KVN Trix

“Do we need, do we need to keep studying? Maybe we should go straight to prison after university?”

The KVN Trix team from St. Petersburg, which consists of female journalism students, sang about “foreign agents” and the prison sentence of journalist Ivan Safronov.

INDEED!!!

Source: Irod Uralskii (“Herod of the Urals” or “Monster of the Urals”), Telegram, 19 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


KVN Trix

“Maybe we should go straight to prison after university?”: a team of journalism students sang a song about “foreign agents” at a KVN competition

In the quarterfinals of the Baltika KVN League, members of the Petersburg university student team Trix sang a song about the plight of Russian journalism, listing the names of the media outlets and journalists labeled “foreign agents,” to the tune of Alla Pugacheva’s song “Nado zhe” (“Well, I Never”).

During the performance, three members of the team took the stage. The team’s captain, Anastasia Kostina, listed the names of “foreign agents” and asked in the song, “Do we need, do we need, do we need to keep studying? Maybe we should go straight to prison after university?” As she sang these lines, a young man in a police uniform ran onto the stage, twisted the soloist’s hands behind her back, and escorted her backstage.

Kostina said that the jury took the joke warmly and that there had been no censorship prior to the performance. “There was no internal censorship. Thanks to the editors for that — they allowed this song. The jury warmly welcomed such humor. They gave a critique at the end of the contest: they said it was bold, satirical, and so topical that it’s a sin to condemn us for it.”

The young woman was also asked what she thinks about continuing her studies in journalism school. “Indeed, I’m having a crisis right now, because I don’t understand whether to put more emphasis on my studies and the profession, or go into humor. But for now I continue to study, because who knows what will come in handy in life,” Anastasia replied.

Source: Mel (“Chalk”) Magazine: On Raising and Educating Children, Facebook, 19 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


KVN (Russian: КВН, an abbreviation of Клуб весёлых и находчивых, Klub Vesyólykh i Nakhódchivykh or Ka-Ve-En, “Club of the Funny and Inventive”) is a Russian (and formerly Soviet) humour TV show and an international competition where teams (usually composed of college students) compete by giving funny answers to questions and showing prepared sketches. The Club originated in the Soviet Union, building on the popularity of an earlier program, An Evening of Funny Questions (Russian: Вечер весёлых вопросов, romanized: Vecher vesyolykh voprosov); the television programme first aired on the First Soviet Channel on November 8, 1961. Eleven years later, in 1972, when few programmes were being broadcast live, Soviet censors, finding the students’ impromptu jokes offensive and anti-Soviet, banned KVN. The show was revived fourteen years later during the perestroika era in 1986, with Alexander Maslyakov as its host. It is one of the longest-running TV programmes on Russian television. It has its own holiday on November 8, the birthday of the game — celebrated by KVN players every year since it was announced and widely celebrated for the first time in 2001.

Source: “KVN,” Wikipedia

The Good Deacon

Deacon Dmitry Bayev

Another criminal case has been opened against the Orthodox church deacon from Kirov who opposed the war, and he has been put on the federal wanted list.

On September 7, a new criminal case was opened against Deacon Dmitry Bayev, this time on charges of “exonerating Nazism” (per Article 207.3.4 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code). The charges were occasioned by a video entitled “Thank you grandfather for the victory” and the comment to it (“The last parade in the Russian Federation is a parade of samovars”) which the deacon posted on the VK group page Kirov Online on May 9.

The investigators argued that these publications “offend[ed] the honor and dignity of veterans.” Bayev was placed on the federal wanted list.

The 33-year-old deacon of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Kirov left Russia after he was charged with disseminating “fake news” about the Russian army due to his anti-war posts on VKontakte. On March 17, by decree of the Diocesan Bishop, Metropolitan Mark of Vyatka and Sloboda, Deacon Dmitry Bayev was banned from the ROC clergy.

Source: Andrey Churakov, Facebook, 10 September 2022, who cites “@ASTRA” as his source, which I have been unable to locate. Translated by the Russian Reader


Citing sources in the agency, Newsler reports that the Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case into disseminating “fake news” about the Russian military (as defined by Article 207.3.d.2 of the Criminal Code) against Dmitry Bayev, a 33-year-old priest in the Orthodox parish of the Church of John the Baptist in Kirov.

The criminal case was opened on March 23. According to the investigation, Bayev published posts in support of Ukraine and its army on his VKontakte page. In his posts, Deacon Bayev claimed that the Ukrainian military had “dispatched 17 thousand 500 orcs to the next world.” According to him, the Russian armed forces — he called them “Russian occupiers” — have suffered significant losses of equipment every day. Bayev’s page was blocked at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office on March 24.

After the charges were filed, the deacon did not delete the entries against the war in Ukraine from his social media page.

“The purpose of the posts is the hope that before my page is blocked, at least one person will have been able to escape the intoxication of propaganda or at least doubt it, begin to understand the real state of affairs, and put things in order in their head after reach the right conclusions,” Bayev said in a comment to Idel.Realii.

If the deacon’s guilt is proven, he faces a fine of three to five million rubles, five years of community service, and five to ten years of imprisonment.

Bayev has been banned from the priesthood since March 11, according to the website of the Vyatka Metropolia.

On Forgiveness Sunday, Priest Ioann Burdin delivered an anti-war sermon in the Orthodox church in the village of Karabanovo, Kostroma Region. After one of the parishioners filed a complaint, Burdin was summoned to the police. The Krasnoselsky District Court found Burdin guilty of “discrediting” the Russian army (per Article 20.3.3 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation) and fined him 35 thousand rubles [approx. 560 euros]. At the very outset of the war, about 300 members of the Russian clergy published an open letter condemning the war in Ukraine.

Source: “Criminal case into disseminating fake news about Russian military opened against Kirov church deacon due to posts on VKontakte,” Current Time TV (Radio Svoboda), 1 April 2022. 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

A Miniskirt for Every Day

Season after season, minimalism remains trendy. If we also consider the current popularity of 80s and 90s styles, it comes as no surprise that miniskirts are in fashion again. Moreover, they’re fashionable everywhere: they can and should be worn to parties with friends, exhibitions, and work. When you wear them to work, you just have to follow a few simple rules.

Busting myths

There are many myths surrounding the miniskirt. Many people still believe, for example, that discos are the only place you can wear a miniskirt. Yes, partying hard in a plush or stretch skirt to songs by Kombinaciya is super authentic, but today’s cotton, denim and leather miniskirts suit almost any situation.

It’s also worth dismissing the old saw that miniskirts can only be worn by slender, long-legged beauties. No matter how long a skirt is, what matters is that it fits your figure. If you’re having doubts, take a closer look at A-line-silhouette skirts. They can be worn with matching tight tights to visually elongate the lower part of your body.

Как носить короткие юбки на работу в 2022 году

The best combos: shirts and blouses

Shirts and blouses are staples in a female office worker’s wardrobe. Combined with a miniskirt, they will look winning if you choose accented models — blouses with bows or ruffles, shirts with puffy sleeves or turndown collars. Classic stiletto shoes, mules with shot-glass heels, heavy boots, or sneakers will complete the look.

Oversize jackets

Looking like a hand-me-down, an oversize jacket will balance out a short skirt and create a confident image for work. You can tone down this cute pairing with a loose-fitting t-shirt or top—or a tight turtleneck when the weather turns cold. As usual, what item you choose depends on whether it passes muster with your company’s official and implicit dress codes.

Cropped jackets

One of the season’s most daring combinations is a miniskirt and cropped jacket. Ideally, you should find this combo readymade, since combining two separate items into an harmonious outfit is no easy task. Universal advice: a cropped jacket should have a loose fit and a large shoulder line.

Sweaters, jumpers, cardigans, sweatshirts
Summer is not the only season for wearing a short skirt. In autumn and winter, you should wear a mini with chunky-knit sweaters, jumpers, cardigans, and sweatshirts. You can either tuck in the front of your top, or wear it untucked. In the second case, if you choose a pleated plaid skirt and combine it with a shirt and a cardigan, you’ll get the look of an American high school student.

