out of fashion

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 14:24:59 +0000

In today’s Russia, why is anti-militaristic speech perceived as a call for historical revisionism? RU Berlin schoolchildren on the former main street of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (c) Mikhail KaluzhskyEarly last Tuesday morning I travelled to Bergen-Belsen with a group of Berlin schoolchildren, to visit the memorial centre on the site of the former concentration camp. We were there to meet Jovan Reisz, a Jew from northern Serbia who spent several months in the “Hungarian camp” [the camp was split into a number of sections for different national groups – ed.] between autumn 1944 and April 1945, when the camp was liberated by British forces. He was 11 years old, and most of his family had perished in Bergen-Belsen and other concentration camps.Bergen-Belson was not an extermination camp. Initially it held French and Belgian, and later Soviet and Italian prisoners of war, and later Jews from the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland and citizens of neutral countries. But its death rate, especially towards the end of the war, was horrendous, mostly a result of starvation or a typhoid epidemic: Anne Frank was a typhoid victim. When the British troops liberated the camp, they demolished it to avoid any further spread of the epidemic. The memorial centre consists of clearings in the forest where foundations of the camp barracks have been preserved, with information panels on its history.It was raining, and Jovan Reisz, standing on a muddy track, showed us the birches and oaks that have grown on the site of the barracks where he spent several months, 70 years ago: “This is where we lived. And the kitchen was over there. When we were liberated, the streets in the camp were strewn with bodies”.Reisz then answered the schoolchildren’s questions:Didn’t you consider committing suicide?“No, an 11-year old kid doesn’t think about suicide. He or she suffers as much as an adult, but gets used to the situation more quickly – sees it as a fact of life. I thought about killing myself later, when I was about 20, but managed to put the thoughts out of my mind by discussing them with other camp survivors.”What is your attitude towards Germans?“I hate those who sent me here and killed my family. But I only hate those who committed war crimes. The post-war generation has nothing to do with all that.”How do you live with that hate? Didn’t you want revenge?“I thought about it at the end of the war. But the camp commandants were immediately executed. Other camp staff were imprisoned for their war crimes; some were released early and I calculated that one of them served precisely 23 minutes for every child who died there. But when I thought seriously about revenge, I realised that resorting to violence would turn me into one of them.”The trip to Bergen-Belsen and back took half a day, and I spent the whole journey reading news articles about Nikolai DesyatnichenkoThe young Berliners spent more than three hours talking to Jovan Reisz. When we were leaving, other groups of schoolchildren were also waiting for their buses. They were ordinary German kids, in other words, people from the most diverse of ethnic backgrounds: many of their great-grandfathers had obviously not lived in Germany under the Nazis.The trip to Bergen-Belsen and back took half a day, and I spent the whole journey reading news articles about Nikolai Desyatnichenko, a Russian teenager who in a speech to German MPs suggested that many German troops who invaded the USSR in World War Two were themselv[...]

Russian soldiers in Damascus: politics isn’t everything

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:35:24 +0000

While politics is the reason for Russian military presence in Syria, the relationship between Russian soldiers and Syrian civilians is not fundamentally about politics.  “They are ‘the foreigners,’ the white and blond.” A cartoon on Russian soldiers in Damascus (Comics4Syria/SyriaUntold). All rights reserved.This article by Rafia Salamah (pseudonum) is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between SyriaUntold and openDemocracy Russia (oDR) that aims to shed light on the social and economic repercussions for both countries of the Russian military intervention in Syria. It first appeared on SyriaUntold.Their presence is renowned but rarely witnessed. You hear a lot about their role in the news and from friends who witnessed the tragedies they have caused in the country. Yet regardless of where you stand politically, the mixed feelings they evoke in you as a civilian in Syria are still ambiguous: Russian soldiers. For opposition forces, the term “Russian intervention” has come to encapsulate the painful end of their fight against the regime and its allies. It was hardly news that the Russians stood by the regime, as they had vetoed several UN Security Council resolutions, but it was Russia’s airstrikes that caused the opposition to lose most of its control on the ground.Since early 2011, Russian military experts have been overseeing information and communication and providing both equipment or technical support, according to a regime army officer. The military cooperation soon evolved into naval deployment near the ports of Tartus and Latakia on the Mediterranean, before the inauguration of the Hmeimim Air Base which made Russian military all the more direct and definite. Finally, Russian troops were officially deployed in Syria in late 2015. Contact with civilians explicitly grew following the truce between Damascus and its countryside on February 27, 2016, which despite numerous breaches remained in effect until its collapse in mid-November 2017. Nightlife in Damascus began to flourish, and Russian military personnel, along with Syrian military escort, began to frequent the nightly attractions across the Old City. Soldiers and tourists As such, Russian soldiers in the city became more visible, whether in military uniform and or in casual clothes typical of tourists — light and practical. Nonetheless, their unusual presence still causes winks and backbitings, and their visibility is still relative, as most Syrians have not seen any Russians until now. People often hear about them from Syrian troops. “We’re not allowed to approach them or to talk to them. We can’t even ask for a drink of water,” said Naji[i], a volunteer in a paramilitary force, summarizing his relationship — or lack thereof — with Russian troops in the vicinity of Raqqa prior to its “liberation” by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in October 2017. “They offer them exquisite meals from fancy restaurants and ignore us, even though they stay in the rearguard and never take part in raids,” he told his mother, who works as a maid and wanders the houses of her employers all over the city every day.Even if they came to help fend off terrorism, she opined, they should not be treated differently from Syrians She has not seen a single Russian soldier, despite her extensive mobility in Damascus. Even if they came to help fend off terrorism, she opined, they should not be treated differently from Syrians. She is[...]

