Tyoply Stan: Russian Truckers’ Strike Continues

Striking Dagestani trucker. Photo by and courtesy of anatrrra
Striking Dagestani trucker. Photo by and courtesy of anatrrra

Since February 20, Russian truckers have been carrying out a nationwide strike against the newly introduced Plato mileage tolls system, a strike scheduled to end tomorrow, March 1.

Yet another truckers’ protest camp has been set up, this time in the Tyoply Stan district of southwest Moscow.

More than forty regions of the country have been involved in the strike, but Dagestan has been leading the way. The wave of protests started there, and this was no coincidence. Conditions in Dagestan are very difficult for truckers. There are too many taxes, the shipping rates are too low, corrupt officials at different levels demand tribute payments, and so the strike is simply a matter of survival for Dagestani truckers.

The media blackout that has affected all the striking truckers has taken on more rigid forms in Dagestan than in other regions of Russia. As far back as this past autumn, a local TV channel was forced off the air for two weeks after it broadcast a story about the protesting drivers.

Truckers were working themselves ragged as it was, but the Plato tolls system will completely ravage the incomes of their families.

As one trucker remarked, “It’s not our trucks that ruin the roads, but the roads that ruin our trucks.”

And in fact, a good part of the money truckers earn is spent on spare parts and repair.

The truckers need support, and they are open to dialogue. Would you like to ask them a question? Don’t be shy! There are big rigs parked outside the MEGA Centers in Khimki and Tyoply Stan, and you can go there and talk with the truckers any time of day. It is certainly a hundred times more informative and pleasant than watching TV.

P.S. A telltale incident occurred on the subway yesterday as a friend and I were traveling to Tyoply Stan to meet with the striking Dagestani truckers. I was telling my friend about them, and I was not whispering, of course. We were standing next to the doors. Suddenly, we heard the disgruntled shout of an irritated lady, around fifty-five years in age, sitting next to us. She demanded I shut up. I was talking loudly, sure. So noise can be tolerated but not conversation?

anatrrra

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Striking truckers' camp in Tyoply Stan, Moscow. Photo by and courtesy of anatrra
Striking truckers’ camp in Tyoply Stan, Moscow. Photo by and courtesy of anatrra
Striking Dagestani trucker  in front of his rig. The placard on the windshield reads, "Plato, put it into reverse before it kicks off." Photo by and courtesy of anatrrra
Striking Dagestani trucker in front of his rig. The placard on the windshield reads, “Plato, put it into reverse before it kicks off.” Photo by and courtesy of anatrrra
Striking truckers chatting with a visitor to their camp in Tyoply Stan. Photo by and courtesy of anatrrra
Striking truckers chatting with a visitor to their camp in Tyoply Stan. Photo by and courtesy of anatrrra

 

An Auchan hypermarket, visible from striking truckers' camp in Tyoply Stan. Photo by and courtesy of anatrrra
An Auchan hypermarket, visible from striking truckers’ camp in Tyoply Stan. Photo by and courtesy of anatrrra

My thanks to anatrrra for letting me translate the preface to their photo reportage and permitting me to reprint several of the photos on this website. The rest of anatrrra’s visit to the striking truckers’ camp in Tyoply Stan can be viewed here. You should also read all my previous posts on the draconian Plato haulage tolls system and Russian truckers’ protests against it. TRR

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Nemtsov: One Year Later

Boris Nemtsov was murdered exactly a year ago. Some of the men who organized and carried out his murder have been caught, but the name of the person who ordered the killing remains a mystery.

On February 27, at least 20,000 people in Moscow took part in a march in memory of the opposition politician, who was murdered right outside the walls of the Kremlin. Apparently, the march’s organizers did not expect such a large number of attendees, counting, apparently, on a more intimate event for Nemtsov’s friends and supporters. There was, accordingly, almost no political rhetoric on display except for ritualistic slogans such as “We remember,” “Russia will be free,” and “Free the political prisoners” (inescapable in the current circumstances).

However, the anti-crisis march Nemtsov himself had planned for March 1, 2015, consequently did not take place, and no one from his entourage contemplated doing anything like it during the year that followed his death.

