Giving Tuesday: Solidarity Zone & The White Helmets

Solidarity Zone is a new initiative, established by anti-authoritarian activists. Anarchist Black Cross Moscow is cooperating with the new initiative, and we encourage everyone to support it.

Solidarity Zone is a horizontal initiative supporting those persecuted for anti-war actions. We came together in the spring of 2022 to help those left without attention by human rights organizations.

Everyone is worthy of defense and solidarity. And we stand in solidarity with people who have spoken out in word and deed against state violence. We are against the existence of prisons, states and war — for self-organization, equality and the abolition of oppression.

We are ready to support those who speak out against war and resist militarism, with the exception of people who practice discrimination on national, gender, social and other grounds. At the same time, our project team consists of only a few people, and we do not have enough resources, so we are currently working on a small number of cases.

Right now we are providing support to:

Anton Zhuchkov
Vladimir Sergeev
Vladimir Zolotarev
Igor Paskar
Ruslan Zinin
Kirill Butylin
Vladlen Menshikov

We would like to point out that we don’t pay any fines or compensation for damages caused to the state. We also do not help people who voluntarily testify against others. Pleading or not pleading guilty is not a limiting factor.

Our objectives are: 

  • Establish and maintain contact with detainees and their loved ones; 
  • Find lawyers whom we trust; 
  • Arrange parcels or packages for prisoners;
  • Share information about the cases and addresses for letters with the consent of those who are persecuted.

You can share information about prisoners who need support by writing to us. You can also direct your questions about current cases that our initiative is already working on. E-mail: solidarity_zone@riseup.net

You can follow our work on social media: 
Telegram
Facebook
Instagram

DONATIONS REQUIRED
We have no permanent source of funding and do not get paid, so the support is being provided thanks to your donations. We encourage you to support our project financially, if you are in a position to do so.

Requisites for transfers:

PayPal: solidarity_zone@riseup.net

Bank account to donate outside of Russia:
Account: UGMR
IBAN: DE57 4306 0967 1216 4248 00
BIC: GENODEM1GLS
GLS GEMEINSCHAFTSBANK EG
Subject: Solidarity Zone

Cryptocurrency:
bitcoin: bc1qfzhfkd27ckz76dqf67t0jwm4gvrcug49e7fhry
monero: 86565hecMGW7n2T1ap7wdo4wQ7kefaqXVPS8h2k2wQVhDHyYbADmDWZTuxpUMZPjZhSLpLp2SZZ8cLKdJkRchVWJBppbgBK
ethereum: 0xD89Cf5e0B04b1a546e869500Fe96463E9986ADA3
other altcoins:
https://nowpayments.io/donation/solidarityzone

Source: “Solidarity Zone – a new initiative to support anti-war prisoners in Russia,” Anarchist Black Cross Dresden, 27 November 2022


This is a message from Obada Zekra, the team leader of the White Helmets center in Maret Mesrin in northwest Syria.

With winter fast approaching, my team in northwest Syria is working around the clock to tackle an outbreak of cholera that has already claimed 12 lives here and threatens tens of thousands of displaced families living in tent camps in dire conditions.

We are repairing camp water infrastructure and digging hundreds of drainage channels to prevent torrential winter floods mixing with sewage and spreading the deadly virus. White Helmets ambulances are transferring suspected cases to hospitals and women volunteers are making daily tours of tents to provide primary health care.

In the middle of the cholera outbreak, early on November 6, Russia and the regime bombed sleeping civilians in six overcrowded camps, including with internationally banned cluster munitions, turning their last refuge into a hell. Ten people were killed, including four children. Our team rushed to rescue the injured, but we felt totally helpless when our colleague, the White Helmets volunteer Hassan Bakir, lost his baby son Azzam in an attack on Maram camp where he has lived since he was displaced.

Today on Giving Tuesday 2022, the global day of generosity, will you support The White Helmets’ urgent work responding to aerial attacks, protecting displaced people in camps from cholera, and preparing for a freezing winter?

After the attack the White Helmets evacuated families to other camps as the area was littered with unexploded ordnance which our specialized UXO teams had to clear. But even on days when there are no Russian planes in the skies we are in a constant race against time to prepare for winter: building roads, making health visits to elderly residents, and conducting hundreds of public health information sessions as we predict a fresh wave of both COVID and cholera over winter.

Each of our 19 White Helmets centers responding to the cholera emergency needs $1100 worth of water chlorination equipment to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

• A $20 donation will contribute towards setting up field clinics in tents

• $100 would pay for a 100 liter plastic tank to store clean water

• $300 would buy a new water pump

Donations of any amount are urgently needed as our COVID response taught us how fast infectious diseases spread.

Nearly 1.8 million civilians, the majority of them women and children, have been displaced from their homes by years of attacks by Russia and the regime and now live in camps in northwestern Syria in desperate, cramped conditions where they continue to be targeted by bombs and missiles in violation of international law. The international community continues to fail them and every six months the UN even requires Russia’s approval to renew vital cross-border aid deliveries, which many rely on to survive. People here dream of the day they can return to their homes and towns. Instead, residents of Maram camp suffered a massacre this month that stole the lives of their children.

