I’ll Show You the Life of the Mind

An image from Boris Akunin’s One Eight Eight One, as staged by Valery Fokin at the Alexandrinsky Theater in Petersburg.
Image courtesy of alexandrinsky.ru via Delovoi Peterburg

Every Wednesday we tell you about an article that has proved the most interesting to one of our staffers.

Yulia Holtobina, manager of the Subscribers’ News project, has shared an article with us today.

Does modern society need cultural goods? In my opinion, they are simply necessary for people to grow spiritually and achieve inner harmony. Culture is the environment in which the life of the individual and the life of society take place. Culture makes a person a personality.

In our difficult time, people increasingly want to distract themselves, to get away from fatigue and the problems that have piled up. Theaters, cinemas, and museums are the cultural spaces where they can relax, feel joy, find positive energy and inspiration, and return to a stable life.

Delovoi Peterburg thus writes that the preferences of Petersburgers have not changed. People still enjoy going to theaters, museums, exhibitions, and St. Petersburg’s other cultural spaces.

Source: Delovoi Peterburg email newsletter, 16 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


Theatergoers south of Moscow were held “hostage” and shot at by actors playing Ukrainian soldiers during an immersive play that glorifies Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, local media reported Tuesday.

Opening scenes from the production titled “Polite People” showed actors dressed in Ukrainian military uniforms violently capturing audience members and shooting them with what appeared to be prop assault rifles. 

One female captive can be heard screaming “it hurts” and “let go” as the actors drag her onstage.

“Polite People” is a euphemism for the Russian soldiers without insignia who occupied Crimea before Moscow annexed the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014.

“The creators wanted to immerse the audience into the atmosphere of what Donbas residents had experienced for eight years,” the Kaluga region’s Nika TV broadcaster said, using the term for eastern Ukraine’s separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Actor Vilen Babichev, who portrays one of the Ukrainian troops, told Nika TV the play aims to show Russian audiences “the nature of the enemy that invaded our territories eight and a half years ago.”

President Vladimir Putin has justified Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine with unbacked claims that Kyiv is committing “genocide” against Russian-speaking residents of the Donbas.

“Polite People” is funded through a 10.1-million ruble ($165,000) Russian presidential grant.

Its author, Luhansk-based musician and film studio director Roman Razum, said the project aims to “create positive content to counteract negative content that carries an immoral ideology and counters the Russian cultural code.”

“We show that these aren’t just Ukrainian [soldiers], but fighters fully trained by NATO and supplied with weapons for many years,” Razum told Nika TV.

The play premiered in Kaluga on Monday following dates in occupied Luhansk and four Russian cities in late October and early November. It is expected to go on tour across a handful of other Russian cities until late November.

Source: “Russian Audiences Held ‘Hostage’ By Mock Ukrainian Soldiers in Pro-War Play,” Moscow Times, 9 November 2022


Is there room left in life for celebrating and if so, for what kind of celebrating? DP found out how the preferences of consumers of culture have changed this year.

The Social and Artistic Theater (SHT) told DP that its new season had got off to a good start. “I would say that audiences are going to the theater more, but the decision to go is made at the last moment. Our productions of Anne Frank, The Émigrés, and Cynics are now quite popular. Our classic production is still WITHOUT [An idiot], based on F.M. Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot,” SHT director Alina Korol said.

No scarier than covid

The Bolshoi Puppet Theater (BTK) said that its audiences did not have any particular new preferences. There are traditionally sold-out performances at the theater, and less popular ones, but they have not noticed any new trends.

“After the start of the SMO, there was a drop-off in attendance that lasted a couple of months, maybe one and a half. If anything has changed post mobilization, it has been insignificant. But when a new wave of covid started in mid-September, many people began to get sick and the flow decreased,” the BTK’s sales department emphasized.

“People want to return to a stable life for at least a few hours, so they go to the theater. We almost always have full houses, and preferences have not changed,” commented Tatiana Troyanskaya, a public relations specialist at the Studio Theater. Among the favorites at the Studio are productions by the theater’s artistic director Grigory Kozlov (The Elder Son, Tartuffe, The Days of the Turbins, Quiet Flows the Don, as well as comedies (Our Avlabar; Dreams of Love, or the Marriage of Balzaminov), and productions for children.

Vladimir Kantor, the editor-in-chief of the magazine Petersburg Theatergoer and the head of the literary department at Saturday Theater, did not notice any new trends in the theater.

“I am familiar with the repertoire of other theaters, but I haven’t noticed any serious changes in audiences. Autumn and winter are the times when people traditionally go to the theater. I cannot mention any changes in the repertoire that can be described as trends. There were enough productions about war before the start of the SMO, as well as dystopias. I can’t name any productions about the new emigration at all,” he commented.

DP also sent requests for comment to several state theaters, including the Young People’s Theater (TYUZ) and the Alexandrinsky Theater, but did not receive responses. Meanwhile, the Alexandrinsky has removed Boris Akunin‘s name from the announcement of the premiere of One Eight Eight One. Akunin wrote the play specifically for the Alexandrinsky, but his name disappeared from playbills at the behest of the Ministry of Culture. Back in August, the audience received an email with a reminder about the upcoming premiere of One Eight Eight One — as “staged by Valery Fokin, with music by Vyacheslav Butusov, to the text by Boris Akunin.” A similar situation occurred in Moscow, at the Russian Youth Academic Theater (RAMT), where there are four productions of plays penned by the writer.

