Site Archive‎ > ‎Political Opposition‎ > ‎Protests‎ > ‎

Statement by Moscow Memorial: “On the Limits of Collaboration”

Source: (info), 01/02/12

· Human rights defenders  · Racism and xenophobia  · Moscow city & Moscow region

The board of the Moscow Memorial Society believes it necessary to explain why our organisation declined to take part in the setting up of the Civic Council, the coordination structure of the recently-founded Civic Movement.

The rules under which the Council was set up are wholly opaque, and this alone makes it doubtful that the Council will be able to perform the functions for which it is intended.

But another issue is much more important. The Civic Council is being set up to combat electoral fraud and arbitrary government, and to promote protection of the rule of law and civic rights. These are without doubt worthy and noble goals.

Is it possible to achieve these goals by joining forces with those who call for violence and ethnic discrimination, who justify fascism and racism?

Is it possible to fight for these goals jointly with those for whom participation in legal forums and ‘public discussions’ is nothing more than a cover for the activities of underground organizations?

We answer this question with an unequivocal ‘No’.

Our disagreements with radical nationalists are far from being simply over different conceptions of the future of Russia. A variety of views on this issue can be found among participants in the Civic Movement. That is why free elections are necessary to decide the path of development of our country.

But we see no possibility for the development of joint tactics for grassroots organizations with radical nationalists, since we have very different views about how civil society itself can and must function, not just in the future, but today.

A number of radical nationalist leaders who, under the rules agreed by the Civic Movement, will most likely become members of the Movement’s Coordinating Council, are not ashamed to advertise the idea of covert action by nationalist structures.

For example, according to one of the nationalist leaders, Konstantin Krylov, behind the democratic façade, there must exist a ‘fascist civil society’ inspired by racist ideas. Krylov, in his programmatic text ‘Fascist society as the basis for a Democratic State’, writes:

‘Let's take, for example, the socially important practice of racism. [...]. It is clear that the ruling nation considers others to be sub-humans. But that is the nation, in other words civil society. As for the state, it must consider all citizens as citizens. This is how it would appear. Persons of dubious racial origin are not given good work, they are not accepted in clubs, and are usually considered as second-class people... If it is known from a person’s origins that he is not ‘one of us’ (because, say, of the person’s mother or grandmother), then that is how he is treated. [...] And if he starts to get above himself, then there are ways, quietly and without attracting a lot of intention (and here the most important thing is not to attract attention), of helping society to take the right position towards him. There are some intelligent and cultured organizations that should help to do this. These would help, without taking responsibility themselves. This is how fascist goals are always achieved. This is what happens in all normal countries. But informally, quietly, through the forces of civil society. [...]’

Moreover, judging from other statements by similar ‘public figures,’ openly functioning nationalist organisations will only be a part, a ‘legal wing’, of a wider movement that practises violence. Not for nothing, in the published exchange of views between Vladimir Tor and Nataliya Kholmogorova in LiveJournal, nationalists convicted of crimes of violence are described as ‘partisans.’

This is the ‘civil society’ that they are building in our country.

In our opinion, attempts to develop a common strategy and tactics with such activists will lead Russian civil society to a dead end.

3 February 2012
Rights in Russia,
4 Feb 2012, 08:33