Russian Reader T-Shirt Contest

My so-called Mayak mayka (right) was a hit among progressive trade unionists in earlier decades.

What is, arguably, wrong about the assertion, made below, by the stunningly courageous Russian tennis player Daria Kasatkina? The first reader to supply the correct answer gets a Russian Reader t-shirt—if and when I come up with a design for one, which I’ll be more determined than ever to do if someone sends me the right answer.

Kasatkina’s comments about her sexuality and Russia’s views on homosexuality will undoubtedly cause shock waves in her country. She criticized the country for forcing L.G.B.T.Q. people into having to live secret lives.

“Living in the closet is the hardest thing, it’s impossible,” she said. Asked whether two women would ever be able to walk down the street holding hands, she said, “Never.”

Source: Matt Futterman, “Leading Russian Tennis Player Criticizes War in Ukraine,” New York Times, 19 July 2022

It’s Not as Far from Kathmandu to Mariupol As It Is from Mariupol to Cape Cod

Russia builds apartment buildings in Mariupol

Specialists from Russian Ministry of Defense have started construction of 12 residential buildings in Mariupol in June 2022. About 2.5 thousand residents will occupy more than a thousand apartments in new five-storey buildings. The flats will be fully renovated.

Commercial and non-commercial property and social facilities, such as shops, will be on the ground floors. There will be recreation areas, children’s and sports grounds with full equipment, including play and exercise facilities.

In Mariupol, it will be one of the first such complexes.

#Russia#DPR#IDA

Source: Russia House in Kathmandu, Facebook, 17 July 2022


Screenshot of the response to my Google query

[…]

So, what’s to be done? The United States needs to open a diplomatic channel with Moscow to get a clearer sense of what would be an acceptable settlement for all parties. Right before the invasion, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman indicated “possible support” for an approach in which Ukraine would pledge military neutrality and give up its bid for NATO membership. If it will stop the suffering of ordinary Ukrainians, why should the United States not encourage Ukraine to put that back on the table now? Given its ongoing struggles with corruption and undemocratic practices, Ukraine is still far from meeting the democratic criteria of NATO membership anyway.  

Promises of unlimited support only embolden what is starting to be seen as the Ukrainian president’s “reckless stubbornness” in outright rejecting the possibility of territorial concessions. President Biden has repeatedly expressed that there are limits to U.S. assistance — it does not help Ukraine to pretend otherwise. It is rare that a war ends in total defeat, and it is not realistic to expect Moscow will fully retreat. U.S. policy must now shift to embrace this reality, and plan for the months ahead when deep divisions within the Western coalition grow, and when, in a lopsided war of attrition, Ukraine might lose even more ground.

Source: Mark Hannah, “It’s time for a US push to end the war in Ukraine,” Responsible Statecraft, 18 July 2018


Mark Hannah

Mark was born and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He received a BA from UPenn, an MA from Columbia, and a PhD from USC’s Annenberg School. His doctoral research examined international transitions of journalism from statist to capitalist media models.

Mark worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign and the 2008 Obama campaign. During the Obama administration, he regularly provided political and policy analysis on MSNBC, FOX News, and CNBC. His writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, TIME Magazine, PBS, Politico, The Huffington Post, NBCNews.com, and elsewhere.

His knowledge about the role which media play in driving — and sometimes thwarting — democratic progress was what first caught the eye of EGF. And Mark was excited by the innovative and important work being led by Allyn Summa and Ian Bremmer at the new organization. Mark wanted to work in the world of ideas, but also knew that world all too often seemed unapproachable to most Americans. He wanted to help foster a conversation around the urgent foreign policy challenges our country currently confronts. EGF has enabled him to do just that.

He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two young sons. After a childhood on Cape Cod, he enjoys spending as much of his free time as possible at one beach or another. He is learning to whittle, but despite being from a long line of carpenters, has found it to be quite challenging. He loves reading, and George Saunders, Philip Roth and Marilynne Robinson are among his favorite authors.

