For those who aren’t already following it, I direct your attention to the recent and ongoing feud between the youth group “Nashi” and Moscow Northern District Prefect Oleg Mitvol’.
Now, Mitvol’ and “Nashi” have a little history that’s worth noting at the outset: exactly a year ago in September 2009, he came to their aid in the scandal surrounding the “Antisovetskaia” cafe, which he ordered to remove its ‘offensive’ storefront sign.
Mitvol’ has since fallen afoul of the youth group, and he’s now paying the price for having offended an organization run by well-funded hooligans. About a week ago on September 2, 2010, Prefect Mitvol’ publicly appealed to First Deputy Mayor Liudmila Shevtsova, demanding that “Nashi” abandon its headquarters near Belorussia train station, as the grounds have been rededicated to their original purpose: housing a kindergarten (of which Moscow is apparently in the throes of a shortage).
“Nashi” took special umbrage at this public request, claiming that it was well aware of its need to relocate, and accused Mitvol’ of staging a PR stunt to boost his own reputation by kicking “Nashi” after it had agreed to move. Despite this claim, it turns out that “Nashi” was ordered to leave the building by August 9th, more than a month ago. When asked about this detail, “Nashi” representative Maria Kislitsina told Gazeta.ru that they “never received any kind of notification.”
On September 8th, “Nashi” launched its revenge, hanging a five-story-tall banner from a building on Leninsky Prospekt that looked like this:
They also released hidden camera video reportage documenting the secret locations of bordellos, like this clip:
That same day, “Nashi” held a rally in Pushkin Square with more banners attacking Mitvol’s reputation. Mitvol’ and others accused “Nashi” of holding an unsanctioned demonstration, though the group’s press secretary claims to have received permission:
From first thing this morning, Mitvol’ has been screaming that our rally is illegal. Only for some reason I find myself holding in my hand a note of official permission for a protest “07-18-1025/0 от 07.09.2010″ signed by Vice Prefect Moissenko.
This was followed up by another rally outside Mitvol’s office, where “Nashi” publicized the fact that another building just a few blocks from the District’s head office is also designated to become a kindergarten. The protest was meant to draw attention to Mitvol’s selective enforcement of the law, but most headlines focused on the fact that two “Nashi” activists were detained temporarily for yelling “Mitvol’, come out here!” Neither the city nor “Nashi” has issued a statement addressing this incident.
Mitvol’ has clearly decided “not to take this sitting down,” as he’s filed an official complaint with the police asking that “Nashi” Press Secretary Kristina Potupchik be charged with libel for accusing him of protecting prostitution rackets. He’s also appealed to Vasily Yakemenko, founder of “Nashi” and current head of the Federal Agency on Youth Matters, to cut all funding to the group:
I ask you, respected Vasily Grigor’evich, as leader of the federal body in the state sphere of youth policy, to assess to actions of the group “Nashi” and take measures to prevent further funding to the organization, which uses the state’s money to discredit government authorities.
The last time Mitvol’ sued for libel was not exactly ages ago: a year ago last fall, he took Vladimir Zhirikovsky to court for (outrageously!) accusing the Moscow city government of extreme secrecy and redacting 30% of its internal documents. Mitvol’ humbly asked the judge to award him 20 million rubles (650,000 USD) for “moral damages.” The court, bless its heart, refused.
In honor of this most delicious scandal between Mitvol’ and “Nashi,” I present you with my full translation of a recent blog post by journalist and AGT favorite blogger Maxim Kononenko:
By Maxim Kononenko
Amazing things have been happening in the Northern Administrative District of our capital. District Prefect Oleg L’vovich Mitvol’ rather loudly asked the headquarters of the youth group “Nashi” to relocate from its current location in a building meant for a kindergarten. “Nashi” vacated, but promised to keep an eye on things to make sure the space was actually used for a kindergarten and not something else. At the same time, they advised the Prefect not to fight them, but rather to focus on the real problems of the district, which, according to “Nashi,” seem to be underground gambling and brothels. And they even promised to reveal these establishments to the public. “Go ahead and search for them,” Oleg L’vovich told the group.
And “Nashi” found them.
And so one bright early morning, hanging from the fifth floor of a house on Leninsky Prospect in Moscow (very near the Belorussia train station), there suddenly appeared a giant, quite expensive-looking banner. The banner featured a large woman with the caption “Mommy Snežana,” and also pictured at her side was the very same Prefect Oleg Mitvol’. Also indicated were the locations of two brothels — that is to say, the locations of apartments used by prostitutes for their services.
After all this between the Prefect and “Nashi,” there began a strange and quite unproductive discussion, which it’s not even worth addressing. But the following, however, is interesting:
Some time ago, I strongly supported a project by “Nashi” to put giant circular stickers on illegally parked cars that read “I don’t care about anyone, I park where I want.” I supported them because it was a noble campaign!
And suddenly that same group — that once so decisively opposed those who showed no respect for others — has now broken the locks at the top story of a residential building, climbed onto the roof, broken whatever fences and barricades were there, and let down an enormous banner, which blocked out the light going into the apartments below for five floors. When asked whether or not they had received any permission for the banner or made any agreements with anyone prior, “Nashi” commissar Maria Kislitsina asked in surprise: “And with whom do we need any kind of agreement?”
So now any person can walk up to a member of “Nashi,” for example they can walk up to Maria Kislitsina, and put a big, fat sticker on them that reads, “I don’t care about anyone, I hang banners where I want.” Or perhaps, “I don’t care about anyone, I break what I want.” In other words, everything ends incoherently — indeed quite childishly.
Thinking about this, an interesting question occurs to me: maybe Prefect Oleg Mitvol’ really was wrong? Maybe he kicked “Nashi” out for nothing? Perhaps a kindergarten really is the right place for them?