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B-Day Marching

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A tip of the birthday hat to my main man Garry Kasparov, who isn't getting much time to enjoy festivities today. His Other Russia coalition group have planned two big rallies for this weekend - in Moscow on Saturday and St. Petersburg on Sunday. NPR has a quick audio clip on the events, including some translated comments from Kasparov taken from a public meeting. (He's going to be on the radio in the US a lot in a few weeks. NPR and Washington Post radio are both talking to him about a recent article he/we wrote for Foreign Policy magazine. I'll keep you posted on the times and channels.) Like just about every public manifestation by a non-Kremlin-supporting group, these rallies have been declared illegal by the government.

The last big one in St. Petersburg was broken up violently by the police, although they waited until just after the big names, Kasyanov and Kasparov, finished speaking. The next guy (a local city councilman) was dragged off the stage in a chokehold and into a van. So let's hope the newly 44-year-old Kasparov has been keeping in shape. If you watch that wild video, Kasparov appears briefly about 30 seconds from the end. The National Bolsheviks and their flags are pretty scary by most standards, but their participation in The Other Russia is non-ideological. The main point of Kasparov's participation has been bringing anti-Putin groups together regardless of their ideologies. He's taken heat from for associating with some of them -- even having an exchange with Hans Ree in New In Chess when a pea got under the comfy cushions of Ree's armchair. Garry's view is basically, "let's have real elections and then go our ways as those elections dictate." The model is the referendum coalition that formed against Pinochet to remove him.

If you want more on what he's up to, there was a recent profile of Kasparov in TIME, accompanied by this amazing full-page photo. (Also an inset photo on the cover of the European edition.) Photo for TIME by Oleg Nikishin - Epsilon

Update: In a email I sent to Garry earlier I said I hope somebody got him a helmet for his birthday. He just said that indeed someone did! An organizer associate is a former hockey player and he gave Garry a hockey helmet, although I don't think he'll be wearing it to the marches. If the government-funded skinhead groups get into the action tomorrow he may wish he had it with him.


Molodyets, Grossmeister Kasparov! Give 'em one for me!

Do the Math:
1 + 3 + 0 + 4 + 2 + 0 + 0 + 7 = 17 ~ 1 + 7 = 8

For whatever it is worth, according to numerology this is Gary's 8th year in the 9 year cycles of life (aka Personal Year Number) - so it is supposed to be the year of rewards and recognition!!

Congrats and Good Luck, Gary!

Taking it further, 2009 will be the year of new beginnings. What could it be? President of Russia would be nice... When is the stupid election?

March of 2008, sT--but Garry's ethnic background alone would probably make it impossible for him to win.

I've been reading his book, How Life Imitates Chess, good stuff!

Yeah, the book shuld be essential reading for anyone interested in chess and/or Gary... Some very interesting / thought provoking stuff...

If nothing else you'll find a collection of chess related anecdotes and stories..

I can't help laughing everytime I remember Kortchnoi's "He didn't have the slightest clue of what to do against the Catalan".

Here in the USA, I have given up on hoping for quality news coverage from the likes of Brian Williams and Katie Couric and Charles Gibson.

I have been encouraged by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who has the common sense to play speech clips from yesterday juxtaposed with clips from years earlier. (Why can't Brian Williams comprehend the value in that?)

I would think Stewart could wrench some spot-on dark humor, complete with the underlying truth that makes his show sparkle, from showing video of the choke hold used to remove the St. Petersburg speaker -- or heck, let's cut to the chase and make that the Leningrad speaker.

Kasparov should book at spot as the interviewee on The Daily Show.


truffaut, how did you get a copy of the book Connections to high places? Amazon has it shipping in Oct, 2007.



I live in San Jose, California, but purchased the book from Amazon's UK website. The book arrived in about a week!


According to the TIME article, Kasparov would like for the US to send the Putin government the "message" that if real elections and reform aren't allowed that there will be consequences.

