Sunday, May 12, 2013

Killing in Russia adds to concerns over treatment of gays - Reuters

Killing in Russia adds to concerns over treatment of gays
It is rare for law enforcement authorities in Russia to specify suspicions that homophobia was the motive in an attack, and activists say many attacks against gays are not treated or described as such by the police. Prominent gay rights activist ...

Man Beaten to Death in Russia After Acquaintances Learn He is GayTowleroad
Russia: Possible homophobic killing spikes concerns of gay

Russian gay activist say will seek stricter penalties for homophobic crimesRussia Beyond The Headlines 

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 Russia: Possible homophobic killing spikes concerns of gay

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Killing in Russia adds to concerns over treatment of gays

Sat, May 11 2013
MOSCOW (Reuters) - An apparent homophobic killing has increased concerns among Russian activists about prejudice against gays, which they fear will be encouraged by a bill banning homosexual "propaganda".
The body of a 23-year-old man was found in the courtyard of an apartment building in the southern city of Volgograd early on Friday with multiple wounds including in the genital area, the federal Investigative Committee said on Saturday.
It said a 22-year-old acquaintance of the victim and a 27-year-old ex-convict had been detained on suspicion of murder.
A investigator in Volgograd, Andrei Gapchenko, told Ekho Moskvy radio that the suspects said they had been drinking with the victim and began beating him after he told them he was gay.
It is rare for law enforcement authorities in Russia to specify suspicions that homophobia was the motive in an attack, and activists say many attacks against gays are not treated or described as such by the police.
Prominent gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev said a bill to outlaw spreading "homosexual propaganda" among minors, given preliminary approval by parliament in January, would make Russians less likely to fear consequences for attacking gays.
"This monstrous incident in Volgograd demonstrates the fruits of the homophobic policy that is being conducted in this country, including the initiative to ban homosexual propaganda," Interfax news agency quoted Alexeyev as saying.
Critics say the bill, expected to win final parliamentary approval within weeks, would effectively ban gay rights demonstrations and sharply curb basic freedoms.
Some members of United Russia, the party that is loyal to Putin and dominates parliament, want to add a clause that would levy fines for any public support for homosexuality.
President Vladimir Putin has often championed socially conservative values since he began a third term last May.
Met by protests against the legislation on a trip to the Netherlands last month, Putin denied his government discriminates against gays, but criticised them for failing to aid population growth.
The United States has criticised the bill and Russian rights activists say it is part of an effort by Putin to appeal to conservative voters after months of protests by mostly liberal Russians tired of his 13-year dominance.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for Russia’s FBI-like Investigative Committee, here criticizes Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov for a talk Surkov gave at the London School of Economics

