Molotov Cocktail Party

Video still of burning military recruitment office in Moscow Region.
Courtesy of Moskovsky Komsomolets via the Moscow Times

Since the war in Ukraine broke out, protesters have set fire to military enlistment offices in several regions of Russia. The media has reported at least five such incidents. The people detained in these cases told police that they were trying to disrupt the spring recruitment campaign.

On February 28, a 21-year-old local resident set fire to the military enlistment office in Lukhovitsy, Moscow Region, to protest the war’s outbreak. After he was detained, he said that he wanted to destroy the archive containing the personal files of conscripts in order to prevent mobilization. Two weeks later, he escaped from the police station.

In March, military enlistment offices caught fire in Voronezh, Sverdlovsk Region, and Ivanovo Region. In all cases, local residents threw Molotov cocktails in the windows of these offices. The young men who started the fires in the Sverdlovsk and Ivanovo regions were detained. Both of them explained their actions by saying that they wanted to disrupt the draft campaign amid the hostilities in Ukraine. Moreover, persons unknown had scrawled anti-war appeals on local government buildings and shops in several towns in the Ivanovo Region before the blaze.

In April, Molotov cocktails were thrown at the military enlistment office in the village of Zubova Polyana in Mordovia. In this case, the protesters achieved their goal: the recruitment campaign was stopped. The rooms in the office where the data of conscripts were stored caught on fire.

The spring draft in Russia began on April 1 and will end on July 15. 134,500 young men are scheduled to be drafted into the army.

The Russian authorities have repeatedly claimed that conscripted soldiers will not be sent to fight in Ukraine. However, on March 9, the Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged for the first time that conscripts were fighting in Ukraine, and reported that several conscript soldiers had been captured.

On February 24, university student Anastasia Levashova threw a Molotov cocktail at an antiwar rally in Moscow. The court sentenced her to two years in prison for violating Article 318.1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code, which criminalizes the use of violence against authorities.

Source: Moscow Times (Russian Service), 21 April 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader.

How to Lose a War

The social media video that I had posted in this space in the wee hours of the morning turned out to be five years old (thanks to my faithful reader Jeremy Morris for the heads-up!) and now it has been deleted from Twitter, where I came upon it. So I’ve changed the title of this post from “How to Win a War” (insofar as the video purportedly showed unarmed Ukrainians facing off against armed Russian occupiers or “Russian-backed separatists”) to “How to Lose a War.” And I’ve replaced the video with the latest episode of Masyanya, entitled “Wakizashi,” in which Hryundel tries to keep his friend Lokhmaty from finding out about the war, and Masyanya goes to Putin’s bunker to offer the Russian president the only honorable way out of the disgrace and horror into which he has plunged Ukraine, his country, and the entire world. Posted on March 21, Oleg Kuvaev’s latest masterpiece has already been viewed nearly two million times. ||| This post was updated on 25 March 2022: I replaced the original YouTube video with a new version featuring English subtitles. Thanks to Ira Shevelenko, Yasha Klots and Anselm Bühling for the head-up. TRR

The Russian Anti-War Committee

An image of a “vandalized” howitzer at Petersburg’s Artillery Museum, as posted on the website of the Petersburg Courts Consolidated Press Service and published by the Petersburg business daily Delovoi Peterburg

The Petrograd District Court has arrested Petersburg resident Nikolai Vorotnev on suspicion of vandalism.

According to the Petersburg Courts Consolidated Press Service, on March 23, Vorotnev and a friend painted yellow and blue stripes on howitzers at the Artillery Museum on the Kronverk Embankment.

“Using aerosol cans, the accomplices drew an image in the form of two horizontal stripes, blue and yellow, on the shield coverings of two howitzers, which are relics of the Great Patriotic War, thus desecrating and spoiling property of the Artillery Museum,” the press service reports.

It follows from the evidence in the case that the motive for the man’s actions was ideological, political and national [sic] hatred for military personnel performing their civic duty as part of the special operation in Ukraine.

The suspect has been placed under arrest until April 16. According to Article 214.2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (vandalism), he could be imprisoned for up to three years if found guilty.

Last week, DP wrote that a resident of the Northern Capital had been fined 30 thousand rubles for anti-war stickers.

