Yevgenia Litvinova. Her placard reads, “Crimean Tatars are not terrorists! Free political prisoners! Emir Hussein Kuku, a member of the Crimean Human Rights Group, has been on hunger strike since June 26.” Photo courtesy of Ms. Litvinova’s Facebook page
July 19, 2018
July 18, 2018
We arrived at Strategy 18 ahead of time yesterday, but we started our pickets half an hour later.
An unauthorized rally against raising the retirement age was planned to take place on Malaya Sadovaya Street. They might have needed help. Paddy wagons were lined up on the Nevsky. It was understood people would be arrested. That was what happened.
Two hundred people attended the protest rally. Fourteen of them were detained, including Father Grigory Mikhnov-Voytenko, a member of the Petersburg Human Rights Council. The detainees were driven from one police precinct to another for three hours. They were released around midnight.
Why do so few people defend their own interests? Are they afraid? Yes. Was the rally poorly advertised? That, too. But there is also an indifference to everything and everyone, including oneself.
Around a year ago, in September 2017, we organized a Peace March. It was also unauthorized, of course. Approximately three hundred people showed up. It was understandable: people are fed up with the antiwar agenda. They want to isolate themselves from other people’s corpses and the crimes of their own government.
Pensions affectly them directly, however. They are the ones whose money is being stolen, lots of money when you add it up. Yet people are again okay with everything.
“Should I bring the rope [to hang me]?”
At seven-thirty, we went back to our own plan, pulling out placards about the persecution of the Crimean Tatars. Natalia Voznesenskaya and I stood together for reasons of safety. There were tons of hired thugs [titushki] out on the Nevsky yesterday. They all claimed to be Crimeans who had just arrived from Crimea. You would have thought Crimea had sent a landing force to the shores of the Neva.
When they walked by us, they would shout the same thing.
“It’s not true! It doesn’t exist! You’re making it all up!”
What doesn’t exist?
My placard featured a picture of Emir Hussein Kuku, who has gone on hunger strike. What was not true? Did Kuku not exist? Did he not go on hunger strike?
There has been good news from Kuku’s wife. He ended his hunger strike today, July 19. However, his hand was forced by the rapid deterioration of his health.
That was today, though. His hunger strike lasted twenty-four days.
I have a young lady friend who is three years old. “No” and “not” are currently the keywords in her vocabulary.
When the first two lines of Samuil Marshak’s famous children’s poem “What a Scatterbrain”—”A scatterbrained man lived / on Basin Street”—are read to Sonya, she comments, “He did not live. He was not a man. He was not scatterbrained. It was not on Basin Street.”
It was exactly like that at our protest yesterday. A woman holding a child’s hand shouted the memorized text at us. She didn’t hesitate to look that way in front of the child. Or she thought the child didn’t understand what mom was saying.
There was also an attack on one of our picketers. Alexander Khmelyov was standing on Anichkov Bridge. One of the hawkers who encourages people to go on boat trips, a huge man in his thirties who could just as well have been tossing heavy sacks for a living, tore Alexander’s placard from his hands and tossed it into the Fontanka River.
We complained to the police. We pointed the attacker out to them.
“Go to the precinct and file a complaint.”
The guardians of order didn’t bother to go up and talk to the attacker.
The buskers were playing Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
Translated by the Russian Reader