Month: June 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.

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

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.”

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


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.

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 any 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.

Taksim Solidarity – press release

The Taksim Solidarity website has issued the following statement:

June 18th, 2013 Press Release

19 June 2013


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.