He needs to step back and soberly re-evaluate his position. The US cannot even properly demonstrate significant consequences to Al-Qaeda or the Iran/Syrian sponsered insurgency in Iraq. What would Russian communists have to fear from the US? Democracy is a difficult variation that not even the US has mastered. As Jefferson noted, the price of freedom is the occasional spilling of the blood of Patriots. If Russians want democratic reforms, they'll have to fight for that themselves.

A busy month for some of the neo-nazis. Next weekend they will be rampaging around beating up foreigners and ethnic minorities to celebrate Hitler's birthday.

Apparently Kasparov was arrested before he could take the subway. Wonder what is happening to him right now.

It seems Kasparov was arrested before he could reach the protest venue. It can be hoped that they will let him go after all the protest marches are over.

Why doesn't he just buy a house on the beach to enjoy his retirement? Putin opponents have a very low life expectancy.

Currently top story on the BBC world feed


Breaking news: Kasparov arrested in Moscow
14.04.2007 – Or detained, or held, according to different sources. Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who heads the United Civil Front opposition organization against the Putin government, was trying to attend an oppositional protest rally. The government had mobilized 9,000 police to block the march. We are following events and will update this report as more information comes in. News flash.

chessbase news

Well, not a big deal and no surprise that it would happen sooner or later. To add a different angle, here are two posts from S:t Petersburg inhabitant "su24" on http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=15940 :

"The guy has violated the law and got detained. What's wrong with it???

He did the same in St. Pete about a month ago what really pissed off not only the authorities but inhabitants of the city as well and got away with that (what a pity). And now he has tried to do the same thing in Moscow and finally got detained. Good job by militia for once."

"The protest was not banned. The rally on Pushkin Square was banned and knowing so he provoked militia by entering Pushkin Square surrounded by his supporters. A month ago the same happend in St. Petersburg, he blocked the central street with his supporters. Inhabitants and tourists were not happy about it at all. I fully support the authorities on that matter."

acirce you are really pathetic.

A long time ago I thought that Acirce was a pretty wise guy.

Now I realize that Acirce is suspicious of anything that upsets the status quo. He's a communist that has turned into a crotchety old man.

Does he feel threatened? does "upsetting the status quo" remind him of his own social impotency? is he so cynical already?

Or really, has the wise old Acirce confused his support of communism with grand old russia, and is now a Putin apologist?

btw, does acirce even try to make the world a better place, or does he just sit in a cafe and mumble into his coffee about the world's injustices?

acirce is not only pathetic, he is also delusional.

Sorry guys but I don't see the logic too.
A former chess WCH gathers some pensioners, nazis, bolsheviks, 3-4 thousand people, says that it is "for democracy", does a prohibited march, gets arrested. Big deal?

The nerve of acirce, posting two online comments from someone in St Petersburg to give us a flavor of a contrarian reaction there. All no doubt informed by his own contrarian opinion. What a commie!

That was sarcastic, for the slow ones.

Note that acirce does not say if he agrees or disagrees with the people he is quoting (people who apparently live in St Petersburg--just how do we know they live there though??). He just wants to show a different perspective. Not all Russians want Kasparov there. His post is a good way to stimulate discussion providing people think with their heads and not fall back on preconceived jingoist notions (surprised no-one's called him "unpatriotic" yet although they're getting their with "communist").

To many Russians, democracy is synonymous with a bit of chaos, rise of organized crime, inflation and worsening of the standard of living. Kasparov might be seen as a return to that chaos. They may not like Putin, but he might be the lesser of two evils (or hey, they might actually really like Putin and most Russians aren't begging for liberation from tyranny so don't send in the troops just yet :-). I really don't know. The issues on both sides are too complex to fully understand (for me anyway) and the more perspectives we get the better we can begin to understand.

Ken: "They may not like Putin, but he might be the lesser of two evils "

I don't live in Russia, but recently there were some anti-government riots in my eastern-european hometown, Budapest. Of course I was out there, I just had to see the local S.W.A.T. boys and smell a little tear gas. It was an interesting experience.