For the second year in a row, the event was a memorial. The slogan on one placard, “I’m speechless,” was the apotheosis of this helplessness. The crowd was mostly silent. Only here and there did marchers sing the Marseillaise or shout anti-Putin slogans, but almost no one among their fellow marchers repeated the slogans. The homemade placards were even fewer than usual, although the sunny pre-spring weather clearly lifted people’s spirits.

The demonstrators, however, had not come to downtown Moscow just for a stroll but to express their mutual disagreement with something that, alas, no one bothered to articulate. Today’s Nemtsov memorial march resembled a political rally without a political agenda.

—anatrrra

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“Fight Back.” In Russian, the phrase (Boris’) is a play on Nemtsov’s first name (Boris). Photo by and courtesy of anatrra

Continue reading “Nemtsov: One Year Later”

The Moldova Story

In 1994, my friend Nikolai, a retired agronomist from Moldova adrift in a large American city, dictated the following story to me in Russian.

1.

In Moldova in the month of April the weather is warm and rainy. Spring is coming.

The peasants all together set about the spring fieldwork. Nature is waking up. Gardens are blooming.

After the warm days and showers on the fields the first shoots of the field crops appear all at once.

2.

The best season of the year is summer. In this season the days are hot. Fruits, berries, early vegetables, and different kinds of table grapes appear on the vine.

The water in the river Dniester and the lakes becomes warm, and people swim and sunbathe.

3.

Three million people live in Moldova. Moldavians make up the indigenous population, but other nationalities live there as well: Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Romanians, and Jews.

Moldova is an independent nation at the present time.

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Pic of recent massive demonstration outside Moldovan Parliament

Moldova: A mouse roaring a truth
Paul Canning
February 24, 2016

This story might appear obscure but it reflects a bigger issue: about how Russian revanchism is reported back through democratic Europe’s free media. The issues it describes have also often been the story in Ukraine. How solid, liberal ideas like ‘balance’ and reporting ‘both sides’ can become a failure to tell the truth. How inserted reporters don’t pay attention to the locals. How the messy ‘European ideal’ needs much closer reporting if we’re to truly live up to any democratic ideal.

In the 1959 British comedy The Mouse That Roared a tiny, obscure European country ends up through comedic slight-of-hand being feted by both sides in the Cold War. In comedy, it showed how much of Europe is to the British ‘Ruritania‘, an inexplicable country whose peoples and cultures all mess into one. As the article explains this approach lives on with today’s lens of geopolitics and ideas of ‘colour revolution’ (via Russian infowar) muddying the coverage yet more.

 Read the rest of the story on oDR.

Decriminalizing Domestic Violence in Russia?

Women in Petersburg Celebrated February 23 by Paving the Way to a Church with “Dead” Bodies 
Rosbalt
February 24, 2016

Photo courtesy of protest organizers

A protest action against discrimination and the [proposed decriminalization of] battery and homicide threats took place outside St. Nicholas Maritime Cathedral in Petersburg. Feminists thus marked Fatherland Defenders Day.

During the performance, two men laid out young women, who depicted the fatal victims of beatings, on the steps leading to the church. At the end of the protest action, the protesters raised placards bearing slogans such as “My man made threats, my man killed me,” “Who will defend us from the defenders of the fatherlands?” “I said no: he broke my arm,” “97% of abuse cases never make it to court,” and “Thank you, legislators, for our happy deaths.”

Фото предоставлено организаторами акции
Photo courtesy of protest organizers
Фото предоставлено организаторами акции
“My man threatened me, my man killed me.” Photo courtesy of protest organizers

The organizers told Rosbalt they were protesting against the [proposed] removal of battery and homicide threats from the Russian Criminal Code.

“The decision as to whether women can find protection from law enforcement agencies or not is being made by legislators and priests who do not suffer from beatings by their partners. How is this possible? Do the lives and health of the country’s citizens not interest the government? Every fourth woman in Russia faces domestic violence,” the organizers noted.

According to them, it is extremely difficult for women to file battery complaints. And most often the perpetrator is not duly published: the charges are limited to a misdemeanor.

