Invitation to the Voyage

border guards-1
Action figure of a Russian border guard and seal of the Russian Border Guard Service

Boris Vishnevsky
Facebook
May 13, 2016

I have sent this to the Echo website. I hope they will post it soon.

I ask you to repost it.

Friday the thirteenth is a black day in the calendar.

It is no coincidence that on the same day the editorial staff of RBC, one of the best and most professional Russian media outlets, was gutted, the latest paranoid law bill authored by Irina Yarovaya was passed by the Duma.

First, if the bill is passed into law, the Federal Security Service (FSB) will have the right, after issuing a so-called official warning, to ban any citizen from traveling abroad for five years.

For your information, according to FSB Order No. 544, dated November 2, 2010, this “warning” can be given “to an individual in the absence of grounds for criminal prosecution in order to prevent the commission of crimes.” Only “pre-confirmed information” about the “outwardly (verbally, written or otherwise) manifested intent to commit a specific offense in the absence of signs of preparation to commit a crime or an attempt to commit a crime” has to exist.

Let’s translate this from legalese into Russian. There are no signs a crime is being prepped, there are no signs of an attempt to commit a crime, and there are no grounds for criminal prosecution. There is only “information” about the “intent to commit a crime,” information that has appeared out of nowhere and has been obtained god knows how.

Under such rules any undesirable or dissenter can be subject to a “warning,” including people shopped by informers to our beloved secret police for “verbally” or “otherwise” (say, by the look on their face) expressing the intention to commit a crime.

Second, criminal liability will be introduced for “failing to report a crime,” meaning for failing to shop someone to the secret police. As Igor Yakovenko has aptly put it, this will turn “squealing into a civic duty.”

Third, revocation of citizenship would be stipulated for crimes of a “terrorist and extremist tenor,” despite the fact that opposing the authorities is easily classifiable as “extremism.”

All three provisions are blatantly unconstitutional, but they were confidently passed in the first reading, with opposition from an overwhelming minority consisting of Dmitry Gudkov, Sergei Petrov, and Ilya Ponomaryov’s voting card.

You can bet your boots there will be a second and third reading, and the president will sign the bill into law.

I would like to say the Constitutional Court would be bound to quash the law, but considering how it has behaved in recent years there are no grounds for such political optimism.

The darkness is deepening.

However, that always happens before the dawn.

Boris Vishnevsky (Yabloko Party) is a member of the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade Nastya for the heads-up.

Border Guard Service veterans celebrating their professional holiday, May 28
Border Guard Service veterans celebrating their professional holiday, May 28

L’invitation au voyage

Mon enfant, ma soeur,
Songe à la douceur
D’aller là-bas vivre ensemble!
Aimer à loisir,
Aimer et mourir
Au pays qui te ressemble!
Les soleils mouillés
De ces ciels brouillés
Pour mon esprit ont les charmes
Si mystérieux
De tes traîtres yeux,
Brillant à travers leurs larmes.

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.
Des meubles luisants,
Polis par les ans,
Décoreraient notre chambre;
Les plus rares fleurs
Mêlant leurs odeurs
Aux vagues senteurs de l’ambre,
Les riches plafonds,
Les miroirs profonds,
La splendeur orientale,
Tout y parlerait
À l’âme en secret
Sa douce langue natale.

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.
Vois sur ces canaux
Dormir ces vaisseaux
Dont l’humeur est vagabonde;
C’est pour assouvir
Ton moindre désir
Qu’ils viennent du bout du monde.
— Les soleils couchants
Revêtent les champs,
Les canaux, la ville entière,
D’hyacinthe et d’or;
Le monde s’endort
Dans une chaude lumière.

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

Source

A special day for border guards was established by presidential decree in 1994
The special holiday for Russian border guards was established by presidential decree in 1994

Invitation to the Voyage

Let us leave this tiresome clime
And quit cities made of stone,
Where you are cold and bored,
And sometimes even scared.

The flowers are softer and stars brighter
In the land where the Southern Cross shines,
In the land rich as the dowry chest
Bestowed on enchanted brides.

We’ll build a house taller than a fir,
And face its corners with stone,
Mahogany will panel its walls,
And we’ll put down rosewood floors.

And among the scattered paths
In the vast rose garden
The speckled beetles’ backs
Shall flicker like the stars.

Let’s leave! Unless you do not need
In that hour when the sun has risen
To hear the terrible ballads,
The tales of Abyssinian roses.

Of ancient fairy queens,
Of lions in crowns of flowers,
Of black angels, and of birds
What weave their nests amid the clouds.

We shall find an ancient Arab,
Chanting in a singsong drone
A verse about Rostam and Sohrab
Or the virgins of Zanzibar.

And when we tire of fables,
Twelve slender little Negroes
Shall dance round us in a whirl
And never want to rest.

And magnificent chieftains,
Decked out in ivory gear,
Shall come to visit us
When in spring the rains begin.

In the mountains merry, where the winds
Cry and shout, I shall chop the trees,
Cedars, redolent of resin,
Plane trees spanning to the skies.

I will alter the streams
Of rivers flowing down the hills,
Teaching them now to please
Me according to my will.

And you, you shall have flowers,
And I will give you a gazelle
With such gentle eyes
That it seems as if a flute trills.

Or a bird of paradise, prettier
Than roses and summer lightning flares,
To flutter over your miraculous
Dark blond bonnet of hair.

And when Death comes, slightly sad,
Sliding along the fateful line,
To stand at our threshold,
We shall say to Death, “What, it’s time?”

And, neither longing nor dreaming,
We shall go to God’s highest paradise,
Clear smiles on our faces, recognizing
Everywhere familiar climes.

Original

The Border Guard Service, created in the 18th century, was a separate ministry until 2003, when it became a branch of Russia's Federal Security Service
The Border Guard Service, created in the 18th century, was a separate ministry until 2003, when it became a branch of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB)

Invitation to the Voyage

Start by taking a brick and shattering the glass.
Go from the kitchen (mind the steps!) to the dining room.
Sweep Peter Ilyich and Beethoven from the baby grand,
Unscrew the third leg. That is where you’ll find the loot.

Don’t traipse into the bedroom, don’t rifle the chest of drawers,
Lest you start to masturbate. The bedroom and the wardrobe
Smell of perfume, but except for rags from Dior,
There’s nothing you can hustle in the Old World.

Two hours later, when they announce the flight,
Don’t bolt for the gate. Stretch your legs and feign boredom.
In any crowd of passengers you will usually spy
A Jew with forelocks, kiddies in tow. Join their hora.

The next morning, when Zizi pulls up the venetian blinds
And tells you the Louvre is closed, grab hold of her wet curls,
Bury her stupid mug in the pillow and, snarling, “Bite!”
Do to her the thing that deprives the soprano of her trills.

Original

border guards-5
Action figures of a modern Russian border guard (with dog) and an NKVD border guard

Images courtesy of the Telegraph (“Vodka and swimming at Russian Border Guards’ Day celebrations”) and One Sixth Warriors

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