Source: “About: Team: Mark Hannah, Senior Fellow,” Eurasia Group Foundation website


Screenshot of the response to my Google query

What strikes me as particularly undeniable is that the absence of the feeling of belonging to a class is characteristic of children of the bourgeoisie. People in a dominant class position do not notice that they are positioned, situated, within a specific world (just as someone who is white isn’t necessarily aware of being so, or someone heterosexual). Read in this light, Aron’s remark can be seen for what it is, the naive confession offered by a person of privilege who imagines he is writing sociology when all he is doing is describing his own social status. I only met him once in my life, and immediately felt a strong aversion towards him. The very moment I set eyes on him, I loathed his ingratiating smile, his soothing voice, his way of demonstrating how reasonable and rational he was, everything about him that displayed his bourgeois ethos of decorum and propriety, of ideological moderation.

Source: Didier Eribon, Returning to Reims, trans. Michael Lucey (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2013), p. 100


[…]

Kateryna burst into tears when describing how she saw some 2,000 dead bodies with her own eyes. The shooting made it impossible to go in and help, despite the desperate pleas of bystanders.

“Russian units were occupying our flats, and I saw them shooting at civilians from the streets from the apartments. I was travelling around with a medical kit, trying to evacuate them to the main hospital, but then the Russian soldiers captured it too, using the patients and medical staff as human shields.”

On her last day in Mariupol, the road was destroyed, so she had to travel on foot. She saw a car that had hit a tree, with the driver already dead inside.  

But then she spotted a teenage girl sitting in the back of the car. “Get out, we need to leave, they’re bombing here,” Kateryna told the teenage girl. On the other side of the car, a woman was lying in a pool of blood, moaning. 

She realised that these were the girl’s parents, but she knew that with projectiles flying overhead she could only help one person — so she had to make the horrifying choice between saving the mother or the daughter. 

Seeing that the younger woman was still able to walk, she chose the daughter. When she got her down the stairs of the shelter, Kateryna saw that the woman’s shirt was so full of blood that she was not able to wring it out.

When she was finally evacuated from the Black Sea port city, thousands of dead bodies were still on the streets, but she received messages from friends saying that Russian soldiers forced the remaining civilians to clean up the bodies to hide their crimes. 

Now safe in Warsaw, Kataryna believes she will never forget what she has seen.

[…]

Source: James Jackson, “‘I was praying we would die quickly,’ Mariupol survivor says,” Euronews, 12 July 2022

Belarusian Railway Partisans Face Death Penalty

Dzianis Dzikun, Aleh Malchanau and Dzmitry Ravich. Images courtesy of Viasna (via People and Nature)

The Belarusian regime is threatening “railway partisans”, arrested for sabotaging signalling equipment to disrupt the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the death sentence.

Criminal investigators have passed a file on the first three cases – Dzmitry Ravich, Dzianis Dzikun and Aleh Malchanau of Svetlagorsk – to court prosecutors.

The state Investigations Committee says they could face the death penalty, although lawyers say there is no basis for that in Belarusian law.

On Saturday 23 July, Belarusians will protest at their country’s embassy in London, in support of the Svetlagorsk defendants and eight others arrested on terrorism charges.

Ravich, Dzikun and Malchanau were detained in Svetlagorsk on 4 March this year – a week after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine – along with Alisa Malchanau, Aleh’s daughter, and Natalia Ravich, Dzmitry’s wife, who were released a few days later. 

Dzianis Dzikun’s brother, Dmitry, said in an interview last month that Dzianis had wanted “to help Ukraine somehow”. Three people had been arrested, he said, and:

As far as I understand, people knew [at that time] that all the Russian equipment was moving towards the north of Ukraine through Belarus. And for that they used the railways. They wanted to help Ukraine somehow – to stop these armaments, to make sure they couldn’t go further.

There are 11 people in the “railway partisans” case, and now the first three are going to court. For me, these people are heroes. They didn’t sit at home, like the “armchair battalion”. At least they tried to do something.

Dmitry said that Dzianis, who is in a detention centre at Gomel’, had been able to send and receive letters, and had been visited by his partner and and his sister.

