Russia Update: Gaidar Faces Fierce Criticism at Home and Ukraine Over Saakashvili Nomination

July 20, 2015
Mariya Gaidar, opposition member, outside Investigative Committee in 2014 following a search of her apartment and interrogation over a case against opposition party Union of Right Forces.

The nomination of Maria Gaidar, the daughter of former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar to serve as the deputy of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili in his new position as governor of the Odessa Region has triggered fierce criticism in both Russia and Ukraine.

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.

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Special features:

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UPDATES BELOW


Russia Is Not Learning From Its Past, So May Be Doomed To Repeat It

Russian State Censor Issues Second Warning to Novaya Gazeta in a Year

Roskomnadzor, the Russian state media monitoring agency that serves as a censor, issued a written warning to the editors and founder of Novaya Gazeta, Meduza.io reported, citing the notice on Roskomnadzor’s web site.

The article in question is titled “Japanese Omor Fighters or Life on the Shoreline.” The omor is a kind of Japanese pocket knife. The article contained swear words, which are not allowed in the media under the Russian press law.

The article is an excerpt from a book by the Vladivostok journalist and writer Vasily Avchenko titled Crystal in a Transparent Setting published this year and shortlisted for the “National Best-seller” award.

The editors are aware of the law, which is why the printed the article with dots for most of the letters of the words used. Meduza.io said that judging from a cached version of the removed article, the editors had not made any changes to the text.

As we reported at the time, the last warning Novaya Gazeta got was last year for an article by Yuliya Latynina titled “If We Are Not the West, Who Are We?” which authorities found critical of the Russian people. Novaya Gazeta tried unsuccessfully to challenge the state’s claim in court.

Under the law, after two warnings from the censor within a year, a publication may face closure.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Gaidar Returns Grant to Presidential Council, Seeks Ukrainian Citizenship to Take Appointment with Saakashvili

On Friday July 18, Maria Gaidar, the daughter of former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar was nominated to serve as the deputy of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili in his new position as governor of the Odessa region, AFP reported.

Gaidar has been a visible supporter of the opposition movement against President Vladimir Putin, although like other Russian opposition leaders, she had been on the record in the past as saying Crimea was rightfully returned to Russia, despite international condemnation of the annexation.

Now she has written on her blog that she “supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine” and opposed “the annexation of Crimea and the war in east Ukraine.”

If some Ukrainians are mad that Gaidar is being nominated to this already controversial office, despite high ratings for Saakashvili’s corruption clean-up efforts, the outcry in Russia has been worse, says AFP:

Gaidar’s nomination has also brought criticism from Russia. Nikita Belykh, governor of Kirov region east of Moscow, where Gaidar was once deputy, said that she had “made a mistake”.

“Working with people of which Russia has a very bad opinion is perceived not only as a defiance against power, but also against all Russians,” Belykh wrote Saturday on his blog.

Now Yelena Pamfilov, Russia’s ombudsperson for human rights has urged that a grant given to Gaidar’s foundation from the government be rescinded because of her possible new position, Chronicle of Current Events (ixtc.ru) reported, citing RBC.ru.

Pamfilova said she was convening a meeting of the grants commission to review the motion to  remove Gaidar’s grant for the work of her Social Issue Fund.

She said the funds should be given to other organizations that “defend the rights and interests of Russian citizens inside Russia and not leave it with someone who has abandoned their colleagues in the fund for a dubious political adventure outside the country.”

Pamfilova said Gaidar’s “ancestors” — a reference to her father — would see her behavior “as nothing more than a manifestation of unprincipled political voraciousness, but also as a great stupidity, which will have to be regretted very soon.”

Ukrainian bloggers — along with pro-Kremlin anti-opposition Russian bloggers — have dug up more on her — she criticized Saakashvili in 2008.

Translation: Masha Gaidar called Saakashvili “repulsive” in 2008, but now is happy to work with him. Liberals in full regalia.

There’s a hash-tag on Twitter now in Russian — “Gaidar Go Home” which Ukrainians are retweeting.

#гайдардомой hashtag on Twitter

See Tweets about #гайдардомой on Twitter. See what people are saying and join the conversation.

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Jul 20, 2015 12:54 (GMT)

Meanwhile, Gaidar’s fund returned the grant anyway.
Translation: Mariya Gadiar’s fund turned down the presidential grant.

Translation: Gaidar: I don’t want to renounce my Russian citizenship but I will act according to Ukrainian laws.

Chronicle of Current Events also reported citing rusnovosti.ru that
reactionary deputy Vitaly Milonov of the St. Petersburg legislature has
sent an inquiry to the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s
General’s office, asking if the acceptance of the position in the Odessa
region administration would constitute “state treason” under Russian
law.

Gaidar previously served as vice governor of the Kirov
Region. Milonov says he believes that in that capacity, she may have had
access to state secrets, so that consulting for a foreign government
could undermine Russia’s national security.

He said she had
applied for Ukrainian citizenship, but expressed regret that Russia
doesn’t have a procedure to strip citziens of their citizenship, and
maybe one should be instated, he said.

Demonstrators
outside the governor’s office today in Odessa carried signs that said
“Masha Ne Nasha,” which means “Masha isn’t  ours,” a reference to the
diminuitive form of Gaidar’s first name.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick