Jesus Vorobyov: No Gods No Masters

Dronningen og putinen

Everyone is so anguished about the English Queen, as if she were not from a universe parallel to theirs, but their own mother. How does whether the queen exists or not affect the life of the ordinary little guy? All those kings, presidents, princes, etc., live in luxury at the expense of the working person who, in order to live decently, has to work every day from morning till evening, and no state budget pays for their expenses. But if you get sick or something else happens, and you can’t pay for yourself, then this state built by kings will immediately play hardball with you. So believe me, the fewer Kings and Bosses there are, the better and more freely a person can live. No gods no masters.

Source: Jesus Vorobyov, Facebook, 8 September 2022. Photo courtesy of the author. The italicized passage was in English in the original. Mr. Vorobyov shot to momentary fame during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in Moscow. Translated by the Russian Reader.

Cancel(ed) Culture in Petersburg and Moscow

Polina Osetinskaya

A concert by the famous and talented pianist Polina Osetinskaya at the Great Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic has been canceled.

“I think everything is clear to everyone. Thank you for your concern,” Polina wrote on social media.

What could be clearer? At outset of the “special operation,” Osetinskaya wrote about her attitude to it, about what she really thinks.

And now, like many other artists whose conscience did not permit them to remain silent, she has been excommunicated from her work.

But our TV screens and concert halls are still full of those artists who have no conscience at all. Either they had one, or it atrophied from disuse.

Source: Boris Vishnevsky, Facebook, 2 September 2022. Photo of Ms. Osetinskaya courtesy of her website. Translated by the Russian Reader

Polina Osetinskaya playing Arvo Pärt, Valentin Silvestrov and Giya Kancheli at DK Rassvet in Moscow on 31 May 2022

Vsevolod Lisovsky

Moscow police on Friday evening detained the director, actors and audience of a theatrical street performance — a total of fourteen people, reports OVD Info. The reason for the arrests is not yet known.

Based on Bertolt Brecht’s play Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, the operetta Judicial Process was supposed to take place in a pedestrian underpass on Prospect Mira, but the police interrupted the performance.

The operetta has been produced by the Moscow troupe Theater of the Transitional Period and director Vsevolod Lisovsky. He chose the format of street performances in pedestrian underpasses a few months ago. He decided to stage the Brecht play, he said, “because you can’t think of anything more resonant with the time.”

Written by Brecht in 1934–1938, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich is based on eyewitness accounts and newspaper articles. It deals with fascism’s gradual penetration of all areas of life in Nazi Germany, thus discrediting justice and undermining morality.

Vsevolod Lisovsky is an experimental theater director and playwright who worked for many years at Teatr.doc in Moscow. He established a new venue for the theater, Transformator.doc. Lisovsky is is a two-time winner of the Golden Mask Award.

Source: “Moscow street performance’s director, actors and audience detained,” Radio Svoboda, 2 September 2022. Photo courtesy of Teatr magazine. Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Twelve Years Ago Today

“Let’s clear the forest of the fascist occupation, 1941-2010.” 28 July 2010, Khimki. Photo courtesy of Antifa FM

It’s the 12th anniversary of the antifa protest in Khimki

Antifa.ru and other channels have recalled the historical date of 28 July 2010, when, at the height of its popularity, the antifa movement in Moscow was involved in solving social issues.

Throughout 2010, progressive Muscovites were extremely agitated about the planned construction of an alternate to the Leningrad Highway through the Khimki Forest in the nearest part of the Moscow Region. A lot of money was riding on the project, but responsibility for fighting the protesters was entrusted to the local Khimki authorities. Judging by their tactics, they were probably quite criminalized.

For antifa, the line was crossed when right-wing football hooligans — neo-Nazis, in other words — were involved in dispersing a tent camp set up in the forest by the protesters.

In late July, a secret concert by the bands Inspection Line and Moscow Death Brigade, popular among the antifa crowd, was advertised on social media. On July 28, Inspection Line vocalist and writer Petya Kosovo famously said to those who had come to the rendezvous point, “I hope there are no rubes here who think they just came to a concert? We’re going to Khimki!”