I myself was displaced by attacks, and I have lost many of my fellow volunteers since I joined the White Helmets in 2013. I overcome these tragedies when I witness day by day how the work of the White Helmets is improving people’s lives. With your support this Giving Tuesday, we can continue to protect displaced people in northwest Syria’s camps with life-saving humanitarian and rescue services.

With thanks,

Obada Zekra

Source: The Syria Campaign email newsletter, 29 November 2022

Father Death Comes to Berlin

Father Death Comes to Berlin — Silence Russian War Propaganda on Our Streets!

On November 29, the “Russian House” Berlin invites to a “festive lighting of the candles” at the Christmas tree in front of the building in Friedrichstraße. In a kitschy video, this event is also advertised by the Russian Embassy.

However, we do not feel “festive” at all! On the contrary. We are angry that such a propaganda action can take place without problems in Berlin. Because while in front of the Russian House “peaceful Christmas” are staged, Russia leads a brutal attack and conquest war in Ukraine, in which whole cities are bombed. The main target is the civilian population, which is exposed to permanent terror by Russian attacks.

The Putin regime is thus continuing a tactic that it has already been testing since 2015 in Syria, where even refugee camps are being attacked by Russian bombers. In Syria, Russian attacks have killed more than 2,000 children in the last eight years, and in Ukraine, nearly 1,000 children have been killed or injured so far as a result of the Russian war. There is no “peaceful Christmas” for these children!

The Russian House has so far refused to take a clear stand against the wars of the Putin regime. It gives itself the outward appearance of a non-political “cultural institute”. In fact, however, it is part of the regime’s propaganda machine and is supposed to convey the image of a peaceful and friendly Russia.

Russian House, Friedrichstrasse, Berlin, Germany. Photo courtesy of taz

The right-wing Alternative for Germany is also occasionally given the opportunity to hold events in the Russian House. Thus, the Russian House also fulfills a function in the Putin regime’s strategy of promoting right-wing and far-right parties and organizations worldwide.

According to research by Tagesspiegel, the Russian House is “run by the Rossotrudnichestvo organization, whose head, Yevgenii Primakov, is a Putin confidant.” The organization is directly under the jurisdiction of the Russian Foreign Ministry and has been subject to European Union sanctions since July.

We ask ourselves: Why is the Russian House in Berlin allowed to continue to act unchallenged and to spread the “soft propaganda” of the Putin regime?

Join us on 29.11.2022 at the Russian House in Friedrichstraße and show your protest against the unspeakably hypocritical event “Father Frost comes to Berlin”!

We demand the immediate closure of the Russian House! Against the propaganda of the Putin regime in Berlin and everywhere!

Source: Facebook. Thanks to Harald Etzbach for the heads-up. I took the liberty of inserting the YouTube video and the photo, above, as well as incorporating the links to articles in the German press into the text. God knows that if I were still living in Berlin, I would be attending this protest. ||| TRR

Black Friday

Despite its declared war on “satanic” western values, Putinist Russia continues to slavishly imitate all the worst the mythical west has to offer, including “Black Friday,” as exemplified by this image from an email flyer sent to me earlier today by the major online retailer Ozon, featuring the pop singer Dmitry Malikov. Nor has Putin’s “proxy war” with the west stopped the pidginization of the Russian language, as seen in the second-to-last piece in this grim holiday collage. ||| TRR


The expected tourist flow from Iran may amount to approximately two thousand people a week starting in the spring of 2023, director of the municipal tourist information bureau Yuri Bogdanov said on November 24. According to him, relevant negotiations are underway with air carriers.

“We are negotiating with airlines that want to provide direct flights between Iranian cities and St. Petersburg. We hope that there will be six flights per week with an average number of around 300 seats on board. This is already about two thousand people a week. We expect that, beginning in the spring, these airlines will supply their airplanes,” TASS quoted Bogdanov as saying.

The expert clarified that there were more flights before the pandemic and six thousand tourists used to arrive from Iran every week.

According to Bogdanov, the flow of tourists may return to its pre-covid levels in St. Petersburg by about 2026, but at the same time primarily due to guests from Russia, and not from foreign countries. According to the figures he cited, in 2019, about five million Russians and 5.5 million foreigners visited the Northern Capital, while 6.4 million Russians and 150–200 thousand foreigners visited the city in the first nine months of 2022.

“We have reformatted the priorities for domestic tourism — we want to reach the same 10.5 million tourists a year. There is every ground for this to happen,” Bogdanov opined.

Earlier, the State Duma Budget and Taxes Committee recommended that St. Petersburg be included in the list of regions that charge tourists a resort fee.

Source: “Petersburg expecting two thousand tourists from Iran weekly from spring,” ZakS.ru, 25 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


At least 58 children, some reportedly as young as eight, have been killed in Iran since anti-regime protests broke out in the country two months ago.

According to Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), 46 boys and 12 girls under 18 have been killed since the protests began on 16 September, sparked by the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

In the past week alone, five children were reportedly killed by security forces as violence continued across the country.

Those who died last week include the nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak, who was one of seven people – including a 13-year-old child – killed in the western city of Izeh on Wednesday.

Speaking at Kian’s funeral on Friday, his family said security services had opened fire on the family car, where Kian was sitting next to his father. Iranian security services have denied responsibility for his death, blaming the shooting on “terrorists”.

