Yesterday I met a neighbor lady from our floor whom I hadn’t seen for a long time. She was in high spirits, and we talked for a minute about the current realities. I asked her how she managed to maintain such enviable optimism, and her answer amazed me.
“Why be sad?” she said. “We live in the heart of the city, and if they fire a nuclear missile, we would automatically find ourselves in the very epicenter. We would be instantly transformed into elementary particles. Isn’t that what many people can only dream of?”
Source: Alexander Petrosyan, Facebook, 30 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader. Our beloved Petersburg neighbor lady Ludmila Borisovna said something strikingly similar during the “tensions” in 2014.
At first glance, massive emigration reduces the potential for political change, because it mechanically subtracts from society the part of society that is critical of the authorities. To a large extent, of course, this is true, but we shouldn’t overestimate this factor.
My subjective observations tell me that one of the leading motives for emigration (let’s put the existential threat of mobilization aside for now) has been the loss of hope for a “normal” life. People have been fleeing because they felt things would only get worse, and that their former relatively prosperous (and sometimes quite lovely and promising) lives were collapsing, along with all their plans.
If you think about it, there is no potential for political change in this worldview. You can’t be a gravedigger of the old regime at the same time as you grieve for the opportunities lost in it.
Let’s take a hypothetical employee of the progressive wing of the Moscow Department of Transport (or any other corporation, bank, etc.) with liberal views, who remembers what a cool project he worked on in 2018 (or even in 2022), but now is leaving the country, because such projects will definitely not happen in the future. He went to protest rallies, voted for the opposition, watched [Maxim] Katz’s YouTube channel, and donated to OVD Info, so his departure is a loss for the opposition. But it’s not a loss for the revolution, because “I want everything to be the way it was before, only with no war and crackdowns, but with fair courts and honest elections” is essentially a reactionary demand. It’s about preserving things, not changing them..
It would be a mistake to think that revolution leaves us along with the emigration: resentment over the supposedly lost prospect of a prosperous Russia, which was stolen from us, is unsuitable fuel for revolution. The political emigration has no political program, because there is no bridge to the “normality” that supposedly existed before 2022 (or 2020, 2018, 2014, 2011, etc.). The emigration’s picture of the world completely excludes the social, economic and political contradictions that have brought us to the present moment and are leading us further, so now it contains nothing but shock, fear, and individual salvation.
Revolution cannot emerge from the failure of an evolutionary project. It will emerge as an alternative to the brutal dictatorship at a fatal crossroads in the country’s history, prompted by the need to radically solve the pressing issues of our coexistence. But the remnants of failed evolutionary trends will surely still play their own reactionary role.
Source: Alexander Zamyatin, Facebook, 29 September 2022. Mr. Zamyatin is a popularly elected member of the Zyuzino Municipal District Council in Moscow and the editor-in-chief of the website Zerkalo. Translated by the Russian Reader
Observing the discussions about visas [for Russians wishing to escape to the EU], I want to note how detached they are, in a way, from real life. It sometimes seems to me that this discussion is more about how Russians imagine “the West” than it is about helping actual people.
For many reasons it is more advantageous and convenient for certain people to leave, for example, for good old Kazakhstan. Why?
First, [Russia’s] longest land border is with Kazakhstan. There are numerous border crossings, and planes fly to and from there. This is one of the fastest and cheapest ways for many people to leave Russia.
Second, [Russians] don’t need visas to cross the border [with Kazakstan]. You don’t need a large packet of papers proving you have the right to a long-term stay, and you don’t need to go to a [Kazakhstan] consulate [before leaving Russia]. You can get a work patent and some kind of registration on the spot and remain in the country for a long time.
Third, it is easier to transfer your business there, to register it without losing previous business projects and connections. It is relatively easier to find a new job there or start your own business from scratch. There are still many tools for transferring money from Russia to Kazakhstan and back.
Fourth, it is a relatively cheap country: the prices are comparable to Russian ones.
Fifth, [Kazakstan] is still a culturally congenial country. The Russian language is widespread, and many of the bureaucratic rules and habits of everyday behavior in general are similar.
That is, generally speaking, from an “average Joe” point of view, good old Kazakhstan looks at the moment to be a more preferable place to go for very many people than good old Europe does. What follows from this? It implies the need, if we are talking about helping those who have left, to come up with a strategy for interacting with the conditions in Kazakhstan by establishing a dialogue with local politicians and officials, with society and its leaders, with the local media. In the end, this strategy should involve acquiring a basic knowledge of the language, culture and history of Kazakhstan, cultivating an attentive attitude to our own stereotypes and language, and getting rid of imperial habits. Europe and the West in general should be invited to cooperate with Kazakhstan in providing this assistance.
