To Remember is to Fight

18 January 2013 

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Aleksandr Cherkasov: It has been four years since the murder of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova. In this time their murderers have been caught and convicted. Stas's friends have released a collection of his articles and speeches entitled Stas Markelov: No One But Me. Yet it seems we still do not understand the two people we lost on 19th January 2009. Stas Markelov continues to surprise us. Texts by Stas which were missed during the compiling of the collection are turning up all the time. 

Today we are publishing Stanislav Markelov's speech at Alternativy magazine's theoretical seminar on 12th December 2008 (the transcript, published in issue 1(41) of the magazine in 2009, has had minor corrections and verbatim transcription of the speech added).

The text, "Anarchy is F*****d: There is no Future", written in June 2008 and printed in Novaya Gazeta for Stas's birthday (Issue 53, 20th May 2011), surprised everyone who had categorically placed Stanislav among the convinced anarchists.

A year and a half later, speaking in front of like-minded people (he called himself a "left-wing social democrat"), Markelov cast doubt on the discourse of the modern left, and on its foundation rather than its details at that. In his opinion, postmodernist synthesis is no way out of the crisis, but merely an attempt to mask it. The reasons for this do not boil down to the lazy thinking of theorists for who postmodernism is a comfortable rocking chair. It is the "relativism which has been laid at the foundation of all left-wing theories."

If you look at Antifa's Red Book which Stas compiled, printed and distributed, you will find thoughts on violence - a remedy that is far from universal and that does not solve every problem - which surely make uncomfortable reading for representatives of the movement.

Admittedly, Stas was somewhat more critical of the human rights community on a great many positions...

Naturally the man was an inconvenience for many, insofar as he could not be easily "privatised" and turned into a political banner.

Four years later it's clear that this short text, this short speech at a seminar, holds much broader meaning.

For the temptation of scholastic intellectualizing cut off from reality was not only the overriding trait of discourse in the "grim noughties", but also part of the reason for their onset. The divorcing of words from their meaning is dangerous - this is what Walter Benjamin was referring to when he said that, "fascists aestheticize politics."

Each new text we uncover presents a person with greater dimensions and depths, who not only refused to stay in the shallows of whatever "ism" he was critiquing, but achieved this without aspiring to do so - for he is alive as long as there is doubt.

Aleksandr CHERKASOV, Memorial

Stanislav MARKELOV: The Decoys of Postmodernism- If you read enough postmodernists, you too can turn into a postmodernist

Just as jurists in practice cover themselves with references to authorities, so I'll start with an appropriate quotation: "Synthesis is not indicative of growth of knowledge, but on the contrary, of its decline, for synthesis leads to a loss of analysis." This is Immanuel Kant writing in Critique of Pure Reason.

The uprising in the 18th and the start of the 19th centuries was in many ways against what we today call postmodernism. The dominating theology in Europe at that time possessed many similar characteristics: separation from all reality, prohibition of analysis and all scientific discussion originating in practical experience. The famous "philosophical" joke - the discussion about how much evil can fit on the point of a needle - reflects the gap between dogma and the sphere of theology and ideology, from life and religious practice.

Anything could be used in scholastic discussion, but their results had no relation to real life, where it was important to revere the Pope in Rome, pay tithes and buy indulgences. Only this was strictly compulsory, while religious dogma could be interpreted and distorted as one desired, cherry-picking from the works of Saint Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Nicholas of Kues.

Is it not the same religious "postmodernism" which retreated in the 18th and 19th centuries under the advance of free thought which appears again now as a revolutionary, pioneering movement? Meanwhile an analytical approach, meanwhile, is coming to signify traditionalism and almost orthodoxy.

Why is this happening?

This "pioneering" movement possesses decoys and lures that attract all researchers.

First of all, they create the illusion of individual creation: you can put any monads you create into construction.

Secondly, you can create theoretical messages without relating them to what is really going on, there's no need to include content in the context you have, in practice, or justify your ideological construction using reality. It is this that poses a difficulty for the researcher, especially for one operating with abstract categories. Modern researchers are divided into practitioners and theorists, with people rarely mixing the two roles. Yet postmodernism not only lets you live in the sphere of language, barely paying attention to what's taking place outside, but goes so far as to separate these two spheres without ever correlating them.

