Barbaric Russia, on the Rampage

The Moscow Times reports:

Young people who gathered to celebrate spring by blowing bubbles at an annual flash mob in central St. Petersburg were attacked by a group of suspected neo-Nazis who mistook the gathering for a gay pride event, flash mob organizers said.

Some 500 people stood blowing bubbles on the steps of Gorkovskaya metro station and in the surrounding Alexandrovsky Park at about 4 p.m. Sunday — the agreed time for the start of the flash mob — when about 30 men ran up and started beating them and firing rubber bullets.

Several people fell to the ground before the attackers fled at the sight of approaching OMON riot police officers. A reporter saw officers detain at least one attacker. Police also detained about 30 bubble-blowers for five hours on suspicion of walking on the grass, a charge that they denied, organizers said.

Unconfirmed media reports said at least two participants were injured, one with a concussion and the other from a rubber bullet from an attacker’s gun.

Repeated calls to the police’s press office went unanswered.

The annual bubble-blowing flash mob, known alternatively as “Dream Flash” and “Soapy Peter,” presents itself as nonpolitical and mostly attracts teenagers.

“It has nothing to do with the gay community or with any political, ideological or any other organization,” Yulia, the flash mob’s organizer, said by phone Monday.

She spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal for staging the event, which is not sanctioned by city authorities.

“It’s simply a celebration of spring with the idea that a group of people come together and walk around the city center blowing bubbles and enjoy spring,” she said.

Several days before the third annual gathering this year, gay activists began advertising that a gay pride event would be held during the flash mob.

Yulia said she asked the activists to disassociate their event from hers, but they refused.

“They refused because they thought our event was very suitable for them and that we were gay-friendly,” she said.

The activists could not be immediately reached for comment, but Valery Sozayev, head of the local gay rights organization Vykhod, expressed disappointment with their “provocative” actions.

“Soap bubbles are rainbow-like and iridescent, and that’s why people use a lot of rainbow symbolism at [bubble-blowing] events,” he said. “But it has nothing to do with the LGBT community.”

Yulia and other participants of the bubble-blowing event said they believed that neo-Nazis were behind the attack.

“I suspect that representatives of ultra-right organizations found out that gays were going to come to the event and decided to stop it,” Yulia said, adding that she came across a group called “Stop the Gay Parade” on the Vkontakte social networking web site.

“I wrote to one of the organizers, gave him my phone number and asked him to contact me, explaining that innocent people might suffer because of their initiative, but the organizer didn’t reply,” Yulia said.

Several minutes after the attackers struck, OMON police declared the flash mob an illegal gathering and started to drive the participants, many of whom continued to blow bubbles, away from the metro and then out of the park with the aid of two police vehicles.

“Put away your bubbles,” one police officer barked through a megaphone.


18 responses to “Barbaric Russia, on the Rampage

  1. Sounds like a rebirth of the Workers’ Paradise!

  2. What is a “flash mob?”

  3. Russia [once again] ordered to compensate mothers of disappeared Chechens

    ‘In the absence of the applicants relatives or of any news about them for several years, and given the failure of the government to justify their disappearance, the court found that the all three persons had to be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by state servicemen and that their death could be attributed to the state.’

    The court also noted that: ‘Having regard to previous cases before it concerning disappearances in Chechnya and in Ingushetia, the court found that in the context of the situation in the region, the detention of a person by unidentified servicemen without any subsequent acknowledgment of the detention could be regarded as life- threatening.’

    Much of the court’s work in recent years has been consumed by complaints of human rights violations in Chechnya and the other Russian Caucasian republics.

    • Russia Responsible for the Disappearance of Young Woman and Two Chechen Men

      The applicant in Mutayeva v. Russia is the mother of Luiza Mutayeva, who was 20 years old when she disappeared from her home in Assinovskaya, Chechnya. Late at night on 19 January 2004, 15-20 armed servicemen in several vehicles without registration plates arrived at the applicant’s house for a “passport check.” They ordered Luiza and her younger sister, 15-year old Madina, to put on warm clothing because they would be taken for questioning outside. Madina began crying and Luiza insisted that she go outside alone without her younger sister. The applicant managed to run outside and request that she be taken away along with her daughter, but the soldiers pushed her aside. She saw the servicemen put Luiza into a white UAZ minivan, which was driven away in an unknown direction. She has not been seen since.

