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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: April 21, 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
Kremlin Gears Up for Victory Day, with Many Western Leaders Not Coming
Russia is gearing up for Victory Day May 9, with rehearsals already taking place in Red Square.

Moscow Times reported that many Western leaders are not attending the ceremony:

In contrast to the last big Victory Day anniversary one decade ago, most high-profile guests of the upcoming Red Square parade are coming not from Western countries, but from Asia, Latin America and Africa, with Chinese President Xi Jinping being the most prominent confirmed international guest so far.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not come to the parade on May 9, but will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Kremlin the next day, RIA Novosti reported in March.

U.S. President Barack Obama will not be coming due to Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict, the White House said last week. Even Alexander Lukashenko, president of Russia's closest ally Belarus, said Saturday he won't be attending the parade because he will preside over another one in Minsk.

Russian leaders have attempted to demonstrate indifference over the issue. Answering a question about the absence of Western leaders at the parade during his annual call-in show on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin said that their presence was not essential.


The soft boycott of Putin over his war on Ukraine is one he has tried to spin, along with other Kremlin supporters.


Meanwhile, traditional allies of the Kremlin will be coming:

Obkom  is a Soviet-era abbreviation which means "Regional Party Committee," i.e. those who call the shots.


One close ally of Russia who is not coming is the Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The main reason seems to be that he wants to establish his presence at home on that day; he will still come to Moscow on May 7-8 for other wreath-laying ceremonies.


Ludmila Alexeyeva, a veteran human rights advocate and chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, has published a proposal to Putin, calling for everyone to stand and have a moment of silence on the 70th anniversary. Her own father was killed at the front.

The appeal seemed to be a test of sorts to see if Putin would overcome his hostility to NGOs and opposition to affirm at least the shared tragic past of Russia.

On the newly-re-designed Kremlin.ru page, Putin now  has a "personal page" with pictures of his childhood and a biography which is very sparse regarding his father during World War II, Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin, noting merely that he "participated in the war."

From other sources, we learn that his father was in the NKVD, the predecessor of the KGB or secret police where Putin himself service, and was severely wounded in 1942.

-- 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
Nationalist Dyomushkin Claims LifeNews Set Him Up with Hitler Portrait; Reporter Denies, Suffers Threats

Police detained about 40 people at Club Seven in southeast Moscow and confiscated knives, brass knuckles and trauma pistols last night, saying that the crowd had gathered to celebrate Hitler's birthday, LifeNews reported.

Interfax reported a source that said nationalist "Russian March" organizer Dmitry Dyomushkin was among those detained.

TV Rain reported that Dmitry Dyomushkin, head of the "Russians" association which organizes the annual nationalist "Russian March" has accused a LifeNews employee of planting a portrait of Hitler during the raid to set them up. TV Rain reported (translation by The Interpreter):

"We gathered and discussed today in our circle the holding of a knife-fight tournament. This was a closed event. We did not have any Hitler. An employee of LifeNews brought that portrait herself, the entire hall applauded her."

Another source said that those who gathered together in the club wanted to celebrate Hitler's birthday, which is on April 20. In LifeNews' broadcast, the portrait of Hitler is shown among the items confiscated from the detainees.

In an interview with a LifeNews TV anchor, Anastasiya Tsapiyeva, the reporter for LifeNews, said she was threatened by the club-goers who put up screen shots of her on social media and claiming she planted the portrait and should be sued.


But she said this was "physically impossible" as she and a film crew had earlier made an agreement with law-enforcers prior to film their raid -- although police had not given any details about who was to be detained. About 70 police were involved in the raid, she said.

She said they filmed the raid live as police showed the weapons and portrait already on the scene. One of the nationalists admitted to her that a Makarov pistol confiscated by police belonged to him, but none of them admitted to celebrating Hitler's birthday. Tsapiyeva didn't find this credible as it was a Monday night when people wouldn't normally have a party, and food an alcohol had been set out.

Tsapiyeva thus confirmed what is often said about LifeNews, that it works closely with law-enforcement and intelligence. She did specify that when the suspects were searched, according to regulations, they did not film, but she said later a policeman told her that Dyomushkin had been "the most aggressive" of the detainees, and had "shouted and waved his hands."

She also noted that while she was filming the raid, none of the nationalists had made any threats against her; these only came later that night when she got home. Tsapiyeva does not plan to press charges, however, because the threats are unsigned, and she fears further reprisals from the nationalists and soccer fans.

Dyomushkin, a leader of the now-banned Slavic Union, was one of leaders of the Russians nationalist march in 2013.

As Paul Goble reported, last month Dyomushkin's apartment was searched which led him to conclude that the Kremlin persecutes nationalists not under its control and that "one can only love Putin with permission."

Another organizer of the march, Vladimir Tor, was also searched at the time. Russian March co-organizer Aleksandr Belov (Potkin) was arrested on charges of money-laundering before the march lsat year and later claimed authorities targeted him because he refused to commit terrorist acts in Ukraine.


