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Feature Story October 17, 2002
I Fought The Law: Edward Limonov on Trial
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 3 of 5
Most of the prosecution's witnesses only helped Limonov's cause. They either came off as harmless bohemians or actually undercut the prosecution's claim of a grand master plan for invasion directed by Limonov.

The prosecutors were a strange pair. The Moscow prosecutor, a high-ranking deputy in the Attorney General's Moscow office named Sergei Verbin, has a long, dark, sunken face with a thick drooping mustache and tinted glasses, almost the spitting image of Felix, the evil police informant in the B-movie classic Deep Cover. Verbin's sidekick, the local federal prosecutor from the Saratov oblast, has the plump, boyish face of a one-time Pioneer leader who marries a younger version of his mother. Both wore the royal blue uniforms and gold star lapels of the federal prosecutor's office. Neither seemed particularly impassioned about their case, neither offering particularly compelling questions during the sessions that I witnessed.

It generally went like this:

Skinhead struts into courtroom, tries hard to look calm and collected while clutching the creaky podium...

Verbin: "Have you read the article 'Drugaya Rossiya'"?

Skinhead: "No."

Vergin: "Have you seen bulletin number 5 for the NBP?"

Skinhead: "No."

Verbin: "Did Savenko E.V. [Limonov's real name] ever speak to you about buying weapons or invading Kazakhstan?"

Skinhead: "No."

Verbin: "No further questions."

The afternoon session wasn't much better for the prosecution. The first witness called, a tall, gentle-looking 29-year-old graphic design artist from Rostov, spoke so softly that he had to move twice. Judge Mironov at one point quipped, "Should we get you an interpreter?"

Another time, when others in the courtroom complained they couldn't hear the witness, Mironov, working on the success of his previous joke, quipped, "Maybe we should get an interpreter for him so that the rest of us can understand what he's saying." Everyone obediently laughed; Mironov's spasm became a restrained, self-satisfied twitch, rather than a tick.

Eventually Mironov ordered the soft-spoken, nervous skin to stand right in front of him and his two geriatric "people's witnesses," a pair of gray-skinned babushki on either side of Mironov who could barely keep their eyes open or their heads from falling into their chests. Even still, you could barely hear him. Someone was pounding the wall with a hammer above us.

The Rostov skinhead's testimony ended in shambles when Limonov's attorney turned the subject onto his graphic design and artistic background, and his relationship with other former National-Bolsheviks who went on to form the popular rock group Zapretniye Barabanchiki, who had a number one hit in Russia two years ago with "Ubili Negra" or "They Killed a Negro."

The other two skinheads I'd met in the morning session, both from Krasnoyarsk, were just as unhelpful to the prosecution. They denied ever hearing about plans for an armed invasion of Kazakhstan or the controversial article in Limonov's newspaper, Limonka, called "Drugaya Rossiya" or "Another Russia" which the prosecution alleges was a blueprint for the invasion of Northern Kazakhstan and the implementation of a National-Bolshevik regime there with Limonov as its leader.

The publication of the "Drugaya Rossiya" article early last year, while Limonov was in Krasnoyarsk researching his book on aluminum magnate Anatoly Bykov, plays a big role in the prosecution's case.

Limonov's defense claims that Limonov didn't write the article. Not only has the prosecution failed to prove that Limonov wrote "Drugaya Rossiya," but just yesterday, Limonka's editor, Alexei Volonets, admitted in court that the real author was Vladimir Linderman, a National-Bolshevik party member in Latvia.

When the prosecution asked why Linderman had never revealed himself before, Volonets said, "Because he was afraid he'd be arrested and thrown in jail."

In fact, Limonka, the incendiary newspaper named after both Limonov and the slang for hand grenade, was finally shut down by the authorities last month. However, the newspaper is already back in print, renamed "Generalnaya Liniya" or "The General Line" in small print, and the same Limonka logotype in large.

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