Several hundred young people exploded: they went to Khimki “to protect the Russian forest from Nazi occupation.”

Upon arriving in Khimki, right at the train station, they asked where city hall was, and the locals happily showed them the way. The protesters immediately produced masks and a banner about the Russian forest, and the crowd of about 400 people headed to the hated city hall, cheerfully chanting as they marched. On a video that circulated at the time, you can clearly see a police jeep fleeing from the determined young people.

It was the weekend, so the protesters were not able to talk with the local administration. The protesters decorated city hall with protest graffiti and shots from trauma pistols. They actually did very little damage to the building.

But this incident was followed by a shellacking. Only not the mythical shellacking of the Khimki City Hall, but the real shellacking of the antifa movement by the so-called law enforcement agencies.

Police raids took place all over central Russia — in Nizhny Novgorod, in Kostroma (where a whole punk-hardcore festival on a riverboat was arrested), not to mention Moscow and the Moscow Region. Hundreds of people were detained and beaten; hundreds fled Russia. Some left forever, while others returned after a year or two. But their spirit wasn’t the same when they came home: they hunkered down. And the movement — that big and formidable movement that had caused a stir in 2010, the movement that had protected workers and refugees from being illegally evicted from dorms and had defended the Khimki Forest — that movement no longer existed. The gloomy era of Bolotnaya Square and the constant stomping of protests, the era of crackdowns, was coming.

[…]

Source: Volja (Telegram), 28 July 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


Vitaly Shushkevich: “Several hundred antifa and anarchists smashed [sic] the facade of Khimki city hall.
The activists demanded an end to the logging currently underway in the Khimki Forest.” Posted on 28 July 2010.

Life Under Fascism

What is life like for us under fascism? It’s fine. I eat, sleep, work, play computer games and football, and get laid.

Repairs have begun on the roofs of the Soviet high-rise buildings on my work beat. The contractor drags powerful electric roofing kettles onto the roof, hacks away the old tar, melts it down, and immediately pours it back onto the roof. The kettles are powerful—advanced technology that works quickly and efficiently.

The kettles are also five years old. They are left right on the roofs over the winter, and so they are rotted and burned out. The molten tar splashes onto the cables, and everything in the vicinity burns and smokes. It is no exaggeration to say that you can smell the stench two blocks away. It is unlikely that there is anything healthy in the fumes generated by the molten tar. It is Uzbeks who work on the roofs: their bosses persist in calling them jigits. They work without safeguards or personal protective equipment. On the first day, they asked their bosses for water. Their bosses told them to get it themselves—”otherwise, next time they’ll be asking for broads in bikinis.”

Yesterday the cops nabbed them. The cops told them, “Your registration isn’t in our database. So, you either spend a couple days in jail until we figure it out, or you each cough up 5,000 rubles now.” [At the current—official—exchange rate, 5,000 rubles is approximately 88 euros.]

Do you think there is a database somewhere that says that you are just a human being?

Their electrician is from Bashkiria, a skinny kid in glasses with a typical whistling accent. He graduated from an architectural college back home, came to Petersburg, and worked on a low-voltage network for a couple of months, but now has been hired as an electrician servicing the three-phase fifty-kilowatt kettles. On the first day, he regarded the whole setup with mortal dismay. In his bag he has a set of screwdrivers and a crimper for patch cords. Now he dives into the overheated equipment, changes the burnt-out heating elements, and splices the burnt, beaten cables. Then he unsuccessfully tries for hours to wash off the oil stench.

“Who will pay for your disability?” I ask him.

“They can’t pay us overtime.”

He put up with this as long as he could before breaking down and going on a drinking binge. He squandered all his money, arriving back at work with a black eye and his left cheek puffed up like a pillow. His glasses were still intact, however. He asked me to lend him money for beer.

“How much do they pay you?” I ask.

“They promise mountains of gold.”

“Could you be more specific?”

“It’s daily work. 2,500 rubles a day.”

The word he was looking for in Russia was “daywork” [podënnaia], not “daily work” [podnevnaia]. There is such a thing as “daywork” and “dayworkers.” Who make sixteen dollars a day if you calculate their pay in terms of the actual exchange rate.