Игорь Ясин: "Если нет свободы собраний для ЛГБТ, ее нет и для всех остальных"

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 15:52:31 +0000

Несмотря на откровенно гомофобную политику российских властей и угрозы насилия, ЛГБТ-активисты все чаще публично заявляют о себе и своих правах. English Игорь Ясин. Фото(с): Юлия Королева. Все права защищены.Представителям ЛГБТ непросто жить в России, не скрывая своей сексуальной ориентации. Закон о "запрете пропаганды однополых отношений", принятый в 2013 году, фактически узаконил дискриминацию в отношении них. Суды же при рассмотрении преступлений, совершенных против геев и лесбиянок, и вовсе не фиксируют мотив ненависти как причину правонарушений. В интервью oDR Игорь Ясин, один из лидеров "Радужной ассоциации", организатор ЛГБТ-акций и сопредседатель Профсоюза журналистов рассказал о том, как к ЛГБТ относятся в регионах, почему среди российских левых много гомофобов и как говорить о своих правах, чтобы быть услышанным. Когда ты пришел в активизм?Я заканчивал бакалавриат в Египте, учился в Каирском университете и еще там заинтересовался политикой. Впервые принял участие в уличных акциях - это были антивоенные демонстрации в 2003 году. Когда вернулся в Россию, решил разобраться, что происходит здесь в реальной политике. К тому моменту уже понимал, что мне близки левые взгляды. Стал искать в интернете, какие организации существуют и наткнулся на АКМ ("Авангард красной молодежи", организация, созданная в качестве молодежного крыла "Трудовой России" Виктора Анпилова; руководитель - Сергей Удальцов), общался с некоторыми активистами оттуда. Это меня сформировало. После нашел "Социалистическое сопротивление", которое потом переименовали в Комитет за рабочий интернационал. Тогда это была едва ли не единственная организация, выступавшая в поддержку прав ЛГБТ. В чем поначалу заключалась твоя активистская деятельность?Сначала это было участие в социальных акциях: против военных действий в Чечне, позже — акции против монетизации льгот. Осенью 2006 года провели антифашистскую кампанию прот[...]

Experts for hire: how independent analysts create crimes for Russian law enforcement

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 11:45:28 +0000

Russian courts’ lack of independent expert evaluations isn’t a localised problem. It represents one of the most important factors in the country’s “conservative turn”. RU The "expert" conclusion often contains empty charges - but leads to real charges in the courtroom. Photo: Dmitry Sotnikov.Russia’s practice of specialised court analysis in court emerged quite a while ago: expert evaluations are traditionally conducted in cases that call for “special scientific knowledge”. Normally, the expertise required is either medical (psychiatric, anatomical) or technical; with the notable exception of graphologists, humanities scholars were rarely utilised as forensic experts.A new field for new playersEverything changed after the active development in the late 1990s and 2000s of special expert evaluation as an institution. Evaluations came to be used in cases of incitement of all kinds of discord (ethnic, racial, religious) were on trial, particularly under Article 282 of the Criminal Code (instigation of hatred). Experts from the humanities and social sciences have featured in these cases more frequently of late. This includes art critics (who suddenly became pornography specialists, as in the Yury Dmitriyev case), historians (employed in “heroiszation of Nazism” cases), political scientists (“foreign agents”), sociologists and psychologists (“LGBT propaganda”) and religious scholars (“insulting believers’ feelings”). An unexpectedly important role has also come to be played by experts in the field of inclusive education (a case in point being when the European University at St Petersburg had its education license revoked by a court decision in March 2017).The mission of these experts, as they undoubtedly see it, is to “protect the state” while ignoring both professional standards and common senseEvaluations of this kind arouse considerable public interest. On the one hand, the testimonies of humanities scholars are somewhat easier for the general public to understand than those of technical or medical experts. On the other, precisely this makes it possible to assess the often catastrophic level of professionalism displayed by many experts. Educated people believe these “experts” to be outliers who were randomly appointed in a situation where most university staff simply don’t want to get involved in this little-known and unpopular field.Indeed, I know from personal experience: most serious humanities and social sciences scholars take a sceptical view of public activity beyond the confines of their institutions. Their scepticism only increases when it comes to expert evaluations: they’re not going to bolster your scholarly capital, and if they do earn you a reputation, it’s likely to be a dubious one. To say nothing of the fact that the whole thing’s massively time-consuming. In other words, serious professionals simply aren’t interested in contributing their expertise to forensic evaluations (unless they specialise in forensics as such). Nikolai Girenko. Source: All rights reserved.Exceptions do exist, however — and the examples are revealing. On one hand, there are people in the mould of Nikolai Girenko — people who came to regard lending expert opinion in the fight against right-wing radicalism as their civic mission. Girenko, an ethnographer-turned-human rights activist, created a school of sociological and humanities expert evaluati[...]

