Arina, the NBP press secretary living in Saratov, told me that she and another National-Bolshevik got jumped by a gang of unknown people not long after they moved to Saratov. As they beat her and her friend, the attackers yelled things like "Limonov is a faggot!"
"It was probably some people connected to the police," she told me, shaking her head.
It's not hard to imagine. Even though the Putin regime has demonized Limonov for being a fascist, Putin's own youth movement, Moving Together, has been linked by many, including Novaya Gazeta, to Nazi and skinhead organizations. The link is barely hidden. Last month, when Ireland's soccer team came to Moscow to play the Russian national team, one of the eXile staffers spent an afternoon and evening with a large group of Moving Together members.
One of them pulled our staffer aside and said, "You know, I'm a fascist. I think we have to get rid of all the Jews and niggers."
He nearly stomped our staffer's half-Jewish friend who was with him because his name was David.
"Your name's David? Are you a Jew? Are you a Jew"?! the Moving Together teenager asked menacingly.
David lied. "I would have been killed," he later told me. "I was completely outnumbered."
Nothing has been more frustrating about Limonov's trial than the Western press's silence. The few correspondents I know who have tried to sell the story to their newspapers have failed. Others are openly happy to see Limonov behind bars, as if he got what he deserved, even if few believe that Limonov really posed a threat to Russia or Kazakhstan.
PEN International, the umbrella organization representing writers around the world, issued a statement in March expressing concern about the nature of Limonov's trial and calling for his release. But that is one of the few voices of protest from the hypocritical West.
I just don't see how a journalist can claim to stand for freedom of conscience and dissent...except in the case where his own values are under threat. Then again, since 9/11, it's hard to be surprised: most American journalists showed just how deep their journalist ethics really ran, abandoning what little skepticism, inquisitiveness and impartiality they had left for pure jingoism once they felt threatened. So much for universal values.
Does Limonov really pose a threat?
Yes, I think he does. As an Afghan war veteran friend told me, while fascist fruitcakes like Barkashov may have actual armies of men, they're merely cub scout masters with no fresh ideas who pose no threat to order. People like Limonov and the artists, intellectuals, poets and punks who gather around him are the kind of radical intellectuals who, although they themselves may not pose a physical threat, come up with ideas that might take root and germinate. That's what threatens the regime. And that's why Limonov, alone among Russia's extremists, is in real danger of spending the rest of his life in prison.