Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism advances in Russia

We have been noting, with growing unease, a phenomenon we call the Paradoxical Anti-Fascist Rhetoric of Contemporary Crypto-Fascism—witnessed both in the stateside far right Hitler-baiting Obama, and (more disturbingly) in the increasingly fascistic Vladimir Putin Nazi-baiting the Ukrainians. Now the websites Human Rights in Ukraine and Kyiv Post report on a far-right summit just held at Yalta (yes, in recently annexed Crimea, and the site of an Allied summit in World War II), attended by representatives of such unsavory entities as Hungary's Jobbik party, Belgium's Parti Communautaire National-Européen, and the British National Party—and overseen by Sergei Glazyev, a senior adviser to Putin, and Maxim Shevchenko, a member of Putin's human rights council (sic!). Predictably, this assemblage of neo-fascists discussed forming an "Anti-fascist Council" to oppose the "fascist junta in Kiev." Many of the Russian militants in attendance are said to have been followers of the Eurasia Party of Alexander Dugin—seemingly a key ideologue of Putin's Eurasian Union project.

We are heartened to note that simultaneously, as Sweden's neo-fascist Svenskarnasparti or Party of the Swedes (formerly the more honestly named National Socialist Front, with an agenda of halting immigraiton to preserve the country's "Western genetic and cultural heritage") took to the streets of Stockholm, the 150 or so of them were massively outnumbered by thousands of anti-fascist counter-protesters. There were clashes with police who tried to separate the two groups. (AP, Aug. 30) 

But with much of the European and American "left" stupidly rallying around Putin and buying his line that the Ukrainians are neo-Nazis, we fear that some of the once stalwart antifas may become confused in their analysis. It isn't that there isn't a fascist element emerging in Ukraine. Of course there is. It's that there is also a fascist element emerging in Russia, around the ultra-nationalist and authoritarian cult of Putin. Supporting Putin in the name of "anti-fascism" is despairingly stupid—and all the more so after this Yalta confab.

Meanwhile, Euromaidan Press reports that a Russian Anti-War Committee has been formed to oppose Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The founding statement demands Putin's impeachment and calls on Russians to "Express their strong rejection of this fratricidal war with acts of peaceful civil disobedience." The mothers of soldiers mobilized to Ukraine have formed a Сommittee of Soldiers' Mothers and released a video demanding that Russian officials (who still deny Russian incursions into Ukraine) bring back their children alive.

We have noted the emergence of an anti-war opposition in Russia before—and that being an anti-war protester in Russia requires far more courage than in the West. We again insist: These are the people in Russia that we as progressives in the West should be supporting—not the war criminal Putin.

  1. Israel Shamir attends Yalta pseudo-anti-fascist summit

    It is hardly a surprise, but it appears that the vile Israel Shamir attended the Yalta affair, which was officially entitled "Russia, Ukraine, New Russia: Global Problems and Challenges." A very staid and technocratic name, except that the reference to "New Russia" completely betrays their hand. Ukraine-watcher Anton Shekhovtsov has assembled on his blog photos from the confab, in which Shamir is seen. So is the Italian neo-fascist Roberto Fiore. What a rogue's gallery.

  2. Ukrainian fascists fight Russian fascists

    Foreign Policy reports that the eastern Ukraine city of Mariupol is being defended by a Kiev-commanded paramilitary force called the Azov Battallion that uses openly Nazi imagery, including the wolfsangel ("wolf trap") symbol that was widely used by Third Reich military divisions (and has since been adopted by neo-Nazi groups including the Aryan Nations). This assuredly sucks, but we should also point out that the closer Ukraine gets to the EU, the more pressure there will be on Kiev to kick thugs like the Azov Battallion overboard. So, once again, the Putin propagandists have everything backwards. In addittion to failing to recognize the fascist element within the Russian and "rebel" ranks.

    Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch reports on the systematic detention and torture of civilians who oppose the rule of the Donetsk and Luhansk "People's Republics" declared by the Russian-backed "rebels." This echoes recent findings of Amnesty International. The silence from the "left" (sic) about this has been deafening, as it echoes Putin propaganda about how the Kiev regime is "Nazi."

