Demonstrators in Moscow: “Hands Off Ukraine!”

 

Six people involved in solo pickets against war with Ukraine were detained on Pushkin Square [in Moscow earlier today, 20 February 2022]: Lev Ponomaryov, Mikhail Krieger, Nikolai Rekubratsky, Yuri Samodurov, Mikhail Udimov, and Olga Mazurova.

The picketers held placards that read: “Schools and hospitals instead of bombs and shells,” “Hands off Ukraine,” “Down with the regime of the Chekists,” “Russia, do not touch Ukraine,” “No war with Ukraine”, and “Freedom for Ukrainian political prisoners.”

Ponomaryov, Krieger, and Udimov have been taken to the police department in the Tverskoy district. Ilya Utkin, a lawyer from OVD Info, is heading to see them. Samodurov, Rekubratsky, and Mazurova have been taken to the police department in the Meshchansky district.

Anna Krechetova and Alexander Matskevich were detained later on Pushkin Square. Matskevich held up a placard that read, “There is no excuse for war.”

Video: Valeria Merkulova

Source: Darya Kornilova/Facebook. Thanks to Yigal Levin for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Slipping and Falling in Saint Petersburg

Imagine if this pavement were part of your daily walk between home and work, home and school, or home and the shops. Amazing as it might seem, this street on the edge of downtown Petersburg sees extremely heavy pedestrian traffic every day.

Yesterday, I slipped and fell while taking my recycling to the city’s only permanent recyclables collection point, situated in the parking lot of a hypermarket where I buy staples like tea and rice. The collection point and the hypermarket are three blocks from where these pictures were shot.

Fortunately, I’m still young and fit enough that the fall, which was hard and sudden, left me intact. Plus, in my youth, I had been taught how to fall in my tae-kwon-do classes. I feel fine today.

But Petersburg is chockablock with pensioners whom no one looks after. They have to go out into this mess to pay their bills and buy groceries and medicines, for example.

Do none of them fall and break their hips and legs in such conditions? They do — by the dozens and hundreds and thousands every winter.

I gather they pray for snowless winters, like their coeval my mom, who has spent her entire life dealing with southern Minnesota’s cold, snowy, windy winters. ||| TRR, 20 February 2018

Joseph Brodsky’s Playlist

Arzamas recorded a concert in which members of the project Brodsky Ad Libitum played the poet’s favorite pieces and discussed his relationship with music.

“Una furtiva lagrima” (1832)
Nemorino’s aria from Gaetano Donizetti’s opera L’elisir d’amore
Arranged by Alexei Chizhik

“La Cumparsita” (circa 1914)
Tango by Gerardo Matos Rodriguez
Arranged by Alexei Chizhik

“A-Tisket, A-Tasket” (1938)
Jazz standard by Ella Fitzgerald and Al Feldman

“Lili Marlene” (1938)
Norbert Schulze (music), Hans Leip (words)
Arranged by Alexei Chizhik

Minuet in G minor (1725)
Johann Sebastian Bach
Arranged by Alexei Chizhik

Stabat Mater (1736)
First movement (“Stabat mater dolorosa”) of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s cantata
Arranged by Alexei Chizhik

“Joy Spring” (1954)
Jazz standard by Clifford Brown and Max Roach

“Remember Me” (1689)
Dido’s aria from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas

Arranged by Alexei Chizhik

Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in E Minor
Saverio Mercadante
“Rondo Russo”
Arranged by Alexei Chizhik

Brodsky Ad Libitum:
Irina Chizhik – project designer
Alexei Chizhik – vibraphone
Stanislav Chigadayev – piano
Vladimir Volkov – double bass
Anton Alexeyevsky – flute

Producer: Yulia Bogatko
Operators Sergei Tishchenko, Sergei Davidyak, Alexandra Kallistova, and Utromedia Studio
Sound engineers: Sergei Yermakov and Yulia Glukhova
Editing: Alexander Kallistov
Motion design: Seryozha Okhta
Editor-in-chief: Victoria Malyutina-Lukashina

Arzamas thanks Anatoly Naiman for his voice and photograph, as well as Anna Narinskaya, Anna Malenkova, Anton Alexeyvsky, and the Room and a Half Joseph Brodsky Museum for their help in filming.

Arzamas is a cultural history education project. You can listen to our courses and podcasts on the Radio Arzamas app.

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Translated by the Russian Reader

100% Herd Immunity

https://paperpaper.ru/papernews/2022/2/15/vlasti-zayavili-chto-peterburg-dostig-k/

[February 5, 2022]

The authorities say that Petersburg has achieved 100% herd immunity. Is it true?