  4. What’s interesting in this story is that line towards the end about OMON declaring the flash mob an illegal gathering. Ironically the current Russian constitution proclaims that people are guaranteed, inter alia, the freedom to gather, in other words, from the point of view of the constitution, any gathering, whether it’s a flash mob blowing bubbles, or a political march demanding resignation of Putin, is legal by default and does not need a sanction from the local authorities.

  5. I have hard time understanding the reason why adults want to gather in large mobs just to blow bubbles. What are they trying to accomplish? Sounds senseless to me.

    Even though I am for freedom of assembly

    • RV: “trying to accomplish”? I take it that the concept of fun is not familiar to you?

    • Ok, for example, what acomplishes adult man, who goes to some club just to get his head hammered by worthless rubbish entertainment “music” and overpay for drinks? He acomplishes nothing at all, but everyone understands it as “normal” leisure time.

      Bubble blowing in crowds at least has some beauty as not fitting with everyday logic.

      • OK, OK don’t jump on me, you and Fabio. I just thought that blowing bubbles is more suitable for a 5-year old. I guess, my view of this is that of an old curmudgeon, which I probably am.

        Still, I don’t see why the police should overreact like this. The activity seems harmless no matter how you look at it.

        • RV,

          Let’s talk about Russian “militia” standard. This was not a case Russian “police overreacting”, this was:

          At approximately 1:00 p.m., Mezhidova was with the Yakhiaevs, Kuznetsova, and a Chechen woman named Koka and her daughter Nurzhan, in the cellar on Second Tsimliansky Lane. Mezhidova told Human Rights Watch what happened when the soldiers arrived:

          Six soldiers came into their yard…. Koka left first. She greeted the soldiers, saying “Good morning.” Koka thought that the soldiers would respect her age, so she went first, but a soldier swore and hit her with his rifle and kicked her and she fell back down into the cellar. I saw her fall back into the cellar.

          When Koka fell, [Kuznetsova] went out [as well as] Khampash and Musa. The soldiers checked their passports. Khampash asked why the soldiers swore at an old woman and why they hit her. Then the soldiers killed all three. I was just about to come out of the cellar when I saw a soldier killing Khampash. I ran back into the cellar and left through a second exit. Khampash was shot in the head from close range. Khampash was killed first, then Musa and then [Kuznetsova]. She had lived in Aldi for forty years.

          Khampash Yakhiaev’s mother-in-law, Zina Yakhiaeva, saw the bodies of the three victims that same day. She told Human Rights Watch:

          On the fifth … I entered my son-in-law’s house. I saw the bodies of my son-in-law and his friend, Musa, lying under the awning. My son-in-law’s hands were bound with wire, he had been shot in the head, shot straight in the face, in the eyes. A young man took photographs. Musa had the same wounds, his head was smashed.

          There was a Russian woman … with them in the cellar…. The soldiers killed her and burned her body in the cellar. There is a bad smell coming from the cellar. She was first shot and then burned … Their heads were smashed-they had multiple bullet wounds to the head.

          Nurzhan, Musa’s cousin and Koka, Musa’s aunt, gave me the men’s passports. They found them in the men’s mouths. The passports were clean, I think they were first shot and then the soldiers put their passports in their mouths.74


          In an April 21 reply to a leading Russian human rights group, Memorial, the North Caucasus Military Procuracy denied that Russian Ministry of Defense or Interior Ministry troops were involved in the Aldi killings. The acting deputy procurator, S.G. Dolzhenko wrote that in the course of the military procuracy’s investigation, they established that:

          The so-called “mop-up” operation in the village of Aldi on February 5 and 10, 2000 was undertaken by OMON units of the city of St. Petersburg and Riazan province, which are not under the supervision of the military procurator.107

          • So, what’s “militia?” Is it some kind of paramilitary irregulars, a sort of “killing squads?” Sounds very much like it

            • Voice of Reason

              RV wrote: “So, what’s “militia?”

              Militsia/Militsiya/Militia is Russian/East European for Police:


              Militsiya or Militia is used as a short official name of the civilian police in several former communist states, despite its original military connotation (see Militia).

              The term was used in the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc and the Warsaw Pact countries, but also in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a Non-Aligned country.

