“We Had a Delightful Crew in the Paddy Wagon”: An 80-Year-Old Petersburg Anti-War Activist Tells Her Story

Liudmila Vasilyeva is detained at an anti-war February 24 at Gostiny Dvor. Her placard reads, “No war, please” Photo: Artyom Leshko/Novaya Gazeta

We met with Liudmila Nikolaevna Vasilyeva in between demonstrations. On February 24 she—a survivor of the WWII-era Siege of Leningrad and a Soviet veteran of labor—was arrested outside the Gostiny Dvor shopping center and taken to a paddy wagon. Her plan for February 27 was to buy flowers, take them to the Solovetsky Stone, and then to be on Nevsky Prospect [the main drag in St Petersburg] with the other protesters by 4 p.m. 

“I managed to go to the hairdresser’s this morning before you came. I hadn’t had a haircut for nearly a year because of covid.” 

Wearing a sober black dress and pearl necklace, Liudmila ushered me into her apartment. At the entrance we were met by her tomcat Africus and a kitten named Flash Drive recently picked up on the street. 

“They woke me up the morning of the 24th, they were meowing,” Liudmila recalls. “I turned on TV Rain right away, where I heard about the war. My tears came flooding out, my blood pressure went up to 200—I haven’t experienced anything like that in ages. Back in 2014 when it was all just starting with Crimea and they hadn’t started fighting in Donbas, I asked my son Denis to print out a poster saying “No to the fratricidal war” and went out to picket. Vitaly Milonov called me a Banderovite then, but I was just talking to people: ‘Mothers, how can you be silent and not come out in protest, it’s your sons who will be killed!’ At work my co-workers kept assuring me ‘Liuda, there won’t be a war!’ But I could see what was going on and I remember everything as if it was happening right now.”

“I don’t believe there are Nazis in Ukraine,” Liudmila continues. “People there want freedom, while Putin wants to re-establish an empire. My heart hurts for everyone: for our boys who’ve been sent to fight, and for the Ukrainians. How could I not go to the demonstration?”

Her son Denis told her over the phone where and when the solo pickets would be happening. He currently lives in Germany.

“I felt helpless for a long time, kept asking myself: what can I do, how can I stop this? When my son called on the morning of the 24th, I told him right away, ‘I’m going out to protest! Just tell me where to go and when!’ And then I got ready and headed out. I got out of the subway and saw girls with placards. They didn’t even have time to unfold them—they were all arrested immediately. I said, ‘Give me your placard—I’ll stand there in your place!’ Of course, the police came running up right away. But I didn’t hand over the placard, so they took me off to the paddy wagon with it unfolded.”

“We had a delightful crew in the paddy wagon,” Liudmila smiled. “The girls were already there, some twenty-year-old boys with a bouquet of carnations—not even my children’s age, my grandchildren’s. We said hello and I suggested, ‘Why stay silent, let’s yell “No war!”’ And we yelled really really loud in the paddy wagon—maybe they could even hear us out on the street. One of the girls recited some of her poetry, I recited ‘Where does Russia begin’ by Viktor Bokov, and we all sang [Boris] Grebenshchikov’s ’Train on Fire’. When I hang out with young people I become younger myself. And then I started teaching the ones in masks and helmets a lesson: ‘Guys, look who you’ve arrested. Kids! It’s easy enough for you to wage war with them, but for some reason you’re afraid of [Chechen leader Ramzan] Kadyrov.”

“They took my [internal] passport and at this point, evidently, they realized that I really am a survivor of the Siege—it’s written there in my passport where and when I was born. They started asking me whether maybe they should call an ambulance for me. I said, ‘I don’t need any ambulance, and I’m not going anywhere—I’m staying here with the young people.’Then they came in again: ‘Let’s go!’ And this time the kids said ‘Go on, go on.’ So I went—got out of the paddy wagon and once again started yelling ‘No war!’, and told the young folks in parting, ‘I love you. You’re marvelous!’”

After releasing her, the police decided to drive Liudmila home in their police car.

“At first I said that I didn’t want their help and asked them to let me out by the subway.”

