Vox Pop: Do You Support Putin?


To support the channel:
💵 Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/issafourteent…
💵 Buy Me A Coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/1420
Paypal: 💵 https://www.paypal.me/daniil1420
PayPal email: issafourteentwenty@gmail.com
PayPal name: Daniil Orain
Cryptocurrencies:
🪙 ETH: 0x1F7402dE513afDB5906a174eF22C7030D19651DF
🪙 XTZ: tz1TPqCAiUP7X8YGLqWrN2K1LVK9vmeEsrCE
🪙 TRON: THeaev1R5fHLkqJPPnJG561WadH1nAThTu
🪙 BTC: bc1qvns4pkvcs6hzktpcnudvgz5sr06u7phwhej0cg
🧑 Brought to you by: https://www.instagram.com/daniilorain
✉️ Business: hello@1420.today
🧢 1420 clothes and accessories: https://1420.store/

Source: 1420 by Daniil Orain (YouTube), “Do you support Putin? 100 Russians,” 28 January 2023. A huge thanks to Tiina Pasanen and Outi Salovaara for the heads-up.


Source: 1420 by Daniil Orain (YouTube), “Should we give back Karelia to Finland, Kaliningrad to Germany and the Kurils to Japan?” 6 February 2023. Thanks to Tiina Pasanen for the heads-up.


Source: 1420 by Daniil Orain (YouTube), “Have you seen this recent photo of Navalny in jail?” 9 February 2023. Thanks to Tiina Pasanen for the heads-up.


You can support 1420 by buying merch here or donating money via the platforms listed above. ||| TRR


Source: 1420 by Daniil Orain (YouTube), “What young Russians in Saint Petersburg think about Putin?” 10 January 2023. Thanks to Outi Salovaara for the heads-up.


My name is Daniil Orain. I’m a YouTuber from Russia, and I run the channel 1420. In my videos, I try to create a montage of everyday Russians and a transparent representation of what they believe. 

Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, people from all over the world have come to my channel to try and understand how Russians think.

Before I started the channel about 2 years ago, I had some skewed thoughts about the world.

At the time, I was working as a software engineer with a three-hour commute, and my perspectives changed when I began to watch on-the-street interviews with people in faraway cities during those rides. Those videos showed me how people from different places and cultures thought, and they played a big part in my self-education.

I started to wonder: Why isn’t there something like this on YouTube but with people from Russia, like me? That’s when my friend and I created 1420.

People often ask me for the story behind the channel’s name, but there’s no secret meaning. It’s just the name of the school we went to together. Our whole goal with the channel was to go out on the streets of Moscow and ask people questions that interested us — things like, “Do you believe in God?” or, “What do you think about Americans?” 

When the conflict in Ukraine began, we suddenly saw a huge increase in viewers.

Our increase came from around the world — not just Europe and America, which had been our main audience. With the increase in viewership, I decided to double down and try to publish videos daily. 

I hired some people to help. My team of six includes editors, translators, and someone in Moscow who asks the questions. Recently, we’ve asked things like: “What do you think about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy?” “Do you want Ukraine to become part of Russia?” and “Are you feeling the sanctions now?

To get enough material for a full video, we have to ask a large number of people. Given the nature of our topics at the moment, a lot of people decline to participate.

When shooting the Zelenskyy video, for example, we had 124 people decline to answer. Only 28 people agreed. Even when they do agree, they often hold back from giving their full thoughts. 

Making these videos is risky, but we haven’t had any problems so far.

Unlike with TikTok and Instagram, access to YouTube is still normal in Russia. In the videos, I’ve always muted certain words (but kept the subtitles) to avoid censorship.

For example, you’re not allowed to say “war” when referring to the situation in Ukraine. We have to say “secret operation” instead. So if someone does say “war,” we mute that word.

Some people in the comments have accused me of being a Russian propaganda channel, so I’ve had to find new ways to show that I’m not. For example, in one recent video, we blurred the faces and changed the voices of the people in it so that they could be honest without fear of repercussions. Also, we started showing longer continuous clips of the interviews so that the viewers didn’t think we purposely cut them to tell a certain narrative.

I have seen a change in how people view not only our channel since the war started — but also our participants.

Just recently, the comments on my YouTube videos said things like, “Russians are just like us.” But as the situation in Ukraine has progressed, they now tend to be more like: “Russians are brainwashed.”

I’m glad people are watching the videos because I know from my experience how helpful YouTube can be. We’re lucky to be able to learn online.

You’ll notice that in my videos, there’s a pretty clear divide between the answers coming from people who grew up in Soviet times and the younger people. When the older generations were growing up, they got their education only from books or teachers — they didn’t have access to the world like people my age do. The position that I’m in, running this channel, wouldn’t have even existed back then.

Today, you can learn things from websites, videos, and even comments.

Just last week, on one of my own videos, one viewer wrote: “You are not scared, not because you are fearless, but because you just haven’t been scared yet.”

That blew my mind. I know what I’m doing is risky, but maybe I don’t feel worried about it because I’ve never actually been that worried. But at the same time, I’m just the storyteller. A lot of people direct-message me asking for my opinion on various topics, but I don’t answer them. 