Source: Delovoi Peterburg, 23 March 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


A four-minute video communique from the newly formed Russian Anti-War Committee. In Russian with English subtitles. Thanks to Mark Teeter for the heads-up.

The Moscow District Court of Petersburg has ordered a woman who pasted up anti-war leaflets at the Salut! condo hotel to pay a fine of 30 thousand rubles [approx. 265 euros at today’s exchange rate].

Polina Mityanina was brought to justice under the article of the Russian Federal Administrative Code on discrediting the Russian army.

“Mityanina pasted up pre-made leaflets bearing the inscription ‘No war…’ [sic, in English]. Mityanina thus tried to persuade others in her midst that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation were involved in a war, not a special operation, and undermined the authority, image, and trust in the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” the Petersburg Courts Consolidated Press Service reported.

The detainee explained that she had taken the leaflets from friends under public pressure [sic] and pasted them up only in her own building.

Late last week, DP wrote about the criminal charges filed against a man who made anti-war inscriptions on the Mass Grave of Soviet Army Soldiers Who Perished Defending Leningrad in 1941-1943 memorial.

Source: Delovoi Peterburg, 18 March 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

He Didn’t Look like a Gopnik

Natalia Vvedenskaya, an amazing grassroots activist acquaintance of mine in Petersburg who teaches Russian to immigrant kids, writing about what happened her and “No to the war” pin today in the subway:

I got my pin torn off today. It was a man, over thirty. He demanded that I take it off, then he tore it off himself. He didn’t look at all like a gopnik, by the way, although he behaved accordingly.

Source: Natalia Vvedenskaya, Facebook, 19 March 2022

“Russophobia” (Abashin, Akunin, Averkiev)

Sergey Abashin, who teaches anthropology at the European University in St. Petersburg: Another reflection on “Russophobia.” Many people are now exercised about external criticism [of Russia], which is often emotional and indiscriminate. For us [in Russia], however, it is more important not to retreat into resentment. Instead, we should think hard and long on what in our public reflections proved to be wrong, why what has happened did happen, and where we made mistakes. Why the Chechen war with its thousands of victims and refugees did not teach us anything. Why we were unable to comprehend all the consequences of the war in Georgia. Why we completely failed to notice the bombing of the civilian population in Syria. Why the disputes over who Crimea belonged to caused us to miss the emergence of a new imperial project with its now terrifying consequences. That’s the task that awaits us after it’s all over.

Source: Sergey Abashin, Facebook, 7 March 2022. Photo courtesy of Central Asia Program. Translated by the Russian Reader

_________

 

I watched this serious conversation between bestselling Russian writer and popular historian Boris Akunin and Russian vlogger and interviewer extraordinaire Yuri Dud last night before I went to sleep. Despite the overall grimness of their discussion, it left me feeling upbeat, oddly. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been subtitled in English, but I have translated the annotation and section headings, as published on YouTube on March 4, 2022. In any case, over 13 million (Russophone) viewers can’t be wrong. ||| TRR

 

vDud
9.92M subscribers

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Boris Akunin https://www.facebook.com/borisakunin

A couple of paid VPNs to choose from https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-vpn-service/

And one free VPN https://protonvpn.com/

0:00 What is this episode about?
1:41 Why did Putin start the war?
5:44 Putin = Nicholas I?
7:47 The Crimean War
11:27 An important announcement
11:36 “Russia has never attacked first.” Really?
12:17 Why is Putin so interested in history?
13:20 Is being an empire bad?
16:09 Why do so many people in Russia support the war?
19:35 WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL THESE PAST 8 YEARS?
21:17 Crackdowns
23:13 Was your grandfather a Chekist?
25:57 “You never need to listen to what a secret service agent tells you”
27.34 Can a KGB officer be president?
28:36 How did Mikhalkov influence the finale of “The State Councilor”?
31:35 Is the West to blame for the war?
34:54 Who breaks promises?
35:36 The bombing of Belgrade, the invasion of Iraq and Syria – is this normal?
37:27 Is America an empire of lies?
38:46 Is the death penalty good or bad?
41:58 Propaganda in Soviet schools
44:16 The (dubious) benefits of censorship
46:44 Opening up of Siberia = colonization of America?
50:42 Does another collapse await Russia due to this war?
55:15 The best period in the history of Russia
56:19 Why does Russia have a special path?
1:01:39 The worst period in the history of Russia
1:04:07 How does Stalin influence Russia today?
1:06:13 Will there be a nuclear war?
1:10:16 Should people flee Russia?
1:11:41 In 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. How do those two countries get along now?
1:13:40 Will Russians and Ukrainians be able to mend their relationship?
1:16:20 Is it right to claim collective responsibility for the war?
1:17:36 What will happen to Russia next?