She added: “I don’t need a ride: you’ll try to plant drugs on me.”

“But they said they’d been ordered to do it. Then I started talking with them. One of them was silent the whole time, but the other one talked with me.”

On the way home Liudmila softened and invited the policemen in for tea, but they declined, saying that they weren’t allowed when in uniform.

“And then—I had already gone to bed—the doorbell rang. I put my robe on and peeked in the peephole—there were two people, not in uniform, a man and a woman carrying a bag. They said they came from police headquarters to apologize and had brought something sweet to eat. I’m not supposed to have sweets because of my age, but I made tea and had a ‘preventive conversation with them—we spent more than an hour sitting in the kitchen. They claimed that the men who had detained me were not police, but [Russian National Guardsmen]. I said it was all the same outfit. They appeared to more or less agree with me. I sent them off with the wish that they live in such a way that they would not be ashamed of what they were doing.”

“You see, I talk with everyone,” Liudmila explained. “We are people and we must try to get through to everyone. I can give examples: they earn practically nothing, while Sechin gets a million a day, at their expense. They’re all kids to me. And they have their own kids. I try to awaken a little goodness in them, so that the police hear something humane instead of aggression in response. I urge them to read the news from various sources, to have an opinion of their own instead of one imposed on them—many of them reply to me with phrases straight from the TV.”

Liudmila calls herself a “progressive lady”: she watches RBC, Euronews, and the Culture channel, reads the news from several different media sources, and listens to podcasts on her laptop.

“I tried to watch Russia 1 and RT to see what they’re saying there, but I couldn’t listen for more than three minutes: they’re roaring, calling names, so much noise and aggression and not a single true word. We are threatening the entire world and have gotten to the point that every single one of our words has to be fact-checked. But I don’t just watch the news, don’t get the wrong idea. I read books too. I started reading Nabokov’s Lolita but haven’t been able to finish it because of everything that’s going on.”

“Boris, my husband, loved to read,” Liudmila goes on. “When we visited people he always went straight to the bookshelves—to see whether he might borrow something. It’s too bad that he passed away nearly twenty years ago. He was very clever and erudite—and he educated me when we first met. I was an idealistic Soviet girl. I listened to what they told us—by the way, it’s practically the same as now: enemies all around, we’re defending ourselves all alone. I would say to Boris, ‘But in the paper it says this, on TV they say…’ And he’d reply, ‘And have you seen what’s written on the fences?’ He taught me to think. So when I was invited to join the Party, I said no: ‘As long as the Party people are like you, I’m not joining. You say one thing but in fact you’re fawning and two-faced.'”

Liudmila Vasilyev shows us her Leningrad Siege survivor ID. Photo: Artyom Leshko/Novaya Gazeta

When the war [WWII] started, Liudmila was two months old. She stayed in Leningrad with her mother.

“Of course I don’t remember anything from the first years, but I do have fragmented memories from closer to the end of the Siege,” she said.

“I remember how ice from the kitchen sink reached all the way to the floor, how we ate potato peels, I remember the rats running around.”

“The Second World War was one enormous tragedy. Mama always fought for us and didn’t lose her optimism—she was always cheerful, didn’t cry, but if you woke up at night you could see her lying in bed with her eyes open and tears running down her cheeks. Her husband’s uncle was on the Leningrad front. He and mama were saints. They’re the ones who were victorious! But the way our government is exploiting the war and the victory over Nazism these days: it would be better not to talk about it.”


“I’m going out again on the 27th for the March in memory of [Boris] Nemtsov,” Liudmila shares her upcoming plans. “I’ll buy flowers and go to the Solovetsky Stone. I do that every year. And every year on August 19th I go to the Mariinsky Palace, even though it was so long ago. During the [attempted coup in August 1991] my sister said, ‘Liudmila, they’ll kill you there.’ But I told her I can’t just stand there and not do anything. In 1991 the whole square was packed, but now people don’t come out to protest as much. All the more reason to go. Even if no one else was there, I would still go. And what do I have to fear now? I’m 80. My blood pressure has gone up—so what. I lived through yesterday and did it with style. Talked to the young people, gathered more strength. I saw their faces, their beautiful eyes. They’re still full of vim and vigor—they want to change something. I do too. And I want to take part in this, to speak out, to stop the war, so that people don’t die. The world is made up of people. Without them there’s nothing there. And to save even one life I will go on talking with just about anybody.”

