Call to cancel Dugin’s presentation at Texas A&M Univesity
Free Russia Foundation calls for the cancellation of the presentation of notorious Russian ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin at Texas A&M University.
Free Russia Foundation calls for the cancellation of the presentation of notorious Russian ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin at Texas A&M University.
As we have learned, Texas A&M University has allowed notorious Russian fascist Alexander Dugin to conduct an online lecture on April 29, 2015. Mr. Dugin is unable to attend the event personally as he is on the U.S. sanctions list for encouraging the war in Ukraine and justifying Putin’s dictatorship in Russia. Dugin is infamously known as one of key ideologists of the Kremlin’s imperial, ultranationalist and aggressive regime. One of his books is entitled “The American Empire should be destroyed”. Yet, he is welcome to spread his hate of America among University students. Free Russia Foundation profoundly protests this event and urges President Mark A. Hussey in the strongest terms to cancel this event.
Call for Action:
Please contact your congressional representatives (Senators and House Members), major news organizations in Texas and the University itself to protest Dugin’s appearance who is a chief propagandist of the Kremlin. Express your deep concern, but we urge you strongly to be polite.
You could find your representatives here:
Send mail or call to the office
of the President of Texas A&M University Mark A. Hussey:
Phone: (979) 845 2217
Sign the petition at Change.org:
Let’s imagine the USSR and the USA as individuals. And let me tell you their story. They had an amazing, engrossing love-hate relationship, which started just after the Second World War.
For most of my adult life I have been simultaneously observing Russia from the inside and outside. It all started in my late teen years, when I had the privilege to spend a year in the USA as an exchange student. It continued through my 20’s, when I was an active part of the European green movement, eventually serving on the board of the European Green Party ‘s youth wing. I was a European citizen, but I was also a citizen of Russia, residing in Moscow and traveling around my motherland as much as I did around Europe. By the end of my 20’s I held the position of deputy director in the Russian Chapter of Transparency International and hosted a TV-show on the unique Russian independent television channel, TV Rain. I was definitely an insider. Now, in my early 30s I am starting my second year in the USA as a visiting scholar at the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, at Miami University, Ohio. The last time I was in Russia, Crimea still belonged to Ukraine. So now I am an outsider once again.
During the last year Russia constantly hit the headlines in the US and around the world, and you may imagine how many times I had to explain “what is going on in Russia?” Eventually I came up with a nice metaphor that I want to share here.
Let’s go back in time a bit and imagine the USSR and USA as individuals. And let me tell you their story. They had an amazing engrossing love-hate relationship, which started just after the Second World War. The entire planet was just a playground for those two, as they performed their dance, played little tricks and …, became obsessed with each other. Neither of them, however, would ever admit the love part: as typical teenagers, they would claim that their relationship was only about hate.
It all came to an end in the 1990’s. And that is when the true problems began. The USSR gave up its idealistic dreams, changed its name to Russia and surrendered itself to America’s reasonable and practical arguments, hoping it would be the start of new era in the relationship: the hate is gone – only the love should remain. The change manifested itself in pop culture. Songs such as “American Boy” were hitting the Russian charts and thousands of young Russians were singing “Where are you my foreign prince? I’m waiting for you!”
Unfortunately, the sentiment in the USA was different – the winner had no more interest in its former object of obsession. Since all the mystery and rivalry was gone, Russia was now off the radar for the general public. “She has been conquered, so let’s move on” – so stereotypical, yet so true. The US found other obsessions; Russia was now just an ex. In my high school in New Jersey I had to explain to people why the flag on my backpack had no hammer and sickle and that Russia was no longer a communist country.
So here we have Russia, who is in love and who has a somewhat starry-eyed vision of her husband-to-be. And we have the USA, who has moved on and already checking out some new partners. The new partner should be somebody exotic, somebody Asian or Middle Eastern, somebody who possesses mystery and somebody who must be conquered. Well, you know where this search led America and I don’t need to remind you, that you should be cautious, when you are dealing with those mysteries. But this is a different story– what you may not know is how Russia felt about being jilted.