Akunin himself is aware of what has happened and does not condemn the theaters. “I sympathize with the heads of theaters… If a person has decided that the cause you serve is more important than damage to your reputation — this is a difficult choice from which you yourself suffer, but not your team and not your audience,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.

According to the writer, he has not demanded that uncredited productions be removed from the repertoire. On the contrary, they can go on until they are finally banned and even with no compensation to him. As Akunin noted, the Alexandrinsky Theater cannot pay him royalties due to sanctions.

Among private institutions, Beyond the Black River Theater and the City Theater declined to comment. On October 20, a performance of 1984 was canceled at the City Theater — as noted on its social media accounts, “for reasons beyond the theater’s control.” On October 31, the same production was presented to the audience in a new way: in a video format and featuring an encounter with the director and the actors. The theater’s management clarified that “this is probably the last time it would be possible to see 1984.” The theater also said goodbye to the anti-war production A Red Flower, based on the stories of Vsevolod Garshin.

Perennial classics

Petersburg museums did not respond to DP‘s questions about the changing preferences of its visitors. Official requests were sent to the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, and the Erarta Museum of Modern Art. The bookstores Subscription Editions and At the Top of the Voice and the bookstore chain Bookworm also declined to comment on the situation.

Alexander Prokopovich, editor–in-chief at the publishing house Astrel SPb, says that readers’ preferences had begun to change even before early February, during the pandemic, but the trends have persisted. According to him, classics and so-called longreads [longridy] — that is, literature that is demand at all times — have remained relevant, while speculative texts and fashionable literature [sic] have been losing ground.

“Readers reared their heads, rather, by remaining true to their interests in new titles; perhaps for obvious reasons, interest in new titles from the translated literature segment has increased. I have not encountered any restrictions. Writing is a strategic activity: it can take years to create a book, so it is not worth waiting for a sudden change in the subject matter of the fiction we publish. It is another matter that the events [of this year] are so emotionally charged that many authors have simply stopped writing. It is not our publishing housing that is in demand, but the books which we publish. Nothing has changed here: demand for them is determined by the quality of the texts. This has been the case in the past, and it will be the case in the future,” Prokopovich said.

Some authors claim that their works have disappeared from bookstores — for example, collections of poems by the poet Vera Polozkova. She left Russia in March. Over her fifteen-year career, Polozkova has written five books, published in a total of 280 thousand copies. On her social media accounts, the poet noted, “It would be strange to expect them [the authorities] not to touch the books after everything I’ve said and done.” She believes that she will be able to publish abroad either through crowdfunding or self-publishing [samizdat].

On the other side of the cultural barricades is RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan. A month ago, the TV channel presented a collection of front-line poems, Poetry of the Russian Summer, but a few weeks later it transpired that Russian publishers were not willing to publish a book with the letter Z on the cover. Simonyan, on her Telegram channel, called it “a verdict on us all.”

Cinema depends on the weather

Cinemas were reluctant to comment on the situation. Aurora and Rodina did not answer DP’s questions, but Lenfilm did give an assessment of attendance factors. The cinema center’s management said that Lenfilm is difficult to compare with mass multiplex cinemas. “We show festival films, auteur cinema, and retrospectives. Therefore, aside from a general decrease in the number of viewers, the situation has not affected us so much, since our repertoire has stayed the same, and our audience has remained our audience. We are more dependent on the weather. After big news days, the attendance drops at first, but then it more or less levels off,” the studio commented.

Lenfilm also noted that its cinema center has been showing many Russian films. This year’s Lenfilm Film Club events have already featured screenings of Vladimir Kott’s Disobedient, Tatiana Kolganova’s Delayed Happiness Syndrome, and Ruslan Bratov’s Express.

Source: Alina Kizyakova, “Petersburgers looking for stability in theaters and books,” Delovoi Peterburg, 15 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Kirill Butylin: The Partisan of Lukhovitsy

Kirill Butylin. Image courtesy of Solidarity Zone

Solidarity Zone supports Kirill Butylin. And you can too!

On February 28, four days after the Russian army’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, 21-year-old Kirill Butylin threw Molotov cocktails at the military enlistment office in Lukhovitsy, a town in the Moscow Region.

A video of the attack and the arsonist’s manifesto were posted online on March 8.

Their author said that he had painted the gates of the military enlistment office in the colors of the Ukrainian flag and written the message “I’m not going to kill my brothers!” on them, before climbing the fence, pouring gasoline on the outside wall of the building, breaking the windows, and tossing Molotov cocktails through them. The insurgent saw as his goal the destruction of the archive containing the personal files of conscripts, which according to his information was located in that part of the building. He hoped that his actions would hinder mobilization in his district.

The partisan also stated in his manifesto: “I hope that I will not see my classmates in captivity or the lists of the dead. I think this should be circulated. Ukrainians will know that there are people in Russia who are fighting for them, that not everyone is afraid or indifferent. Our protesters should be inspired and act more decisively. And this should break the spirit of the Russian army and government even more.”

