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© RIA Novosti. Alexey Kudenko

Welcome to the Anti-Seliger

by Alina Lobzina at 02/06/2011 18:03

 

A countryside retreat for activists aims to take on the Seliger juggernaut and show that it’s not just pro-Kremlin forces which have a monopoly on summer fun.

Musicians, artists, environmentalists, sportsmen, human rights activists, bloggers and their supporters have been invited to a four-day woodland rally set up by the Defenders of Khimki Forest.

Alongside leading Khimki eco-warrior Yevgeniya Chirikova, anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny and controversial rock guru Artemy Troitsky are among those who have confirmed their involvement.

“I see this as a meeting where concerned citizens can discuss their experiences and meet some shapers of opinion,” Chirikova, pictured above, told The Moscow News.

 

It’s not Nashi

Both the name – Anti-Seliger – and the rural venue are a direct reference to the state backed, Putin-endorsed youth festival staged every summer by pro-Kremlin groups.

Anti-Seliger is a direct rebuff to the lakeside event, which is closely associated with the Nashi movement.

And while it shouldn’t be linked too closely with the avowedly anti-establishment eco-camp in Khimki forest, Nashi’s leading lights are not convinced that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

“Instead of creating something by themselves, these so-called Khimki forest defenders prefer to use someone else’s brand,” Kristina Potupchik, Nashi’s press-secretary wrote in an email.

 

Beer and outcasts

And opposing oneself to Nashi’s initiative is not a flattering way to present an event, she believes.

“If there are famous and renowned people coming to us, it means Anti-Seliger will be a meeting of outcasts,” Potupchik wrote.

“And if there is an educational programme at the Seliger forum that cannot be left out, if means that at Anti-Seliger, on the contrary, books and lectures are forbidden,” she said. 

Her thoughts were echoed by commissar Tikhon Chumakov, who added by phone:

“If drinking is not allowed at the Seliger forum, does it mean there will be compulsory drinking there?”

 

Broad church

Drinking apparently won’t be encouraged whatever Nashi might suspect, but that doesn’t mean that the youth group’s supporters would be turned away, Chirikova says.

There are some rules, to respect others regardless their views and refrain from alcohol, and everyone who accepts them is very welcome to participate, she said.

“Let them come and listen – it will help them become wiser,” Chirikova said on the phone.

 

Early interest

Although full details of the programme will not be known until Friday the public has shown some enthusiasm already.

A video address from Chirikova and Navalny was viewed 27,000 within a day of being uploaded and a number of renowned activists and environmental experts have already offered their support, Chirikova said.

Anti-Seliger is to be held on June 17-20, and online registration has already started at www.antiseliger.ru (Russian only).

 

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