Why Putin courts the youth of Russia with the Nashi youth movement (part one)


Russia without Putin

Putin’s fears of the Orange Revolution

News media this week reported that President Putin has again made his annual visit to a nationalistic-inspired youth summer camp, situated next to Lake Seliger northwest of Moscow, but who are the youths and what are Putin’s motives?

Late in the autumn of 2004 at the time of the Ukrainian presidential election, which was largely considered by the electorate to be riven with wide scale voter intimidation and corruption, the Kremlin watched nervously from next door in Russia, as the momentum of the Orange Revolution built and the position of the pro-Russian incumbent president, Viktor Yanukovych looked increasingly shaky.

The eye of the Orange Revolution storm was in Kyiv, with the movement organising a sustained campaign of resistance, civil unrest and widespread strikes. This was sparked by international election monitors and key organisations in Ukraine deeming that the election had been rigged in favour of Yanukovych. The massive protests sparked a legal challenge to the validity of the vote and Ukraine’s supreme court ordered a re-run in December of that year. With a near forensic scrutiny by international and local election monitors, the second run-off was declared to be fair and free, giving an outright victory for the ethnic Ukrainian Yushchenko, gaining a 53% vote-share, with Yanukovych getting 44%. Yushchenko was declared president-elect and on 23 January 2005  the Orange Revolution faded away as he was sworn in as President.

Putin and his ex-KGB cronies watched all of this in horror. Could it happen in Russia? Was there the potential for an Orange Revolution at the Russian presidential elections in 2008? This would be a catastrophe for Putin as he had to stage manage a handover of power to Dmitry Medvedev to create the space to comply with Russian law concerning the maximum of two consecutive periods of presidency. He had to relinquish power and this meant that alarm bells rang loudly in the Kremlin.

Nashi youth on the move

Nashi youth on the move


The birth of ‘Nashi’ (The Anti-fascist, Democratic Youth Movement)

After its success in Kyiv, the Orange Revolution was repackaged as a fascist movement by the Kremlin. The same message was echoed by government forces in Belarus, as it suited their convenience too. The Nashi organisation was officially announced on 1 March 2005 by pro-Putin apparatchiks who sought to harness the youth of Russia and their focus to pro-government advantage. It is almost certain that this development was a bulwark against ‘fascism’,  a reaction against Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and the youth-led street protests that handed the presidency to pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

The name Nashi means ‘our team’, or just ‘ours’. The organisation is supposed to be funded from pro-government private enterprise, who are unlikely to refuse in the circumstances. It is also widely believed that Kremlin bankrolls the project:

“Companies and business managers who care about Russia help us”, is Alissa’s answer. Nashi’s critics and opponents would prefer to speak about phone-calls from Kremlin instructing Russian corporations and businessmen to pay money to the friendly youth organisation, an offer they would find it difficult to refuse.

Those who set up Nashi looked at the components of anti-government protest movements in other former Eastern-bloc states and by

“using some of the ‘social technologies’ applied successfully by protest movements in Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003-04), and Ukraine (2004-05). They understood – to take just one element – the importance of music for the youth movement. That is how “Nashi rap” was invented.” 

An image of Putin’s Nashi summer camp

The organisation provided hats and jackets to show both solidarity and loyalty to the Putin regime, banners, flags and organised parades and marches as well as summer camps. Remember, this is not a free organisation, not in any free-world understanding of the term, because although the youths in this organisation are not controlled, nor is their freedom of speech restricted, but no one is going to join an organisation that is roundly described as ‘Putinophile’ and then mock or denigrate Putin, are they?

