Elеna (kehlen) wrote,
Elеna
kehlen

LJI XI-5: My enemies are all too familiar. They're the ones who used to call me friend (~1050 words)

1.1. The police in the Soviet Union, and later, in Russia, were called militia until several years ago. A slogan about them, popularized by newspapers and movies, read "Our native (own) militia keeps us safe".

I have never had much to do with the militia. I have been to a precinct thrice of my own volition: at 18, to receive my first passport; at 21, to receive my second after the rules regulating passport issue were changed, and at 22, when said passport, along with a couple other documents, went missing from my open bag at a book store. On this third visit, I was persuaded to report the documents as lost. Luckily, some nice shop workers found them several days later and called me to come and get them.

One other time, we had to call the militia when our apartment was broken into and our first home computer was stolen, likely by some young hooligans who targeted it specifically because nothing else was taken. Nothing ever came out of this theft complaint.

2.1. When I was a child, my parents voted in every election. They would take my brother and me and go to the local school (most polling stations are located in schools in big cities). It was quite exciting to be allowed to tag along on "adult" outings, even if we had to wait in the hall while mother and father disappeared into the voting "cabins" made from plush red curtains.

There was a lot of red on election days. The tables of the election committee were covered with a red cloth and red banners proclaiming the will of the people in bold white letters hung on the walls and above door frames.


1.2. During my first year at college, I discovered the detective story writer Alexandra Marinina (her Wikipedia page and a few translated works on Amazon) who, herself, is a former law enforcment officer. In her works, she presents the militia as the same people as everbody else. Good people and not-very-good people, family men, singles, hard workers and hangers-back.

After reading her novels, my opinion of the militia was to wait and see, and that I did not have a reason to not trust them.

2.2.The first few times I voted myself, in the late 1990s, one of the options on the bulletin was "against everyone". It was abolished several years later.

Another voting requirement, that of a minimum election attendance, was suppressed some years after that. (The attendance has never been mandatory, only encouraged, and there is no fine for not performing this civil duty.)


1.3. The only encounter I have had with the law enforcement after it was renamed into police happened two years ago, when I was fined for jaywalking. Yes! It happens!

It happened mid-December in a quiet street between two official crossings at street lights. The people getting out of the nearby metro station always cross there because it is convenient (and because the official crossing closest to the station is iffy despite the street lights, seeing as the street turns around a block of houses there and the cars become visible at the last possible moment).

The road police stationed their car in a little lane nearby and started pulling jaywalkers in to be fined one-by-one, forming a line of offenders, which, when I joined it, consisted of women, pensioners, and a young couple.

One of the duties of militia was educating people and preventing crime.

The street police who stopped us did not explain what we did wrong or what we should have been doing instead unless asked directly. Nor did they mention the partial amnesty for street code violations that was in effect at the time (you only paid half the fine if you did it within 30 days of receiving it).

Most importantly, they never mentioned another rule, that first-time offenders (like me) are allowed to be left off not with a fine but a reprimand.

Flashback to my half-forgotten first-ever encounter with the militia when I was six years old. My granny and I were crossing a road in a similar should-have-street-lights-but-doesn't place. A militsioner (militia man) stopped and reprimanded us. I still remember the acute embarrassment I felt when he asked my granny if she realized what kind of exmaple she was setting for her granddaughter.

2.3. I have, with one exception, always cast my votes, and I always will.

In recent years, however, election results have been becoming more and more predictable. No matter how I vote, no matter how those whose choices I know do, the majority party gets elected with an overwhelming majority of counted votes.

Election attendance is plummeting.


1.4. & 2.4. Things came to a head this summer, both on the voting scene and with the police.

In the run-up to the elections of the local parliament in Moscow (an election nobody usually cares about), a vast majority of independent candidates were refused registration under the pretext that most of the singatures that they had collected to fulfill the quota required to be registered were fabricated.

In response, the candidates submitted a request to the authorities for a meeting to protest the refusal of registration. Their requests were repeatedly denied.

Angry with the refusals and with their singatures being designated false, the people went on to protest without permission, several times.

The authorities declared these peaceful protests held in the form of a "walk" around the city centre, mass riots, and went on to arrest several thousand people with fists and rubber sticks, charging the protest leaders with organizing riots and many of the protesters with attacking police officers.

The courts have recently sentenced someone who threw a plastic glass at the police to several years in jail, and another protester, who was beaten by the arresting policeman so violently, he (the policeman) sprained his arm, to several years of imprisonment as well.

Several people are still detained awaiting court dates.

The police and several businesses, including the Moscow underground, went a step further, and filed demands for the protest leaders to be fined millions of roubles: the police, for doing their job, and the businesses, for lost business opportunities during the protests.

These demands were upheld by the courts.

Personally, I don't have a reason to trust the police anymore.

Tags: entry:family_drama, entry:once_upon_a_time, family, fucked_up, granny, icon:richard-evil, life, links, lji, lji11, me, politika
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  • 23 comments

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    I am leaving. My mind has not been on the contest for a few weeks now, because I have too much to do and several competing deadlines to meet…

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    Many years ago, I have developed a simple strategy of facing compliments, because they have always made me uncomfortable: it does not matter…

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