How much does the Russian lad Vitya, who made the remark about the “broads in bikinis,” make? How much does their supervisor, a handsome, businesslike, quick-thinking middle-aged man with shifty eyes, make?

What will they buy for themselves by pinching the money budgeted for roof repairs? A car? A tiled path for their dacha? When they walk on this path, will they think about the people whose health has been permanently scarred by tar on hot roofs? I doubt it.

Fascist brutality springs from this everyday, workaday brutality. Indifference to people as individuals grows from this virtually legalized slavery.

Source: George Losev, Facebook, 28 June 2022. Mr. Losev works as an on-duty electrician for the housing authority in Petersburg. He points out that the roofing tar kettles he describes are nothing like the one in the video I inserted, above. They are much larger and electric-powered. This is not to mention that “Alfredo the kettle man” (in the video) is wearing protective equipment, unlike the Uzbek workers in Mr. Losev’s story. Translated by the Russian Reader


I was asked to show how to make a “syllable tram.”

I scanned the roadway (see the links, below). The drawings were quite hastily done, right before class. (

The strip should be glued with adhesive tape on the reverse side. (Leave a millimeter between the sections so that it is easier to fold and store.) The tram, which is approximately 290 mm wide (nearly the same width as an A4 sheet of paper) and 85 mm high, is fitted onto the strip. One window in the tram is cut out, and a transparent sleeve is pasted on the other, into which a consonant is inserted.

The strip needs to be fastened with something. (I fastened it to the table with tape.)

The tram travels from right to left. When it reaches a marked stop, a vowel appears in the cut-out window. When you make the tram, test it and draw the letters on the strip so that they appear in the exact same place as the empty spot.

The roadway:

https://disk.yandex.ru/i/dGXik7Z3Nmwpgg (Yandex Disk)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/13k0cDuhXD-hAzytGpGYgpsZEdR9jmsVd/view (Google Drive)

Source: Natalia Vvedenskaya, Facebook, 28 June 2022. Ms. Vvedenskaya teaches Russian to immigrant children at the St. Petersburg Jewish Community Center. Most of these children are originally from Central Asia, like the workers in Mr. Losev’s story. The first image, above, is a screenshot of a short video that Ms. Vvedenskaya included in her original post, showing her pupils playing with her “syllable tram.” Translated by the Russian Reader

“An Ordinary Person”: The Story of Jailed Petersburg Anti-War Protester Victoria Petrova

Victoria “Vika” Petrova. Photo courtesy of Ms. Petrova and The Village

“I demand an immediate cessation of all hostilities and an international investigation of all crimes committed. […] I call on all Russians to fight for their rights and against the dictatorship, and do everything to stop this monstrous [war],” a young woman named Victoria Petrova says confidently and clearly on the screen in courtroom 36 at the St. Petersburg City Court. The members of the public attending the hearing — they are thirty-three of them — applaud.

A month ago, Petrova was an “ordinary person,” a manager in a small family-owned company. Now she is a defendant in a criminal case, charged with disseminating “fake news about the army,” and has been remanded in custody in the so-called Arsenalka, the women’s pretrial detention center on Arsenalnaya Street in Petersburg. The case against her was launched after she posted an anti-war message on the Russian social media network VKontakte. If convicted, she could face up to ten years in prison. In the following article, The Village explains how, thanks to Petrova’s lawyer, the case of this unknown “ordinary person” has resonated with the public, why Petrova’s mother is not allowed to visit her, and what the prisoner herself has to say.

The Case

On the sixth of May, at seven in the morning, Center “E” and SOBR officers came to Petrova’s rented apartment on Butlerov Street with a search warrant. They seized phones, laptops, and seven placards on the spot. The next day, the Kalinin District Court remanded Petrova in custody in Pretrial Detention Center No. 5 for a month and twenty-five days.

“The investigator said that, if he had his way, he would have released Vika on his own recognizance. But he was instructed to petition the court to place her under arrest,” Anastasia Pilipenko, Petrova’s lawyer, told The Village.

