Saturday, June 29, 2013

Putin oligarchs buy Hartwall Arena

Via Bloomberg:
Gennady Timchenko and two other billionaire acquaintances of President Vladimir Putin bought a stake in Jokerit ice hockey team, moving the club from Finland’s top league to Russia’s answer to the NHL.
Timchenko, Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg will also buy Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Jokerit’s home rink and Finland’s largest event venue, with a seating capacity of about 13,500, according to an e-mailed statement from the business partners’ Arena Events Oy venture. The price wasn’t disclosed.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Catastrophe

On June 22 - the anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Russia in 1941 - the Russian "intellectual nationalist" website Sputnik  & Pogrom published an article with the title The Birthday of Hope that lamented the outcome of what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. "In speaking of the 'catastrophe' of June 22," the article's author wrote,
Soviet - and also post-Soviet - propaganda only partly tells a lie. A catastrophe did indeed take place. However, it took place not on the battlefields but in the minds of the human beings who made up the "new historical community" - the Soviet people. On June 22, 1941, in the minds of the millions of Stalin's slaves was born a HOPE that gave rise to a military disaster which put the Stalinist tyranny on the edge of destruction.
On June 22 1941 it was suddenly discovered that there were forces in the world that could challenge the Stalinist cannibals. And the millions of slaves felt that the bloody communist rule, with all its party committees, collective farms and gulags - was not forever, that THINGS COULD BE DIFFERENT. For the first time in twenty years, people had the opportunity to choose, and there were very many who did.
The article makes no attempt to justify Nazism - the author says that "socialists always deceive, and the National Socialists were no exception." But it does make a radical break with the received wisdom about 1941, a break viewed by some as amounting to blasphemy. There were calls for the author and his editor to be imprisoned. Some saw an irony in the fact that the loudest of these calls came from the pages of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in an article by the shadowy WikiLeaks journalist Israel Shamir, with a photograph of Yegor Prosvirnin headed Why is he still not in jail? Shamir attacked Russia's liberal and centre-right  intellectuals, claiming that their supposedly enlightened views are really a mask for Nazi sympathies.

In a reply published on the Sputnik & Pogrom website, Prosvirnin retorted:
I swore an oath to Russia and to the Russian people... You, collective deputy Yarovaya and collective publicist Shamir, are not Russia and are not the Russian people... Why are you still not in jail, deputy Yarovaya? Why are you still not in jail, Israel Shamir? Why are you still not in jail, Vladimir Putin? Why are you still not in jail, Treasonous Federation? Why?
See also: Intellectual Nationalism

No Country for Honest Men

Sputnik & Pogrom: Страна предателей

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Russians and Rossians

At WoE, Paul Goble has translated extracts from a recent interview with Eduard Popov, head of research at the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, on the subject of Russian nationalism and its current move towards ethnic separatism. Today, Popov notes,
Moscow faces a rising tide of 'ethnic Russian separatism based on nationalist attitudes' precisely because the RSFSR of Soviet times has not become a Russian nation state.
To get away from this danger Popov believes that 
the country must stop trying to use “the discredited definition” term for non-ethnic Russian (rossiyanin).  “This term is an anachronism which was adopted by liberal ‘Yeltsins’ as an ideological mechanism for suppressing Russian ethnic identity.”  Moreover, “there are no rossiyane; there is an [ethnic] Russian political nation.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

May 6 show trial begins

In the New Republic, Joshua Yaffa discusses the Moscow trial of the twelve May 6 defendants, which began today, and sets it in the historical and political context of Russia's show trials of the Stalin era.
The May 6 defendants will be cast as the foot soldiers of a would-be putsch, with Udaltsov, in his scheming with foreigners, playing a role loosely modeled on Trotsky’s.

BBC Statement Regarding BBC Reporters in Turkey

Date: 24.06.2013Last updated: 24.06.2013 at 12.01
Category: Corporate
BBC Global News Director, Peter Horrocks, has issued the following statement.
The BBC is very concerned by the continued campaign of the Turkish authorities to discredit the BBC and intimidate its journalists.
A large number of threatening messages have been sent to one of our reporters, who was named and attacked on social media by the Mayor of Ankara for her coverage of the current protests.
The BBC and all its journalists are committed to providing impartial and independent journalism. It is unacceptable for our journalists to be directly targeted in this way. There are established procedures for making comments and complaints about BBC output and we call on the Turkish authorities to use these proper channels.
BBC Press Office