The number of people who been vaccinated and people who have recovered from covid-19 in Petersburg speaks to the fact that the city has achieved 100% herd immunity, first deputy chair of the Health Committee Andrei Sarana said on the St. Petersburg TV channel.

Referring to the Health Ministry’s website, Sarana said that Petersburg had reached 100% collective immunity. According to the official, 3.14 million people, including more than 2,400 children, had been fully vaccinated in Petersburg.

According to Health Ministry’s guidelines, Petersburg has to vaccinate 80% of its entire population, excluding children and adults who cannot be vaccinated — this amounts to 3.5 million people. At the same time, it is not known how this approach works and whether it takes into account people who, for example, were vaccinated more than a year ago.

In fact, 2.9 million residents have undergone a full vaccination cycle in Petersburg, which is equal to only 55% of the total number of people officially residing in St. Petersburg (5.3 million people), according to city hall’s website. Only the covid crisis center reports that 3.5 million people in Petersburg have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

In mid-January, the authorities were already claiming that herd immunity in Petersburg, according to various calculation methods, was at either 88% or 100%. Bumaga discovered then that they were talking about a portion of the total number of the city’s residents. Read more here.

Screen shot from the animated series Masha and the Bear

https://t.me/RKadyrov_95/1240

[February 14, 2022]

Dear compatriots! So as not to give my detractors cause for hysteria that I am exceeding my powers, I officially declare that this is my personal opinion, the humble opinion of Russian citizen Ramzan Kadyrov.

In my appeal there are two messages to two addressees — to the Ukrainian authorities and to the Ukrainian people.

Mr. Zelensky! The time for clowning has come to an end. The hour has come to fulfill one’s duty to one’s own people in order to avoid irreversible consequences. That is, today, more than ever, there is a need to implement the Minsk Accords, which were signed not only by the President of Russia, but also by the President of Ukraine. The strict implementation of the provisions spelled out in this document is the first important step in a political settlement of the growing confrontation not only between our countries, but also in reducing general tension in the global sense of the word. In this regard, you, as the guarantor of the Constitution and the security of your people and state, are simply obliged to do everything in your power to avoid bloodshed and establish peace. President Vladimir Putin and the peoples of Russia do not want war: we know firsthand the meaning of this terrible word. Be reasonable, Mr. Zelensky!

And now I want to address Ukrainians. My dear ones! I love Ukraine and its kind people. From the Soviet history class that I took at school, I know that Kievan Rus is the cradle of Russian statehood and Orthodoxy. Russians and Ukrainians are a single Slavic people with a common history, culture and religion. I will never believe that Ukrainians consider themselves part of the so-called Western world with all its degenerate “values” and Russophobic hysteria. Yes, that’s right, despite the fact that the current anti-national regime and its propaganda are doing everything to erase this sense of community. Somewhere in the depths of my soul I have a glimmer of hope that this historical justice [sic] will be restored by the Ukrainian people themselves without anyone’s help from outside. It cannot be that the spiritual and historical heirs of the great Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky and the brilliant writer Nikolai Gogol would not want eternal peace with fraternal Russia!

https://t.me/RKadyrov_95/1241

[February 15, 2022]

I fully support the decision of the State Duma to ask the President of the Russian Federation to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

I believe that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief will grant the request and our country will recognize the independent status of both republics. Vladimir Vladimirovich is a far-sighted and wise politician. I think he will definitely take such an important step for the advent of peace.

I am sure that this is not only my opinion, but also that of the majority of Russians. Residents of the DPR and LPR have been living under the yoke of lawlessness for many years, their right to self-determination ignored. In this situation, it is recognition of independence that will determine their status in the international arena and put an end to many years of confrontation and bloodshed.

The Chechen people perfectly remember what mayhem, violence and continuous fighting can lead to. We clearly remember the unenviable feeling of hopelessness and believe that only such a logical endpoint will save the inhabitants of these two republics.

A large-scale information campaign has been launched against Russia and the two republics. Every day, fakes [sic] are disseminated about a new date for the crossing of the Ukrainian border by Russian troops and the declaration of war. But everyone has forgotten that Ukraine has been waging such a war with its neighbors for eight years. The foreign media prefer to keep quiet about this.

If officials in Kiev are not going to implement the Minsk Accords, are not attempting to settle the issue peacefully, issue, are heating up the situation, and not looking for ways to solve the crisis, then it is more than logical that our President Vladimir Putin should take over the peacekeeping mission in this difficult political situation.

