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Presidential candidates are crawling out of the woodwork to try their luck against Vladmir Putin in the March 4th elections. This is partly a result of the political awakening of Russia's predominantly liberal middle class, and partly the opposition's chance to grab power through the means of "fair elections".
One such people's champion is a billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who made his fortune in precious metals. He wants to show Russia the good side of Capitalism by privatising even more of the public sector sphere, and giving employees the right to work harder and for longer hours- what a surprise!
The Communists, on the other hand, are believed to be the biggest threat to the current regime. The leader of Russia's communists Gennadiy Zjuganov has got Sergej Udaltsov (a street activist, leader of the Left Front) to be his official spokesperson. The electoral landscape is complicated- some Russians would vote Communist as a protest vote, whilst others would vote Putin simply to stop the Commies getting back in.
Opposition parties are calling for mass demonstrations on the 5th of March in case of fraudulent elections. Moscow authorities have "allowed" the taking place of a demonstration on the Pushkin Square in the centre of Moscow, but only for one hour from 7 to 8 p.m. and the long-term occupation of the square (a la Occupy) is out of question. Pushkin square lies in a close proximity to the Kremlin, and the authorities have promised to close the roads surrounding the square if there is a larger crowd of people. However, the square itself isn't capable of holding a lot of people, twenty thousand at most. A lot of people are planning to come to the square from all over the country and when the capacity and time limit come to an end you will most like to see Moscow's finest riot coppers at what they do best.
Putin in turn is trying to tighten all the loose knots the potential threat of violent outbursts on the streets of Russia post the elections. The recently formed Centre "E" founded in order to eradicate country's extremists works against radical left political activists.
A few weeks ago, the Centre "E" had fabricated case against Antifascist activists in Nizhnij Novgorod, arresting four of them on the grounds of the "being members of extremist organisation". The organisation in question was one that the authorities had just invented- the made up organisation “Antifa-RASH”. The basis for the fabrication was a confiscated computer a few months earlier. The cops are alleging that the computer had contained a file with the manifesto of the organisation in question. All this is happening while the Nazis (sometimes with the police help) carryon with their murders.
Presidential candidates fail to mention anything about the recently passed bill in favour of the ban on "gay propaganda" (whatever that is- the definition includes anything from a demonstration in defence of gay rights to gay kissing in public), in Saint-Petersburg. Other Russian cities have promised to follow the suit. This is best viewed as a populist favour to the Russian right and to the depressingly large number majority of Russians who believe that homosexuality equals paedophilia.
Another such “gift” to the masses was the final “solving” of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya- famed journalist for Novaya Gazeta and an outspoken defender of human rights in Russia, especially on human right abuses in Chechnya. She was killed on the 7th of October 2006. The authorities have accused Boris Berezovsky the Jewish Russian oligarch and Akhmed Zakaev, a Chechen leader, both of whom actively oppose Putin's regime, both of whom reside in London. Putin no doubt sees it as a political masterstroke- linking the Russian middle class' desire to see the Politkovskaya's murderers found to both Russian anti-Semitic / Islamophobic sentiment and the general suspicion of the West's motives. Whether they will believe it or not is another story.
One does not have to look far into the past to see the extremes to which Putin will go to secure power. When he first came to power as Prime Minister of Russia in 1999 little was known about him, and he did not have much public support. However when he started the Second Chechen War- carpet bombing civilians and "rescuing" the pride of the Russian army (by killing 10% of Chechnya's population) his popularity skyrocketed. We shall see if Russians will buy this again.
'Ground the Drones' demo to take place in Lincoln this Saturday as UK expands armed drone programme - and international resistance to the Drone Wars amps up.
'Non-citizens' take to the streets of Berlin in the latest instalment of the Refugee Strike shaking things up in Germany.
Civil liberties activists in Germany and elsewhere are taking a novel, and militant, approach to CCTV culture.
SchNEWS interview's one of the ZAD crew
For 25 years Golden Dawn were a marginal group that for the most attacked small left-wing and anarchist groups and sometimes would also go for immigrants. Until a few years ago they never measured more than 200 members. Up until recently they had one office. Now? They have forty-eight.
One group of Spanish workers has come together to stick a spanner in the works of austerity misery. Or more specifically, in the locks.
Sadness and disappointment but no surprises as judges in Amsterdam rule against releasing Morgan the Orca back into the wild.
Since October, Europe's longest, largest 'Postcapitalist land occupation', la ZAD (Zone A Defendre) has been under attack from French authorities who want to clear it and build an airport. Here's another update from 'le frontline'...