Extremism Bill Passes Round Two

New amendments to Russia’s extremist law passed a second reading yesterday. The amendments which are touted as targeting nationalists and skinheads has raised alarm among political oppositionists who see it as yet another weapon in the State’s arsenal in preparation for the 2008 Presidential Elections.

Among others things, the bill has measures to fine publishers who print material deemed “extremist” up to $4000. Explains the Moscow Times,


The publishing industry could also be affected by a new provision that was added to the bill before its second reading. The provision says that if media outlets refer to groups that have been banned for extremism, the outlets must mention the fact that those groups have been banned. The provision appears similar to an initiative last year to prevent media outlets from referring to the unregistered National Bolshevik Party.

Newspeak in its finest form. Such and such organization only exists as the State deems them.

The Duma’s actions come at the same time the Interior Ministry arrested Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich after he and 20 others interrupted a debate between journalists Maxim Kononenko and Yulia Latynina at the Moscow bobo literati caf? Bilingua. Martinkevich is the leader of the neo-Nazi group Format 18. decribing the incident, Latynina told Kommersant, “It looked completely comical. Twenty brutes in camouflage came in at the height of the discussion, gave the Nazi salute and began to yell, We’ll cut up liberals.’ There were plenty of liberals around, but they didn’t cut anyone. Instead they left again like cowards.” Ilya Yashin added, “Tesak screamed that he plans to kill more Tajiks, blacks and liberals, then he and his companions stated chanting Nazi slogans.”

The NTV report on Martsinkevich’s arrest can be viewed here.

Can’t say I have any sympathy for Martsinkevich. For once I stand with the Interior Ministry.

Update: I forgot to add that Tesak was arrested under article 282, section 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, “Incitement of Ethnic Strife with the Threat of the Use of Violence.” Conviction caries a prison sentence of 3-5 years.