National Bolshevik faces five years in prison for threatening judge

  • 2005-12-07
  • By Aaron Eglitis
RIGA - A member of the Latvian chapter of the National Bolsheviks, Beness Aijo, was arrested by the Security Police Dec. 2 after he had issued a letter that threatened the life of judge Guntars Sturis, officials reported.
In the letter, Aijo called Sturis a "malicious bribe taker and enemy of the people who has sold himself to the bourgeoisie and the security police." He added that "such conduct will cost him dearly, and soon he will be repaid in full for his prostitution to the anti-popular system."
Aijo, a ubiquitous revolutionary in Latvian circles, also mentioned judge Janis Laukroze, who was murdered outside his apartment building by an unknown assailant in 2001.
Aijo was in court days before for allegedly giving a letter to the newspaper Diena that called for the violent overthrow of the country.

The National Bolshevik denied the charge, but handwriting experts identified the print on the letter as his. Aijo was sentenced to nine months in jail by judge Guntars Sturis.

He has since appealed the first case.

Aijo could face up to five years in prison for his latest threat, plus a fine in addition to his first court case.

According to a profile of Aijo in Diena, the young National Bolshevik is half-Russian, half-Ugandan and has been interested in socialist revolution since a young age.

The National Bolsheviks' shenanigans, in addition to their bombastic rhetoric promising revolution and the end of the bourgeoisie, have brought the radical group wide coverage, despite its diminutive size.

Former Integration Minister Nils Muiznieks has long followed the exploits of the National Bolsheviks while heading a human rights NGO. He said that the National Bolsheviks in Russia and Latvia have been walking a razor's edge for years while managing to avoid a full government crackdown.

"A year or two ago they knew where the line was," Muiznieks said. "They clearly have grown more militant."

Despite the lack of any serious action by the National Bolsheviks, Muiznieks said "they are clearly a threat, and should be taken seriously."

The National Bolsheviks emerged in Russia in 1994, a creation of Eduard Limonov, a Soviet dissident writer who reportedly hung out with Trotskyites in New York and members of the far right and left in France.

The National Bolsheviks combine the Soviet hammer and sickle with Nazi inspired colors for their flag, an ideology mixing anarchism with left-wing activism.

During the Balkan wars, Limonov fired a gun over the city of Sarejevo to show solidarity with the Slavs. He was sentenced to a prison term in 2001 for allegedly attempting to incite an insurrection in Kazakhstan. After his prison stay, Limonov's ideology appeared to moderate, but the direct actions continued, until a crackdown by Russian security services followed.

The would-be revolutionaries have repeatedly had run-ins with Latvian law enforcement. The former leader of the local chapter, Vladmir Linderman, is lying low in Russia after the Latvian security police said they found explosives at his residence and a letter calling for the assassination of President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

Following Linderman's departure, the group, whose membership may surpass a dozen active participants, appeared in the media again when they took over the top of St. Peters' Church, unfurled their flag and threatened to detonate explosives. The explosives later turned out to be fakes.

Other infamous National Bolshevik exploits include when Alina Lebedeva hit visiting Prince Charles in the face with a rose to protest the UK's military action in Afghanistan. This gesture alone brought the group international attention.

Later, Lebedeva allegedly helped set fire to the Ministry of Education and Science's front doors in a show of opposition to the school reform instituted last year. She has also reportedly fled to Russia.