Straight after his arrest in March, it was very different. Dzianis was severely beaten and forced to record a so-called confession on video – one of the Belarusian security forces’ standard techniques. Dmitry said:

On the so called “confessional” video it is clear that my brother’s face was smashed in. A black eye, swelling on his chin. The day before he was arrested, we spoke [on line] in the evening. I saw how he looked; not so much as a scratch. He was feeling fine. [But after his arrest] he was limping. Other people saw him. He was holding his side, his face was bruised.

The case against Ravich, Dzikun and Malchanau concerns an arson attack on a railway relay cabinet. This is reportedly the most common form of rail sabotage: it wrecks automatic signalling systems, disrupts schedules and forces trains to move at reduced speeds of 15-20km/hour.

The Svetlagorsk trio have been charged with participating in an extremist organisation; acts of terrorism; deliberate harm to the transport system, resulting in serious damage and threats to life; and treason.

The Investigations Committee said the trio could face the death penalty. But Zerkalo, the independent news site, published legal advice that the death penalty for terrorism offences, introduced on 29 May this year, can not be applied retroactively. Prior to that date, it could only be applied if the offences had led to deaths.

Obviously there is no reason to think that Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime will obey its own laws, and so the lives of the Svetlagorsk accused are in danger.

On 21 April, a coalition of six human rights organisations recognised the Svetlagorsk three, and eight other “railway partisans”, as political prisoners.

An overview of the “railway partisans” movement by Belarus Digest estimated that in the first two months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there were more than 80 actions.

“Incidents at this scale have not been seen since world war two”, Lizaveta Kasmach wrote in that report. Railway workers had been among those arrested, and in the last week of March, independent Telegram channels had reported that more than 40 of them had been arrested.

The authorities charged the detainees with high treason, espionage, and terrorist acts. By 30 March, Telegram channels affiliated with the security forces posted more than three dozen “confession” videos featuring arrested railway workers.

The fate of these detainees is unknown to Belarusian activists I have been in touch with. They are not included in the human rights organisations’ list of political prisoners, but that does not mean they are safe. There are so many detainees that activists are struggling to keep track of them all; people are only included on the list according to narrow criteria.

In April, the Belarusian opposition politician Franak Viačorka reported that, as well as sabotage, there were “dozens” of smaller actions, e.g. by train drivers who refused to carry equipment.


Dzianis Dzikun before his arrest (left) and on “confessional” video.
Images courtesy of Viasna (via People and Nature)

A decentralised network, including Bypol (former security services officers now in exile), the Community of Railway Workers (organised on Telegram) and the Cyber Partisans (Belarusian IT professionals now in exile), helped facilitate action against Russian military transport, the Washington Post reported.

The “railway partisans” actions are indicative of widespread discontent with the Belarusian regime over its support for Russia’s war on Ukraine. In response, the authorities have lashed out with renewed repression of trade unionists, journalists and other opponents.

The Supreme Court of Belarus last week (12 July) ordered the liquidation of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union, which for thirty years has played a leading role in the struggle for workers’ rights.

“The union’s activities have always been about increasing workers’ wages, workplace safety, and fair and dignified relations with people in the workplace”, its organisers stated prior to the decision.

Since 1991 members of our trade union, united in primary organisations of Mozyr, Novopolotsk, Soligorsk, Grodno, Bobruisk, Minsk, Mogilev, Vitebsk, independently defended their legal rights by concluding collective agreements.

The union’s president Maksim Poznyakov was arrested in May in Novopolotsk. A week previously he had been elected as president of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions – to replace Aleksandr Yaroshuk and his deputy, Sergei Antusevich, who were also arrested.

This month, Katsiaryna Andreyeva, a journalist, had an eight-year sentence for treason added to her two-year jail term for participating in the 2020 protests, and Danuta Perednia, a student, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years for reposting an anti-war statement.

Human rights organisations say there are now more than 1200 political prisoners in Belarus – although the total numbers detained in response to protest activities (such as the rail workers mentioned above) is far higher.

Railway workers’ support for the antiwar movement this year follows their active participation in the wave of protests that swept Belarus in 2020.

Those actions, too, led to dismissals, arrests and jailings, which are documented, together with information about the “railway partisans”, in a report by Our House, the civil society campaign group. (A downloadable version of the report, that Our House has circulated among trade unionists in the UK, is here.)