I see my role as being the person who helps tell people’s stories, and I’ll continue to do so to show how and what Russians feel.

Source: Stefano Montali, “I interview everyday Russians on YouTube. Viewers think we’re brainwashed — I’m trying to show we’re not,” Business Insider, 19 April 2022. Since this interview, Mr. Orain has fled the country, apparently, although he was just as apparently still in Russia two or so months ago. In October of last year, Neil’s Commonplace Book profiled Mr. Orain and tried to determine his whereabouts in the wake of the “partial” mobilization. ||| TRR

Blessed Are the (Un)Happy

I was at an interview on TV Rain last week. We were supposedly going to discuss the Oscars, but suddenly we touched on what is an important topic, I think — how to behave appropriately during the war and amid everything else that is happening now.

I often read comments about how I smile all the time, but there is a war going on. About how I joke on the air, but now is not the time for jokes — Navalny is in prison. Why did I post this or that photo? It’s too glamorous and frivolous. Now is not the time for such things.

The complaints are understandable, but I totally reject the point they’re trying to make. It seems to me that the most destructive, the most incorrect thing we can do now is to don dark clothes, wring our hands and publicly suffer in front of our audience. By no means am I saying that there is no point in suffering in this situation. There is. The war is the most terrible event that has ever happened to us. It is absolutely incomprehensible how to go on living when your country has attacked and is destroying innocent people and destroying their lives forever as the scumbags on Russian national TV hoot and holler for joy. Everyone who is reading this post has experienced all this, I am sure, and of course you have been suffering. And those whom Putin came up with the idea of bombing with missiles and killing have been suffering even more.

Only one thing remains to us: to take all these terrible emotions, all these experiences, and turn them into concrete actions. Not cry on camera, not get hysterical, but to try and stop this horror as soon as possible. Today is better than tomorrow. Tomorrow is better than the day after tomorrow, etc. Each of us knows best of all what we ourselves are capable of doing and how to do it. The main thing is not to give in to despair. Despondency, despair and indifference are exactly what Putin wants from us. Don’t give him that.

I’ve attached a bit of the interview. And a frivolous photo to boot.

Source: Maria Pevchikh, Instagram, 31 January 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader


[…]

And where you find a hero, you always find tragedy. The hero is always a vehicle for suffering, pain, rupture and tragedy. There are no happy heroes: all heroes are necessarily unhappy. The hero equals misfortune.

Why? Because being both eternal and temporary, dispassionate and suffering, heavenly and earthly is the most unbearable experience for any being. It is a condition that you wouldn’t wish on your enemy.

Ascetics, martyrs, and saints took the place of heroes in Christianity. There are likewise no happy monks or happy saints. All of them are profoundly unhappy as individuals. But according to another heavenly account, they are blessed. Just as those who weep, those who are exiled, those who suffer slander, and those who hunger and thirst are blessed in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are the unhappy.

A person is made a hero made by an idea aimed skyward that crashes to the ground. A person is made a hero by suffering and misfortune, which tear him apart, which torment, torture, and harden him, and it has always been thus. This can happen during war or an agonizing death, but it can also happen without war, and without death.

The hero looks for his own war, and if he does not find it, he goes into a monk’s cell, to live as a hermit, and fights there with the real enemy. Because true warfare is spiritual warfare. Arthur Rimbaud wrote about this in Illuminations: “Spiritual combat is as brutal as battle between men.” (Le combat spirituel est aussi brutal que la bataille d’hommes.) He knew what he was talking about.

One hero, as the Neoplatonist Proclus says, is equal to a hundred or even thousands of ordinary souls. He is greater than a human soul because he makes every soul live vertically. This is the heroic dimension to the origins of the theater and, in fact, the ethics of our faith. It is the most important thing, which we should not lose, which we should cherish in others and nurture in ourselves.

Our job is to become deeply, fundamentally and irreversibly unhappy, no matter how scary that sounds. It is the only way we can find salvation.

Source: Alexander Dugin, “The Hero: The Metaphysics of Unhappiness,” Katehon, 3 February 2023. Translated by An Unhappy Translator. Thanks to Pavel Pryanikov for the heads-up


Maria Pevchikh: “In any puzzling situation this is what I choose and suggest that everyone else choose.” Source: Instagram

Now every employee of the Russian embassy in Germany has to think about Navalny on their way to work because they will see a replica of the solitary confinement cell where Alexei has been confined for the eleventh time.

Not only embassy employees see this solitary confinement cell. It is seen by Berlin residents, tourists and journalists. It is seen by readers of the world’s major media outlets. Millions of people see it — and thus learn about the torture chamber in which Navalny is being held. Some will tell their friends about the project, others will join the Free Navalny campaign, while still others will put pressure on local politicians contemplating compromise with Putin. Circles radiate all over the world from this one site.

It is in your power to make these circles spread even wider. Help us achieve freedom for Navalny and for the whole of Russia — support our campaign at acf.international/#donate.

Free Navalny!

Thank you for being on our side! 

The Navalny Team

“Navalny has now been in prison for 745 days.”

Source: FBK (Anti-Corruption Foundation) email newsletter, 2 February 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader


Pevchikh: What Corruption Has Done to Russia / vDud
6,370,703 views • Feb 5, 2023
(In Russian, without subtitles in English — for the time being, I imagine)

Maria Pevchikh is an investigator and associate of Alexei Navalny.