Butylin was detained on the day the manifesto was published. After the arson attack, he got rid of his phone and managed to travel to the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, Vremya MSK and Moskovsky Komsomolets claimed, but he was detained there. Butylin allegedly confessed that he wanted to go fight in Ukraine. The young man was promptly extradited to Russia and taken to the police station in Lukhovitsy.

On March 13, Butylin managed to escape. He took advantage of the moment when he was allowed to go to the toilet: finding himself not in handcuffs, he jumped out of the window. He then climbed over a fence and ran off in the direction of the M5 highway. He was soon detained again, however.

The criminal charges against Butylin have morphed, during the course of this case, from “vandalism” to “terrorist attack.” And if initially he was threatened with no more than three years of community service, he now faces from ten to fifteen years in prison.

In October, Solidarity Zone tracked down Butylin in the Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial detention center in Moscow and established a connection with him. He accepted our offer of support and said that he would be glad to receive publicity, letters and books. According to him, all his other needs are being taken care of. Butylin’s lawyer is paid for by his relatives.

Solidarity Zone supports Kirill Butylin and will continue to cover his case, as well as provide him with all necessary assistance.

You can also support Kirill by writing him a letter, sending him a book (we recommend that you first find out what kinds of books he likes and how to send them by writing him a letter) or publicizing his case.

✉️📦 Address for letters and parcels:

Butylin Kirill Vladimirovich (born 2001)

18 Matrosskaya Tishina Street

Pretrial Detention Center No. 1

Moscow 107076 Russian Federation

(It is possible to send letters through the FSIN-Pismo service and the RosUznik volunteer resource.)

Solidarity without borders!

#writeletters#solidarity#prisoners#no war

Source: Solidarity Zone, Facebook, 7 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader. People living outside Russia will not be able to use the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s FSIN-Pismo service. It is also probably the case that it is impossible or nearly impossible to send parcels to Russian detention facilities from abroad. But you can send letters — translated into Russian (if you don’t know a competent translator, you can use a free online translation service such as Google Translate) — via RosUznik. You can also ask me for assistance and advice in sending letters by writing to avvakum@pm.me.

Going Underground (Continuity)

The “underground” exhibition Continuity [Sviaz’ vremen] has been underway in Petersburg since September. The parents of Yuli Boyarshinov, who was convicted in the Network Case, were involved in organizing it.

The exhibition is dedicated to political prisoners. They produced some of the works on display themselves using improvised means while in pretrial detention centers and penal colonies. Poetry readings and art therapy sessions at which postcards for political prisoners are produced also held in the space.

Bumaga visited Continuity and shows here how the exhibition is organized.

The “underground” exhibition opened in September in a private space. The organizers have already planned to close it several times, but people keep coming. “We didn’t think it would last that long. There is even a poetry reading scheduled for Saturday,” Nikolai Boyarshinov, Yuli Boyarshinov’s father, told Bumaga.

Photo: Andrei Bok

The exhibition features works by current political prisoners, including those involved in the Network Case. Some of the works are dedicated to the victims of the Great Terror.

Photo: Andrei Bok

The living room — the main exhibition space — contains paintings by the artist Ad’u. She says that exhibition spaces are reluctant to take her work. “They say, ‘Well, you know,'” she shares with us.

Photo: Andrei Bok

A portrait of Karelian historian Yuri Dmitriev and maps of Sandarmokh hang under the ceiling. Dmitriev was convicted of “sexual violence” against his adopted daughter. He was scheduled to be released in 2020, but the court toughened his sentence from three and a half years in a medium security facility to thirteen years in a maximum security penal colony.

Photo: Andrei Bok

There are paintings dedicated to Alexei Navalny. A protest action with flashlights, which took place in Russian cities on February 14, 2021, is depicted as a flashlight shining into the sky and signaling for help.

Photo: Andrei Bok

One of the paintings alludes to a protest action by Pavel Krisevich: a man on a cross, under whose feet dossiers of political cases burn. Next to it are drawings by Krisevich himself, which he made while in a pretrial detention center, using pieces of a sheet, improvised materials and homemade paints. In October, Krisevich, who had previously spent a year in pretrial detention, was sentenced to five years in a penal colony.

Photo: Andrei Bok

On the walls of the corridor outside the living room there are portraits of the young men convicted in the Network Case and their stories. Drawings by the men themselves are also presented. Nikolai Boyarshinov says that each of the convicts “has begun to draw to one degree or another.”

Photo: Andrei Bok

In a closet in the hallway there are drawings by the artist cyanide the angry [tsianid zloi]. Since February, he has been producing one image every day about the war and political crackdown. On the closet doors and inside it there are portraits of Sasha Skochilenko and Seva Korolev, who are charged with “discrediting” the Russian army, Kansk Teenagers Case defendant Nikita Uvarov, and scenes of Navalny in a cell.