A case was opened against Petrova under the new criminal article on “public dissemination of deliberately false information about the deployment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.” According to the new law, any information on the so-called special operation in Ukraine that does not come from official Russian sources can be deemed “fake.” In Petrova’s case, the grounds for the criminal charges were a post on VKontakte, dated 23 March 2022, and the nine videos that she attached to it, featuring journalists Dmitry Gordon and Alexander Nevzorov, and grassroots activist and blogger Maxim Katz.


Who else has been arrested in Petersburg on criminal charges of spreading “fake news” about the Russian army?

Sasha Skochilenko
artist, musician

Olga Smirnova
activist

Maria Ponomarenko
journalist (she has been transferred to Barnaul)

Boris Romanov
activist

Total number of similar criminal cases in Russia: 53 (as of May 24)


Nearly 32,000 Victoria Petrovas are registered on VKontakte, and more than 1,800 of them live in Petersburg. The Victoria Petrova in question is depicted on her VKontakte pages as a woman wearing a light beanie, glasses, and makeup in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. She has 247 friends and eighty-nine followers.

Her post dated March 23 was deleted by VKontakte at the request of Roskomnadzor two days after it was published. But she made other anti-war posts, in which, among other things, Petrova recounts how she was jailed for ten days for taking part in a protest at Gostiny Dvor. In total, since the start of the “special operation,” she was detained twice on administrative charges.

When Center “E” [Center for Extremism Prevention] and SOBR [Special Rapid Deployment Force] came for Petrova on May 6, she thought at first that she would be charged once more under the Administrative Offenses Code. Realizing that now it was a matter for the Criminal Code, Petrova wrote her mother a detailed note explaining what to do with her apartment and her cat, and what things to send to the pretrial detention center, said Petrova’s attorney Pilipenko.

Pilipenko is now the only link between Petrova and the world: no one is allowed to see the prisoner except the lawyer.

The Lawyer

Pilipenko’s mother has her birthday on February 24. On the evening of the 24th this year, she and her daughter were going to drink tea and eat cake. But [the war] started early that morning.

“People who are also opposed to [the war] are taking to the streets. The police are putting them in paddy wagons. They face fines and arrests. Cake is canceled — I have work to do […] I am spending the night at a police station,” the lawyer wrote in her Telegram channel. She spent a month and a half working this way.

Pilipenko is thirty-five years old. She graduated from the Northwestern Branch of the Russian State University of Justice. For a year she worked as a clerk in the Leningrad Regional Court. “It was like going into the army,” she says. Usually clerks eventually become judges, but Pilipenko first became a lecturer, then a barrister. “I would never have become a judge, I would not have been able to make decisions that changed people’s lives,” she says.

Pilipenko specializes in criminal law. This is the toughest branch of the legal profession: the percentage of acquittals in Russia is negligible — 0.24%.

“But it happens that you can get a case dropped at the investigation stage. Or get the charges reduced to less serious ones. By today’s standards, that is tantamount to success for a defense lawyer,” says Pilipenko.

Pilipenko was not acquainted with Petrova until May 6, when the woman’s apartment was searched. The lawyer was asked to take the case by the Net Freedoms Project. The case is being handled by the Russian Investigative Committee’s central office.

“This means that there is no one investigator, that the entire investigative department is working on the case,” Pilipenko explains.

It was the lawyer who drew public attention to Petrova’s case by writing the following on May 11 on social media:

“Vika is an ordinary young woman. […] She has an ordinary life, goes to an ordinary gym, and has an ordinary cat. She has an ordinary job in an unremarkable company. […] Perhaps the only unusual thing about Vika’s case so far is just her ordinariness. She’s just like us. She’s not an activist, not a journalist, and not the voice of a generation.”

Victoria “Vika” Petrova. Photo courtesy of Ms. Petrova and The Village

Vika

Victoria Petrova is twenty-eight years old. She was born in Petersburg, where she graduated from St. Petersburg State University’s Higher School of Management.

“Vika had a long braid, was very serious, gave the impression of an intelligent person, and got good grades. Intuitively, I feel that Vika is childish in a good sense, unspoiled,” Sofia, a classmate of Victoria Petrova’s, told The Village.

