Saturday, August 18, 2007
One of the most discussed topics in the Russian blogosphere last week was a graphic video of what appeared to be the execution of two ethnically non-Russian men by masked figures claiming to be members of a Russian neo-Nazi group.
A detailed description of the video can be found in this New York Times' piece by C. J. Chivers (four paragraphs roughly in the middle of the story).
Sean Guillory of Sean's Russia Blog posted an overview of the media and bloggers' reactions and, among other things, wrote this:
[...] Granted, I have not watched it, nor do I intend to. But to me this video’s political resonance says something more about spectacle of violence that inhabits our modern lives rather than anything specific about nationalism or fascism in Russia. As far as I’m concerned the members of “National Socialism/White Power” are merely reproducing what has already become a staple in our media diet. From the “real” videos of Chechens beheading Russian soldiers, Beslan, Daniel Pearl, Abu Ghraib, suicide bombings, and school and workplace shootings (and the media’s obsession over them) to the “fake” torture scenes of shows like 24 and other films, hasn’t the gap between the real and the fake long collapsed, making their distinction merely academic. What is important is the connection between politics and extreme violence, or really the use of extreme violence as political spectacle. [...]
Mark MacKinnon wrote about an Ethiopian student he had once interviewed for a story on "what it was like living as a foreigner - a black foreigner - in a time of rising Russian racism and xenophobia." The blame for the current situation, according to MacKinnon, is on the Kremlin:
[...] For too long, the Kremlin tolerated and manipulated the ultranationalist crowd, allowing people like Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Dmitry Rogozin to spew hatred because it suited their political aims. If the West was truly worried that a Zhirinovsky or a Rogozin might come to power, it would let up in its calls for more openness and democracy and perhaps come to see someone like Vladimir Putin as a least-bad option.
The strategy worked like a charm from a political point of view, but the monsters it created are now out of even the Kremlin's control. [...]
W. Shedd of The Accidental Russophile quoted Anton Nossik, a representative of the company that oversees LiveJournal's Russian segment, on why "no action [has been taken] against the blogger who first posted the video" (RFL/RL story):
"Preliminary censorship is, of course, impossible on the Internet," Nosik says. "People post what they feel must be posted, and write what they feel must be written. There is a list of things that LiveJournal users agree not to do, but posting pictures of an execution is not on the list. There is a clause forbidding comments that incite ethnic hatred, but whether it applies to this particular video is an open question."
On his blog, Anton Nossik (LJ user dolboeb) wrote this (RUS) on Aug. 16 about the violent video and the authorities' irrational reaction to it:
[...] [Russian security services] are still more concerned about the fact of the video's publication than about the murder itself. Why? Well, first of all, there's already [a person who has confessed to having posted the video] - so it's now possible to report on the successful completion of the investigation of the crime. As for the murder, it is still not clear who killed who, where, when, why and how to investigate all this. Second, if no one had posted the video, it would have been possible to pretend for a long time that there had been no murder at all. For example, when [Artur Ryno confessed to 37 ethnically-motivated murders], it turned out that most of these crimes were not being investigated. And if [Artur] had held his tongue, no investigation would've begun... Our law enforcement officials are sending a very smart message to the murderers: until you confess to all your crimes like idiots, no one's even going to look for you, let alone punish you.
It's time to call things by their name: we are witnessing the restoration of [Leonid Brezhnev]'s order.
"Let's draw the curtains and shake the car, and then announce that the train is moving."
In such a paradigm, what's considered a crime is, of course, not the murder, but a report of the murder.
And they'll be trying to catch not the murderers, but those who made their crime public. They'll be catching them and prosecuting, until the topic is banned altogether.
This, according to the logic of Brezhnev times, is the main victory over any kind of trouble - be it catastrophes, epidemics, crime or infant mortality.
But there was no Internet in Brezhnev times. [...]