Whereas “women put up with violence their whole lives and often die at the hands of their partners.”

“We believe such a law is a crime,” noted the organizers.

Фото предоставлено организаторами акции
Photo courtesy of protest organizer

The Way to the Church

Russian women marked February 23 by paving the way to a church with dead bodies. 

The women were thus protesting the [proposed] exclusion of battery and homicide threats from the Criminal Code, a measure actively lobbied by the Russian Orthodox Church. 

The chairman of the Patriarchal Commission on the Family and the Defense of Motherhood and Childhood has opposed ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic violence. (From the commission’s website, February 26, 2015)

[President Putin] urged [lawmakers] not to delay passage of the law, which would decriminalize such articles of the Criminal Code as battery, homicide threats, and willful failure to pay alimony. (Kommersant, February 16, 2016)

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade SJ and the Nihilist for the heads-up

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Russian Supreme Court proposes to decriminalize minor offences
RAPSI
July 31, 2015

MOSCOW, July 31 (RAPSI) – Russia’s Supreme Court suggested decriminalizing minor offenses such as battery, the threat of homicide, failure to pay alimony or child support, RAPSI learnt in the court on Friday.

In a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev proposed that minor crimes such as battery and petty theft be decriminalized and classified as administrative offenses [misdemeanors]. He said this would reduce the number of cases sent to court by 300,000 annually.

A bill, which the Supreme Court has drafted, would decriminalize petty crimes such as battery, the use of forged documents, the threat of homicide and failure to pay alimony or child support. Penalties for these offenses would only include fines, correctional labor or community service.

Justice Vladimir Davydov said at the plenary meeting that this would free up half of all investigators to deal with serious crimes and would help over 300,000 people avoid criminal penalties and negative consequences for employment, education and the issuance of passports or loans.

A deputy prosecutor general said he supported the idea, adding that approval would allow investigators, who claim to be too busy with petty crimes, to investigate more serious crimes.

Petty crimes accounted for 46 percent of all cases sent to court last year.

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Putin suggests decriminalization of Russian Penal Code
TASS
December 3, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked Russian lawmakers to support a proposal to decriminalize a number of articles of the Russian Penal Code.

“I am asking the Russian State Duma to support the proposal of the Russian Supreme Court to decriminalize some articles of the Russian Penal Code and transfer some of the crimes that pose no great threat to the public or society to the category of administrative offenses but with one major reservation: the offense will be classified as a crime if it is committed for a second time,” Putin said in the annual state of the nation address to the Russian Federal Assembly (parliament) on Thursday.

The head of state clarified that practically every second criminal case, which is taken to court today, is linked to minor and inconsiderable offenses while people, including youth, are sent to prison.

“The confinement and the fact of criminal conviction affect their future fate and often encourage them to commit further crimes,” the president concluded.

Russian penitentiaries have around 660,000 inmates. According to the Federal Penitentiary Service, 55% of them are recidivists. Approximately 25% of the offenders serve prison sentences for minor offenses and crimes of medium gravity; 1,800 people have been convicted for terrorism and extremism.

Excessive acts of law enforcement agencies destroy business climate in Russia

Putin said excessive acts of law enforcement agencies destroy the business climate in Russia.

“That is a direct destruction of the business climate. I am asking the investigation and prosecution authorities to pay a special attention to it,” he said.

The President said that in 2014 nearly 200,000 criminal cases on economic crimes were initiated in Russia. Of this number 46,000 reached the court and 15,000 cases “collapsed” in courts.

“It turns out that only 15% of cases ended with verdicts,” Putin said.

He added that most of the defendants in these cases – about 83% – fully or partially lost their businesses.

“That means that there were bullied, robbed and released,” the head of state said.

He called on prosecutors to make a wider use of their authorities to monitor the quality of the investigation.

The president also recalled the discussions on additional powers of prosecutors.

Today, a supervisory authority has the authority to cancel decisions on initiation of criminal proceedings, to dismiss indictments or not to uphold the charges in court.

“We need to use what we have more intensively. After that we will be able to analyze what is happening in practice,” he said.

