Muscovite Sues Ostankino for Stupefying the Populace with Television RBC
November 17, 2016
Moscow resident Roman Maslennikov has filed a lawsuit against the Ostankino TV Center for “stupefying the populace” with the programs it broadcasts, reports RIA Novosti, quoting the plaintiff.
The lawsuit, a copy of which the news agency has in its possession, states that, over the last few years, Maslennikov has begun to feel dependent on a daily viewing of the programs shown on Russian channels.
“If I don’t watch TV for at least thirty minutes a day, my mood deteriorates, I lose my appetite, and thus my entire body suffers,” the plaintiff claims.
Maslennikov further claims he began to watch TV every day for at least two hours and noted that in six months the level of his intellect “dropped significantly.” He also noticed that he could not remember what he did the other day. The plaintiff emphasized that he has suffered from “failing mental health,” and that his thought processes have been retarded due to the superfluous information broadcast on TV in the guise of advertisements, shows, news, and serials.
Maslennikov has asked that the TV center pay him moral damages in the amount of 987,600 rubles [approx. 143,000 euros] and inform all viewers of the health hazards posed by watching TV programs.
Historian Alexey Petrov Fired from Irkutsk State University Radio Svoboda
November 16, 2016
Alexey Petrov, deputy dean of the history department at Irkutsk State University has been fired from his job, allegedly for engaging in public activism to the detriment of his work as an educator. As Petrov reported on Facebook on Wednesday, his work book* was brought directly to his workplace.
Petrov heads the regional branch of Golos, a grassroots organization that combats electoral fruade. He is also renowned as organizer of the project Walks through Old Irkutsk.
The dismissal has come in the wake of an inspection of the university by the prosecutor’s office, which was instigated by the so-called Trade Union of Independent Citizens, our correspondent reports. Two complaints were sent to the prosecutor’s office. The first complaint, which was anonymous, states that Petrov, deputy dean of the ISU history department, publicly presents and promotes insufficiently patriotric views during his lectures. The second letter, signed by Sergei Poznikov, focuses on the historian’s absences from the deans’ offices at the university during working hours and his frequent trips overseas.
* “Every person working for an employer in Russia is issued a work book by the person’s original employer. A work book contains the record of a person’s employment history, dates of employment, as well as other information. Employers have the duty to keep and timely update an employee’s work book while the employee is working for the employer. On the employee’s final day of employment with an employer, the employer must complete and return the employee’s work book, against the employee’s signature.” Source: Multitran
Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade AT for the heads-up
Ford! Stop Laying People Off! MPRA
November 15, 2016
The Ford plant in Vsevolozhsk is going to cut 130 employees. The workers are becoming more and more dissatisfied. Attempts to sweeten the pill have only added fuel to the fire. MPRA (Interregional Trade Union Workers Association) activists at the plant have related a telltale story. Recently, management decided to reward the best workers with movie tickets, including workers who had received layoff notices. One such worker threw the tickets in a manager’s face, saying he needed a job, not a handout. After this incident, they say, Ford’s director general Maslyakov has banned giving perks to workers about to be downsized because, allegedly, it appears “unethical.” MPRA would argue that it is the layoffs, whose soundness is quite dubious, that appear unethical.
“We are told the layoffs are unavoidable,” reads a trade union leaflet, “but who has verified and proven it? Shouldn’t management first save money by cutting the wages and bonuses of managers?”
Today, trade union activists came to the front gates of the auto plant to hold solo pickets and talk with workers. Some of them said straight out they have nothing to lose. The layoffs are a challenge to everyone, not only to those slated to be fired, for everyone could find themselves in their shoes. MPRA urges people to join the union and support the protest campaign. We have no doubt the decision to cut jobs can be reconsidered if the majority of employees join the fight to save those jobs. MPRA’s experience at Omsktransmash and the Volkswagen plant in Kaluga, where collective action and negotations helped avoid massive layoffs, testifies to this fact.
We call upon fraternal trade unions and all people for whom social justice is not an empty phrase to support Ford workers personally by sending us photos containing messages of solidarity and the demand that Ford rescind its order to cut employees.
Chuvashia Resident Fined for Reposting Photo of Milonov
Maria Leiva RBC
November 16, 2016
A member of the board of Open Russia from Chuvashia has been fined 1,000 rubles for reposting a photograph of Russian MP Vitaly Milonov in which he is posed in a t-shirt brandishing a slogan deemed extremist in Russia
A court in Chuvashia has fined Dmitry Semyonov, a member of Open Russia‘s board in the region, 1,000 rubles for reposting a photo of MP Vitaly Milonov in a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Orthodoxy or Death” on the social media network VKontakte. The slogan has been ruled an incitement to sectarian strife and placed on the federal list of extremist matter. Semyonov’s lawyer, Alexei Glukhov, reported the news on his Facebook page.