Who’s left to fight for Russian academia?

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 21:59:58 +0000

While Russia’s authorities are obsessed with the imaginary threat of “foreign agents”, a real danger is growing from within — there’s nobody left to halt the collapse of the country’s education system. RU 11th of November: a rally by St Petersburg students in support of education and culture. Source: Vkontakte.Russian federal media ignored a recent rally by St Petersburg students in support of education and culture, organised by those studying at a number of the city’s universities. Information about the event was spread mostly through social media. The media’s silence is understandable; experts consider protest activity to be on the rise — covering it means letting the public know where and how they can air their grievances. And that in turn could present more new problems for the Kremlin in the run up to Presidential elections in March 2018. You couldn’t call it a large-scale rally: just around 500 people expressing their disapproval at the closure of the European University at St Petersburg, the merger of some cultural and educational facilities, the construction of housing estates close to the Pulkovo Observatory, and hit-and-run seizures of academic institutions. This agenda doesn’t mean much in the current political climate, and such protests can’t compare to a Russian Orthodox Church procession, organised to sanctify the memory of some long gone and martyred fellow-countrymen. It’s easier to weep over the past than fight for our life today — or less risky, at any rate.It’s easier to weep over the past than fight for our life today — or less risky, at any rateBut what is striking is that it is the youngest, most vulnerable and “resourceless” part of the population that is fighting to preserve cultural and educational values (and the European University, the observatory and other educational facilities can be regarded as such). Meanwhile, those structures that should, and could fly to the defence of culture and education pretend that nothing is happening. Parliamentary Deputies are silent on the subject. “Educational conflicts” are breaking out all over the country, but the State Duma is too busy labelling the international media “foreign agents” to hold an emergency meeting about the “murder” of the European University. It’s as though the collapse of Russia’s education system, which already looks like a humanitarian disaster area, presents no threat to the country’s national security. The academic world — the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Education, the Public Council of the ministry of education and Science — is also silent. You’d have thought that these bodies (containing the country’s best minds!) would be first to express their expert opinion, work out a development strategy for this or that academic cluster and persuade the government to move in accordance with people’s interests. Thousands of academic conferences and hundreds of thousands of academic forums take place every year. Why do none of them discuss the reasons for students and staff members holding such protest rallies?Interestingly, any people with no connection to this world are concerned about the future of education. As someone who was a university teacher for many years, I am often asked why our education system, thanks to which our country became the first to send a person into space, is today unravelling b[...]

Russian soldiers in Homs: unwelcome guests?

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 14:04:06 +0000

Locals in Homs are divided on the Russian military presence in this Syrian city: for some, they’re the lesser of many evils — for others, hated intruders. Russian military police patrolling Al-Waer neighbourhood, Homs, April 2017. Photo: MMA Green / Twitter (fair use). All rights reserved to authors.This article by Jood Mahbiani is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between SyriaUntold and openDemocracy Russia (oDR) that aims to shed light on the social and economic repercussions for both countries of the Russian military intervention in Syria. It first appeared on SyriaUntold.Perspectives on the Russian soldiers in Al-Waer neighbourhood, west of Homs, vary between welcoming them on the one hand, judging by their good treatment of residents compared to the regime’s soldiers and allied Shiite militants, and the absolute rejection of their presence on the other. Perhaps it was the conjunction of Russian Air Force intervention in Syria on 30 September 2015, along with the ensuing military escalation in September and October against al-Waer neighbourhood — then the last stronghold of the armed opposition in Homs — that has contributed to further disdain and rejection of the Russians. In Waer, however, the intervention took a different form at a later stage, when repeated rounds of negotiations between the two conflicting parties were mediated by Russia, and were concluded by a settlement agreement on 13 March 2017. Unsurprisingly, this agreement was only reached after intense air raids and tightened blockade against Al-Waer, eventually forcing the armed factions to succumb to the terms of the settlement providing their safe departure in batches. It was Russian involvement that turned a most painful page in Al-Waer’s insurgencyThese departures took place under Russian patronage between March and late May 2017. It is estimated that the number of exiles exceeded 20,000 civilians and militants, who have then been scattered across the opposition-controlled regions of Jarablus, Idlib and Homs northern countryside. As such, it was Russian involvement that turned the most painful page in Al-Waer’s insurgency. Russia’s role in the displacementsThe waves of exodus from al-Waer evoked outcries of indignation by the Syrian opposition abroad, holding the Russians responsible for forcibly displacing the neighbourhood’s civilians. This accusation is rather exaggerated, however, according to Abu Hashem [a pseudonym - ed.], a member of the Negotiating Committee that had represented the leaders of the rebel factions and the Local Council at the time. While the Russians were most interested in returning the neighbourhood to the regime at all costs, they did not plan to displace civilian population. “Yes, the Russians have politically excluded and displaced all those opposed to the regime, but to be honest, they wished for civilians who accepted the regime’s regained control to stay.” Abu Hashem emphasised that the Homs representative of the Hmeimim-based Russian Reconciliation Center, Colonel Sergey, was assigned to oversee the negotiations, and that during the two weeks leading up to the final settlement, members of the Negotiating Committee were repeatedly asked to organise a meeting with the besieged population in Al-Furn Square – which separated the opposition-controlled areas from the regime forces. The m[...]

