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Gary Kasparov to be Investigated by KGB Successor Agency for "Promoting Extremism":

Although former chess world champion and Russian opposition leader Gary Kasparov has been released from detention, he is now going to be investigated for "promoting extremism" by the FSB (hat tip: VC reader Victor Steinbok), the Russian domestic intelligence agency that is the successor to the dreaded KGB and includes numerous former KGB officials in its ranks. The FSB does not enjoy as much coercive power as the KGB once did, nor does it have any equivalent to the old Soviet system of Gulag concentration camps, where tens of millions died. There is nonetheless a disturbing amount of continuity between the two agencies in both personnel and policies.

As I noted in my earlier post about Kasparov, the measures taken against him are important not only in their own right, but as a deterrent to other opposition political activity. If the government of President Vladimir Putin (himself a former KGB colonel), can repress a world-famous figure like Kasparov with impunity, it can even more easily do the same thing to less well-known members of the opposition who have fewer supporters in the West. Moreover, if Kasparov's statements can be described as "promoting extremism" and thereby banned, the same can be done with virtually any speech critical of Putin's government.

Kasparov's political views are quite conventional by Western standards (and also by those of Russian advocates of democracy and liberalization). He supports a Russia with strong protection for civil and economic liberties, political decentralization, and a non-imperialistic foreign policy. For a sampling of Kasparov's views in English, see here and here. For the official (Russian language) platform of Kasparov's United Civic Front, see here. The latter focuses on political democratization; most of it would be completely uncontroversial in any Western democracy. If Kasparov's platform is illegal "extremism," so is virtually any other liberal democratic-oriented opposition to the policies of Putin's increasingly authoritarian Russian state.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Gary Kasparov to be Investigated by KGB Successor Agency for "Promoting Extremism":
  2. Gary Kasparov Arrested:
M (mail):
The 'anti-extremism' laws in Russia are in part dangerous because they do not, on their face, look terribly bad. (They would not pass constitutional muster in the US but do not look a whole lot different from those in many European countries. And, they are occassionally applied to plausible targets. (A TV add by [I believe] Rodina, one of the more moderate of the nationalist parties loyal to the Kremlin was removed from TV when it showed Rodina politicians saying they were going to 'clean up the garbage' in Moscow and then ran out some watermellon eating men from the Caucuses, for example.) But, because Russia lacks an independent judiciary what the law says and how it is applied often have little to do with each other. Now, part of Kasparov's group _is_ made up Eduard Limonov's National Bolshivik Party, a group that might plausibly be called extremist. But even there I would think this is probably going to far. (Many young NBP members are serving long prison sentences for taking part in civil disobedience and pranks of various sorts and they have also been attacked by groups of thugs associated with the young brownshirt movement Nashi.)
4.17.2007 2:14am
M (mail):
Another example of how these laws can go bad in Russia: Russia has a law against "promoting religious hatred". In a country like Russia now where there is serious and overt racism and prejudice against a minority that is largely muslim (though not all, of course) and a long history (and on-going instances of) violence and mal-treatment of Jews this is perhaps not an unreasonable law. But, the actual application of the law hasn't been so good. One famous case: The Sakharov museum in Moscow had a display entitled, "Caution: Religion!" about the role of relgion in various evil events. Some ultra-orthodox (in the Christian, not Jewish, sense) thugs broke in to the museum, destroyed the artwork, and beat up the museum workers. The attackers were not charged with anything serious. But, the museum and the workers were charged with 'promoting religious hatred', where the hatred in question was the hatred of those who attacked the museum towards the museum and secularism. Again, the main thing this shows is the weakness of the legal system in Russia, and that this lack of an independent judiciary is a very serious problem. (Also one that's very hard to solve.)
4.17.2007 10:25am
Anderson (mail) (www):
If Kasparov's platform is illegal "extremism," so is virtually any other liberal democratic-oriented opposition to the policies of Putin's increasingly authoritarian Russian state.

Well, yes, that's the point.

Perhaps Kasparov's platform is simply interfering with "President Putin's right to control his own message."
4.17.2007 10:26am
BGates (www):
heheh! Yeah! Because Bush and Putin are, like, totally the same!

Anderson, when Bush's term ends and there is still evil in the world, how will you cope?
4.17.2007 11:58am
ed o:
it really doesn't matter who is in office-if a democrat, they ignore the evil and find a way to blame the US/if a republican, they do the same.
4.17.2007 12:29pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
BGates: Anderson, when Bush's term ends and there is still evil in the world, how will you cope?

As I replied to you in another thread, I've never thought the present administration's misdeeds were unique ... just egregious.

And no, Ed, I've never been one to ignore the Democrats' follies, weaknesses, and stupidities. They just haven't been in the saddle, so they've had fewer opportunities to screw things up.
4.17.2007 1:31pm
Israel Silverman (mail):
Perhaps Kasparov had been playing chess for so long that he forgets that when one is checkmated in real life, one does not get to set up the king and other pieces again.

In any event, despite Kasparov's "democratic" leanings, one need only see what he did in real life as the "king of chess," when he was the world champion. I've lost track of how many times he broke away from the (then) only world chess federation, bringing other grandmasters with him, and then he would abandon those organizations to fail when they (democratically) refused to treat Kasparov's desires as orders. I remember how Nigel Short broke away with him and was left twisting in the wind.

GMA, PCA, how many other organizations?
4.18.2007 12:40am