Rocket Launches from Vostochny After Several Delays; State Censors Wants to Regulate Mobile Internet

April 28, 2016
Launch of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket from the Vostnochny space center April 28, 2016 after several days of delays. Photo by Dmitry Smirnov

LIVE UPDATES: Russia launched a missile from the Vostochny space center finally after several days of technical problems and the personal intervention of President Vladimir Putin who visited the site.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

Recent Analysis and Translations:

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Has Invented A Version Of History To Meet His Needs
Getting The News From Chechnya – The Crackdown On Free Press You May Have Missed
Aurangzeb, Putin, Realism and a Lesson from History
Why the World Should Care About the Assassination of Boris Nemtsov


Russian Ultranationalists Attack Students at Memorial Society Essay Contest on Stalin Era

The self-styled Russian National Liberation Movement (NOD) and Eurasian Youth Union (ESM) made a major physical attack on Memorial Society, the leading non-governmental organization devoted to researching the crimes of Stalin and their aftermath today, hitting renowned Russian writer Ludmila Ulitskaya and other prominent speakers as well as visiting provincial high-school students with eggs and zelyonka, an indelible green disinfectant. A reporter who asked why the activists were attacking students was punched, and ultimately police made one administrative arrest.

The attack, covered by the independent Riga-based news site Meduza, shows not only the increased activism of NOD, an extreme ultranationalist group headed by a United Russia party leader in the Duma, Yevgeny Fyodorov, who was also an avid supporter of Col. Igor Strelkov (Girkin) and the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic.” It also shows the involvement of ESM, an extremist movement associated with Aleksandr Dugin, who was fired from Moscow State University after a series of posts where he called for the killing of Ukrainians.

The incident indicates that activities related to criticism of the period of Russian history before 1988, which President Vladimir Putin appeared to acknowledge as an era when human rights violations were massive and could be criticized, are no longer safe. The official propagandistic glorification of World War II has now clashed with the reality of another strain of Russian history, the Stalin terror which in fact weakened Russia’s military and society before Hitler’s invasion. 

The NOD and ESM activists appeared at noon in front of the Central House of Cinematographers, rented by Memorial Society for the event.

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Почувствовать эпоху на себе: "Патриотические" активисты закидали яйцами детей, участвовавших в историческом конкурсе – Meduza

28 апреля в Москве активисты "Национально-освободительного движения" (НОД) и "Евразийского союза молодежи" напали на участников школьного исторического конкурса, который проводит правозащитное общество "Мемориал". Они облили зеленкой и закидали яйцами писательницу Людмилу Улицкую и детей, приехавших на награждение из российских регионов. Спецкор "Медузы" Даниил Туровский рассказывает о случившемся.

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Apr 28, 2016 20:27 (GMT)

Several dozen activists arranged themselves by the door with posters saying “We Don’t Need Alternative History” and red Soviet flags. Some of them wore t-shirts with an image of Vladimir Putin and two were in Soviet military uniform playing accordions, singing songs revised to include mention of the president.
Memorial’s event was titled “Man in History: Russia – 20th Century” and had been organized in conjunction with the Union of Folklorists of Russia, the Russian State Humanities University and several foreign foundations, including Heinroch Boll, Friedrich Nauman and Kerber. The event included a ceremony to award students who had written essays based on archival research and interviewed witnesses, including their own relatives and fellow townspeople about the Stalin era.
As the students arrived at the site, the activists began throwing eggs at them. When Ludmila Ulitskaya, who was the chair of the jury that had selected the school essays, came running out, the activists sprayed her with zelyonka, often used in both Russia and Ukraine to shame people. Anatoly Golubovsky, a historian from the Free Historical Society, got sprayed in the face with rubbing alcohol as the activists shouted “Fascists!” at the teachers and spouted other derogatory rhymes.

Frightened, the students ran into the building and the adults called the police. The activists then fled the scene.

Translation: Ludmila Ulitskaya was doused with zelyonka. It’s already been washed off, but the temples remain : )

When Daniil Turovsky, a correspondent from Meduza approached the activists, one said sarcastically, “What did you forget here? You’re not LifeNews“? LifeNews, close to Russian police and intelligence, often cover scenes like this or even help to provoke them.
Turovsky asked them why they were throwing eggs at school-children.
The activists replied:

“We are driving out demons from these Jewish children. These children have been brainwashed, they aren’t normal, and they need to be cured.”

A man standing nearby cried, “Shame on you fascist creatures!” and one of the activists then punched Turovsky.
When police finally arrived, they stood several dozen meters away from the demonstrators and said “Nothing seems to have happened here.”
Natalya Makeyeva, a member of the European Youth Movement said “We don’t need any Memorial,” and complained that the group “rewrote history” and even describe Germans as “victims.” 
Memorial has reported on Soviets sent to work as gastarbeiter and POWwho were interned in the Soviet GULAG when they returned home.
“The Victory of World War II is what brings us together. The Maidans began with just such blows on history,” added Makeyeva. Another man said that history had to be heroic, and couldn’t be “taken apart.”
A woman with a St. George ribbon cried at Turovsky, “All those people inside are admirers of the USA, a country in which all kinds of rabble and Negros live!”
Maria Katanosova, one of the NOD leaders, arrived on the scene and pronounced:

“We are here because in all the works of the school-children, the accent is made not on the victory, but on the history of totalitarianism.”