Russia’s new media law: expanding the field of uncertainty

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 06:27:12 +0000

Russia’s new legislation is not only aimed at foreign media. It’s another step in the process of blurring legal definitions — until they’re useless. RU Plenary meeting of the Federation Council. Photo: Sergey Fadeichev / TASS. All rights reserved.The Russian state currently lives for two problems — its relations with the US, and the upcoming presidential elections. Society is worried about something slightly different — the state of the healthcare system, rising taxes and reducing incomes. But it’s the authorities who set the priorities in Russia, and they don’t often consult citizens. If you ask Google News, then Russian websites devoted 167,000 articles to the recently announced “tax on modernisation”, and for the recent legislation on foreign media - 223,000. With fresh controls on the media landscape, the Russian authorities are successfully manipulating the news agenda. Indeed, the Russian parliament is working hard, having stamped out a response to the US registration of an RT production company as a “foreign agent” in record time. America’s Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) is clear: if an organisation carries out PR for a foreign state or company, then it should be registered as a lobbyist. There’s a “principal”, and then there’s its “agent” in the United States. The Russian authorities are simply extending the field of arbitrary rule. Their powers are not only becoming ever broader, but less regulatedIt would seem Russia’s legislation mirrors FARA. Voice of America and Radio Liberty have already been warned that they are candidates for Russia’s foreign agent register. RT is funded from the Russian state budget, and VOA and RFE/RL - the US budget. However, Russia’s new media legislation follows quite a different logic — the blurring of legal definitions. First, the new concept of “foreign media agents” is only half the law. The other half, as is often the case in Russian legislation, was hidden in the shadow of the headlines. The new legislation expands the right of the Prosecutor’s Office to block websites without court decisions. Previously, the legislation stated the following reasons as potential reasons for blocking: “calls for mass unrest, conducting extremist activity, participating in mass public events that break legislation governing such events.” But now the language becomes really slippery: the amendments state that “distributed information that violates the law” can be blocked. The fate of any website will thus be completely dependent on how Russian prosecutors interpret the entirety of Russian legislation. For example, a news website posts a video by a blogger who has been charged with “insulting religious believers’ feelings”, and his site is blocked. After all, the prosecutor’s office has already decided that the video in question insults “feelings”. This means that, even if a court hasn’t made a decision on whether the given video is offensive, the video becomes “distributed information that violates the law”.Second, the grounds for declaring a media organisation a “foreign agent” are copied from Russia’s 2012 NGO law. This law does not contain the concept of a “principal”, e.g. not just a foreign government, but a political party, person or organisation. Evidence of having conducted specific P[...]

“100 Crimean Tatar kids who lost their fathers”

Tue, 28 Nov 2017 22:21:22 +0000

More than a dozen men disappeared without a trace during Russia's annexation of Crimea. Their families are still waiting for news — and justice. March 2014: Crimean Tatar community mourns death of tortured activist Reshat Ametov. (c) Yaghobzadeh Rafael/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.We stopped for petrol on our way to Belogorsk, a small town in Crimea. I was there in October with a colleague, researching human rights issues. Brand new yellow signs inside the petrol station were in Russian, Crimean Tatar and English. Some government buildings in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, also have signs in Crimean Tatar. They are clearly meant to project a message that the Crimean Tatar language, culture and heritage are protected and preserved. However, Crimean Tatars we spoke to during our visit, face a completely different — and a much less hopeful — reality. In Belogorsk, we visited Abdureshit Dzhepparov, who for decades has been an outspoken activist on Crimean Tatar issues. I first met and interviewed Dzhepparov in September 2014, when his son and nephew became victims during a wave of enforced disappearances of Crimean Tatars and activists in Crimea. Sitting on the floor in his drafty house, amid an unfinished and abandoned renovation, Dzhepparov told me that his son, Islyam Dzhepparov, 18, and his nephew, Dzhevdet Islyamov, 23, were last seen walking along a road near Belogorsk just a few days earlier. A witness saw a minivan with tinted windows stopping next to the two young men. Two men in black uniforms got out, frisked them, forced them into the minivan and drove off. The witness told Dzhepparov that the men had been “fast and professional”.  Crimean Tatars are a Muslim ethnic minority indigenous to the Crimean Peninsula. In 1944, Soviet authorities accused the entire Crimean Tatar population of collaborating with the Nazis and, as collective punishment, deported all Crimean Tatars, estimated to have been 240,000 people, to distant regions of the Soviet Union. More than half reportedly died in the following months from starvation and disease. They were allowed to return to Crimea in the mid-1980s, and have openly opposed the Russian takeover there. At the time when Dzhepparov’s son and nephew disappeared, Crimea was six months into Russia’s occupation. Russia was swiftly imposing its own laws on the peninsula. The pressure on Crimean Tatars was steadily rising. Dozens of armed masked men were searching Crimean Tatar homes, mosques, and Islamic schools, looking for “weapons and extremist literature”. Crimean Tatar media outlets were being gradually pushed off Crimean airwaves. Pro-Ukraine activists, journalists and Crimean Tatars were either leaving the peninsula or seriously considering it. Armed paramilitary groups, which emerged in late February 2014 to prevent any opposition to Russia’s takeover, threatened and viciously attacked critics with complete impunity, and were also implicated in several enforced disappearances. Timur Shaimardanov, disappeared on May 26, 2014. (c) Private. That included the 2014 disappearance of Timur Shaimardanov, a 34-year-old pro-Ukraine activist. One May morning, he left his house in Simferopol, after telling his wife he was going to the bank and would then pick up their eight-year-old son from school. He never c[...]

