NASHI in Finland

Just suppose, dear reader, that a bunch of anti-Putin foreign students decided to travel to Russia and participate in a demonstration against Putin on Red Square attacking a piece of anti-American neo-Soviet propaganda being circulated in Russian theaters.  How do you think the Kremlin would respond? Would it allow such a thing to occur?

FinRosForum reports:

The Russian government-supported youth movement, Nashi, plans to hold demonstrations in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, on 23 March 2009 against a seminar organised by the Estonian Embassy in Helsinki. Johan Bäckman, leader of the self-declared “Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee” (Safka), said Estonia’s pro-Moscow Nightwatch (Nochnoy Dozor) organisation will also take part in the demonstrations. The organisers of the planned demonstration repeat Kremlin’s assertion that the seminar, Fear Behind the Wall, is “anti-Russian” and “pro-Nazi.”

The Estonian Embassy will organise the seminar in cooperation with the Latvian and Lithuanian embassies, Finnish book publisher WSOY, and Finland’s National Audiovisual Archive (KAVA). The seminar will mark 60 years since the March deportations in Estonia and 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. Political scientist Iivi Anna Masso will interview authors Imbi Paju and Sofi Oksanen, editors of the article compilation, “Fear Behind Us All.”

Speaking on Russia’s state-run First Channel, Johan Bäckman claimed that “anti-Russian forces” have spread their activities from the Baltic States to Finland. He claimed prized Finnish author Sofi Oksanen and Estonian-born political scientist Iivi Anna Masso were spreading “fascist, pro-Nazi propaganda” in Finland. Bäckman characterised the series of documentary films, “Fear Behind the Wall,” to be screened at the Finnish National Audiovisual Archive’s Orion cinema, as a series of “anti-Russian films”.

Bäckman has made numerous provocative statements against Estonia and in support of Kremlin policies. He has published books that are uncritically supportive of Russia’s official party line and denigrating Finnish critics of the regime in Moscow. Bäckman’s novel, “Saatana saapuu Helsinkiin,” smeared late journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya and Finnish critics of Putin’s rule; the book “Pronssisoturi” accompanied Moscow’s anti-Estonian campaign after the riots in Tallinn that followed the transfer of the Soviet war memorial, the “Bronze Soldier,” in spring 2007.

Bäckman has launched several blogs, which he uses to spread disinformation about politics in Russia, Finland, and the Baltic States. Many well-known critics of Russia’s current regime are constantly being targeted with verbal attacks in Bäckman’s various blogs. Those at the receiving end of Bäckman’s verbal abuse include, among others, Jarkko Tontti, vice-chairman of the Finnish branch of International PEN; Jukka Mallinen, former chairman of Finnish PEN; Finnish political scientist Iivi Anna Masso; Estonian journalist Imbi Paju; Finnish novelist Sofi Oksanen; and Ville Ropponen, chairman of the Finnish association of progressive artists and writers, Kiila.

These absurd allegations are eerily reminiscent of Soviet disinformation campaigns and can be seen as a form of political pressure. Their intended purpose is clearly to intimidate critics and to impose a new form of self-censorship in Finnish public debate. Bäckman has adopted an aggressive tactic of accusing his opponents of defamation, thus deflecting attention from his own libelous allegations against a wide spectre of Finnish cultural and political figures. His latest venture, bringing Russian pro-regime street thugs onto the streets of Helsinki, takes his campaign to a whole new level.

Senior figures in the Russian presidential administration encouraged the creation of the Nashi movement, which by late 2007 had around 120,000 members. The Kremlin’s primary goal may have been to create a paramilitary force to harass and attack Putin’s critics and members of the democratic opposition. Nashists have also inflitrated opposition groups as the regime’s paid spies. Recently, Nashi members claimed responsibility for cyber attacks that crippled Estonia’s internet infrastructure amidst a diplomatic quarrel with Russia in spring 2007.

The demonstrations planned in Helsinki on 23 March 2009 may be part of an attempt by Johan Bäckman and his cohorts to spread Nashi’s venomous intimidation of critics of Russia’s ruling regime outside of Russia’s borders. Bäckman has actively propagated the same inverted logic of “anti-fascism” that Nashists adhere to. Recently, Bäckman launched an initiative to establish a “Russian People’s Party” in Finland. This, and previous ventures, are clearly an attempt to mobilise Finland’s Russian-speakers into supporting Moscow’s cynical, anti-integrationist policies in its “near abroad.”