“Today, Sasha Skochilenko was remanded in custody until June 1. She replaced price tags in shops [sic] with anti-war messages. She faces 5 to 15 years in prison. #FreeSashaSkochilenko,” Photo: Andrei Bok

There are also anti-war drawings in the exhibition. They are painted in yellow and blue colors. They were created by Ad’u, who, along with other artists, was detained during a protest rally in April 2022, when she was painting riot police against the backdrop of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

Photo: Andrei Bok

There is an art therapy group in the space, which has been led by Nikolai Boyarshinov’s wife Tatiana since May. The group’s members make postcards to fight burnout, stress and fear. They then send postcards to political prisoners.

Photo: Andrei Bok
Photo: Andrei Bok
Continue reading “Going Underground (Continuity)”

Going Underground (The Pulkovo Variations)

The river of eclipses is over, but not everyone’s psyche has recovered yet. For example, in the parking lot of Pulkovo Airport, a man decided to attempt an escape.

He stripped to the waist and climbed into a sewer pipe. He managed to crawl twelves meters before getting stuck.

Municipal services had to pull the man out using an excavator.

According to Fontanka.ru, the man is a 21-year-old resident of the city of Zhigulyovsk, in the Samara region.

On November 6, he left home and never returned. He had presumably gone to St. Petersburg to visit friends. It was known that the young man had a return ticket for November 9, but he did not use it.

The entire time his relatives back home and Liza Alert activists had been looking for him, but he was found in the sewer outside Pulkovo Airport, under circumstances already known to us.

Source: St. Petersburg Photo Diary (Natalya Yuda), Facebook, 12 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

It Does Hurt to Dream

“Russian angel carrier, Artillery Museum, Saint Petersburg.” Source: Pavel Pryanikov, Facebook, 6 November 2022

Alexander Kharichev, head of the Presidential Department for Supporting the Work of the State Council, and three other experts have published a scholarly article entitled “Perception of basic values, factors, and structures of Russia’s socio-historical development, as based on research and testing.” As part of the study, seventy people from the student bodies of Moscow State University and the Higher School of Economics and the teaching staff of a conference in Sevastopol [sic] were interviewed. Among the metaphors of the future they proposed was the burnt second volume of Dead Souls; among the concepts of the modern state, “the Motherland with a laser sword”; among the concepts of the future, “Russia as the world’s ‘guardian of good” and “Pasty” [sic: “Pirozhok”]. The authors concluded that the dominant value for the Russian family is the people of Russia, which itself is a “family of families.”

Mr. Kharichev’s co-authors were Andrei Shutov, dean of the faculty of political science at Moscow State University; Andrei Polosin, doctor of political science and head of Rosatom’s regional interaction department; and Ekaterina Sokolova, deputy executive director for strategy and forecasting at the Expert Institute for Social Research. The article was published in October in the Journal of Political Studies.

The study was conducted by means of group discussions from March to May. The seventy participants answered questions about what Russian statehood is, what would happen to the country in ten years, what our future is, and a number of others.

Based on the discussions, the researchers formed a five-level “pentabasis”: person—family—society—state—country. Dominant values were formed for each level. For the country, [this dominant value] is patriotism; for the state, it is trust in the institutions of power; for the family, it is the people of Russia; for society, it is harmony; for the person, it is creativity. “The thesis was voiced that European society is individualistic, whereas our main value is family + family with friends, which leads to the emergence of the thesis ‘family as a level.’ The dominant value: the people of the Russian Federation as a family of families. Stimulating the birth rate and the concept of a ‘big family,’ the article says [just as incoherently in the original as in this translation].

  • Metaphors of Russia’s future. “The state as a novel” (written collectively by citizens, it has alternative endings); “the Russian future as the second part of Dead Souls, burned by Gogol,” “the state as the Firebird.”
  • Concepts of the modern state.[The] Motherland with a laser sword” (a source of pride for the Russian spirit and a guide to the future), “the friendly service state.”
  • Messianic concepts of the future state. “Russia as a ‘prophet country’ (opposed to the Grand Inquisitor), “Russia as the world guardian, the ‘guardian of good.'”
  • Idealistic concepts of the future state. “Wondrous City” ([i.e., promoting] inclusivity, coexistence, acceptance of others as equals; “in no case to be confused with the term ‘tolerance'”), “Pasty” (harmoniously combines different things).
  • Mechanistic concepts of the future state. “Kaleidoscope” (a multifaceted future), “a medium-sized magnet state” (generates a field for a particular community).

The study participants concluded that the person in the “Russia of the Future” is “proud of his country, influential and highly employable, financially secure, [and] free within certain community rules.” According to the authors of the article, the ideas of self-realization in the Russian Federation are very different from those common in the Western world.

“In the Russian case, self-realization or mission means that an individual contributes to the country’s development. Capitalizing [on one’s] mission is an optional stage,” the authors write.

Source: Leonid Uvarchev, “Alexander Kharichev from the presidential administration wrote an article about imagining Russia’s future,” Kommersant, 7 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

But We’ll Always Have Kathmandu

[…]

Moscow’s effort to seize the high ground of technology has failed miserably. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, an American, was elected secretary-general of the ITU in September, winning 139-25. A challenge from Rashid Ismailov, a Russian former deputy minister of communications, collapsed after the invasion of Ukraine.

