Anonymous Poster Artists Talk about Their Fatherland Defenders Day Protest in the Subway
Andrei Sobol paperpaper.ru
February 24, 2015
Yesterday, February 23, anti-war posters appeared in ad slots in subway cars. Anonymous activists hung three series of posters: quotations by famous authors about war; pastiches of children’s drawings; and avant-garde posters.
Organizers told Paper why they did it, how patriotism can be a bad thing, and where to look for the fruits of this anonymous partisan protest.
The first series of posters featured anti-war quotations by Erich Maria Remarque, Jaroslav Hašek, and Ernest Hemingway. The unknown artists pasted them over municipal government posters.
The second series of work, pastiches of children’s drawings, deal with the impact of war propaganda on children. The artists have tried to convey children’s vision of war.
(left panel) “My brother was killed in the army during peacetime. When I grow up is that also where I’ll end up?” (right panel) “My dad is very strong. He killed enemies, and now he beats me and Mom. Katya, 8 years old.”
“They told me I have to grow up to be a real man. When I grow up I’ll go to war, and I’ll rape and kill! Artyom, 7 years old.”
“My dad is a hero, but he doesn’t have arms anymore. God, let him grow new arms!!!”
“My dad came back from the war without legs. Now he says he’d be better off dead.”
In the third series of works, the anonymous artists decided to shift the focus from the celebration of Fatherland Defenders Day by recalling what else we commemorate on February 23rd: for example, the birthday of the Russian and Soviet avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich.
“K. Malevich was born on February 23. Happy otherness day!”
According to the protesters, who claimed responsibility for all three series, the posters were posted near the subways stations Lesnaya, Ploshchad Muzhestva, and Vyborgskaya. A total of twenty-six works were produced and put up.
Anonymous artist, organizer of the anti-war protest in the Petersburg subway: “Our government has greatly increased spending on militarization, which leads to the allocation of ever smaller sums for the social needs of Russian citizens. Hospitals and schools are being closed, and the educational sector as a whole is suffering. The idea of doing one series of posters as pastiches of children’s drawings was borne out of this. Poverty and unemployment are growing, while aggressive, conservative patriotism is becoming more and more noticeable with every passing day. Incidents of xenophobia and sexism have become more frequent, women are not allowed to control their own bodies, and attempts are being made to ban abortions. The government has apparently forgotten about its own citizens as it thinks only about war and external enemies.
“The army kills. Happy Fatherland Defenders Day!”
“My dad is a soldier. He kills and rapes. Happy February 23rd! Misha, 6 years old.”
An anti-war quotation by Hemingway pasted over a municipal government ad that reads, “On the 70th anniversary of the Victory during Literature Year. […] Together we are reading [sic] Petersburg!”
Today, Obshchestvennoe Mnenie journalist Sergei Vilkov, a member of the anti-fascist movement, was charged by the regional directorate of the Center for Extremism Prevention (Center “E”) under Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code (“Propaganda of Nazi symbols”). The charge was based on a November 2011 cartoon, featuring the logo of the ruling United Russian party and a swastika, that denounced links between the authorities and nationalist movements. The cartoon was posted on the VKontakte social network in connection with the fact that Saratov City Hall issued permission for a march by right-wing radicals on November 4th.
Saratov journalist and anti-fascist Sergei Vilkov
Charges were filed after Center “E” followed up on a public request by Alexander Lando, head of the Saratov Regional Public Chamber, to check the contents of Sergei Vilkov’s social network accounts.
Today a fourth-grader told me that his history teacher [at a school in Petersburg’s Central District] had explained in class that Stalin had shot traitors. “Is it true?” the child asked me. I said the teacher was a foolish woman and it was pity she hadn’t been shot! And that the student could go and tell her so. The child reasonably remarked that if he did that, she would call the police. I then gave him the rundown on Stalin, thus completely and utterly undermining the history teacher’s authority.
“Let’s Save Russia’s Children from American Slavery!” Placard at Anti-Maidan rally, Field of Mars, Petrograd, February 21, 2015. Photo courtesy of Sergey Chernov
Fontanka looking for kindergarten that staged “Militiaman Day” with arms
February 24, 2015 Fontanka.ru
Photos from a “Militiaman Day,” allegedly held at a St. Petersburg kindergarten, are being discussed today on the blogs. In the photos, a man in a major’s uniform shows children all sorts of modifications of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, as well as a Dragunov sniper rifle, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and a shaped charged anti-tank grenade. The children happily pose with all these weapons, which are probably dummies used for training.
The photos has had a bombshell effect on the Russian segment of the Internet. The shots have been compared to images from children’s celebrations in institutions supported by Hamas.