    This is essentially a reprise of the 1990s Ustashe-v-Chetnik horrorshow in ex-Yugoslavia (itself a replay of the 1940s Ustashe-v-Chetnik horrorshow), where the "left" (sic) was similarly duped into supporting fascists.

    1. Ukrainian ‘rebels’ use forced labor

      Human Rights Watch reported Sept. 5 that insurgent forces in eastern Ukriane "are detaining civilians on allegations of violating public order and then subjecting them to forced labor. Rebels appear to be using public order infractions as a pretext to obtain unpaid labor. In some cases, the members of these 'punishment brigades' are beaten or subjected to other cruel and degrading treatment. In several cases Human Rights Watch documented, civilians were forced to work at checkpoints near front lines, where they were at risk of attacks by Ukrainian government forces."

      What, no fascism here!

  3. Russian pot calls Ukrainian kettle black —again

    Hopefully we don't have to over-emphasize that the term "fascist junta" is pretty absurd when applied to a government not run by a junta but a parliament and executive that were, for better or worse, elected. True, as The Guardian noted May 25, the rebel-held east of the country did not participate in the election. But need we remind Putin's admirers that the elections that brought his own government to power in 2012 were tainted?

    1. Russian pot calls Ukrainian kettle black —again

      Putin now says the Ukrainian army "is not an army, but a foreign legion, in this case a foreign NATO legion, which, of course, doesn’t pursue the national interests of Ukraine." (RT) This as he has thousands of his own literally foreing forces fighting illegally in Ukraine. He must be wetting his pants laughing.

  4. Cult of Putin gets more fascistic

    What, no fascism here! From Huffington Post, Oct. 7:

    If, for some reason, you have ever wondered what Russian President Vladimir Putin might look like as Hercules, then the art world has finally provided your answer. A new exhibit depicting Russia's demagogue as demigod opened in Moscow on Monday as a one-night-only tribute for Putin's 62nd birthday.

    Entitled the "12 Labors Of Vladimir Putin," the exhibit depicts the Russian president in a variety of heroic feats as he triumphs over mythical beasts that range from a Cretan bull (referencing Crimea) to a multi-headed Hydra that seemingly represents western sanctions. While certainly on top of current events, much of the unauthorized art is less than subtle. Indeed, one work paints Putin literally strangling a terrorist with his bare hands.

    The show was organized by the head of a Facebook fan group dedicated to Putin, who told the Guardian that the aim of the exhibit was "forming a different image of Putin because the western media constantly criticises [sic] him."

    1. Putin fascism attacks sex deviants

      Russia has barred transsexuals, "exhibitionists" and "fetishists" from driving, finding that "'mental disorders" make them more likely to crash. (Daily Mail) What, no fascism here! Just ask The Nation or Counterpunch.

  5. Anti-Semitic attack in Moscow?

    From The Forward on Oct. 12:

    On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, a group of five or six men disrupted a Jewish concert in the Great Hall of Moscow's International Music House with a tear gas attack. A half-hour into the program, the men, who were seated in the first row, began shouting menacing insults at rock star Andrey Makarevich, the featured performer of the evening, and hurled canisters of pepper gas into the hall, forcing the audience of 400 to evacuate the building teary-eyed and coughing.

    To the Russian Jewish Congress, a major national Jewish organization, this was a clear anti-Semitic attack. In a statement after the onslaught, the group condemned the incident as a desecration of the Jewish holiday, which many members of Russia's largely nonreligious Jewish population celebrate through cultural rather than religious observance. The use of gas against Jews was especially hurtful, the RJC said, conjuring up painful memories of the Holocaust.

    But state-controlled Russian TV networks presented things otherwise. NTV, for example, described the attack as a legitimate expression of outrage at Makarevich “for his friendship and support of the fascist junta in Ukraine,” where pro-Russian rebels, with Russian military aid, are battling government forces.

