Month: June 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.

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.


Turkey links

Scott Peterson (CS Monitor), on Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s view of the Taksim Square protesters.

Sebnem Arsu (NY Times), on how Davide Martello lost his grand piano.

Bel Trew (Ahram Online), on Two Days in Taksim 

Joe Parkinson and Emre Peker (WSJ), on violence and polarization in Turkey.

Edhem Eldem (NYT), on the dangers of Turkey’s False Nostalgia.

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.