Translation: Searchers underway of organizers of "Russian March." Tor, Dyomushkin and others.

Authorities have reportedly opened up a case on charges of "extremism" related to some of the signs at last November's march which insulted Muslims. Turnout for the Russian March last year was sparse, as authorities staged Russian Unity Day at the same time and attracted many more people.

-- 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
Russian Journalist Convicted of Displaying Nazi Symbols After Making Fun of Nazis (and United Russia)

In November, 2014, the Russian government passed a vaguely-worded ban on displaying Nazi symbols, a law which appears to only be selectively enforced. Today a Russian journalist has been found guilty of displaying Nazi symbols after he posted what was effectively a parody of the ruling party's practices. The Moscow Times reports:

A court in the central Russian city of Saratov has fined local journalist Sergei Vilkov 1,000 rubles ($19) for posting the caricature, which combined the logo of United Russia and a swastika, his employer Obshchestvennoye Mnenie, or Public Opinion, magazine reported Monday.

Vilkov was found guilty of a “public demonstration of Nazi symbols,” Public Opinion reported.

Vilkov posted the caricature on his page on the VKontakte social network in November 2011, in response to a nationalist march held in Saratov earlier that month, he said in a recent post on the social network.

During the march, which had been authorized by the city's administration, “its participants en masse raised their arms in a Nazi salute (there is substantial photo evidence),” the journalist claimed in a post this week.


jD2gZ4WLwNU.jpg


The text in the bottom right reads "your advert could be here."

Previously another journalist,  Polina Petruseva, was also convicted under this law after she posted a historic photograph of her neighborhood in Smolensk under Nazi occupation during World War II.

-- James Miller, Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Political Prisoner Mokhnatkin Declares Hunger Strike, Slits Wrists; Currently in Prison Infirmary

The Russian civic group For Human Rights reports that D. Levin, an attorney from the Moscow City Bar Association was able to visit political prisoner Sergei Mokhnatkin in Butyrka Prison where he is awaiting trial. The following is an account from For Human Rights translated by The Interpreter:

On April 16, a 'prophylactic chat' was held with the human righs advocate Sergei Yevgenyevich Mokhnatkin by the administration of investigation-isolation facility (SIZO) No. 2 during the course of which a reprimand was issued him in connection with the fact that in the opinion of the administration of No. 2, he is sabotaging the work of the corrections institution and is inclined to escape. After this, the political prisoner declared a hunger strike.

On April 17, Mokhnatkin was informed that he would be transported to another unknown institution in the corrective labor system. As a sign of protest, he cut his veins.
After he was given first aid, Sergei Yevgenyevich was transferred to the infirmary of no. 2, where there are mentally-ill people.

At the present time he is continuing his hunger strike.

Mokhnatkin was considered the first political prisoner from the Strategy-31 movement in 2010, where opposition leaders including the late Boris Nemtsov, and human rights advocates such as Ludmila Alexeyeva, from a variety of parties and groups, joined together to press the issue of Art. 31 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly.

Under restrictive laws for rallies and meetings, Russians have not been able to exercise this constitutional right. The group made some headway that set the stage for the 2011 anti-Putin marches, but then officials once again began refusing permits and arresting people even for solo pickets which are technically allowed.

Mokhnatkin was accused of striking a police officer, was sentenced to 2.5 years of prison, then pardoned by President Dmitry Medvedev before the end of his sentence. But after being arrested for a demonstration again in 2013, he was sentenced to 4.5 years as a repeat offender.

-- 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
Authorities Claim Drugs Are Being Manufactured to Cause 'Color Revolutions' in Russia

RIA Novosti published a story today that is likely to cause a lot of commentary, although it is thin on scientific or forensic background.

Viktor Ivanov, director of the Russian narcotics police, has said that according to the Federal Narcotics Service (FSKN), laboratories at unnamed locations were manufacturing drugs to bring about "color revolutions."

The reference is to mass protests such have occurred in Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" and Georgia's "Rose Revolution" in the last decade before the Maidan protests in Kiev last year. Said Ivanov (translation by The Interpreter):

"Last year, we encountered the phenomenon where the well-known synthetic narcotic was being cut with a new fluorochemical radical group and the narcotic substance acquired the capacity of chemical warfare agents, which caused an epidemic of deaths (in Russia)," said Ivanov.

"According to our data, certain scientific centers are working on this for use of such agents in 'color revolutions'," the head of the FSKN indicated, speaking at a meeting of directors of anti-narcotig agencies in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).


Ivanov has said in the past that drug addicts allegedly took part in the Maidan protests and that "totalitarian sects were hooked on methadone," RIA Novosti reported. He claimed without evidence that drug addicts were "essentially cannon fodder on the Maidan and later in the southeast of Ukraine."

Spice, a synthetic herb drug, has led to at least 40 deaths in Russia and 2,000 poisonings. In February, Russian officials banned the drug and gave the right to FSKN to create a registry of new potentially dangerous psycho-active substances which would be banned in Russia.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

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