Neo-Soviet Russia is just like North Korea

Paul Goble, blogging at the Moscow Times:

A group of legal activists is working in the Russian capital to help people moving there comply with the law and work with a government registration system unlike any in the world — except for the one maintained by the regime in North Korea, claims one of the leaders of the “Illegals of Moscow” movement. In an interview posted on the portal this week, that individual, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the risk of reprisal from officials, said that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s claim that such registration systems exist “in all the major capitals of the world” is simply “a lie.”

“There is nothing like [Moscow’s system] anywhere in the world,” the Illegals of Moscow leader said. Members of the organization “have specially studied this question, and the last country with such a registration [“propiska”] regime is the Korean People’s Democratic Republic” under Kim Jong-Il.

In her introduction to the interview, Burmistrova notes that the web site of the Illegals of Moscow — — is the public face of “a virtual civic movement” intended to provide guidance and support to those navigating the difficulties of the Moscow registration system, including lending assistance in making appeals to prosecutors.

But she notes that since its formation in September 1999, the people behind the site have been committed not to violating any laws or helping others to do so. Instead, they “require” that those with whom they work obey all laws and the Russian Constitution, although the name of the site and the composition of the people they help mean that those involved can only speak anonymously.

The site was created a decade ago, the activist said, by a group of “private persons” who had “experienced all ‘the charms’ of the Moscow registration system: discrimination and humiliation by bureaucrats and the police” when they deal with Muscovites and “the limitation of [their] rights.”

Obviously, only a small fraction of those arriving in the city visit the site, although some 8,000 people did so in the last month alone. Indeed, the activist said, “the typical portrait of the visitor and member of the virtual community of illegals is a highly educated young specialist.”

“Unfortunately,” the activist continued, the group is “extremely limited in its resources and is forced to struggle with an enormous machine that transforms arrivals into nutritious food for an enormous inhuman monster” that lives by “bribes” and by “the unconscionable and uncontrolled exploitation of those from outside the city.”

So offensive is this processing that “the word ‘Muscovite’ has become a term of derision, if not a curse.” For example, the interviewee said, “the majority of marriages in Moscow are concluded not on the basis of love but for a residence permit. Can this be normal?” the activist asked rhetorically.

Given that, the activist said, the Illegals of Moscow group also sees itself as working to “change the image of Moscow, to convert it from an inhospitable city with eternally hungry police officers and unfriendly people into a free and welcoming place in which it is comfortable and pleasing for all to live.”

A major reason why the powers that be are able to get away with their arbitrary behavior is the legal illiteracy of the population. “The people do not know their rights, not only about registration but about any others. No one reads the laws or is interested in his or her rights,” the activist said.

Other serious problems are that even when the laws and the constitution are clear, regional officials who don’t like them simply ignore them. And given Russia’s lack of a precedent system of justice, everyone who faces the authorities must start from square one against what the authorities say is the law.

Asked what laws the organization would like to see changed, the activist said that it would prefer to see the entire institution of registration or “propiska” eliminated. At present, the situation that exists in Moscow is “surreal” with the authorities wanting information but not wanting to give people registration permits in the absence of bribes or pressure.

The activist, however, held out little hope that the situation in Moscow would change for the better anytime soon. While the Illegals of Moscow group has regularly declared its desire to meet with the authorities, they have been harassed or ignored since Russian “government organs do everything they can to prevent citizens from achieving what is theirs by right.”

14 responses to “Neo-Soviet Russia is just like North Korea

  1. Goble should know better than confuse the existing – and annoying – registration system with the no longer existing propiska system.

    Furthermore, China has a propiska system.

    But, never let facts get in the way of a good story.

  2. It’s wildly ironic that while hrumphing about facts you don’t give a single link to any source material to support your claim that China has a similar system. Isn’t that just a bit too hypocritical even for an idiotic russophile?

    Moreover, it’s not GOBLE who is saying this, you illiterate BABOON, he’s REPORTING on what RUSSIANS are saying. Please at least try to get SOMETHING correct while demanding accuracy or you will look hysterically foolish.

    And then of course there’s the POINT, which is that Moscow’s propiska system is not “annoying ” but UNCONSTITUTIONAL and illegal. Being arrested by Moscow cops for violating a law that has no right to exist makes Russia a neo-Soviet state. If you think that’s nothing more than “annoying” you’re a lunatic, plain and simple.

    That you would suggest your “views” are more credible than Goble’s world-famous reporting bespeaks grave mental illness.

  3. Gobles fame is neither here nor there. Goebbels was pretty famous, too.

    It’s rather funny that you should not be aware of something as well-known as the Chinese Hukou system, particularly since the Chinese invented the concept. Basic history – you may want to read up on it.

    Then you would have noticed that the claim Moscow’s system is not unique at all.

    Also, while YOU mention NOW that the system is unconstitutional – which is a well-known fact – (, where does Goble state this in his shoddily researched article? He COULD have mentioned the Russian Ombudsman, if he had actually done his research beyond talking to one or two sources.

