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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Update: January 15, 2015

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Official In Culture Ministry Quits Over Crackdown On Protests And Artists

A shakeup in the Culture Ministry over protests and freedom of expression? RFE/RL reports:

Yevgeny Savostyanov, the head of Russia's Coordination Council on Intellectual Property Protection, said in an open letter that he was "ashamed" of Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and no longer wished to work with his ministry.

In his letter, addressed to Medinsky, Savostyanov resigned from both the ministry's board and its public council.

"The reason for this decision is the stance that you and the Culture Ministry have taken on a range of important matters of public interests, as well as some of your public statement and remarks for which I am ashamed," he wrote.

The letter criticized Medinsky's refusal to fund Russia's prestigious festival of independent film, ArtdokFest, on the grounds that its president, Vitaly Mansky, made too many "antigovernment remarks."

Savostyanov is a former FSB official and deputy chief of the Kremlin staff.

Earlier today Russia's Ministry of Culture announced a ban on films that "threaten national unity."  See our earlier report on the Kremlin's crackdown against movies which, one might say, dare to "question more."

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ultranationalist Protesters Beat Opposition Supporters After Demonstration

After police pushed most demonstrators off Manezhnaya Square this evening, and journalists went home, there were few left to pay attention to lingering groups of ultranationalists who had heckled opposition supporters earlier. Police left them alone, after briefly stopping a few.

But some of them waited around and then ganged up on the opposition supporters as they left the square, beating some of them, as blogger Yegor Maksimov reports.


Translation: a NOD [National Liberation Movement] rally on Manezhka and "Motherland, Freedom, Putin."

NOD is an ultrarightist group founded by State Duma deputy Yevgeny Fyodorov which provides assistant and volunteers to the Russian-backed insurgency in the Donbass.

"Manezhka" is the nick-name for Manezhnaya Square in Moscow.

Translation: Here are the central Cossack fighters.

Translation: People were leaving and trying to chant, "Russia will be free!". Several people in hoods with St. George ribbons began to beat one of them.


Translation: the police were not detaining the people in masks with St. George ribbons. They weren't reacting at all to them.


Translation: I haven't seen such hell in a long time. Everyone had left. There were only journalists left. Well, maybe 10 liberal activists. The police simply shoved them all into the metro.

Translation: Police beat me (though I had a press card) in the kidneys and shouted for everyone to go into the metro. They didn't show their badges. They didn't identify themselves.

Maksimov discussed past experience with police and extremist groups over the years at demonstrations.

Translation: Yes, it's true, only the titushki here are what's new.

The titushki were thugs used by Ukrainian riot police to harass and beat demonstrators. Russians have now borrowed the word to describe a similar phenomenon in Moscow where police appear to do nothing and let the far-right groups beat up the liberals.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
13 Detained in Moscow at Opposition Protest

The police monitoring group OVDinfo.org reports that at least 13 people were detained earlier this evening at a gathering in defense of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and his brother Oleg.  Anti-opposition protesters who shouted "Maidan will not pass!" were not detained, say demonstrators.

Those detained say that several hundred people wearing St. George flag pins associated with ultranationalist groups who support Russia's war against Ukraine began heckling and pushing them soon after their action began at 7 pm Moscow time.

In response to their cat-calls, the opposition supporters shouted back "If there is no freedom, there will be Maidan!" People from both sets of protesters were then detained by police.

All of those wearing the St. George ribbons were then immediately released by police, says OVDinfo.

Moscow policed lined up in rows and pushed demonstrators off Manezhnaya Square, forcing them down into the Revolution Square metro station or away from Manezhnaya Square.

Those arrested were put into police vans.

Eleven were taken to the Meshchansky Police Precinct.

Two were taken to the Kitai-Gorod Police Precinct.

Tonight, only ordinary cops were used to control demonstrators, and they didn't swing any clubs -- they mainly shouted into bullhorns.

No riot squads in helmets and camouflage were visible on the square, as only several hundred people seemed to be present, and most left when the police lines loomed over them.

Police blocked off entrance to the large, brightly lit Christmas ornament decorating the square for Russian Orthodox Christmas  on January 7 and Old New Year's Eve on January 12, under the old calendar.


Translation: They pushed them finally to the metro. It looks like that's it. But not a single anti-Maidan activist was detained. #Manezhka


Translation: Don't interfere with passage.


Translation: That's it.

Phalanx-6.png

That was it for the pro-Navalny demonstrators, but the others seemed to hang around longer.


Translation: at Kamergersky St., there's a bunch of Cossack fighters. Reserves, perhaps. There are a lot of them here, perhaps a hundred.

Cossacks showed up at the Navalny demonstration in December, shouting slogans in support of the "Donetsk People's Republic" where they have joined other Russian-backed fighters. It's not clear whether this group were part of the anti-opposition hecklers or whether authorities planned to use them in suppressing the demonstration in some way, as Cossacks are paid by the Russian government to assist in police functions.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Police Force Demonstrators Off Manezhnaya Square, Crush at Metro

Moscow police have formed lines and are methodically moving south and east across Manezhnaya Square now, pushing demonstrators toward the other side.

They're calling out in bullhorns, "Respected Citizens! We urge you to go toward Revolution Square Metro Station. Do not delay. Your actions are unlawful."

As in the past, they are forcing demonstrators off the square, down the stairs into the metro stations on the east side of the square, so that they go home.


Phalanxing-2.jpg

Some young men are still lingering by the police phalanx shouting, "Freedom for the Navalnys!," the opposition leader and his brother who were sentenced last month.

Police-Phalanx.png

Police continue to tell demonstrators "Move toward the Metropolitan!" using the formal name for the Moscow metro.

The problem is that they are now themselves crowding the metro entrances.

Crush.jpg

Phalanxing-3.png

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Few Remain From Once Numerous 'White Ribbon' Protesters Against Putin in Moscow

Photojournalist Philipp Kireev has published a brief Vine video of an elderly woman supporter of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, clutching a white ribbon -- the symbol of anti-Putin rallies worn by tens of thousands back in 2011 and 2012 which have now dwindled to a few hearty souls.

"I feel as if I am alone here," she says, looking around fearfully at the anti-opposition protesters who are shouting "Navalny on Trial!" and "Maidan Shall Not Pass!" - referring to the Ukrainian protest movement of last year that conservative Russians do not want to see repeated in their country.


"You're not alone," says Kireev, and a few others nearby -- but most of the few hundred people milling around on the square seem to be anti-opposition activists, like the man in the red cape in the photo below shouting for Navalny to be put on trial -- which has already been done, multiple times.

Navalny is back under house arrest after a detention by police yesterday when he left his home to go to the radio Ekho Moskvy, a station increasingly under government pressure. He was handed a suspended sentence in December in a fraud case widely believed to be manufactured to put a chill on his anti-corruption blogging. He is now facing trial on charges of "art theft" stemming from possession of a street artist's sketch -- another trumped-up case.


Red-Cape-.jpg

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

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