    Television and the mainstream Russian press coverage have made no mention of the Jewish nature of the occasion (Rosh Hashanah), the concert program ("Yiddish Jazz") or the makeup of the audience. In the media's reading, the incident had nothing to do with anti-Semitism; it was all about Makarevich’s politics.

    What, no fascism here! By the way, Andrey Makarevich's Wikipedia page informs us that he has been denounced in the Russian media as a "traitor" and supporter of "fascists" for having the temerity to perform for internally dispalced persons in Svyatogorsk, Ukraine, who had fled the "People's Republics" (sic) of  Donetsk and Luhansk.

    The attitude of the Western "left" (sic) in the face of all this continues to be disgraceful. The ever-annoying Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) runs a piece entitled "'Radioactive' Putin Is 'Stalin's Spawn'," providing a tiresome litany of predictable overheated rhetoric from the likes of Fox News demonziing Putin. Talk about an easy target!

    I read stuff like this, and I think "cast the beam from thine own eye." The shameless shilling for Putin on the "left" is no less odious than the demonization in the MSM. When FAIR has anything—anything at all—to say about Stephen F. Cohen's serial Putin-shilling in The Nation, I will take them seriously. Not until.

  6. Russo-Ukraine intra-fascist war comes to New York…

    The Hyperallergic arts blog on Oct. 3 notes alarmingly that a photo exhibit on Ukraine and Syria entitled Material Evidence, held at 540 West 21st Street ("formerly" home of the Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, although we confusingly aren't told what it is called now) was vandalized by hoodlums who left behind neo-Nazi leaflets. A photo shows that one was emblazoned with the wolfsangel, symbol of the above-referenced Azov Battallion. Now the Ukrainian Policy website runs a piece, "New York’s anti-Ukrainian art gallery, and the far-right Russian network behind it," alleging:

    While the curator of the NYC gallery states that the Material Evidence event was “backed by crowdfunding and private fundraising efforts,” RT’s coverage admits that Material Evidence is organized by Zhurnalistskaya Pravda (Journalistic Truth, JT), a Moscow-based newspaper with a heavy anti-Ukrainian slant (a recent article mockingly asks readers how many Kharkiv residents will survive until the spring)…

    So, who runs the paper? Its Editor-in-Chief is Vladislav Shurigin, and Deputy Editor is Denis Tukmakov – both of whom work for Russia’s extremist / ultra-nationalist-communist newspaper Zavtra. In the case of Shurigin, he also is a member of the notorious Izborsky Club, a group which advocates forming a "Eurasian Empire." For those unaware, Zavtra and his club are run by Alexander Prokhanov, a notorious anti-Semitic conspiracist who is now a regular at Russian government events.

    Alas, the article minimizes the attack, disingenuously stating that the flyers did not contain neo-Nazi imagery (yes, they did). Hoo-boy…

  7. Ukraine rebel chief: Kiev run by ‘miserable’ Jews

    From AFP, Feb. 2:

    Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel chief on Monday branded the country's leaders "miserable" Jews in an apparent [sic] anti-Semitic jibe.

    Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, claimed that Kiev's pro-Western leaders were "miserable representatives of the great Jewish people".

    "I can't remember a time when Cossacks were led by people who have never held a sword in their hands," Zakharchenko told a press conference in the eastern rebel stronghold of Donetsk, in a reference to Ukraine's nationalist forebears, the Cossacks.

    Zakharchenko said that the country's historical nationalists "would turn in their graves if they could see who is running Ukraine."

    Now which side are the Nazis again? Leave it to the stupid American left to get everything backwards.

  8. US idiot-leftists attend Russo-fascist confab

    December 2014 saw an international conference in Moscow on the "Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Building a Multi-Polar World," organized by one Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (AGMR). Participants included US "leftists" from the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and the International Action Center (IAC)—both in the orbit of the Workers World Party—alongside Russian and Italian fascists and white nationalists from the neo-Confederate League of the South. AGMR appears to be in the orbit of Eurasinist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin UNAC notes that attendees included Israel Shamir, "a leading anti-Zionist writer from Israel," with no mention of his abject Jew-hatred.