In September last year, three railway workers – Sjarhei DzjubaMaksim Sakovicz and Hanna Ablab – were rounded up as part of a “treason” case against the Rabochy Rukh labour rights group.

On Saturday 23 July, Belarusians and their supporters in the UK will demonstrate in support of the “railway partisans” and other political prisoners, at 12 midday, at the Belarusian embassy, 6 Kensington Court, London, W8 5DL.

The demonstration is called “in support of the rail workers of Belarus, who despite facing tremendous repression from the regime, successfully disrupted the Russian invasion in Ukraine by sabotaging the railway network. We will be demanding an immediate release of the imprisoned heroes”.

Earlier this month, a conference of the UK rail workers’ union RMT resolved to support Belarusian rail workers facing repression. This welcome stand will help to strengthen desperately needed solidarity. 

Source: People and Nature, “Belarusian ‘railway partisans’ face death penalty,” 18 July 2022. Thanks to Simon Pirani for encouraging me to repost his article here.

Kronotsky Nature Reserve Employees Sentenced to Long Prison Terms

The Uzon caldera in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve: Photo: Igor Shpilenok/Kronotsky Nature Reserve

Greenpeace Russia strongly disagrees with the charges against the nature reserve employees.

On July 15, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsk City Court found employees of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve guilty of embezzlement in the amount of [454] million rubles [approx. 7.9 million euros]. The money had been allocated from the federal budget to eliminate accumulated environmental damage.

Darya Panicheva, head of the reserve’s scientific department, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison. The court sentenced Roman Korchigin, deputy director for science and educational tourism, to five years in prison. Oksana Terekhova, deputy director for financial and legal support, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison. Nikolai Pozdnyakov, a former employee of the reserve, was also convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. All of them were taken into police custody in the courtroom.

The court also sentenced all the convicted persons to compensate in full the financial damage indicated in the charges and to pay large fines.

None of the reserve employees of the reserve has admitted any wrongdoing. The defense will petition a higher court to review the verdict, seeking to have the charges completely dropped and obtain an acquittal.

The director of the Kronotsky Reserve, Pyotr Shpilenok, commented on the court’s decision.

“I’m in shock,” he said. “Innocent employees have been taken into custody for doing their official duties. We will continue to fight on their behalf — otherwise we wouldn’t know how to go on living and working. There is now only one recourse for us — to go to higher courts and seek the complete dismissal of charges against them. In addition, the reserve is now literally in a state of emergency: it won’t be able to function as before without these key employees. The specialists sent to prison were responsible for the most important areas of work: science, tourism, and economic support. Kronotsky will now have to urgently make some difficult decisions to keep nature protected.”

The Kronotsky Reserve employees were charged with embezzling over 454 million rubles from the federal budget and being involved in an organized criminal group. The money was earmarked for and spent on cleaning up the reserve and eliminating accumulated environmental damage. The Investigative Committee, however, believes that this money was stolen. On June 27, the prosecution requested that the court sentence the accused reserve employees to six to eight years of imprisonment, multimillion-ruble fines, and overall damages of 454.6 million rubles.

The charges caused a massive public outcry, and the trial came to be called the “Clean-Up Case.” The team at the Kronotsky Reserve publicly posted materials that testify to the innocence of the reserve’s employees: paperwork, photos and video footage, witness statements, and official findings by scientific institutions, Rosprirodnadzor, and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. They clearly show that there are many discrepancies in the case.

“The Clean-Up Case,” a 21-minute exploration of the case by persons unknown, posted on YouTube on 23 June 2022.
The video is in Russian, without subtitles in other languages.

“I personally know the accused reserve employees and can confirm that they are some of the best and most dedicated specialists in the reserve system,” says Mikhail Kreindlin, project manager for specially protected natural areas at Greenpeace Russia. “Basically, the employees are accused of conscientiously and competently performing their work in assessing the damage caused to the reserve earlier, while the investigation is trying to prove the existence of an organized criminal group by pointing to the organizational structure of the institution that manages the reserve.”