T-shirts

If your work dress code is not particularly strict or casual Friday is coming up, grab a short denim skirt and a loose-fitting t-shirt from your wardrobe. Monochrome or minimalist graphic print t-shirts are suitable for the office. The sleeves can be long and, thus, easily rolled up at any moment—convertible items have been trending for more than a year. The skirt itself can be either the usual blue denim color, or black, or white. City sneakers or loafers provide the final notes in this outfit.

Source: Maria Gureyeva, “How to wear short skirts to work: a mini for every day,” Rabota.ru, 11 July 2022. Photos courtesy of iStock and Rabota.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader


Somewhere in central Petersburg, 8 July 2017. Photo by the Russian Reader

A few words of explanation.

I’m still reeling from the fact that, as a much savvier IT friend from Petersburg has patiently explained to me, this website was just switched off in Russia by WordPress (Automattic), acting on orders from Rozkomnadzor, the Russian federal communications watchdog.

It makes me wonder whether I should switch to producing more “Russia-friendly” content, as exemplified by the breezy little item above the fold. It also makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t switch to a hosting platform that is more friendly to content that is critical of the current Russian tyranny.

In any case, I’ve realized that WordPress doesn’t always practice what it preaches.

Access to the Internet is subject to restrictions in many countries. These range from the ‘Great Firewall of China’, to default content filtering systems in place in the UK. As a result, WordPress.com blogs can sometimes be inaccessible in these places. As far as we are concerned, that’s BS.

If any of you know about an affordable and rigorously pro-free speech hosting platform where I could move this blog, please write to me at avvakum (at) pm.me.

How else can you help me keeping this slightly waterlogged boat from sinking altogether?

First, you can hare my posts with friends and colleagues and on your social media accounts. The only way I know for sure that this is worth doing is when I see consistently large readership numbers.

Second, please send me your (positive or constructive) feedback in the comments below each post or at avvakum (at) pm.me.

Finally, you can donate money—via PayPal or Ko-Fi—to support the continuing production of this website.

What do I need the money for? First, I have to pay for this website’s hosting and for the internet, which now runs me around a thousand dollars a year. Second, I would love to be able to pay a small fee to my occasional guest translators and certain contributors. Finally, I’d like to pay myself for the long hours I put into this endeavor.

What would be a fair amount? Consider the fact that, so far this year, The Russian Reader has had over 155,000 views. If I were to get a mere ten cents for each view, that would come to 15,500 dollars. The money would be especially welcome now that, since February, my income from my “real” job as a freelance translator and editor has dwindled to practically nothing, as most of my steady clients were more or less progressive Russian art and academic institutions that have gone into international hibernation due to the war. In any case, I would share this (for now, imaginary) “minimum wage” with guest translators and contributors, as well as using it to pay for more supportive and reliable hosting.

Speaking of jobs and work, I was made party to the strange (and depressingly reactionary) item, translated above, because, around a year ago, the website Rabota.ru (“Work.ru.,” an affiliate of the state-owned Sberbank) decided that I was a forty-six-year-old geologist named Semyon Avvakumov. The real Comrade Avvakumov used my personal email address, apparently and unaccountably, to start an account and file job applications through Rabota.ru, not realizing that the address was already taken. So, I now get Rabota.ru’s job listings and newsletters several times a week—as well as, much more occasionally, rejection letters from Comrade Avvakumov’s potential employers. The articles on Rabota.ru shed a revealing, if not always flattering, light on all things work-related in Russia, so I’m glad to have acquired this double. ||| TRR, 12 July 2022

The Russian Reader Is Banned in Russia

The Russian Reader has been blocked, apparently, by Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor and can now be accessed in Russia only via a VPN, according to my friend V. He sent me this screenshot earlier today and since then has tried to access the site in a number of different (non-VPN-powered) ways, all to no avail. Later today, another friend in Russia, R, found the number of the government order banning this website in Russia and the court ruling supporting this ban. This is sad news, in part because readers in Russia, surprisingly, made up a large part of The Russian Reader’s audience. ||| TRR

A Word from Roskomnadzor About This Blog

Automattic Trust & Safety (Automattic)
Jul 8, 2022, 23:09 UTC

Hello,

A Russian authority — the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (ROSKOMNADZOR) — demanded that we disable the following content on your WordPress.com site:

Judge Not

Unfortunately, we have had to comply in order to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in Russia. We disabled this content only for Internet visitors originating from Russia. Visitors from other countries are not affected.