Iran’s mounting child death toll comes amid escalating violence in cities across the country, with protests showing no sign of abating.

[…]

Young people have been at the forefront of anti-regime protests, which started after Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iran’s morality police. She had been arrested for not wearing her hijab correctly.

The deaths of two teenage girls, Nika Shakamari and Sarina Esmailzadeh, both allegedly beaten to death by security forces for protesting, provoked further outrage.

Videos of schoolgirls across the country protesting against their killing by removing their hijabs and taking down pictures of Iran’s supreme leaders went viral on social media, leading to raids on schools where children were beaten and detained. According to Iran’s teachers union, another 16-year-old girl, Asra Panahi, died after she was attacked by security forces in her classroom in the north-western town of Ardabil on 18 October.

The attacks on children in schools is continuing, according to Hengaw, which said a 16-year-old girl from Kurdistan is on life support after throwing herself from a school van, having been arrested at her school last week.

HRA says more than 380 protesters have been killed since the protests began and more than 16,000 people have been detained, including children. The figure is disputed by the authorities.

Source: Deepa Parent, Ghoncheh Habibiazad and Annie Kelly, “At least 58 Iranian children reportedly killed since anti-regime protests began,” The Observer, 20 November 2022. Thanks to Sheen Gleeson for the heads-up.


A view of Vokzal 1853 on opening day. Photo: Sergei Yermokhin/Delovoi Peterburg

On November 21, the opening of the food hall [fud-kholl] Vokzal 1853 took place in the building of the former Warsaw railway station.

It is the largest gastronomic space in St. Petersburg and, so its creators claim, in Europe.

So far, not all the establishments in the eater have opened — the launch . The event zone [event-zona] is designed for to accommodate 2.5 thousand guests and have 4 thousand seats, while the entrance to the second floor is still closed.

The cost of renovating the former railway station exceeded 1.5 billion rubles. The Vokzal 1853 food hall [fud-kholl] is a project of the Adamant holding company and restaurateur Alexei Vasilchuk. In total, as stated earlier, more than 90 restaurant concepts [restorannykh konseptsii] will await visitors, and the total area of the food hall will be about 34 thousand square meter.

The company plans to open a concert venue, craft [kraftovye] shops, and a coworking [kovorking — sic] in the space.

Earlier, DP reported that its creators had conceived the decoration of the premises to suggest the atmosphere of nineteenth-century railways stations, and visitors would find themselves in the “epicenter of a bustling creative life.”

Source: “The largest food hall in St. Petersburg opens in Warsaw railway station building,” Delovoi Peterburg, 22 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


Ukraine continued to reckon with the fallout from Russia’s air strikes on its energy infrastructure, with much of the country still struggling with blackouts. Residents in Kyiv, the capital, were told to prepare for more attacks. Russian missiles damaged a hospital on the outskirts of Zaporizhia, a Ukrainian-held city not far from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, controlled by Russia. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said Russia was heavily shelling Kherson, the southern city recaptured by Ukrainian forces in early November. Local officials said that strikes killed seven people in the city on Thursday.

Source: The Economist, “The World in Brief” email newsletter, 25 November 2022


Maxim Katz, “Why Russians don’t protest — answered by an old experiment (English subtitles),”1,108,570 views. Nov 23, 2022. “The lack of mass anti-war rallies in Russia is often explained with some psychological defect of the Russian people. But is it truly so? Today we will talk about a social experiment called the Third Wave, and think about whether it is true that it can all be explained with some unique malleability of Russian society.”

This is a wildly disappointing exercise in sophism and self-deception by the usually much more lucid Maxim Katz. Russia has arrived at its present murderous and self-destructive bad end not through rigorous and ruthless totalitarian indoctrination and psychological manipulation, as suggested by Katz’s invocation of Ron Jones’s 1967 Third Wave experiment in a California high school, but through a chaotic, consistent indulgence of opportunism, consumerism, escapism, ressentiment, hipsterism, “westernism,” capitalism, cynicism, nihilism, and thuggery by the elites and the much of the so-called intelligentsia, thus almost completely overwhelming the decent, democratic, and egalitarian impulses and undertakings of differently minded and empowered “other Russians” from all walks of life and all parts of the country. It has been one of the missions of this website to bear witness to both these tendencies in their extreme and trite manifestations. You’ll find vanishingly little of what Katz describes in my chronicles of the last fifteen years here and on The Russian Reader‘s sister blog Chtodelat News. You will find, however, plenty of stories of brave grassroots resistance and movement building blunted and, ultimately, murdered by a police state whose PR wing has urged Russians to trade their freedom for food courts. ||| TRR

Academia.edu


This is a screen shot of a portion of an email sent to me earlier today by Academia.edu, “a for-profit open repository of academic articles free to read by visitors. Uploading and downloading is restricted to registered users. Additional features are accessible only as a paid subscription. Since 2016 various social networking utilities have been added.”