              Russian: мили́ция, [mʲiˈlʲitsɨja], Ukrainian: мiлiцiя, Polish: milicja, Lithuanian: milicija, Romanian: miliţia, Slovene: milica

              The short term for a police officer (regardless of gender) is militsioner (Russian: милиционер, Ukrainian: мiлiцiонер).

              Is it some kind of paramilitary irregulars, a sort of “killing squads?” Sounds very much like it

              Sounds to whom? To you? Of course, it does. You don’t know the first thing about Eastern Europe or Russia (which doesn’t stop you from posting opinions about it), hate Russia, and like to insult Russia out of sheer ignorance.

            • “Militia” was Bolshevik newspeak for “police”. The Russians exported this term around the world (of all communist countries only Germany had the Volkspolizei, everyone else had “militias”) and still use it.

              Btw, a few months ago there was some talk about renaming their MVD forces, so the regular Militia would become Police again, and OMON (the “special-purpose detachments of militia”) would become National Guard.

            • Actually, yes. When sent to the Caucasus, they turn from this:

              into this:

              I guess it’s the case of “werewolves in uniform” (to quote the former Russian interior minister).

              The articles with both photos:

              April 30, 2009

              MOSCOW (Reuters) — A man was beaten to death this week in what could be a rite of initiation by Russia’s special police forces, the Moscow region’s prosecutor’s office investigating the case has said.

              Viktor Kritsenkov, 30, died on April 27 in a small town’s hospital just outside Moscow after seven officers from the much-feared OMON forces smashed his head and body ahead of him joining the force, media reports said.

              “They might have been testing him to see if he was worthy,” the prosecutor’s spokeswoman Yulia Zhukova told Reuters, referring to the OMON officers suspected of carrying out the beating.

              Kritsenkov’s wife Yekaterina said joining OMON was her husband’s dream. “You think he went to OMON to get beaten up? He had a family to raise!” she was quoted as saying by

              OMON declined to comment on Kritsenkov’s death and no one has been charged.


              In 2006, Russian citizens filed some 12,000 complaints — a fifth of all case sent to the court that year. In turn, the court was able to hand down final judgments in just 102 cases.

              One of those was brought by Marzet Imakayeva, a Chechen woman whose husband and 25-year-old son both disappeared without a trace after being detained by Russian forces.

              Imakayeva said witnesses saw Russian forces pick up her son in 2000 as he returned from a shopping trip to a neighboring village. Her husband, she says, was detained two years later.

              “One morning, there was a terrible noise in our courtyard. Russian troops, some with masks and others without, filled the whole courtyard,” Imakayeva told RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service. “They were searching for something, and they dug up everything. They put my husband into a car and took him away.

              “Since then, both my husband and son have been missing. Everywhere I wrote, they told me they hadn’t detained him. They sent middlemen to ask me to withdraw my complaint with the court. The middlemen said it was dangerous and something could happen to me, too.”


              In another case, the court ordered Moscow to pay nearly 70,000 euros ($89,500) in damages to relatives of Nura Luluyeva, a nurse whose body was found in a mass grave in 2001. She had been detained during a raid on a Grozny market a year earlier. A forensic report established that she had died of injuries resulting from severe beating.

              In October 2006, the court found Russia [OMON actually] responsible for the shooting deaths of six Chechens, including a pregnant woman and a 3-year-old child in February 2000.


              Svetlana Gannushkina, a prominent Russian rights campaigner, says Strasbourg must do more to ensure Russia works toward correcting rights violations.

              “It’s a rich government with big oil reserves. It pays these sums and leaves it at that,” Gannushkina said. “This is why it is crucial that the European Court demands that the terms of judgment are fulfilled not only with regard to material compensation, but also to all other parts of the judgment. Unfortunately, we can’t say this is being done very efficiently.”

              An example of this is the case of Fatima Bazorkina, a Chechen woman who sued the Russian government after she saw television footage of a Russian officer ordering the execution of her son.

              Strasbourg ruled in Bazorkina’s favor, and awarded her 35,000 euros ($45,300) in damages and 12,241 euros ($15,850) for costs and expenses.

              Even so, General Aleksandr Baranov, the man captured on camera giving the order to kill her son, has since been awarded a Hero of Russia medal and is now in charge of all Russian troops in the North Caucasus.


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