Monday, September 23, 2013

Global Politics

Top Human Rights lawyer announces candidacy for the Russian presidency
Masha Bast via Facebook
By Brody Levesque | MOSCOW -- Masha Bast, the Chairperson for the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights announced Monday her intent to run for the highest elected office in the Russian Federation. If elected, she would become Russia's first woman president.
Bast, 38, who has worked on some of the most high-profile and politically sensitive cases in the country, had come out as transgender woman in protest of Russia's anti-gay legislation and recent crackdown on LGBT people on September 4.
In her announcement she said that she would no longer be living her life as Yevgeny Arkhipov, but as Masha Bast. She also invited people to follow her progress on Facebook as she undergoes hormone treatment and surgeries, and also said she would answer any questions that they may have about her journey.
Bast's announcement Monday of the formation of election headquarters and large-scale election campaign was coupled with her statement that, "Russia is on the verge of choosing between " Yugoslavian scenario" and European socialism, and only people may choose the way of development." She warned that without immediate progress towards reform, Russia will collapse into inter-ethnic conflicts, inter-religious wars and civil war. She added that she and her fellow activists will seek first, "real democratic honest and fair elections in Russia."
She also said that her campaign will focus on fighting corruption,education, free medical care, affordable energy, a more independent Russian economy, and the reform of the law enforcement system. She added that she would like to see the presidential term reduced to four years with only one chance at reelection.
Bast plans to reform the military as well as end compulsory military service and wants to see the Russian Federation adopt an European Union style governance doing away with the internal passport and the compulsory registration of the place of residence. 
Bast did offer that her economic platform was based on the model of building of European socialism to compete against the U.S. model that she claims the highest value are not human rights and freedoms, but material goods.
Bast stressed, that she is for human rights and freedoms, justice, against discrimination anyone on any grounds - including the discrimination of women, grounds of nationality and property, age, persons with disabilities, or sexual orientation or gender identity.
Bast said that she supports same-sex marriage, including the right to adoption, the freedom of choice of gender and the possibility of complete rejection of gender. She said that the highest value is a human, human rights and freedoms, justice and social guarantees to everyone.
In a recent interview with the English language daily Moscow Times, Bast answered questions about her view points on being transgender and the anti-gay propaganda law which had been a deciding factor for her decision to go public with her gender identity.
"There are people who actively choose their gender, and there are people who don't think about it, or they try and avoid questioning it because of their religious beliefs or other reasons. Those who choose to decide their own gender because their internal gender doesn't match their external appearance are called transgender, especially when they take visible steps to make their external gender match their internal gender. I don't think of myself as transgender though — I just think of myself as a woman. I do, however, consider myself part of the LGBT community because we are all in the minority."
Speaking about the anti-gay propaganda law she said,
"The law banning gay propaganda among minors is completely wrong, though. I remember being 10 and wanting to be a girl and putting on girl's clothes. I didn't understand what was happening to me."
"So it isn't a matter of upbringing. It's nature. That's why I think the law against " homosexual propaganda" is a law against children and one that targets certain social groups. It is a fascist law and nothing else."