    All this is reported by Three-Way Fight, an anti-fascist blog that has not been taken in by fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Hang in there, comrades.

  9. Ukraine: neo-Nazis fight on both sides

    Three Spaniards were arrested upon their return from Ukraine, where they were apparently fighting as part of the pro-Russian Donbass International Brigades. One told El País of his fellow fghters: "Half of them are communists and the other half are Nazis… We fought together, communists and Nazis alike… We all want the same: social justice and the liberation of Russia from the Ukrainian invasion."

    Meanwhile, Israel's YNet runs the story of a Jewish volunteer who was killed fighting for the Kiev forces in Ukraine, and whose body was removed from a battlefield under fire by members of the Jewish emergency organization ZAKA. The soldier, Yevgeni Yatsina, was buried by the Ukrainian Jewish community in Kiev's Jewish cemetery.

    Now, who are the Nazis again?

    The Daily Beast reminds us that there are neo-Nazis on the Keiv side too, reporting that a group from Sweden's Nordisk Ungdom (Nordic Youth) have arrived to fight for the Ukraine government, and is recuiting a brigade on its website.

    But isn't it interesting how the "left" only sees the Nazis on one side—and is blind both to the countervailing evidence on that side, and to which side has behaved in fascist manner by invading and partially annexing a weaker neighbor. 

  10. Ukrainian ‘rebels’ fly Confederate flag

    Amid all the controversy now about the rebel flag flying at the South Carolina state house, it has come to our attention that Moscow Times reported a year ago that that flag of the "Novorossiya" confederation that the Russian-backed rebels have declared in eastern Ukraine is actually based on the Confederate flag! The only difference is that it doesn't have stars: "otherwise, it is the same as the Confederate flag, a blue diagonal cross bordered with white on a red background." The "Ukrainian Dixie flag" has been used in recent weeks by Pavel Gubarev's secessionist Novorossiya Party, and serves as the backdrop in his numerous video appeals.

    Still rooting for these guys, Idiot Leftists?

  11. Putin push to bring back Romanovs

    So the great hero of the "left" (sic!) wants to bring back the czars… The UK's Daily Express reported June 24 that Vladimir Petrov, a lawmaker from Putin's United Russia party, plans to introduce a law (to be implemented by the centenary of the end of czarist rule) that would "give the Royal family members a special status" and "stimulate their return to Russia." Putin is said to have loaned his support to the idea. Yeah, the Express is a right-wing scandal-rag, but this appears to be true. The Moscow Times reported on the proposal that same day, and also mentioned that Petrov has actually written to Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Romanova in Spain and Prince Dmitry Romanovich Romanov in Denmark, both of whom claim to be the head of the house of Romanov, pitching them on a return to Mother Russia… 

  12. Ukraine gets Jewish prime minister

    Amid all the charges of anti-Semitism in Ukraine, and the government being assailed as "Nazi" by Putin's propaganda partisans, it is worth noting that country's new prime minister, just appointed by President Petro Poroshenko, is Vlodymir Groysman—a former mayor of Vinnytsia and a practicing Jew. The appointment makes "Groysman the first openly Jewish person to hold the country’s second highest post and, at 38, the youngest person to have the job," Israel's Haaretz notes happily.

  13. Wonder how Ukraine’s Jewish prime minister feels about this?

    From JTA, May 31:

    Ukraine honors nationalist whose troops killed 50,000 Jews
    Amid a divisive debate in Ukraine on state honors for nationalists viewed as responsible for anti-Semitic pogroms, the country for the first time observed a minute of silence in memory of Symon Petliura, a 1920s statesman blamed for the murder of 50,000 Jewish compatriots.

    The minute was observed on May 25, the 90th anniversary of Petliura's assassination in Paris. National television channels interrupted their programs and broadcast the image of a burning candle for 60 seconds, Ukraine’s Federal News Agency reported.