According to Putin, detention at the stage of investigation of economic crimes should be used as a last resort and preference should be given to such methods as pledge, subscription on parole and house arrest.

[…]

Pyotr Pavlensky: We Live between Fascism and Anarchy

Pyotr Pavlensky: We Live between Fascism and Anarchy
afoniya.wordpress.com
February 19, 2016

pyotr

With the news that actionist artist Pyotr Pavlensky was sent to the notorious Serbsky Institute of Psychiatry in a clear case of punitive psychiatry (for more on the case and its context, read Gabriel Levy’s excellent blog post), there is obviously a need to highlight and protest this fact but also a need to listen to Pavlensky’s own ideas and concepts. Here is a small excerpt, published in a Russian online magazine, which will be part of a forthcoming book on the artist in the context of Russian actionism. 

The original interview with Anastasia Belyayeva was posted on the website Snob on February 16, 2016.

—Giuliano Vivaldi

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It was recently announced the organizers of the Innovation Contemporary Art Prize had disqualified Pyotr Pavlensky’s performance Threat, in which he set fire to the doors of the FSB building in Moscow. This is an excerpt from a forthcoming book, Pyotr Pavlensky in Russian Actionism, which publisher Ilya Danishevsky has kindly allowed Snob to run.

* * * * *

Let’s talk about your audience. I am curious about this. In an interview with a Ukrainian television channel you stated that art should articulate, because it is rather difficult for people themselves to articulate why the state is crushing them. Your mission is to articulate?

A kind of diffusion has been taking place. We all find ourselves in a similar situation politically. Certain controversial things are happening to us, fairly unpleasant things. The issue is what is happening and how. Everyone senses it one way or another. But the problem is articulating what the authorities are doing, for they diffuse everything. A persons reads the news, goes to a shop, goes outside or has to go to work, and he sees that for some reason everything is bad, but this badness is somehow diffused.

You articulate this for your audience?

Well yes, for those who can see and hear it. 

When you articulate, if you want your message to be heard, you have to correct for the stereotypes people have, their cultural code, what they are ready for and what they are not ready for. It seems to me that, as a consequence, the people who need an explanation are simply unable to interpret your message, while those who are able, do not need an explanation. So the outcome is somehow nonsensical.

Those who are able do not need an explanation and those who are unable—

The audience of the national TV channels experience, at most, certain negative emotions when they see your actions. It is unpleasant and repulsive to them. Then they are told why you have done this. And this “unpleasantness and repulsion” get mixed up with the reason you did it.

That is exactly what I work for. These temporary gaps are intentional. The precedent remains, and then something happens, and a person comes back to it. One social network user wrote to me that, at one point, he was very much opposed to everything I did. I wrote something to him in response. And he told me in a letter that in the past he had written a lot against the actions, but then he was faced with certain situations in life. It seems the state apparatus had ground him down somewhere along the way. Now he supported this mode of action and apologized.

[…] 

photo_0_1

I have encountered many situations, and I have a rough idea as to how people react to my actions. An excessively emotional response usually can be found in abundance only on the Internet. In real life, when I meet people, I usually see they understand things quite well. Only once in the subway was there an altercation with someone, not even an altercation, but a guy simply went hysterical when he recognized me. A rather young guy recognized me in a subway car. He double-checked my image on the Internet and then began running round the car. We were all riding the subway, the train was moving, and he was running round this car calling on people to rise up against me, to join forces against me. Not a single person supported him. He stuck his phone in people’s faces, but they just brushed him aside as a crazy, hysterical individual. I observed how people reacted. Not having garnered any support, he accused me of humiliating our country, of humiliating him, [Red Square], and so on. It was clear from people’s glances that even if they had recognized me, I didn’t detect any incomprehension towards me or any aggressiveness amongst them. People are rather more understanding than not.

As for that social media user who wrote to you, was it pleasant to get such a reaction?

Of course, he supports some of my ideas.

Is this a rather unique case or does this “I have finally understood you” happen periodically?

