Title: ‘Zelyonka:’ the Anti-Putin Antiseptic
Author: Nikolay Syrov
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:24:16 +0300
Podcast Download URL: https://globalvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/319dc09fdd2e727569cc811b9a09ec21-400x300.jpg
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Source: Navalny.com
“Zelyonka,” a green topical antiseptic used in Russia and other countries in
Eastern Europe, is back in the headlines: On March 19, Russian opposition
leader and presidential candidate Alexei Navalny was attacked with the
antiseptic outside his campaign headquarters in the Siberian city of Barnaul,
leaving his face coated in “brilliant green.”
Navalny has used the incident to rally his base to join a nationwide
anti-corruption march scheduled for Sunday, and his supporters have begun
painting their faces green in solidarity—brilliant green, indeed, is becoming
the unofficial color of Russia’s opposition movement.
But Monday wasn’t the first time zelyonka, a diminutive term for “green,” has
made its way onto the front pages: over the past several years, the antiseptic
has taken on an increasing significance in Eastern European politics.
Brilliant Green. Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC 1.0
First discovered in the 19^th century by English chemist William Perkin,
zelyonka is still commonly used in many parts of the former Soviet Union, and
you’ll find a vial of it in nearly every Russian home—it’s the antiseptic
parents put on their children’s scrapes and cuts.
But lately, it’s become a weapon for those who want to attack the Russian
opposition. It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t threaten one’s health. It does burn a
bit, but most importantly, it doesn’t rub off easily. When used against the
opposition, it's intended to be a symbolic marker that takes days to disappear.
And there have been dozens of instances of zelyonka being used to mark
opposition leaders over the last several years. Most recently, Mikhail
Kasyanov, a Russian statesman and politician who served as prime minister of
Russia from May 2000 to February 2004, was doused in green dye at a march in
memory of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in February 2017.
Михаилу Касьянову неизвестный плеснул в лицо зеленку
— Ольга Кузнецова (@olyakuznetsova) February 26, 2017
An unidentified person splashed zelyonka on Mikhail Kasyanov.
Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya. Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC ASA 3.0
Similarly, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, an internationally acclaimed writer and fierce
opponent of the Soviet Union and Vladimir Putin’s regime, fell victim to an
antiseptic attack in 2016. Activists from the National Liberation Movement
(NOD), a nationalist, ultraconservative group, doused her in zelyonka while she
was trying to enter an award ceremony for a school competition being held by
the Memorial Society, an organization that seeks to document crimes committed
during the Soviet era and to prevent their reoccurrence in modern Russia.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of the anti-Putin feminist
punk band Pussy Riot, have also been attacked: in 2014, a group of pro-Putin
activists sprayed the two with zelyonka.
In Ukraine, Zzlyonka is also a popular political weapon. Former Prime
Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and current National Security and Defense Council
Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov were doused with green dye in the eastern city of
Kharkiv 2014, and a variety of other Ukrainian politicians, activists, and
journalists have been victims of attacks since.
Zelyonka attacks have become so routine in Russia and Ukraine that opposition
leaders no longer see them as much of a threat. In fact, they’re beginning to
use the attacks as their own political weapon: green is quickly becoming the
color of the opposition. After the latest attack on Navalny, social media users
launched an online flashmob using the hashtag #GreenNavalny (#зеленыйНавальный)
during which people posted pictures of themselves covered in green face paint.
Indeed, Russia’s opposition seems to be using antiseptic attacks on its leaders
as a way to mobilize support against the leaders of their country.
Written by Nikolay Syrov · comments (0) 
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