Liudmila Vasilyeva at the February 27 anti-war rally at Gostiny Dvor

P.S. On February 27 at 4:00 p.m., Liudmila was arrested again at Gostiny Dvor. This time she was standing with no sign, a small woman surrounded by five riot police officers. She opened her arms wide and said, “Well, what are you waiting for? Arrest me!” They did. 

Source: Artyom Leshko, Novaya Gazeta, 27 February 2022. Photos by Artyom Leshko/Novaya Gazeta. Translated by the Fabulous AM

“This Is Not a Military Operation! This Is War!”

[Top] “This is not a military operation! This is war! Come out and protest for peace before they send you a summons to the front.” [Center left] “27 February at 4 p.m., we’ll say ‘No War!’ together.” [Center right] “No to the military incursion in Ukraine! Peace to peoples, fight the rulers!” [Bottom] “Bring the soldiers back home.”

Ivan Astashin
February 26, 2022

Not everyone in Russia supports the war started by Putin. Far from everyone.

This photo was taken in an ordinary Moscow courtyard.


Today, Roskomnadzor ordered Novaya Gazeta, Mediazona, TV Rain, and other media outlets to remove materials in which what is happening in Ukraine is referred to as “war”:

“On these resources, under the guise of reliable messages, unreliable socially significant information has been posted about the shelling of Ukrainian cities by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the death of civilians in Ukraine as a result of the actions of the Russian Army that does not correspond to reality, as well as materials in which the operation is called an attack, invasion, or declaration of war,” the order reads.

Source: Novaya Gazeta, 26 February 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Being Vladimir Putin

[Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe:] For example, when I first dressed up as Putin, I had the feeling that I had become some kind of colossal totemic maggot, which was about to burst from the shit it had eaten.

At the same time, I was not a villain, but a “forest sanitation worker” [sanitar lesa: animals such as ants, birds, wolves, badgers, etc., who “sanitize” their environment as predators and scavengers, are called sanitary lesa] and I had to devour our deceased country, the great Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, as soon as possible, so that a new life could begin as soon as possible.

[Interviewer:] Do you think he’ll consume us after all?

[Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe:] Yes, and quite soon. You know, in Bali, where I have lived for a very long time, there are lots of different parasites — wood beetles and termites. A luxurious teak cabinet in the style of the Dutch masters stands in the house. You use it every day, you have clothes hanging in it, but at some point you touch it — and it crumbles. It has simply been devoured. That’s what will happen to our country.

Thanks to Andrey Silvestrov for the quotation. I traced it to an Afisha magazine interview that it is no longer accessible. The passage as quoted here I found on Andrei Amalgin’s LiveJournal blog. Amalgin, in turn, cites this 2013 LiveJournal blog post about the late great performance artist Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe. The image above, from the 2005 series of staged photographs entitled StarZ, is courtesy of Mutual Art. Translated by the Russian Reader

“And It’s Only the Second Day of the War”

“You will pay for Putin’s war with taxes, closed borders, poverty, blocked services, and an information vacuum. No war!” Photo courtesy of Ivan Astashin

Former Russian political prisoner Ivan Astashin writes:

A conversation at the post office today:
– Give me, please, a blank delivery confirmation slip for a letter going abroad.
– And where are you going to send it?
– To France.
– You can send to France. But you can’t send to Moldova and Ukraine.

* * *

Meanwhile, in Sberbank, there is a crowd of people like I’ve never seen before. There is no money in the ATMs. (Only yesterday, Russians withdrew 111 billion rubles from their accounts.) [This is approximately 1.2 billion euros.] Everyone is waiting for someone to come make a deposit, then they immediately withdraw what was deposited. Some people are quietly panicking.

And this is only the second day of the war.

Source: Ivan Astashin, Facebook, 25 February 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader, who needs your donations to keep this website up and running and updated daily. Click on the “Donate” or “Buy me a coffee buttons” in the right sidebar. Thanks!