    Of course, I don’t expect somebody as uncivilized as yourself to respond to this in any substantial way. You seem to confuse hysterical screeching with debate. Just like your sock-puppet “penny”

  4. Yes, China has a registration system, but it is more liberal (officially anyway) than Russia’s as far as I can tell. First of all, I know that foreign visitors need to register within three days of arrival in Russia. Russian citizens, technically, need to get registered in whatever city they want to live in and do a ridiculous dance to get around the rules if they want to live in a different city than where they grew up with their parents, in most cases, i.e. completely stupid. I had colleagues having to take vacation days just to drive back to their native city to do a bank transaction or sell a car just because they can’t get registered properly in the city they now live and work in. I guess the one advantage of this system is that the army can’t find the men who have moved. (not making that up)

    In China. foreigners do NOT need to get registered which is quite telling when compared to Russia. And to add to this, what difference does it make if China has the system or not? Is that the justification for it in Russia? The point is that the system is not needed, constricts peoples’ rights, and creates a big pain in the neck for the freedom of movement of the population. Instead of defending the system and finding other countries to compare to, can you actually name an advantage for the system? It’s a Soviet relic that offers no benefit. If anything, China could potentially benefit more from it than Russia and they’ve already identified that it is is a restriction on the economic flexibility of the country. It is also actually discussed in China, whereas in Russia, I never heard any serious debate about ending it in the last 5 years. You don’t need an ombudsman to cure something that is unconstitutional, just an ordinary citizen who wants to file a lawsuit against the law and get it heard in the court system. Of course, that option is hardly available in Russia. Can’t wait to hear the retorts on this one.

  5. The POINT of my argument was NOT whether or not Russia’s system is justified or not, but whether the report by Gob(b)le(s) was fully factual. It isn’t. It is badly researched, and the argument superficial. End of story.

    • Quite simply, you’re lying.

      The reason you made your statement was to try to smear the article and take attention away from the point, thereby to protect and rationalize Vladimir Putin. What China does or does not do has NOTHING to do with Russia, nor does it undermine the author’s point in ANY way.

      Are you prepared to live by the rule than if you are only 99.9% accurate then what you write is to be disregarded? If not, then your “point” is totally meaningless. This isn’t a blog about China, which is nearly as infamous for anti-democratic policy as North Korea. Ever heard of Tianamen Square, doofus?

      Who do you think you are fooling with this gibberish? Do you think we are still as blind to Russia as we were in Soviet times? Wake up to the new century! Do you REALLY believev that because only 210 other nations, not 211, are unlike Russia this makes some kind of difference? Don’t make us laugh, you freak.

  6. Goble didn’t research the article, you idiot, he simply stated the contents.

    And, as for “shoddily researched”, we are all for the verifiable links to better counter-facts, not your opinion as it counts for nothing, if you have it which you don’t.

    Oh, and, points get shaved off from moonbats that employ ” Gob(b)le(s)” in their rants.

  7. Goble simply “stated the content”? He bloody wrote that piece of fluff.

    And I guess YOU silly goose would need a reference for the spherical nature of planet earth. Nothing I wrote is in any way even controversial, and would take one minute to verify.

  8. Howard, what’s your response to the post by China man? What else are you saying that is not true?

    • Listen, China is a totalitarian country too. So? There are dozens of others in addition. Does it make you feel any better that Russia is not the only one that controls the movement of her population? Do Chinese backwardness and lack of respect to human rights makes Russian contempt to human rights any more acceptable?

    • This is silly. Sorry for me not being aware of Chinese legislation that kicked in 12 days ago. In my travels to China in the past 4 years, I did not have to worry about registration. Simple as that. Looks like it will be necessary now. That’s a shame but does nothing to change the root of my argument, that registration, in reference to the original article, is an unnecessary control put on the people of Russia. It reduces its flexibility to put the right people in the right places for economic success. I can’t imagine what is insincere or untruthful about that. I feel strange even arguing this point.

  9. Here is a quick thumbnail sketch of just some of the draconian measures encapsulated within this tyrannical legislation: The USA Patriot Act


    We’ve deleted your ridiculous attempt to summarize the contents of the Patriot Act. Please don’t spam our blog, it has nothing to do with registration. The USA has freedom of movement, Russia doesn’t, as anyone who’s ever visited Moscow knows full well. If you want to discuss some country other than Russia, this is not the place to do it.


    “If you want to discuss some country other than Russia, this is not the place to do it” …

    Read the title of your own editorial and tell me why North Korea? — THIS IS NOT THE PLACE TO DISCUSS NORTH KOREA.

    Or some are allowed to discuss Russia, some North Korea, some China but not the US?
    May I ask to delete “ridiculous attempt” to summarize the contents of laws and regulations of China and remove North Korea from your title?’


    The discussion of the Patriot Act had nothing to do with registration requirements, you idiot. China and North Korea are being discussed only insofar as registration requirments are concerned. You need to rest yoru “brain”.

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