The blogger who posted these photos claims that one of the parents decided to make the children happy in this way.
The only thing that remains off camera is what kindergarten would permit such a celebration? We ask parents who know in what kindergarten the photos were taken to contact Fontanka’s editors.
The images, above, are screenshots from twitter.com as reproduced on Fontanka.ru
Gleb Kuznetsov writes on Facebook that it is no longer necessary to watchtelevision [to experience Russian war hysteria]: it suffices to pay a visit to a kindergarten: “As she was undressing the child, Grandma vaguely heard what was being said in the group before classes began. Seated on little stools, the kiddies were gathered around the minder. ‘Children. There is a war on in Ukraine. People are dying. Little kids and their parents are being hurt. Enemies have attacked them. But our president is a good man, children. He is fighting for peace… He is sending arms to the militiamen. So today we’ll be gluing envelopes.’ A child of six heard this as was he was changing his clothes and yelled, ‘Hurrah! World war. We’ll beat everybody.”
Anti-Maidan Actions Shouldn’t Make Putin Feel Secure, Vishnevsky Says
February 22, 2015 Window on Eurasia
Staunton, February 22 – The Kremlin-organized Anti-Maidan demonstration in Moscow should not make Vladimir Putin feel secure because it was in reality an updated version of the Day of the Black Hundreds, Boris Vishnevsky says, groups organized by the tsarist regime to show support for the autocracy but that later did nothing to defend it.
Just as a century ago, demonstrators paid for by the regime or pushed to take part by their employers or officials went into the street to “denounce the revolution, praise autocracy, demand the preservation of the existing order and destroy ‘the enemies of the tsar and Fatherland,’” the Yabloko St. Petersburg city deputy says.
In its current incarnation, “the heirs” of the Black Hundreds denounce the Maidan, praise Putin and demand the destruction of ‘the Fifth Column,’” led by notorious Stalinists, supporters of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and demonstrating by their slogans – including “’Putin is Better than Hitler’” – their level of sophistication.
Also like their tsarist-era predecessors, the Anti-Maidan organizers are spectacularly unfortunate in identifying themselves in this way, as becomes obvious, Vishnevsky says, if one compares the Maidan and the Anti-Maidan and if one considers how the Black Hundreds groups behaved when push came to shove — and how the Anti-Maidan people are likely to.
In Kyiv, people came into the Maidan “to drive out a corrupt regime.” In Moscow, they “came to the ‘Anti-Maidan’ in order to express their loyalty and support to the powers that be.” They did not demand the regime meet its obligations to the people but only and instead that “the power not change.”
That may sound good to Putin and his backers, Vishnevsky continues, but he ought not to be too encouraged by this. That is because “when his power begins to shake, not one of those who came to the ‘Anti-Maidan will come out in his defense” – just as a century ago, “not one of the Black Hundreds types came out to defend the tsarist power.”
But if Putin does not care to look that far back in time, he might consider a more recent example, the St. Petersburg deputy says. None of those who had shouted “’Glory to the CPSU!’” or denounced “’the crimes of American imperialism’” came out to defend the communist regime when it began to fall apart.
Indeed, he suggests, like their predecessors, those in the Anti-Maidan who “equate Putin with Russia” and swear that they will ‘not give him up’” will betray him among the first. If Putin doesn’t believe that” – and he probably doesn’t – “then let him ask Yanukovich,” an even more recent victim of the delusion of those in power about how much support they have.
But there are more reasons for Putin to be worried. The extremist slogans on offer in the Anti-Maidan action, including anti-Semitic tropes that also link it with the Black Hundreds of the end of the Russian Imperial period, the lack of support from those whose names were invoked, and the small size of Anti-Maidan actions outside of Moscow should be of even greater concern.
As Forum-MSK.org points out today, the workers of the Urals Wagon Factory (Uralvagonzavod) who Putin sees as symbolic of his support among Russia’s silent majority and who were referred to be speakers at yesterday’s event in Moscow are anything but enthusiastic about him and his policies.
Lacking new orders, that plant is cutting back production plans and laying off workers, a situation that is replicated at many industrial sites around the Russian Federation and that hardly is an advertisement for the successes of the Putin regime or a reason for workers to give it more than lip service support.
Outside of the Moscow ring road, there were a number of Anti-Maidan actions. But because the PR needs of the regime were largely satisfied by the 35,000-person crowd in Moscow that could be shown on television and because the regional governments now lack the resources to do more, they were very small, in some cases no more than a handful and in others only a few dozen or a few hundred.
The Kremlin may not care a lot about the size – few in the Moscow media and even fewer Western reporters will cover anything outside of the capitals – but it probably should be worried that those taking part were in many cases the very Russian nationalist extremists it has been prosecuting and that their slogans were even more extreme than those in Moscow.