    A French court acquitted Sholom Schwartzbard, a Russia-born Jew, of the murder even though he admitted to it after the court found that Petliura had been involved in or knew of pogroms by members of his militia fighting for Ukrainian independence from Russia in the years 1917-1921. Fifteen of Schwartzbard's relatives perished in the pogroms.

  14. Russian fined for telling historical truth

    The Human Rights in Ukraine website reports the maddening news that "37-year-old Vladimir Luzgin has been convicted and fined 200 thousand roubles for reposting on his social network page a text which correctly states that the Soviet Union, in collaboration with the Nazis, invaded Poland in 1939." A court in Perm found Luzgin guilty of posting "knowingly false information." Perversely, he was convicted under a law passed in May 2014 against "rehabilitation of Nazism." Alas, Luzgin may be partisan of wartime Ukrainian nationalst Stepan Bandera. His offending text: "The communists and Germany jointly invaded Poland, sparking off the Second World War. That is, communism and Nazism closely collaborated, yet for some reason they blame Bandera who was in a German concentration camp for declaring Ukrainian independence."

  15. Timothy Snyder on consolidating Russo-fascism

    Timothy Snyder has a cracing op-ed in the NY Times Sept. 20 on how Ivan Ilyin, a "prophet of Russian fascism," is being embraced as the ideological patriarch of Putin's Russia…

    The brilliant political philosopher has been dead for more than 60 years, but his ideas have found new life in post-Soviet Russia. After 1991, his books were republished with long print runs. President Putin began to cite him in his annual speech to the Federal Assembly, the Russian equivalent of the State of the Union address.

    To complete the rehabilitation, Mr. Putin saw to it that Ilyin's corpse was repatriated from Switzerland, and that his archive was returned from Michigan. The Russian president has been seen laying flowers on Ilyin's Moscow grave…

    According to Ilyin, the purpose of politics is to overcome individuality, and establish a "living totality" of the nation. Writing in the 1920s and '30s after his expulsion from the Soviet Union, when he became a leading emigré ideologue of the anti-Communist White Russians, Ilyin looked on Mussolini and Hitler as exemplary leaders who were saving Europe by dissolving democracy. His 1927 article "On Russian Fascism" was addressed to "My White brothers, the fascists." Later, in the 1940s and '50s, he provided the outlines for a constitution of a fascist Holy Russia governed by a "national dictator" who would be "inspired by the spirit of totality."

    This leader would be responsible for all functions of government in a completely centralized state. Elections would be held, with open voting and signed ballots, purely as a ritual of support of the leader. The reckoning of votes was irrelevant: "We must reject blind faith in the number of votes and its political significance."

    And Putin certainly seems to be putting these ideas into practice. As Russia holds national elections for 450 seats in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, claims of election fraud are rife… raising prospects of a reprise of the protests similar to those in 2011, following the last Duma election. (Jurist, Sept. 18) We can only hope.

  16. Russian bill to decriminalize domestic violence

    Pending Russian legislation may weaken the country's protections against domestic violence, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Jan. 23. HRW is urging the Russian parliament to reject the legislation for the threat it posses to human rights obligations. The legislation will decriminalize the first offense in a matter of family violence so long as there is no serious harm that would require the hospitalization of the victim. Such offenses will be classified as "administrative offenses," which may result in fines against the offender, but the law eliminates the potentiality of a prison sentence. The law will undergo a second reading in parliament this Wednesday.

    Domestic violence has recently become a point of contention in Russian politics. In July, parliament adopted legislation that criminalized violence against family members. Citing concerns over the impact this legislation has on "traditional family values," some Russian politicians introduced a bill to reverse the July legislation. Statistics show that 40% of all violent crimes in Russia are occurrences of domestic violence.