A Nashi street rally

Nashi worked well for Putin from 2005 to 2011,  focussing youth in a distinctly pro-government genre and the Kremlin ensured that the organisation was well funded and interlocked with the state in a way that went right to Putin himself – hence the summer camps. Nashi even set up a civilian police support to assist the police, clad in black and enforcing Russian ‘morals’, which generally means restricting the freedom of minorities. The youths were gradually inculcated with the belief that Putin was a national hero and comments about him in the Nashi movement romanticised his strengths. This was part of the speech of a prominent, pro-Putin activist, Vasily Yakemenko:

“I remember the 1990s, when (Boris) Berezovsky controlled the Duma. When together with (Mikhail) Khodorkovsky, in order to make their billions, they provoked the war in Chechnya. Young people like you were sent there and did not return. Our Russian national budget had to be approved by the International Monetary Fund in the United States. All of this has changed with Vladimir Putin.”  (Vasily Yakemenko, the Nashi movement’s founder and leader)

He draws an image of the Putin that is wholly reminiscent of

“a hero, even a superman. Without Putin, Russia is doomed. The December 2007 election, Yakemenko explains, is not about the parliament: it is a vote for the supreme national leader. The whole world has to see that Russia is unanimous in its support for Vladimir Vladimirovich.”

Nashi have been used to discredit or protest against the opposition parties and human rights activists. Ugly scenes have taken place and fights have broken out between Nashi commissars and Nemtsov supporters – Boris Nemtsov is a Russian liberal politician and one of the leaders of the Solidarnost movement. He is a vociferous critic of Vladimir Putin.

Nashi supporters trample on posters showing opposition images

Nashi supporters trample on posters showing opposition images

The organisation is also used tactically to counter what Russian nationalists feel is disrespect to Russia by other countries: Shortly after the city authorities in the Estonian capital of  Tallinn had taken down a statue of a WW2 Soviet soldier in April 2007, government offices and agencies, banks and media companies were hit by a colossal surge of spam, billions of emails, that disrupted the dealings of those organisations and businesses affected, placing a massive strain on Estonia’s financial markets. Most of the attack originated in the Russian Federation.

Protests took place on the E77 main highway between Russia and Estonia, with Nashi youth protesters putting up barriers and a huge hoarding advising motorists:

You are now driving towards fascist Estonia

The reprisals in Moscow were not virtual, but direct and menacing as a Nashi crowd turned up at a press conference by Estonia’s ambassador and were only beaten into a retreat by the ambassador’s security cadre sprayed the mob with pepper spray.

Evidence of the ‘fascist’ accusation against Estonia

In contrast, Vladimir Putin commemorated the former Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, officiating at a military parade and using his speech to condemn the expansion of NATO, the war in Iraq and the defence missile programmes of western states he said

“Moreover, in our time, these threats are not diminishing,” he said. “They are only transforming, changing their appearance. In these new threats – as during the time of the Third Reich – are the same contempt for human life and the same claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world.”

You may recall that the Kremlin have persistently and roundly accused the Ukrainian government and its supporters of being ‘fascist’ or behaving like Nazi Germany. This is an oft-used allusion by the Russian regime: it is Putin’s way of blackening those of whom he does not approve.

To be continued next week.

 

United Nations to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq


Reports from Iraq “reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale” says UN Commissioner

UNHRC to investigate Islamic State ‘atrocities’ in Iraq

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) condemned violations committed by Islamic State (IS) forces in Iraq that may amount to international crimes. Flavia Pansieri, the Deputy Human Rights Commissioner has detailed cases of targeted executions, slavery, forced conversions and intentional attacks on civilians in Iraq. Entire communities have been held hostage, imprisoned or besieged. 

She also reported that equally, Iraqi government forces had committed appalling atrocities since the beginning of June, though they were not of the same severity as the IS crimes. The UN Human Rights Council has agreed to send an emergency mission to investigate.

The conflict in Iraq increasingly embroiled the north of Iraq in a grip of terror in the last three months as IS and its allies have seized large parts of northern-western Iraq. Many thousands of Iraqis have been killed, mainly civilians.The exact number of refugees is not known but it is believed that more than a million people have fled their homes to places of safety.

Religious and ethnic cleansing

 

The emergency session was called for by Iraq, which was supported by its allies including the US and Iran.

The council adopted a resolution authorising a specialist team to be sent to Iraq to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Iraq.