_________

 

A policeman in Krasynoyarsk (Siberia) erases a “No war!” message written in the snow. Igor Averkiev writes: “People who are losing their minds never realize they’re losing their minds.” When I reposted this on my Facebook page and erroneously attributed the footage to Averkiev’s hometown of Perm, he wrote to me: “No, it’s not in Perm. It’s in Krasnoyarsk. But such ‘everyday madness’ is possible everywhere in Russia today. Of course, this hassle will pass. The question is when and at what human cost.” ||| TRR

Demonstrators in Moscow: “Hands Off Ukraine!”

 

Six people involved in solo pickets against war with Ukraine were detained on Pushkin Square [in Moscow earlier today, 20 February 2022]: Lev Ponomaryov, Mikhail Krieger, Nikolai Rekubratsky, Yuri Samodurov, Mikhail Udimov, and Olga Mazurova.

The picketers held placards that read: “Schools and hospitals instead of bombs and shells,” “Hands off Ukraine,” “Down with the regime of the Chekists,” “Russia, do not touch Ukraine,” “No war with Ukraine”, and “Freedom for Ukrainian political prisoners.”

Ponomaryov, Krieger, and Udimov have been taken to the police department in the Tverskoy district. Ilya Utkin, a lawyer from OVD Info, is heading to see them. Samodurov, Rekubratsky, and Mazurova have been taken to the police department in the Meshchansky district.

Anna Krechetova and Alexander Matskevich were detained later on Pushkin Square. Matskevich held up a placard that read, “There is no excuse for war.”

Video: Valeria Merkulova

Source: Darya Kornilova/Facebook. Thanks to Yigal Levin for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Mikola Dziadok: “Any sentence doesn’t seem so daunting anymore”

Mikola Dziadok
Facebook
November 26, 2021

Мікола Дзядок аб сваім прысудзе

Прысуд не выклікаў у мяне асаблівых эмоцый. Калі мяне судзілі першы раз, у 2011 годзе, і другі раз, у 2015 годзе, я моцна хваляваўся. Цяпер гэтага не было. Я быў гатовы атрымаць як больш, так і менш.

Я стараюся сябе прывучаць глядзець на гэта зусім з іншай шкалой, разумець, што мой прысуд – гэта толькі эпізод каласальнага па велічыні гістарычнага працэсу. Я стараюся не аддзяляць свой лёс ад лёсу сваёй краіны і анархічнага руху. Калі думаеш такім чынам – усё ўяўляецца ў зусім іншым святле. Любыя тэрміны перастаюць пужаць.

Зараз за кратамі вялізная колькасць выпадковых людзей: сімпатызантаў руху за перамены, якія не планавалі сядзець у турме за каментар і адно выйсце на праезную частку. Гэтым людзям я спачуваю больш за ўсіх і не дзіўлюся, што многія з іх здаюцца, паддаюцца песімізму і паніцы. А ўсім, хто лічыць барацьбу за лепшы свет сваім прызначэннем, трэба проста набрацца цярпення і ўспрыняць тое, што адбываецца, як заканамерны этап у жыцці. Я думаю варта натхняцца як прыкладамі з мінулага, так і прыкладамі барацьбы ў іншых аўтарытарных краінах – Іран, Венесуэла, М’янма.

Яшчэ я імкнуся не забываць, што турма – гэта ідэальнае месца для працы над сабой. Тут можна бесперашкодна вывучаць сябе, сваю псіхіку, пазнаваць людзей, з якімі ніколі б не сышоўся на волі. Гэтым я і стараюся займацца: выхоўваць сябе, займацца самаадукацыяй і адточваць валявыя якасці кожны дзень. Тады нават знаходжанне ў ізаляцыі набывае сэнс.

