Critics of the Kremlin are being splashed with a green liquid called zelyonka.
Russian opposition leaders have never had it easy. Harassment, surveillance and violence have long been part of the landscape. But in recent months, they have also had to watch out for pro-government cronies wielding a green dye known as zelyonka. In March Alexei Navalny, Russia’s foremost opposition politician, had his face splashed with the stuff (pictured) while campaigning in the Siberian city of Barnaul.
Earlier this month, Mr Navalny announced that a second attack, which featured zelyonka mixed with another substance, had left him partially blind. (Mr Navalny underwent eye surgery in Spain this week, after Russian authorities issued him a passport for the first time in five years.) “Nowadays on the Russian political spectrum, green is the color of alarm,” says an editorial in Novaya Gazeta, a leading opposition newspaper. What is zelyonka, and why is it turning opposition-minded Russians’ faces green?
A widespread Soviet-era antiseptic akin to iodine, zelyonka, or “brilliant green”, is normally used to treat small scrapes. Pro-Kremlin activists have adopted it to stain those who challenge the government. The Economist
Brilliant Green has the added advantage of stigmatizing its victims. It is notoriously difficult to wash off, guaranteeing targets will bear the mark of the “enemy” for several days at least. “It serves to humiliate the victim and discredit the person in the eyes of voters as weak and defenseless,” says Oreshkin.
But by now, analyst Dmitry Oreshkin argues, its intended effect has faded. In fact, the opposition itself have started wearing green as a badge of honor. After Navalny was attacked in Barnaul, dozens of his supporters posted pictures of themselves in green online. When Kasyanov was attacked at the Nemtsov march, defiant demonstrators began chanting: “You won’t pour zelyonka over us!” MoscowTimes