MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti)
“So You Can’t Just Shoot into the Air for Fun in Moscow, or in Makhachkala” –Dmitry Medvedev
The Prime Minister has urged the leaders in the North Caucasus republics to instill a sense of civility and community among young people. That was how Dmitry Medvedev responded to a high-profile incident in central Moscow when some people in a Dagestani wedding motorcade shot into the air with pneumatic guns.
On Tuesday, October 2, Dmitry Medvedev chaired a meeting of the government commission on socio-economic development in the North Caucasus, including healthcare and education issues that seem to have become worse. As an aside, Medvedev asked the republic’s leaders “to start instilling a sense of culture and community from a young age.”
“Yes, there are cultural variations and traditions, but no one has repealed the law,” the prime minister said. “So you can’t just shoot into the air for fun in Moscow, or in Makhachkala, or in New York City for that matter. By the way, if this had happened in New York, the results would have been tragic. The police would shoot back to kill.”
That was the prime minister’s reaction to a high-profile incident that involved the shooting of pneumatic guns at a Dagestani wedding in the center of Moscow. Medvedev believes “we should patiently cultivate habits of social responsibility.” “But not like in Soviet times with all its formalities,” he added. “Still, some lessons should be remembered from those days. Otherwise inter-ethnic conflicts and problems will be inevitable.”
At the same meeting Medvedev emphasized the secular nature of Russia. The course entitled “The Basics of Religious Culture and Secular Ethics,” which is included in the mandatory program of the 4th form starting this year, should be taught by regular teachers, not just religious leaders.
“I call attention to the fact that in our country it is very important that well-trained experts, advisably qualified teachers, rather than theologians, should teach this course. Religious leaders could be invited sometimes, that’s normal, but the course is a secular one, not theological. So the regions should supervise this matter,” Medvedev requested.
Minister of Education Dmitry Livanov quoted statistics showing that 38% of school students in the North Caucasus have opted for basic Islamic culture courses, and only 15% for Orthodox culture studies. The remainder chose world religion and the basics of secular ethics.
In speaking about the undesirable presence of religious officials at schools Medvedev presumably meant all theologians – representing both Muslims and the Russian Orthodox Church.
PACE Calls on Russia to Free PUSSY RIOT
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has urged Russian authorities to release the Pussy Riot punk singers and reinstate Gennady Gudkov as a State Duma deputy in a resolution on Russia approved on Tuesday.
Flagrant violations of freedom of the press and of expression in Russia seem to be at the top of the list for the PACE which has prepared a resolution on Russia’s most serious problems.
Among other things the resolution contains a demand to review the Pussy Riot case in compliance with democratic standards as stipulated by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
According to European parliament members, the Pussy Riot verdict indicates that judicial power in Russia is absolutely dependent on and pressured by the country’s executive authorities.
Another controversial activist who enjoys European parliament support is former State Duma deputy Gennady Gudkov who was relieved of his parliamentary mandate. The PACE resolution demands his return to the lower house.
Although the Russian delegation tried to remove the demand for a Pussy Riot release from the resolution text before the vote, the document was still adopted in its initial version. The only clause that was eventually deleted involved Gazprom’s pressure on Europe while a statement on the continued infringement on the rights of the LGBT community was added.
Rodina Party: Police Should Have the Right to Shoot Back at Moscow Visitors
Alexei Zhuravlyov, leader of the Rodina national patriotic party, has proposed a program of “enforcing peace” on ethnic minorities.
Responding to shocking reports about shots fired at a Dagestani wedding in central Moscow and an attack on a Fontanka commentator in the Moscow Metro, Rodina Chairman Alexei Zhuravlyov has written an open letter to the ethnic diasporas, proposing a radical solution to the problem of ethnic related crime in Russia.
“Ethnic relations in Russia are a matter of serious concern. Ethnic tensions have reached a dangerous level with nearly daily reports of ethnic related crime,” Zhuravlyov writes in his address, which Izvestia has at its disposal.
The politician puts the blame on the liberal media and human rights organizations.
“This unfair and, worse still, criminal stance will only accelerate the disintegration of Russian society,” the Rodina leader writes. “Experience shows that the blame for civil conflicts often rests with irresponsible members of the so-called ethnic minorities.”
He also has “questions about law enforcement agents’ approach.”
“I believe that an insufficiently harsh response to thugs encourages others to commit more crimes. I intend to file a deputy’s request demanding that the actions of the police are investigated and assessed,” the politician writes.
“Furthermore, I intend to submit a bill to the State Duma that would authorize the police to shoot back in such cases. Every potential shooter must know that they can get a bullet in return,” Zhuravlyov writes. “I don’t doubt that this would cool many hot heads.”
The politician is also demanding that representatives of ethnic diasporas meet to draft a cooperative action plan to “enforce ethnic peace” across the country. The Rodina party plans to create a federal supervision council to monitor ethnic relations and to prevent ethnic conflict. According to Zhuravlyov, the council would force the guilty members of ethnic minorities “to listen to reason.”
“Those who don’t know how to behave when on a visit should have the rules explained and warned that when in Rome, etc. They should either assimilate or stay home,” the politician writes. He is convinced that the diasporas have effective tools for ensuring ethnic peace.”
The propensity of Rodina politicians for loud statements has created problems for the party in the past: on December 4, 2005 the party was prohibited from participating in the Moscow legislature elections after it posted a provocative video clip.
In the video, party leader Dmitry Rogozin and General Yury Popov, a deputy candidate for the State Duma, demanded that four grotesque men from the Caucasus pick up watermelon rinds in a courtyard. Popov asks one of them: “Do you understand Russian?” The video ends with the lines, “The Rodina Political Party. Let’s clean up Moscow.” The Moscow City Election Committee concluded that this video promoted ethnic strife.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.