In another post, he added that the court had reject the defense’s motion to order a forensic examination and summon specialists to confirm the date when the Internet had been monitored.
Last week, Semyonov was summoned by the police over the repost of Milonov’s photograph. As the activist told RBC himself, he was charged in writing with violating Article 20.29 of the Administrative Offense Codes (producing and disseminating extremist matter).
“The charge sheets say that, on November 3, FSB officers suddenly felt like monitoring social media networks and chanced upon my post,” said Semyonov.
He linked the incident to his work as a social and political activist with Open Russia. Semyonov is the organization’s regional coordinator in eight Russian regioins.
In turn, Glukhov told RBC that police in Chuvashia constantly haul in activists for reposts on social media.
In conversation with RBC, Milonov said that last Wednesday he had sent a letter to the Justice Ministry asking them to remove the slogan from the register of extremist matter, but had not yet received a reply.
“As one brother to another, I’ll tell the justice minister, ‘Do you really imagine living outside the faith? So it’s a normal Orthodox slogan, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a bastard,” said the MP.
He was confident the slogan would soon be removed from the list of extremist matter, but promised to study Semyonov’s case more closely, “although membership in Khodorkovsky’s organization deserves attention itself.”
Earlier, Milonov told RBC that he did not consider displaying a photograph in which he posed with the slogan “Orthodoxy or Death” a crime. However, the MP doubted that Semyonov was being prosecuted solely over the photograph.
Victoria Lomasko Truckers, Torfyanka, and Dubki: Grassroots Protests in Russia, 2015–2016
In late February 2015, politician Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Russian opposition, was gunned down near the Kremlin.
Grassroots activists immediately set up a people’s memorial, made up of bouquets, photos, drawings, and candles, at the scene of the crime, on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge. For over a year, they have been taking shifts guarding the memorial from members of various nationalist movements and bridge maintenance workers, who routinely haul away the flowers and photos as if they were trash.
“The assaults on the memorial occur like pogroms in a Jewish shtetl: it’s the luck of the draw,” these two people on vigil at the memorial told me. “They pick a time when the people on duty have let down their guard, like three or four in the morning.”
Headed by opposition leaders and attended by thousands of people, the 2012 rallies and marches for fair elections and a “Russia without Putin!” ended with the show trials of 2013 and 2014 against opposition leaders (Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov) and rank-and-file protesters (the so-called prisoners of May 6).
In 2015 and 2016, the Marches of the Millions have given way to small-scale rallies and protests. People far removed from politics have tried to defend their own concrete rights.
I made these drawings at a rally in defense of the Dynasty Foundation. An NGO founded to support scientific research and science education in Russia, it had been declared a “foreign agent” by the Justice Ministry.
In June 2015, residents of Moscow’s Losiny Ostrov (Moose Island) District came together to stop construction of a church in their local park, Torfyanka. The building had been planned as part of the Russian Orthodox Church’s 200 Churches Program.
Residents set up a tent camp in the park and stood watch in shifts to keep construction equipment from entering the site. They also filed a lawsuit, asking the court to declare the public impact hearing on the construction project null and void. The hearing had been held without their involvement. Continue reading “Victoria Lomasko: Truckers, Torfyanka, and Dubki”→
Police Search Homes of Torfyanka Park Defenders Grani.ru
November 14, 2016
Defenders of Moscow’s Torfyanka Park have had their flats searched by police. Olga Romanova, founder of the Imprisoned Russia project, reported the searches on her Facebook page.
According to Romanova, police visited the home of attorney Marina Verigina, who has been consulting the activists, and her husband Vladimir Grechaninov. Law enforcement officers broke into their apartment.
Police cordoned off Natalya Fyodorova’s stairwell and did not let her neighbors act as witnesses to the search, explaining they had brought their own witnesses with them. Fyodorova was loaded into a paddy wagon along with her disabled mother, her husband Boris, and her 18-year-old daughter. The door to the Fyodorovs’ apartment was cut down with a metal grinder.
After the search of his home, Pavel Alexeev was put in the paddy wagon with his underage son Alexander. Evgeny Lebedev and his wife were loaded into the paddy wagon with their underage daughter.