The ITU drubbing extended to components of the regulatory body. At the ITU’s September-October meeting in Bucharest, Russia failed to win a seat on the group’s 48-member council, its 12-member Radio Regulations Board or any of its three oversight bureaus. It was a shutout for a country that last year boasted it would “develop and implement legal norms and standards in the field of internet governance.”

Russia’s other internet initiatives have also stalled. Moscow’s plan to write a new U.N. pact to replace the 2001 Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is on hold. The Moscow daily Kommersant noted this week that its proposal to continue overseeing internet issues through a Russian-backed “Open Ended Working Group” was supported by only 12 nations, while a U.S.-backed alternative had 50 sponsors.

The spreading stain of the Ukraine invasion has affected Russia’s involvement in other U.N. activities. In April, the General Assembly voted to suspend it from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. That same month, Russian candidates were rejected for seats on four organizations of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council, and Russia was suspended from the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization.

[…]

Source: David Ignatius, “Russia is in retreat in every major international forum,” Washington Post, 10 November 2022


‘First performance of Himalayan Expedition 2022 by dance group “Obraz” from Kaluga city at Russian House to mark the Unity day.’

Source: Russian House in Kathmandu, Facebook, 4 November 2022. You can view all twenty-nine photos attached to this post at the link.

“Why Our Cause Is Just”: Medvedev’s National Unity Day Telegram

Dmitry Medvedev. Photo courtesy of his Telegram channel

WHY OUR CAUSE IS JUST
Answers to simple questions on National Unity Day

What are we fighting for? Russia is a huge, rich country. We don’t need foreign territories; we have plenty of everything. But there is our land, which is sacred to us, on which our ancestors lived and on which our people live today. And which we will not surrender to anyone. We are defending our people. We are fighting for all of our own people, for our land, for our thousand-year history.

Who is fighting against us? We are fighting against those who hate us, who ban our language, our values, and even our faith, who spread hatred towards the history of our Fatherland.

A part of the dying world is against us today. It consists of a bunch of crazy Nazi drug addicts, the common people they have drugged and intimidated, and a large pack of barking dogs from the western kennel. They are joined by motley pack of grunting piggies and narrow-minded philistines from the disintegrated western empire with saliva running down their chins due to degeneration. They have no faith and ideals, except for the harmful vices they have contrived and the standards of doublethink they impose, which deny the morality bestowed on normal people. Therefore, by rising up against them, we have gained sacred power.

Where are our former friends? We have been abandoned by some frightened partners — and I could not give a flying crap about them. That means they were not our friends, but just random fellow travelers, clingers, and hangers-on.

Cowardly traitors and greedy defectors have bugged out for the back of beyond — may their bones rot in a foreign land. They are not among us, but we have become stronger and purer.

Why were we silent for a long time? We were weak and devastated by hard times. And now we have shaken off the sticky sleep and dreary gloom of the last decades, into which the death of the former Fatherland had plunged us. Other countries have been waiting for our awakening, countries raped by the lords of darkness, slaveholders and oppressors who dream of their monstrous colonial past and long to preserve their power over the world. Many countries have long disbelieved their nonsense but are still afraid of them. Soon they will wake up once and for all. And when the rotten world order collapses, it will bury all its arrogant priests, bloodthirsty adepts, mocking henchmen, and tongue-tied mankurts under the multi-ton pile of its own debris.

What is our weapon? There are various weapons. We have the capacity to dispatch all our enemies to a fiery hell, but that is not our mission. We listen to the Creator’s words in our hearts and obey them. These words give us a sacred purpose. The goal is to stop the supreme ruler of hell, no matter what name he uses – Satan, Lucifer, or Iblis. For his goal is destruction. Our goal is life.

His weapon is an elaborate lie.

But our weapon is the Truth.

That is why our cause is just.

That is why the victory will be ours!

Happy Holidays!

Source: Dmitry Medvedev, Telegram, 4 November 2022. Mr. Medvedev, the former Russian president, has 910,612 subscribers on Telegram. For reactions to his National Unity Day post, see Asya Rudina, “‘Iblis crept up unnoticed’: Bloggers on Dmitry Medvedev’s creative work,” Radio Svoboda, 7 November 2022 (in Russian). Translated by Your Answer Needs Demented Examples Xavier, with a little assistance from the Russian Reader. For an alternative vision of Russian patriotism, also prompted by the November 4 National Unity Day holiday, see Kirill Medvedev (no relation), “‘If There Is No People, There Is No Left Either’: Progressive History and Patriotism from Below,” Posle, 2 November 2022. I can endorse neither of these visions, alas. ||| TRR

News from Ukraine Bulletin 19

A Ukrainian flag flying from the balcony of the La Granja apartment building in Pacific Grove, California, 6 November 2022.
Photo by the Russian Reader

News from Ukraine Bulletin 19 (7 November 2022)

A Digest of News from Ukrainian Sources

News from the territories occupied by Russia:

Occupiers transfer their refuseniks to another underground detention camp, undress them and threaten their lives (Ukrainska Pravda, November 5th)

‘Dad, you have five days before they adopt us’ How a Mariupol father survived a Russian POW camp and traveled to Moscow to save his kids  (Meduza, November 4th)

Kherson residents describe reign of terror under Russian rule  (The Financial Times, November 4th)