0:00 Let’s go! 0:37 Why we met in London 5:13 How the film Navalny is saving Navalny’s life 9:36 Dud in the Internet’s homeland 13:03 How to turn a photo of a hallway into an investigation 16:17 What is going on with Navalny now? 20:26 The second largest house in the UK is owned by a Russian oligarch 25:30 But why can’t a Russian oligarch buy a house in London? 29:48 The UK is fighting Putin but harboring thieves: is that normal? 37:22 Who are you and where are you from? 42:31 Where did you get the money to study in London? 44:02 What’s wrong with Moscow State University’s sociology faculty 47:19 What did your father do for a living? 48:41 A crash course about British universities (eight lectures a week) 53:16 Alexander Dugin was Maria’s thesis advisor: how did that come about? 1:00:03 Does Putin listen to Dugin? 1:03:05 What Medvedev was like thirteen years ago 1:05:20 “My cat was hit by a car, please sort it out”: what British MPs do 1:08:22 Gadaffi’s son was at university with you 1:14:35 Where did you work before becoming an investigator? 1:16:32 Do you have a flat in London? 1:17:47 How did you meet Navalny? 1:22:50 Why didn’t you mention Skabeyeva and Popov’s mortgage? 1:27:28 How are drones able to fly over Putin’s and Medvedev’s residences? (A question from Nikolai Solodnikov) 1:33:14 Where did you get the conductor Gergiev’s bank statements? 1:36:32 Is it okay to pay a bribe to avoid mobilization? 1:40:54 What is your beef with Fridman? 1:48:13 Is Galitsky an accomplice of the regime? 1:57:18 Can we detest someone for being afraid? 1:58:26 Why does Popular Politics have such sensational headlines? 2:04:08 Is it okay to call a program guest a “fat beast”? 2:08:21 The rude tweet about Durov 2:10:21 Does radicalism prevent the Anti-Corruption Foundation from becoming popular? 2:16:09 Roman Abramovich is a master of reinventing himself 2:24:13 How soft power works 2:29:52 If Abramovich had ended the war would you have forgiven him? 2:31:38 The “List of the 6,000” 2:33:59 Why have you called for sanctions against Sobchak? 2:35:35 Why have you called for sanctions against Venediktov? 2:44:00 What did Oleg Kashin do wrong? 2:46:34 Why were the designers of a facial recognition system removed from the “List of the 6,000”? 2:51:01 Is your father an accomplice of the regime? 2:55:49 How do you do your work without Navalny? 2:57:18 Why were your supporters’ data hacked? 3:05:38 “Carry out a mission in the fight against Putin and get points”: what is that about?! 3:07:53 How do people who work for the regime change sides? 3:15:51 Do you see yourself as a politician? 3:19:44 Do you have a plan for Russia’s future? 3:25:09 Won’t the dictatorship in Russia survive without Putin? 3:30:20 Do you have a UK passport? 3:35:51 What exactly have you done over the past year to overthrow Putin? 3:41:21 “Compromisers” 3:52:07 Russia without Putin 3:56:58 What does it mean to be strong?

Source: vDud (YouTube). Annotation translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Tiina Pasanen for bringing this remarkable video to my attention and persuading me to watch it despite my initial misgivings. When I assembled the first part of this mash-up, a few days ago, I had no idea that Pevchikh and Dugin were so closely connected in real life. For another perspective on the sociology faculty at Moscow State University during roughly the same period as Pevchikh describes, see Oleg Zhuravlyov and Danail Kondov, “Towards a History of the Conflict in the Moscow State University Sociology Department” (2008). ||| TRR

Death to Traitors!

“Donetsk People’s Republic. For your and our freedom!” Berlin-Friedrichshain, 6 February 2023. Photo by the Russian Reader

State Duma deputy Andrei Kolesnik proposes reinstating the death penalty for treason

A proposal has been made in the Russian State Duma to revive the death penalty for those who have left the country and commenced criticizing the Russian authorities. The initiative was launched by deputy Andrei Kolesnik.

In an interview with Moscow Region Today [see translation below], the parliamentarian noted that an exception could be made for those who have simply left the country. According to him, traitors are those who have left and at the same time are waging an information war against Russia.

Security Council deputy chair Dmitry Medvedev said that Russians who fled the country and wish its destruction should be treated in accordance with the law, but the rules of wartime should also be remembered.

Source: Ekaterina Shmakova, “Proposal in State Duma to reinstate death penalty for ‘traitors to Russia,’” Radio 1. Thanks to VB for the heads-up. Translated by TRR


Following Nevzorov, Belotserkovskaya has been sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for spreading fake news. State Duma deputy Andrei Kolesnik commented on this practice of “absentee sentences.”

“Okay, some people merely fled Russia. There are a lot of yellow bellies. They can stay there and work. But when a person works against Russia, it is called an information war. It’s more serious than a weapon, sometimes. Evil tongues are scarier than a gun,” the deputy said in an interview with Moscow Region Today.