So much for the idea of not giving a platform to out-and-out fascists like Alexander Dugin, whose “academic” credentials are borne out by serious-sounding nonsense like the following, as found in Last War of the World-Island and translated by John Bryant:

In all the principal parameters, the Russian Federation is the geopolitical heir to the preceding historical, political, and social forms that took shape around the territory of the Russian plain: Kievan Rus, the Golden Horde, the Muscovite Czardom, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union. This continuity is not only territorial, but also historical, social, spiritual, political, and ethnic. From ancient times, the Russian government began to form in the Heartland, gradually expanding, until it occupied the entire Heartland and the zones adjoining it. The spatial expansion of Russian control over Eurasian territories was accompanied by a parallel sociological process: the strengthening in Russian society of “land-based” social arrangements, characteristic of a civilization of the continental type. The fundamental features of this civilization are:

• conservatism;
• holism;
• collective anthropology (the narod is more important than the individual);

• sacrifice;
• an idealistic orientation;
• the values of faithfulness, asceticism, honor, and loyalty.

Sociology, following Sombart, calls this a “heroic civilization.” According to the sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, it is the ideal sociocultural system. This sociological trait was expressed in various political forms, which had a common denominator: the constant reproduction of civilizational constants and basic values, historically expressed in different ways. The political system of Kievan Rus differs qualitatively from the politics of the Horde, and that, in turn, from the Muscovite Czardom. After Peter I, the political system sharply changed again, and the October Revolution of 1917 also led to the emergence of a radically new type of statehood. After the collapse of the USSR there arose on the territory of the Heartland another government, again differing from the previous ones: today’s Russian Federation.

But throughout Russian political history, all these political forms, which have qualitative differences and are founded on different and sometimes directly contradictory ideological principles, had a set of common traits. Everywhere, we see the political expression of the social arrangements characteristic of a society of the continental, “land-based,” heroic type. These sociological peculiarities emerged in politics through the phenomenon that the philosopher-Eurasianists of the 1920s called “ideocracy.” The ideational model in the sociocultural sphere, as a general trait of Russian society throughout its history, was expressed in politics as ideocracy, which also had different ideological forms, but preserved a vertical, hierarchical, “messianic” structure of government.

But We’ll Always Have Kathmandu

[…]

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

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

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

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

[…]

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


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

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

News from Ukraine Bulletin 19

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

News from Ukraine Bulletin 19 (7 November 2022)

A Digest of News from Ukrainian Sources

News from the territories occupied by Russia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News from Ukraine – general:

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

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

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

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

Analysis and comment:

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

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

Research of human rights abuses:

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

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

==

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

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

The Snow Wouldn’t Say That Fire Is Its Friend


This is a post for Russian citizens. Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s party held a press conference in the National Assembly, where the floor was given to three Russians. The names are familiar to you: Alexei Sakhnin, Andrei Rudoy, and Elizaveta Smirnova, who were presented as members of a “coalition of Russian socialists against the war.” The moderator of the discussion was His Majesty “La République, c’est moi!” Oh, sorry, Mélenchon. I can only congratulate him on this successful PR operation. One of Putin’s main underlings in French politics shall now be able to say not only something like “Look, I’m not a racist a defender of the Putin regime’s interests. I even have friends who are Negroes Russian anti-war activists.”

I don’t know whether the featured activists fully understand what they got themselves tangled up in, but hey, that’s not my problem. In any case, I can only be glad for them, and happy that they managed to leave Russia, albeit with JLM’s help. I can put myself in their shoes and understand their choice. But that’s not the problem. What does their “anti-war discourse” amount to now that they can speak freely on French soil?

Suffice it to say that the anti-war activists roundly ignored Ukraine and Ukrainians. But they were able to discuss with the French exactly how they would like to build a new democratic world after the war. They could have even shown the audience a map, for greater clarity, but for some reason it didn’t dawn on them to do that.

Thirty-five minutes into the news conference, a journalist asked a question, and it even seemed that he was perturbed: “Do you have anything to say to Ukrainians?” Rudoy replied: “The working-class majority of Russia and Ukraine have nothing to fight over. Our regimes are our principal enemies. The working-class majority of Russia and Ukraine must unite against the bourgeois authorities. “

Need I explain what the problem is with this museum-quality specimen of pseudo-internationalist Russian jingoism? If it is still not obvious to anyone, I can explain it to them one on one.

I don’t know this person. If you do happen to know him, let him know that Ukrainian socialists are already quite tired of watching Russian socialists perform their traditional dance on the same rake.

No, the fucking Ukrainian authorities are not our principal enemies. Our principal enemies are the Russian authorities, who are waging an aggressive war on our territory. We would sincerely like to help you worm your way out of your imperialist cocoon and help you realize, finally, a simple truth that would enable you to exit your political impasse. Ukraine’s victory, the liquidation of Russia’s colonial empire, and the liberation of the peoples enslaved by the empire are the first and only conditions for the Russian people’s liberation. And it is impossible to jump over this step into your “socialist Russia of the future.”

But if, during the past nine months of a war of conquest, you have not yet figured out that you are not the French in 1914, but the Germans in 1939, then I can only pity you that you have such gaps in your historical education. If you want to continue playing at awakening class consciousness among proletarians living in a fascist state, no one has the right to stop you. But do not be surprised when the steamroller of a reality that you painstakingly avoid comprehending runs over you. Russian society is permeated through and through with a colonialist mindset, jingoism, and messianic imperialism. This ideology has poisoned people on all floors of your caste-based state and until you directly stand up and fight it, you will be able to do nothing but lead the Russian socialist movement to another round of failures.