You — and your readers — might be interested in the following document for suggestions on bypassing Internet restrictions:

https://wordpress.com/support/bypassing-internet-restrictions/

For your reference, we included a copy of the complaint below. No reply is necessary, but please reply if you have any questions.

Thank you.

— BEGIN NOTICE —

Направляется уведомление о внесении в «Единый реестр доменных имен, указателей страниц сайтов в сети «Интернет» и сетевых адресов, позволяющих идентифицировать сайты в сети «Интернет», содержащие информацию, распространение которой в Российской Федерации запрещено» следующего(их) указателя (указателей) страницы (страниц) сайта в сети «Интернет»: https://therussianreader.com/2020/01/03/karim-yamadayev/ .

В случае непринятия провайдером хостинга и (или) владельцем сайта мер по удалению запрещенной информации и (или) ограничению доступа к сайту в сети «Интернет», будет принято решение о включении в единый реестр сетевого адреса, позволяющего идентифицировать сайт в сети «Интернет», содержащий информацию, распространение которой в Российской Федерации запрещено, а доступ к нему будет ограничен.

Сведения о включении доменных имен, указателей страниц сайтов сети «Интернет» и сетевых адресов доступны круглосуточно в сети «Интернет» по адресу http://eais.rkn.gov.ru .

С уважением,
ФЕДЕРАЛЬНАЯ СЛУЖБА ПО НАДЗОРУ В СФЕРЕ СВЯЗИ, ИНФОРМАЦИОННЫХ ТЕХНОЛОГИЙ И МАССОВЫХ КОММУНИКАЦИЙ.

— END NOTICE —

Automattic Trust & Safety

Source: Email from Automattic (WordPress), 8 July 2022

___________________

[eais#1937642] Роскомнадзор информирует/the Roscomnadzor is informing

From: Роскомнадзор <zapret-info-out@rkn.gov.ru>

To: avvakum@pm.me, abuse@automattic.com

Date: Friday, July 8th, 2022 at 11:09 AM

Направляется уведомление о внесении в «Единый реестр доменных имен, указателей страниц сайтов в сети «Интернет» и сетевых адресов, позволяющих идентифицировать сайты в сети «Интернет», содержащие информацию, распространение которой в Российской Федерации запрещено» следующего(их) указателя (указателей) страницы (страниц) сайта в сети «Интернет»: https://therussianreader.com/2020/01/03/karim-yamadayev/ .

В случае непринятия провайдером хостинга и (или) владельцем сайта мер по удалению запрещенной информации и (или) ограничению доступа к сайту в сети «Интернет», будет принято решение о включении в единый реестр сетевого адреса, позволяющего идентифицировать сайт в сети «Интернет», содержащий информацию, распространение которой в Российской Федерации запрещено, а доступ к нему будет ограничен.

Сведения о включении доменных имен, указателей страниц сайтов сети «Интернет» и сетевых адресов доступны круглосуточно в сети «Интернет» по адресу http://eais.rkn.gov.ru .

С уважением,

ФЕДЕРАЛЬНАЯ СЛУЖБА ПО НАДЗОРУ В СФЕРЕ СВЯЗИ, ИНФОРМАЦИОННЫХ ТЕХНОЛОГИЙ И МАССОВЫХ КОММУНИКАЦИЙ.