How a Russian Hacker Ended the White Sands Pupfish

How a Russian Hacker Ended the White Sands Pupfish

8/23/2021 – Alamogordo Daily News Article – The White Sands Pupfish were known as Pecos League Team number one. On the Pecos League’s digital platform the original team numbers were White Sands #1, Las Cruces #2, Roswell #3, Alpine #4. The Pupfish played in Alamogordo, and Alamogordo was the first city to sign a lease to host a Pecos League Team. Matt McNeile’s efforts were remarkable and the Pupfish were born. Many people ask to this day why are the Pupfish no longer in the Pecos League?

The Pupfish have deep history playing the entire decade from 2011-2019. Despite never qualifying for the Pecos League playoffs after 2011 the Pupfish produced players that would go on to play in the Major Leagues. Chris Smith reached the MLB with the Toronto Blue Jays and Yermin Mercedes reached the MLB with the Chicago White Sox. Mercedes was the most popular player to ever play in the Pecos League with his huge early success with the White Sox.

Things changed for the City of Alamogordo during the 2018. An Alamogordo city employee received an email request to change banking information from someone who appeared to be a Cooperative Education Services (CES) representative. CES is a New Mexico purchasing cooperative. The email appeared to come from a person known to work for CES. The email contained an outdated version of the CES logo. The city accepted the change in banking information and paid all the CES invoices, only to discover that the email was fraudulent. The city paid the invoice in the amount of $250,000. The City believed they would recover the money.

The City was already facing budget cuts and coupled with this loss, things would change for organizations like the Pupfish. Alamogordo never recovered the money, so the City decided to restructure the terms of many of their programs including the Pupfish deal in Alamogordo. In the new deal the Pupfish would be responsible for paying a ballpark lease, making all improvements, maintenance and repairs to the ballparks while the City would keep all revenue from alcohol sales. This deal went into effect in the 2019 season.

Matt Chambers the 2019 Field Manager of the Pupfish stated “This is a real simple deal, The City of Alamogordo makes profit off of the Pupfish Beer Sales, while the Pupfish are liable for all repairs and expenses associated with the team. The Pupfish are left with whatever ticket sales and sponsorships are left. It is very tough to get sponsorship dollars in Alamogordo. I don’t see how this deal will work compared to other Pecos League Cities.”

In 2021 the Mountain Division South of the Pecos League saw the Santa Fe Fuego, Roswell Invaders, Alpine Cowboys and Tucson Saguaros. Without the Pupfish it made things tougher on travel. Moving Santa Fe into the South it broke up traditional rivals Santa Fe and Trinidad.

Source: Pecos League, via Pecos League Facebook page, 24 February 2022. Photo courtesy of White Sands Pupfish Facebook page

Five Petersburgers on February 24th

There are many women from Ukraine working in Israel, women who were forced to come here to work because of the complete devastation wrought by the war. They are employed in cleaning and in caring for the elderly and children. Nathan’s nanny, Vika, has been here for about five years. She hasn’t seen her own children and mother during this entire time. At first she worked as a cleaner, then, perhaps due to constant contact with toxic cleaning substances, she got sick with blood cancer. She was given medical care at one time, but then she was turned down on an extension of her insurance. Vika’s only chance to survive is a bone marrow transplant operation that costs 285 thousand dollars. As a non-citizen of Israel, she will not receive free medical care here. Vika is only a few years older than me. She has nowhere to go back to go for treatment. (Although, even if she did, they wouldn’t treat it for free either.) This morning I heard another woman, Mila, already middle-aged, weeping and telling her family, “It would be better if I were with you.” I have no emotional strength left for righteous indignation, karma-cleansing public shame, and slogans. I have only a huge desire for Vika to survive and be able to hug her children, and for Mila not to weep in horror for her family.

