In St. Petersburg yesterday, former deputy prime minister Boris Y. Nemtsov engaged in a creative nonviolent action by himself that exposed the sorry state of Russia’s so-called democracy.
In an effort to challenge a ridiculous Russian law that prohibits anyone from campaigning for a candidate for office without a permit, Nemstov handed out fliers that said, “Vote against everybody.” As the New York Times reports:
The police were not amused.
They arrested him, charged him with illegal agitation, which is punishable by a fine, and confiscated his fliers.
Mr. Nemtsov, whose subversive political stunts have landed him in police custody many times, called the arrest “absurd.” He said it proved the government had no intention of allowing unfettered political expression ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections this fall and next spring.
Furthermore, he said, the Supreme Court has ruled that unregistered individuals have a right to publicly express opposition to all candidates.
“It is my human right to proclaim any idea I want besides violent overthrow of the state,” he said in an interview after he had been released. “They just want to frighten the opposition. That is all. This is not an election, this is a fraud, a Putin-style fraud.”
A new generation of antiwar veterans is beginning to set itself apart in its opposition to America’s wars abroad and at home.
As K-pop fans and Black organizers and artists are demonstrating, joyful, powerful movements draw more people in and reflect the kind of world we want to live in.
If soldiers train for armed combat, why wouldn’t activists train for toppling the political-economic structure that’s killing our chance for a just future? The stakes are just as high.