Police likewise searched the home of activist Vladislav Kuznetsov and his wife Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kuznetsov’s forehead was injured while he was detained. He was then handcuffed and a scarf was wrapped around his head.
In addition, Konstantin Yatsyn and his father Yuri Yatsyn were detained. It has been reported that several more families of Torfyanka’s defenders were incommunicado.
Natalya Kutlunina, a member of the Communist Party, has reported that her apartment has been searched as well. Law enforcement officers arrived there at six in the morning. Kutlunina is out of town, and the apartment was searched with her son present.
“The search lasted three hours,” wrote Kutlunina. “They confiscated placards, Party literature, my son’s and my husband’s laptops, and my younger son’s mobile phone.”
Meanwhile, OVD Info has reported that the search at the Verigina and Grechaninov household was still underway after 6:30 in the evening. Yet since lunch time law officers had refused to let lawyer Sergei Shank into the apartment, despite the fact he produced a warrant.
The people detained during the searches were taken to the Russian Investigative Committee’s Northwest Moscow District Office. According to RBC, each activist was escorted by fifteen to twenty police officers, and the arrests were filmed by employees of the national TV channel NTV.
All the detainees were interrogated as witnesses in a case opened up under Article 148 of the Criminal Code (insulting the feelings of religious believers) before being released.
OVD Info claims violation of Paragraph 1 of the article, which stipulates a maximum punishment of one year in a penal colony, is at issue in the case. Meanwhile, after his interrogation, activist Evgeny Lebedev wrote on the For Torfyanka Park! VK community page that a case had been opened under Article 148.3 (obstructing the activities of religious organizations), which carries a maximum penalty of a year of corrective labor or three months in jail.
Orthodox clerics want to build a church in Torfyanka. Local residents are opposed to their plans, and they have been protesting them since June 2015. The decision to permit construction of the church was made illegally. In the autumn of 2015, the Moscow Town Planning and Land Commission acknowledged this and canceled the permit, demanding that the construction site at the park be dismantled. However, this still has not been done.
Moreover, the park’s defenders have been assaulted several times by Russian Orthodox militants. In the early hours of February 13, militants from the Multitude (Sorok sorokov) movement attempted to start building the church without authorization, but they were stopped by police.
In the early hours of March 3, a camp set up activists maintaining a 24-hour vigil in the park was demolished with assistance from the police. Law enforcement officers drove the environmentalists from their tent and pushed them aside as persons unknown arrived in a GAZelle minivan, loaded up the tent and the activists’ personal belongings, and drove off. It transpired that the minivan belonged to the Losiny Ostrov (Moose Island) District Council.
In the early hours of August 29, police detained twelve people, claiming that activists had been trying to break the fence around the proposed construction site.
Ekaterina Schulman, political scientist
This is a bad story, and it is bad because of the numbers of people involved. Nine people have been detained. The police came to their homes at six in the morning and took them to the Investigative Committee on suspicion they have violated Article 148.1 of the Criminal Code (“Public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed to insult the feelings of religious believers”), for which the maximum penalty is a year in prison. Meaning that it is a minor offense. Why is the Investigative Committee involved at all? They supposedly deal with serious and very serious crimes in Russia, no? All the detainees are neighbors, husbands and wives, meaning the police carpet-bombed a neighborhood that had been protesting construction of a new church in a park. What is the magnitude of their crime, which did not involve violence? What, are they terrorists? If charges of insulting religious believers have been filed in connection with a complaint, then investigate the case the usual way. Dear Investigative Committee, as a law enforcement agency you are not in the best position nowadays, and if you think you are going to strengthen it by suddenly arresting a dozen ordinary Russians for the glory of the Russian Orthodox Church, you have another think coming. If you haven’t noticed, the trend now in Russia is against exacerbation, incitement, and extremism, and for keeping people calm during the economic crisis. The FSB at least pulled some terrorists from its sleeve who wanted to blow up shopping malls. People understand that, but what was your bright idea for cheering up the media scene? Source: Facebook
We were born to sin
We were born to sin
We don’t think we’re special sir
We know everybody is
We’ve built too many walls
Yeah, we’ve built too many walls
And now we gotta run
A giant fist is out to crush us
We run in the dark
We run in the dark
We don’t carry dead weight long
We send them along to heaven
I carry my baby
I carry my baby
Her eyes can barely see
Her mouth can barely breathe
I can see she’s afraid
She could see the danger
We don’t want to die or apologize
For our dirty God, our dirty bodies
Now, I stick to the ground
I stick to the ground
I won’t look twice for the dead walls
I don’t want a white pillar of salt
I carry my baby
I carry my baby
Her eyes can barely see
Her mouth can barely breathe
I can see she’s afraid
That’s why we’re escaping
So we won’t have to die, we won’t have to deny
Our dirty God, our dirty bodies
Protesting Truckers Make Political Demands On Anniversary of Anti-Plato Protests, Police Were Lying in Wait for Activists at Famous Parking Lot in Khimki and Quickly Detained Them; Ambulance Summoned to Courtroom
Dmitry Rebrov Novaya Gazeta
November 12, 2016
The problems with the “anniversary”—it was exactly a year ago, on November 11, 2015, that Russian truckers kicked off their protest against the newly introduced Plato road tolls system—started long before the D-Day designated by the Association of Russian Carriers (OPR). On November 9, it transpired that the Khimki mayor’s office would not permit them to gather at their old spot under the MEGA sign, the place where trucks had stood parked for nearly six months.
