The Dialogue of Civilizations (DOC) Research Institute, a front used by the Putin regime to co-opt the oddly named international community’s brahmins and bigwigs, is a twenty-minute walk from the Bundestag, and it is surrounded by German ministry buildings. What better way for the German government to express its distress with the Russian government’s poisoning of Alexei Navalny than by shutting the DOC down?
If Angela Merkel actually wants to get tough on Putinist Russia, I can tell her how and where to start: by closing down the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, an extraordinarily well-organized, aggressive “soft power” front for co-opting international opinion leaders, decision makers, policy wonks, public intellectuals, and academics, run by high-level Putin crony Vladimir Yakunin, and located at Französische Str. 23 in the heart of the German capital, a mere twenty-minute walk from the German parliament, the Bundestag.
But of course that will never happen because Merkel is not going to do anything of the sort. Shame on her. \\ TRR
18 Years in Prison for “Et Cetera” Why the FSB cannot manage any case without resorting to torture: on the appeals hearing in the Penza Network case Yan Shenkman Novaya Gazeta
September 3, 2020
Everything about the Network Case is seemingly clear. All of the defendants have been found guilty and sentenced to six to eighteen years in prison. Public support has subsided due to a fake news hit job against the defendants. The matter is closed, and you can switch with a clear conscience to other news items: Belarus, Khabarovsk, Navalny, and so on.
But why is it, then, that every time I come to Penza, inconspicuous-looking tough guys follow me around town? Why do the court bailiffs try their darnedest to close the formally open court hearings in the case to the public? Why, finally, was testimony given under torture removed from the case file? Are the authorities afraid?
Yes, they are afraid. Six months have passed, but the case is still a bugbear for the FSB.
Photo courtesy of Sota.Vision and Novaya Gazeta
There are five pairs of handcuffs on the railing that separates us from the prisoners. They look like broken Olympic rings. They are for defendants Pchelintsev, Shakursky, Chernov, Kulkov, and Ivankin. The two other defendants, Kuksov and Sagynbayev, are sitting separately: they have tuberculosis.
The appeals hearing begins on a terribly dark note: the guys are told about the death of the Alexei “Socrates” Sutuga. Kuksov says, “That is beyond awful.” In the three years since they’ve been in police custody, a lot has happened, including the New Greatness case, the Ivan Golunov case, the Moscow case, the presidential “reset,” and, finally, the coronavirus. The context has changed completely. There is a photo in the case file of the defendants wearing black masks. It looks really scary. It would suffice to show it to laypeople for them to conclude the defendants were terrorists, of course. The court also thought so.
But now half the country goes around in masks, and it frightens no one.
In the 1930s, there were associations of former political prisoners in the USSR. Amid the turbulent events at the turn of the century, the old-style political prisoners appeared anachronistic. One war, two revolutions, another war, and rivers of blood had flowed since they had served time under the tsars for impertinence to their superiors, involvement in student political groups, and other nonsense. That government, just like this one, did not like students and those who were impertinent to their superiors. They put them in jail and beat them at demos. We remember how that whole story ended.
Pchelintsev says it outright: “We have been sacrificed.” Yes, they are classic victims of history.
Dmitry Pchelintsev. Photo by Alexei Obukhov. Courtesy of Novaya Gazeta
The first few hours of the hearing are spent on technical issues that, however, are not so technical. The numerous complaints filed by the defense lawyers boil down to the fact that the convicts were not given a good look at the case files and other documents from their trial nor allowed to voice their complaints. The court turns down all the defense’s motions and requests.
It’s as if court is saying, You don’t need to need what you’re in prison for. If you’re in prison it means that is how it has to be.
The defense’s complaints against the verdict can be divided into three parts.
1. The Witnesses
At the trial, the prosecution’s witnesses (!) did not confirm the veracity of their pretrial testimony. Some of the witnesses even disavowed it. Some admitted they had been pressured during the investigation. Some, it transpired, testified to what other people had told them. But the court was not in the least troubled by this fact: for some reason nothing bothers it at all.
That leaves the secret witnesses: there are six of them in the case. One of them, identified as “Kabanov,” is an experienced provocateur (Novaya Gazeta has written about him): this is not his first job for the security services. Another of them could not really explain what he had witnessed. Three of the witnesses claimed that the defendants had told them about their criminal plans after they had been arrested and remanded in custody, that is, in the remand prison in Penza.
Could this have happened? It’s unlikely, but let’s assume it is true. And yet these same “witnesses” could not even correctly describe the defendants’ physical appearance and the setting in which the conversation allegedly took place. Not to mention the fact that prisoners are always dependent. It is an easy matter for the authorities to put pressure on them, to frighten them, to force them to give the “right” testimony in court in exchange for better conditions.
Investigators put testimony obtained from the defendants under torture in the mouths of these witnesses. You get the feeling that they carried the transcripts of the interrogations around them and read them aloud to the first people they met.
Finally, there is the small matter that the transcripts of the interrogations do not match the videos of the interrogations. A person would literally say one thing in the transcript and another thing in the video recordings. The court looked at the videos, compared them with the transcripts, nodded, and everything was left as it was. There is no mention of these discrepancies in the verdict.