“Looking from London, Don’t Blame the Mirror”
Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for Russia’s FBI-like Investigative Committee, here criticizes Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov for a talk Surkov gave at the London School of Economics last week in which he criticizes the Committee’s heavy-handedness in investigating allegations of corruption in the Skolkovo project, designed to create a tech sector capital outside of Moscow. Following Markin’s piece in Izvestia, Surkov tendered his resignation as deputy prime minister. [Note: the title of this piece is reference to Gogol’s Inspector General: “Don’t blame the mirror if you have a crooked face.”]
What was the story that some leaders of big projects used to tell? They would say that their job was to ensure a large-scale result, and if in some places they sometimes nagged us in banal ways and stole — that was not our problem, it was only the negligence of the auditors, the investigation or other law-enforcers.
The times are changing, however, and with them the excuses and mantras of effective managers. Now it’s just the opposite in our country; when there is a lack of results from large-scale projects, the Investigative Committee will always be to blame. They come to search creative guys at 8:00 a.m. strictly according to the Code of Criminal Procedures, or they frighten off a foreign guest in the corridors of Skolkovo with procedural actions. How can you advance innovation and attract investment under such conditions?
It must be noted that nowadays, “effective managers” have a new fashion.  As soon as there is a search at the multi-story mansions of a vice governor of a poor region, immediately his colleagues scream about a political directive, satraps from the Investigative Committee and the Accounts Chamber. It is fashionable now to be strictly a political prisoner; you can immediately count on the attention of the BBC and even on the support of Amnesty International. Perhaps that is exactly why the handlers of such particularly effective managers prefer right off to perform an aria as a Moscow guest in London to a targeted audience. They call this groan a song.  But the song is so pathetic, right in the walls of the London School of Economics: “The Investigative Committee is too hasty, loudly proclaiming abuses in Skolkovo. The energy with which the Investigative Committee is making its thinking public makes ordinary people feel that there’s been a crime. Let them prove that these people are guilty of a crime” [reference to Surkov’s LSE speech --ed].
In that connection, the citizens of Russia, including those who work at the Investigative Committee, have a rhetorical question: how long would a cabinet member of Her Majesty’s Government last in his seat if while on a private visit to Moscow he publicly condemned Scotland Yard for performing its direct duties? Apparently we have too liberal a regimen here in Moscow by comparison.
Now it may be that even a brief stay at the Skolkovo Zone has an overpowering influence on the innovative “pathfinders,” forcing them to go contrary to the conventions acceptable in decent society.  Let us say, they assigned a citizen from the Forbes list as someone who is not needy, to preserve the honor of Skolkovo anew [a reference to Viktor Vekselberg, about whom Surkov said in his LSE speech that he was so rich he would be motivated to implicate himself for the sake of money --ed]. So he up and gives himself a compensation of 2 million under the influence of the Zone. And only after an inspection from the Accounts Chamber reduces it to a sum that is more appropriate for a start-up. Again, the mysterious story of the lectures of Deputy Igor Ponomarev is easily explained by the “Skolkovo anomaly.” Well, what were these top managers smoking when they signed such a contract?
Although there is a quite rational explanation for the Skolkovo and other “anomalies.” The Investigative Committee, according to its status defined by the Code of Criminal Procedures, investigates high-impact cases regarding so-called special subjects, including deputies, governors, officials, lawyers and often experienced top managers in companies. These are all seasoned and experienced people. They long ago grasped that in our time, the status of an inveterate opponent of the government is even very profitable. When it comes down to it, you can pass off a mundane criminal prosecution for embezzlement as political persecution. You can get a lot of attention on social media and even the right to asylum in London. Certain virtuosos of political PR even cleverly manage to make such pirouettes while in the leadership of the government they are protesting against.
However, PR is PR, and business is business. No one has abolished the Code of Criminal Procedures, and investigators are obliged to ask questions if there are facts and concrete suspicions. No moans about political motives can help here. Only one thing will help: if you want large-scale projects, innovation and investments to be implemented, then just don’t create conditions for embezzlement and control your managers. Then everything will work out for you.
The author is the director of the department for liaison with mass media of the Russian Federation Investigative Committee.

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  • Russia and The West Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Vladislav Surkov’s answers to audience questions at the London School of Economics and Political Science

В беседе с журналистами «Русского пионера» Сурков поведал, что намерен писать политическую комедию на основе реальных событий

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Putin's Corruption Trap - 16 April 2013 - Institute of Modern Russia

Putin's Corruption Trap
16 April 2013
The fight against corruption is a perpetual topic in Russia: it has been discussed for centuries, but almost no one believes that the situation can ever be improved. For the last five years, however, the Russian government seems to have become more involved in the problem. Since last fall, a number of big corruption scandals have broken. Political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya considers whether the fight against corruption is the government's real objective or just another instrument to solve the Kremlin's political problems.