Еuropean visas, in fact, are hardly the main problem.
Мир человеческий изменчив.
По замыслу его когда-то сделавших.
Сто лет тому назад любили женщин.
А в наше время чаще любят девушек.
Сто лет назад ходили оборванцами,
в шкурах покоробленных.
Сто лет тому назад любили Францию.
А в наши дни сильнее любят Родину.
Сто лет назад в особняке помещичьем
при сальных, оплывающих свечах
всю жизнь прожить чужим посмешищем
легко могли б вы.
Сейчас не любят нравственных калек.
Таких, как я.
Типичный представитель современности.
The human world is fickle.
It was planned that way by them who made it way back when.
A hundred years ago, people loved women.
But nowadays they more often dig chicks.
A hundred years ago, people went around ragged,
in kinky furs.
A hundred years ago, people adored France.
But nowadays they fancy the Motherland more.
A hundred years ago, you easily could
spend your whole life as someone's laughing stock
in a manor house
lit by greasy, guttering candles.
But nowadays people don't care for emotional wrecks.
They like funny folk.
People full of moxie.
People like me.
A cheerful sort.
The very model of a modern bloke.
The original poem and the video were gifted to her friends and acquaintances, today on her birthday, by the fabulously courageous and definitely cheerful Leokadia Frenkel, to whom I dedicate the translation, above. I also had the good fortune to be acquainted with the gentle, funny, gracious Vladimir Ufliand in real life.His photo, above, was taken by Vadim Egorovsky (1940–2020) in 1995, and is courtesy of Rosphoto and the Tamizdat Project.||| TRR
Guryanov Sergei @Segozavr A man backed his car up to the building housing the draft board [conscription office] and began tossing Molotov cocktails. 100 square meters were destroyed by fire. Uryupinsk, Volgograd Region, Russia, 26.09.2022.
In Moscow’s Kosino-Ukhtomsky district, housing authority employees and police officers, without showing their IDs, have been breaking open front doors in the staircases of residential buildings in order to serve residents with summonses to the military enlistment office! Some residents have already been issued threats that the electrical wires to their apartments will be cut if the men do not open the door to receive a summons!
Source: Yevgeny Stupin, Facebook, 26 September 2022. Thanks to Alexander Kynev for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader
A telephone call I got yesterday from a female acquaintance has made me think about the economic consequences of the “mogilization” [literally, “grave-ization,” a play on the word “mobilization”]. I confirmed her fears that her son would be among the first to be mobilized. And that they would come looking for him first at his registered address, then at his workplace. Consequently, the solution to his problem would be to quit his job and go live somewhere in the boondocks for a year, even if there was no work there.
And now look — not only those who are called up will vanish from workplaces, but also those who dodge the draft. To get the three hundred thousand men declared [by Putin as the goal of his “partial mobilization”], they have to slap the asses of at least a million men with draft notices and dragnets. I’m not an economist and I cannot even estimate numerically what kind of blow to the country’s GDP will be caused by the withdrawal of at least half a million employees.
By the way, the mobilized must be fired [by law]. It is not very clear whether their jobs will be kept for them in any way. But [officially] they will not be listed as on leave, but as having been called up from the reserves to military training camps. They will simply be dismissed from their jobs, and they will have to be paid in full.
Really simple vacancies can be filled by migrants from Central Asia, but it is another matter whether they will go and fill them. Currently, the exchange rate has been maintained at a level that is favorable to migrant workers, but as soon as the volume of imports grows (and it will grow: there will be other sources, gray market goods/parallel imports, and so on), this rate will inevitably begin to sink. Consequently, the economy will take a simultaneous triple hit around December:
1) On December 5, a complete ban on the delivery of Russian crude oil to the EU will come into effect; 2) hundreds of thousands of people will be laid off in October, November, and December; 3) and the exchange rate will go crazy.
That’s my economic forecast for you. It’s going to be a clusterfuck, my fellow Russians.
Source: Vladimir Volokhonsky, Facebook, 22 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader
Yesterday, Vladimir Putin announced a “partial” mobilization, which is actually a total mobilization. His decree sets no restrictions on age, qualifications, regions, and the number of people mobilized. Already today, we see that everyone is being called up.
Source: Navalny LIVE, YouTube, 22 September 2022. Annotation translated by the Russian Reader. The video has already been viewed over 2.6 million times since it was posted. It has no subtitles in English, but the message from the lawyer in the video is clear and simple: there is no such thing as a “partial” mobilization, so all draft-age men must avoid being called up and serving at all costs, especially since Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine is illegal and criminal.