_____

In general, the verdict did not cause me much emotion. I remembered that when I was tried the first time in 2011 and the second time in 2015, I was very nervous. That wasn’t the case now. I was ready to get both a stricter and a softer sentence. I didn’t care much whether they would sentence me to 5, 7 or 10 years. I am trying to get into a mindset and train myself to look at it on a completely different level. Then you realize that your sentence is just an episode of a colossal historical process. I try not to separate my fate from that of my country and the anarchist movement. And when you think about it like that, everything is seen in a completely different light. Any sentence doesn’t seem so daunting anymore.

There is a huge number of random people behind bars right now who are sympathisers of the movement for change, who weren’t planning to go to prison for a comment and stepping on a roadway once. Frankly, these are the people I sympathise with the most and I am not surprised that many of them give up, succumb to pessimism and panic. Well, all those who believe the fight for a better world is their vocation just need to be patient and accept what is happening as a logical step in their lives.

I think it’s worth taking inspiration from examples from the past, but also struggles in other authoritarian countries such as Iran, Venezuela and Myanmar. And personally, I try never to forget that prison is an ideal place to work on yourself. Here you can freely explore yourself and your psyche, get to know people you would never get to know on the outside. This is what I try to do: strengthen, educate myself and hone my willpower every day. Then even being in isolation makes sense.

The English Lesson

Jenya Kulakova
Facebook
November 18, 2021

A trifle, but an unpleasant one all the same.

According to the Russian Penal Code, convicted foreign nationals have the right to communicate with prison wardens in any language they speak and receive a response in that language. Vitya [Viktor Filinkov], as you know, is a citizen of Kazakhstan. In response to the razor blades planted [and “found”] by prison officials in his cell on his birthday, he wrote a statement in English.

And what do you think happened? The penal colony found an English teacher, Nadezhda Ivanovna Zhavikova, who works at Night School No. 13. in Orenburg, who “checked” Vitya’s composition and “corrected” the “mistakes” in it so that the text would better suit the wardens. The only thing she didn’t do, unfortunately, was grade the composition. But the prison staff probably gave her an A.

Vitya writes, “Before I started, current inspector had said that I should REPLACE my prison uniform. I DECLINED but he took it and gave me new one.”

The meaning is clear. What does Nadezhda Ivanovna write in [her] translation?

“Before that, the duty inspector told me to PUT my clothes in ORDER. I SUGGESTED that he take it away and give me a new one in return.”

At issue here is the tunic that was replaced against Vitya’s will before he went to the baths. After he came back, prison officials “found” a shard of a blade in the seam of the tunic. It thus transpires that it was Vitya who asked for it to be replaced.

Vitya ends his statement with an appreciation of the production staged by the Correctional Colony No. 1 troupe: “I didn’t brake the razor, it’s a play. Good scenario, actors. Good game, well played.”

Nadezhda Ivanovna feigns that she didn’t understand what was at issue, and translates [the passage] as if Vitya was bragging about his own play-acting: “I didn’t break the razor, it’s a game. A good acting script. A good performance, well ACTED [by Vitya, apparently [because the verb is the singular in Russian, not the plural —TRR]].”

Maybe, of course, the teacher didn’t do it out of spite, but simply couldn’t make sense [of Filinkov’s statement]. But somehow it seems to me that she made perfect sense of it and even made it over [to satisfy the wardens].

UPDATE. On a more practical note, if you have a translator’s diploma and would like to write a specialist’s opinion for the upcoming hearing appealing Vitya’s transfer to a single-cell facility for a month, you’re welcome!

Team Navalny
Instagram
November 15, 2021

❗️ Viktor Filinkov and the torture colony

Viktor is a political prisoner in the Network case. The case is about a “terrorist community” of young men who were fond of airsoft and openly voiced opposition to Putin.

The FSB took these two facts and cooked up charges that got the defendants sent to prison for terms from six to eighteen years. Allegedly, the young men were divided into combat groups that were supposed to organize bombings in order to “sway the masses for further destabilization of the political situation in the country.”