    In March the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a UN mandate created to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, called on Russia to amend, reduce and revise a list of restricted or prohibited occupations and sectors for women established by law, and to give women access to and appropriate compensation for jobs for which they are qualified. (Jurist, Jan. 23)

    1. Russia decriminalizes domestic violence

      Russia's parliament voted 380-3 to decriminalize domestic violence in cases where it does not cause "substantial bodily harm" and does not occur more than once a year. The move eliminates criminal liability in such cases, making a violation punishable by a fine of roughly $500, or a 15-day arrest, provided there is no repeat within 12 months. The bill now goes to the rubber-stamp upper chamber, where no opposition is expected. It then must be signed by President Vladimir Putin, who has signaled his support. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists that family conflicts do "not necessarily constitute domestic violence." (USA Today, Jan. 27)

  17. Top Russian lawmaker baits Jews as anti-God

    From JTA, Jan. 25:

    The deputy speaker of the Russian parliament intimated that Jews are using their positions in the media and government to continue the work of ancestors who "pulled down our churches."

    Peter Tolstoy at a news conference Tuesday on plans to move a cathedral in St. Petersburg appeared to blame Jews for anti-religious persecution under communism. He referred to the descendants of people who on 1917 "jumped out of the Pale of Settlement" in the churches statement.

    The Pale of Settlement was an area of western Imperial Russia beyond which most Jews were not allowed to settle. This changed after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, in which Russia became a communist country until 1991.

    The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, one of the largest Jewish groups in the country, deemed Tolstoy’s statements anti-Semitic.

    "Such statements usually come from irresponsible instigators of anti-Semitic campaigns," Alexander Boroda, a Chabad rabbi and president of the federation, told Interfax Tuesday. "When we hear this from the mouth of the State Duma vice speaker at an official press conference, this is a direct undermining of interethnic coexistence in the country, and it stirs up tension."

    No, ya think?

  18. Death of the Russian far right?

    That is what is proclaimed in an Al Jazeera piece, noting that the annual Nov. 4 march by the ultra-nationalist right in Moscow is today bringing out mere hundreds rather than the thousands that were routine a decade ago, and that many of the organizers are now in exile or jail. But the article acknowledges that Putin has merely co-opted much of this sentiment though a strategy of "controlled nationalism." 

    We'd argue that the persecution of these extremoids by the Putin regime is just a struggle within the Russian far right, and that the far right is actually in power. And the march has diminished because the extremoids are no longer pissed at the government—they know their guy is in charge. 

  19. Blood libel makes comeback in Russia

    A rather misleading an understated headline from the JTA  states: "Russian bishop claims last tsar murdered by Jews for ritual purposes." But if you actually read the story, it isn't just some clerical rando making the claim, but "Marina Molodtsova, a senior investigator for a special ministerial committee on the 1917 slaying of Nicholas II." She was speaking at the same Moscow conference where the bishop, Father Tikhon Shevkunov, said that, according to “the most rigorous approach to the version of ritual murder, a significant part of the church commission [on Nicholas II’s killing] has no doubt that this murder was ritual." Molodtsova followed up that she will conduct “a psycho-historical examination” of the ritual murder theory.

  20. Sent to labor camp for dissing Putin regime

    A court in St Petersburg has sentenced a man to two years in a penal colony for insulting high-ranking Russian officials on social media. Vladimir Timoshenko, 43, was found guilty of writing a post on the popular Russian social network Vkontakte that "contained text of humiliating and insulting nature towards high-placed officials," the court said in a statement. In the post, which has since been removed from Vkontakte, Timoshenko called on Russians to rise up against an "unpopular regime." (The Guardian)

  21. Duma chief OKs sexual harassment

    Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, has recommended that female reporters change jobs if they feel threatened by men in the Russian parliament.

