Kazak Cops Hammer Tolkien Counter-culture - Institute of War and Peace Reporting

This news item sounds like a bizarre joke, but it isn't. Almaty's police are resorting to torture in their war against Kazakstan's burgeoning bohemian counter-culture. Their targets are a growing army of street musicians, alternative artists, anarchists, gays, and even a cult devoted to Tolkien -- anyone whose unconventional lifestyles infuriate them.

Here is an excerpt:

One well-known Kazak artist said, "Every youth group falls foul of the police for different reasons. The police hate alternative artists for exhibiting their unusual art in public places. They hate Tolkien followers for their conventions, where they dress up as their favourite Tolkien characters." Apparently, the police are particularly averse to their home-made rubber axes and wooden swords.

"We are perfectly legal," said Vitaly, a Tolkien follower. "We spend most of our time in the mountains. We only hold conventions in the city twice a year. It's our lifestyle. The police don't like it, but we aren't going to stop. It's our entire life."

The question is why are the police so determined to outlaw the counter-culture. A sociologist, Dmitri Avilkin, said the lower echelons of the law enforcement hierarchy are naturally averse to unconventional lifestyles. "There is no expertise in the system for addressing youth issues competently," he said.

A sergeant from the Almaty police department unwittingly confirmed this observation. "Their crazy looks and behaviour annoy me," he said. "If I had my way, I would put those lowlifes away, cut their hair and goatees, dress them in normal clothes, and make them go get a job."

Thanks go to Kim for sending this in. Click on the link below.

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