Five Years Ago Today

This is one of the pleasantest pictures I’ve seen in a long time: former Russian political prisoner Alexei Gaskarov walking in the woods.

Gaskarov was released from prison this past Thursday after serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for being involved in a peaceful opposition march that was attacked by police and provocateurs, for being truncheoned and kicked while lying on the ground by a policeman who never paid for his crimes, and for being Alexei Gaskarov.

That sounds absurd, but it’s the truth.

Why was the opposition march attacked by police and provocateurs?

Because it took place the day before Putin reinstalled himself as president, this time, apparently, for life. The protesters were ruining his party by showing the country and the world that not all Russian were happy about this semi-legal coup d’etat.

So three dozen people, some more or less famous, like Alexei Gaskarov, some complete strangers to grassroots politics, had to be taught a lesson about what happens to the nominally powerless when they spoil the festivities for the most powerful man in the country.

This is only one of the reasons why those of us know who really know what has been going on in Russia the past seventeen years feel bemused, at best, and furious, at worst, when the snake oil salesman known as Donald Trump praises Putin for his leadership.

In reality, Putin has brought the country to the brink of moral, political and economic ruin. ||| TRR, 29 October 2016. Photo courtesy of Alexei Gaskarov’s Facebook page

3 thoughts on “Five Years Ago Today

  1. Thanks for this reminder about him – my students asked the other day what become of him and I didn’t know. We used his case as an example in class of the ‘real’ civil society.

    1. Your students are so fortunate to have a teacher like you who tell them about the real civil society in Russia! I had the pleasure and honor to have a beer and a slice of pizza with Gaskarov at a cafe near my house soon after this snapshot was taken. He was as modest and mild-mannered as could be. I’m not sure what exactly he’s up to these days, although I do know he hasn’t disappeared from the movement. And I have translated and published some of his more recent public comments on various matters. But it’s nothing compared to the “glory” days of IKD and the Khimki forest fight.

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