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Undernet

On the day that Edward Snowden comes to Moscow in his role of NSA whistleblower, a reminder of the Kremlin's Internet surveillance system. Introduced in late 2012, in its thoroughness and intrusiveness it probably outdoes most other systems of this kind in operation throughout the world today. As Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan point out in Wired magazine:
the new Roskomnadzor system introduces DPI (deep packet inspection) on a nationwide scale. Although DPI is not mentioned in the law, the Ministry of Communications — along with the biggest internet corporations active in Russia — concluded in August that the only way to implement the law was through deep packet inspection.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Protests in Turkey and Russia compared

At Global Voices, Daniel Alan Kennedy discusses points of contact between the mass demonstrations in Turkey and the democratic protest movement in Russia:
Turkey is a popular holiday destination with Russians, who are drawn there by its beaches, proximity, low prices and a visa-free travel agreement with Russia. Last year alone nearly 3 million Russians visited Turkey. While some interest in current events there can therefore be chalked up to concerns for non-refundable travel packages, Russia itself has been no stranger to street protests in the last two years. Many Russians were quick to draw parallels: both between the two protest movements and the two political leaders.
While among supporters of the Russian opposition "comparisons of Erdogan to Putin abounded, particularly on Twitter", Kennedy points out that pro-Putin Russians were more reluctant to back Erdogan, partly because of the latter's position on Syria. More support for Erdogan came from Russian-speakers in the Central Asian republics, where what they perceive as Erdogan's "steadfastness" contrasts with the indecision of their own local leaders.

Reactions of a different kind come from Russians of a center-right persuasion: at Sputnik & Pogrom, Yegor Prosvirnin writes that while the Turkish opposition movement turned the whole of Turkey into "one gigantic field of battle", their Russian counterparts meekly complied with the officially permitted marching routes and moaned on their blogs about the Russian protests being "lost" (слит). What's needed, according to Prosvirnin, is an injection of the spirit shown by the protesters of Taksim Square, transposed into classical Russian terms:
There is no need for elections. No need for any protests. What's needed are 1000 Russians. Not you - [Mayakovskian] clouds in trousers - but real Russians of pre-revolutionary quality who understand who they are, what they are, what to live for and what to die for. Not clowns in fancy dress with processional banners, not dickheads in black uniforms, but those who in the Land of my Birth [Родина] (I don't say  "our",  the post-Soviet proletariat has no fatherland) advanced with both banners and uniforms. Only a thousand are needed, and the country of decomposing Soviet monsters and insufficiently Europeanized white-ribboned phantoms will fall at their feet.
Не надо никаких выборов. Не надо никаких протестов. Надо 1000 русских. Не вас — облаков в штанах — а настоящих, дореволюционного качества русских, понимающих, кто они, зачем они, зачем жить и зачем умирать. Не ряженых клоунов с хоругвями, не мудаков в черных униформах, но тех, кто на моей Родине (не говорю «нашей», у постсоветского пролетария нет отечества) двигали и хоругвями, и униформами. Всего лишь тысячу, и страна разлагающихся советских чудовищ и недоевропейских белоленточных призраков ляжет к ногам.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Taksim Solidarity - Press Release

The Taksim Solidarity website has issued the following statement:

June 18th, 2013 Press Release

Cutting the trees at Gezi Park, attacking people camping at Gezi at the crack of dawn with water cannons and tear gas, using rubber bullets and spraying millions of protesters with chemicals was not the end of police violence. It is still full on, now with the help of thugs armed with sticks and knives.
Four people have already died during the protests, hundreds were injured and disabled. Ethem Sarısülük was shot with a bullet in Ankara. Now the government has started a “witch hunt”. Hundreds of Turkish citizens, who claimed their park, insisted on their demands and asked for more freedoms have been collected from their homes in the early hours of the morning. Police brutality in the form of custody and arrests is forced upon people exercising their democratic rights. Members of trade associations, unions and political parties are being arrested far and wide. There is an atmosphere of oppression and fear.
253 people have been arrested in Istanbul and 142 in Ankara. The number is on the rise all over the country. We demand the immediate release of everyone under police custody and an end to this anti-democratic policy. We expect health reports on the 7822 people -59 of whom are in critical condition – injured as a result of police violence. Those responsible for this severe picture and the deaths of 4 people should be held accountable, deposed and taken to court.
Responding to democratic protests with police violence followed by mass custody and arrest operations is an all-too-familiar state tradition in Turkey. The current government is doing this on an unprecedented scale. Every coup d’etat, every authoritarian episode had brought along mass arrests in Turkey. The Gezi Park resistance had risen above these outdated authoritarian methods with its popularity, pacifism, legitimacy and creativity. Marches, pots and pans, human chains, and “standing people” have all been transformed into platforms of democratic response.
The demands which started off in Taksim are widely shared now. There is no going back. Tree cutters returned to the park through the council planting new trees and flowers. A proper explanation and apology would have been more meaningful than this perfunctory self-criticism.
Those who suggested that they could do whatever they wanted with the trees, with the park have now realised that they cannot ignore the demands of the people anymore. We are looking forward to a declaration about the cancellation of the development (Topçu Kışlası) project and the deposal of those responsible for it. The use of tear gas and other human health hazards should be banned immediately and those in custody should be released. This is the way to social peace.
Taksim Solidarity will be following up on these demands shared by millions and support the injured and those under police custody. We will be loud and clear in our demands until the wounded are well and those under custody free.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Taksim protest continuing