Source: Olga Jitlina, Facebook, 24 February 2022. Ms. Jitlina lives in Jaffa. Translated by the Russian Reader



There were very few people [at the protest in downtown Moscow], alas. Thank you to everyone who came, and [I wish] a speedy release to everyone who is in the paddy wagons. But how [only] a thousand people can come to a rally in Moscow against the terrible criminal war unleashed by our country, I do not understand. I don’t blame anyone, I understand that it’s scary, but we cannot manage to do anything, alas. It’s very hard to bear. NO TO THE CRIMINAL WAR WITH UKRAINE!

Source: Alexander Feldberg, Facebook, 24 February 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


Today is my birthday. I am 43. I was born in 1979, in Leningrad, in a Jewish family. I grew up very sheltered and very afraid. My grandfather, a survivor of a German POW camp, who managed to escape arrest and prosecution in the USSR, taught me to behave “lower than grass, quieter than water,” showing total submission toward any and all authority figures. At my school, my brother’s teacher tore an earring out of a girl’s ear, tore it “with meat,” right through the earlobe, because of some Soviet prejudice against earrings. That teacher remained a teacher in the school. Two other teachers in two different schools I went to had been known sexual predators who went after boys. One of them was eventually pushed out of teaching, but the other remained. I don’t even mention the daily groping on the bus and subway, on my way to school, that violence seemed so every day that it still feels pointless to speak up about.

At 16, when I had to get my first passport, my family insisted that I try facing the authorities on my own. I tried and got a run-around and received a set of impossible instructions and returned home in tears and full of hatred for all the stone-faced people who refused to help with such an everyday task. (I hadn’t read Kafka by then yet, but when I did, I knew what he was writing about.) The next day, my grandmother came to the passport office with me. She fixed the problem as she always did, by begging and pleading — I’m old and my granddaughter is young and stupid, could you please help us — the skill she had that always horrified me. I refused to imagine how she had come by it. I resisted learning to beg, and I resisted fear, too, but fear was the air I breathed. I left Russia at the earliest opportunity, and in my subsequent visits there, considered: Could I live here now? Could I feel free and unafraid? There were years when I imagined I could.

Today, like so many people I’m watching Russia invade Ukraine, and first and foremost I am afraid. I’m afraid for what might happen to the people of Ukraine, of what Russia might do. But I’m also so proud and so happy to see that so many others, people made differently than me, aren’t afraid, and that so many others are able to put aside their fear to fight. I know many Ukrainians are asking why not more Russians come out on the streets of their cities to protest the war. They are right to ask the question. And, given what’s happening in Ukraine right now, fear is a bad answer. In my experience, however, fear is a very real, all-encompassing and paralyzing feeling. My heart is tightening with it so many thousands of miles away, writing this. And yet again, I see others pushing through their fear and come out on the streets of Russian cities despite the very real threat of arrests. And I see people of Ukraine resisting and the world hopefully waking up and coming together to act against the aggressor. The bully relies on and feeds on our fear. This is also real.

One other thing I’ve noticed. Fear masks itself as so many other things. Anger. Hatred. Cynicism. “This isn’t about me.” “Why rock the boat?” “Why should I get involved?” “I shouldn’t do anything that might hurt my family.” I find my mind going through these motions. My mind isn’t comfortable with fear and tries to bury the feeling inside the ever-longer logical chains. And I, among many of us, who grew up in Russia, am badly trained to unpack these logical threads and to face the fear. It’s ok to be afraid. It’s not ok to attack another country.

Source: Olga Zilberbourg, Facebook, 24 February 2022. Ms. Zilberbourg is the San Francisco-based author of the highly acclaimed Like Water and Other Stories and co-editor of Punctured Lines, a feminist blog about literature from the former Soviet Union.


“Putin is a war criminal.”

Source: Natalia Vvedenskaya, Facebook, 24 February 2022. Natalia Vvedenskaya is a Petersburg grassroots activist who, among other things, teaches Russian to immigrant children at the St. Petersburg Jewish Community Center.