2. The Forensic Examinations
Almost all the investigation’s forensic examinations have been refuted by independent experts and specialists. Among the reasons cited by them are incompetence, bias, non-compliance with established standards, and even falsification. It is for falsifications in the Network Case that the Military Investigative Committee is now reviewing FSB Investigator Valery Tokarev. It is so obvious that even their own people don’t believe it.
Although the court claims that defense’s forensic examinations do not contradict the FSB’s forensic examinations, they actually do. None of the FSB’s forensic examinations passed the test, neither the computer examination, the linguistic examination nor the psychological examination.
We must give the court its due: it more often than not did enter findings and testimony that were unpleasant to the prosecution into evidence. But it did not evaluate them in any way and did not take them into account when rendering its verdict. There they are. Sure, qualified specialists have proven that the FSB’s forensic examinations are bullshit, and they can say so if they like. But this has no bearing whatsoever on the verdict.
3. Bias and Presumption of Guilt
Each letter of the verdict indicates that the court was biased in favor of the prosecution. The trial need not have taken place. The investigative case file and the court’s published findings are nearly identical. In fact, it was the FSB who tried the Network defendants, not the court. The court only signed off on their pre-ordained verdict.
As many people have heard, Russia has an independent judiciary.
And here is the icing on the cake, the culmination of this theater of the absurd: the Volga District Military Court that handed down the guilty verdict in the Network Case did not officially exist when the verdict was rendered. So, it is not clear exactly who tried the case.
The Penza Network Case defendants during the trial. Photo by Alexei Obukhov. Courtesy of Novaya Gazeta
Let’s leave aside for a moment the FSB’s use of torture, the injustice of the case, and the court’s bias. Even if everything had been objective and impartial, from a legal point of view this is not a verdict, but the delirium of a madman. What does a sentence like the following tell us?
“The participants took clandestine security measures, as evidenced by the presence of aliases, communication on the internet using secure protocols, trips to other cities in passing vehicles, et cetera.”
A huge number of questions immediately come to mind.
Half of the people on the internet uses aliases (aka usernames). Are all of them involved in “clandestine security measures”?
Secure protocols are a feature, for example, of Telegram, which is used by half of the country, including government agencies. So, does this mean we should only use insecure protocols? Then the authorities should put an end to it, they should criminalize secure protocols and warn us not to use them.
No one has ever accused hitchhikers of using “clandestine security measures.” This is a game changer for criminology.
Finally, the “et cetera.” This was written by adults. How could “et cetera” be grounds for sentencing someone to eighteen years in prison? How could anyone write such nonsense in a verdict at all?
The defendants communicate with their relatives. Photo by Alexei Obukhov. Courtesy of Novaya Gazeta
Konstantin Kartashov, Maxim Ivankin’s lawyer: “I cannot call this document a verdict.”
Oxana Markeyeva, Dmitry Pchelintsev’s lawyer: “The verdict does not meet the procedural requirements.”
Translated into plain language, this means the judges did a poor job, a shabby job. If they had been building a house instead of writing a verdict, the house would have collapsed.
The reason for all these inconsistencies is simple: the guilt of the defendants was proved not in the course of the investigation, but in the course of torturing them. The FSB, however, were afraid to use this testimony, obtained under duress, although they would not admit to torturing the defendants. But without it, nothing sticks. Without it, the verdict is just a random pile of dubious evidence vouched for by the authority of Russian state security. The main thing you need to know about the case is that seven young men were sentenced to terms in prison from six to eighteen years, and their guilt was not proven in court. And this unproven guilt is a threat to all of us—not just to opposition activists, but to anyone walking down the street who catches the eye of FSB field agents.
There are so many problems with the verdict that it is impossible even to state all of them in one or two appeals hearings. There is little hope that the court will heed the arguments of the defense. There is an aura of hopelessness about the case. But it has to be brought to a close because a lot of things hang in its balance. After all, the verdict is based mainly on suspicion—on the fact that, hypothetically, the defendants could have “organized a terrorist community.” In theory, any of us could organize one. We are all under suspicion.
The lawyers in this case are not only defending Pchelintsev, Shakursky, Chernov, Kulkov, Ivankin, Kuksov, and Sagynbayev. They are also defending society, the right of each of us to be protected from the FSB. When they lose their appeal, they will keep going—to the European Court of Human Rights, to the Court of Cassation, to the Russian Supreme Court. Everyone involved in engineering this verdict should realize that they will inevitably have to account for their actions, and at the highest level. I don’t know about criminal responsibility, but universal disgrace is inevitable. They must answer for what they have done, and sooner or later they will answer for it.
Translated by the Russian Reader. Please read my previous posts on the Network Case (see the list, below), and go to Rupression.com to find out how you can show your solidarity with the other defendants in the case.