Thirdly (in order only, not in significance), postmodernism creates the illusion that it is omnivorous and inclusive: you can include everything in this relativist structure where everything is unified and of equal value - the works of Rembrandt and dogs - without thoroughly studying dogs' activities or Rembrandt's art.

Why have so many left-wing ideologues been lured in by this temptation?

The point is that relativism lies at the foundations of all theories of the left, whether Marxist or non-Marxist. Indeed, they grew out of ideas of equality of all approaches, all values and categories.

The postmodernist relativism of the equality of all categories leads to the speculation that, "there's no need to study these categories since you acknowledge from the start that they are the same and of equal value." Moreover, this constructed world can be made all-encompassing by including all branches of learning and rejecting special disciplines and categories.

This creates stunning methodological possibilities, but the fact that they never lead to any conclusions is another matter altogether.

You could spend your entire life working in this branch of "science". It's similar to doing a crossword. When you do a crossword you don't get any generally valid conclusion, except for perhaps increasing your overall erudition. You can guess endlessly, and there are thousands of crosswords to do. If you create them yourself, that's another activity that could last forever.

It amounts to an interesting "postmodernist dialectic". The main question here is whether we can consider modern Marxist postmodernism as a counterpoint? I don't believe so.

How many leading figures of postmodernism place themselves (even nominally) in the Marxist camp? I would say many. We can remember France as being the "mainstream" in the left movement of this trend. The French school of philosophy was seen as the dominant one in the second half of the 20th century. Why? Because it was in the second half of the 20th century that the "damned questions" arose for Marxist ideology: Marxist predictions were not justified, and ideological calculations found no confirmation. Some dangerous paths were needed and this need was filled by postmodernism. Along these "rails", in using this methodology, many of Marxism's ideologues exited to the rear, saving their ideas.

The trend of "adapting to reality" is not a validation but a cop-out. "Everyone says that" – and the need to justify yourself while adapting to reality.

For some reason, Marxists in the 19th century were able to oppose various ideological schools, but now it just doesn't work. What are they going to do? Put them in prison if they won't speak the language of postmodernism? I don't think so. Stalinists, for example, don't do this - it's true that no one likes them, but still...

The question remains: Is this front line between Marxism and postmodernism a line of contrast? Where is it? I don't see it...

Murder – A sickening feature of neo-fascism

Statement by Edward Feodorovich Baburov and Larisa Ivanovna Baburova

Fascism's distinguishing feature is to search for the enemy within a country, and after arriving at the authorities, to hunt for an enemy abroad. This is how the Second World War started. Current neo-fascists are following the same path.

Neo-fascists seek to murder Russia's best and brightest, and above all, those who come out against the revival of fascism, the anti-fascists.

They are calculating and cold-blooded murderers. They communicate with each other in the most base and cynical way. This is a wiretap of a conversation between Nikita Tikhonov (T) and Evgeny Khasis (K) from 26th October 2009.

K: When the authorities take the "Resistance" with "Russian Way"...

T: "Vasya" will then return this gun. He'll shoot and give it back to me. We already know who it is.

K: Artem Prokhorenko's heroes, BTO did the first, I did the second. First target point in the right movement. He f*****g did Girenko. (BTO - military terrorist organisation, N.M. Girenko – an ethnographer and expert in Russian courts on a range of cases related to crimes inciting nationalist hatred and racially-motivated violence, he conducted several dozen official assessments, he was shot and killed through the door of his flat.)

T: He f*****g did it, completing the task. Who did the Georgian girl?

K: Japaridze? "Ed".

T: Who did "Yastreb"?

K: "Ed".

T: He did it himself? No, they carried it out.

K: So what – are you a hero everywhere or something?

The president of the Rule of Law Institute, lawyer Stanislav Markelov, and journalist Anastasia Baburov were murdered in broad daylight on Prechistenka Street on 19th January 2009. 

Tikhonov and Khasis had meticulously planned the murder in advance. Khasis tracked the lawyer and journalist, while Tikhonov cravenly came up behind them and shot Stanislav Markelov in the back of the head, then shot Anastasia Baburova, who was trying to reach for the assassin's weapon.

From the records of Tikhonov's interrogation, we know that our brave and heroic girl was fearless in the face of death and resisted her murderer. In his interrogation, Tikhonov said: "I killed Baburova, who was trying to stop me." Even if Nastya had shown no resistance, Tikhonov would have killed her.

Even now people bring flowers to the spot where the murder took place.