Have you ever talked with a person who cannot get over a breakup while her* former partner has already moved on? Have you ever tried to explain to that person that the Ex “did not mean it”? And not because the Ex is a good person, but just because he gave no thought to how his former partner would react? Your Ex does not care. Well, many people could never let themselves believe that it is not about them anymore. They prefer to suffer from imagined offenses, which allow them to feel that they are still part of this story, still being courted by their former lover. She knows in her gut that each and every move the USA makes has some special meaning and most of it is to hurt Russia directly or indirectly. Russia, in other words, cannot let go.
Kosovo was a turning point in that relationship. The USA was no longer a Prince Charming. By no means do I want to support the concept of “Humanitarian Bombing.” I strongly believe that hundreds of military and civilian casualties cannot be justified by the idea of enforcing peace. But I also know that this story has quite a different meaning for our main characters.
For the USA the 1999 campaign was “just a bombing”, one among many the USA was involved in around the world. It is hardly remembered now. And among those who give thought to it, some would still claim that it was a right thing to do. Others would argue that this was a clear wag-the-dog operation to switch public attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. And then there are always people who believe that you should never support Muslims. But none of them realize that there is a parallel reality where this entire operation is simply perceived as a personal attack on each and every Russian. Most Americans do not know how deep the connection between the Serbs and Russians are. They would be quite surprised to know that in the parallel reality this bombing of Yugoslavia was basically perceived then and now as an attack against Russia herself and has left a deep wound. In Russia the “Humanitarian Bombing” of Yugoslavia is well remembered and referred to whenever the USA is mentioned.
Since then the USA and Russia progressed into two completely different realities, where we may find them today. Neither is really healthy. America definitely has some problems: narcissism and depression are among them. But Russia’s situation is much worse. Without any psychological help, Russia eventually came to inhabit a world where its whole ego is built around resisting and defying America, her former love. This anti-American sentiment has no real substance. Russia’s self-esteem is so low that she pushes for constant attention from others. The reality in which Russia is not a major object of American affection is so scary that it is blocked by a collective consciousness of denial. Thus the latest Maidan in Ukraine triggered full-scale hysteria**. And the worst part —any attention Russia receives just confirms its behavior. Hysterical people are often primarily looking for attention: it does not matter if the attention is positive or negative, love or hate, it is the attention itself that matters. Russia perfectly follows this pattern. One of the reasons Russians are so eager to believe that their country is back to the mighty times of global importance is the number of times Putin has appeared on the front pages of The Economist. It provides an illusion that Russia is once again a major player in the modern world. And Russian propaganda is looking for any mention of the country by American politicians to prove that they do still care about us.
Just read this quote from one of the latest statements by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “We are witnessing with dismay and indignation an unrestrained anti-Russian campaign, which is unfolding in the United States. The US national media and leading political research centers splash, as if at a command, russophobic lampoons, diligently portraying Russia as an enemy and instilling hatred towards all things Russian in ordinary people.” I hope it gives you a glimpse of the hysterical perception prevalent in Russia. And this should be taken into consideration by anyone who tries to come up with a strategy to calm Putin down. In such a reality any sanctions are welcomed by the majority of Russians, since they prove that Russia occupies a place in the mind of Americans. Any harsh comment from the White House will just reaffirm attention-seeking behavior and further confirm that America still obsesses over us.
Avoiding and ignoring Russia may seem as a good strategy, but without proper treatment it will eventually trigger a new cry for attention. As her egoistic satisfaction received from the last crisis dissolves, Russia will need a new way to attract the world’s attention. Whatever she chooses will certainly not be in the interest of world peace. It will be in the form of more relationship drama.
* I am using the metaphor of a girlfriend who cannot get over her boyfriend, and I am aware of it being gender biased. I am pretty sure it can happen the other way around. Though the song “American Boy” just does not leave me any choice but to keep those gender stereotypes.
First published at the blog of Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies:
NYC – Earlier today, members of the Russian-speaking diaspora and Ukrainian activists living in New York demonstrated at Union Square against the political repressions in Russia and against Putin’s military aggression towards Ukraine.
The protesters demanded that Putin pulls out all Russian regular troops and mercenaries from Eastern Ukraine, that Russia immediately returns the illegally occupied Crimean peninsula to Ukraine, that the political prisoner Nadiya Savchenko is immediately released, and that the other political prisoners who are behind bars for peacefully protesting are released as well.
The rally was started with a minute of silence to honor the memory of a Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who is widely believed to be assassinated by the Russian Security Services for his anti-Putin political activities. One banner said “Nemtsov Bridge”, aiming signify the bridge on which Boris Nemtsov was assassinated on February 27th, 100 meters away from the Kremlin’s walls. People in Moscow now call the bridge “Nemtsov Bridge”, and regularly lay flowers at the site of the murder. However, the authorities keep removing the flowers.
Throughout the rally, one of the organizers, Alex Zaporozhtsev, was conducting a Skype conference with the activists who had planned to conduct a rally for freedom in Russia and peace in Ukraine in Moscow today. The city authorities had forbidden them from conducting the rally, so they organized a series of solitary pickets. However, the police started arresting them anyway. The Skype conference was conducted with people who were at the Nemtsov Bridge, who came there to lay flowers and demonstrate against Putin’s repressive regime. However, the police started arresting the activists on the bridge as the video conference was happening.
One of the participants came to the rally wearing a Putin mask. The activists then put him in a self-made cardboard prison cell, as the audience of bystanders and passersby cheered.
Finally, the demonstrators walked to the Maidan memorial on 2nd avenue and 9th street and lay flowers to honor the heroes who were killed on Maidan during Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity.
Analogous rallies were also conducted in Los Angeles, Seattle,Washington DC, Montreal, The Hague, and Tel Aviv.
WASHINGTON-April 16, representatives of Free Russia Foundation met only a stone’s throw from the White House to discuss the legal situation now facing Nadezhda Savchenko.
At the meeting was Jeff Goldstein, Senior Policy Analyst for Eurasia at the Open Society Foundations, Natalia Arno, President of the Free Russia Foundation, Mark Feygin, a member of Savchenko’s legal defense team, and Richard Jackson, a professor of international law at Georgetown University, often considered the most prestigious of universities in Washington. The event was co-organized by Open Society Foundations, Center for Human Rights of the American Bar Association and the Free Russia Foundation.
Nadezhda, commonly known by her nickname Nadya, was a pilot in Ukraine’s Armed Forces, the first woman to train as a pilot. She was the only woman to participate in Ukraine’s peacekeeping mission in Iraq. She was also an active figure during Ukraine’s Euromaidan Revolution between 2013 and 2014. When the conflict in Ukraine started, Savchenko went to fight for her country against the separatists in Eastern Ukraine that many believe to be aided by the Kremlin.
While serving in the far eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk she was captured by pro-Russian forces.
Her lawyer, Mark Feygin, speaking through an interpreter, recounted in great detail Savchenko’s time in captivity, and how she became a war hero for Ukrainians.
According to Mr. Feygin, Savchenko was captured on June 17th 2014, in a town north of Luhansk, by armed men loyal to the Luhansk People’s Republic. She was taken to a military center in Luhansk where she was beaten and taken captive by armed guards. Simultaneously, two Russian journalists moved from Luhansk’s city center to its outskirts, specifically to a town called Metallist. They were caught in the crossfire of shelling from forces loyal to both Kiev and to Russia, specifically the Aidar and Zarya battalions. One journalist was killed immediately in the shelling, the other died of his wounds on the way to receive medical treatment. Savchenko was taken as a hostage by men loyal to Igor Plotnitsky, who is now the acting president of the Luhansk People’s Republic. She was then transported to Voronezh, a town due north of Luhansk in Russia. In Voronezh, Savchenko was taken to the Hotel Euro and placed in a room under heavily armed guard. An investigative committee in Russia charged her with complicity to murder of the Russian journalists in Eastern Ukraine, which she denied, claiming she had never heard of the journalists previously and would not know how to target the mortar attack that killed them as she was never trained to carry out such an operation. The second Savchenko’s charge is even more laughable – illegal crossing of the Russian border though she was brought to Russia forcefully, blindfolded and handcuffed.
Feygin went on to describe the cornerstone of the evidence that would prove Savchenko’s innocence: phone bills. Savchenko’s cell phone billing indicated she had her phone when she was captured by LPR forces and showed no overlap between her capture and the tragic death of the journalists. Unfortunately, he went on to also claim that Russia’s judicial system is not truly independent from the influence of the Kremlin, and that the Russian authorities had violated both international and domestic law in their detaining and abducting Nadya.