Another friend from school, Daria, in a comment to Mediazona, described Vika as a “born A student,” a “battler in life,” and a person who “was the most organized of all.”

“And her heart always aches over any injustice,” Daria said.

Pilipenko says that Petrova is “a very calm and organized person.”

“I was amazed by this at [the May 7 bail] hearing. People behave differently when they are arrested for the first time. Vika behaved with great dignity,” Pilipenko says.

Before her arrest, Petrova lived alone with her cat Marusya. The animal is now living with the heroine’s mother, while Maruysa’s owner is now at Pretrial Detention Center No. 5.

The Arsenalka. Photo courtesy of Russian Behind Bars Prison Consultant

Arsenalka

Pretrial Detention Center No. 5 is located on Arsenalnaya Street, which is a deserted place dotted with small manufacturing facilities and the premises of the shuttered Krasnyi Vyborzhets plant, which was going to be redeveloped as a housing estate. A banner sporting the prison’s name and an image of the Bronze Horseman is stretched above the entrance to the Arsenalka. From the street side, the complex consists of a typical rhombus-shaped concrete fence, reinforced with mesh and barbed wire. A tower sheathed in corrugated iron juts out above it. On the right, behind an old brick wall, there is a a building in the shape of a cross — a psychiatric hospital “for persons who have committed socially dangerous acts in a state of insanity.” The old Crosses Prison itself, a remand prison for men, is about a kilometer away. Five years ago, all the prisoners were transferred from there to a new facility in Kolpino. The women remained in the pre-revolutionary red-brick Arsenalka complex.

Businesswoman Natalia Verkhova has described life at Pretrial Detention Center No. 5.

“The meter-thick walls and the thick iron doors outfitted with peepholes and bolts. The mattresses a couple of centimeters thick. The prison-baked loaves of bread, often burnt. The broken toilets. The concrete floors in basements where the ladies wait for many hours to be shipped out [to interrogations, court hearings, and other prisons]. The queues at the care packages office and for visiting inmates. The duffel bags chockablock with romance novels in the corridors.”

Former inmate Elizaveta Ivanchikova describes the largest cell in the Arsenalka (for eighteen inmates), to which Petrova, like all newcomers, was first assigned.

“There were nine bunk beds in [the cell]. There were bedside tables next to the beds. In the middle of the cell there was a large iron table with wooden benches. All of this was bolted to the floor. There was also a refrigerator, a TV, a sink next to the toilet, and the toilet itself, behind an ordinary door, without a lock.”

Pilipenko says that Channel One is constantly turned on in this cell and there are many unspoken rules for maintaining cleanliness.

“For example, you can only comb your hair in one place, because if eighteen ladies do it in different places, the hair would be everywhere,” says Pilipenko.

A head inmate keeps order, and at first Vika did not get on well with her. The head inmate did not like that the new girl did not know how to behave in the detention center.

“For example, when the guards come to toss the cell, you need to stand up and lock your hands behind your back,” says Pilipenko.

The conflicts were quickly settled, however, and Petrova was subsequently transferred to another cell.

This, according to Pilipenko, was preceded by an incident in the second part of May, during which plaster fell directly on the imprisoned women.

“Vika said that the girls were sitting and drinking tea when part of the ceiling collapsed on the table. Vika was not injured, but one inmate suffered bruises,” Pilipenko says.

The Telegram channel Free Sasha Skochilenko! reported that the plaster collapsed due to severe leaks: “The residents of the cell gathered the pieces of the ceiling, the largest of which weighed about three kilograms. The pieces were wrapped in sheets and the floor was swept.”

Petrova is currently in a cell for six inmates. During their last visit, when Pilipenko asked her how she was doing, Petrova replied, “You know, okay.” Petrova was surprised by her own answer.

“The letters she receives play a big role. Without them, she would not have any way to keep herself busy. This is the biggest problem in remand prison,” says Pilipenko.

The Letters

Petrova has received hundreds of letters, mostly from strangers, including from other countries. Petrova has told Pilipenko that she received a letter from a person who works in management at VKontakte. “He is upset that the social network played a role in my criminal case,” she told her.