Anyway, the reason that not too many people join these movements in my country is that normal citizens don't want riots, burned cars and all the "fun" that goes with these protests. People do believe in democracy, and that a new president should be elected legally, and not by overthrowing the other guy in street politics.
Besides, the slogans you can hear at most of these demonstrations are painfully demagogue.

I understand Hungary is not Russia, but I think people everywhere want peace in the first place - and this is contrary to what Kasparov is doing. He wants to fight. I have the feeling politics is a game for him, just like chess was, and his main object is to win at all costs.
I certainly wouldn't trust him as a leader, I'd be afraid he might sacrifice me for some greater good :)

Oh, the political correctness of those "liberal" anti-commies!

It appears Kaspy deleberately provoked the authorities. Let's wait and see if they are able to restrain their reaction (control of identity at a police station, formal charges, liberation...) or if they transform him into a martyr (beating, prison,...). This is so like a strategy game : "Life imitates chess", you bet!

ken, jonas, you need to know a little background. Acire has in the past labelled Sweden a police state. (Ask him what it was based on.) This reaction in Russia however is a routine course of action. (Jonas, that last was tounge in cheek, in case you were wondering.)

the birthday boy made the first item on npr weekend saturday!!


Posting a cross-section of responses from a Russian forum (assuming the forum is not censored by the government and the responses are not tempered by citizens' fear) is giving a flavor of reaction in Russia. Posting a comment of one single person from another forum, a comment which offers no particular insight, is simply hiding behind another person's face. Dictatorial socialism has been discredited in the mind of everybody but a few fearful delusionists. The re-poster knows this so he chooses to present the opinion as somebody else's views. Why that particular view is especially worthy of reposting is unclear. After all, surely su24 is not the only to post his reaction. If there is a broad feedback towards Kasparov, it would have made more sense to post (and again assuming the reaction is not censored): "the reaction on pro-Russian forums has been negative towards Kasparov and positive towards Putin and police". That we don't even get copies of posts from two people makes me think this is not the case. For that matter, the language of su24 leads me to suspect that he is no everyday Russian, witness the American slang.

acirce reviews books: http://tinyurl.com/3apexx

I find acirce more and more likable.

Well, acirce said nothing about the legitimity of the March of Kasparov.

In general, civil disobedience leads to jail, even for a legitimate fight. And not all witness of a legitimate fight, would necessary approve the action at the time (think: granting vote to women, Blacks, etc...).

d_tal. Thanks for the background info on acirce. I remember that now. My impression at the time was that his comments had been radically taken out of context and reinterpreted. I thought he was just saying Sweden also had police brutality like any other country despite protests from Sweden (or their citizens) that their country did not have police brutality. But that was a while ago, my memory is faulty, and I didn't follow it closely in the first place.

ken, and you dont see any irony in his "re-posting"?

Nope. I'm happier that way, d_tal :-). Acirce could be a Communist bent on overthrowing democracy, and could believe Sweden is a police state, and the forum users he quotes could be wing-nuts, but it doesn't change the fact that some Russian people, for whatever reason, do not want Kasparov's demonstrations.

Naturally western media is going to portray things as the vast majority of people in Russia are fighting for democracy etc, but how do we know that is true? Media has a long history of distorting the truth and outright lying (think CNN for the latest example). Can't trust western media to tell the truth, can't trust Russian controlled media to tell the truth, can't knock on the average Russian door and ask them what they think and expect them to tell the truth (or if they do tell the truth how would we know it is the truth and they're not just saying what they think the gov't would want them to say).

As acirce said, just a different angle, and not one we should overlook before we (western politicians/voters) decide we need to get tough with Russia (e.g. sanctions, foreign policy stuff). Media propaganda tells us that if we invade or meddle in another countries policies we'll be seen as heroes and liberators by the common folks who are struggling for democracy and freedom. Yeah, that didn't happen in the 50s, or the 70s, or the 90s, or in this century, so maybe this time we can think our way through things properly now that we've screwed it up so many other times.

But I figure since we haven't learned that lesson yet, we're not likely to learn it this time either.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on April 13, 2007 1:12 PM.

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