15 responses to “NASHI in Finland

  1. “Empire strikes back”.
    It took them nearly twenty years to regroup, to heal and now they are looking for ways back into Europe.
    It will become worse.

  2. Notchnyi Pozor, more like (“night stink”)… Seriously, I can’t understand some of these Great Russian Minds who come up with these names – Nashi (“Ours”) insists of putting SS anywhere at all where there is an “s”, which most of the time is just awkward and SStupid… While the genius who came up with their name clearly thought about how Nashi could never be confused with Nazi… Wonderful PR!

    It seems to me that since Medevedev got to sit in the big chair, the Nashi don’t have nearly as much of the hairy arm of Mother Russia visible behind them. Now they’re just a bunch of sad teenagers in droopy paramilitant outfits hoping to raise some attention close to the European Parliament elections. Not that anyone really pays attention to those anyways.

  3. slightly off topic but somewhat relevant: – a good rehash in English about a media hooplah over the Russian amassador in Estonia (yet again) harping on about how Russians are treated badly there and a Russian school-boy’s reaction to it. Oh, he was/is also in the main deciding body of the Russian student’s union.

    it also deserves saying that the fastest-growing immigrant community in Finland is Russians – both from Russia proper and from the Baltics, primarily Estonia. The second fastest growing immigrant community in Finland is Estonians. There’s been talk about connecting Helsinki and Tallinn via a tunnel or bridge or teleportation device and merging them under the name of Hellinn or Talsinki for… well, decades. Simultaneously, the immigrant Russians are starting to demand for Russian to be an official language like Swedish – to which the Finns collectively say: geve us our land back, then we’ll talk.

    • both from Russia proper and from the Baltics, primarily Estonia. The second fastest growing immigrant community in Finland is Estonians

      I do understand why Russians move from both Russia and Estonia, but why Estonians move?

  4. Well, they can’t have it both ways, destabilizing their neighbors using Russian minorities as agitators while trying to add warm bodies to the homeland, the NYT’s has an article about Russia trying to lure back its former citizens to offset the horrific demographics.

    “Moscow has spent $300 million in the past two years to get the repatriation program started, and officials estimated that more than 25 million people were eligible, many of them ethnic Russians who found themselves living in former Soviet republics after the Soviet collapse in 1991.”

    It’s so symptomatic of the muddled policies of a desperate failed empire. Busing their dumb little brownshirts around the EU isn’t going to work well for them either. It’s harder to dupe even the most gullible with crude fascism than utopian Marxism. And, Russia is evolving into a crude fascist state.

    • $300 million to deal with the Russia’s demographic catastrophe?

      First things first – $2 billion went to evict the Americans from the “Afghan” Uzbek base, seemingly the Russia’s highest prority as the drugs’ supply to Russia’s millions of addicts (officially 2.5 million, really many more) to must not be disrupted.

  5. Yeah, and this Bäckman guy also wrote a book “Finland, washed by the blood of Anna Politkovskaya” ( “Финляндия, кровью Анны Политковской умытая”), where he says that Anna Politkovskaya was killed by enemies of Russia who wanted to discredit Putin. This was the initial official position of Putin, as much as I remember. … No comments …

  6. There is a funny continuation to the story, which involves also Islamic extremists:

  7. Putin’s brown shirts were deployed to Sochi:

    Nemtsov was attacked outside his campaign headquarters in Sochi, spokeswoman Olga Shorina said by telephone. She said a person with long hair, women’s clothes and a deep voice approached him with a bouquet of flowers while an assailant splashed him with ammonia.


    According to Ekho Moskvy, Nemtsov said he suspects he was attacked by members of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi (Ours). Phone calls to the group went unanswered.

  8. Russian Nationalists don’t always beat the ____ out of the non-Slavic people:

    They use the visage of the US President to market products:

  9. The Georgian Church has yet to comment on the latest actions of the violent religious groups and although President Saakashvili’s press secretary condemned the extremists’ “attacks on the Kavkasia journalists,” many in Georgia think that police and other law enforcement agencies should more vigorously act in defense of the civil liberties that the religious fundamentalists are now trying to undermine.

    Human rights activists have already called the People’s Orthodox Movement and its fraternal organizations “fascist” groups and Georgian media have started talking about a dangerous linkage between the pro-Russian forces and their religious “militia” that threaten both Georgia’s sovereignty and democracy.

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