Despite the attack, the event proceeded and awards were given for essays written by students from various provincial regions on the Hungarian POWs, the famine, counterrevolutionary brigades, the collective farm worker heroes who fought in Stalingrad, the Chechen war and so on — about 1,600 works.

Sokolov noted that the awards ceremony was taking place “in a difficult time of history” when the “mythologizing” about World War II was becoming a key theme for the authorities:

“That’s why it is very important to recall the private memory and history so as not to get carried away with adventures. Recollection is a therapeutic action.”

Rudiger von Fritsch, the German ambassador to Russia, said, “Even if you pour paint by the buckets, you cannot cover up the truth.”
Kseniya Larina, a producer for Ekho Moskvy who took part in the event said she felt as a Muscovite that she had to apologize to the children from the provinces for the attack.

This is not our face, this is not our mug. It is a pimple that we will expunge sooner or later. And for you, it is baptism by fire. Truth makes us free, but lonely and puts us in the ranks of the minorities.”

With the green disinfectant still on her face and hands, Ulitskaya made a statement at the end:

“I feel pity and embarrassment, and awkwardness due to them. Thank God, they didn’t spray sulfuric acid.”

The man who had sprayed the zelyonka on Ulitskaya and several others were arrested this evening.

Translation: The man who sprayed zelyonka on Ulitskaya and other Memorial guests has been arrested in Moscow.

Police told Interfax that the assailant was charged with “petty hooliganism” under the administrative code.

Elena Zhemkova, executive director of Memorial Society, said about 25 attackers appeared with posters and shouted that the event participants were “fascists” and “traitors”. They sprayed the disinfectant and alcohol, and one Norwegian citizen present suffered an eye injury and ruined suit.

Anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny said on his blog site today that at the exact same time as the Memorial attack, unidentified persons caught him entering his office and sprayed some “blue chemical fluid” on him, and said “this was a coordinated action.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Pre-Trial Detention Extended for Artist Activist Pavlensky; Next Hearing May 4
RBC reports that the first hearing in the case of activist artist Pyotr Pavlensky was heard today in the case of the burning of the Federal Security Service (FSB) doors on Lubyanka Square November 9, 2015. It was held behind closed doors.
Pavlensky, an aksionist known for his dramatic protests, set fire symbolically to the doors of the successors of the KGB, NKVD and Cheka, Russia’s secret police. He was charged with “vandalism” with the aggravating circumstance of “ideological hatred” of law-enforcers.
The judge today authorized extension of Pavlensky’s pre-trial arrest for another six months, Olga Dinze, his author told Interfax.
Preliminary hearings have now been postponed to May 4 because Pavlensky had not been given proper notification of them.
Pavlensky himself has demanded that the charges be changed to “terrorism” for more effect. The FSB has worked to make the charges more serious by claiming that the doors were part of a building compound that has historical legacy status.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
French National Assembly Passes Non-Binding Resolution On Dropping Sanctions On Russia

The lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, has voted to drop sanctions against Russia.

Translation: Adoption of the resolution on the lifting of sanctions against Russia. Voted: 101. Majority: 50. Four: 55. Against: 44. 2 Abstentions.

Le Figaro reports that the victory for the instigators of the vote, led by the opposition Républicains, was aided by a poor showing from the governing Socialists, many of whose deputies were absent from the chamber.

Thierry Mariani, a deputy in Les Républicains, said that he believed that many Socialist deputies had “voted with their feet” by abstaining rather than voting against their party’s position.

Mariani angered both the French and Ukrainian governments in July last year when he led a delegation of politicians, most of them from his party, to Russian-occupied Crimea.

Also supporting today’s resolution were two Socialist deputies – Jean-Paul Dupré and Marie-Françoise Bechtel; François Asensi of le Front de Gauche; and the two Front National deputies – Marion Maréchal-Le Pen and Gilbert Collard.

Mariani told Le Figaro that the result was “totally un-hoped-for.”

Christian Jacob, the president of Les Républicains in the Assembly, said in a statement that the resolution provided an “opportunity for the government to reorient their policy regarding Russia.”

But Le Monde says that the result “will probably not change much but, symbolically, it is a great victory for the right.”

As the report explains, the resolution is non-binding and passed by only a small margin.

The French Foreign Ministry responded to the resolution promptly by restating the position of the French government with regards to sanctions – that they are linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements on the Ukraine conflict.

— Pierre Vaux

Rocket Launches from Vostochny After Delays; State Censor Wants to Regulate Mobile Internet

The ruble exchange rate to the dollar is  65.16, and to the euro 73.99. The price of Brent crude is at 46.97.

The following headlines were taken from 7:40 na Perrone, Slon, Interfax, Meduza, RosBalt, and Novaya Gazeta. 

What We’re Reading:

– Can Nord Stream 2 Be Stopped?

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick