This video of a March 16 protest in Moscow shows that some Russians strongly oppose what their government has done in Ukraine. The protest leaders say about 50,000 people came. Visitors to my blog who don’t know Russian might still find it interesting to watch parts of the 1.5 hours of video footage here. It could be removed from Russian blogger Oleg Kozyrev’s site in the future, but at least for now it’s available there, on the Echo Moscow site, and on YouTube.
At the beginning, opposition figure Alexander Ryklin denounces the Russian aggression, and Boris Nemtsov slams the propaganda–including stories about fascists in Kiev and Banderovtsy (followers of Stepan Bandera–see my last post). A journalist speaks about how Russia is sliding toward totalitarianism, or worse, and how Russian and Ukrainian journalists could help prevent this if they stood together. Another speaker, Oleg Orlov, says everyone remembers that the Kremlin justified the 1994 and 1999 invasions of Chechnya with similar propaganda, including the need to protect the Russian population in the North Caucasus:
“It sounds like the same propaganda we’re hearing now. … We understand why the forces in the Kremlin began those wars: Their only goal was to consolidate their power, and there is no better means than war to trample the opposition, take over the mass media, and brainwash most of our population. Yeltsin wasn’t able to pull this off [in the 1994-96 Chechen war], but Putin played this war card brilliantly in the 2000s. Putin is a man of war.”
Extended International Dance Mix
My last post was about the US, but this issue of feelings vs. freedom of expression comes up in other countries too. It’s been making the news in Russia for months. At the end of September, the Duma began considering a bill that would alter existing law by criminalizing acts that offend “religious faith and feelings of citizens,” as well as acts against religious objects and places where religious ceremonies are conducted. The draft bill called for penalties of up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to 300,000 rubles (about 9700 USD). It is still under consideration but very likely to become law, considering the legislature’s recent work limiting other freedoms.
Photo from pussy-riot.livejournal.com
One part of the context for this was Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February. (more…)
An enlargeable basic map of Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As I listen to the nauseating campaign ads for the 2012 US presidential election, it makes me think back to previous years when my preferred candidate did or didn’t win. In cases where my guy lost, I assumed it was because more voters supported or turned out for the other candidate. I didn’t worry that the winner had cheated (too much). I also thought to myself that it was for eight years at most. More likely four, if he turned out to be as bad as I feared. Whatever the case, I’ve never worried that any president would change the constitution and make himself “leader for life.” Call me naïve, but I just don’t think any politician could get away with that here. It would go so strongly against American political beliefs and democratic values, against what is accepted.
I’ve thought about this because I’ve studied other countries, like the Republic of Georgia, where leaders stay in power long after a large part of society wants them out. There, people told me President Eduard Shevardnadze seemed “eternal” because he had ruled Georgia in one capacity or another for decades. Shevardnadze and the members of his ruling party wanted to stay in power, so they doctored the election results as necessary. (more…)