The numbers that experts use to describe the extent of corruption in Russia are definitely not for the faint-hearted. National Anti-Corruption Committee Chairman Kirill Kabanov has recently estimated the corruption market in Russia at around $300 billion a year, which is considerably more than the $300 to 500 million that the illicit drug market launders annually. According to Kabanov, "typical bribes—that is, low-level corruption—that we hear about in criminal cases and which amount to 80 percent, I think, in our country, do not form this market." He further explains, "First of all, this market is formed due to the distribution of the budget in terms of corruption, state property, and natural resources management. These are the main sectors of the corruption market." Alexander Savenkov, deputy chairman of the Federation Council's committee on constitutional legislation, said that, according to Interior Ministry statistics, the average level of a bribe in Russia in 2011–2012 amounted to 300,000 rubles ($10,000). The Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights estimates that corruption consumes as much as 50 percent of Russia’s GDP. Top areas for corruption are law-enforcement agencies and the judicial system. These data were included in a 2010 report prepared by Clean Hands, a Russian anticorruption center. Transparency International has ranked Russia 133rd (out of 174 countries) in its 2012 Corruption Perception Index. According to the 2011 "Bribers" Index by Transparency International, out of 28 countries included in the study, Russia had the most corrupt companies when dealing with foreign operations.
Corruption is without doubt the most topical question in Russia, which is destructive for state efficiency, the government's reputation, budget stability, rates of economic growth, competition, and so on. A rapid growth in corruption was noted in 2000, when Vladimir Putin became president. Yet he wants to be seen as the main fighter against corruption. What is really going on?
Having become president, Putin got caught in his own political trap. During his first term (until 2004), he meticulously built the "vertical of power" by replacing Yeltsin's people with his own supporters from St. Petersburg, squeezing out oligarchs, and taking control of state decision-making mechanisms. Personal loyalty played a key role in personnel appointments, with corruption considered an insignificant side effect. Putin's logic was simple: he aimed to gain the maximum control possible over the government in order to make a "breakthrough." He thought that mobilization based on corporatism was needed to "raise the country from its knees."
A rapid growth in corruption was noted in 2000, when Vladimir Putin became president.

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News Review: 5.7-12.13

Medvedev Says Russian Rearmament On Level With WWII
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the current level of rearmament of Russia’s military is similar to the Soviet Union's rearmament toward the end of World War II.

Russian opposition marks violent protest
Demonstrators met in Moscow to mark the day a year ago that ended in clashes with the police and broke the back of the anti-Putin movement
Thousands march against 'thief' Vladimir Putin in central Moscow
A year on from Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin, thousands of Muscovites rallied in a central Moscow square to protest against his rule. “Putin is a thief!” was a popular chant at the rally. “We are fighting for Russia, for our country, our future,” said Gennady Gudkov a former MP who has been stripped of his mandate since joining the opposition movement.
Russians Protest Prosecutions of Opposition Leaders
The demonstration occurred on the anniversary of an event that turned violent and precipitated a crackdown by President Vladimir V. Putin. 

Russian protesters call for release of political prisoners
Up to 20,000 people rally in Moscow a year after violent clashes over Vladimir Putin's third presidential inauguration
Up to 20,000 Russian opposition supporters have protested against the Kremlin, demanding the release of political prisoners. Protests exactly a year ago in the same square the day before Vladimir Putin's third presidential inauguration ended in violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Participants in Monday's rally, which passed off peacefully amid heavy police cordons, called for the release of more than two dozen people facing criminal charges from last year's protest.
Since Putin returned to office, the authorities have taken legal action against opposition activists, and the Kremlin-controlled parliament has quickly approved a series of repressive bills that sharply increased fines for participation in unauthorised rallies and imposed new restrictions on civil society activists.
Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader facing trial on embezzlement charges he said were fabricated on Putin's orders, urged protesters to "throw [Putin] out of the Kremlin". His chant of "Russia will be free!" was repeated by the crowd.
A scuffle erupted when a small group of pro-Putin activists shouted provocative slogans. Police escorted them away.
A few hours before the rally, a man helping build the stage was killed when sound equipment collapsed on him. Officials are investigating the incident. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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John Kerry in Moscow to push for Syria solutions after Israel airstrikes
John Kerry is to use a trip to Moscow to convince Russia it must act to break the international deadlock over Syria after President Vladimir Putin intervened directly to demand an explanation for Israeli airstrikes against targets in Syria last weekend.