Different Ends, Same Violent Means is the title of Masha Gessen's Sept.1 column in the Moscow Times, in which she writes about the recent attacks on the National Bolshevik Party activists and Polish citizens here in Moscow:
What, besides repetitiveness, ties these stories together? There are credible claims, made both by eyewitnesses and by analysts, that at least some of the attacks on the NBP and the Polish citizens were inspired by the Kremlin, and possibly carried out by members of the Nashi youth movement. That may or may not be true, but at this point it does not strike me as the most important common denominator. The most important one is this: it is violence as a way of doing business, violence as a way of settling scores, violence even as a way of conducting international relations.
The next time I scroll through the news wires and see a headline about NBP activists getting attacked, or about a Polish citizen or another non-Russian getting beaten up in broad daylight, or even about a huge gang fight in the middle of the city, I will not be very likely to click on the items: I feel like I already know these stories. And I think this is how I will remember summer 2005 in Moscow. It was when stories of violence blurred into each other and became old hat. It was the summer when violence stopped really being news.
I went to the NBP site right after I finished reading Masha's column: what if they've changed their image since I last looked through their materials; what if I've missed their wondrous metamorphosis from reckless, tough bigots to peaceful, non-violent sweethearts? I mean, I almost felt sorry for one or two of them right after the beating - they were in a hospital room, showing their injuries to reporters, looking so innocent and so hurt...
Well, first of all, I checked if their posters were still on the site. Yes, they're still there, and here's a tiny selection:
Next, I scrolled down to the very bottom of the page and took an NBP survey:
In Daghestan, state officials are being murdered:
- Not enough
- The sooner it starts happening here, the better!
- We wish there were some stability...
Bad, I responded, very bad: it is very bad to kill anyone, even if it's someone who's kissing Putin's ass. Then I looked at other people's replies:
Good - 65 (6.14%)
Bad - 112 (10.58%)
Not enough - 61 (5.76%)
The sooner it starts happening here, the better! - 567 (53.54%)
We wish there were some stability... - 254 (23.98%)
This is so annoying.
With posters like these, you'd expect them to be able to stand up to any offenders, regardless of who they are - Nashi or not. Instead, the NBP kids act like sissies.
You'd also expect Masha to mention NBP's views on violence - but then it'd be obvious that they don't belong with the Polish journalists and diplomats.
Here's part of their program:
ESSENCE OF NATIONAL-BOLSHEVISM
1. Essence of National-bolshevism is the incinerating hatred to antihuman SYSTEM of the trinity: liberalism / democracy / capitalism. The man of uprising, national-bolshevik sees his mission in destruction of SYSTEM up to the basis. On ideals spiritual courage, social and national justice the traditionalistic, hierarchical community will be constructed.
2. Foreign enemies of National-bolshevism: the large Satan - USA and mondialists of Europe, incorporated in NATO and UN. Internal enemies: a class of "jackets" - boyars - bureaucrats, marauders - "new Russian", cosmopolitan intelligentsia.
"Cosmopolitan intelligentsia" sounds like something out of the late Stalin years - and out of Masha's book about her Jewish grandmothers... Ah well.
Among NBP's "friendly sites," I've found one dedicated to Felix Dzerzhinsky.
Would I be surprised if I found a "friendly" link to the FSB there? No - because here's what I wrote a year ago:
The FSB has a website (in Russian); closer to the bottom of their front page I found a note from 2003, which tells us that on Sept. 11, Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of what later became known as the KGB, the predecessor of the FSB, turned 126 years old. How nice.
They have more in common with Putin than they want everyone to believe.
Here's how they're recruiting new members - they pretend to be the Ukrainian Pora...
Finally, something nice.
There seems to be one useful thing that the NBP is capable of doing: Russian lessons!