However, Kolesnik stressed that the “traitors to the Motherland” had been punished according to the law: there is evidence, i.e., publications. But the deputy noted that he himself would have dealt with them more harshly.

“This is my personal opinion, although maybe I will voice it in parliament. If a person has committed serious crimes against Russia, then the sentence might be different. And this sentence could be enforced in the place where he (“traitor to the Motherland” — ed.) is located. Combat is currently underway. So, they should behave more carefully,” the deputy said.

When our correspondent asked whether he was talking about the death penalty, Kolesnik replied as follows.

“The [death penalty] can be employed for treason. We currently have a moratorium on the death penalty, although it exists in our laws. The decision to lift the moratorium is made not by the State Duma, but by the court. Although many people in the State Duma are leaning in this direction,” the deputy said.

Earlier, State Duma deputy [Maxim Ivanov] said that the unemployed could be sent to the SMO zone.

Source: Maria Valdaiskaya, “Moratorium against death penalty may be lifted for ‘traitors to the Motherland,'” Moscow Region Today, 6 February 2023. Translated by TRR

Whiskey, You’re the Devil

A .7-liter bottle of Ladoga’s Carrygreen “Irish whiskey” will set you back 1,285 rubles (approx. 17 euros) if you order it online.

Amid the departure of a number of foreign brands, Ladoga Group is the first in Petersburg to launch the production of Irish whiskey under its own brand.

The products will be produced at the plant in Petersburg from Irish grain and malt distillates aged in oak barrels for more than three years. The company is counting on the new product’s success due to Irish whiskey’s growing popularity in Russia and the withdrawal of several foreign brands from the market, Ladoga president Veniamin Grabar said.

“If bottling Scotch whiskey in Russia is already a familiar thing, then Carrygreen is one of the first whiskeys from Irish distillates bottled in Russia. It is now a rapidly growing product in its category,” he said.

Grabar claims that the volume of imports on the market is about 70%. And yet, Irish whiskey’s share of this market has been growing — from 16% in 2017 to 25% in 2021. Since 2017, the number of Irish whiskey brands on the Russian market has doubled, growing to fifty.

As the company told DP, the first batch of products under its own brand will total 63,000 bottles. The planned annual volume is 400,000 half- and .7-liter bottles. At the moment, the project is aimed at the domestic market: the company plans to take a 30% share of Russia’s Irish whiskey segment, and the entire Ladoga Group (including its own import distribution companies) aims to grab 7-8% of the domestic whiskey market. If its resources and feedstocks allow, the group does not rule out starting exports to the CIS countries.

According to Maxim Chernigovsky, head of the Club of Alcohol Market Professionals, whiskey in Russia is currently produced by about twenty factories.

“A significant part of the whiskey market in past years was taken up by imports from the UK and the USA. After the departure of a number of foreign brands, there was a shortage. Russian producers eliminated it by ramping up the production of this alcoholic beverage by 37% in 2022 compared to 2021,” he notes.

Thus, the shortage of whiskey in Russia has already been surmounted by domestic producers. Competition in this segment will definitely be intense, says Chernigovsky. “The segment is interesting: it is premium and high-margin. In fact, there is competition only among our own Russian homegrown factories. Foreign-made whiskey, delivered to Russia through parallel imports, show up on store shelves at a price at least 20% higher,” the expert argues. “Irish whiskey will be bottled in St. Petersburg for the first time, and Ladoga’s prospects can be called positive.“

According to estimates by the Club of Alcohol Market Professionals, 2,838,000 decaliters of whiskey were produced in Russia in 2021; in 2022, production increased by 37% to 3,891,000 decaliters. Among the largest players in this market are the Stavropol-based Alvis Group, the Stellar Group, Beluga’s Georgiyevsk distillery, as well as Tula’s 1911 Distillery. In addition, Bacardi bottles whiskey under the William Lawson’s brand at a Russian plant.

The Ladoga Group consists of several companies, including a production facility with an annual capacity of 4.5 million decaliters and a network of wholesale distributors. In 2021, Ladoga Distribution’s revenue increased by 18% to 12.9 billion rubles, and its net profits amounted to 121.9 million rubles, compared to 345.2 million the previous year.

Source: Svetlana Afonina, “Production of Irish whiskey up and running in Petersburg,” Delovoi Peterburg, 6 February. Translated by the Russian Reader


The Pogues, “Whiskey, You’re the Devil”

Barrister gins have won three medals at the UK’s Gin Of The Year™, considered the most important gin competition in the world. Barrister Organic and Barrister Blue gins won gold medals, Barrister Dry was awarded silver.

Once a year, the world’s most successful gin producers gather in London to present their production to prestigious jury of the UK’s most authoritative gin buyers. Gin of the Year organizer Peak Publishing is “the world’s most influential beverage competition entity” with 1 billion bottles sold since 2006. Barrister family gins traditionally show high results in international competitions such as CWSA, The GIN Masters, Beverage Tasting Institute, World Gin Awards, Frankfurt International Trophy, International Wine & Spirit Competition, New Zealand Spirits Awards and others. Today Barrister gins are available in overseas markets in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India, China and the Middle East.