Russian FSB attaches electric currents to genitals to force abducted Ukrainian to sign multiple ‘confessions’  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, November 4th)

Bodies of locals shot during Russian occupation are found in liberated Kherson Oblast (Ukrainska Pravda, November 4th)

Some villages in Kherson Oblast completely destroyed; authorities help with essential needs  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 4th)

Residents of occupied territories refuse to take Russian passports  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 4th)

Bodies of 868 civilians found in liberated cities and villages  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 3rd)

Russians take all ambulances, buses and fire engines from Kherson  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 3rd)

Russian Red Cross steals property from Ukrainian Red Cross in Crimea  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 3rd)

Raped pregnant woman: police expose two more invaders who tortured people in Kyiv Oblast  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 3rd) 

Russian FSB ‘find’ explosives because they couldn’t force abducted Ukrainian civic journalist to ‘confess’ to treason  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, November 2nd)

My 6-year-old girl’s hair turned grey. The story of a family from Mariupol who spent a month in a bomb shelter with 50 people  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 2nd)

Occupiers robbed the Havdzynskyi picture gallery in Nova Kakhovka  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 2nd)

Russians increase looting in occupied territories  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 2nd)

Interactive Map and Assessment: Verified Ukrainian Partisan Attacks Against Russian Occupation Forces  (Institute for the Study of War, November 1st)

Russian occupation regime deports 300 children from Russian-controlled territory of Zaporizhzhia Oblast (Ukrainska Pravda, November 1st)

Russian invaders install terror methods of censorship in occupied Zaporizhzhia oblast (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, November 1st)

Young Crimean sentenced to 3 years after ‘confession’ almost certainly extracted through torture  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, October 31st)

News from Ukraine – general:

20% of Ukraine’s nature reserves and 3 million hectares of forests affected by war  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 6th)

Donetsk region was cut off electricity due to targeted shelling by Russian forces  (Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, November 4th)

NGPU local union provides aid to defenders of Ukraine (Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, 4 November)

Ukrainian families’ fury at silence over Russia-held POWs  (Open Democracy, November 1st)

Analysis and comment:

Ukrainian socialist Denys Pilash: ‘Russia will only negotiate if it suffers some defeats’  (Green Left Australia, November 3rd)

The right to resist invasion  (Labour Net, November 1st)

Research of human rights abuses:

How Russian soldiers ran a cleansing operation in Bucha (SF Gate, 4 November)

Crime Scene Bucha: how Russian soldiers ran a cleansing operation in a Ukrainian city (Associated Press Youtube channel, 4 November)

==

This bulletin is put together by labour movement activists in solidarity with Ukrainian resistance. More information at https://ukraine-solidarity.org/. We are also on Twitter. Our aim is to circulate information in English that to the best of our knowledge is reliable. If you have something you think we should include, please send it to 2022ukrainesolidarity@gmail.com.

To receive the bulletin regularly, send your email to 2022ukrainesolidarity@gmail.com. To stop it, please reply with the word “STOP” in the subject field.  

Who Are Anton Zhuchkov and Vladimir Sergeyev?

Vladimir Sergeyev and Anton Zhuchkov

Who are Anton Zhuchkov and Vladimir Sergeyev?

On March 6 of this year, Zhuchkov and Sergeyev went to an anti-war demonstration that had been announced that day in Moscow. However, the police detained them on their way to Pushkin Square. Molotov cocktails were found in Sergeyev’s backpack, and the police decided to immediately take them to the police station. However, halfway there, the police had to change the route.

As they were detained, Anton and Vladimir managed to take lethal doses of methadone, as they had planned to commit suicide that day as a political protest. So instead of the police station, the police had to take the friends to the hospital. Zhuchkov and Sergeyev were resuscitated at the Sklifosofsky Research Institute. A week later, when they had recovered, they were sent to a pretrial detention center.

At first, they were charged with “attempted disorderly conduct with the use of weapons” (per Article 30.1 and Article 213.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), but later the charge was reclassified as “preparation of a terrorist attack” (per Article 30.1.a and Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Now Anton and Vladimir face up to 10 years in prison.

In his testimony, Zhuchkov stated that he did not intend to harm anyone, but only wanted to commit suicide: “I took [methadone] so as not to see what was happening in the world — the war in Ukraine, the events in the Donbass — and I was also afraid of a nuclear war. Therefore, I wanted to take my own life so as not to see what would happen next, including worrying that young people would live in poverty,” he said during interrogation.

Sergeyev initially admitted that, before committing suicide, he wanted to set fire to an empty police van in protest against the war. Sergeyev’s lawyer Svetlana Zavodtsova reports that these statements were given under duress and without a lawyer present. Sergeyev now refuses to testify.

Solidarity Zone has been providing Zhuchkov with comprehensive support, including paying for a lawyer and sending care packages. Solidarity Zone has been helping Sergeyev and his relatives by giving them consultations and providing them information.

You can also support Vladimir Sergeyev and Anton Zhuchkov.

💰 Donations for Anton Zhuchkov:

4279 3806 5189 1279 (Sberbank card, Evgenia Alekseevna Sh.)

