Russia 111117 Basic Political Developments

Hopes a Russian passport will protect them from Kosovan Muslims and EU

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Hopes a Russian passport will protect them from Kosovan Muslims and EU
Published: 17 November, 2011, 08:56
Edited: 17 November, 2011, 09:02
Sergey Semushkin

Having lost trust in international missions and the KFOR, Kosovan Serbs have turned to Russia. Twenty-one thousand Serbs, whose homeland was basically stolen by the European Union, turned to the State Duma with a request to be granted Russian citizenship.

The collective appeal has already been received by Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, and will soon be reviewed by MPs. The Serbs are not denying the fact that their petition is an act of desperation. The West continues to demonstratively turn a blind eye to their problems and, in settlement of inter-ethnic disputes, the so-called blue helmets, intended to protect them from attacks by Kosovar Albanians, constantly side with the Kosovans; meanwhile, thousands of Serbs have been killed since the peacekeepers’ arrival to the area. Neither is Belgrade getting involved in the situation, in preference of avoiding confrontation with the European Union (due to Serbia’s aspirations of becoming an EU member). According to the leaders of the Kosovan Serbs, only by becoming citizens of the Russian Federation will they be protected.

One of the first people to support the petition was Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin. While speaking at a State Duma round-table discussion yesterday, he drew attention to the fact that settlement of this issue will make it clear both to Russians, as well as citizens of other countries, that “we are worth something.”

“Today, Russia is becoming the last hope for people who were confined to the Kosovo-Albanian prison,” said Rogozin. “We have so many abandoned villages, towns, so much territory that needs to be developed. Are we really unable to accept 20,000 people, give them citizenship and include them, not in the immigration program, but the repatriation program, while seeing the Kosovan Serbs as our brothers?”

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov also urged to realize the Serbs’ aspirations.

“I think that we should closely look at the appeal of the Kosovan Serbs,” said Zyuganov. “Moreover, I believe that we need to satisfy this request; and if this issue is carried over for consideration, our faction will support the Serbs…they are close to us linguistically, in spirit, and culture, and if they are asking for help and want to become citizens of our country, we must lend them a hand.”

Meanwhile, the appeal has not yet reached elected officials.

“This petition has not yet been received here, or by the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Evgeny Fedorov, head of the parliamentary group for relations with the parliament of the Republic of Serbia, told Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP). “The State Duma does not issue passports. That’s not within our competence. But because it is a serious level of complaint, we will invite specialists, develop our position, and send it to be put into effect. There is a procedure that must be followed when applying for citizenship, and any person who completes it, has the right to receive citizenship. If this is done as an exception, then the decision must be made by the president.

“Today, there are many people, who are trying to get into Russia. A large number of people arrived from America, who settled in the Far East, many people are coming from Europe. As for the Serbs, we don’t know whether or not they are planning to move here. Though, I recently visited the Rostov Region, where residents were happy to welcome them. But I can guarantee that a decision involving all petitioners will not be made – decisions will be made for each person individually,” Fedorov said.

“It has never before happened that a large group of foreign nationals have taken Russian citizenship and, at the same time, continued living abroad,” member of the State Duma Security Committee Aleksandr Gurov told KP. “Most likely, this will be impossible. But imagine if we gave them all passports. Russia would be obliged to constantly protect them! What should we do, deploy our troops there? Just imagine what our country would be dragged into once again? Yes, providing assistance is necessary: on the international and humanitarian levels…but making such steps… It will be like in the song of the Semenov regiment: ‘I’m the protector of the Motherland, but my back is always beaten’.”

A call to Belgrade

Deyan Mirovich, member of the opposition in the Serbian parliament believes it is a means by which to shame one’s government.

“This is an initiative of the Kosovar Serbs, living on their land in enclaves. They are not seeing any support from the Serbian authorities and believe that the government in Belgrade is nothing more than a tool of the West. This is especially true after [President of the Republic of Serbia] Tadic urged Kosovo’s Serbs to disarm and dismantle their barricades. The most horrible thing is the fact that the opposition deputies have no effect on the government policy. Meanwhile, for Serbia, Russia is the most popular country. Your prime minister is the most popular politician in Serbia. That is why the Kosovan Serbs have turned to Russia. But they are not yet ready to move to Russia: Kosovo is their home. These people’s request to give them Russian citizenship is a way to draw attention themselves, to warn and shame the Serbian government,” Mirovich says.

Russia: Student's Hidden Camera Reveals Illegal Electioneering in School

Posted By Alexey Sidorenko On 16 November 2011 @ 22:06 pm In Breaking News,Citizen Media,Digital Activism,Eastern & Central Europe,Education,English,Freedom of Speech,Governance,Law,Media & Journalism,Politics,RuNet Echo,Russia,Russian,Technology & Internet,Video,Weblog | No Comments

A scandal caused by a hidden camera recording at a school in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia has highlighted a serious problem in Russian schools: teachers agitating for the ruling party United Russia [1].

