How Biryulyovo Succeeded Where Bolotnaya Failed

October 17, 2013
Photo: ITAR-TASS / Press Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation

We’ve been writing about not only the events concerning the race riots in Moscow, but also the reaction of the government and the various politicians and media outlets. One concern cited by several voices is that the Russian government was only pushed into action by the rioters in the streets. Earlier we posted a translation of an article about the arrest of the owners of the vegetable warehouse that was targeted by rioters. This translation concerns the violent arrest and beating of the alleged murderer who sparked this latest crisis. – Ed.

The main video of the week: people in black uniforms, that look like overalls of the German tank crews, kicking a man of southern appearance. It is the alleged killer of Yegor Shcherbakov from Biryulyovo. These frames are not staging (it’s obvious that he was beaten before and this is just for the camera), it is a clearly articulated message: we found this churka [a derogatory word for  Caucasians – Ed.], this animal, this Azerbot [a derogative word for “Azeri,” someone from Azerbaijan – Ed.] and punished him.

A helicopter just landed in the courtyard of the Interior Ministry headquarters in the capital. The detained taxi driver, like some Mexican drug lord, guarded by a platoon of gunmen, is quickly pressed face against the hood, they feel his thighs for some purpose and push him towards the building.

The following shots are nothing but a masterpiece: a man is pushed into a room where he is stared at by Vladimir Kolokoltchev for about ten seconds (behind him you can see a pale shadow of spokesman Markin of the Investigative Committee), and after that the head of the Interior Ministry says the words that are destined to become immortal: “A person has been detained.” Really?

Pavel Lobkov joked that it was an anti-Kurban-Bairam [Eid-ul-Adha, a Muslim holiday held this week – Ed.] ritual.

Based on the logic of a classical drama, in the next few hours one should expect video footage of a confession (which has already been made) and a crime re-enactment with participation of the victim’s girlfriend.

What is all this “live news” Hollywood about? In social networks there are suggestions that it is supposedly designed for one spectator only. Of course, it’s not. This television drama is addressed specifically to the people of Biryulyovo, in the broad sense of the word. Those who took to the streets of Moscow suburbs on Sunday demanded precisely this: that the villain is tracked down, kicked around, that the chief police officer looks him sternly in the eye, and that he is treated the usual way: his confession is beaten out of him in record time.

Biryulyovo residents demanded three things: find the killer, shut down the vegetable warehouse, and remove migrants. In case anyone has not noticed, all the three demands have been met, and quite conspicuously. One and a half thousand workers of the vegetable facility have been detained and taken away somewhere, Onishchenko found the most heinous violations there, Bastrykin personally inspected the neighborhood and sternly ordered to remove the cars standing nearby. Sobyanin has assured that the enterprise is unlikely to ever reopen.

Soon, the damned dirty barracks and warehouses will be torn down, the land will be ploughed up, and a park will be built with walkways and bicycle lanes, where moms will be pushing strollers with their fair-haired children.

What is, if we may ask, a simple demonstrative object lesson of Biryulyovo ? If we discard the many conspiracy theories, a disgruntled crowd demanded that the authorities did certain things, and the authorities met the demands. And a lot fewer people took to the main street of the neighborhood than on Bolotnaya Square and Sakharov Avenue, but the difference is that in Biryulyovo  the list of demands were short and specific. Thus, this week the assertion that the authorities are afraid to cave in to ordinary people’s demands was proven wrong. On the contrary, what they are afraid of is a popular action, however it makes sense to demand something that could be realistically done.

By the way, it’s possible that Navalny was released precisely because people took to the streets, and precisely for that reason he was sentenced with probation. It works the same way in Europe: anti-globalists rally, under slogans to make the world kind and fluffy, and are dispersed with water cannons, but when transportation workers strike, demanding a 7% pay increase, their wages are eventually increased by 5%.