Peace will come to Donetsk and Lugansk after you say your WORD, Vladimir Vladimirovich!

https://t.me/tass_agency/108662

[February 15, 2022, 1:11 pm]

Russia will not abandon the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics alone in the event of an invasion of their territory by the Ukrainian army — the response will be commensurate with the scale of aggression, Federation Council Chair Valentina Matviyenko said.

https://t.me/tass_agency/108663

[February 15, 2022, 1:13 pm]

Valentina Matviyenko called even the idea of a war with Ukraine wild, noting that Russia would do everything on its part to prevent such a development of events.

“Our position has been clearly set out by the head of the Russian state: for our part, we will do everything so that there is no war with Ukraine. Not today, not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, never!” said the speaker of the Federation Council in an interview with Parlamentskaya Gazeta.

Translated by the Russian Reader

The Social Network

Alexander Petrosyan
Facebook
February 16, 2022

How intoxicating the evenings in Russia are

Comments

Omar Bayramov
I’ve never commented on your photos before, Alexander. I’ll now probably incite a whole wave of indignation against myself, but I’m going to say it anyway. I’ve been living in this city for 25 years out of 40 and I can definitely say that I hate it. I try not to be outside unnecessarily, everything I see in my midst is disgusting. Thank you for your photos.

Author
Alexander Petrosyan
I think that here, like everywhere, you can find both things to love and things to hate. It depends on your current state of mind.

Translated by the Russian Reader

“Lishnii cheloveks”

‘The cast is a collection of privileged, mournful lishnii cheloveks (as the “superfluous men” in 19th-century Russian literature were known) in late middle age, squabbling in rural exile, wondering what the world is coming to and regretting the past.’

‘We are all lishnii cheloveks.’
Guardian Weekly, 4 February 2022, p. 57

Pushkin Square, on Pushkinskaya Street in Petersburg’s Central District. Photographer (or artist?) unknown. Thanks to Sveta Voskoboinikova for pointing it out to me. Our house is on the right side at the end of the street, and I miss it and the view from it (which includes the square) very much. I’m prejudiced, but I think our Pushkin is the most fitting monument to Russia’s national poet because he is the most human and humane of the ones I’ve seen. Our Pushkin stands above us, of course, but he’s also our neighbor rather than a (literal) titan towering over us. ||| TRR

Smart Voting

Ivan Astashin
Facebook
February 15, 2022

Just an hour ago, the State Duma voted in favor of a bill recognizing the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic — the Kremlin-controlled southeastern regions of Ukraine. Now, if the bill is approved, troops can be sent to the region under the pretext of an appeal to Putin by the leaders of the “independent republics.” However, I am not a military or political analyst, so I will not fantasize overmuch.

But I will note this. The bill was introduced by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation — for which supporters of “Smart Voting” and even some libertarians were so hot to trot [in the autumn 2021 parliamentary elections]. I had written earlier that we are definitely not traveling the same road as the Communist Party, that it is just as much a part of the system as United Russia. Now, it seems, no one should have any doubts that сooperating with the Communist Party in any way is tantamount to cooperating with the regime.

Ivan Astashin is a former Russian political prisoner whose story you can read here. Translated by the Russian Reader

It’s strange how horrified most of my Russian friends and acquaintances are by everything happening in and around Russia even as these same events elicit the opposite reaction from go-to western Putin understanders well out of harm’s way. Source: Responsible Statecraft. Screenshot by the Russian Reader

Russian Parliament Backs Plan to Recognize Breakaway Ukrainian Regions
Felix Light
Moscow Times
February 15, 2022

Russia’s State Duma on Tuesday backed a resolution calling for diplomatic recognition of Eastern Ukraine’s pro-Russian Donbas People’s Republics, raising tensions between Russia and Ukraine another notch, even as Russian troops began a partial withdrawal from the Ukrainian border.

The Russian parliament’s motion calls for President Vladimir Putin to formally recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, both of which declared independence from Ukraine in 2014. No other country currently recognizes the republics as sovereign states.

The motion, initially proposed by the Communist parliamentary opposition, attracted support from across the Duma’s five parties, including from speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.

“Firefights are continuing, people are dying,” Volodin said on the Telegram messenger app in the run-up to the vote.

“We must find a solution.”

The resolution is not binding, and will now be sent to Putin for feedback.

Continue reading “Smart Voting”

Eleven Silent Men

Speech balloon: “The children of officials won’t be going to the front. No war!” Movie poster: “An Alexei Pimanov film. Eleven Silent Men. In theaters from February 17.”