Underpaid and dependent on government funding, teachers are one of the pillars of the current political system. Local and regional elections often take place in schools buildings, and the electoral committees in Russia often consist mainly of teachers. Whether it's from fear of losing funding or belief in United Russia's promises, it often leads to illegal electioneering in schools.

One brave student takes on the authorities

United Russia posters in Krasnoyarsk school. Photo by Matvey Tsivinyuk

On 15 November 2011, 15-year-old Matvey Tsivinyuk, uploaded a video of himself being scolded by the school principal, Alexandra Pronina, at Krasnoyarsk Gymnazium number 3 [3] (the website went offline after massive interest from bloggers). Tsivinyuk had been caught defacing political posters that were hanging in the school hallways. The posters with a Russian tricolor flag in the background bore portraits of Prime minister Vladimir Putin, President Dmitry Medvedev and two local politicians (see photo).


Before meeting the principal, Tsivinyuk turned on the video recorder in his smartphone. The dialogue captured by the device has been widely cited as evidence of unlawful actions from school authorities, and also lends a narrative to explain the support for the current political regime.

Later that day, Tsivinyuk removed the video from his own profile but bloggers have not let the video [4] disappear:

Here is a translation of what is said:

Principal: Do you know what this means for you?

Tsivinyuk: It means nothing to me because, according to the point 5 of the article 9 of the Law on Political parties… [Matvey correctly cites the law [5] that forbids interference of the political process in education]

Principal: Enough, enough, Matvey. There's no article number 9, number 10, they [the police] will write that you damaged the poster. […] Does your family have lots of money to pay for the fine for the damage?

Tsivinyuk: A fine for the piece of paper?

Principal [screaming]: For the hooliganism! You understand it's not just a paper, it's a political poster!

Tsivinyuk: It can't be in school. Because the activity of political parties on the territory of schools is forbidden.

Principal: You understand, it's not agitation.

Tsivinyuk: So what is it then?

Principal: It is not agitation. People put it there so that everyone could read the biographies [of Medvedev, Putin, and local politicians]. From now on I forbid you to do anything to these posters. You've spoiled several posters. If you will spoil more, I will call the police.

Tsivinyuk: And what will they do to me?

Principal: I don't know. […] But I have warned you. […]

Then the principal compared Tsivinyuk to Lenin, and reminded him of Lenin's expulsion from his school and the university. After a digression about Tsivinyuk's religious beliefs (he's an Orthodox Christian) the Principal exclaimed:

Principal: How can a Christian person perform such non-Christian actions? [speaking of defacing a political poster]

Tsivinyuk: Political views and religious views are different spheres of life.

Principal [screaming]: If you don't understand this, let's meet with your leader [of the Orthodox Christian group Tsivinyuk belongs to]

Tsivinuyk: He has nothing to do with this.

Principal [screaming]: How is that? For example, I think that no one is teaching you this in school. No one teaches you in school how to do such nasty things, to write bad things on posters. Where and who teaches you then? Where did you get this into your head? We should find the place where you were taught this. […] Once again, the minimum is a fine.

Tsivinyuk: For what?

Principal: You still don't understand?

Tsivinyuk: Well, tell me the article number of the administrative code I have violated.

The principal did not explain to Tsivinyuk why the defacement of illegally hung political posters would be cause for administrative or police charges.

The case may have never reached the public had it not been for Moscow blogger and journalist Vladimir Varfolomeev who published [6] [ru] the story in his blog (the post attracted more than 2,000 comments). Siberian and federal websites quickly re-published the story.

Vice-governor of Krasnoyarsk, Sergey Ponomarenko, said [7] [ru] that Tsivinyuk's actions were “mean” and this attracted critical comments from bloggers who said United Russia and Ponomarenko himself were the “mean” ones.

By the end of the day, Tsivinyuk removed his video (there is no information regarding what pressure was put on him). On his Vkontakte page (Russian equivalent to Facebook) he wrote:

Я не сдался, но я больше не занимаюсь политикой. Надеюсь, вы меня правильно поймёте, не лезьте в дерьмо, думайте о будущем, берегите друзей.

I haven't given up, but I'm not in to politics anymore. I hope you get me right, don't get into this crap, think of the future, take care of your friends.

There have been many incidents of this nature leading up to the Russian election in March 2012. [8], a website that crowd-sources reports of electoral fraud, currently lists 737 cases of “Authorities creating preferential conditions [for candidates]”. And last year, a video [9] [ru] on YouTube showed teachers in one school giving first-graders gifts while talking about how great United Russia is.

The dialogue between the hysterical principal versus the calm, tech-savvy Tsivinyuk who knows the law, represents a huge generational gap, and a hope that the obscurity and ignorance (for instance assuming that all knowledge comes from school) can be exposed and defeated.

Update: Vladimir Varfolomeev reports that Tsivinyuk's mother was called to the police. The police so far hasn't explained the reason of the call.

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