“I Don’t Think Punk Rock Is Very Viable”: Andrei “Swine” Panov’s Widow Talks to Us About Him and the Soviet Underground Ona Razvalilas (It Fell Apart) Sergei Vilkov April 1, 2020
A week ago Andrei “Swine” Panov, the now deceased founder of the first Soviet punk rock group, Automatic Satisfiers (AS), would have celebrated his 60th birthday. In an interview, his widow, Olga Korol-Borodyuk, talked to our community page about how Soviet youth of the late 1970s managed to move in sync with the second wave of British punk; what ideology Swine and his crowd professed; what he thought of the political events of the Yeltsin era; Panov’s image in the movie Leto; how the current troubled times differ from the troubled times back then, and much more.
What kind of person would he be now, if he’d lived this long? I didn’t want to touch on this topic because I can’t say anything good. I think it would have been very hard for him to survive. When he left us he was 38 years old; what his health would be like now, 22 years later, is unknown, you understand. When everything commercial is totally alien to a person . . . It’s really difficult to live, to survive in Russia nowadays, even in comparison with those years that were so . . . precarious. Incomprehensible, troubled years. It’s become 100 times worse now. So, I can’t even imagine what he would have been like in this situation. Holding those same noncommercial punk festivals without money would be impossible.
To me personally it’s a great shame that Andrei couldn’t realize himself as an actor. Because in that capacity he was astonishing, profound. His origins as an actor were the main thing about him. Back in the day, he had left the theatrical world: he didn’t want to play Communist Youth League members. Well, it’s also unclear how it would have played out in the Soviet period. It all somehow fell by the wayside.
On his attitude towards politics: the events of 1993, Yeltsin, the war in Chechnya I’m probably going to deeply disappoint you: Andrei tried as much as possible to separate himself from [politics], because he had had very negative experiences in his life. In the first place, there was his father, who went abroad permanently. (Panov’s father, a well-known ballet choreographer, abandoned his family and emigrated to Israel when his son was 14 — editor’s note.) In the Soviet period, that caused particular complications in one’s life: you were the “son of a traitor,” as it were. Then, you see, the word “punk” itself means “anti-social.” The punk denies his own social affiliations, he cannot take an interest in politics in principle. [Andrei’s] attitude towards [the Soviet Union] was of course negative, but he never went into it and didn’t discuss it.
How it was possible to play punk rock in the USSR in the late 70s It’s very simple. At that time there was a whole cohort of music lovers who practically lived on the musical “can.” They bought records and hung out with each other. Basically, new records got to the Soviet Union rather quickly. There are at least four versions of our crowd first heard about the Sex Pistols: all of those stories are credible but different. The main thing is that Andrei found out about the Sex Pistols practically right away. Meaning that in 1976 the Sex Pistols album came out. [Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols actually came out in 1977 — TRR], and AS was formed in 1978. There was a crowd led by [Yevgeny] Yufit (one of the founders of Soviet “parallel cinema” — editor’s note). It included Andrei, Khua, [Alexei] Rybin [co-founder of Kino], and [Viktor] Tsoi. They fooled around, ran around the garbage dumps. Basically, they were having fun. Then they started shooting their escapades, first with photo cameras, later on video. This was where Yufit got his genre [necrorealism] and how Andrei formed AS. At first, it was all a lot of fun. But there’s nothing surprising about this: information was getting to us very quickly.
Was Panov a punk? Andrei never called himself a punk at all. He very much disliked it when he was called that: he considered it a label. They called themselves “anarchists.” They denounced the established order. Another very telling point is that this crowd had this thing. You know the song “Commissar”? (Also known by such titles as “A Bullet Whizzed Past,” “My Steed is Black,” and others, the song is mistakenly thought to be a 20th-century Cossack folk song — editor’s note). The song has been attributed to any number of people. In point of fact, the song’s lyricist, Misha “Hefty” [Tinkelman], is alive and well. We’re friends. He lives in Petersburg. He’s just a humble person and doesn’t want to get mixed up in this story and that’s it. And it was like this: when they were at school, they had this crowd who amused themselves by making up songs à la the White Guards.
Since it was the Soviet period, this was the form their internal protest, or hooliganism, took. They liked that kind of aesthetic, and so on. “Commissar” is one of those songs. The aesthetic was White Guard-anarchist, at the level of denying the Soviet system. Is it really possible to compare this with the way Sid Vicious wore a swastika for the shock value? I don’t think it’s worth comparing them: all these stories are completely different. I wouldn’t draw any parallels at all.
They were schoolboys, and theirs was a very romantic generation. But the romanticism was expressed idiosyncratically, and it included White Guard lore. All of the people from this crowd who are still alive are still the same hopeless romantics. There’s nothing like them nowadays: people are very cynical and pragmatic.
How they met We met at LenFilm studios in around 1985. They were filming Burglar(in which Leningrad rock stars Konstantin Kinchev and Oleg Garkusha also acted; Panov himself appears in one scene — editor’s note). A group of punks was hired as floor hands on the set: Alexander “Ricochet” Aksyonov, Yuri “Scandal” Katsyuk, Andrei “Willie” Usov. Alexei Rybin was also among them: his wife worked there officially. I’d been working there since 1983 in the costume shop. We had such a cheerful Komsomol committee, headed by Masha Solovtsova. Later, she also had a group, 88 Air Kisses, but unfortunately, Masha’s no longer with us. She would simply take the keys to the snack bar, and in the evenings we would go there, lock ourselves in, and hold improvised concerts. Andrei was still playing the guitar then, and he would be squatting down on his haunches with the other musicians in the middle of the room. And he still smoked then. Basically, the young people at the studio were very progressive and very tight-knit.