———————————————————–

Запущено официальное мобильное приложение РОСКОМНАДЗОРА. Посредством мобильного приложения возможно:

1. Подать жалобу в «Единый реестр запрещенной информации» на обнаруженный в сети «Интернет» запрещенный контент;

2. Проверить ограничение доступа к интернет-ресурсам; 3. Получить оповещение о внесении в «Единый реестр запрещенной информации» интернет- ресурса в случае, если Вы являетесь его владельцем или провайдером хостинга. Мобильное приложение можно скачать по следующим ссылкам: https://apps.apple.com/ru/app/ркн/id1511970611 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.rkn.ermp

It is notice of making an entry into the “Unified register of domain names, Internet web-site page links and network addresses enabling to identify the Internet web-sites containing the information prohibited for public distribution in the Russian Federation” the Internet web-site page (s) link (s): https://therussianreader.com/2020/01/03/karim-yamadayev/ .

In case the hosting provider and (or) the Internet web-site owner fail to take these measures, the network address enabling to identify Internet web-sites containing the information prohibited for distribution in the Russian Federation will be decided to be entered into the Register and access will be limited.

The information about entering the domain names, Internet web-site page links and network addresses into the Register shall be available on a 24-hour basis at the following Internet address: http://eais.rkn.gov.ru/en/ .

Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (ROSKOMNADZOR).

———————————————————–

The official mobile application of ROSKOMNADZOR has been launched. Through the mobile application, it is possible to: 1. Submit a complaint to the “Unified Register of Prohibited Information” about the prohibited content revealed on the Internet; 2. Check the restriction of access to Internet resources; 3. Get a notification on inclusion of an Internet resource into the” Unified Register of Prohibited Information ” if you are its owner or hosting provider. The mobile app can be downloaded at the following links: https://apps.apple.com/ru/app/ркн/id1511970611 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.rkn.ermp

Source: Email from Roskomnadzor, 8 July 2022

Russia’s Musical Blacklist

Vera Musaelyan (Aloe Vera) is one of the pop musicians on Russia’s black list.

Fontanka.ru has come into possession of a list of musical performers whose performances in Russia were allegedly considered undesirable. According to our information, the document has been circulated among promoters.

Some of the musicians on the list have, in fact, had difficulties organizing concerts since the start of the special military operation (due to their public stance on it), while others have simply left the country. The list was provided to us by one of the musicians who found themselves on the stop list.

Fontanka.ru contacted a number of concert organizers. Although they admitted having heard about the list, most of them refused to continue the conversation. One of our sources, however, confirmed that the list was authentic. But he clarified that the list was amended and supplemented daily. However, even without it, “all producers know perfectly well” which musicians they can work with and which they cannot.

We publish the list in the form (including peculiarities of spelling) in which it was submitted to us:

  • rap artist Noize MC (Ivan Alexeyev)
  • rap artist Oxxxymiron (Miron Fyodorov)
  • DDT (soloist Yuri Shevchuk)
  • Time Machine (soloist Andrei Makarevich)
  • Aquarium (soloist Boris Grebenshchikov)
  • Kasta (soloists Vladislav Leshkevich, Mikhail Epifantsev, Andrei Pasechny)
  • B2 (soloists Alexander Uman, Yegor Bortnik)
  • Accident (soloist Alexei Kortnev)
  • singer Zemfira (Zemfira Ramazanova)
  • singer Valery Meladze
  • Dmitry Spirin (ex-soloist of the band Cockroaches)
  • Anacondaz (soloists Artem Khorev, Sergei Karamushkin)
  • Louna (soloist Lusine Gevorkyan)
  • Pornofilms (soloist Vladimir Kotlyarov)
  • Nogu Svelo (soloist Maxim Pokrovsky)
  • Krovostok (soloist Anton Chernyak)
  • Elysium (soloist Dmitry Kuznetsov)
  • 2MASHI (soloist Maria Zaitseva)
  • singer Manizha (Manizha Sangin)
  • singer Monetochka (Yelizaveta Girdymova)
  • singer Grechka (Anastasia Ivanova)
  • rap artist Face (Ivan Dremin)*
  • rap artist Morgenshtern (Alisher Morgenshtern)*
  • IC3PEAK (soloists Nikolai Kostylev, Anastasia Kreslina)
  • Little Big (Ilya Prusikin, Sofia Tayurskaya)
  • singer Vasya Oblomov (Vasily Goncharov)
  • rap artist Ligalize (Andrei Menshikov)
  • singer Dora (Daria Shikhanova)
  • Aloe Vera (soloist Vera Musaelyan)
  • singer Musya Totibadze (Maria Totibadze)

* Deemed a “foreign agent” in Russia.