Iraqi Human Rights Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani pleaded with the council “We are facing a terrorist monster [...] oozing with barbarity,” he said. He explained how the group threatened his country, but added “Isis is not an Iraqi phenomenon, it is a transnational phenomenon that poses an imminent danger to all countries of the world.”

Pansieri admitted to being particularly concerned about the killing and persecution of religious and ethnic groups, some minorities.  “Christians, Yazidis, Shia, Turkomans and other ethnic groups had all been targeted by IS forces through particularly brutal persecution”. She continued “These communities have lived side by side, on the same soil, for centuries and in some cases for millennia. Many have been killed directly; others have been besieged and deprived of food, water or medication.”

“Hundreds of thousands of civilians from these communities have fled to remote and desolate locations where unconfirmed reports indicate that scores of children, elderly people and people with disabilities have been dying as a result of exhaustion and deprivation.”

The council heard that Yazidis had suffered extremely brutal treatment as IS moved its frontier forward.Those who refused forced conversion to Islam were executed and their womenfolk, including young girls, given as ‘slaves’ to those fighting with the IS forces. 

Iraqi security services were reported to have executed detainees in Tal Afar whilst militias loyal to the Iraqi government opened fire 73 men and boys in a mosque in the Khanaqin district northeast of Baghdad killing them all, according to Pansieri. She concluded her address by calling on the international governments to do more to protect all Iraqis and to hold to account those that had carried out or assisted in these acts were brought to justice.

 

Over $93,000 donated to a gay teenager whose Christian parents beat him for coming out


Daniel Pierce

Coming out bigotry, but thousands support Daniel with over $93,000

A young man in the Bible-belt of the southern states of the USA has had over $93,000 donated to support him after his Christian parents beat him after he told them that he is gay.

Daniel Pierce seems like an ordinary kind of American kid but the difference between him and many boys of his own age is that he is gay. The other difference seems to be that his parents seem all but heartless and unsupportive when faced with a gay son because, as they say, “God creates nobody that way’. They feel Daniel is making a choice to be gay and they resent him for it, but that simply means that they are missing the point: could any heterosexual choose to be gay? I don’t think so.

You can listen to the moment that Daniel came out to his family because it was captured on video on a smartphone, though the image is a bit manic at times, especially when his family physically attack him when he tells them that they have failed to support him. Some ‘love’ they must have had for their son. Listen to one of his relatives scream “You damn queer, you!” at 04:05″ in the clip. The clip has attracted over two and a half million views on You Tube.

Whether or not you believe in religion – and as an atheist I don’t – you support your child if he or she tells you ‘Im gay’. It beggars belief in this day and age that parents can reject their child outright over the issue of sexual orientation in preference to “believing in the world of God”

Some kind soul (and I mean kind) took the video of Daniel’s coming out disaster and uploaded it to You Tube, whilst also setting up a page on ‘Go Fund Me’ to try and elicit financial support in the  immediate crisis that Daniel faces in being homeless. Within 24 hours the fund had steadily leap-frogged to $93,805 and is still rising.

Daniel is both unlucky and lucky. I am willing to bet that he would trade the cash just to have loving parents – parents that loved him unconditionally – but the cash will help him now that his parents have cut him adrift. I would support my child whatever the news and I am guessing that you would too. Seems to me Daniel’s mum and dad need to think again about the heartless way they treated their own child.

Previous versions of this story have referred to the most recent sum donated, e.g. ‘almost $50,000′ and later ‘almost $75,000′. The most recent figure now is: over $93,000

‘You Have to Understand, George. Ukraine Is Not Even a Country’


Banksy-Putin

What is the evolutionary prospect for the pro-Russian revolution in Ukraine?

The video clip shown here is evidence that Russia is actively involved in an ‘invasion by stealth’ in Ukraine. The Russians call this ‘Maskirovka’.