Dear everyone,
[S]hocked as we all are by the nightmare of the news today, whatever you say and whatever your opinions might be on who is to blame and what must be done, please just remember that within Russia there are very different people, with different views — not everyone is supporting the war or the government (in my feed not a single person is, as far as I can see, but that is, sadly, not a universal picture). In my city, St. Petersburg, today over a thousand people came to Nevsky prospect to protest against the war, in spite of the danger. They are in danger because the political regime in Russia is as intolerant to its opponents as it has been over the past decade, maybe more so. Many were detained, which will inevitably mean prosecution — almost certainly fines and possibly arrests, not to mention the following risk of being fired from work. I understand that in other cities, in Ukraine, people are facing a much more immediate danger of being bombed, but believe me, it is also scary to go to a street with a placard “No to war” when you might end up in prison for that. Screenshot is from a video by Fontanka, a local newspaper.

Source: Maria Guleva, Facebook, 24 February 2022. Ms. Guleva studies at Charles University in Prague.

Praying (and Shouting) for Peace in Finland

The spire of the Tainionkoski Church, as seen from a wheat field on a beautiful evening in August 2018. Tainionkoski is a neighborhood in Imatra, an industrial town of 26,000 people on the Finnish-Russian border. Photo by the Russian Reader

The shocking news that Russia had launched a war in Ukraine spread around the world on Thursday morning. The war within Europe’s borders is shocking and worrying people everywhere.

The Imatra Parish is organizing a joint prayer for peace at 7 p.m. Thursday evening in Tainionkoski Church.

“This morning we have woken up to the fact that war has begun in Ukraine. It’s good to react immediately. Another reason is that our bishops across the board have called on all congregations to hold a prayer hour, ” says Mari Parkkinen, Vicar of Imatra Parish.

The vicar was incredulous this morning as she read the headlines about the war in Ukraine. She’s sad to see her faith in humanity go away once again.

“It’s heart-breaking and tragic when there’s a war going on. Ordinary people suffer in the midst of war. The sadness this morning was palpable,” Parkkinen says.

Imatra Parish welcomes everyone to Tainionkoski Church in the evening to light a candle for peace.

Source: Santeri Tynkkynen, Uutisvuoksi, 24 February 2022. Translated from the Finnish by the Russian Reader


This was scene earlier today (24 February 2022) outside the Russian embassy in Helsinki, via artist Alexander Reichstein. The crowd is shouting, “Russia get out, down with Putin!”


Putin’s Plan Is Russia’s Victory

“Putin’s plan is Russia’s victory.” A United Russia campaign banner on the corner of Nevsky and Pushkinskaya in downtown Petersburg, in 2007. Photo by the Russian Reader

I suppose that none of the “analysts” who gloated — a mere week ago — that Biden was wrong about Putin’s plans to invade Ukraine will admit that they were very badly mistaken. ||| TRR

Practical Tips for Underground Anti-War Activists

“No war!”


When you live for years in an atmosphere of fear and coercion, there is a huge gap between the desire to do something and actually doing something. Here are a few tips that may help fill this gap.

– Plan your route so as not to return to places where you have already been.

– Practice at home: this speeds up the process and helps you avoid annoying blots and corrections.

– Ask a close friend to walk with you. Two people strolling arouse less suspicion and discourage others from messing with you. It is important that, at the decisive moment, the friend watches your back.

– It is better to prepare posters and stickers in advance, rather than create them on the spot.

– It is a good idea to have a convenient folder or carrying bag.

– You can easily make a banner from any type of fabric and masking tape. The mounting holes can be reinforced with grommets, but it is possible to do without them. Roll up the banner accordion-style. First attach an upper corner, then a lower one. Then quickly stretch and attach the other upper corner, the other lower corner, and the middle. You attract notice as soon as you begin unfolding the banner. It can easily be fastened with pieces of wire. A third person should document the banner, and everyone should leave quickly after it’s mounted.

– Keep in mind that cans of spray paint and stencils get dirty and smell.

– People get annoyed when they see something hung or spray-painted on architectural landmarks. Billboards, walls, window niches and other surfaces situated perpendicular to the flow of pedestrians are another matter.

– There is no need to be a Stakhanovite. Three or four spots is more than enough for a single run. Be guided by your capabilities and sense of danger.

– It’s a success when you implement your plan without coming into contact with undesirable authorities. A series of successes can dull your sense of danger. Don’t change the plan, don’t prolong the process, don’t ignore security measures.