Source: Fontanka.ru, 7 July 2022. Thanks to Marina Varchenko for the heads-up. Photo, above, courtesy of Then24. Translated by the Russian Reader

Darya Apahonchich: “The Russian State Is Afraid of Feminism and Sex Education” (The Yulia Tsvetkova Case)

In June, the prosecutor’s office asked the court to sentence the artist Yulia Tsvetkova to three years and two months in a penal colony for “distributing pornography.” She was charged with this crime for posting drawings of vulvas on the Russian social media website VKontakte.

Yulia Tsvetkova. Photo courtesy of her VKontakte page and the Moscow Times

If I had to make a list of the methods used by the Russian state to make the life of grassroots activists unbearable, the list would be long. It would include such dirty tricks as endlessly postponing court hearings, delaying investigations, forensic examinations, and official inquiries, and encouraging right-wing “morality watchdogs” to persecute activists by telephoning them, threatening them, and intimidating them. And then the police throw up their hands, because, allegedly, they do not see anything criminal in the actions of these pseudo-Orthodox (but in fact criminal) figures.

All these methods also nicely illustrate the fact that the authorities are not content with merely complicating, or even paralyzing, the work of civil society in Russia.

The current Russian regime also finds it vital to avoid responsibility. Rather than punishing people directly for dissent, it seeks = far-fetched grounds to punish them. Rather than imprisoning them immediately and for a long time, it draws out investigations as much as possible, so that, on paper, the number of political prisoners is not too large, but their persecution considerably discourages other activists.

Even if I listed all these methods, the list would not be long enough to describe everything that the artist and activist Yulia Tsvetkova from Komsomolsk-on-Amur has faced. Children from her theater workshop were summoned for questioning, her home was searched, she was under house arrest, her lawyers were not admitted into the courtroom to defend her, and recently she was declared a “foreign agent,” although it is completely unclear how an activist from a small provincial town could work as a “foreign agent” and in the interests of which foreign countries she could do this work. This campaign of political persecution has been going on for three and a half years, and Yulia has been accused of violating several laws, including “promoting LGBT” among minors and “distributing pornography” by posting schematic drawings of genitals on a educational outreach community page on Vkontakte.

It is quite difficult to believe that all this has been happening in reality, that it is really for her work in a children’s theater workshop and for body-positive and educational pictures that Tsvetkova has faced such an unprecedented onslaught. I cannot get my head around the fact that an entire army of civil servants (police officers, forensics experts, judges, prosecutors, social workers, etc.) have spent so much time trying to find evidence of the artist’s guilt. At this point, of course, it is a pity that we don’t have access to the files in the government accounting office. How interesting it would be to find out how many man-hours have been spent on this “job.” How much paper has been wasted on all the absurd paperwork? What are the salaries of all the officials involved in this political case, and how have they directly benefited from it? Who got a promotion? Who got an apartment? A new office? A bonus?

No one can give back the most valuable thing that the artist and her mother have lost — time. Three and a half years spent in endless court hearings, under house arrest, under travel restrictions, under relentless pressure — it is impossible to compensate them for this time lost by making apologies or giving them money.

But the most terrible thing is that this story has not ended and the court has not yet made a decision. The prosecutor’s office has asked it to sentence Tsvetkova to three years in prison.

It is a wildly inappropriate sentence for pictures that no one would label pornography.

Everyone who has ever heard about the Yulia Tsvetkova has has probably asked themselves: why her? And why have the authorities pursued the case with such cruelty? How has it happened that a huge repressive apparatus has dispatched so many forces to persecute a female activist from a distant provincial town?

It is very important to closely examine the work of Yulia Tsvetkova, because this is a rare case when the authorities have been extremely honest. The Russian government does not like what feminist activists do, because their work is aimed at emancipating women and sexually educating young people, so that the country’s culture of violence weakens, and respect, tolerance, and acceptance of different people within the same community becomes the new cultural norm.