Revalternativa
Facebook
February 14, 2022

We have received a message from an anonymous activist group and are posting it to declare our support.

This is not the time to be discouraged! No one but us will save the world!

On the eve of a major war, Russia looks disconcertingly unanimous. Although the majority of the population has a negative attitude to war with Ukraine, their opinion is not represented at all in the media or the national conservation.

The media is completely controlled by the state. There is no force yet to organize rallies. High-profile opposition figures are either in prison or have left the country. Individual protest is also virtually banned — solo picketers are sent to jail and sentenced to absurdly huge fines. In the media, reports of arrests overshadow the meaning of the protest actions themselves, while on social media, information is distributed only among people who are already politicized. The police are hunting down all the more or less well-known opposition activists and preemptively throwing them in jail.

But the situation can be changed. It is easy to imagine Russian cities covered with anti-war agitation. In such circumstances, there would be no talk of the unanimity of the regime and the people in the face of war. People who came out to protest brandishing creative posters a year ago may well not want to stand holding them and wait to get arrested, but they could paste a dozen such posters on fences, walls, window niches, billboards, and the reverse side of road signs. Graffiti, stencils, leaflets in mailboxes and on shopping mall stands, business cards in elevators — we are limited only by our imaginations.

We are not talking about one-off heroic actions, or large formats, although large formats would do, but about daily, slightly routine, thoughtful, and maximally safe work to change the urban environment here and now.

The target of this activity would be the still passive 50% of society — the lower strata of the working class, pensioners, and apolitical youth who do not read opposition bloggers, and who until now have had things other than politics to worry about. It is these segments of the populace that war, a collapse of the ruble, and a rise in prices would hit first and foremost, and it is these people who need to be shown that people opposed to war do exist.

The authorities will certainly put street cleaners to work [tearing down the anti-war posters], but as the snowfalls have shown, the resources of the municipal services are very limited. By engaging reliable friends who will watch our backs when we are putting up posters, we can become an anti-war snowfall ourselves. This snow will trigger a political spring!

The authorities will beef up foot patrols and continue preventive arrests, but the more people take part in the snowfall, the safer it will be for the rest. However, we shouldn’t forget about cameras, hoods, and PPE either.

Don’t be scared, get organized! Think globally, act locally! Don’t wait for leaders, be leaders! Let’s meet on the streets!

#NoWar! #HandsOffUkraine!

You can find more illustrations of this street anti-war agitprop at the original Facebook post. Translated by the Russian Reader

At the Aid Center for Displaced Persons in Kyiv


Vadim F. Lurie
Facebook
February 13, 2022

It’s quite shameful to talk about one’s own experiences of the war, which are minor compared to the experiences of people who found themselves in the war’s meat grinder. But I just wanted to say where it was that I got the strongest impressions of Ukraine’s new wartime reality . Not at the war museum in Kyiv (where the captured “export” tanks are located), not at the military hospital where I spoke with the wounded, not at the checkpoints or when I saw the aftermath of shelling in Stanytsia Luhanska and other places. And not even from the stories of survivors of the (torture) basements or the shelling. What was probably hardest for me back in 2016 was visiting the aid center for displaced persons in Kyiv, where people who had sometimes fled the war with only the clothes on their back could get basic things they needed and receive various forms of assistance. There is no forgiveness for those who killed tens of thousands of people and made millions of Ukrainians refugees.

Photo by Vadim F. Lurie. Translated by the Russian Reader

Would That the Tanks Were Pink and Fired Daisies

Varya Mikhailova
Facebook
February 13, 2022

I am quite troubled by statements on this topic, because it seems really pathetic to write from Russia that you are against war if you don’t do anything about it (and can’t even imagine what you can do), but it’s horrible to watch the video footage of tanks and realize that your country is doing this.

No matter what wing of the opposition we belong to, we are all responsible for this, and even if there is no more saber-rattling, we are all responsible for the fear that Russia sows in its midst so that none of the former Soviet countries can even think of relaxing and calmly building their own futures.

As a country, Russia is a straight-up abuser who cannot imagine that someone could live peacefully and happily without it, doing everything to prevent this. In this context, [Putin’s] remark about “Like it or don’t like it, [it’s your duty, my beauty]” is absolutely no accident.

The photo, by David Frenkel, shows a pink tank, a symbol of pacifism, which was not allowed to take part in the 2015 May Day demo [in Petersburg].

Translated by the Russian Reader