Could Russia’s presidential elections wake up Kalmykia?

Tue, 28 Nov 2017 06:13:46 +0000

In the Russian republic of Kalmykia, where the opposition is small and fractious, Alexey Navalny could become a unifying figure ahead of next year's presidential election. RU Valery Badmayev. Photo (с): Badma Biurchiev. All rights reserved.Valery Badmayev, the editor-in-chief of the Sovremennaya Kalmykia newspaper, is a well-known figure in this sparsely-populated republic in southern Russia. Many locals associate his name with his 17 years of opposition to Kalmykia’s former leader Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Badmayev stresses that he wasn’t fighting Ilyumzhinov per se, but the entire political system that has taken hold in Russia. He still believes in political struggle, actively taking part in and organising protests. During next year’s presidential election in Russia, Badmayev will campaign for Alexey Navalny. Many of his advisers were perplexed at this announcement. As part of oDR’s series of interviews with Russian civic activists, Badmayev explained why Navalny’s reputation doesn’t bother him — and why it doesn’t matter who runs Kalmykia today.Valery, you recently announced your plans to open a campaign office for Alexey Navalny supporters in Kalmykia. What function will it serve? Navalny’s chances at being officially registered as a presidential candidate are fairly minimal.Valery Badmayev: My idea to found a campaign office arose about half a year ago — or rather, our idea, as I have another couple of people working with me. When we found out that Navalny was coming to [the nearby city] of Astrakhan [where he held meetings with local opposition leaders on 22 October - ed.], I decided to go and meet him personally to discuss how the campaign offices work in practice — to find out how it works in other regions. I was able to meet him, but unfortunately, we didn’t talk in detail. Instead, I discussed how the campaign offices work with the guys from Astrakhan. The advice was predictable: rent some premises, find some funds to buy printed materials, hand out newspapers and flyers, talk to people, try and get them on board with your work. Basically, just what I imagined. It’s no secret that most people who use social media here — and that’s mostly people under 40 — are indifferent to politicsThe main problem for us at the moment is finding premises. We need a place where we can meet and store our materials. I’m sure that the Kremlin will formally allow Navalny to propose his candidacy; they’ll just shut down the campaign at a different stage. But we’ll have an opportunity to start collecting signatures in support of our candidate. That means that we’ll be able to speak with people, tell them about the political and economic situation in the country, and expand our circle of supporters. It’s no secret that most people who use social media here — and that’s mostly people under 40 — are indifferent to politics. Just two people responded to my Facebook appeal to found a local campaign office for Navalny. In that regard, readers of print media are more active; that is to say the older generation — people aged 40 and above. They’re people we can work with.What’s your impression of Navalny?VB: Energetic, genuine, a real politician. He knows how to engage with the public. There are few such people in Russia. I [...]

"Мне очень страшно": как чеченские беженцы пытаются попасть в Европу

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 21:11:40 +0000

Cотни отчаявшихся беженцев из Чечни застряли в белорусском Бресте, пытаясь перейти границу с Евросоюзом. Местное население настроено против них - но некоторые все же не боятся протянуть руку помощи. English Железнодорожная станция Бреста. Фото предоставлено автором. Все права защищены.В Бресте ночь. На улицах небольшого белорусского города, расположенного в нескольких километрах от польской границы в это время ни души - только двое мужчин, молча переглядываясь, пересекают мост, нависший над зданием железнодорожного вокзала. Не в силах больше сопротивляться сильному ветру мужчины замедляют шаг. Спустившись к основанию монструозного здания сталинской эпохи, они становятся похожи на две черные точки. Потом темнота здания их поглощает. Они останавливаются в просторном зале. На первый взгляд кажется, что он пуст. Но если провести здесь хотя бы минуту, то среди стройных рядов скамеек в зале ожидания, глаз начинает различать фигуры женщин в платках, окруженных стаями детей. Мужчины подходят к своим семьям. Они пытаются уснуть, но каждые несколько часов их будит охрана. Ближе к утру к одной из семей подходит женщина лет шестидесяти, - она отдаёт им билеты на поезд Брест-Тересполь и объясняет как вести себя на пограничном пункте. Дети внимательно слушают. Ранним утром они снова поедут в Польшу в надежде не вернуться обратно в Чечню. Уже не в первый и скорее всего не в последний раз.Смотрящий за чеченцамиКаждый раз, когда Вячеслав Панасюк появляется в здании Брестского железнодорожного вокзала, весь вокзал заметно оживляется - правозащитника тут знают все и кто-то из чеченцев обязательно его подкарауливает. Они зовут его Славой, меня он просит обращаться к нему точно так же. На момент нашей встречи Слава был координатором юридического направления Миссии помощи беженцам, созданной в [...]