A new military front has been opened in south-eastern Ukraine and – as it is obvious to expert observers that this is not just pro-Russian rebels – the town of Novoazovsk has fallen into Russian hands.  It is a border town on the south eastern tip of Ukraine, it is the administrative center of the Novoazovskyi Raion, in Donetsk Oblast.Situated close to the Russian border on the Sea of Azov. The next likely target will be the port city of Mariupol. This is a Russian strategy to keep NATO from their border. It is not a strategy that the pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk would adopt as it would stretch their already limited capabilities

Ukraine has again claimed that Russian military columns have entered Ukrainian territory to ensure success for the rebel attack, but the Russian government continues to deny arming or covertly supporting the rebels, with their strategy of maskirovka, attack by stealth. Putin’s mafia have repeatedly claimed that  any military hardware, such as rocket launchers or tanks used by separatist forces, must have originated from Ukrainian army bases that have been overrun by the rebels..

In a blog for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), an expert analyst, Joseph Dempsey, has identified what can only be a tank that has originated from the Russian military in a column of tanks and rocket launchers that were seen in eastern Ukraine two days ago. He writes


Recently published online footage, reportedly taken on 26 August in Sverdlovsk, Luhansk Oblast, in eastern Ukraine, shows a convoy of military vehicles. Whilst date and location are unconfirmed, the operator of the convoy is apparent: flags associated with the separatist movement are clearly displayed and some vehicles feature bright green areas, a common feature of separatist armour.

 The mixed convoy includes at least three T-72B1 MBTs but it is the appearance (01:40–01:53) of a lone, more modern T-72 variant that is of particular significance. This variant, distinguished by the prominent Kontakt-5 Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) arrangement on the turret front, is commonly referred to by Western sources as the T-72BM. It is operated by the Russian Army in large numbers, but crucially it is not known to have been exported or operated outside of Russia. The presence of this variant in Ukraine therefore strongly supports the contention that Russia is supplying arms to separatist forces.


Expert identification of this Russian tank in a separatist column in eastern means that it could only have come from across the border in Russia. There is no confirmation of the date or the exact location, but it is clear from the footage that the tank that must have come from Russia is with other armoured vehicles flying the Donetsk separatist flag. This took place whilst Putin was in Minsk trying to establish a road map for peace in Ukraine. So what is Putin’s aim?

A study of a map that was produced for the Presidential Election in Ukraine in December 2004 gives a clue to voting patterns in south and south-eastern Ukraine. You may already know that Yushchenko was elected in the poll, that he was a staunch supporter of Ukraine and its freedoms – namely “democracy, Ukrainian identity and European integration”. His ethnicity is Ukrainian as the “Sumy Oblast region where he was born is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking” whereas Yanukovych, who lost this election but subsequently won the presidency in 2010, was a native Russian ethnic who lived in the Donetsk Oblast.

Ukrainian-general-election-2004

It is apparent from this snapshot of voting patterns that the blue areas, supported a strongly pro-Russian president, whereas the Orange areas voted for an ethnic Ukrainian. The division along ethnic lines is confirmed in this graphic, underscoring the pattern that Putin is seeking to exploit by sending advisors, troops and equipment into Ukraine. Although this strategy is weakening his international reputation it is strengthening his popularity in Russia,

Ukraine west v east

Putin is seeking to recreate Novorossia or New Russia, a historical term comprising an area north of the Black Sea, part of which was Russia and part of which was Ukraine.

how-putin-sees-Ukraine-with-no-NATO-fleet

“The guys from the east shot the positions of the Ukrainian army and the army left Novoazovsk,” according to freelance journalist Petr Shelomovsky, who told the BBC. “Since the morning, they’ve been leaving the town and we’ve probably seen the last armoured personnel carrier leaving the place.”

The German Chancellor and the EU are currently making representations to Moscow protesting the interference by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine. If some decisive action is not taken, Putin will grab more land from Ukraine and any such success will only feed the appetite of the Russian nation to see a rebirth of the USSR.

