TODAY: Dutch royal family visit with Putin after Foreign Ministry slams the Netherlands; Putin offers condolences after Philippines storm; nationalist extradited from Serbia over murder gang; nationalism on the rise; performance artist makes graphic piece in Red Square; Olympic torch space walk; Miss Universe.
Amid soured relations over the Greenpeace detentions and a clash of opinion over gay rights, the Dutch king and queen arrived in Moscow for a state visit over the weekend. Just hours before, the Foreign Ministry had blamed the Netherlands for failing to prevent the Greenpeace protest that led to 30 detentions in September, citing the state’s ‘inaction’. But ‘it’s in both countries’ interests to keep things rosy,’ says the BBC. Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans agrees. Timmermans appeared to backtrack on earlier comments about gay rights and asylum, saying that gay people are not being prosecuted in Russia, and thus would have no grounds to ask the Netherlands for asylum. Two activists from the National Bolshevik party were arrested for throwing tomatoes at the Dutch royal family as they traveled through Moscow. President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to the Philippine President Benigno Aquino following the typhoon Haiyan, which has killed at least 10,000 people; Russia will send a team of 200 rescuers to the Philippines if a formal request is made.
Performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky was hospitalized and placed in custody yesterday after nailing his own testicles to the cobblestones of Red Square in protest against Russia’s transformation into what he called a police state. The husband of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (supposedly in transit between penal colonies) says that, after three weeks of silence, he still does not know where or how his wife is. Russian nationalist leader Ilya Goryachev has been extradited from Serbia on suspicion of setting up a gang that committed over a dozen high-profile murders, including that of lawyer Stanislav Markelov in 2009. Vladimir Frolov paints the Kremlin as struggling to control an increasingly nationalist majority; Alexei Bayer calls them ‘the feeling majority’. Victor Davidoff ponders the recent ‘wave of persecution and violence initiated against two of society’s most vulnerable groups – the LGBT community and migrants’ which, he says, ‘was set in motion long ago’. Ultra-nationalist voices like Alexander Belov’s are gaining ground, says The Times.
Two Russian cosmonauts successfully walked the Sochi Olympic torch through space this weekend. ‘If anyone can do better, let them try,’ said organizing committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko. ‘It’s hard for me to speak about it now because I have so many emotions, emotions, emotions,’ said a tearful Miss Russia after failing to make the top 16 in the Miss Universe competition, successfully hosted in Moscow this weekend to much national pride.
PHOTO: Artist Pyotr Pavlensky sits on the pavestones of Red Square during a protest action in front of the Kremlin wall in central Moscow. Photo: Reuters