All of us have descended from Gogol’s shawl
And from Hitler’s “Schnell-schnell” bawl.
Dear friends, the “For Freedom” readers, let us think of the difference between current repression against independent journalists and those of the late Soviet period. At that time the underground press dissidents were reduced all to the same level, the information space was totally mopped up. Now the chastener of justice is put over so-called “odious persons” only. Not in province but in the centre of the country. In province not only an opposition journalist criticizing the regime but any fighter for the truth who had afforded a negative opinion on the mayor or the governor is subjected to the risk of firing, imprisonment or attack at a gateway. In the capitals the situation is different yet. Whom are criminal cases initiated against here? Who was brought to trial, to investigation, to colony among the literary fraternity? Those are Yury Mukhin, Alexander Chervyakov - in fact, they are anti-Semites and Great-Russian chauvinists. That is Boris Stomakhin, in fact, he offered to cut off Russian soldiers’ heads. Neither a liberal nor a left-wing would raise a voice in defense of such persons.
But in vain! Nowadays the authorities adjust the repression flywheel on such cut-outs having no one to stick up for them. They can afford to be quite vegetarian towards others. What’s the need for repression while oil price is high, wages go up, and the society adores the President going to jump into Prime Minister’s arm-chair and his sweet successor? The majority of quite consent population doesn’t listen to the “system opposition” chattering, it could be neutralized silently, with kid gloves, without annoying the West. That’s why the Central Election Commission is so thoroughly, with a magnifier, exploring the signatures presented by Mikhail Kasyanov and informing joyfully the press almost about each violation; that’s why too independent newspapers are followed by crowds of tax financial inspectors. Or a criminal case is initiated against the “Falanster” book-store director not for selling the forbidden “Limonka” [“Pineapple Grenade”] newspaper but for a couple of erotic books found at its shelves. Or the “For Freedom” correspondent Igor Fedorovich is imprisoned into a mental clinic allegedly for breaking a glass. Both human rights activists and Western reporters have nothing to fault and the internal public is conciliated by repeating “all of them are mentally disabled and swindlers”.
But the authorities can retire on their laurels and show the softness of the “managed sovereign democracy” methods only until time comes. As long as the economic situation is stable, as long as oil super profits fill up the treasury, as long as consumer boom prevails, as long as flats for enormous prices are bought up like hot pies. But how long can it last, how long would Russians be able to admire the President and his successor? What happens if oil price goes down to the level of August 1998 default? It’s clear that people’s admiration would be over. In the same way people have bitterly fallen out of love with the President and his party in the period of the benefits monetization in January 2005. But much more serious problems than the monetization are coming, experts already compare the world crisis beginning at funds markets to the Great Depression of 1929. Would the current authorities put on kid gloves in the situation of total outbreak?
Evidently, no, they won’t; other, non-delicate techniques are being adjusted nowadays already. But they are being adjusted neither on Kasyanov nor on Kasparov nor Yavlinsky. Less notable and too odious to stick up figures are chosen. Well, who would stick up? Moreover, a compellation would be written to V.V.Putin: Vladimir Vladimirovich, you are right to fight against extremist fascists. Even extra denunciations would be applied. Like in the case of Vladislav Nikolsky who is accused of having ordered at a printing-office five hundred copies of the brochure “What is to be done now (A minimal program for Russian people)”.
As told by St. Petersburg Federal Security Service department operative officer Andrey Logachev, the printing-office director, a former FSS officer, called to the department officer-on-duty and informed that materials had been ordered to him content of which had caused his concern. Andrey Logachev arrived to the printing-office, got familiar with the brochure and reported to his chief. A decision was taken to print the brochure and to delay its delivery to the customer in order to have time to familiarize the chief with the question. At the trial Logachev couldn’t remind the brochure content but only his common impression - the book contained materials of extremist direction. When Nikolsky came to the printing-office to receive his order two FSS operative officers and an investigator were already waiting for him.
Liberals, left-wing and anti-fascists should take into account that a journalist could by the same techniques be condemned not for national discord fomentation but, for example, for social discord filling in radical left-wing press or for appeals to change the established state regime which may be found at the pages of democratic newspapers. Both positions are crimes from the point of view of recently adopted law “On Extremism Counteracting”.
Or one may be condemned for publishing his opinion only, like Boris Stomakhin. Stomakhin’s proceedings have created a precedent - a journalist may be imprisoned for an unpleasant opinion. Let the literary fraternity and opposition colleagues think if such “outcasts” are to be kicked negligently or they are worth sticking up until your own way to Kolyma is not drawing near?