💰 Donations for Vladimir Sergeyev:

5536 9141 5380 7247 (Tinkoff card, Anna Aleksandrovna A.)

You can also transfer funds to support Zhuchkov and Sergeyev via PayPal and Solidarity Zone’s crypto wallets, but you must earmark your payment for them.

🪙 PayPal: solidarity_zone@riseup.net

🥷 Cryptocurrency (write to us at solidarity_zone@riseup.net if you transfer cryptocurrency to support Sergeyev or Zhuchkov)

bitcoin: bc1qfzhfkd27ckz76dqf67t0jwm4gvrcug49e7fhry

monero: 86565hecMGW7n2T1ap7wdo4wQ7kefaqXVPS8h2k2wQVhDHyYbADmDWZTuxpUMZPjZhSLpLp2SZZ8cLKdJkRchVWJBppbgBK

ethereum: 0xD89Cf5e0B04b1a546e869500Fe96463E9986ADA3

other altcoins:

https://nowpayments.io/donation/solidarityzone

✉️📦 Address for letters and parcels:

127055, Moscow, Novoslobodskaya st., 45, SIZO-2,

Zhuchkov Anton Alexandrovich, born in 1983

Sergeyev Vladimir Andreyevich, born in 1985

(It is possible to send letters through the service FSIN-Pismo, as well as the volunteer resource RosUznik)

In the photo, Sergeyev is on the left, Zhuchkov is on the right.

Source: Solidarity Zone, Facebook, 6 November 2022. I have edited the original post in English for clarity and consistency. I would also note that people living outside Russia will not be able to donate money via Russian bank cards or use the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s FSIN-Pismo service. It is also probably the case that it is impossible or nearly impossible to send parcels to Russian detention facilities from abroad. ||| TRR

Love in a Young Pioneer’s Tie

The cover of “A Summer in a Young Pioneer’s Tie,” as designed by Adams Carvalho

Katerina Silvanova was born and raised in Kharkiv, but moved to Russia at the age of twenty-two. She majored in forestry engineering, but never finished her studies. She has worked in sales all her life. Elena Malisova is a Muscovite and married, and works in IT. The girls [sic] had never been associated with literature, but both have had a passion for writing since childhood. One day, chatting on the internet after a hard day’s work, the friends agreed that they had to do something together. So, the idea of the novel A Summer in a Young Pioneer’s Tie was born.

Musician Yuri Konev arrives at the abandoned Swallow Young Pioneer Camp in the Kharkiv region to encounter the ghosts of his past. Something happened there that turned his life upside down, changing it forever. There he met the camp counselor Volodya, who became more than a friend to the teenager.

Walking through streets of the camp, overgrown with grass, Yura recalls how rapidly and stormily his relationship with Volodya developed, how they had been afraid of what was happening between them. And yet, they had gravitated to each other. The trip to the camp is a new revelation for Yura. He was sure he had buried the past there, that its rebellious echo would never again disturb him . And yet, Konev will have to come face to face again with what already turned his life around once. Apparently, not all the ghosts of the past are willing to hide in memory’s back alleys forever.

Why should you read A Summer in a Young Pioneer’s Tie?

  1. It’s a new extraordinary look at the late Soviet period of history.
  2. It’s a novel about sincere first feelings, cloaked in mystery and shame, condemnation and doubts.
  3. It’s an absolute bestseller, one of the year’s most anticipated and controversial books.

Book Description
Yura returns to the Young Pioneer camp of his youth after twenty years. In the ruins of the past, he hopes to find a path back to the present, to the person he once loved. This story is about the fact that not everything in the USSR was smooth, straight-laced, and impersonal, that there were experiences, passions, drives, and feelings that did not fit into the moral framework leading to the “bright future,” and that this future was not so bright.

Source: LitRes. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Translated by the Russian Reader


Leto v pionerskom galstuke (LVPG) [A Summer in a Young Pioneer’s Tie] is a novel co-written by Elena Malisova and Katerina Silvanova. The book deals with the relationship between two young men, the Young Pioneer [sic] Yura and Volodya, who meet at Young Pioneer camp in the summer of 1986.

[…]

Twenty years later, the musician Yuri Konev returns to the place where the Swallow Young Pioneer Camp was once located, recalling the summer of 1986, which spent there, and his love for the MGIMO student and camp counselor Vladimir Davydov. Yura and Volodya were jointly involved in staging a play, and a strong friendship arose between them, which gradually developed into teenage love. Throughout the book, Volodya refuses to accept his homosexual orientation, periodically insisting on ending the relationship and explaining that he is trying to “steer Yura off the right path” and that he is homophobic himself. At the end of the their stay at the camp, the young men bury a kind of time capsule under a willow tree, agreeing to dig it up in ten years. After parting, Yura and Volodya continue to communicate by correspondence for some time, but after a while they lose touch with each other. In 2006, after finding the time capsule, Yura learns in a letter that Volodya sends him that he had failed to “overcome” his orientation and still loves Yura.

The novel, which was originally posted on the website Ficbook.net, was published by Popcorn Books in 2021. By the end of May 2022, the book had sold more than 200,000 copies, not counting electronic sales. The novel took second place in the list of the most popular books among Russians in the first half of 2022, compiled by the Russian Book Union, and sales of the book amounted to about 50 million rubles. August 2022 saw the release of a sequel, What the Swallow Won’t Say, which takes place twenty years after the events described in A Summer in a Young Pioneer’s Tie.