The defendants claim that they were tortured into confessing, and that the evidence in the case was completely manufactured by the security forces.

The verdicts were announced in February 2020. But the matter did not end when the young men were sent to penal colonies: the authorities began bullying them there. We know the most about their treatment of Viktor Filinkov.

For the slightest offense — such as “didn’t say hello ten times a day to a prison employee,” “washed ten minutes earlier than he was supposed to,” “left his work station during work (he went to the work station next to his to ask how to use the machine because he hadn’t been properly instructed)” —  Viktor is sent to a punitive detention cell. Letters from [Viktor’s] friends and relatives are opened, shown to other prisoners, and even replies to them are forged.

Things are so over the top that when there was a scabies outbreak in [Viktor’s] cell, his cellmates were given ointment, but Viktor himself was not, because “he complained.”

Now Viktor is being transferred to Correctional Colony No. 5 in Novotroitsk, to an isolated solitary cell, for repeatedly violating those supremely absurd rules. This colony is a torture colony, one of the most violent in Russia. In June, twelve inmates there engaged in a “collective act of self-mutilation” to protest the torture.

The Putin regime is a regime of vengeful scum. No one is safe from their lawlessness. This nightmare will become more and more commonplace with every passing day. Don’t let that happen.

More information about how Victor is being bullied can be found in the article linked to in stories.

Release political prisoners!

Translated by the Russian Reader

Five Years Ago Today

This is one of the pleasantest pictures I’ve seen in a long time: former Russian political prisoner Alexei Gaskarov walking in the woods.

Gaskarov was released from prison this past Thursday after serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for being involved in a peaceful opposition march that was attacked by police and provocateurs, for being truncheoned and kicked while lying on the ground by a policeman who never paid for his crimes, and for being Alexei Gaskarov.

That sounds absurd, but it’s the truth.

Why was the opposition march attacked by police and provocateurs?

Because it took place the day before Putin reinstalled himself as president, this time, apparently, for life. The protesters were ruining his party by showing the country and the world that not all Russian were happy about this semi-legal coup d’etat.

So three dozen people, some more or less famous, like Alexei Gaskarov, some complete strangers to grassroots politics, had to be taught a lesson about what happens to the nominally powerless when they spoil the festivities for the most powerful man in the country.

This is only one of the reasons why those of us know who really know what has been going on in Russia the past seventeen years feel bemused, at best, and furious, at worst, when the snake oil salesman known as Donald Trump praises Putin for his leadership.

In reality, Putin has brought the country to the brink of moral, political and economic ruin. ||| TRR, 29 October 2016. Photo courtesy of Alexei Gaskarov’s Facebook page

Jenya Kulakova: In Orenburg

The Sokol (“Falcon”) Widescreen Movie Theater in Orenburg, as photographed by Jenya Kulakova on August 13, 2021. She reports that the American animated feature “The Boss Baby: Family Business” was playing there today.

Jenya Kulakova
Facebook
August 13, 2021

Today I did manage to meet with Vitya [Viktor Filinkov] at Penal Colony No. 1 in Orenburg. I didn’t recognize him at first when they brought him out. He was wearing a baggy uniform that was too big, a small cap that didn’t fit on his head and, as he showed me later, huge size 45 shoes. (There all the new arrivals were given size 45 shoes. Another inmate commented on this fact as follows: “I’m trying to laugh hard about it so as not to be sad.”) My only glimpses of the usual Vitya were face (in a mask) and hands (in gloves).

He is in quarantine, where the conditions are indistinguishable from solitary confinement. All his things have been taken to the warehouse, and he has nothing to write on and nothing to read. The mattress is taken away during the day, but he can only sit on the bench when eating. They hadn’t yet taken him out for a walk during his first day there.

Upon his arrival at the penal colony, blood and urine tests were done, and an EKG was performed. Vitya is still ill, so they began giving him cough pills and antibiotics.

He is alone in the cell. He experienced no violence or threats during his first day in the penal colony.

He will be in quarantine for 14 days.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Here is a complete list of all the articles that I have published about Viktor Filinkov and the other defendants in the Network Case. Visit Rupression.com to find out how you can show your solidarity with them.

#NetworkCase #ДелоСети