Source: “New Barrister triumph in London,” Ladoga, 23 November 2022


International economic institutions, which recently doubted Russia’s economy could survive under Western sanctions, are now sounding more optimistic than even the Russian government. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), known for its gloomy forecasts, this week predicted Russia’s GDP will grow at 0.3% this year.

The typically conservative IMF was much more upbeat than usual in its most recent forecasts for the global economy — for which it anticipates 2.9% growth (up 0.2 percentage points from its October forecast) because of “unexpectedly stable” dynamics. 

Russia’s forecast was upgraded even more than the global figures: in October, the IMF expected a 2.3% fall in Russian GDP in 2023, now it is talking about 0.3% growth. In 2024, they believe Russia’s GDP will increase by as much as 2.1%.

IMF economists explain this surge of optimism with a familiar narrative: the stability of Russian oil exports. “At the current oil price cap level, Russian crude oil export volumes are not expected to be significantly affected, with Russian trade continuing to be redirected from sanctioning to non-sanctioning countries,” the report stated.

The IMF’s latest figures are the most optimistic forecast around. They are well above the February consensus among Russian economists (decline of 1.5% in 2023) and the official projections of the Russian authorities: the Ministry of Economic Development currently predicts a fall of 0.8% in 2023, while the Central Bank expects a drop of up to 4%.

If Russia’s economy is to live up to the IMF’s expectations, output needs to increase by 0.4% every quarter from the fourth quarter of last year to the fourth quarter of 2023, according to a Telegram channel run by Bloomberg Economics’ Alexander Isakov. The economist thinks this is realistic. “The shocks of losing the European gas market, the departure of car manufacturers and others remain… while retail lending is accelerating to finance a recovery in consumer demand,” Isakov wrote. “Thus, the IMF’s figures seem persuasive.”

Russia’s economy has adapted quicker than expected after the shocks of 2022. Central Bank analysts see five underlying reasons for this:

  • The stability of the banking system. Thanks to ample capital reserves, banks have remained in reasonable shape — while lending was supported by regulatory easing;
  • Falling export volumes offset by rising prices;
  • Rapid redirection of exports toward Asia;
  • An effective reshaping of logistics chains by import-based businesses;
  • Government support, with an increase in budget spending.

Business activity in Russia continues to recover. According to an updated State Statistics Service (Rosstat) estimate and the Central Bank’s figures, in the third quarter the economy turned a corner (+0.86% compared with the previous quarter). Russia’s economy moves into 2023 with a higher level of activity than was expected in the spring, Central Bank analysts wrote last month. Demand has been underpinned by government spending.

However, it’s important to point out that the economic recovery is patchy.

Constraining factors include a growing preference for saving rather than spending among the general population, difficulties with maintaining imported equipment and staff shortages. 

In November, almost half of Russian businesses (45%) reported staffing problems. The dwindling workforce and the significant wartime brain drain could result in fierce competition to hire the remaining talent. And that will likely push up salaries faster than productivity can match, bringing inflationary risks (The Bell recently spoke at length with Vladimir Gimpelson, director of the Center for Labor Studies at the Higher School of Economics about current trends on the labor market).

“The IMF scenario is clearly the most optimistic of the possible outcomes that have some chance of happening in 2023,” said Dmitry Polevoi, investment director at Loko-Invest. 

“However, from our point of view, GDP will still fall by 1.5-2.5% in 2023 due to weak demand at home and abroad, coupled with high levels of uncertainty.”

Source: Alexandra Prokopenko, “IMF upbeat on Russia’s economy,” The Bell, 4 February 2023. Translated by Andy Potts

Russian Buddhists and the War

Telo Tulku Rinpoche, the now-former Supreme Lama of Kalmykia

On Friday, January 27, 2023, the Russian Justice Ministry placed Telo Tulku Rinpoche (Erdni-Basan Ombadykov) on its registry of “foreign agents.” Rinpoche is еру president of the Association of Buddhists of Kalmykia and the 14th Dalai Lama’s official representative in Russia, Mongolia and the CIS countries. The ministry’s press service said that the Buddhist leader had been placed on the list because he had “spoken out against the special military operation in Ukraine and openly spoken in support of Ukraine,” and also because he “is a US citizen and lives outside the Russian Federation.”

In addition to Rinpoche, the list of newly minted “foreign agents” that day included Little Big soloist Ilya Prusikin, journalist Fidel Agumava, Free Idel-Ural Movement co-founder Rafis Kashapov, and Feminist Anti-War Resistance coordinator Darja Serenko.

The following day, January 28, Telo Tulku Rinpoche announced that he had resigned his post as the Supreme Lama of Kalmykia.

“In the last two days, many people have expressed concern and sympathy over my inclusion in the registry of foreign agents. I am sincerely grateful to them for their involvement in and appreciation of my work. In these difficult times, I would like the people of Kalmykia and all followers of Buddhism to maintain courage, steadfastness and commitment to the ideals of compassion, love and nonviolence that form the basis of the Teaching of the Buddha that we profess. […] In my thoughts, deeds and prayers, I remain entirely with the Kalmyk people and Buddhists all over Russia, to whose service I have devoted my life,” the monk said.

Who Is Telo Tulku Rinpoche?