The state-sponsored system of patriarchy opposes sex education, because it does not want young people to grow up independent and capable of making decisions about their sexuality and choosing whether to become parents or not.

But the most important point is that the modern Russian government is against any form of self-organization, because it sees self-organization as a threat to its legitimacy. Free, educated people naturally want the authorities to represent their interests and share their values. The Putin regime does not like independent people, and it opposes grassroots initiatives and diversity.

So, the question of why the Russian authorities targeted Yulia Tsvetkova to demoralize and frighten the grassroots community is useful for thinking about what exactly we can oppose to the Russia’s self-reproducing system of state violence. Feminism, LGBT activism, sex education, and outreach work with teenagers — this is what the state patriarchate fears and this is what will enable us to defeat it.

Source: Darya Apahonchich, “‘The State Is Afraid of Feminism and Sex Education’: Why a Female Artist from Komsomolsk-on-Amur Has Been Targeted for Persecution,” Moscow Times, 17 July 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader. Ms. Apahonchich is an artist and feminist activist who was herself declared a “foreign agent” by the Russian Justice Ministry in December 2020. She has lived in exile since the summer of 2021.

“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.

Russia’s Crusade Against Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims Continues

Caucasian Knot reports that a court in Sochi has extended the remand in custody of Jehovah’s Witness Danil Suvorov until June 13. Suvorov’s defense counsel Sergei Yanovsky said that he had appealed the decision.

Danil Suvorov has been charged with involvement in an extremist organization (punishable under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code), as well as recruiting for an extremist organization (punishable under Part 1.1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code). According to criminal investigators, Suvorov attempted to recruit people to join the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “using his authority as a spiritual leader.”

The accused man’s mother, Gulnara Suvorova, was able to communicate with her son in the courtroom for the first time in over nine months.

“My son has been languishing in prison for nine months running for nothing. Or rather, for the fact that he read the Bible aloud to a person who had asked him about it. But, of course, it was just an easy excuse for law enforcement officers to catch a ‘criminal’ and earn a promotion for such a serious charge as extremism,” she told Caucasian Knot.

Suvorov’s defense moved to have the case dismissed, because, according to an expert witness, there was no extremism in the believer’s actions.

Suvorov was detained on 18 August 2021, the same day that his home and the homes of other Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Krasnodar Territory were searched. Electronic devices, personal diaries, postcards, and literature were seized from believers.

In 2017, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia was an extremist organization. It dissolved the Center and banned it from operating in Russia. Later, all Jehovah’s Witnesses branches in Russia were added to the list of banned organizations. Subsequently, a flood of criminal prosecutions against members of the confession began.

Source: OVD Info, 14 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


The Mahal Mosque in Nizhny Tagil. Photo: IslamTsentr

On 12 May 2022, it transpired that in April, the Tagilstroyevsky District Court of Nizhny Tagil fined Fanis Galeyev (spelled “Galiyev” in some sources), the imam at the Mahal Mosque, under Article 20.29 of the Russian Federal Administrative Code (“distribution of extremist materials”).

An inspection conducted by the prosecutor’s office found twenty-books books included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials in the imam’s possession.

According to Galeyev, he had collected the books only to study and later destroy them.

“There is a fine line. Today these are not extremist books, but tomorrow they will be extremist. This can be determined by a spiritual person, not a secular one. These books that have been discovered cannot simply be thrown away. They must either be buried or burned.”

The imam is a member of the Nizhny Tagil Council for Combating Extremism.

There is no information about the books in question, but we should note that we consider many cases of banning Islamic literature to be unlawful.

Sources:

“Case Card No. 5-512/2022,” website of the Tagilstroievsky District Court of Nizhny Tagil, Sverdlovsk Region, May 2022 [the embedded link was inaccessible from my IP]

“Nizhny Tagil imam fighting extremism is convicted of distributing extremist literature,” 66.ru, 12 May 2022

“Nizhny Tagil imam punished for extremist literature,” Vse novosti, 12 May 2022

Source: SOVA Center, 13 May 2022. Thanks to OVD Info for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader