Communists march through Moscow on Bolshevik Revolution anniversary
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov promises a $650 salary raise if the party is brought to power. He also unveiled his potential cabinet. These announcements were made after 10,000 Communist supporters marched along Tverskaya Street on November 7.
The annual Communist march commemorating the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution drew the biggest crowd in five years on Monday, even more than the nationalist Russian March three days earlier. The crowd, usually comprised of seniors, included about 1,000 young members of the Union of Communist Youth this year.
Vendors offered Iosif Stalin badges ($0.50) and books explaining how Jews rule the world ($7.50). Pensioners wearing red scarves discussed Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s status as a Freemason. Viktor Anpilov, leader of Labor Russia, used a bullhorn to explain how the working class is being abused. Communist party official Valery Rashkin complained about the lack of Russian folk music shows on TV and insisted that 93% of Russians feel used and must be given the right to state their ethnicity on their passports if they want to.
The participants marched along Moscow’s most expensive shopping street accompanied by boisterous Soviet marching music as the police restricted traffic and local shop assistants rushed outside to watch the show. The Communist Youth members seemed to have borrowed extreme nationalist slogans which they adapted for their own purposes. The seniors eagerly joined their chanting.
Zyuganov, who spoke at Teatralnaya Square where the march ended, predicted “the impending collapse of global capitalism,” an inevitable seizure of power by the Communists and “the advent of renewed socialism.” He also promised to take Russia’s 500 billion ruble ($16bn) stabilization fund “away from Putin and Medvedev” to invest it in industry – especially the defense industry – and agriculture. This would raise each Russian’s monthly income by 20,000 rubles ($650), including pensioners and children, he said.
He proposed appointing his deputies, Ivan Melnikov and Vladimir Kashin, to head the new government after the Communists win the elections. Incidentally, the Communist leader failed to mention Viktor Cherkesov, former ally of Vladimir Putin who is now No. 7 on the Communist Party election ticket, among his planned cabinet appointments.
“Let’s make every effort to help elect Gennady Zyuganov president!” Rashkin called as the crowd yelled its vigorous approval.
Gravely ill Russian business woman to remain in custody
Natalya Gulevich will remain in custody until December 2. A Tverskoi court judge rejected Gulevich’s bail application in Moscow on Monday.
“It is difficult to understand this decision from a legal point of view,” said Gulevich’s lawyer, Anna Stavitskaya. “The Moscow City Court ruled that she should not remain in custody but set bail at an astronomical 100 million rubles ($3.3 million). Then, the Tverskoi district court ruled that she can remain in custody.”
On November 2, the Moscow City Court ruled that bail should be transferred to the court account by Monday. But Gulevich’s family collected less than 10% of the required sum. They proposed transferring the 7 million rubles they have collected and also pledged their property, including real estate and cars. The court rejected this approach. Judge Kovalevskaya upheld the prosecution’s argument that, once released, Gulevich might flee or intimidate witnesses. The prosecution also argued that her health has not deteriorated.
The evidence is to the contrary. The health of 50-year-old Natalya Gulevich has seriously deteriorated since her arrest a year ago. One of her numerous illnesses is a neurogenic bladder, which requires the replacement of a sterile catheter once a month. Gulevich has been using hers for eight months now. Furthermore, her catheter was damaged by the prison bus door as she was being taken to the Tverskoi court.
Gulevich is still using the same catheter, cleaning it with cold water, though this should be done with a sterile solution. She said in court that her blood-filled catheter has not been cleaned, according to her lawyer. Gulevich also has progressive osteochondrosis and a spinal hernia, which leads to atrophy in the pelvic organs. Her uterus was removed last August. Gulevich receives all her medication from her family, due to the lack of appropriate pharmaceuticals at the detention center.
“The investigator thinks Gulevich is a fake, but how can you fake a dysfunctional bladder or a removed uterus?” Stavitskaya asks. “They are clearly waiting for her to die.” The lawyer said Gulevich should be released under the law prohibiting the detention of suspects charged with economic crimes. “She has not done anything horrible. She is not a murderer or a thug. Her alleged crime is related to business and hence she should not be kept in custody. But the court has decided differently without explaining why. It took the judge 20 minutes to make her decision today,” the lawyer said.
Gulevich, who took out a $23 million loan from Nomos-Bank using a building on the Sadovnicheskaya Embankment as collateral, failed to repay the loan. She was charged in July and detained on December 2, 2010. She claims she was a victim of “raider attacks” and that her buildings were taken over by the bank’s affiliates. The investigation is over and now she is studying the case materials before their submission to the court. But it is a slow process due to Gulevich’s illnesses.
Russian Election Commission courts absentee voters with polling stations
Russians will soon be able to vote in 146 countries. Central Election Commission official Yelena Dubrovina said that a total of 367 polling stations will open for 1.8 million Russian citizens living abroad. Moldova, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Israel and Germany will have the largest number of polling stations per country. Polling stations in Germany, Latvia, Poland and Kazakhstan are now also fully equipped with electronic voting systems.
There will not be any polling stations in Georgia, however. “Our embassy there was closed after the August 2008 military conflict,” said CEC official Garegin Mitin. Mitin added that Russians living in Georgia would most likely vote in neighboring Azerbaijan. Several polling stations are planned for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The CEC even plans to open polling stations in Iraq, Libya, Luxembourg and Monaco. “And even in the Seychelles, where many Russians go on vacation,” said Mitin. However, the Indian state of Goa, another popular holiday destination, will not have a polling station.
The CEC now has another challenge: to encourage voters abroad to take advantage of these polling stations. “In 2007, an average of 23.5% of eligible voters cast their votes abroad, if we tally the results from all foreign polling stations,” said Dubrovina.
“Some countries with large numbers of registered voters saw a relatively low turnout,” said another CEC source. “Approximately 1.5% in Germany, 6% in Israel and 8% in the U.S.”
The source added that the highest rate of turnout in 2007 was in Armenia, where 45% of Russians showed up to take part in the elections. In Moldova, more than 36% of local Russian citizens voted, with approximately 36% in Tajikistan and 33% in Kazakhstan.
Russians' reluctance to vote may be due to the distance they have to travel to the polling stations. Many countries prohibit foreign political activity on their territory, and therefore polling stations can only be opened at the Russian consulates and embassies in these countries.
“During the upcoming elections, the CEC will do everything it can to ensure the greatest number of Russian citizens can vote,” said Dubrovina. “We have allocated funds for the rental of premises in countries where this is possible, as well as rental of vehicles to transport Russians from remote areas to the polls. We provide information on elections, parties and candidates. I think we need to consider setting up remote electronic voting and voting by mail.”
Some CEC officials criticize the large-scale campaigns to court voters abroad and consider it a throwback to the Soviet era.
“Many countries do not have polling stations abroad or only in the neighboring countries at best,” said a CEC official. “And we spend tens of millions of rubles on organizing voting abroad and in the Arctic, where we chase nomads in helicopters, ignoring the fact that over 50% of Moscow residents do not vote.”
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