Natalia Morar is persona non grata in Russia. More and more Nashi activists are becoming persona non grata in the European Union. The origins of Nashi’s visa problems begin way back in April when its activists from Russia and in Estonia protested the removal of the Bronze Soldier from the center of Tallinn. The act whipped Nashi into a nationalist fervor, immediately labeled the Estonian government “fascist,” and quickly organized a protest against the soldier’s removal. The Nashi protest ended with a clash with Estonia police and a mini-riot. 1200 people were detained and 50 people were wounded.
The outcome of the protest is still playing itself out. Rosbalt reports that the Khariuskii court in Tallinn will try four youths–Dmitri Linter, Maksim Reva, Dmitri Klenskii from the fascist group Nochnoi Dozor and Nashi’s Estonian leader Mark Siryk–later this month for instigating the disorder. Linter looks to get the worse of it. He was arrested by the Estonian Security police in April and was in custody until last November.
In addition to prosecuting youths involved with the violence, the Estonian government has decided to put Nashi activists on their persona non grata list. Nashi couldn’t have asked for more. Just off the heals of Duma elections, a Third Congress to determine their future, and in an activism lull because of the holidays, the issue has served to reignite a fire under Nashi.
Nashi’s website has been full of communiques about their activists being harassed at the hands of Russia’s Baltic neighbors. On 31 December, their website reported that one of its commissars Konstantin Goloskokov was confronted by 12 police for staging a small protest on Tynimiagi square to memorialize the Bronze Soldier. Then Goloskokov turned up a few days later in Lithuania, where he and another Nashi activist named Anton Dugin were arrested for entering the country illegally. They were also in possession of “contraband”–a navigation device, night vision goggles, a mobile telephone, and $10,000. A Lithuanian court ruled that both be held for 35 days to process their deportation. The Estonian government denied Goloskokv and Dugin entry visas so they tried to enter Estonia via Lithuania.
It now appears that more and more EU countries are denying Nashi activists visas. Newly anointed Nashi leader Nikita Borovikov has been refused a visa to enter Estonia. Nashi commissar Marian Skvortsova was denied entry into Finland. Nashi is beginning to suspect that its members are being denied entry into the EU as a whole. “Having entered the Schengen zone, the Estonia has submitted its “black list” of persona non grata to Europe,” declared Borovikov. “How am I a danger to Europe?” Skvortsova asked. The Estonian “black list” has 2013 people on it. 398 are permanently refused entry into Estonia and 1615 have a temporary ban.
Nashi has staged a number of protests in response. On 9 January, 300 Nashi activists rallied in front of the European Commission to protest Goloskokov’s and Dugin’s detention. They didn’t have a permit for the rally so the cops dispersed it, arresting 50 activists. They were released without incident shortly after. The arrests surprised many since Nashi has had a free hand to stage protests. Some even think that the arrests were a sign that maybe the Russian authorities think Nashi has gotten out of hand. I doubt it. The arrests certainly served as a good publicity stunt (though Nashi didn’t mention the detentions on their website). Youth organizations like Nashi can’t always do what their parents tell them. A bit of defiance helps maintain enthusiasm. Plus even state supported youth aren’t as obedient as some might think. I can provide dozens of examples of Komsomol “excesses.”
Nevertheless, Nashi’s protest machine has revved on. A few days later, they returned to the European Commission in Moscow and set up a giant church bell to “ring for European democracy.” Hundreds of Nashi activists lined up and took their pull to let freedom ring. Nashi leaders promise to continue their protest via “a campaign to restore the rights of dozens of young Russians,” who could fall victims to “the legal outrage” of the European Union,” Kommersant reported.
The list of European countries denying Nashi activists visa appears to be growing. The Nashi website now claims that one of their commissars Sergei Nozhov has been refused a tourist visa to Spain “without explanation.” Nozhov was detained during the Bronze Soldier incident. “Who will be next?” the site asks.
There is something amusing in Nashi’s complaining about persona non grata. Especially when people like Skvortsova claims that she “fears for the rights of everyone.” Yeah sure. Still the fact remains that this is an age of no fly lists, black lists, terrorist watch lists, and whatever other lists states use to prevent political activists of all stripes from entering their country. Persona non grata proves to be an effective way in keep political troublemakers out. For Nashi, it serves as an issue to keep their members occupied. That is until the Presidential election heats up.