In Petersburg, police have searched the homes of activists, as well as the home of Sota journalist Victoria Arefieva. The security forces broke down the door to Arefieva’s apartment, seized electronic devices belonging to the journalist and her sister, and detained her for forty-eight hours on suspicion of making a phoney bomb threat to the St. Petersburg City Court, Sotawrote on Saturday, September 24.
In addition, searches were conducted at the homes of persons implicated in the case of the Vesna Movement activists Yevgeny Fateyev and Valentin Khoroshenin, whom a court has banned from “engaging in certain activities.” The security forces also visited the home of activist Pallada Bashurova, against whom two “telephone terrorism” investigations have been launched, OVD Info reports. Yevgenia Litvinova, a member of the Petersburg Human Rights Council, was also detained in connection with a “telephone terrorism” case.
New protests against mobilization scheduled for September 24
According to Sota, the searches are connected with protests, scheduled for September 24, against the “partial mobilization”; law enforcement agencies thereby are attempting to prevent their coverage in the press. Vesna, a democratic youth movement, called on Russians to engage in a new round of protests in the wake of the first wave that occurred on the day Russian President Vladimir Putin made the announcement. “Mogilization [“grave-ization”] is actively going on all over the country. Soon thousands of our men could go to the front. We can and must oppose it!” Vesna said in a statement issued on September 22.
According to the online human rights project OVD Info, on September 21, the police detained more than 1,300 protesters in thirty-nine cities across Russia. Most of the arrests occurred in Moscow and Petersburg. In some police departments, the detainees were handed summonses to the military enlistment office right on the spot.
Just for balance. Today, in the supermarket, I quietly eavesdropped on the conversations among the saleswomen (these were two different conversations). Irritated and indignant, these middle-aged women said that the members of parliament [who quickly passed laws enforcing Putin’s mobilization] should go to war themselves.
On the bus. A middle-aged woman in the front seat yells into the phone, not mincing her words. She says that there is a panic at work, that they have seven days to keep the guys from getting drafted. This was followed by instructions for direct action. The young fellow sitting with his back to her listened attentively, while the girls opposite him could not have cared less.
Source: Friends-only post on Facebook by a trusted source and occasional contributor to this website, identified here as “AR” for future reference. Translated by the Russian Reader
This hurts a lot. I console myself with the fact that, as in private life, the most vital and beautiful thing is the process itself, when you are initially in a hole, but you fight to make things better. But can I please go back to the time when I have to confront myself, and not a crazy autocrat with a nuclear button?
I try to shift my focus from irritation towards Russians who support the war, and the collective Europe playing along [sic], to endless love. First of all, to people who are in Russia and are not afraid to speak out against the war. I am glad that I am living at the same time as you. Of course, we are far from being Iran, where people take deadly risks for their beliefs. But we’re cool, too. We’re doing what we can. If everyone in Russia were like us, the war would have ended today. Now, when it is important to support myself, I console myself with this thought, and I advise you to do the same.
Source: Friends-only post on Facebook by a grassroots activist in Petersburg, identified here as “JA” for future reference. Translated by the Russian Reader
On the evening of September 21, in Petersburg, as in other cities, a protest was held against the mobilization of Russians for the war in Ukraine. The protest was called by the Vesna Movement. The protesters gathered at 7 p.m. on St. Isaac’s Square.
Riot police vigorously detained protesters, beat them with batons, dragged them on the ground, and put them on their knees. According to OVD Info, at least 444 people were detained in St. Petersburg.
Bumaga has put together a photo chronicle of the first popular protest in the city in the last six months.
Conscription Notice Russia. This channel was created to inform the residents of Russia about the delivery of conscription notices in our city! [sic] Write here with information about which addresses conscription notices in Russia are being sent — @maks_ge
“Prospect Mira. A conscription notice was just served to a man approximately 40-45 years of age. He was strolling with his wife and dog. Then they [the police?] went up to some young guys sitting on a bench and had a chat with them.”
“They’ve already started handing out conscription notices at the factories in the town of Gatchina in Leningrad Region.”
“The Gazpromneft filling station at Amurskaya 15A. Two men got into a scrap, and the attendant called the police. The cops came and gave them tickets. They threatened the men, saying that tomorrow, other people in uniform would come visit them at home — I think they meant the military conscription office.”
Source: Screenshot of the Telegram channel Where Draft Papers Are Being Handed Out — Russia. The channel was created on August 13, but only started posting on September 21. It already has over ten thousand subscribers. Thanks to VL for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader
Well, my prognosis was mistaken. I underestimated the regime’s vileness and meanness. As the supreme ruler declared a partial mobilization, the local military enlistment offices issued decrees concerning all reservists without exception.