Although Taksim Square has been closed, and according to Turkey's European Union minister anyone entering it will be considered a supporter of a terrorist organization, protesters plan to attempt to retake the square today. #1MilyonBugunTaksime.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Erdogan issues another threat

Sounding remarkably like his adversary Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring Syria, Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued another threat to the Taksim Square/Gezi Park protesters at the end of a long, ranting speech to some 50,000-60,000 of his supporters at a rally in Ankara today. The protesters must clear the square by tomorrow, Sunday, when he is to address another AKP rally there, he said, or the police will clear it for them.

The question asked by some observers now is why Erdogan is apparently provoking an open confrontation in this direct and polarizing way.

A Twitter hashtag has started - #1MilyonYarinTaksime - One Million to Taksim. It's already trending, together with #turkey.

Police are now attacking people on the Square with water cannons and teargas. They also appear to be sweeping the Park.
Woman are banging pots and pans in side streets:

Marina Litvinenko: Cameron struck deal with Putin

In the Guardian, Luke Harding discusses Marina Litvinenko's reaction to David Cameron's decision to meet Vladimir Putin in Downing Street on Sunday, in the run-up to next week's G8 summit. She says it is morally wrong to "appease dictators":
Marina Litvinenko said she was convinced London and Moscow had struck a pragmatic understanding to bury the Litvinenko affair. She said: "How can you have serious talks about security in Syria with a person who doesn't want you to provide justice following a polonium terror attack in central London? It was obviously Mr Putin himself who protected Lugovoi from extradition. I believe it is Putin who also decided that Lugovoi should become a Russian MP."
From Harding's report it also emerges that the North Caucasus human rights lawyer Olga Chelysheva has been denied entry to the U.K.

BBC suspending partnership with Turkey's NTV

Via BBC Media Center:

BBC Worldwide Director, Peter Horrocks, has issued the following statement:
Date: 14.06.2013Last updated: 14.06.2013 at 19.45
Category: Corporate
“The BBC is suspending its partnership with NTV in Turkey with immediate effect following NTV’s decision not to transmit the BBC programme Dunya Gundemi [World Agenda] today.
"Any interference in BBC broadcasting is totally unacceptable and at a time of considerable international concern about the situation in Turkey the BBC’s impartial service to audiences is vital.”
Further information
BC Türkçe will continue to cover global events – including the events in Turkey – on all platforms, providing its audiences with independent, impartial and balanced reports and analysis.
Its TV programming will continue to be available for viewing via the website BBC Türkçe will continue to engage with its audiences via social media, on Facebook and Twitter.

Taksim Solidarity: resistance to continue

An announcement on the Taksim Solidarity website says that the Gezi Park protest is to continue. Unmet demands include release of detainees and investigation of officials responsible for deaths. The struggle will be widened from a local ecological protest to a national and international movement "against all forms of injustice and victimization."

Turkey: Novaya Gazeta reporter arrested and beaten

Arkady Babchenko, author of A Soldier's War, an account of his experience of serving with the Russian army in Chechnya, has been arrested and beaten by Turkish police in Istanbul:


According to a statement, posted on the newspaper’s website, Babchenko was taking photographs of police cars when a group of people in civilian clothes approached him and demanded that he ceased. Shortly after, they grasped his arms and attempted to detain him.
“When I tried to wrench myself from their grasp, they pulled me to a back alley and started beating me,” the paper quoted Babchenko as saying. “I’m in hospital at the moment. I’m unable to walk.
There is video footage of the arrest:

 Update: Babchenko has now been released, and no charges have been brought by the Turkish authorities. He will not be deported from Turkey, Novaya Gazeta reports.