Telo Tulku Rinpoche (Erdni-Basan Ombadykov) was born in the United States in 1972 to a family of Kalmyk immigrants, according to the lama’s biography on the Kalmykian Buddhist community’s website.

In 1991, Rinpoche visited Kalmykia for the first time as part of a delegation led by the 14th Dalai Lama. Shortly after the visit, which the website refers to as “the starting point for the restoration of Buddhism in the republic,” Rinpoche was chosen as the supreme lama of the region, the Shajin Lama.

“While serving as the Shajin Lama, Telo Tulku Rinpoche has made great efforts to strengthen the religious and cultural ties that have existed for centuries between the traditionally Buddhist regions of Russia and the Tibetan community, led by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama XIV,” the website notes.

Another highlight of Rinpoche’s tenure as the Shajin Lama has been, according to the website, “comprehensive support for peaceful coexistence and cooperation among members of Kalmykia’s traditional confessions — Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.” In addition, under the lama’s leadership, more than thirty temples and prayer houses were erected in Kalmykia.

Rinpoche is a US citizen. He was applying for Russian citizenship, and was scheduled for an interview on February 24, 2022, but it was canceled due to the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Buddhists and the War

In an interview posted on the YouTube channel Alchemy of Soul on September 30, 2022, Rinpoche openly opposed the “special operation.”

“I think it’s wrong,” he said. “This war is needless. […] I think that the Ukrainian side is in the right. It is defending its country, its land, its rights, its Constitution, its people.”

The lama explained that he had not spoken out against the war earlier because he had been worried about the safety of Buddhists in Russia and their families.

“I didn’t want to spoil the relationship between the authorities and our Buddhists. I didn’t say anything, but nevertheless, every morning I always prayed for everyone, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists,” Rinpoche explained.

The monk said that he had left Kalmykia and was in Mongolia, where he was helping Russians fleeing the military mobilization. Rinpoche was negotiating an extension of the visa-free regime for Russian nationals and helping with their accommodation and the purchase of sleeping bags.


“American born Telo Tulku Rinpoche is a Buddhist leader in Russia. In this video Anzhela and Rinpoche discuss Buddhism’s philosophy on war, Russian mobilization of citizens to support the invasion of Ukraine, and steps Russian men are taking to avoid mobilization.” (In Russian, with English subtitles)

However, not all Buddhists share Rinpoche’s opinion about the “special operation.” Damba (Vasily) Ayusheev, head of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia, explained that the lama’s anti-war stance had to do with the fact that he is a US national.

Ayusheev himself voiced his own support for the war in Ukraine on February 28.

“We live in a single Russian state and defend the interests of our country, against which a dirty information war is being waged. […] We must have a strong and reliable home front. Our sahyusan [dharmapala] are on our side, our Great Khambo Lamas are on our side, and Buddha is on our side,” Ayusheev said on Buryad FM Radio on February 28, according to Infpol.

“It is a sacred duty. We Buddhists must defend our homeland. […] In our system, in Buddhism, the man must defend [the homeland, and] if necessary, go to war, be victorious, and return to his family, to his homeland,” Ayusheev said on September 30 in a conversation with Izvestia. The Buddhist added that he was proud of his co-religionists’ involvement in the war, and called the annexation of the Ukrainian regions to Russia a “historic moment” and a “great event.”

Jampa Donied (Buda Badmayev), the deputy head of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha for Russia’s Northwestern Federal District, also argues that Buddhists are involved in the “special operation” to defend their spiritual values.

On March 16, 2022, an “initiative group of Buddhists and sympathizers of Buddhism” published an open letter in support of [the Russian government’s] military actions in Ukraine on a VK group page.

“Buddhism — which is undoubtedly a peaceful doctrine — teaches us to calm the mind, maintain internal balance and find peace in all worlds. But Buddhism is not a doctrine of non-resistance to evil, if evil is ready to destroy everything its midst. […] In response to evil, we must not trigger negative emotions of anger and malice in ourselves, but we should be able to resist aggressive attacks from external forces in a calm state of mind. We must defend ourselves without letting evil into our hearts.”

The activists called upon people to sign the letter to “express solidarity with the President of Russia’s decision to pacify Ukraine, making it possible to establish peaceful and neighborly relations with this country.”

As of March 26, 2022, forty-two people from different regions of Russia had signed the letter. Three more people have signed it since then.

According to Alchemy of Soul presenter Anzhela Kalsynova, Rinpoche is the only [Russian] Buddhist leader who has publicly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And yet, the lama himself suggests that his co-religionists do not support the war, but are not openly opposing it due to concerns for their own safety.

The law on “foreign agents” in Russia is discriminatory and is used to combat those who have fallen out of favor with the authorities. All “foreign agents” are required to report their activities, income and expenses to the Russia Justice Ministry. They are restricted in their ability to disseminate information and find sources of funding. They face increased official oversight and lose their working partnerships. Like Rinpoche, they are deprived of the opportunity to continue their life’s work.

Source: “Buddhism and the war: Supreme Lama of Kalmykia declared ‘foreign agent,'” OVD Info (Medium), 1 February 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. For a brief overview of Buddhism in Russia, see Rustam Sabirov, “Buddhism in Russia: History and Modernity,” Buddhistdoor Global, November 4, 2019.