This is totally fucked up. For example, “temporary residents must depart for their legal place of residence.” Accordingly, millions of unregistered men or men registered at their temporary residences in large cities must leave for their hometowns or home regions. Accordingly, all these millions of men are “lawbreakers” — they can be seized in dragnets, blackmailed with prison terms, locked up, beaten up, and anything else that our cops do with our citizens. When [the cops] are faced with passive resistance, they will indiscriminately rake in whomever they catch.
These people will certainly “engage in combat,” but that will happen later. What matters now is filling the quotas.
Putin has announced a “partial mobilization.” Only time will tell how “partial” it is, but it is already clear that the mobilization will affect many people. What options do those whom the Kremlin wants to mobilize have?
Become cannon fodder.
Go to jail.
Illegally flee the country. If you fail, you go to jail.
Go underground. If you fail, you go to jail.
Go underground and become a guerrilla. You could also go to jail.
I do not consider legal ways to avoid mobilization, since the rules of the game can change at any moment, and those who were not subject to mobilization yesterday will be subject to it tomorrow.
The choice isn’t great, but there is a choice.
Source: Ivan Astashin, Facebook, 21 September. Mr. Astashin is a former political prisoner and human rights activist who now seems to be living in exile in Berlin. Translated by the Russian Reader
In the kitchen of a communal flat:
— Soooo, you live closer to the front door, don’t open it to anyone. If they come, tell them there are no men living here.
— I’ve been dodging the draft for so long I don’t even remember how to do it anymore. I’ve had so many chronic illnesses since then. Do you think it will help?
— At my work, a friend of a friend of a friend of a colleague is offering to drive [men] to Finland for 50 thousand rubles [approx. 855 euros]. Any takers?
— He’s definitely going to Finland? That’s too cheap somehow. What if he takes you to the military enlistment office?
— My pop says that he would volunteer himself, but he’s already sixty-seven, they won’t take him. But he’s weird that way. He never goes to the welfare office, because he believes you have to have pride: he didn’t work all his life to ask the state for something in his old age! His pension is 25 thousand rubles a month [approx. 440 euros].
— Maybe he is also one of those people who have nothing, and who donates money to buy socks for soldiers?
— No, he believes that we have the strongest army and does not give them a kopeck. He says the people asking for that money are scammers.
Source: Friends-only post on Facebook by a veteran human rights activist in Petersburg, identified here as “NN” for future reference. Translated by the Russian Reader
I have been extremely troubled by arguments that a mobilization in Russia is impossible. People are saying that everyone will run off, nothing will come of it, there is no logistics or anything else. This is all true, of course, but the stated goal of calling up 300 thousand reservists is quite realistic, in my unprofessional opinion.
I really don’t see any earth-shattering problems to it. There are military enlistment offices, there is transport. The uniforms will be fetched from Afghan War-era stockpiles. You know, those sand-colored uniforms, star-embossed belt buckles, and Kirza boots — there is probably a lot more of this stuff in the warehouses. The “mobilizees” will look, however, more like mobs of POWS than like an army, what with all of them wearing different uniforms, some sporting Kirza boots, and some in ankle-high combat boots purchased on the side from a cunning ensign. But still.
I have no doubt that our state will cope with the task of mobilizing men and delivering them to Ukraine. It will be done shabbily — five hundred men will lose fingers to frostbite while traveling in unheated train cars, and fifteen hundred will escape somewhere along the way — but that doesn’t mean that no one will get there.
To make the figures clearer, I should explain that about 400 thousand people live in our district in Petersburg, the Frunzensky District, which means that 600 men should be called up (taking into account the fact that our population is older than the average for Russia). In reality, it will most likely be even fewer, since the powers that be will probably decide to throw residents of the ethnic republics into the furnace again.
Over the past few months, our district authorities have just barely recruited about forty volunteers, since they were unable to use any of the state’s usual enforcement mechanisms. Now they will have all the tools of the military enlistment officer at their disposal.
I’m sorry, but I believe in the success of the mobilization at this stage and that the stated quantities are doable. I don’t believe in the success of Putin’s war. Unmotivated poorly armed cannon fodder is needed in this war, but the benefit from it is not so great, and it will arrive [in Ukraine] only in winter, by the time the front stabilizes somewhere near Henichesk.
It’s not enough to mobilize men. The powers that be still have to somehow mobilize industry. Here I see much less chance of success.