Ukrainian socialists are ready to extend their hand to you and invite you to join us in our struggle against Russian expansionism and imperialism, the victory over which is the first prerequisite for any struggle for a just society, both in Russia and in Ukraine. We Ukrainians are now losing our best people, including leftists. These people have taken up arms, among other things, to save you from your principal perennial misfortune — an empire that imagines itself to be a nation-state. But what are you doing for this cause?

It’s sad, but it seems we will again have to wistfully watch you making a disgrace of yourselves and solve the problem of the crazy empire ourselves. I would like to be wrong, of course.

Source: Hanna Perekhoda, Facebook, 28 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


The leader of La France Insoumise Jean-Luc Mélenchon and several dozen Insoumise deputies welcomed three Russian opponents of Vladimir Putin, members of a “coalition of Russian socialists against the war,” to the Assembly on Tuesday evening.

Mélenchon expressed his “emotion” in welcoming Alexei Sakhnin, Andrei Rudoy, and Elizaveta Smirnova, Russian radical left activists who had arrived in France the same day.

“Those who are here are those who resist,” said Mélenchon. “They say to themselves, fortunately there are French people like us. And we say to ourselves, fortunately there are Russians like them,” he added.

Mélenchon thanks Macron

“It is Putin and his oligarchy, they alone, who bear the responsibility for the war in Ukraine,” reminded Mathilde Panot leader of the LFI group in the Assembly, calling on [whom?] “to work to isolate the Russian regime. Welcoming and supporting its opponents is part of it.”

“It is a great joy to have them in our midst safe and sound,” added Mélenchon, assuring the audience that “the struggle would continue for them, and we are committed to their side.”

“Once doesn’t count,” the Insoumise leader said, thanking President Macron “for helping us, from beginning to end,” to bring the Russian opposition activists to France.

“The fear of talking about politics” in Russia

“You cannot imagine the atmosphere that reigns in our country,” said Sakhnin, via a translator, referring to “the fear of talking about politics,” and the fear of being mobilized for the war in Ukraine.

“The news that we are in Paris will cause a sensation in Russia,” explained Rudoy, an activist and blogger, who hopes to “create a new International that could unify the leftists of different countries.”

Elizaveta Smirnova added that “all the work we can do is to enable all the Russian people, who live in fear, to have a voice.”

All three indicated that the international economic sanctions had had “consequences” for the lives of Russians. “The standard of living has collapsed by ten percent,” said Rudoy.

Source: “At the Assembly, La France Insoumise Deputies and Mélenchon Welcome Three Russian Opponents of Putin,” BFMTV, 26 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Living Their Best Lives

“People have been sending [me] this from Paris all morning.”

Source: Darja Serenko, Facebook, 25 October 2022


The movement was born underground, on February 25, the day after Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory, but as its co-founder, Darja Serenko, immediately clarifies, “We were not starting from scratch.” Feminist Anti-War Resistance (Feministskoe antivoennoe soprotivlenie, or FAS) unites 45 organizations that already existed in different sectors, to which dozens of anonymous activists in sixty cities in Russia have been added, not counting those who had to go into exile. It is a network that is increasingly determined to take action and make itself heard.

Her hair short and asymmetric, her gaze direct, Serenko, who was in Paris in early October, is categorical: the violence in Ukraine fuels domestic violence, and vice versa. “War and women’s rights are closely linked,” she explains, “because on the one hand, men, who come back with their traumas, constitute a real danger to them. On the other hand, those who commit the worst crimes [on the battlefield] are often the same ones who are the most brutal at home.” The 29-year-old activist, one of the movement’s few public figures, does not forget to mention the driving force behind the violence — the regime. “Vladimir Putin is the stupidest representation of Russian masculinity,” she says. “He serves, alas, as a model for some Russian men, but he does not represent us. We laugh about it, even if it’s hard to laugh under a dictatorship.”

A poet and literature teacher who had been “fired from everywhere,” the young woman fled Russia to take refuge in Georgia two weeks after the FAS’s creation and her last stint in jail, from February 7 to 23, just before the start of the war. Prosecuted for “extremism” — the presence of the logo of opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation on her Instagram account was enough to merit that charge — she was arrested at the same time as her friend Maria Alyokhina, a member of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. Placed under house arrest, the latter managed to escape in April, disguised as a food delivery courier.

“The time for peaceful resistance is over”

In Russia, the feminist movement has continued to grow as the crackdown on society has expanded, especially in the wake of a law decriminalizing domestic violence, adopted in 2017, with the strong support of the Orthodox Church. But it was indeed the war that united their efforts. Born in Siberia and transplanted to Moscow, Serenko, who is also an LGBT activist, committed herself in 2014, after Russia’s first aggression against Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and the start of the armed conflict in Donbas. “War is a backlash, a crucible of conservatism,” she emphasizes. “During the Second World War, women took the place of men in the rear, before being again excluded from important positions. And voila! They were then sent back to the reproductive front.”

On October 7, in Paris, the activist, invited to testify at a forum organized by Russie-Libertés, bluntly outlined her vision of things today: “The time for peaceful resistance is over. I’ve always been in favor of peaceful protests, but now I’m not.” In fact, FAS activists, linked by a permanently powered Telegram channel that keeps “beeping,” have gone on the offensive with the meager means at their disposal.

