Yes, This is Political Activity

May 6, 2013

“Motherland, You’ve  Gone Nuts,” writes Maya Sonina, director of the Oxygen charitable fund in her blog And what else can you write? The Motherland really has gone nuts — or well, alright, if not the Motherland itself, at least its Istra City Prosecutor’s Office, which has issued the organization Help for Cystic Fibrosis Patients a “warning about the inadmissibility of violation of the law.”

Sonina publishes the text of the warning in her blog, read it: the prosecutor’s office writes that the defense of those who suffer from cystic fibrosis is political activity; therefore this suburban Moscow organization supported by foreign funds must register as a foreign agent.

And even if we realize that some district prosecutor’s clerk has been over-zealous, and he’s already been reprimanded, and in fact the cystic fibrosis organization will not have any more problems, even so, a word is not a sparrow [when it flies away you can’t catch it], and people will be reacting to this word for a long time to come.

And you can say, like the charity worker Sonina says, that the Motherland has gone nuts, or you can be somewhat more restrained, and argue that oppressive rhetoric resounding at the top always turns into attacks against Help for Cystic Fibrosis Patients at the district level because every district prosecutor’s office wants to have a foreign agent in the territory under its jurisdiction, to whom they can send warnings. We could write sarcastically about the other kinds of activity that should be pronounced political: animal shelters, athletic clubs, and ukulele players?

Such a rich example as the Istra Prosecutor’s Office has provided of administrative zeal like [Chekhov’s character] Sergeant Prishibeyev — and how else to call it — such a rich example should be considered a real present for all our columnists and we will see and hear a lot on this topic in the near future. But neither sarcasm or profound analysis or the pathetic element will be the exhaustively correct reaction to the case in Istra.

Because in fact, the Istra Prosecutor’s Office, of course, is correct, and most likely they themselves don’t realize how correct they are. Because the defense of cystic fibrosis patients is politics. Because sometimes it happens, and the moment will come when any form of life not under the government’s control will be politics.

You can ignore this circumstance, not notice it and pretend that you can remain outside of it — not even “above the fray” but simply outside. “I am objective, I am not a politician, there are also decent, normal people in the government, you can understand and forgiven them,” well, we’ve all heard this a million times. This is permissible up to a certain point, and then it all becomes hypocrisy, something changes, and it seems now in our country now it has changed already. Try saying this aloud: “I am not a politician, there are normal people in the government” even now, sometime in the breaks between the trials in the Bolotnaya demonstration cases and Navalny’s trial. Does nothing embarrass you?

I don’t know when this happened; perhaps after Bolotnaya last year, perhaps a little earlier, perhaps a little later, when the criminal cases and trials began, or when the State Duma turned into a printer. And perhaps it is only now, when the Istra City Prosecutor’s Office has issued a warning to the organization Help for Cystic Fibrosis Patients.

Don’t count the days, don’t count the miles, and don’t think you are far from politics. No one is far.