Yes, it does happen now and again. There is a whole range of human responses. Sometimes, I feel the force of this whole range of reactions. When I prepare myself for an action, different public reactions flash through my mind at the moments of greatest tension. When you abstract yourself from it somehow, there is understanding to a certain extent. Why can I see this reaction even in my mind? Because we have the same sources: the Internet, maybe television, newspapers, and other things. We all feed on the same sources of information. I confront this range of responses afterwards, after the action has been carried out. Naturally, there are both positive and negative responses.

In the meantime, it remains somewhere in the same—

It will always stay like that, you were starting to say, this issue that some understand, while some do not. The thing is that if I begin to think in these terms so as to make the actions more understandable, and that in this case I need to do them such-and-such a way, it will end up as populism. I will end up trying to please people. That is not my objective.

That is not the objective. The objective is to get your message across in a minimum amount of time, straight away, in clear symbols.

A body wound up in barbed wire, what could be clearer? You understand that here there is no way you could be clearer.

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It seems to me there is a kind of clear reaction when people see a man nailing his scrotum on Red Square, and the first unfounded response is that people call you an exhibitionist or homosexual. That is the initial Russian response: he is not right in the head. In Russia, abnormality is associated with homosexuality, and if you are homosexual that means you are a pervert. Regarding such reactions, don’t you think the essential point is somehow diluted?

If you are talking about how the media tries to influence the response, then of course they are endlessly attempting to make the pendulum of reactions swing between regarding it as a criminal act and insanity, and so one can always expect a certain incomprehension. But it is another question how this influence affects people who actually see an action. During Fixation, one woman was constantly asking, “What’s wrong with him? Is he sick?” Of course, it is rather sad that the cult of psychiatry has such power over public consciousness. However, if a genuine conversation about psychiatric norms does start, that is just wonderful. That is a field that needs to be worked through. That is my first point. Second. About this gesture . . . I am not trying so much to invent or concoct something. The gesture of nailing one’s scrotum down is quite rooted in the culture. It is a gesture employed by prisoners.

Why do they make this gesture?

They do it in different situations.

As a protest?

Yes. They take their lack of freedom, the impossibility of movement, to an extreme. Often, there are wooden floors in prisons, and they nail themselves down. How are you going to move them then? A person is already imprisoned, and he has nailed himself to the floor. This is fixation. And you know, when I talk in my text about the way the country has been turned into a prison camp, about a police state, I am not talking about this lightly. November 10 was Police Day. Each year, banners hang everywhere in the city: November tenth, long live our beloved police! All these signs on the surface. I work with these signs because they are part of the culture. It is important where all this is drawn from if one talks about working with contexts. Without this, the gesture of prisoners would remain behind these fences, doors, and yet more fences. With this large number of barriers, information just does not get to us. You cannot even find photographs of this, because no one in the prisons would be prepared take them. Everyone knows this is happening somewhere behind a large number of doors. But here it is happening at the very center. However, if truth be told, a very conditional border was removed. November 10, banners, the memoirs of dissidents and prisoners: these are markers that link everything in a single statement. If this does not exist, then a passerby will start to think: Red Square, naked, I don’t know . . . I could argue that maybe he is a naked exhibitionist . . . I don’t know the degree to which it works. A naked man: why is he naked? A naked man is a man deprived of everything, even his clothes. It is a degree of impoverishment, an indicator of absence.

Of vulnerability?

No, not of vulnerability. That is not part of the message. The naked man is an expression of a condition, stripped, denuded, and deprived of everything. It is, on the other hand, the body as such. It is what can be found under everyone’s clothes. In any case, clothes always mark you, they are clothes of some kind; they build up an identity. While the body is simply the body. All bodies are similar in one way or another.

To what extent are the police part of your actions?

They are a very important part. To a large extent, they do it all themselves, they engineer everything. Everything changes places [during the action].

In the sense that they arrest you?

No, in the sense of how they react to it. It is not my body that turns out to be the victim. Everything is based on the fact that the authority figures are, in fact, victims of the situation, because they find themselves in the most subordinate situation. They have to obey regulations. I am working with subject-object relations. Above all, law enforcement officials are afraid, but they are obliged to exercise their authority.

They are obliged to free you.