In Russia, they produce Zhenskaia Pravda (“Women’s Truth”), an underground newspaper printed on personal printers and distributed surreptitiously, like the samizdat of the Soviet dissidents, in order to “break the information blockade.” They organize, at their own peril, commando operations [sic] such as the one that consisted in installing, overnight, 2,000 memorials in Russia in tribute to the dead of the martyred Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Crosses, sometimes even bearing names, were planted in courtyards “in the same way as Ukrainians were forced to bury their loved ones at the foot of their residential buildings.” They are also involved in the sabotage actions of Russian “partisans” against strategic sites.

More than 200 activists are currently being prosecuted [sic]. On October 21, a court in St. Petersburg sentenced Alisa Druzhina to five days in prison for putting up a banner in the city that read, “The zinc coffin on wheels is already on your street.” According to the prosecution, the young woman is part of the Feminist Anti-War Resistance and her banner must have been posted on their Telegram channel to be taken up by others. This channel, which has 42,000 subscribers, is chockablock with drawings, stickers, and slogans ready to be disseminated. One of them shows Vladimir Putin immersed in a bathtub of blood filled by defense minister Sergei Shoigu.

The “partial” mobilization has increased determination tenfold

Most of the arrested feminists have been sentenced to administrative penalties, but several are still in detention. This is the case, in particular, of Alexandra Skochilenko. Incarcerated since her arrest on March 31, the 32-year-old musician, accused of being part of a “radical feminist group,” faces ten years in prison under a law, adopted at the beginning of the war, on “fake news,” for having switched price tags in a supermarket with anti-war slogans. “By replacing something quite mundane with something different, something unusual, we are showing that there is not a single place in our country that is not affected by the war, and we are not letting people just turn a blind eye to what is happening,” the FAS channel recommends. “We document the war with quotes from Ukrainian women,” says Serenko.

The “partial” mobilization, decreed at the end of September by Vladimir Putin, has increased the determination of feminists tenfold. The volunteers, who are already helping deported Ukrainians seeking to leave Russia, as well as opposition activists facing threats of prosecution, have also mobilized on behalf of men threatened with being drafted. “Women in Dagestan came out to protest against the mobilization, but also in Chechnya where, for the first time in a long time, one hundred and twenty [women[ dared to demonstrate. [Chechen leader Ramzan] Kadyrov brought their husbands [to the protest], telling them, ‘Either you beat them, or we’ll take care of it,'” reports Serenko.

“We also take care of homosexuals and trans people who have not had time to change their papers and have been mobilized,” she adds. (Although often attacked, registering gender change as part of one’s civil status is still possible in Russia.) From their countries of asylum, the activists, who have regrouped abroad, act as relays, “even if it has become more and more difficult with the closing of the borders.” Several of them, lawyers or psychologists by training, offer their services online under the guise of anonymity on both sides. The introduction of martial law in the border regions, on October 19, has caused additional concern. And it’s not a question of generations. “Recently, a babushka threw a Molotov cocktail into a branch of Sberbank in Moscow shouting ‘No war!'” laughs Serenko.

The latter highlights a completely different phenomenon likely to increase the number of women mobilized in the ranks of the FAS. “A lot of ‘cargo 200s’ have been arriving,” she says, thus using the code word, well known in Russia since the Soviet war against Afghanistan, denoting dead soldiers evacuated from the battlefield. For the feminist leader, “war has entered [people’s] homes,” and it is no coincidence, she says, that the most vehement reactions have come from areas such as Dagestan, from which part of the troops sent to the front have left and which have paid a heavy price in terms of casualties. “Many women also understand that there is discrimination. The anti-war movement,” continues Serenko, enthusiastic, “will play an important role because the state is trying to silence the bereaved families, but women, partisans, and minorities have formed a collective that is growing rapidly.”

However, the activist remains lucid: “We have studied several wars, such as Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, and, on average, anti-war campaigns do not make a name for themselves for three years… This was the case with the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers for Chechnya.” Emerging in 1989 in response to the treatment of conscripts in the Russian army, this human rights organization did indeed grown to more than 200 active committees throughout Russia in 1997, three years after the start of the first Russian-Chechen War (1994–1999). In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky, who never ceases to appeal to the mothers and wives of Russian soldiers, often invokes this memory.

Source: Isabelle Mandraud, “En Russie, les féministes contre la guerre,” Le Monde, 25 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


In March, Iraq War veteran Carl Larson took a leave from his digital marketing job in the Puget Sound region to join in the Ukrainian struggle against the Russian invasion of their country.

He spent his toughest weeks in the front-line trenches of northeast Ukraine.

Artillery fire kept him awake through most of the nights, and it was easy to confuse stray dogs walking nearby with Russian soldiers who might be scouting the position of his unit of the International Legion of the Defense of Ukraine.

The risks of exiting the trenches were brutally demonstrated on the afternoon of May 31. Larson and several other soldiers gathered by a command post in a nearby house. A Russian shell hit a tree, then shrapnel fragments struck the head and groin of German legionnaire Bjorn Clavis.

The soldiers lacked a generator to charge their radio, and also a vehicle. So they had to use a runner to summon medics.

Some 40 minutes later, this aid arrived. But Clavis died in an ambulance.