“Vika definitely replies to all the letters. Except for those whose senders marked them with Z-symbols,” Pilipenko promises.

Petrova can correspond with other “ordinary people,” but it seems she cannot correspond with journalists. The Village sent her questions through her lawyer, but the sheet of paper with the answers was confiscated from Petrova right in her cell. Our correspondent then wrote to Petrova through the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s online FSIN-Pismo system. All three attempts that the The Village made to communicate with Petrova were not approved by the censor, and the negative responses came within a few hours, although the standard processing time is three days. Then, on the advice of Petrova’s lawyer, our correspondent sent all the same questions via FSIN-Pismo, but did not indicate that they were from the media. On the day this article went to press they were delivered to Petrova, but there has been no response from her yet. According to our information, other journalists have also failed to make contact with Petrova.

Petrova’s mother is also not allowed to see her daughter. According to the lawyer, one of the investigators said that “permission to meet with Mom will depend on the results of Vika’s interrogation as the accused party.” The investigators want Petrova to admit wrongdoing.

The Hearing

Victoria’s mother Marina Petrova lives in a three-room flat on Lunacharsky Avenue. Pilipenko filed an appeal against the order to remand her client in custody, hoping that “on grounds of reasonableness, legality, and humaneness” Petrova would be transferred to house arrest at her mother’s residence.

On the eighth of June, a hearing on the matter was held in the City Court. During the hearing, Pilipenko stated that her client was “actually being persecuted for voicing her opinion about the special military operation.” She also said that Petrova does not have a international travel passport and presents no flight risk, that there are no victims or witnesses in the case [whom the defendant theoretically thus might attempt to pressure or intimidate if she were at liberty], and that she had been charged with a nonviolent offense.

The defendant participated in the court hearing via video link from the Arsenalka. In her seven-minute closing statement, she explained what, in her opinion, had been happening for the last three and a half months in Ukraine.

Among other things, she said, “As a result of eight years of brainwashing by propaganda, Russians for the most part did not understand that [a war] had begun. Meanwhile, the completely immoral Z movement, ‘zedification,’ has been spreading across the country that once defeated Nazism. […] I do not feel any ideological, political, religious or other enmity towards the state authorities and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation as institutions. In my anti-war posts, I said that people who gave and carried out criminal orders and committed war crimes should be punished for it.”

Judge Tatiana Yaltsevich denied the defense’s appeal. Petrova will remain in jail at least until the end of June.

On the evening of June 8, subscribers to the Telegram channel Free Vika Petrova! were warned that reposting her speech in court “could lead to criminal prosecution” — probably also under the article on “fake news” about the army.

The next day, Petrova commented on her speech to her lawyer.

“She says that since she has already become a political prisoner, she cannot help but use the court hearings as a means to talk about what is happening. She has not remained silent before, and she has even less desire to be silent now that many people will hear what she has to say,” reports Pilipenko.

Source: “‘An ordinary person’: the story of Vika Petrova, who wrote a post on VKontakte and has been charged with spreading ‘fake news,’ but refuses to give up,” The Village, 9 June 2022. Thanks to JG for the story and the heads-up. Translated by Thomas H. Campbell. Ms. Petrova’s support group has a Telegram channel and is circulating an online petition demanding her release.

Olivier

Olivier Food Market on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles

Russia took aim Sunday at Western military supplies for Ukraine, launching airstrikes on Kyiv that it claimed destroyed tanks donated from abroad, as Vladimir Putin warned that any Western deliveries of longer range rocket systems would prompt Moscow to hit “objects that we haven’t yet struck.”

The Russian leader’s cryptic threat of military escalation did not specify what the new targets might be. It came days after the United States announced plans to deliver $700 million of security assistance for Ukraine that includes four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tank systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.

Military analysts say Russia hopes to overrun Ukraine’s embattled eastern industrial Donbas region, where Russia-backed separatists have fought the Ukrainian government since 2014, before any U.S. weapons that might turn the tide arrive. The Pentagon said last week that it will take at least three weeks to get the U.S. weapons onto the battlefield.