To do something or free me.

Does the fact they are the authorities and are obliged to free you a revolution or something else?

They become the objects of the situation. That is, they . . . I think this is an important aspect: the state objectifies people, compels them to subordinate themselves to regulations, to move within the range of the permitted and the impermissible, to stay in this corridor. A person who submits is an object. When an action is carried out, they become objects, objects raised to a certain power perhaps. Besides the fact they are objects in the first place, performing certain functions, they also become art objects. They want to neutralize: their authority obliges them to do it. They are tasked with neutralizing and eliminating events, with mopping up streets or squares. But this compels them to serve an opposing end. They begin to engineer events. They become characters, actors. Everything is based on them. My own action is kept to a minimum. I simply sit there and do nothing. Or I just stand there. 

And if they had not come, would you have still sat on Red Square?

Yes. It is unclear how an event is going to develop until it actually takes place. It is enough to posit a figure of silence, and the situation is then constructed around the silence. Because the police, ambulance crew or just plain people who would attack me or do something else are simply part of the social body. Something happens: rejection is also a kind of interaction. A senselessly airtight situation: I came, I left. Another important fact is that I speak with everyone in the same way. I communicate with journalists, psychiatrists, and police investigators in the same way. There exist definite rules as to how everything is engineered. If one keeps to the rule of the figure of silence and does not react to the authorities, there should be no interaction. I remain static, but when the action phase ends, when the doors have closed, I start talking, and I talk with everyone in the same way. I make no distinction between journalists whom I am going tell all and, for example, a police investigator. I can, of course, mock the investigator as it were, but it is not mockery really. It is me who involves him in the art process. What has become of these dialogues? Who has achieved their goals in this situation, art or the bureaucratic apparatus? And with my cause I . . .

If everything in the country were fine, what would you have done?

I don’t know.

So you could say that the worse the situation is in the country, the more work you will have?

I understand. The situation is what? It is an unrealizable utopia. There will never be such an ideal society and state. It seems to me that there are certain defining things in people’s nature: subject-object relations and the concept of power. These things dominate all others.

You don’t particularly like the concept of power, do you? I take it that, roughly speaking, you believe it cannot be a good thing, something reasonable? Can power be a good thing?

I believe it cannot, because power’s objective is to create a fully predictable individual. Because an unpredictable individual is a dangerous individual. The closer a person gets to the condition of a subject, the more he goes beyond borders. He looks for something new, and this is dangerous for the powers that be, because he becomes ungovernable.

Would you have protested in any country in the world?

Not in the same way. You must understand there are different contexts. I’m not a professional protester.

Protest art?

Political art. I am not involved in protest art. Political art and protest art are far from one and the same thing. Protest art is when you take to the streets with a placard. There is a NO there, and here there is a YES. That would be a generalization. I take it as a premise that political art involves working with mechanisms of control.

Fine. Political art. Would you have done political art anywhere?

I don’t know. If I lived in another country, maybe I wouldn’t have done political art. Given how I think now, I would probably have found something to do. But maybe it would be something formally similar, because different countries and different control systems generate different ways of suppressing the human imagination. 

Is there a model or regime you find ideal? Anarchy perhaps?

Probably anarchy is an ideal model. I am aware its ideal rests on its impracticability. It is unlikely that humankind will decide to sacrifice the benefits of scientific and technological progress to utopian anarchy. Anarchy is liberation from certain paradigms, it is resistance, a rejection of certain impossible rules. Anarchy involves working with the concept of power.

Anarchy is what you find most congenial? Or is it something else?

Yes, I probably find it congenial in some way. There is insurrectionary anarchism, and there are other kinds of anarchism. Anarcho-communism is a contradictory delusion: the dictatorship of equality versus the dictatorship of freedom. Either there is the one or the other. It is difficult to imagine the emergence of punk culture in a dictatorial regime of universal equality.

Would you like to live in a state where anarchy ruled?

There can be no state where anarchy rules.

A city where everything takes shape in this way. There is anarchy, but something takes shape all the same.