“He lost too much blood,” Larson said.

Larson is convinced Clavis could have been saved if the unit had been able to charge their radios. And since his July return to his home in Snohomish County, he has been raising money to buy generators and other supplies for the legion soldiers, who amid the fall chill have shifted from defensive positions in trenches to joining Ukraine’s fast-moving offensive to reclaim territory held by Russians.

On Thursdays, Larson gathers with a group of legion supporters in a banquet room at European Foods, a grocery and restaurant in north Seattle. Over bowls of borscht and plates of cutlets they share news about the legion and what equipment is needed.

Larson says Ukrainian as well as legion units suffer from supply shortages despite international aid that includes more than $18.2 billion in U.S. government security assistance since 2021.

The legion’s current list of needs includes more cold-weather equipment, drones, communications and vehicles. And some who have served in the legion say that their units, when compared with other front-line forces, have had more serious shortfalls.

“We’re a great PR stunt because ‘Wow, look at all these foreign soldiers who are willing to put their lives on the line for Ukraine,’ ” said Stuart Burnside, a British veteran from Yorkshire who has been in Ukraine since February. “But we’re fed on scraps — to be fair.”

Others say shortages are a shared hardship.

“Unfortunately, right now, the reality is there’s not enough supplies,” said Evelyn Aschenbrenner, an American who left a teaching job in Poland to staff an International Legion administrative job.

Ukraine ‘way more stressful’

The legion was formed by the Ukrainian government to organize combat units of foreigners to fight in the war. The Russian government declared that they would be seen as mercenaries — and if captured, lack the standing of regular-duty troops. But that did not deter a surge of people, many from North America, Great Britain and Europe, but also some from Latin America and the former Soviet Republic, from making their way to Ukraine, where they receive training and are paid for their service.

Larson, 48, had joined the U.S. Army four months after 9/11 and worked as a combat engineer in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As he settled into middle age, he was inspired to take up arms again by what he viewed as the moral imperative of preventing the slaughter of civilians and thwarting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of military conquest.

He said his experiences in Ukraine where “way more stressful and frustrating” than his service in Iraq.

Early on, Larson was dismayed by some of the would-be recruits who had no military experience, or appeared unstable. And Larson initially balked at joining the International Legion, concerned by where he might be sent, what he would be tasked to do and whom he might serve with.

But after discussions with Ukrainian officials, he took a job helping to screen new recruits to the legion and prepare them for service. Then, he joined a legion battalion and spent five weeks in training, much of it as a platoon leader, before deploying to the front.

Larson said his unit took up position in zigzagged trenches, some of which were initially made by German soldiers during World II then reoccupied some eight decades later.

“We just dug them out. They were quite well made,” Larson said.

In the hours before dawn, he sometimes had to deal with business back home — calling contractors to fix a house that he and his wife had purchased in Snohomish County.

Some of the legion soldiers Larson encountered served for a few months and left, others had been in Ukraine since late winter. Most get a code name that can be easily remembered and spoken over the radio. Larson was told his would be Grinch.

Through the course of his service, Larson said the legion evolved, emerging as a more cohesive, fighting force composed largely of a more professional mix of hundreds of military veterans. (Detailed legion troop numbers are not publicly released.)

Larson concluded his military career in Ukraine had dead-ended after clashes with a Ukrainian officer whom he alleged stole money from the unit. The officer was reprimanded but stayed in command, and Larson was assigned a new job digging ditches.

A legion spokeswoman said she could not comment on “individual allegations and individual situations. But she said that “we have firsthand experience standing up against corruption and problematic people. It can be done, and it is done.”

With his wife eager for his return, Larson decided to fly back home to Washington a few weeks earlier than he had planned.

Return to Washington

Back in Washington, Larson has stayed in touch with some of the legion soldiers as they have advanced to towns once held by the Russians. The legion casualty count has climbed.

“Now, we have soldiers who engage in combat, and they are more direct targets for tanks and grenades,” Aschenbrenner said.

Source: Hal Bernton, “Washington vet returns from harrowing Ukraine front-line duty,” Seattle Times, 25 October 2022

Outshined

This tool is called a chicken debeaker. It does exactly what you would expect with a name like that…it partially removes the beaks of chickens in order to reduce cannibalism, egg cracking, and feather pecking. This debeaker would be plugged into an electrical outlet which would heat the opening, like a hot guillotine. The chicken would then be held in place by a human with their beak in the opening. The human would then close the opening by stepping on the foot pedal on the ground thus trimming off a portion of the chicken’s beak. Debeaking is a common practice today in many egg laying facilities although the ethics of this practice has been called into question by many opponents of debeaking.

Source: Murray County Historical Museum, Facebook, 18 October 2022. Lightly edited to eliminate typos.


These handsome kids aren’t studying Russian.

We are announcing a contest for the most interesting story about how you learn Russian!

To enter, you need to publish a post or shoot a video in which you talk in Russian how and why you started learning Russian. You can tell us what difficulties you have encountered and what funny stories have happened to you during your acquaintance with the “great and mighty” language. If you have something to share, then we are waiting for your post.

Be sure to tag the Rossotrudnichestvo account and add the hashtags #ILearnRussianRS #RussianHouse #Rossotrudnichestvo.

