Yashin 1, Nashi 0
It’s a mark of how odious and vile the Putin personality cult known as “Nashi” really is that not even Russian courts can stomach it.
The Moscow Times reports:
The Tverskoi District Court ruled that Yashin, a leader of the Solidarity opposition group, did not need to retract the accusations he made in a March 18 interview with the Vremya Novostei newspaper, Yashin wrote on his blog Friday.
In March, clips suggesting that Yashin, independent political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin and Russian Newsweek editor-in-chief Mikhail Fishman had given bribes to traffic police were posted on Nashi’s web site. Fishman and Yashin said the videos were doctored footage and denied they had paid the bribes. In Vremya Novostei, Yashin accused “people close to Nashi” of being involved in the production of the videos.
Then in late April, footage showing satirist and radio host Viktor Shenderovich; writer and Other Russia opposition movement leader Eduard Limonov; and Alexander Potkin, leader of the nationalist Movement Against Illegal Migrants, apparently having sex with the same woman made the rounds on the web.
Later that month, Yashin asked the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee and the Interior Ministry to check whether Vladislav Surkov, first deputy head of the presidential administration, or Vasily Yakemenko, chief of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, were behind the March and April videos.
Surkov is widely believed to have created Nashi, while Yakemenko was its first leader and remains a patron of the group through his government post.
Yakemenko and his brother, Boris, leader of Nashi’s Orthodox wing, have filed a similar defamation lawsuit against Yashin, Interfax reported. The lawsuit is being considered by Moscow’s Perovsky District Court.
This is neo-Soviet barbarism, pure and simple, and even a Russian court cannot accept it. A mercenary army of young zealots has been bought and paid for by the Moscow Kremlin, and it is attempting to use law-enforcement mechanisms to choke off criticism and intimidate rivals.
And let’s be clear: Even though one clear-thinking judge technically rebuffed Nashi’s efforts this time, a clear message has been sent throughout the country the Nashi can and will invoke Russia’s shamefully dishonest “justice system” to achieve its malignant ends (and that, of course, it will use lots of other, even nastier, means to do so as well). Russians like Yashin, who will stand up for their rights of free expression even at great personal cost are painfully few and far between. And indeed, as the above makes clear, Nashi is far from finished persecuting Yashin on this issue. In a civilized country, a ruling like this would give rise to serious reconsideration of policy and practice.
But Russia, of course, is not a civilized country.