Undoubtedly. That is why I say it is anarchy. The individual’s life is spent in permanent struggle for subjectivation and self-assertion, because all possible resources, forces, interests and, ultimately, other people or groups of people work towards objectivation, towards subjugation. Even if a pseudo-anarchist structure was to take shape, groups or structures would still emerge that would turn it all

Systematize it.

Yes, turn it into an ossified mass. And it is better to reject these dogmas before they have managed to become political disenchantment. History persuades us that the lessons of the twentieth century did not prevent the kibbutzim from reconciling the beautiful idea of communal property with the defense of the growing and sacred borders of the state of Israel. This constant self-assertion has to be rejected. It is like a never-ending process.

Is there an ideal model for individual existence? Is it possible the way you see it: that nobody usurps you, and you do not intersect with anyone? 

It’s difficult for me to say. It all depends on the person. A person must overcome the [rules] imposed on him—

Globally.

Globally, there is a movement towards the anarchist model.

Then everything will circle round again?

Without a doubt. There is a certain range or continuum, of course. As in the [Grazhdanskaya Oborona] song: “Everything that is not anarchy is fascism.” We are situated between these two poles. Fascism not in terms of the Italian model or some other model, obviously, but as a kind of generic term. Fascism as absolute diktat, absolute and total control. And there is the other pole: anarchy as a certain absolute freedom. In fact, all the oscillation occurs between them.

And in the middle, between these two extremes, normality rolls along?

I have never thought about what is in the middle. I don’t know what is in between. In between there is dull liberalism with its shoddy political correctness.

I am just trying to understand your goal in this essentially vicious circle. You understand that things will never be wonderful?

What actually changes society and generally produces transformation? Certainly not any political templates or schemes, because working with cultural codes is the most important thing. Semantic precedents influence how a person relates to what happens around him. They are his reflexes, developed vis-à-vis different situations. Which of his associative models are activated, and what kind of situational response does he make? He may give a quick response, or he may, upon reflection, make a decision. This is the field where the struggle takes place. Regimes change, of course. There was the Soviet regime. Before that there was the monarchy, the Russian Empire, and now there is this regime. In any regime, the siloviki [military and security services] are in power. In 1917, there was a revolution, there were changes, and there were significant changes in culture, art, and how people related to each other. Things were in motion for fifteen years, and then there was a reaction. The Bolsheviks suffocated everything, and things were rolled way back.

Do you have an overarching idea about you are doing? Where are you taking all this? What point between fascism and anarchy seems to you the most appropriate?

You undoubtedly need to push everything in the direction of anarchy because

Because something budges at least a little bit?

Even for things to remain as they are, you already need a certain effort. If you make a great effort you can move things a little further. On the other hand, there is a very strong force moving us in the other direction, towards fascism and absolute subjugation. The state apparatus with its huge resources, an entire system of agencies, is working towards this. It is a constant clash. It never stops. For me, the head-on collision takes place on this stretch of road. It is ridiculous to dream those forces that are a hindrance will eventually dissolve and disappear, and we will suddenly find ourselves in anarchy and living under a different model. I think this is a more realistic perspective on things. But speaking theoretically, of course, when you loosen frameworks and push back borders, you really help others, the people who come after you.

Translated by Giuliano Vivaldi and reprinted here with his kind permission. See my previous posts on Pyotr Pavlensky.

{NE MIR} Dialogues (Riga)

Vadim F. Lurie
Facebook
February 21, 2016

The exhibition {NE MIR} (NO PEACE), a sequel to and an elaboration on the itinerant exhibition/performance that recently took place in Petersburg, opens today in Riga. I sent my photographs of Antiwar Weekend, a walk around the city made by Ekaterina Nenasheva. She strolled around Petersburg in a blood-stained, camouflage uniform. We looked for places in one way or another connected with war, aggression, the army or the memory of them. Actually, we didn’t have to love for them: they were everywhere. Our city is traumatized. Aggression and the memory of wars are offered to tourists as souvenirs, and I see this as an attempt not only at self-assertion but also at conveying this feeling to everyone. As we walked round the city, passersby paid no special attention to the young woman in camouflage. She had become yet another military artifact, a customary sight here. Thirteen photographs, Petersburg, a sunny day in 2015.