Greenpeace Russia considers the sentence imposed on the employees of the Kronotsky Reserve unfair. Over years of cooperation, the reserve employees have proven themselves to be exceptionally honest and professional people, dedicated to their work.

Source: Greenpeace Russia, “Kronotsky Nature Reserve Employees Sentenced to Up to 5 1/2 Years in Prison,” 15 July 2022. Thanks to Darya Apahonchich for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Internationalism à la russe

Kirill Medvedev

At the moment I’m worried by the sense that there is no way out of the situation at the regional level—the war between Russia and Ukraine can go on indefinitely long. Continuing within the pre-established framework of geopolitical nationalism, Russia wants to expand its borders or fortify them with new puppet buffer entities; Ukraine wants to preserve existing territories and get back lost ones; other countries in the region are concerned about preserving themselves as nation-states; and finally, there are territories that someone hopes become new nation-states. We understand some of the above while condemning others, but all of it together is a nationalistic impasse in globalization from which there is no global way out.

A sensible global response to the crisis will emerge only if the situation (no matter how scary this is to say) actually escalates into a global confrontation, into a Third World War. And then those who abstractly and dogmatically insist today that everyone is to blame for the new insane war and the new arms race—Putin, NATO, Ukrainian and European elites—will be proven right. Because the global war, which has been going on for a long time and has lost even a semblance of meaning, naturally provokes peoples and nations who are worse off to ask questions of elites who are still well off or even better off than they were before.

Apparently, this is the only way the one big question to the world order of the last thirty years can be posed and give rise to a big answer—in the form of a new global anti-war, anti-imperialist, redistributive, climate, human rights, unifying federalist, etc., agenda, which would be articulated by new international bodies fueled by genuinely widespread grassroots discontent.

It would be just terrible if different parts of humanity had to kill and maim each other even more in order to feel unity again, embrace common challenges, and suggest common responses.

[Comments]

Hanna Perekhoda Here the Western left has been looking and looking for an anti-war movement on the Russian left. They have searched high and low, wondering how to help them and guessing that those poor people are thinking how to stop the war and undoubtedly need support. With your permission, I will show them this post as an illustration of the ardent zeal on the Russian left to accelerate the defeat of its own fascist regime and stop the war in Ukraine.

Hanna Perekhoda I reread [this post] and was even more gobsmacked. Has helplessness really crushed your brain so much that you are practicing at imagining exactly how the Third World War would solve problems that you no longer have the courage try and solve, let alone think about normally? Have even basic moral and ethical principles fallen by the wayside? This is the living end, and a pathetic one at that. No fucking war indeed. Game over.

Source: Kirill Medvedev, Facebook, 11 July 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


In an existential crisis and looking to solve a cold case, Max checks into a secretive hotel with elaborate assisted suicide fantasies. He uncovers a disturbing truth, questioning the nature of life, death, and his perception of reality.

Source: IMDb


Mindfulness has never been more important.

[…]

“There used to be diasporas, now there are communities,” say newcomers in Kas. Some of them organize traditional guided tours, some are in charge of taxi services jointly with locals or are developing food delivery companies.

Maksim Zaikin creates co-living spaces for people with similar habits and values by subletting villas. Maksim, a mentor for several projects in Moscow and St. Petersburg, creator of Co eco-system, arrived in Kas in November 2020 to pass the winter. He first organized a party in the neighboring town of Kalkan attended by 45 people mostly from Kas. Maksim then realized that it’s better to move there.

“All people that I am talking to here say that it’s a sort of place of power,” he says. “Kas gives you energy and helps you grow. Everyone in my circle can feel it. I was meeting people that I knew through Facebook but never had personal contacts with when Russians were arriving here in big numbers. Now, the trend has reversed — people stayed in Turkey for the officially allowed 90 days and decided to move back home or change the location.”

“We often see people leave, realise what they really want and come back. In the time of war, Kas has become not just an isle of calmness but also a space for development.”

At their peak, Maksim and his business partner Nikita had 6 villas on the peninsula and apartments in the centre. Prices start from $1,000 per month for a double room outside of the tourist season. When it gets hotter, prices go up as well to at least $1,700. Coworking spaces that host events, lectures and workshops are also available. It has essentially transformed into a home for the community or a culture centre. “It’s very easy for us to find speakers, they themselves come looking because Kas is a place with a lot of fantastic people.”