Andrei was a person who thought in his own utterly particular way, who hungered for knowledge, who read an awful lot. He had a good knowledge of history, including art history. He had his own brand of logic, which couldn’t be simplified. I remember him being asked whether it was true that he’d begun to play as soon as he heard Iggy Pop. He only laughed in reply. He was a very complicated figure psychologically.
On the character “Punk” in the movie Leto It’s a confusing story: the screenplay was rewritten numerous times. I know this well, because I’m friends with the guys from Zoo (Mike Naumenko’s group – editor’s note). At one point, a girl from the film crew called me to ask whether I could find an actor who outwardly resembled Andrei. I expressed the opinion that playing Swine was madness: there was no way to make a copy of him. I proposed that instead we proceed from a prototype, keeping the concrete person somewhere in the back of our minds. Thus arose the character by the name “Punk,” who was conceived with Andrei in mind, of course. The most interesting thing is that he was the most authentic character in the whole movie. [Alexander] Gorchilin, who played him, was able to capture exactly that childlike quality, the purity of a harmless fifth-grade delinquent. That was the essential thing about Andrei. Even his mother, Liya Petrovna, admitted that he was really quite similar.
On punk rock in our time For 22 years I’ve been organizing a festival in memory of Andrei. This year I’m doing it for the last time. You have to pay for everything, and I do it at my own expense. I’m a one-woman organizing committee. And so very little remains of the audience for whose sake I do it. More and more people drop in just like that, because it’s a freebie: entry is free, and they’re simply random people. In 2004, when I did it at Port [a music club in Petersburg], which is rather large, the place was packed: I gave out only 800 free passes. But now I can hardly herd them in. Many folks have died. There are ever fewer people to whom it matters, people whom I know by sight. And none of the musicians are left: everyone’s died. Its time has probably passed. I don’t think that punk rock is very viable. Each musical genre has its own audience, but there’s just no mass audience [for punk rock in Russia]; There was Korol i Shut, but that’s not punk rock at all. It was called punk, yes, but that’s another story. Andrei’s punk is pure punk, it’s not for the mass market.
All photos courtesy of Ona Razvalilas. Translated by Mary Rees
Alexei Sutuga, a former political prisoner and one of the most distinguished activists of the antifa movement, better known in Moscow by the pseudonym Socrates, died on the morning of September 1, 2020, at the Sklifosovsky Institute of Emergency Medicine in Moscow.
Since the Saturday before last, Alexei had been in a coma after suffering severe head injuries during a nighttime criminal assault in the vicinity of the Baumanskaya subway station in Moscow. His relatives and friends had been raising money for his treatment all this time. Now I guess we’ll have to raise money to support his mom.
You see, I started this text according to all the rules of news journalism. But actually I’m crying my eyes out.
Socrates was one of those rare people, strikingly intelligent and sensitive, who, it seems, you do not expect to encounter in the radical (anti)political and countercultural movement. Among people who need to think quickly and act quickly, as in war, how often you meet a poetic soul, a person who is ready to listen carefully, think over what others have said, respond to someone else’s pain and, more generally, to the particulars of another person’s state or condition? Socrates was that kind of person.
I will probably be updating this text, adding details, like bank account numbers, if necessary. Now I can’t even figure out exactly how old he was… Thirty-something. He was a big, strong, reliable, kindhearted guy from Siberia, an anti-fascist, an anarchist, a real hero of the working class who knew how to list, think, make decisions, and act.
Alexei Sutuga, born January 24, 1986, Irkutsk, died September 1, 2020, Moscow.
I’m sorry we didn’t save him.
Photo courtesy of Alexander Chernykh, who reminds his readers that Alexei Sutuga’s book Socrates: The Prison Dialogues (in Russian) is available for free download. If you would like to help the Sutuga family pay for his funeral and outstanding medical costs, you can send money via PayPal to his mother, Olga Nikolayevna, at https://www.paypal.me/sutugaolga. Translated by the Russian Reader
Putin’s “Last Autumn”? (Song of the Ordinary Man) Artemy Troitsky Echo of Moscow August 28, 2020
I’m an ordinary guy, not lacking in simplicity. I’m just like him, I’m just like you. I don’t see the point in talking to me — It’s the same as talking to yourself.
The are the opening lines from Mike Naumenko’s “Song of the Ordinary Man.” Mike Naumenko died on August 27, 1991, twenty-nine years ago, an anniversary that many remembered, especially since in recent years Mike’s legacy has been held in high esteem, and rightly so. However, I’m sorry to say I won’t be talking about my late friend this time, but about something else entirely. I recalled Mike’s song because I am a one-hundred-percent “ordinary man” in Mike’s sense of the term, someone who has neither inside info nor insights, nor political science tricks up his sleeve, nor political party experience, and besides I am absolutely indifferent to conspiracy theories. At the same time, I am quite interested in what is happening in Russia, and I want to get to the bottom of it without resorting to any bells and whistles except for publicly available information and common sense.