Graph showing a poll concerning Russia and the longing for the USSR

You can access details of these surveys of Ukrainian and Russian opinion at: http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/05/08/despite-concerns-about-governance-ukrainians-want-to-remain-one-country/

In an article headlined Putin Forever? Russian President’s Ratings Skyrocket Over Ukraine, the writer explains that “Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is enjoying almost unprecedented job-approval ratings in his country. And the only reason for this popularity surge, sociologists say, is Russia’s tough stance on Ukraine. A separate study conducted in April by Russia’s state-funded polling agency VTSiOM showed that 82 percent of respondents thought their country played an important role in global affairs, compared to 58 percent six years ago.”

Putin’s comment to George W. Bush stands as a chilling warning about the fate of Ukraine. It is reported that he said ‘You Have to Understand, George. Ukraine Is Not Even a Country’

That view is becoming ever closer to reality in the passage of 2014.

Putin’s excuses about troops in Ukraine are becoming increasingly feeble


Crack-cocaine smoking  Toronto mayor Rob Ford considers Putin's rejection of 'boot-on-the-ground' in eastern Ukraine

Crack-cocaine smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford considers Putin’s rejection of ‘boot-on-the-ground’ in eastern Ukraine

Russian paratroopers have been captured in the Donetsk region of Ukraine having “crossed the border by accident” according to Russian military sources. A Ukraine government spokesman said ten Russian soldiers were captured.

Ukrainian television carried a lengthy report that included video excerpts of the interviews with the captured soldiers and claimed that they were from the 331st regiment of the 98th Svirsk airborne division. One of soldiers said “this is not our war”, whilst another, claiming to be Sergeant Andrei Generalov, said: “Stop sending in our boys. Why? This is not our war. And if we weren’t here, none of this would have happened. They would have sorted things out with the government themselves.” Russia emphatically refutes any suggestion that it is involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine or that it is giving military assistance to the rebels. The facts on the ground do not support Russia’s innocent stance. The excuses that come from the Russian government are all one dimensional and weak, such as “The soldiers really did participate in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border [and] crossed it by accident on an unmarked section” leaving you wondering if they have ever heard of briefing their troops or equipping them with GPS.

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s security service said that the paratroopers had been captured over 20km into Ukrainian territory near the village of Dzerkalne, some 50km from the city of Donetsk. Andriy Lysenko a Ukrainian military spokesman  said: “This wasn’t a mistake, but a special mission they were carrying out.”

The Ukrainian and Russian presidents are meeting in Minsk, Belarus to try and come to an agreed settlement over the war, though having the last dictator in Europe, President Lukashenko, hosting it is something of an irony. With rigged elections and the opposition ‘marginalised’ in a judicial way, it is the last bastion of anti-democracy that is wholly in Europe. Putin will wistfully ask himself why he can’t have in Russia the autocracy that Lukashenko has in Minsk. Or maybe that is what Putin is really aiming for.

 

Pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk embarrass themselves by humiliating Ukrainian POWs


mob-rule-in-Donetsk

Ukrainians celebrated the national independence day today, which marks the day of their freedom from the former USSR. In Kyiv the with parade was respectful and dignified, but pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk held a parade that surely shows the sort of people that control Donetsk these days as they paraded and mocked captured servicemen through the streets in front of thousands of people jeering them whilst throwing anything at them that came to hand.

The parade was led by around fifty soldiers: prisoners of war who simply looked down as they walked, clearly in a very dirty state, their heads shaved and many of whom were clearly injured. and unkempt. 

They were jeered and shouted at and all manner of items were thrown at them, including shoes, eggs, bags of flour, dog excrement, empty water bottles and soiled nappies. As they were paraded through central Donetsk with their hands behind their backs, Tchaikovsky’s “Slavonic March,” was played throughout the streets. This music is a familiar and very patriotic piece to Russians..

prisoners-paraded-through-streets-Donetsk

To add to the humiliation, two tank trucks followed the prisoners-of-war, spraying soapy water onto the street as if to say that the street needed cleaning as the captives passed through the city. 