Тест на образованность: кто борется за судьбу российской науки

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 13:19:22 +0000

Пока российские власти озабочены воображаемой угрозой со стороны “иностранных агентов”, истинная угроза стране зреет изнутри: развал системы образования остановить уже некому. English 11 ноября: митинг петербургских студентов в поддержку образования и культуры. Источник: Петербург за образование и науку!. Федеральные СМИ проигнорировали недавний митинг петербургских студентов в поддержку образования и культуры, организованный студентами нескольких ВУЗов. Информация об этом мероприятии распространялась преимущественно через социальные сети. Оно и понятно: по оценкам специалистов, протестная активность в стране начала возрастать, и широкое информирование населения о том, где и как можно выразить свой протест, накануне выборов грозит правительству новыми проблемами.Само по себе данное мероприятие нельзя назвать крупномасштабным: конечно, полтысячи человек, пришедшие выразить несогласие с закрытием Европейского университета, слиянием культурных и образовательных учреждений, строительством жилых комплексов в районе Пулковской обсерватории и рейдерскими захватами в науке, не делают погоды в современном социальном поле. Это вам не какой-нибудь марш РПЦ, организованный в память о давно ушедших и убиенных соотечественниках. Плакать о прошлом легче, чем бороться за жизнь настоящего. Во всяком случае, не так рискованно. Плакать о прошлом легче, чем бороться за жизнь настоящего. Во всяком случае, не так рискованноНо поражает другое: за сохранение культурных и образовательных ценностей (а Европейский университет или Пулковскую обсерваторию, или другие образовательные учреждения можно отнести именно к таковым), борется самая молодая, уязвимая, и "низкоресурсная" часть общества. При этом, те структуры которые должны и могут вставать на защиту науки и образ[...]

Georgia: another revolution was possible

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 06:18:40 +0000

The turbulent but short-lived history of Georgia's social democratic experiment has much to teach us.  26 May 1918: National Council meeting, Tbilisi. Public Domain. The centenary of the Russian Revolution is re-opening debate about the troubled relationship between socialism and democracy, as historians highlight the crimes committed by Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. The land where Stalin was born, Georgia, was also the birthplace of a successful social-democratic experiment that was lauded by international statesmen — but crushed by the Bolsheviks. The Georgians’ brave example deserves to be remembered to show that another revolution was possible.In May 1918, six months after the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, the world’s first democratic socialist republic was created. In Georgia, the Mensheviks, or Social Democrats, found themselves ruling a country whose separation from Russia they had always opposed. But under pressure from the Bolsheviks to their north and the Turks to their south, they had no choice.Their leader was Noe Zhordania. Like Stalin, who was ten years his junior, Zhordania got an unlikely-seeming introduction to revolutionary politics through his education at the Tiflis Theological Seminary. But unlike Stalin, Zhordania spent his formative years abroad, learning about politics and society from leading figures in Europe’s social-democratic and labor parties. When he returned to Georgia, he persuaded the local revolutionaries to embrace a very particular kind of Marxism, one with a strong European and democratic flavor.  Journalist and politician Noe Zhordania. Public Domain. Zhordania and his comrades started with a commitment to political freedom and human rights. Many political parties competed for power in Georgia, unlike in Russia where Lenin and the Bolsheviks outlawed opposition parties one by one, including dissident socialists. The Georgian republic upheld freedom of the press, freedom of association and universal suffrage (including for women). The Social Democrats’ first priority was agrarian reform. Georgian peasants, like peasants across the former Russian empire, were land-poor. While the Russian Bolsheviks sent heavily armed troops to the countryside to seize food, Georgia’s Social Democrats seized land from wealthy landowners, the czarist state and the church, and gave it to the peasants. As a result, Georgia was never plagued, as Russia was, by endless warfare between country and city. And peasant support for the Social Democrats never wavered. The man behind the reform was Noe Khomeriki, who served as the country’s minister of agriculture. In the cities, the Georgian government worked closely with labor unions to ensure that workers and their families were fed and cared for. Independent unions with a right to strike thrived, in sharp contrast to Bolshevik Russia where they were merely an appendage of the dictatorial state.Consumer and producer cooperatives also prospered. Their rapid growth meant that in some sectors of the economy, they were overtaking traditional private businesses. Many Georgians saw cooperative enterprises as the building blocks of a new society.In free elections held in 1919, the So[...]