For many months, the popular expert and lonely nightingale known as Valery Solovey has been trying to persuade his audience, weary with uncertainty, that this autumn 1) mass protests of unprecedented power will kick off; 2) the authorities will most likely be unable to cope with this “turbulence,” especially since 3) President Putin, due to “force majeure” circumstances, will hardly be able to be involved in this process and generally has been fading away; 4) although Putin has appointed a successor, there is little chance that the Kremlin’s scenario will be implemented; 5) consequently, we will probably be “living in a different country” by 2022. Needless to say, this all appears quite appetizing (to a person with my anarcho-libertarian tastes).
Because I live abroad permanently, I did not attend Solovey’s private lectures. I was too bashful to shout “Give me the details!” over the phone, so I didn’t think it possible to get into a debate or, on the contrary, celebrate our country’s imminent deliverance from the hated regime. But another dear “talker and troublemaker,” Gennady Gudkov, has just made a similar forecast (in an article entitled “Putin is leaving: the transition has already begun”). Gudkov is super-experienced: he’s an KGB officer, a former MP, and a prominent opposition figure. At the same time, like the “ordinary man” that I am, Gudkov does not rely on secret data from the backstreets of the deep state, instead making his conclusions based on news bulletins. And his conclusions, in short, are that Putin is going to leave the Kremlin, either due to unbearably bad health, or because he is just very tired. Accordingly, the people of Russia are going to be transported from one reality to another like a passenger changing planes.
This, unfortunately, is what I would like to argue with.
First of all, I don’t enjoy regularly watching Putin on screen, but from the bits and pieces I have come across, I wouldn’t conclude that he has physically and/or mentally noticeably thrown in the towel. Sixty-eight is a laid-back age: I am sixty-five, say, but I don’t do sports and fitness, I’m not under the care of doctors, I don’t inject Botox and stem cells, I don’t deny myself any “harmful excesses” (except smoking tobacco), and I feel great. And since when did a ruler’s feeble state affect anything in Russia? Let’s remember dear old Leonid Brezhnev, who could barely move his tongue, the zombie-like Chernenko, and late-period Yeltsin. Secondly, it is absolutely impossible that Putin would voluntarily deign to vacate the throne due to fatigue or anything else. He’s only going out on a gun carriage. In my opinion, it is quite clear: this is Lukashenko’s scenario, not F****ace’s. And we should note that the Reset One doesn’t even have Consanguineous Kolenka to fall back on, while iPhone Boy, the Buddhist, and the Reindeer Herder are . . . Even arguing this point is boring.
Nikolai “Kolenka” Lukashenko (far left) and his father, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, at a meeting “in the situation room of Independence Palace” on August 23, 2020. Screenshot from the Telegram channel Pul Pervogo. Courtesy of Mediazona Belarus
Nor do I think that the predictions of mighty grassroots turbulence are more realistic. Why should I? Russians have learned to put up with poverty, and empty store shelves, and “elections,” and the riot police. Russians who haven’t learned to put with these things have left the country and will continue to leave it: as many who can get out will get out as soon as the quarantine is lifted. What happened on Maidan and is happening in Belarus is regarded by the majority of the Russian populace as a nightmare, while the minority sees it as a miracle, an impossible miracle. The only obvious reaction to the events in Belarus has been on the darned social networks. In tiny Lithuania, fifty thousand people turned out for a rally of solidarity with the rebellious people of Belarus; in Tallinn, two or three thousand people lined up in a chain; in Moscow, a couple of hundred young people protested outside the Belarusian embassy on Maroseyka, most of them Belarusian nationals. And what about the Russian city of Khabarovsk? Everyone is, like, amazed at the resilience of the protesters (for the time being it’s as if they’re talking to a brick wall), but only solo picketers come out in support of them in other parts of Russia. Or have I fallen behind the times in my own little corner of Europe, and it’s just the good weather that is to blame for everything? And in the autumn Russians are going to cut loose and go bonkers?
This is how Mike’s song ends:
If you ask me what the moral is, I will turn my gaze into the misty distance And I’ll tell you: I’m sorry, But, by God, I don’t know what the moral is. We live the way we lived before, And we’ll live that way until we die, And if we live like this, That means that’s how we should live!
Mike always spat out the last line with fury. I don’t know whether this was the desperate rage of a stoic or the impotent rage of a fatalist . . . Let’s hope, in any case, that I’m wrong.
Artemy Troitsky is a well-known Russian journalist and musical critic. Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for the heads-up. Thanks to TL, VL, NK, and AR for helping me to identify the Belarusian and Russian supervillains mentioned at the end of the fifth paragraph. Translated by the Russian Reader
Alexei “Socrates” Sutuga is in intensive care. He has suffered a severe brain contusion, fractures of the parietal and temporal bones, and a cerebral edema, and the right half of the body is paralyzed. Alexei was operated on and his skull was trepanated. He’s in a coma now.
