Sunday, 1 August 2010

Nashi un-welcome

Pro Kremlin youth group Nashi have already hit the headlines for donning vegetable costumes and lambasting over-eaters as stealing from their revered Prime-Minister Putin. But the mud-slinging has stepped up a gear as the photographed heads of Putin detractors were put on stakes and adorned with swastikas at this year’s Seliger camp.

Prominent human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva, journalist Nikolai Svanidze, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and US former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were included in the hall of shame, Kommersant reported. “You’re not welcome,” read the accompanying banners.

“The forum’s administration does not censor any statements of its participants,” the group’s website announced.

The installation was removed the day it went up, but it comes at a time when censorship has been hot in the press. The recent conviction of Forbidden Art Curators Yury Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev for “inciting hatred and denigrating human dignity” landed the pair a fine of 350,000 roubles ($11, 500).

And doubts have been cast over the legality of the Seliger installation. Lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky told Kommesant that it violated both civil and criminal codes, “I would regard it as breaching anti-extremist legislation,” he said.

The Seliger meeting drew a stinging invective from Representative of the Presidential Council for Human Rights Ella Pamfilova. “I fear the day when these guys come to power in a few years… Because people who have been nurtured by these political technologists have pawned their souls to the devil,” she told Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Nashi are taking her to court for her comments, demanding a compensation of 500,000 roubles ($16,500).

If you are an official or public figure”, Alekseeva told Moskovsky Komsomolets, “you have to react calmly to any criticism, even if it is boorish. As for Nashi, I do not want to have anything to do with them, including taking them to court. I do not like it when officials take people to court for criticizing them… they should resist the desire to punish.”

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