This week, detention and a tragic death at the hands of Russian law enforcement

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 15:49:43 +0000

Attempts by Russian law enforcement in Crimea to detain a veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement led to her death.  Vedzhie Kashka, a veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement, died this week after Russian security services tried to detain her in Crimea. We continue our partnership with OVD-Info, an NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday, we bring you the latest information on freedom of assembly. In Crimea, Vedzhie Kashka, a veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement, died after law enforcement officers attempted to detain her. Kashka, 82, began to feel unwell when FSB officers detained colleagues and members of her family. On the morning of 23 November, FSB officers detained three Crimean Tatar activists. They were charged with extorting money from a citizen of Turkey and sent to a temporary detention centre. Journalist Aider Muzhdabaev asserts that, judging by the video taken during the arrests, the FSB officers edited out the moment that Vedzhie Kashka was herself arrested:“I am certain they did this because they also pushed the elderly woman to the floor. After that, she began to feel unwell. The officers became frightened and called the ambulance (this is on the video) in which Vedzhie Kashka died on the way to hospital.”Ali Feruz, a journalist working for Novaya gazeta, has been fined 5,000 roubles for writing for the newspaper without a work permit. The court ruled that the journalist should be deported from Russia, but halted the process on the grounds of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights barring deportation of Feruz. Before Feruz was taken to the court hearing, a member of staff at the Centre for Temporary Detention of Foreign Citizens where the journalist is being held, told Feruz: “Get ready to go home.” The court hearing took place in the evening after the courthouse was closed to the public. Feruz left Uzbekistan eight years ago after the security services of that country tried to persuade him to become an informer, and he left to live in Russia. Before Feruz succeeded in escaping, he was subjected to torture.  Тhree of Vyacheslav Maltsev’s supporters, detained in Moscow on 1 November, have been remanded in custody on charges of terrorism. One of those detained telephoned OVD-Info and said the police had broken down the door of his apartment in New Moscow, where he and two of his colleagues were at the time. All three were charged with failing to obey the demands of police officers and were sent to a special detention centre. On leaving the special detention centre they were detained by officers of the Investigative Committee. Vyacheslav Maltsev, who promised a national revolution on 5 November, fled Russia earlier this year. Source: Youtube.A supporter of Maltsev’s Artpodgotovka movement from Volgograd has been committed to a psychiatric clinic for compulsory treatment. For more details about the persecution of the Maltsev’s followers, see here and here.  The mathematician Dmitry Bogatov confirmed his alibi during a polygraph test. Bogatov has been charged with inciting mass rioting and justification of terrorism. He has be[...]

Расширение пространства произвола

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 13:57:16 +0000

Новые законодательные инициативы направлены не только против иностранных СМИ. Это еще один шаг в процессе размывания правовой определенности. English Пленарное заседание Совета Федерации Фото: Сергей Фадеичев / ТАСС. Все права защищены.Сейчас российское государство живет двумя проблемами – это отношения с США и выборы президента. Население беспокоится немного о другом – плохой медицине, росте налогов, снижении доходов. Но власть в России определяет приоритеты, не советуясь с гражданами.Если спросить у Google-новостей, то введению "налога на модернизацию" посвящено 167 000 ссылок, а "закону о СМИ иностранных агентах", который сегодня был принят Советом Федерации – 223 000. Контролируя медийное пространство, российские власти успешно манипулируют повесткой дня.В Законодательном собрании РФ кипит работа. Оно штампует зеркальные ответы на регистрацию телекомпании RT "иностранным агентом" в соответствии с американским законом FARA. Американский закон последователен – если организация выполняет PR-заказ иностранного государства или компании, она регистрируется как его лоббист. Есть "принципал", и есть его "агент" в США.Казалось бы, российский закон зеркален. "Голос Америки" и "Радио Свобода" уже предупреждены о том, что являются кандидатами за попадание в соответствующий реестр. RT финансируется из российского бюджета, WOA и RFE/RL – из американского. Однако российский закон подчиняется совсем другой логике – размывания правовой определенности.Собственно непредсказуемость и избирательность, а не жестокость и массовость репрессий, судя по всему, являются главным инструментом российского авторитаризма XXI векаВо-первых, введение понятия "СМИ-иноагенты" – это лишь половина закона. Другая, как часто бывает в практике российско[...]

Explaining the coup in Luhansk

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 13:45:22 +0000

This week, armed men occupied administrative buildings in the “Luhansk People’s Republic” and the territory’s separatist leader fled to Moscow. What does this herald for the conflict in eastern Ukraine? The flag of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic and a soldier’s weapon at a polling station in Luhansk, November 2014. Photo (c): Valery Melnikov / RIA Novosti. All rights reserved.The Russian-controlled “people’s republics” in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine have suffered their biggest shakeup since 2014. Igor Plotnitsky, leader of the separatists in Luhansk, has apparently fled to Russia after a nervous standoff with his Interior Minister. Yesterday, fighting erupted in the village of Krymske, which saw Ukrainian government forces try to gain ground on the back of the instability in Luhansk, only to be met with a fierce counter-attack.Plotnitsky was seen arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in a video published on YouTube Thursday evening. There was no immediate official confirmation, but Zakhar Prilepin, the prominent Russian author who is serving as a commander and adviser to Donetsk separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko, told the RBC news site that Plotnitsky had taken the same flight from Rostov to Moscow. Earlier rumours about his departure from Luhansk were backed up by the fact that Plotnitsky did not appear in public all day and his website was inaccessible since around midday (his supporters claimed a cyberattack). Whether Plotnitsky will be ousted permanently remains to be seen, but the burly former artillery officer has seen his authority slip dramatically since Tuesday morning, when the Luhansk “Interior Ministry” was cordoned off by mysterious armed men, thought to be from the neighbouring “Donetsk People’s Republic”.Mysterious armed men in masks cordoned off administrative buildings throughout the centre of Luhansk, refusing to answer reporters’ questionsThis force backed “Minister” Igor Kornet in his increasingly bitter struggle with Plotnitsky, who had fired him on Monday, officially for having seized a mansion for his private use. Kornet, whom Plotnitsky ten days earlier humiliatingly forced to hand back his Luhansk luxury home to its lawful owner, while being filmed by state TV, defied his sacking, and the troops apparently hindered Plotnitsky from installing a successor in the ministry. The soldiers’ uniforms had no insignia apart from white ribbons, they wore masks on their faces and refused to answer reporters’ questions. While outside observers initially suspected Russian special forces, drawing parallels to the “green men” who led the annexation of Crimea in the spring of 2014, it came as a surprise when it emerged that the troops might really be from Luhansk’s brothers-in-arms in Donetsk. This was suggested by inscriptions on their armoured vehicles and by observations from the OSCE monitoring mission, who said that a large convoy drove from Debaltseve, a town controlled by the Donetsk separatists. On Thursday, the Donetsk “State Security Ministry” confirmed in a statement that it had conducted a security [...]