The truckers responded by decided to replace the rally with a series of solo pickets, but problems arose in this case as well. First, the truckers, who had been going to the parking lot and checking it out over the course of the year, were not admitted to the site of their former camp. Arriving twenty-four hours before the start of the pickets, Mikhail Kurbatov, one of the movement’s leaders, discovered signs saying, “Truck traffic prohibited,” and a police squad who forcibly removed him from the parking lot. A video showing the police twisting his arms has already been posted on the web. And on the morning of the eleventh, it was discovered that maintenance services had managed to pile the spot itself with snow, given that the weather was forthcoming.
However, a genuinely cold reception lay in store for the activists.
“There will be protest rallies today in twenty-two regions, so there aren’t so many people here. All the activists have gone to their home regions to rock the boat. But Muscovites have bitten the bullet and installed Plato, because it costs to protest, and we are not a united group,” said activist Igor Melnikov, standing next to a blue truck emblazoned with the OPR logo.
He was trying to explain why no more than a dozen people had assembled for the rally.
Melnikov is a Muscovite himself, just like the five regular volunteers who have been helping the Khimki protesters since last winter.
“Not everyone would choose to travel to Khimki in this weather,” Melnikov continued. “That is partly why, in place of the banned rally, it was decided to hold a big rally on Suvorov Square in Moscow on November 12, and restrict ourselves to a small detachment here in Khimki.”
The rally in Moscow has been supported by the Communists.
“What of it? I know who the Communists are, that they destroyed my country. I grew up under them. But that is okay. They can hold the microphone. We’ll live through it!” Yekaterina Bolotova, a perky brunette, put in her five kopecks.
Bolotova, a private entrepreneur, lives in Lyubertsy. She has been in business since the 1990s.
While we were chatting, a grader kept shoveling dirty snow towards the MEGA sign as freezing rain fell.
“There is already more than three of you. What are you doing here?”
A delegation from the Moscow Regional Criminal Investigative Department had arrived to test the waters. Two gloomy figures, both dressed in black, approached us, obviously reluctantly. The larger of the two men showed us his ID: “Oleg Nikolayevich Kuznetsov.” The second man did not show us his badge, but explained the reason for the visit.
“The bosses sent us.”
“Speaking frankly, we’re expecting certain people,” the cops said in a roundabout way. “The people who are going to protest Plato.”
“We are those people. What else do you want?” the truckers unceremoniously informed them.
The police then withdrew, asking us not to photograph their faces.
“I’m a secret agent. My face cannot be published!” said “Oleg Nikolayevich Kuznetsov” self-importantly.
“Well, if you’re so secret, why don’t you stay at home, since we can’t look at you?” a trucker retorted.
Meanwhile, a paddy wagon and reinforcements were pulling up at the impromptu checkpoint behind them.
“We now have political demands. In addition to abolishing the Plato system, we want transport minister Maxim Sokolov to resign, Prime Minister Medvedev to resign, and the repeal of Article 20.2 of the Russian Federal Administrative Offenses Code, which covers violations at political rallies, because it is insanity. People are no longer able to voice their opinions,” said Kurbatov.
According to the OPR’s official website, the truckers propose leaving only the fuel excise tax intact and scrapping the transport tax. They support judicial reform, including the recertification of all judges. And they want “all embezzlers to face criminal charges.”
Some of these demands are a natural response to the endless jail terms and arrests the once apolitical truckers have faced. Other demands have emerged in the aftermath of discussions with political activists who regularly visited the protest camp last winter.