During the brief question and answer session, Mr. Feygin also stressed that the case of Nadya Savchenko likely did not go the way that the authorities intended. He speculated that they’d expected Savchenko to capitulate early on account on her gender in a bout of arrogance and ignorance. This, of course, turned out exactly the opposite, as Nadya retains her innocence.
So why Savchenko? Mr. Feygin speculated during the discussion session that the Kremlin’s insistence on capturing and detaining her comes from a desire to work on wider political goals. Also, Savchenko is the one in the spotlight but she is hardly the only Ukrainian in this situation. There are other Ukrainian officers and soldiers in Russian prisons. And she is just a part of a bigger case against at least 62 Ukrainian individuals including Igor Kolomoisky, former Dnepropetrovsk region governor, Arsen Avakov, Ministor of Interior of Ukraine, and many others. According to Mr. Feygin, and the decision in Savchenko’s trial would set a strong precedent for better or for worse.
Professor Richard Jackson, from Georgetown University’s School of Law, offered a broad and grim perspective on Savchenko’s quagmire by speaking about how international organizations can help Savchenko. While there exist many different institutions in Europe to hold the prosecutors of Savchenko accountable and acquit her of her supposed crimes, the Kremlin’s insistence (reaffirmed today by President Putin) that Russia is not involved in Ukraine’s war makes things infinitely more complicated. With Putin’s insistence on Russia’s lack of involvement and an uneasy ceasefire persisting, the fate of Savchenko may be in serious trouble. While there is a global campaign to free Ms. Savchenko, her status in Russia is that of a bloodthirsty villain. During the discussion, it was stressed that most Russian media has described her as a guilty woman fighting for a fascist junta.
The Savchenko case is a poster child of Russia’s willful violations of international norms, but her case is a tip of an iceberg, a part of a larger story about Russia. The Kremlin routinely violates international agreements at every opportunity; to the sovereignty of its neighbors, to military treaties, to economic agreements, and even violations of basic human rights. The Russian leadership has no reservation about violating its own constitution and the rights afforded its people. It’s necessary to bring Russia back to acting as a peaceful and honorable world citizen. The case for Nadya’s freedom gives an opportunity to force Russia to adhere to international law and indeed, basic human rights. Helping to free Savchenko can be a turning point in Russia’s return to sanity. And this is what is called justice.
By Kyle Menyhert
In a move that surprised few Russian observers, the State Duma (Russian Parliament) voted to strip away parliamentary immunity from Duma member Ilya Ponomarev.
Ponomarev, who is an outspoken critic of Russian leadership and cast the lone vote opposing the annexation of Crimea, said the move by his fellow parliamentarians was not unexpected given the current atmosphere in Russia.
Ponomarev is currently residing in the U.S. and continues his fight for a more free and democratic Russia. He said the removal of his parliamentary immunity was so formal charges could be filed against him in a case regarding the Skolkovo Foundation. Ponomarev is accused of embezzlement, but fiercely denies the charges and views them as yet another example of how people who disagree with Kremlin policy are singled out and punished.
“What happened in the Duma today is another act of war. The war is not with me; it is not even with the Russian opposition,” he said. “It is the war Putin is waging against the middle class people, all entrepreneurs – those who were awaken by ‘reset’ policies and those who demanded changes in Bolotnaya square in Moscow in 2011-12.”
Despite the pending inquiry, Ponomarev says he will not be slowed in his efforts to win greater freedoms for the Russian people and will do so outside of the system with the current move by Kremlin-backed prosecutors. “Many of us who disagree with the current regime are in the U.S., and the Kremlin is comfortable with it. But we will get more organized and we will be back – as it happened already not once and not twice in Russian history,” he explained. “We will not feel sorry for those who initiated that farce in the State Duma – formerly Russian parliament.”
Besides the vote on Crimea, Ponomarev was an active participant and organizer of Russian opposition actions in 2011-2013. As a Member of Russian Parliament he proposed bills aimed at the country’s development. In June 2012, together with fellow A Just Russia party member, Dmitry Gudkov, he conducted a filibuster at the Duma protesting against amendments that toughened the rules of conducting rallies.
While staying in the U.S. for now, Ponomarev continues to connect his future with Russia and to fight for ordinary Russians against what he believes is a corrupt and repressive regime.