Ukraine said the missiles aimed at the capital hit a train repair shop. Elsewhere, Russian airstrikes in the eastern city of Druzhkivka destroyed buildings and left at least one person dead, a Ukrainian official said Sunday. Residents described waking to the sound of missile strikes, with rubble and glass falling down around them.

A detail from Judy Baca’s Great Wall of Los Angeles. The second inscription is in Yiddish. It reads, “All Jews [united] in the battle against fascism.” Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for the translation.

“It was like in a horror movie,” Svitlana Romashkina said.

Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko urged city residents to leave, saying on Facebook that ruined buildings can be restored but “we won’t be able to bring back the lives lost.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said air-launched precision missiles were used to destroy workshops in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, including in Druzhkivka, that were repairing damaged Ukrainian military equipment.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces fired five X-22 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea toward Kyiv, and one was destroyed by air defenses. Four other missiles hit “infrastructure facilities,” but Ukraine said there were no casualties.

Nuclear plant operator Energoatom said one cruise missile buzzed close to the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear plant, 350 kilometers (220 miles) to the south, and warned of the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe if even one missile fragment hit the plant.

On the Telegram app, the Russian Defense Ministry said high-precision, long range air-launched missiles were used on the outskirts of Kyiv, destroying T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles in a train car repair shop.

But the head of Ukraine’s railway system rejected the claim that tanks were inside. Oleksandr Kamyshin said four missiles hit the Darnytsia car repair plant, but no military equipment has been stored there. He said the site was used to repair gondolas and carriers for exporting grain.

“Russia has once again lied,” he wrote on Telegram. “Their real goal is the economy and the civilian population. They want to block our ability to export Ukrainian products.”

In a television interview that aired Sunday, Putin lashed out at Western deliveries of weapons to Ukraine, saying they aim to prolong the conflict.

“All this fuss around additional deliveries of weapons, in my opinion, has only one goal: to drag out the armed conflict as much as possible,” Putin said. He insisted such supplies were unlikely to change the military situation for Ukraine’s government, which he said was merely making up for losses of similar rockets.

If Kyiv gets longer-range rockets, he added, Moscow will “draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have plenty of, in order to strike at those objects that we haven’t yet struck.”

The U.S. has stopped short of offering Ukraine longer-range weapons that could fire deep into Russia. But the four medium range High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems in the security package include launchers on wheels that allow troops to strike a target and then quickly move away — which could be useful against Russian artillery on the battlefield.

The Spanish daily El Pais reported Sunday that Spain planned to supply anti-aircraft missiles and up to 40 Leopard 2 A4 battle tanks to Ukraine. Spain’s Ministry of Defense did not comment on the report.

In Kyiv’s eastern Darnystki district, a pillar of smoke filled the air with an acrid odor over the charred, blackened wreckage of a warehouse-type structure. Soldiers blocked off a nearby road leading toward a large railway yard.

Before Sunday’s early morning attack, Kyiv had not faced any such Russian airstrikes since the April 28 visit of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. The attack triggered air raid alarms and showed that Russia still had the capability and willingness to hit at Ukraine’s heart, despite refocusing its efforts to capture Ukrainian territory in the east.

When I arrived at the Great Wall of Los Angeles, I was thrilled to see so many other people there taking it in. I soon realized that they were glued to their smart phones, playing some kind of game. It was such a serious game that many of them were playing on two or three devices at the same time. None of them was paying any mind to the magnificent Great Wall of Los Angeles.

In recent days, Russian forces have focused on capturing Ukraine’s eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. On Sunday they continued their push, with missile and airstrikes on cities and villages in the Donbas.

In the cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut, cars and military vehicles were seen speeding into town Sunday from the direction of the front line. Dozens of military doctors and paramedic ambulances worked to evacuate civilians and Ukrainian servicemen, and a hospital was busy treating the injured, many hurt by artillery shelling.

The U.K. military said in its daily intelligence update that Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk were “likely blunting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained through concentrating combat units and firepower.” Russian forces previously had been making a string of advances in the city, but Ukrainian fighters have pushed back in recent days.

Source: John Leicester, “Russia hits Kyiv with missiles,” Associated Press, 5 June 2022. Photos by the Russian Reader

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