– About one in ten passersby will notice you. Approximately one out of ten people who notice you will be a person with a “heightened sense of civic responsibility” and will sound the alarm. Hence, the fewer people with whom you come in contact, the better.

– Don’t discuss what you have done with people who were not involved. Don’t discuss what you have done in messengers. It is not necessary to post about what you did on the internet using your own name. If you decide to post, delete the metadata.

Good luck.

Source: George Losev, Facebook, 22 February 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

The Perfect Gift for Defender of the Fatherland Day

The Dendy Junior with a cartridge and detachable controllers

Toys for everyone

On the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day [February 23], the demand for electronics (game consoles, laptops, tablets) has grown — they are among the most coveted gifts. Ozon said that in mid-February, unit sales of consoles and accessories had increased 2.2 times year-on-year. “Retro consoles have been an unexpected trend in the video game consoles category — they have been the best-selling products. Dendy Junior and Sega Genesis will be nostalgic February 23rd gifts for Petersburg residents,” the retailer’s press service added.

Wildberries has also seen a run on electronics. But electric razors (demand for them increased by 153% in the first half of February) and hair and beard clippers (up by 48%) have been their most popular items.

M.Video-Eldorado told us that headphones and portable acoustics have been trending. In addition, the new digital reality dictates its own rules: gifts that cannot be touched with your hands are becoming more and more desirable. High demand this year has been shown by digital content such as subscriptions to services (videos, books, etc.). Sales of digital codes for games had more than doubled by February 2021 [sic].

Sales on Avito of laptops and smartphones have also increased by 15% and 9%, respectively. You can buy devices for an average of 22,380 rubles and 17,920 rubles [approx. 249 and 199 euros]. Some female Petersburgers decided to make their task as easy as possible and present men not with a specific gift, but with a gift certificate. The Avito press service said that users spend an average of 4,700 rubles [approx. 52 euros] on them.

Retailers can also make money in February on sales of children’s goods. Radio-controlled toys have become more than twice as popular on Ozon. Wildberries noted that parents purchase toy weapons, cars, airplanes and helicopters, as well as various prefabricated models for their little defenders.

Whether he’s going to the army or on a fishing trip

Goods for hunting and fishing — that’s what female customers have paid attention to this holiday. However, even this involves electronic gadgets. “The list of [our] popular items includes an echo sounder and a case for it, a monocular telescope, powerful binoculars, and a set of walkie-talkies,” Ozon’s press service says.

“In the household and garden goods category, sauna accessories (for example, a hat embroidered with the phrase ‘February 23’) and goods for cooking kebabs and barbecue (a set of skewers with lacquered beech handles in a tight protective cover has been among the top sellers) have been purchased the most,” [reports Ozon]. It’s funny that in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region this year one of the most popular February 23rd gifts will be a set for making homemade liqueurs.

Wildberries’ female shoppers have been no less creative in choosing gifts. They decided that army dry rations are an inexpensive and original option, orders of which have increased by 344% year-on-year. These are gift sets designed to look like a real soldier’s rations. Jumbo-sized dry rations featuring canned food and snacks cost about 1,5000 to 2,000 rubles [approx. 17 to 22 euros].

Traditional values

And yet the popularity of socks and men’s skin care products remains unshakable. In the first half of February, Wildberries saws the number of orders for socks in St. Petersburg increase by 113%, and shaving kits by 150%, while orders for cosmetic care kits rose by 750%, deodorants, by 46%, and colognes, by 157%. The demand for men’s lotions has increased by 100%, while the popularity of shower gels has soared almost ninefold compared to January. Ties (up 95%), belts (up 153%), and wallets (up 144%) are also among popular traditional gifts.

Corporate customers of online stores this year bought sweets for the holidays. According to SberMarket’s b2b department, companies have most often ordered gift sets of Merci candy, coffee and tea in gift packages, and Old Spice, Palmolive, and Gillette skin care sets for employees for Defender of the Fatherland Day this year.

Source: Darya Dmitrieva, Delovoi Peterburg, 22 February 2022. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Translated by the Russian Reader