Moreover, the Kremlin’s PR specialists may be nervous about what happened when regional media picked up on that: In many cases, they were not afraid to say that “the meeting in support of Putin … failed.” That is exactly what a Karelian news agency did.
In Petrozavodsk, the republic capital, the agency said, a meeting had been scheduled as part of “an all-Russian action ‘in support of national leader Vladimir Putin’” with slogans like “’It is [time] to drive out ‘the fifth column.’” But in the event, Vesti.Karelia.ru noted, “only 15 people” came out in behalf of those ideas.
It may be that the men in the Kremlin won’t take notice of this; but there is no question that the people of Karelia will.
The More Patriotic the Patriot, the More Western-Centric He Is
February 19, 2015 Fontanka.ru
Observing ardent Russian patriots, you come to some amazing conclusions. The West occupies a much greater place in their minds than Russia does, although the opposite should seemingly be the case.
For example, crooner and Russian MP Iosif Kobzon, a victim of the malicious West, just called for restrictions on Russophobes traveling outside the homeland. “Slander, spit on, and insult the country and public figures at home. But I wouldn’t let them go abroad,” he said. One cannot but admire the civic courage of a man willing literally to be spat upon by Russophobes by way of preventing them from denigrating Russia from outside its borders. And yet it is surprising, because logically it should be the other way round: the Russophobes should shove off to their beloved Gayropa, to NATO and the Banderites, and not prevent us honest Russophiles from happily living in Russia. But no, the real patriot’s main worry is how “they” treat us.
Now, when war is in full swing, such nuances are barely noticeable. Before the war, this amazing phenomenon was confirmed nearly every day. If an American broadcaster called the monument at the Brest Fortress “ugly,” the Russian Foreign Ministry shot off an angry diplomatic note. When the now almost epic character Jen Psaki showed her ignorance of Russian geography, the patriotic segment of the Russian Internet wrote only about this for something like a week. Foreign heads of state who did not come to Russia for the May 9 Victory Day parade were automatically placed on the list of fascist sympathizers. The only thing that could be worse was mentioning the role of the Allies in the victory over Germany, which in itself diminished our own contribution to the victory. So it was inevitable when the Polish foreign minister trolled us about the Ukrainians liberating Auschwitz. It is always lots of fun to mock touchy people.
Perhaps Russian patriots just have a great respect for their own history and don’t want to let anyone take the piss out of it? But it is not hard to imagine how those folks who suffer when Soviet monuments are moved in the Baltic countries or nationalists hold a rally in Ukraine would react to a neo-fascist march in an African country. They would react the same way they react to top Japanese officials visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, a shrine to Japanese war dead, including WWII war criminals: not at all. They are not interested, although the Japanese war criminals killed Soviet soldiers and were real allies of Hitler, unlike Stepan Bandera. Of course, Japan is far way, and Ukraine is nearby. But the US isn’t exactly round the corner, either, and look how the Russian patriots keep tabs on Psaki, hanging on her every word.
Russian patriots don’t care how Africans and the Japanese relate to them. Only the opinion of the advanced Americans and the Europeans matters to them. And it is only against them that we harbor an age-old resentment. We saved them from Napoleon, but instead of being grateful they attacked our city of Sevastopol. In the First World War we took the German blow on ourselves, but they didn’t help us fight the Bolsheviks. Then (by this time the Bolsheviks were now the good guys) we saved them again during the Second World War, and they paid us back with the Marshall Plan and the “evil empire.” We welcome them wholeheartedly, and they bomb Serbia and send our friend Milošević to the hoosegow.
Here is the surprising conclusion: the more blatant the patriot, the more Western-centric he is. No matter how much he has daydreamed publicly about the “Chinese way” for the fatherland, his thoughts revolve only round the West. What will they say? Do they respect us? Do they fear us? Do they remember how we shed blood for them? Do they know we were first in space?
We can assume the heart of each genuine Russophile is filled with envy for happy Europeans and an unrealized desire to join the big European family, since Russia historically belongs to the European Christian civilization, and everyone living in Russia feels that there, in the West, is the center of our world, and there is no other center. In psychological terms, the experience of unrealized desire is called frustration. Frustration leads to aggression, aggression leads to alarm, alarm leads to defensive reactions. Which is what we have been seeing.
Photo by The Russian Reader. The text reads, “SANCTIONS! As of March 21, 2014, SP Service, Ltd., has introduced sanctions against the US in connection with the fact that the US does not recognize the legitimacy of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Thus, US President Barak Obama and all members of the US Congress will be refused mobile phone consultations and repairs. March 21, 2014. S.V. Pavlov, Director, SP Service, Ltd.”