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Monday, April 30, 2007

Hooray! Here Comes Oborona!

Oborona ("Defense") is a Russian youth organization devoted to protesting against the rise of dictatorship and defending the basic principles of democracy in Russia. Consider then the Anti-Nashis. Their emblem, a clenched fist in a closed circle, has been displayed prominently during the recent spate of public protest actions which have occurred across Russia, and their members have been routinely arrested and harassed by the police. They are true Russian patriots, struggling to save their country from extinction, and deserve all the support we can give them. Naturally, just like other true Russian patriots from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn, they will face oppression from the Kremlin -- and La Russophobe has already documented examples. As they go, so goes Russia.

The map above, from the Oborona website, shows how the group's reach is expanding across Russia; the darkened regions have an organized Oborona presence, and by clicking the link you can find he names of the local coordinators, their telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and, in some cases, their blogs. Unfortunately, the group hasn't done enough yet to create an English-language presence on the web, so we provide their basic materials in translation (these are LR staff translations that have nothing to do with our three expert translators and have been undertaken so as to show our solidarity with this organization, so don't even think of blaming our translators if you find some mistakes!). To view photographs taken by Oborona members during the protest actions, click here. To view other photographs taken by their members, visit their library here.

Oborona's Declaration of Purpose reads:

Who we are: We are the new, free generation. We grew up in a free country, we do not fear authority, and we are not burdened by the experience of the Soviet past. There can be different opinions about the political and economic reforms of the 1990s but we not we will expend energy on useless arguments about the past, only the future interests us. It is customary to assume Russian young people are cynical and passive. But there is another type of young people - thinking, daring, interested in the fate of its country, ready to take upon themselves responsibility for their own future. There are still too few of us, but we grow in number every day.

The authorities attempt to preserve the existing power structure, preventing entry by new thinkers. Only young people who are the most dependent on the existing strucure, the most dull and aggressive, the most like the older members, are permitted entry to its upper echelons. This is not our way! We defend our rights and we express our ideas, but we do not do it for profit and we do not want confrontations. We strive so that the authorities will become the people, we do not wish to pass into the hierarchy. Our love for our native land we prove by our deeds, we do not shout meaningless "patriotic" slogans. In our struggle we rely only on nonviolent methods.

We want to live in a free and flourishing country. We want a combat-effective and professional army to protect us, and freedom for students to study in peace. We want the democratic transfers of power via free elections in which the whole country actively participates. We want to be able to obtain information from a free and independent media. We want to work in companies without fearing that they will be shut down because of the visits of bandits or corrupt officials. We want the law to be equally applied to all citizens, not used as tool against those who disagree. We want an honest budget in which there are monies valid social purposes, not the pockets of corrupt officials.

For our support we rely on the power of truth and our committment to our goals, not our connections to those in power or our wealth. Our contemporaries in adjacent countries already changed the course of history. Now it's our turn.
Oborona asks: "How can you help us?" They answer:
If you are tired of having all your decisions made for you, if you are ready to build a Russia that will stand as a free, modernized nation, we welcome you! There are many ways you can help us. build a normal democratic system in Russia. First, you can join Oborona. Joining up is easy, just fill out a form on this site, and we will be connected with you. In Oborona we have no membership cards or dues payments (as in the political parties). You can participate in those actions and measures, which you support, and propose your own suggestions. If in your region or city still there is no Oborona local office, you can create one yourself. Contact us for further details. Second, we are also pleased to receive financial contributions to support our work, which is not financed by oligarchs or government agencies. Even a small contribution can bring big results. Third, even if the first two options are not for you, don't just be a couch potato! You can, for example, place our banner on your site or in blog using code available on this site.
To the crucial question, "Why are you against Putin?" Oborona answers:
Putin is the architect and personification of the regime which exists now in Russia. He abolishes merit selection and he assigns to all key posts to his St. Petersburg friends. He considers Ramzan Kadyrov to be a hero and personally shuts down oppositional television channels. He signs laws that favor his chosen oligarchs, transferring great quantities of wealth to them from the state budget. Without batting an eye, he tells gigantic lies about the fate of the Kursk submarine and the Dubrovka theater patrons. He may not haver personally participated in these tragedies, but he governs the system that caused them. One might say that our problem is not so much with Putin but with "Putinism."
Oborona also operates a blog, and La Russophobe recently translated one of its posts, about how the Kremlin pays protesters to appear at its demonstrations. Click here to read it.

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