Alexei is an antifascist, civic activist, and former political prisoner who has been involved in campaigns supporting other political prisoners. We met at Butyrka prison. I always tell everyone this story and laugh, since I hinted to him about his nickname in the presence of the cops: “Ancient Greek philosopher, fifth century BC?” Afterwards, we corresponded, exchanged books, and discussed politics. After we got out, we were both in a play about torture at Theater.Doc. Alexei enriched the production with personal account of being tortured in a Kiev police station.
Socrates is a big, brave man who has seen a lot and gives the impression of a rock. But now the rock must be saved.
Any amount you can donate will make a difference. Please, if you can help, here are the bank details for Alexei’s parents (Sberbank, Olga Nikolaevna Sutuga): 4276 3800 4603 9843 Sberbank or +7 892 688 82967 by phone. You can transfer money from any bank without incurring fees.
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How Socrates ended up in intensive care
It all happened on the night of August 23 near the Baumanskaya subway station. Alexei was with friends. As far as we now understand, there was a routine conflict with a shop assistant, but Alexei himself was not involved in this conflict at all. The verbal conflict turned into a showdown with the shop assistant’s husband and a group of his friends. Then the conflict petered out, and Alexei and his friends were leaving. But four of the men caught up with them, attacked, and began beating them. Alexei fell and hit his head. Witnesses say that he was also kicked. Alexei was taken to the Sklifosovsky Institute and had an emergency operation. The attackers were soon detained and taken to the Krasnoselsky police station, but nothing is known about what happened to them after that. https://www.paypal.me/sutugaolga
Translated by the Russian Reader. If you would like to help Alexei Sutuga and his family, you can send money to their PayPal account: https://www.paypal.me/sutugaolga. Thanks to Irina Yudina for her help.
Alexei Sutuga reading Viktor Filinkov’s testimony about being tortured as part of Torture 2018, a Theater.Doc production staged in March 2018
including gunshot wounds to the head and various body parts and limbs including
the chest, shoulders, forearms, hips, shins, feet, buttocks, belly, including
penetrating wounds to the abdomen with eventration of the small intestine blunt wounds— dozens of cases external injuries to the chest penetrating wounds to the chest penetrating trauma to the chest with damage to the right middle lobar bronchus and the development of hemopneumothorax
the leakage of blood and air into the chest shrapnel wounds to various body parts, including
the face, neck, hands, forearms, hips, knee joints, shins, groin area, lower back, the lower part of the torso, the abdominal wall, the buttocks, including
penetrating shrapnel wounds and multiple shrapnel wounds— dozens of cases trauma and wounds from explosions and mines to various body parts, including
crush injuries to the soft tissue— dozens of cases open pneumothorax the leakage of air into the chest lacerations of various body parts and limbs, including
degloving injuries— dozens of cases stab wounds to various body parts and limbs, including
multiple ones— dozens of cases thermal burns from flames on the upper and lower limbs and the abdomen— several cases; chemical burns to the eyes— several cases; barotrauma to the ears from blasts of pressurized air— several cases ruptured eardrums bleeding from the ears the condition after suffering electrical injury the toxic effect of gases, vapors, fumes— several cases craniocerebral injuries of varying severity including
both closed and open— many dozens of cases concussions of the brain hemorrhagic contusions to the brain— dozens of cases traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhaging of the brain with the formation of subdural hematomas, including
acute hematomas— several cases periorbital hematomas— several cases pneumocephalus the leakage of air inside the skull; fractures of various bones in the head and the face the base of the skull, the cranial vault, the zygomatic bone, the upper jaw, the maxillary sinuses, the bridge of the nose, the crown of the head, the frontoparietal region, the temporal region, including
open fractures of the zygomatic bone— dozens of cases fractures of the upper and lower limbs both closed and open, including comminuted fractures and displacement of the bones, rib fractures— dozens of cases compression fractures of the body the vertebrae the dislocation of joints damage to the capsular bags of the joints and displacement of the capsular ligament apparatus of various joints including
the cervical vertebrae including hemarthrosis of the limb joints the leakage of blood inside the joint blunt trauma to the abdomen subcutaneous hematomas, bruising of different parts of the body and the head and the limbs, including
extensive interstitial hematomas including
linear hyperemia including edema and induration blood in the gluteal regions the lumbar region, the posterior surface of the hips, the neck, the posterior and lateral surfaces of the chest, the posterior surface of the shoulders, the posterior surface of the ulnar joints— many dozens of cases contusions, contused wounds, contused abrasions of various body parts, the head and the limbs— many dozens of cases arterial hypertension, hypertensive crisis several cases convulsive epileptic seizures —several cases. decompensated diabetes, (brought from the detention center on Okrestin Lane) including
death before the arrival of paramedics, at 10:35 p.m. 08/10/2020, Pritytsky Square one case* including
There are also still around eighty people missing nationwide in the wake of the arrests. It is quite likely that at least some of these missing protesters died while being tortured in detention centers. (Thanks to Alexei Borisionik for providing these facts.)