The team is planning to set up camps with experts on their villas and launch educational programs for kids. Maksim himself has two, 8- and 10-year-olds, they are currently studying online. But the entrepreneur is dreaming of creating an offline program for education.

Many Russians come with kids but the nearest school offering education in Russian is located in Antalya.

“I am not thinking of going back to Russia,” Maksim concludes. “I want to create a lifestyle where I can move between hubs: Kas, Bali, Portugal. We go where there’s a market for it, where Russians go. I want to live on the planet, not in a country.”

Source: Olga Grigoryeva, “Russians in Kas: A small town in southern Turkey turned into a hub of Russian intellectuals,” Novaya Gazeta. Europe, 14 July 2022

A Skeleton in the Closet

Anton Balazh, Kuznechny Lane (Leningrad), 1988-1990. Courtesy of Vladimir Golbraikh

When it rumbled and rattled,
And the soup in the pot bounced on the table,
He jumped up, and then crumbled.
The toys turned their faces straightaway—
It was not their toyish business.
He climbed into the closet.
He lay inside it and slept.
Then he woke, wailed a bit and wept,
Nibbled at the mushy potatoes on the floor,
And grabbing the blue dog,
Went back into the closet.
He was not long for this world.
Someday they’ll find his skeleton
Among the moldering blazers and skirts.
Those who find it might laugh—
A skeleton in the closet! But no one will laugh.
They will remove this little skeleton,
Clutching the colorless dog,
And carry it out into the terrible white world.

30 June 2022

Source: Vadim Zhuk, Facebook, 30 June 2022. Thanks to PZ for the heads-up. Vadim Zhuk (born 1947) is a well-known Russian actor, screenwriter, TV presenter, and poet. Translated by the Russian Reader

Masyanya: Saint Mariuburg

“Compassion and empathy—the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes—are the most vital human emotions. This cartoon is addressed to those who, through some monstrous error, support Russia’s war on Ukraine.”

Source: Masyanya, “Episode 162: Saint Mariuburg,” YouTube. Over three million people have watched this episode since it was posted several days ago. Press CC for English subtitles.


Masyanya creator Oleg Kuvaev, montaged with a still from the latest episode of his hit cartoon, which imagines what an unprovoked Chinese invasion of Russia would look like in Masyanya’s hometown of Saint Petersburg.

From an interview with Oleg Kuvaev about the latest episode of Masyanya (“Episode 162: Saint Mariuburg”):

“I would argue that Russian society was deliberately depoliticized during the early two thousands. I played along with this process to a certain extent. […] I was categorically against [putting] politics in the series. Masyanya didn’t touch on any controversial topics whatsoever, and I didn’t get involved in anything, but only enjoyed my own jokes. But now is not the time for humor: comedians in Russia have found themselves in a situation where they do not have the tools to do their job. The main tool of humorists—exaggeration—no longer works, because the absurdity is now so off the scales that no humorist can go further.”

Source: Sergei Averkov, Facebook, 12 July 2022. Thanks to Vladimir Volokhonsky for the link. Translated by the Russian Reader

UXO: Support the White Helmets!

My name is Nermin Al-Hassan and I’m one of the first women to join the White Helmets’ unexploded ordnance (UXO) removal team in northwest Syria. The White Helmets have responded to 247 military attacks this year, the majority by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally. Cluster bombs and rockets have turned our farms into minefields and river banks where children should be free to play into a no man’s land.

With your generous support, the White Helmets respond quickly to every attack to rescue the injured and save lives. Afterwards, our UXO awareness teams go into camps and schools near the bombing to teach people to stay away from the remnants of war that litter our land, which will later be destroyed by our teams. Having women volunteers is so important as we now reach more women in society, alongside their families and crucially children. We also help to survey land and cordon off dangerous areas.

UXO removal is one of the most dangerous jobs at The White Helmets, but knowing that I am part of a team that saves lives helps me overcome my fears. Despite all the risks we face, whether in unexploded ordnance removal or elsewhere, I am honored to be part of an organization that gives people new hope despite all our years of suffering and war.