Гуманизм - это не модно

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 13:07:50 +0000

Почему антимилитаристское выступление воспринимается как призыв к пересмотру истории. English Берлинские школьники на бывшей главной улице концлагеря Берген-Бельзен (с) Михаил КалужскийРано утром во вторник я поехал в Берген-Бельзен. Я ехал в мемориальный центр на месте бывшего концлагеря с группой берлинских школьников - им предстояла встреча с Йованом Райсом. Йован Райс, еврей из северной Сербии, провел в "венгерском" лагере Берген-Бельзена несколько месяцев с осени 1944 до освобождения британскими войсками в апреле 1945. Ему было 11 лет. Большинство родных Райса погибло в Берген-Бельзене и других концлагерях.Берген-Бельзен не был лагерем уничтожения, в нем сначала держали французских и бельгийских, позже советских и итальянских военнопленных, потом туда стали переводить евреев из Голландии, Венгрии, Польши и с гражданством нейтральных стран. Но смертность там, особенно к концу войны, была ужасающей - от голода и эпидемии тифа. От тифа погибла в Берген-Бельзене и Анна Франк. Когда британские войска освободили лагерь, они уничтожили его, чтобы остановить распространение эпидемии. Сейчас мемориал - это просеки в лесу, где остались фундаменты бараков и стоят информационные знаки. Шел дождь, и стоя на раскисшей дорожке, Йован Райс показывал на березы и дубы, выросшие за 70 лет на месте барака, где он провел несколько месяцев: "Мы жили вот здесь. А там была кухня. Когда нас освободили, на улицах лежали трупы".Школьники задавали Райсу вопросы.- Вы не думали о самоубийстве?- Нет, 11-летний ребенок не думает о самоубийстве. Он страдает не меньше, чем взрослые, но скорее приучается к жизни вокруг как к данности. Я задумался о самоубийстве позже, когда мне было лет 20, но я смог преодолеть эти мысли, потому что[...]

A birthday in the Urals

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 06:58:23 +0000

Oleksandr Kolchenko, a Crimean anarchist, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Russia. There’s much to learn from his activism.  Oleksandr Kolchenko, date unknown. This November, Crimean anarchist Oleksandr Kolchenko is celebrating his 28th birthday in a prison in Chelyabinsk, in Russia’s Ural region. The story of Kolchenko’s arrest and trial reminds me of reports by Luke Harding about Russia during the 2000s. But what happened to Kolchenko, and Crimean film director Oleg Sentsov, is actually a story of how the Russian Federation began to act outside its borders — and the bounds of international law. Oleksandr studied in Taurida National University, Simferopol. In Autumn 2011, when former Ukraine’s Minister of Education Dmytro Tabachnyk introduced fees for a range of activities at universities, Kolchenko, together with other anarchists and anti-fascists, protested against the commercialisation of education in Ukraine. Kolchenko and his friends, their faces covered, carried the red-and-black flag. Later, he participated in protests against changes to Ukraine’s Labour Code, which would have restricted the rights of working people, as well as taking part in feminist actions, environmental events and anti-fascist demonstrations.After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Kolchenko was accused of belonging to the Ukrainian far-right organisation Right Sector. Initially, it was hard to say whether this was irony or a joke, a lack of political education or just Ukraine’s weak party system, which still can’t set firm ideological boundaries for political parties. The answer, however, turned out to be rather simple. Kolchenko and Sentsov were accused of belonging to a “terrorist group” that had allegedly set fire to the Simferopol offices of the Russian Community in Crimea organisation and the United Russia party. This, according to investigators, was the work of the so-called “Sentsov group”, whose leader was declared to be the Crimean director. Representatives of the Russian authorities, who had occupied public administration buildings in the city, started their tried and tested scenario for neutralising political opponents — they accused them of terrorism, thereby placing the security of Crimea’s residents in doubt. Russia considers Kolchenko and Sentsov Russian citizens, although neither of them surrendered their Ukrainian citizenship, nor did they take Russian passportsKolchenko, just like Oleg Sentsov, was tortured, though he didn’t reveal this in the beginning. At the initial interrogation session, which was not entered into Kolchenko’s arrest file, he was beaten in the face and body. He didn’t talk about this because, on finding out what happened to Sentsov, he decided that the violence he’d experienced was insignificant and not worth talking about. Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko sing the Ukrainian national anthem during sentencing in August 2015. Source: Euronews / Youtube. Court sessions followed, and in August 2015 the North Caucasus Military District Court sentenced Oleksandr to 10 years i[...]