Looking for the “Core” Activists
“Are they making arrests?”
“He raised flags on his trucks!”
We dashed through the snowdrifts to the other end of the parking lot, where a dozen cops were packing Sergei Einbinder, an activist with the Interregional Trade Union of Professional Drivers, into a car.
Led by Alexander Kotov, the Khimki protesters had managed to come to an agreement with police spokespeople about joint actions for the first time in a long time. Kotov had once led the resistance, but quickly surrendered, as the Khimki protesters explained, causing general annoyance among the striking truckers. Instead of blocking the Moscow Ring Road and driving a convoy into downtown Moscow, under Kotov’s leadership the protest had bogged down in attempts to slow down the “radicals” and in endless negotiations with federal MPs. Now, apparently, the irritation with Kotov had passed.
“The security forces had pressured Kotov back then,” explained Bolotova, a Kotov supporter.
She had come to Khimki to establish contacts, but unlike Eibinder, she had immediately gone over to her colleagues.
Bolotova had also been dragged in for interrogations by the Lyubertsy police and Center “E.”
Similar coercion had led to a break with the group of activists who had fought the Rotenbergs most fiercely, the Dagestanis. None of their members was present at Friday’s rally.
“At the moment, we have lost contact with Dagestan,” admitted Kurbatov. “All our work there was tied to Rustam Mallamagomedov, but after he was beaten up while we were waiting for the [Krasnodar] farmers in a camp near Rostov and then sentenced to administrative arrest in absentia, he was basically forced to give up the cause and go to ground. Currently, we are not even in contact with him.”
Kurbatov added that security forces coerced and terrorized the Dagestani truckers the most harshly.
“Are You Freezing?”
When, an hour later, the truckers emerged from the MEGA mall, where they had gone to get out harm’s way and discuss strategy, to take up their solo pickets, the police amassed in the parking lot reacted almost instantly.
The first to be sent to the precinct were Yekaterina Bolotova and Igor Melnikov. By midday, the security forces had managed to cram all the truckers, all their volunteer helpers from Khimki, and even the journalists, including a crew from TV Rain, into the paddy wagon.
“What we predicted last year has happened. As soon as [parliamentary] elections had taken place, the moratorium on raising rates was lifted. In fact, the government did not even keep its own promise of freezing prices until July 2017. So we decided there was no time to lose, and we have hit the streets, although we were not very well prepared,” said Kurbatov.
By six in the evening on Friday, all the detainees had been delivered to Police Precinct No. 1 in Khimki. But it proved difficult to find out what the truckers had been charged with.
In the morning, the truckers’ attorneys informed us that Sergei Einbinder, who had been detained first, had cut his hands and face to protest the police’s actions.
“After twenty hours at the precinct, they hadn’t even allowed me to see a lawyer or explain what I was being charged with, so I decided to take extreme measures,” Einbinder told Novaya Gazeta by phone.
Earlier, Einbinder had tried to leave the police station on his own after surrendering his internal passport, but police responded by detaining two lawyers that had been provided for him by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). The two lawyers, Vitaly Serukanov and Artyom Khemelevsky, have already been released. The journalists taken down to the precinct with the truckers were released the same day. No arrest reports were filed against them nor were they subjected to additional questioning.
By Saturday, it had transpired the truckers involved in the protest had been charged with disobeying the police (Article 19.3 of the Administrative Offenses Code) rather than for violating the rules of public rallies (Article 20.2).
Elena Filippova, press secretary for the truckers, who was detained along with them, related what conditions have been like for the activists at the police station. According to her, the female activists who have been helping the truckers and the truckers themselves slept in separate cells.
“In the women’s cells, the three of us were given one dry mattress, which we could sleep on, and two wet mattresses. We have now just thrown out the wet mattresses. Apparently, they had long been waiting their turn, and such an occasion had presented itself. Girls had shown up at the station: why not torment them a bit? In the morning, one of the cops gleefully asked, ‘Are you freezing?’ We have been allowed to use the toilet only twice in twenty hours, and we had to demand to be given food, which was brought only six hours later.”
Court hearings commenced only at two in the afternoon, and they looked likely to run until Saturday evening.
After numerous requests, Sergei Einbinder was transported from the courthouse by an ambulance crew.
Currently, truckers Mikhail Kurbatov, Vladimir Sinitsyn, Dmitry Lazar, and Igor Melnikov, their assistants Ivan Gushchin and OPR press secretary Elena Filippova, and activist Olga Reznikova, who also was involved in Friday’s protest, are still in police custody.