White Helmets volunteers giving a UXO awareness presentation to a group of students

Northwest Syria lacks almost all of society’s basic services and the White Helmets are stepping up where international actors fail us time and again. During these hot summer months, the medical needs of elderly residents and children in displacement camps are rising and we’ve doubled our services to ease their suffering.

Thanks to your donations to the White Helmets, our volunteers have provided tens of thousands of ambulance services this year, conducted over 700 firefighting operations and we are working hard to repair infrastructure destroyed by bombing. The women volunteers have provided 55,000 consultations to families across 33 women’s centers – with first aid, immunization campaigns and medical advice.

Your generous support is helping the families of volunteers who tragically died doing this life-saving work. 296 families receive $600 each per quarter, and in 2021, donations from supporters like you helped 233 volunteers receive medical treatment for issues ranging from field injuries and urgent surgeries, to cancer treatment and prosthetics.

We all do this stressful work while worrying about our own families’ safety, but our mission to save lives and to keep hope alive for our neighbors who have been abandoned by everyone else sustains us. Knowing that we have the support of individuals like you around the world motivates us greatly even on our most difficult days.

With hope,

Nermin Al-Hassan

PS – If you can, please consider starting a monthly donation to help The White Helmets reach even more people in northwest Syria with life-saving services.

Donate to The White Helmets

Source: Email newsletter from The Syria Campaign, an independent advocacy group campaigning for a peaceful and democratic future for Syria. I just donated $25 to them via PayPal. It took me less than a minute to do this.

This Silence

Update: 20 people are dead, 3 children including. 90 people are fighting for their lives.

Imagine Vienna being bombed like that. Or Paris. Or NYC.

Vinnytsia, a city in Central Ukraine, was bombed today. 8 people are murdered. 30 — injured.

Meanwhile, fucking Russia is bombing schools, shopping malls, museums in Ukraine. Every fucking day. And y’all are silent. I wish I knew what is international solidarity, but now it seems like a joke.

There is something extremely wrong about it. This silence I am not ready to face. 9/11 is an everyday reality in Ukraine.

Source: Yulia Kishchuk, Facebook, 14 July 2022


Virtuoso photographer Alexander Petrosyan posted this picture of four generations of Petersburgers peacefully and safely riding the tram in Russia’s Northern Capital earlier today on Facebook.


Vinnytsia is a mere 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) straight south of Saint Petersburg on the E95. Image courtesy of Google Maps

A Miniskirt for Every Day

Season after season, minimalism remains trendy. If we also consider the current popularity of 80s and 90s styles, it comes as no surprise that miniskirts are in fashion again. Moreover, they’re fashionable everywhere: they can and should be worn to parties with friends, exhibitions, and work. When you wear them to work, you just have to follow a few simple rules.

Busting myths

There are many myths surrounding the miniskirt. Many people still believe, for example, that discos are the only place you can wear a miniskirt. Yes, partying hard in a plush or stretch skirt to songs by Kombinaciya is super authentic, but today’s cotton, denim and leather miniskirts suit almost any situation.

It’s also worth dismissing the old saw that miniskirts can only be worn by slender, long-legged beauties. No matter how long a skirt is, what matters is that it fits your figure. If you’re having doubts, take a closer look at A-line-silhouette skirts. They can be worn with matching tight tights to visually elongate the lower part of your body.

Как носить короткие юбки на работу в 2022 году

The best combos: shirts and blouses

Shirts and blouses are staples in a female office worker’s wardrobe. Combined with a miniskirt, they will look winning if you choose accented models — blouses with bows or ruffles, shirts with puffy sleeves or turndown collars. Classic stiletto shoes, mules with shot-glass heels, heavy boots, or sneakers will complete the look.

Oversize jackets

Looking like a hand-me-down, an oversize jacket will balance out a short skirt and create a confident image for work. You can tone down this cute pairing with a loose-fitting t-shirt or top—or a tight turtleneck when the weather turns cold. As usual, what item you choose depends on whether it passes muster with your company’s official and implicit dress codes.