Translated by the Russian Reader

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Ekaterina Nenasheva, Antiwar Weekend, 2015. Photograph by Vadim F. Lurie. Items for sale in the far right of the kiosk include “Cities of Military Glory,” “Russia’s Naval Glory,” and “The Battle for Vyborg.”
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Ekaterina Nenasheva, Antiwar Weekend, 2015. Photograph by Vadim F. Lurie.
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Ekaterina Nenasheva, Antiwar Weekend, 2015. Photograph by Vadim F. Lurie.

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{NE MIR}: Dialogues in Riga
Opening: February 21, 2016, 7 p.m.
BOLDERĀJA, AVOTU, 29, RIGA

{NE MIR} is a series of antiwar street exhibitions launched by a group of artists from Moscow and Petersburg. The project’s objective is to discuss war in its different forms, make a collective artistic statement on the relationship between the individual and the state, and investigate the borders of street art in today’s Russia.

The first {NE MIR} exhibition took place in Petersburg on December 27, 2015.

In Russia, there is a law prohibiting marches and rallies (in fact, any political or public gathering of more than two people) without obtaining permission from the authorities ten days beforehand. Moreover, these rallies can be held only in specific places, which are usually situated on the outskirts of cities or are difficult for the public to access. The Russian authorities have the right to prohibit any rally, and in that case it will be considered illegal.

Since their request was turned down three times by local authorities, the artists who launched {NE MIR} had no other choice than to make mobile banners and wander the city under the watchful eye of regular police and riot police.

The urban environment, which dictated the form of protest (wandering round the city), thus functioned as the exhibition’s curator.

This interactive format raised many questions both in terms of art and civic involvement.

How should Russian artists act in the current situation when any statement is deemed disorderly conduct or even a crime? What is the visual code used by police and random passersby, and what are the circumstances under which dialogue is possible? How are absolutely defenseless artists regarded by viewers when they display their artworks in such an aggressive environment?

We intend to look for answers to these questions both inside and outside Russia.

{NE MIR}: Dialogues is a series of itinerant exhibitions and discussions held outside Russia in free art spaces and galleries. It is an attempt to promote dialogue among citizens, artists, and activists, and spark cultural and social interaction between people from different societies and countries.

The exhibition of the {NE MIR} project in Riga will include paintings, graphic art, installations, photographs, and video works by artists from Russia, Ukraine, Denmark, and Chile.

A discussion entitled “The Image of War: The Mass Image and the Private Image” will be held at 7 p.m. on February 21 at Bolderāja Bookshop and Cafe (Avotu 29, Riga), with the exhibition opening to follow at 8 p.m.

Adapted and edited from the original event notice in English on Bolderāja’s Facebook page

Vologzheninova Gets 320 Hours Community Service and Laptop Destroyed for Reposts

Court Sentences Yekaterinburg Resident to Community Service for Posts on Social Networks and Order Her Laptop Destroyed
Mediazona
February 20, 2016

Yekaterinburg’s Zheleznodorozhnyi District Court has found single mother Ekaterina Vologzheninova guilty of inciting social hatred and enmity (Russian Criminal Code Article 282), reports Grani.ru.

Ekaterina Vologzheninova
Ekaterina Vologzheninova

The court has sentenced the woman to 320 hours of compulsory community service and ordered her laptop, which served as physical evidence in the case, destroyed.

As Grani.ru explains, the court based its verdict on the conclusion reached by a forensic linguist that Vologzheninova had incited “ethnic [sic] hatred and enmity towards volunteers from Russia” who were involved in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as towards public officials.

Criminal charges were filed against Vologzheninova after she [re]posted Anatoly Marushkevich’s poem “Katsaps,” along with an image of a young Ukrainian woman and the caption “Death to the Moscow Occupiers,” and a caricature featuring a man resembling Vladimir Putin leaning over the Donbass holding a knife. The last post was later excluded from the evidence.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Photo courtesy of Nasha GazetaSee my previous post on this case: “The Case of Ekaterina Vologzheninova: What What You ‘Like’,” October 21, 2015