Those watching, men, women and children, screamed “Fascists!”,“Perverts!” and “Hang them from a tree!”  One woman told a TV crew “They are attacking our city. They are fascists. I am in favor of this parade.” A rebel soldier close to the parade, said that the parade proved how well the captives were treated “We keep them on cots and feed them three times a day,” he said.

This spectacle was organised to contrast with the traditional military Independence Day parade in Kiev, the national capital, where soldiers from the national army marched through the streets of the city, feted by cheering crowds.

cloud-of-flour-thrown-at-pows

The Geneva Conventions’ rules concerning POWs prohibit humiliation or parading prisoners publicly. 

The commander of the rebel militia made a public announcement after the parade had passed through the streets.  “Kiev said that on the 24th, on the Independence Day of Ukraine, they would have a parade. Indeed, they did march in Donetsk, although it wasn’t a parade,” top rebel commanderAlexander Zakharchenko said. “Soldiers of the armed forces of Kiev walked along the main streets of Donetsk. What Poroshenko planned has taken place.”

BBC map

Ukraine’s defence ministry voiced a strong protest about humiliation of these soldiers, saying. “The organisers of this disgusting event cannot be considered human,” a spokesman told Interfax-Ukraine news agency. “Nothing is holy” for them, he added.

prisoner-of-war-violation

You might imagine that shooting down the Malaysian Airlines plane would have embarrassed the pro-Russians into a more civilised way of conducting themselves, but it hasn’t. They seem to be completely shameless.

 

 

 

ASBO planned for extremists? Nah mate, that’s an ISBO innit?


Def to US eh innit

British Home Secretary, Theresa May, intends to introduce new legislation to counter the menace of the Islamic State (IS) and Islamic fundamentalists, including an extremist ASBO, or should that be an ISBO? She will announce measures to control and contain Muslim extremists in the UK, in light of the current situation.

Proposals are likely to include the curtailment of radical preachers that are not illegal under current UK laws. Religious firebrands such as controversial Saudi preacher Muhammad al-Arefe, who was recently banned from entering the UK for allegedly inciting British Muslim youth to join the jihad in the Middle East. Radical preacher Anjem Choudary has frequently been criticised by the Home Office and police service for his inflammatory comments about the rights of Islam and how British Muslims should further the cause, though he has been careful not to break existing laws.

Mrs May has written an article for the Daily Telegraph explaining the proposed changes and that they might entail. It will be illegal to be a member of an extremist group that involve disseminate violence, even if the group is not actually involved in terrorism. She set out her case by explaining the level of threat that the UK faces: 

“We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly extremist ideology. We will be engaged in this struggle for many years, probably decades. We must give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail.”

“I am looking again at the case for new banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the legal threshold for terrorist proscription, as well as for new civil powers to target extremists who seek to radicalise others.”

Ideologically supporting terrorism would become illegal, in the same way that financially supporting it is at the moment.The current threshold for banning membership of organisations requires the Home Secretary to prove that the group is directly involved in terrorist acts. Local and statutory authorities would also become involved in preventing radicalisation by actively banning those known to encourage acts of violence or promoting Jihadist views. 

The large number of young British Muslims who have left to fight with IS in Syria and Iraq has lead to the government evaluating the existing laws and they have clearly found that the law needs to be more robust to prevent British nationals being involved in atrocities, as was the case with the heinous execution of James Foley last week.

 The shadow home secretary,Yvette Cooper, said: “More action is needed to respond to the serious problem of people travelling to fight with IS. The Home Secretary’s confirmation that she is continuing to look at the recommendations of the Prime Minister’s Taskforce, announced last December, is welcome.

“Though there remains no detail on things like civil powers to tackle extremists or extremist groups for people to consider. However I remain concerned that the Government is not addressing the gaps in the ‘Prevent programme’ – especially the lack of support for community led approaches to preventing radicalisation and the Home Secretary also needs to respond to the concerns raised by the current and previous Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation about the decision to weaken control orders, where they have advised that stronger measures should be put in place.”

Maybe they really should call the new personal restraints on individuals ISBOs?