The contest will run from October 15 to November 15. On November 22, we will announce three winners on our social media accounts. They receive an annual subscription to the electronic and audiobook service ru.bookmate.com.

Good luck!

Source: Russian House in Kathmandu, Facebook, 19 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader. A quick search revealed that the image used, above, is a stock image entitled “Studying with my boyfriend.”


The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Russian: Федеральное агентство по делам Содружества Независимых Государств, соотечественников, проживающих за рубежом, и по международному гуманитарному сотрудничеству), commonly known as Rossotrudnichestvo (Russian: Россотрудничество), is an autonomous Russian federal government agency under the jurisdiction of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and cultural exchange. Rossotrudnichestvo operates in Central Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe (but mostly in the Commonwealth of Independent States).

The agency was created from its predecessor agency by Presidential decree, signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 6 September 2008, with the aim of maintaining Russia’s influence in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and to foster friendly ties for the advancement of Russia’s political and economic interests in foreign states.

According to OECD estimates, 2019 official development assistance from Russia increased to US$1.2 billion.

Rossotrudnichestvo was assessed by expert observers to be organising and orchestrating synchronous pro-Russian public rallies, demonstrations, and vehicle convoys across Europe in April 2022 in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Demonstrations were held simultaneously in Dublin (Ireland), Berlin, Hanover, Frankfurt (Germany), Limassol (Cyprus), and Athens (Greece).

Source: Wikipedia


Soundgarden, “Outshined” (1991)

Well, I got up feeling so down
I got off being sold out
I’ve kept the movie rolling
But the story’s getting old now
Oh yeah

Well I just looked in the mirror
And things aren’t looking so good
I’m looking California
And feeling Minnesota
Oh yeah

So now you know
Who gets mystified
So now you know
Who gets mystified

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
Yeah it gives me the butterflies, gives me away
‘Til I’m up on my feet again

Hey I’m feeling
Oh I’m feeling
Outshined, outshined, outshined, outshined
Oh yeah

Well someone let the dogs out
They’ll show you where the truth is
The grass is always greener
Where the dogs are shitting
Oh yeah

Well I’m feeling that I’m sober
Even though I’m drinking
Well I can’t get any lower
Still I feel I’m sinking

So now you know
Who gets mystified
So now you know
Who gets mystified

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
Yeah it gives me the butterflies, gives me away
‘Til I’m up on my feet again

I’m feeling
Oh I’m feeling
Outshined, outshined, outshined, outshined

Ooh yeah

Outshined

So now you know
Who gets mystified

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
Yeah it gives me the butterflies, gives me away
‘Til I’m up on my feet again

Oh I’m feeling
Oh I’m feeling

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
And yeah it gives me the butterflies, gives me away
‘Til I’m up on my feet again

Oh I’m feeling
Oh I’m feeling
Outshined, outshined, outshined, outshined

Source: Chris J. Cornell, “Outshined,” as quoted by Musicxmatch

We Do Not Have to Be This Way

I read the following two passages just now in quick succession, quite by chance, while eating lunch:

1) “I would try to kill anyone who harmed or spoke ill of you. You would try to kill anyone who harmed or spoke ill of me. But neither of us would ever, under any circumstance, be honest about yesterday. This is how we are taught to love in America. Our dishonesty, cowardice, and misplaced self-righteousness, far more than how much, or how little we weigh is part of why we are suffering. In this way, and far too many others, we are studious children of this nation. We do not have to be this way.”

2) “In 2014, a U.S.-driven Maidan coup in Ukraine overthrew the elected government and burned down the trade union headquarters building in Odessa, killing 48 people. In opposition to the coup two Russian-speaking provinces of Eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, seceded. The democratic right to self-determination from the nationalist Kiev government which banned the Russian language must be recognized for the Eastern and Southern provinces. The neo-fascist Azov Brigade opened fire on the two newly-founded republics of the Donbas region, killing over 15,000 civilians. African immigrants in Ukraine attempting to flee the war were subjected to racial discrimination by the Zelensky government.”

Yesterday morning, while drinking coffee, I read the following two passages hard on each other’s heels:

3) “As a child, one of my grandmothers wandered Siberia with her mother (in the thirties). She told me many times about a crazy old woman they met. The old woman went around pointing her finger at passersby and saying, ‘The blood of the murdered innocents will fall on everyone. On everyone! On everyone! On everyone!’ I remembered this today. She was right.”

4) “This spiky looking object is an anti-suckling device. The artifact is made up of a nose ring with seven long (and sharp) spikes welded onto it. When the farmer decided that it was time for a calf to be weaned from its mother, they would use this item. The ring would be placed in the nose of a young calf—when the calf would try to nurse from its mother, the spikes would poke the mother causing her pain. The mother would then kick the calf away or avoid the calf to escape the discomfort of being poked.”

Sources: 1) Kiese Laymon, Heavy; 2) Various alleged ILWU members (including Angela Davis), “Stop the Ukraine War—refuse to handle military cargo,” MR Online (thanks to Marxmail for the heads-up); 3) Natalia Vvedenskya, Facebook, 11 October 2022 (translated by the Russian Reader); 4) Murray County Historical Museum, Facebook, 11 October 22. Photo, above, also courtesy of the Murray County Historical Museum.