The Honor and the Glory of The Gated Community

Known as Minnesota’s favorite Americana band of the 99%, The Gated Community celebrates the release of their highly anticipated new album The Honor and Glory of The Gated Community. Showcasing beautiful harmonies, multiple lead singers and virtuosic soloists, this 5th album from the folk/country cult favorites shows the band stepping out of their Marxist bluegrass band box to create poignant songs of personal and collective loss — many of which were written just a few blocks from where Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct station was burned and abandoned following the murder of George Floyd.

Living just a few blocks from the 3rd Precinct, frontman Sumanth Gopinath (vocals, guitar) and his partner Beth Hartman (vocals, percussion) were filled with a particular anxiety and dread. “We went through a lot during the uprising itself, but we also feared repeat occurrences of violence at various points – like the November 2020 election, January 6, the inauguration and the Chauvin trial,” Gopinath says. “Moreover, family and friends died or nearly died from COVID-19. My retired colleague David Bernstein passed in March 2020, my aunt died in June 2020, and my uncle was in the hospital for months.”

Although The Gated Community started tracking some of the album in 2019 and early 2020, an electrical failure (caused by the 2020 unrest) fried the studio’s primary and backup hard drives. Left with only a few tracks and a whole new whirlwind of emotions stirred up by the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, subsequent protests and the rise of fascism in America, the band reworked old songs and arranged new ones written by Gopinath during the pandemic. “Not being able to make music with the other five band members during 2020, I began composing classical music again for the first time in 25 years,” Gopinath says. “I also continued to write songs for the band until we were finally able to do some very distanced outdoor rehearsals in fall of that year.”

With various health concerns among band members, they worked safely and slowly, rehearsing and recording the new tracks with John Miller at Future Condo Studio in Minneapolis. Mastered by Bruce Templeton at Microphonic Mastering, the album was finally done in 2022. Their most ambitious yet, it includes 13 originals with powerful lyrics and thoughtful arrangements. Although still marked by the playfulness that have won them such a loyal following, these songs have less punk urgency and more of the laid-back folk and country vibes of some of their songwriting heroes – from the Ralph Stanley-inspired a capella song “To the Sea Once More” (written for Kobe Dimock-Heisler, a young man of color on the autism spectrum who had just been murdered by police in Brooklyn Center, MN, on Aug. 31, 2019) to the Terry Allen-esque “Mariia” (about the alleged Russian spy and current politician Maria Butina) to the Townes Van Zandt-sounding “Another Fire” (written following the nightly fires that erupted in South Minneapolis after George Floyd’s murder) to the beautiful simplicity of Gillian Welch exhibited in “The Life From My Eyes” (about domestic violence towards women). The album also features the heartfelt playing of recently retired fiddler Teresa Gowan.

Once thought of as a niche novelty outfit, The Gated Community show their evolution into a sophisticated band that mixes social commentary with emotionally rich songwriting. They are incredibly proud to bring this album into the world after the collective traumas of the past three years and are finding solace in playing together once more.

——————

credits

released February 3, 2023

The Gated Community is Sumanth Gopinath, Cody Johnson, Teresa Gowan, Paul Hatlelid, Rosie Harris, Beth Hartman, and Nate Knutson

with special guest Adrienne Miller

words by Sumanth Gopinath, music by The Gated Community

produced by The Gated Community and John Miller
recorded at Future Condo Studio by John Miller
mixed by John Miller
mastered by Bruce Templeton, Microphonic Mastering

photography by Mark Nye
artwork by Ian Rans

full album information available at thegatedcommunity.bandcamp.com
contact us at thegatedcommunity@gmail.com

thanks and much love to our families, friends, and fans

special thanks to Tom Campbell and Adam Zahller

in memory of the family members and friends we lost over the past few years, including Liz Adams, Stan Adler, Shekhar Bal, David Bernstein, Josette Bethany, Max Bromley, Jason Christenson, Karen Dresser, Marian Gopinath, Gwen Hartman, Dave Hoenack, Qadri Ismail, Chad Marsolek, Jim McDonald, Ryan Muncy, Rita Elizabeth Nye, Peter Schimke, and Jerold Marvin Schultz

© 2023 The Gated Community

Yelena Osipova at Yabloko in Petersburg

Source: Galina Artemenko (Facebook), 31 January 2023. Captions by TRR. Yesterday (1 February 2023), Ms. Artemenko wrote that the security forces were removing Ms. Osipova’s posters from the Petersburg offices of the opposition Yabloko party. So, her exhibition there lasted all of one day. ||| TRR


Police seized anti-war paintings by 77-year-old artist Yelena Osipova from an exhibition that had opened the night before at the offices of the Yabloko party. Interior Ministry officers came allegedly because they had received a call that a bomb had been planted in the building, and as a result they took all Osipova’s work. The ministry wants to check whether the posters discredit the Russian army. The artist herself is very upset and is afraid that her paintings will not be returned.

Source: “Police raid anti-war exhibition in Petersburg,” Sever.Realii (YouTube), 1 February 2023. Annotation translated by the Russian Reader

Speak Speech, Speaker (The Imperialist Mindset)

One day, I hope, someone will explain to me why “progressive” Russians find the English words speak, speaker, speech, etc., so sexy and exciting that they have to incorporate them needlessly into Russian every chance they get.