Cropped jackets

One of the season’s most daring combinations is a miniskirt and cropped jacket. Ideally, you should find this combo readymade, since combining two separate items into an harmonious outfit is no easy task. Universal advice: a cropped jacket should have a loose fit and a large shoulder line.

Sweaters, jumpers, cardigans, sweatshirts
Summer is not the only season for wearing a short skirt. In autumn and winter, you should wear a mini with chunky-knit sweaters, jumpers, cardigans, and sweatshirts. You can either tuck in the front of your top, or wear it untucked. In the second case, if you choose a pleated plaid skirt and combine it with a shirt and a cardigan, you’ll get the look of an American high school student.

T-shirts

If your work dress code is not particularly strict or casual Friday is coming up, grab a short denim skirt and a loose-fitting t-shirt from your wardrobe. Monochrome or minimalist graphic print t-shirts are suitable for the office. The sleeves can be long and, thus, easily rolled up at any moment—convertible items have been trending for more than a year. The skirt itself can be either the usual blue denim color, or black, or white. City sneakers or loafers provide the final notes in this outfit.

Source: Maria Gureyeva, “How to wear short skirts to work: a mini for every day,” Rabota.ru, 11 July 2022. Photos courtesy of iStock and Rabota.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader


Somewhere in central Petersburg, 8 July 2017. Photo by the Russian Reader

A few words of explanation.

I’m still reeling from the fact that, as a much savvier IT friend from Petersburg has patiently explained to me, this website was just switched off in Russia by WordPress (Automattic), acting on orders from Rozkomnadzor, the Russian federal communications watchdog.

It makes me wonder whether I should switch to producing more “Russia-friendly” content, as exemplified by the breezy little item above the fold. It also makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t switch to a hosting platform that is more friendly to content that is critical of the current Russian tyranny.

In any case, I’ve realized that WordPress doesn’t always practice what it preaches.

Access to the Internet is subject to restrictions in many countries. These range from the ‘Great Firewall of China’, to default content filtering systems in place in the UK. As a result, WordPress.com blogs can sometimes be inaccessible in these places. As far as we are concerned, that’s BS.

If any of you know about an affordable and rigorously pro-free speech hosting platform where I could move this blog, please write to me at avvakum (at) pm.me.

How else can you help me keeping this slightly waterlogged boat from sinking altogether?

First, you can hare my posts with friends and colleagues and on your social media accounts. The only way I know for sure that this is worth doing is when I see consistently large readership numbers.

Second, please send me your (positive or constructive) feedback in the comments below each post or at avvakum (at) pm.me.

Finally, you can donate money—via PayPal or Ko-Fi—to support the continuing production of this website.

What do I need the money for? First, I have to pay for this website’s hosting and for the internet, which now runs me around a thousand dollars a year. Second, I would love to be able to pay a small fee to my occasional guest translators and certain contributors. Finally, I’d like to pay myself for the long hours I put into this endeavor.

What would be a fair amount? Consider the fact that, so far this year, The Russian Reader has had over 155,000 views. If I were to get a mere ten cents for each view, that would come to 15,500 dollars. The money would be especially welcome now that, since February, my income from my “real” job as a freelance translator and editor has dwindled to practically nothing, as most of my steady clients were more or less progressive Russian art and academic institutions that have gone into international hibernation due to the war. In any case, I would share this (for now, imaginary) “minimum wage” with guest translators and contributors, as well as using it to pay for more supportive and reliable hosting.

Speaking of jobs and work, I was made party to the strange (and depressingly reactionary) item, translated above, because, around a year ago, the website Rabota.ru (“Work.ru.,” an affiliate of the state-owned Sberbank) decided that I was a forty-six-year-old geologist named Semyon Avvakumov. The real Comrade Avvakumov used my personal email address, apparently and unaccountably, to start an account and file job applications through Rabota.ru, not realizing that the address was already taken. So, I now get Rabota.ru’s job listings and newsletters several times a week—as well as, much more occasionally, rejection letters from Comrade Avvakumov’s potential employers. The articles on Rabota.ru shed a revealing, if not always flattering, light on all things work-related in Russia, so I’m glad to have acquired this double. ||| TRR, 12 July 2022