I feel a certain shameful schadenfreude. When I adopted the slogan “Putin = war” as my profile pice in 2014, readers of the Kupchino News made fun of me. The people then were solidly in the “Crimea is ours” camp. Now, for the sake of this selfsame Crimea, a place where, until 2014, Russians could go on holiday with no problems, your brothers and your children will have to go off and die. Not me. I left Russia after police searched my home for a second time and a criminal case was launched against me. When something really could still be done [to oppose the Putin regime] with minimal risks, you were extremely smart to stay at home. Well, now you will be extremely smart in thinking of ways to dodge the draft. What counts is keeping a low profile, isn’t it? The president knows what he’s doing!
However, after this schadenfreude, I immediately feel ashamed. After all, it was I who lost my fight for a Russia free of autocracy, fascism and militarism. By the way, in 2014 I had another profile pic: “Putin = hunger.”
Source: Deputy Volokhonsky (Vladimir Volokhonsky), Telegram, 21 September 2022. Mr. Volokhonsky is a well-known Petersburg grassroots pro-democracy activist and municipal district councilor, currently living in exile in Belgrade. He is also the editor-in-chief of the neighborhood news website Novosti Kupchino (“The Kupchino News”). Translated by the Russian Reader
President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s first mobilization since World War Two, warning the West that if it continued what he called its “nuclear blackmail” that Moscow would respond with the might of all its vast arsenal.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect our people – this is not a bluff,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation, adding Russia had “lots of weapons to reply.”
One-way flights out of Russia were selling out fast after Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists, and Russia’s opposition called for protests.
Residents of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv dismissed Putin’s move as a mark of desperation and expressed confidence in their own armed forces to drive Russian troops from their country.
The European Union’s executive body told Putin to stop his “reckless” nuclear gamble, while Britain said the threats must be taken seriously.
Alexander Glushko says he spent the last fortnight of the Russian occupation of his hometown of Izium in northeast Ukraine jailed by Russian soldiers in the dank ruins of a police station where he was tortured with electric wires.
Pope Francis said that Ukrainians were being subjected to savageness, monstrosities and torture, calling them a “noble” people being martyred.
Source: Linda Noakes, “The Reuters Daily Briefing,” Reuters, 21 September 2022
Our own correspondent is sorry to tell Of an uneasy time that all is not well On the borders there’s movement In the hills there is trouble Food is short, crime is double
Prices have risen as the government fell Casualties increase as the enemy shell The climate’s unhealthy, flies and rats thrive And sooner or later the end will arrive
This is your correspondent, running out of tape Gunfire’s increasing Looting, burning, rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape Rape
Source: SongMeanings, as written by Colin Newman and Bruce Gilbert
During the performance, three members of the team took the stage. The team’s captain, Anastasia Kostina, listed the names of “foreign agents” and asked in the song, “Do we need, do we need, do we need to keep studying? Maybe we should go straight to prison after university?” As she sang these lines, a young man in a police uniform ran onto the stage, twisted the soloist’s hands behind her back, and escorted her backstage.
Kostina said that the jury took the joke warmly and that there had been no censorship prior to the performance. “There was no internal censorship. Thanks to the editors for that — they allowed this song. The jury warmly welcomed such humor. They gave a critique at the end of the contest: they said it was bold, satirical, and so topical that it’s a sin to condemn us for it.”
The young woman was also asked what she thinks about continuing her studies in journalism school. “Indeed, I’m having a crisis right now, because I don’t understand whether to put more emphasis on my studies and the profession, or go into humor. But for now I continue to study, because who knows what will come in handy in life,” Anastasia replied.
Source: Mel (“Chalk”) Magazine: On Raising and Educating Children, Facebook, 19 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader
KVN (Russian: КВН, an abbreviation of Клуб весёлых и находчивых, Klub Vesyólykh i Nakhódchivykh or Ka-Ve-En, “Club of the Funny and Inventive”) is a Russian (and formerly Soviet) humour TV show and an international competition where teams (usually composed of college students) compete by giving funny answers to questions and showing prepared sketches. The Club originated in the Soviet Union, building on the popularity of an earlier program, An Evening of Funny Questions (Russian: Вечер весёлых вопросов, romanized: Vecher vesyolykh voprosov); the television programme first aired on the First Soviet Channel on November 8, 1961. Eleven years later, in 1972, when few programmes were being broadcast live, Soviet censors, finding the students’ impromptu jokes offensive and anti-Soviet, banned KVN. The show was revived fourteen years later during the perestroika era in 1986, with Alexander Maslyakov as its host. It is one of the longest-running TV programmes on Russian television. It has its own holiday on November 8, the birthday of the game — celebrated by KVN players every year since it was announced and widely celebrated for the first time in 2001.