Do they know that, in English, these words are less evocative than three-day-old bread, duller than dishwater?

In this case, hilariously (and awkwardly, too: “speak” appears after chas, generating an awkward phrase that translates as “hour of speak” or “speak hour,” although it’s supposed to be a play on the idiomatic phrase chas pik, meaning “rush hour”), the word “speak” adorns Sergei Medvedev’s reflections on the “imperialist mindset.”

Indeed.

Thanks to TP for this gem of Rusglish.

Below, you can watch the actual interview (in Russian, not Rusglish — well, almost), which, if for no other reason, is interesting because it was posted almost three months before Russia invaded Ukraine. ||| TRR


Historian and writer Sergei Medvedev is the program’s guest.

In an interview with Nikita Rudakov, he explained:

Why the idea of Russia’s “civilizational superiority” is so popular

Why propaganda encourages the ideological complexes of Russians

How the elite of the 2000s is trying to turn back history.

00:00 Chas Speak: Sergei Medvedev 01:40 The imperialist mindset and the idea of Russia’s greatness 06:10 Is there no place for nationalism in the imperialist mindset? 08:05 “Russia colonized itself” 14:03 The superiority of big ideas: why didn’t the USA become an empire? 21:02 The ideological complexes of Russians 25:41 “We rise from our knees via military achievements and parades on Red Square” 26:50 “Lukashenko does with us what he will”: Russia and Belarus 30:56 “Russia wants to live in the myth of 1945” 34:40 “We were unable to create a nation state”

RTVI News covers all the main events 24/7: https://www.youtube.com/user/myRTVi

Read and watch the news on RTVI’s website: http://www.rtvi.com

Also, see all the most important and interesting items on our Telegram channel: https://t.me/rtvimain

And subscribe to RTVI’s other social media pages:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/myRTVi

VK: http://vk.com/rtvi

Twitter: http://twitter.com/rtvi

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rtvichannel/

Classmates: https://ok.ru/rtvi

Source: “Sergei Medvedev: ‘We don’t have a state. We only have an imperialist format’ // Chas Speak,” RTVI Entertainment (YouTube), 9 December 2022. Annotation translated by Thomas Campbell

Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Tamizdat Project)

“MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN” FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT STUDENTS FROM UKRAINE, BELARUS, AND RUSSIA AFFECTED BY WAR OR PERSECUTION

Tamizdat Project Inc. is launching a two-month campaign “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” to support undergraduate students forced to leave their home countries due to Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine or persecution in Belarus and Russia for their anti-war stance.

  • On January 30, 2023, we are opening two online charity book auctions and a donation campaign to help these students pursue their academic careers in a safe environment. We are inviting the public to join our Rare Books Auction, which features a variety of first editions of “contraband” literature from behind the Iron Curtain and books by émigré authors, a Signed and Inscribed Books Auction with nearly 300 titles inscribed or signed for our cause by over 100 contemporary writers and scholars, and a “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” online fundraiser.
  • Since February 24, 2022, many initiatives have been launched across American campuses to support scholars at risk. Very few, however, have been set up for students, who have not yet established themselves in academia but have also been forced to leave home and need to continue their education elsewhere. Tamizdat Project Inc. has taken the initiative to help the next generation of scholars when they most need it.
  • The proceeds will be distributed to undergraduate students to help them pay for tuition and living expenses while studying in the U.S. (e.g., we will pay their dormitory bills or offer stipends to participate in Tamizdat Project). We will work with the colleges and universities that have admitted them to make this goal a reality. A breakdown of how the funds will be distributed will be provided at a later date. Our campaign brings together prominent writers and academics in the diaspora to help today’s refugees, much as we wish no such effort was ever necessary. We are joined by Nobel Prize Laureate Svetlana Alexievich, director of Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute Serhii Plokhy, émigré writer and critic Alexander Genis, rap singer Noize MC, to name but a few.

“On the last day of 2022, as we all were getting ready to celebrate the arrival of the new year the Russian missile attack hit Kyiv, causing serious damage to the buildings and properties of the Kyiv University. It had become the worst year for the higher education since the end of World War II. Any assistance we can provide for students of Ukraine will be greatly appreciated by the students in the universities under fire and the students-refugees in Ukraine and abroad.” — Serhii Plokhy, professor of Ukrainian history, Harvard University

“I am glad to take part in this project. After all, the auction that Tamizdat Project has put together is not just about rare books that make any library more precious and interesting. It is also part of the living history of free literature and thought, uninterrupted even today. These books, as dissidents used to say, are relics of the struggle ‘for our freedom and yours.’ They unite authors and readers, turning even those unfamiliar with each other into allies.” — Alexander Genis, author

Tamizdat Project is a not-for-profit public scholarship and charity initiative devoted to the study of banned books from the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War (“tamizdat” means literally “published over there,” that is, abroad). Today, these books remind us that freedom and education know no boundaries. We are a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization with a tax-exempt status: donations and gifts are deductible to the extent allowable by the IRS.

Contact: Yasha Klots • Tamizdat Project Inc. • tamizdatproject@gmail.com