Further update: Turkish police are now insisting that Babchenko leaves Turkey in the near future, according to

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Alan Cullison: Mysteries of Boston Bombing

Fatima Tlisova interviews WSJ's Alan Cullison (VOA, Russian):

Working from the space

Pussy Riot, interviewed in the New York Times:
“It’s an art group, not a musical group — this is very important,” Fara said. They are multimedia, site-specific, activist performers. “We work from the space or the problem,” she explained.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Anti-gay law will omit term "homosexuality"

The anti-gay legislation now about to receive its second and third readings in the Russian Duma will not contain the word "homosexuality", according to Yelena Mizulina, chairwoman of the Committee on Families, Women and Children, Grani reports. Instead, the bill will use the term "non-traditional sexual relations".

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Litvinenko: Coroner's Request for a Public Inquiry

Press release: 

Coroner's Inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko

5 June 2013


Her Majesty's Assistant Deputy Coroner for Inner North London, Sir Robert Owen, has written to the Secretary of State for Justice, the Right Honourable Christopher Grayling MP, requesting that a decision be made to order a Public Inquiry under section 1 (1) of the Inquiries Act 2005 to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Litvinenko.

The letter follows on from Sir Robert's Public Interest Immunity (PII) ruling of 17 May 2013 in which he sought submissions from the Interested Persons relating to the setting up of a Public Inquiry. The Coroner received submissions which have been posted on the Inquest's website. [ ]

The next hearing will be held as planned on Tuesday 11 June when Sir Robert currently intends to hear three applications for anonymity.


• 7 February 2013 – The Public Interest Immunity (PII) application was made to the Coroner by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

• 26 February 2013 – an inter partes public hearing which took argument from Interested Persons and from the press.

• 27 February 2013 – the Coroner's Oral Ruling.

• 17 May – The Coroner releases his final Open Ruling. Parties have been given 14 days to challenge the ruling.

• 4 June – The Coroner writes to the Secretary of State for Justice requesting the setting up of a Public Inquiry.

For further information journalists should contact the Inquest's communications manager, Mike Wicksteed.

Email: pressoffice@...
Tel: 07557-491634.

Pussy Riot in New York

Via the Guardian:
At an unannounced appearance at a radical feminist bookstore in New York, two members of the Russian punk rock group that sparked an international crisis for Vladimir Putin took off their iconic colorful balaclavas and revealed their faces.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Zakayev: Umarov will appear in Syria

In an interview published on the Radio Svoboda website, exiled Chechen opposition leader Akhmed Zakayev accuses Russia of getting ready to stage a propaganda coup in Syria involving the North Caucasus Islamist guerrilla leader Doku Umarov. Zakayev says that contrary to recent reports (published on Kavkaz Center) Umarov is alive and well and is preparing for a new project that will involve his disappearance in Dagestan and his reappearance in Syria on the side of the rebel forces there.
Let me draw your attention to this: when  the opposition rallies against Putin in Moscow developed, Doku Umarov issued a statement saying that his supporters would not commit terrorist acts on the territory of Russia, as the Russian people had finally woken up and rebelled against the tyrant. The statement seems to be against Putin, but in fact it is absolutely consistent with the interests of Putin and his entourage.
After all, if Doku Umarov comes down on the side of the opposition, in the eyes of the average Russian the opposition is guilty of an alliance with bad people like Umarov. This figure has been spun for so long and so many civilian lives have been sacrificed in order to create the impression that it's not only Navalny and the opposition who are standing up to Putin and denouncing corruption and unfair elections, but also the terrorist Doku Umarov. The emergence of Umarov in Syria will arouse attention around the world, and many Western politicians will feel very uncomfortable.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

From Independence Square to Taksim Square

At Global Voices, Veronika Khokhlova looks at the Istanbul protests through the eyes of a Ukrainian journalist:
Turkey has long been a popular vacation and business travel destination for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, but few of these visitors can boast much knowledge of the Turkish politics. Now, however, as the anti-government protests and police brutality in Turkey are making top headlines globally, many Ukrainians have started to follow the situation there with much interest, expressing support and admiration for the peaceful protesters, noting similarities with the 2004 Orange Revolution as well as with more recent events in Ukraine, and wishing for the political awakening of the Ukrainian people.

Monday, June 03, 2013


The web site occupygeziradio presents live English-language audio interviews with people at the protests in Turkey. The interviewees are a cross-section of the Turkish public - a teacher, a student, a businessman, a trader, a sales manager, an engineer, and so on, and they give their immediate views and impressions of the events as they are unfolding.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Alyokhina ends hunger strike

Via  Maria Alyokhina has ended her hunger strike, as the prison colony administration has met her demands.