In many ways, Ekaterina Zakharkiv is my favorite contemporary Russophone poet. While her verse is manifestly avant-garde, there is something about the way she combines different lexical and stylistic registers into a seamless and, one could say, “collectivist” idiom that always reminds me of Alexander Pushkin and the revolution he led in Russian poetic discourse. Born in Magadan, Zakharkiv graduated from the Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow and is currently a graduate student at the Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. She is an editor at F-Writing, Dream, and the new Almanac Fire, which focuses on the intersection of writing and music.
These three translations were published last year in Lana Turner #12. The issue is now available for free as a pdf, so I decided to put them up here as well, hopefully bringing Zakharkiv’s work to a broader audience online.
*** strange weapon of the body, promising to assemble under the targeting apparatus of itself into the composite noun of the square, the collision of adversaries without confusion of sides —this is touching openness, you say that love is touching openness don’t love me then
separation opening division of po lice bu dget re lations trucks for an incomplete project last shots on the national TV stations last mechanisms last montage right here, atop the wreckage of the signal, I touch the dust of our collective text move my fingers over your skin mottled with italics “in the failure of time”
under the smoke-filled sky of an invisible Orleans, doubled maidens unfurl their banners in the heart’s murky fissures
on the squares of our city the long since melted schedule of movements, instants of matter surmounting information
at the crossing of places in a sundered embrace, a gold lord looks back at the eye the cool mouth of rose sor rows of speech can’t close even night even the thin air of night
*** [you’ll forgive me, won’t you, especially if you recognize] how crooked flames rise and fall from the black sky into the mowed carpet of the conference room the endless weight that takes the bandages off voids of armchairs, sheets of A4 paper and the exits if you recognize the fear that buildings stand in, immersed in the hypnosis of context and the tall aquarium building in spreading cracks, artificial landscapes through the rolled back ceilings of the music hall, washed out in rays of cold light especially if you recognize how the constantly changing architecture of hybrid groups is quietly penetrated by catastrophic panoramas
colonnades, metro tunnels, auditoriums, houses of culture, an agalma of reinforced plastic
a boarded-up door on the outskirts of language, torn down by a construction brigade they see thresholds, taste dust fix the flowing water of the day, a concrete mass, object number 446 everything seems to recoil somewhere, they hear only the deaf breath of the smog above the construction site, leaning on steel railings only the long peal of this floating, a wind of rubbish, turned inside out you’ll forgive me this elusive idiom in the flickering of a uniform, especially if you see the aerial views of history’s treachery, if you can stop the wire and roses, ripping up the wrappings
*** I catch the blood of the tags by the dim coat check and walk to the ancient academic rows exercises in freedom of the approach of one hundred and forty people, among whom а seeing wolf calls: you know, they’re asking for you
name a sharpened grammar and, hesitating, become a smoldering heap of broken translation —everything whipped up into living smoke, steel-grey, impersonal a floor crumbling in the sky above us, yet one particle of the murky front, fed with a spoon of nuclear structure, asks: where are the centuries that took my younger sky?
others—biological colonies— endure, no longer being a large insect pollinates zero which must be plucked despite certain stalks of long sadness it’s better if he roam the web links
when we’re trying to sleep and we touch nothing, resisting nothing fallen body convulsive like speech, murdered measure not stanzas but nervous fire more often than not during the extortionate night
basically, what Nikita’s saying is that you have to capture the moment when you begin to be the text, and at the same time the not-text and hold it then you will attain equality well, he doesn’t say that so much, or not exactly that and also I read: the beginning is the negation of what it begins I would like to capture this moment and touch the plainness of equality in our given historical paradigm instead of a splicing of two autonomies instead of economized language, instead of brotherhood, brother sister, instead of sisterhood, instead of this very gesture of “stand down.”
Source: Ekaterina Zakharkiv, Felicity Conditions (M.: ARGO-RISK, 2017), pp. 7-8, 5-6, 13-14. Photo courtesy of HSE. Translation and commentary by JoanBrooks. If you would like to support the author’s work, please consider donating. Any amount helps. Please include “Zakharkiv” in the memo line of your contribution.
Everything happening now around Navalny (and what is happening is a special op), including not letting his doctor see him, not letting his wife see him, the huge number of security forces [at the hospital in Omsk], the refusal to transport him [to another country for treatment] is aimed at one goal and one goal alone. And it’s not treating the patient, of course.
The goal is concealing traces of the crime, making it impossible to detect the toxin, making sure no one gets access to the biomaterials, so that there is no convincing evidence of what substance was used to poison him and how it was used. So what if this is wreaks havoc with choosing the optimal medical treatment.
But it will allow the Kremlin to play their favorite game, like with the Boeing [shot down over Ukraine by Russian forces in July 2014]: to put forward 300 different hypotheses of any degree of absurdity (except the obvious and true explanation), and to shout “What is your evidence?” in response to the obvious explanation. In fact, they have already started doing it.