The neo-fascists Tikhonov and Khasis were tried by a jury. After long consideration and based on the incontrovertible facts presented by investigators, the jury gave its verdict: "Guilty and not deserving of leniency."

The Nazi movement has now rolled out a broad campaign to free the assassins, and are trying to win a review of the court ruling.

They publish numerous articles and Aleksandr Sevastyanov has released a book. These publications contain an endless amount of fabrications and fantasies, creating the impression that if Sevastyanov had been the lawyer at the trial, he would have used his own peculiar fabrications to easily prove that Markelov or Baburova had been murdered by no one at all. The most active authors attempt to prove that Tikhonov and Khasis are completely innocent. The reason they try so hard is that they know themselves first hand that Tikhonov and Khasis are murderers.

We have carefully studied the investigation materials and participated in the hearings, which is why we can clear up a few issues.

Upon hearing the overwhelming evidence against him, Tikhonov admitted his guilt with some defiance. As we understand it, he admitted he was guilty of murder and, with his chin proudly raised, suggested that he would automatically join the elite of the nationalist movement. Later he understood that becoming the leader of this movement wouldn’t be so simple: there was already a lot of competition. In court he decided to retract his previous testimony, hoping for a shorter sentence.

The key piece of evidence Nazi publications have cited as proof that Tikhonov was not involved in the murder is the fact that he didn't get rid of the Browning found in his apartment. There you have it - overwhelming evidence.

In reality, Tikhonov didn't get rid of the Browning he used to kill Stas and Nastya because he was sure that he would not be identified or found.

A Browning is very convenient weapon for consecutive murders, as it can be hidden simply in a pocket. When Tikhonov was arrested he was well-armed. He had a gun in a holster under his arm and he was carrying a rucksack containing an AK assault weapon and grenades. He clearly wasn't getting ready to step out for a stroll. Consequently, the Browning could be seen as solid evidence among neo-fascist extremists that it was in fact Tikhonov who killed Stanislav Markelov. This would have guaranteed Tikhonov great prestige in their circles. How could they waste this opportunity?

In many publications, the supporters of the Nazi movement show support for Tikhonov and Khasis, while at the same time actively promoting the growth of extremism and striving to attract whole new sections of the population. In these publications not one word of regret is spared for the victims. This is unsurprising. The murderers are the inheritors of a pro-fascist ideology, they don't deny this. We all know that fascists have cheerfully annihilated millions of totally innocent people.

To everyone who doubts the guilt of Tikhonov and Khasis, we would like to say that it is impossible to mentally stand on the side of the victims and at the same time cast doubt on the lawfulness of the sentence handed down to the murderers. We repeat again: Nikita Tikhonov and Evgeny Khasis murdered Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova.

As the director of the Scientific Research Institute of Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs Major General Sergey Girko reported, every year new fascist groups are emerging in the Russian Federation. As a result, the number of extremist crimes motivated by national, racial or religious hatred is steadily rising (reports Interfax).

Life imprisonment is too light a sentence. We hope that these murderers experience what we did after the murder of our daughter.

We know that at the cost of their lives, Stanislav Markelov and our daughter, Novaya Gazeta journalist Nastenka Baburova, became an obstacle to the development of fascism in Russia

The parents of Anastasia Baburova

A procession in memory of Stas and Nastya will take place at 2 pm, going from Pushkinskaya Square to the Arbat 

After several rounds of negotiations, the Moscow authorities have agreed to let us hold an event in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova in the centre of Moscow. Initially, the petitioner for the event, the 19th January Committee, planned to hold a procession of 2000 people from Pushkinskaya Square to Kropotinskaya Metro Station, not far from Prechistenka Street where the lawyer and journalist were murdered. The procession was to end with the laying of flowers.

However, the Mayor's Office rejected this and proposed a procession of no more than 300 people to go from Pushkinskaya Square to the Nikitinsky Gates. The organisers were forced to reject this proposal: at least 1000 people had annually taken part in the event. Moreover, at the end of the procession the participants planned to continue on to the place where Stas and Nastya died, which could provoke arrests and disturbances. In the end, a compromise was reached: the Mayor's Office agreed to a procession from Pushkinskaya Square to 12 Nikitsky Boulevard, the junction with the New Arbat. Then, anyone who wishes to leave flowers will go down Gogolevsky Boulevard without banners or music. Number of participants - 700.

Procession start - 2 pm. Bring flowers and candles.

Source: Novaya Gazeta