    Volodin's comments came less than 24 hours after BBC Russia Service journalist Farida Rustamova became the fifth female journalist to accuse Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky of sexual harassment. Although Slutsky has denied the accusations, the BBC says it is in  possession of audio recorded by Rustamova during the March 2017 incident in the deputy’s office. "Is it dangerous for you to work in the Duma? If yes, change your job," Volodin said in congratulatory remarks on International Women’s Day to female pool reporters, as reported by the opposition-leaning Dozhd TV news channel.  (Reuters via Moscow Times, March 7)

  22. Dugin calls for ‘Red-Brown alliance’

    From a Salon profile of Alexander Dugin, "Putin's Rasputin"…

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dugin is eager to form a political alliance with leftists, with whom he shares a common foe—liberalism and American or Western imperialism—and has called for "conscious cooperation of the radical Left-wingers and the New Right." In order to do this, Dugin insists that both sides in this marriage of convenience must "put aside anti-Communist, as well as anti-fascist, prejudices," which are "the instruments in the hands of liberals and globalists with which they keep their enemies divided." In other words, to use parlance that will be familiar to some activists, Dugin wants a “Red-Brown alliance” against liberalism.

  23. 1,000 detained at protests across Russia

    A Russian rights group on Sept. 10 reported that more than 1,000 people were detained at anti-government protests across the nation. The OVD-Info group, which tracks police detentions, said that 1,018 people were detained during multiple Sunday demonstrations against Russian pension reform that plans to increase the ages at which citizens can collect their state pension. (Jurist)

    So, as usual, the cynical play to both Czar-nostalgia and Stalin-nostalgia, while instating a thoroughly neoliberal economic program. Glad some Russians aren't going for it.

  24. Pussy Riot activist poisoned in prison: report

    From Pitchfork:

    Over the weekend, two members of the Pussy Riot collective who stormed the field at this year's World Cup—Veronika Nikulshina and Peter Verzilov—were arrested in Moscow during a day of widespread protests in Russia. It's now been revealed in the Russian publication Meduza that Verzilov was hospitalized yesterday and was in serious condition following a possible poisoning.

    Nikulshina said that after a court session, Verzilov began to lose his sight, speech, motor skills, and memory. Verzilov was reportedly taken to a toxicological department, and doctors would not tell Nikulshina whether or not Verzilov was poisoned. "The doctor only said that his condition was serious, but his behavior was improving and he’d started responding to his own name," Nikulshina said.

    Solidarity with Pussy Riot. Nice to know that punk is still dangerous, somewhere…

  25. imprisoned for posting irreverent memes in Russia?

    Maria Motuznaya, 23, from the city of Barnaul in Siberia, is facing six years in prison on "inciting hatred" charges for sharing satorical memes on VKontakte, Russia's largest social media network. One of the offending memes shows women dressed as nuns smoking cigarettes and urging each other to be quick "while God isn't looking." She's already been placed on an "extremist" watch list. Over 400 were brought up on charges related to Internet posts in Russia last year. (BBC News)

  26. Putin sends Orwellian meter into full tilt —again

    From Channel NewsAsia, Dec. 11:

    Kremlin critics accused President Vladimir Putin of hypocrisy for attending the wake on Tuesday of a veteran Soviet and Russian dissident who was a staunch critic of his administration.

    Putin has been accused by rights groups of muzzling the media, jailing his opponents and clamping down on civil society over the 19 years in which he has dominated Russia's political landscape and enjoyed consistently high popularity ratings.

    The president joined hundreds of others who paid their respects at the open-cask ceremony for Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the founder of Russia's oldest human rights group who died on Saturday aged 91.

    But while Putin attended, a notable absentee was Alexeyeva's fellow human rights veteran Lev Ponomaryov, jailed last week for calling in a Facebook post for rallies in support of activists at two political groups that authorities have labelled extremist.

    "Instead of Lev Ponomaryov, Vladimir Putin will bid farewell to Alexeyeva. This is what it means to spit on someone's grave," journalist and long-standing Kremlin critic Viktor Shenderovich wrote on Facebook.

  27. Lavrov insinuates full annexation of Ukraine

    Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will not recognize the Donbas "republics" because to do so would be "to lose all the rest of Ukraine and leave it to the Nazis"—a clear indication that the Kremlin ultimately seeks to control all of Ukraine and not just part of it. (EuroMaidan Press)

    This is what we mean by fascist pseudo-anti-fascism… treating Ukraine the way Hitler did Austria and Sudetenland because the Ukrainians are "Nazis."