[…]

Critic Galina Yuzefovich gave a generally positive review of the novel, noting that “life in the Soviet Union differed little from life today, and emotions, relationships, and the desire to love and be loved do not depend on ideology.” Book blogger Anthony Yulai (Anton Ulyanov) rated the novel positively on the whole, noting that the authors keep the reader “in a state of emotional shock due to the alternation of sweet moments with sad ones and an abrupt change in the tone of the narrative towards the novel’s end.”

Zakhar Prilepin harshly condemned the book and its publishers on his Telegram channel: “Popcorn Books (which inevitably suggests “porn books”) is are celebrating their triumph and counting their profits. They will regard this post as good fortune, too. That’s what they were counting on. I won’t hide it: I’d burn down your whole office while you’re sleeping at home!” A video featuring a negative review of the book was released by Nikita Mikhalkov. He read aloud an excerpt from the novel and deems its publication a “violation of the Constitution.” He also noted that the abbreviation “LVPG,” as the novel is known among fans, is very similar to “LGBT.”

N.A. Ostanina, chair of the State Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children, sent a request to Roskomnadzor to examine the contents of the book to determine whether a criminal case could be launched against it in the future. A similar request was sent by the news agency RIA Ivan-Chai, but received a negative response.

Source: Wikipedia. Translated by the Russian Reader


A map of the Zina Portnova Memorial Swallow Young Pioneer Camp in 1986, as featured in the novel’s front matter.

“Aren’t you exaggerating?”

Seeing Volodya’s slightly condescending smile, Yurka was embarrassed. He probably thought that Yurka remembered their dance too well and was still jealous, so he was ready to accuse Masha of anything. And if Volodya really thought so, then he was right. Yurka’s ardent desire to jump out of the bushes and catch the spy red-handed was caused precisely by jealousy. But Yurka also had arguments in defense of his theory.

“It’s not the first time she’s been out at night. Do you remember when Ira came to the theater and attacked me, asking me what I’d been doing with Masha and where I’d been walking? And it’s true, no matter where we are, she’s always there. Volodya, we have to tell them about her walks!”

“Deal with Irina first.”

Yurka did go find her almost immediately. All the same, his mood was spoiled, and Volodya was paranoid again, and he constantly froze, listening and looking around and not even letting him touch his hand. And the evening was already coming to an end.

After hastily saying goodbye to Volodya, Yurka returned to his unit and found the counselor. He expected her to frown and scream at him as soon as he walked in. He was already ready to babble excuses, but Ira stared at him in surprise.

“Actually, no, I wasn’t looking for you,” she said. Yurka had already put his hands up to stop his jaw from dropping, when Ira yelled.

“Where have you been, by the way?”

“With Volodya.”

“Did you even notice what time it is?! Yura, who are they playing lights out for?! If you’re going to be late, you have to warn me!”

Yurka fell asleep, struggling with mixed feelings full of anxiety. Volodya was constantly surrounded by girls, but it seemed to Yurka that Masha popped up too often. It must be jealousy after all. And to top it all off, he apparently had been infected with Volodya’s paranoia.

Source: Elena Malisova and Katerina Silvanova, A Summer in a Young Pioneer’s Tie (Popcorn Books, 2021), p. 155, as chosen by the True Random Number Generator. Translated by the Russian Reader


In an industrial block in northeastern Moscow on a recent Friday night, organizers of an L.G.B.T.Q.-friendly art festival were assiduously checking IDs. No one under 18 allowed. They were trying to comply with a 2013 Russian law that bans exposing minors to anything that could be considered “gay propaganda.”

The organizers had good reason to be wary: Life has been challenging for gay Russians since the law passed, as the government has treated gay life as a Western import that is harmful to traditional Russian values and society.

Now Russia’s Parliament is set to pass a legislative package that would ban all “gay propaganda,” signaling an even more difficult period ahead for a stigmatized segment of society.

The laws would prohibit representation of L.G.B.T.Q. relationships in any media — streaming services, social platforms, books, music, posters, billboards and films — and, activists fear, in any public space as well. That’s a daunting prospect for queer people searching for community, validation or an audience.

“I’m afraid for my future, because with these kinds of developments, it won’t be as bright as I would like it to be,” said a drag artist who uses the stage name Taylor. Taylor’s performance on Friday before a small but enthusiastic crowd tackled themes of domestic violence, mental health and AIDS.

The proposed laws are part of an intensifying effort by President Vladimir V. Putin to cast Russia as fighting a civilizational struggle against the West, which he accuses of trying to export corrosive values.

The Kremlin is coupling the crackdown on L.G.B.T.Q. expression with its rationale for the war in Ukraine, insisting that Russia is fighting not just Ukraine but all of NATO, a Western alliance that represents a threat to the motherland.

[…]

Source: Valerie Hopkins and Valeriya Safronova, “‘I’m Afraid for My Future’: Proposed Laws Threaten Gay Life in Russia,” New York Times, 4 November 2022