Translated by the Russian Reader
NKVD Captain Yermolai Remizov fights ruthlessly against the Motherland’s enemies. His task force has cracked dozens of cases, eliminating the remnants of the White Guard, and capturing foreign spies and Trotskyist henchmen. From reliable sources, Remizov gets a signal about an upcoming act of sabotage at the Proletarian Diesel plant. The plant is the flagship of its industry, and any accident there would be a serious political statement. Remizov needs to identify the saboteurs urgently. But how? Suddenly, among the plant’s staff, the captain notices a new engineer, who bears a striking resemblance to an acquaintance from the Civil War…
This novel, Chekists, was published yesterday (August 19, 2020) by the major Russian publisher Eksmo, a fact made known to me byLitRes, Russia’s leading e-book service. The burgeoning genre of neo-Stalinist revisionist pulp fiction and the equally flourishing genre of neo-Stalinist revisionist “historiography” that nourishes it are two big parts of the relentless culture war waged by the “Chekists” in the Kremlin to make their flagrant, brutal misrule of the world’s largest country seem natural, inevitable, and historically predetermined. As part of their overall campaign to hold on to power in perpetuity, while bleeding the country dry, it only makes sense that they would turn governance into an endless, gigantic “special op,” in which poisoning “the Motherland’s enemies,” like Alexei Navalny, is all in a day’s work. // TRR
Doctors ‘fighting for life’ of Russia’s opposition leader Navalny after alleged poisoning Yuliya Talmazan NBC News August 20, 2020
Fierce Krmlin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny is inh a coma as doctors fight for his life after he was poisoned Thursday mo rning, his spokespersoin said.
The 44-year-old foe of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin felt unwell on a flight back to Moscow from tTomsk, a city in Siberia, Kira Yarmysh said on iTwitter.
“The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk. Alexei has a toxic poisoning,” Yarmysh tweeted.
Navalny is said to be unconscious and was placed on a ventilator in an intensive care unit. Yarmysh did not say who she believed may have poisoned Navalny, but said police had been called to the hospital.
The politician is in a grave but stable condition, hospital representative Anatoly Kalinichenko, deputy chief physician at the Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1., said in a video shared by Yarmysh on Twitter.
Kalinichenko said all possible reasons for Navalny’s sudden illness were being looked at, including poisoning. “Doctors are really dealing with saving his life right now,” Kalinichenko added at a later briefing with reporters.
The spokeswoman said that doctors were preventing Navalny’s wife, Yulia, from seeing her husband. Yarmysh quoted the doctors as saying her passport was insufficient evidence of her identity, instead asking for their marriage certificate which she wasn’t carrying.
Yarmysh told Russian radio station Echo of Moscow there are tests being conducted to determine the nature of the toxin used. She said Navalny only had a black tea at an airport coffee shop before getting on the plane in the morning, and they believe that’s how he could have been poisoned.
She said she was sure it was “an intentional poisoning.”
“A year ago, he was poisoned in a prison, and I am sure the same thing happened here,” she told the station. “It’s different symptoms, obviously a different toxin, but obviously this was done to him intentionally.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said an investigation would be launched if it turned out Navalny was indeed poisoned. Asked if this was a special case because of Navalny’s outspoken criticism of the Russian government, Peskov added, “the current government has many critics,” according to the state-run TASS news agency.
Meanwhile, elements of Russia’s tightly-controlled state media have been exploring the narrative that Navalny may have had a lot to drink the previous night and took some kind of hangover pill today.
An anonymous law enforcement source told TASS that authorities are not yet considering this a poisoning.
“For the moment this version is not being considered,” the official said. “It is possible that he drank or took something himself yesterday.”
Last year, Navalny was rushed to a hospital from prison where he was serving a sentence following an administrative arrest, with what his team said was suspected poisoning.
Doctors then said he had a severe allergic attack and discharged him back to prison the following day.
In 2017, he was attacked by several men who threw antiseptic in his face, damaging one eye.
Pavel Lebedev was on the same plane as Navalny and posted an image of the politician drinking something out of a cup before the flight on his Instagram Stories. NBC News could not confirm that the photo shows the beverage that his spokeswoman believes may have poisoned him.
In a series of videos uploaded to his Instagram, Lebedev said he saw Navalny go to the bathroom after lift-off, and he did not return for a while.
“I heard a commotion and took my headphones off,” he added. “It turned out that there was an emergency landing in Omsk, so I thought someone was feeling ill. Then I turned my head and I saw Alexei lying down.”
Navalny rose to prominence in 2009 with investigations into official corruption and became a protest leader when hundreds of thousands took to the streets across Russia in 2011 to protest electoral fraud.
A few years later, and after several short-term spells in jail, Navalny faced two separate sets of fraud charges, which were viewed as political retribution aimed at stopping him from running for office.
In his only official campaign before his first conviction took effect, Navalny garnered 30 percent of the vote in the race for Moscow mayor in 2013.
Navalny also campaigned to challenge Putin in the 2018 presidential election, but was barred from running.
Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation has conducted in-depth investigations into the highest ranks of Russian political elite, including his most famous investigation into former prime minister and president Dmitry Medvedev.
Last month, he had to shut down the foundation after a financially devastating lawsuit from Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to the Kremlin.
Russia holds regional elections next month and Navalny and his allies have been preparing for them, trying to increase support for candidates which they back.