Attempts by the American press to present Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter arrested for espionage in Russia, as an innocent victim are blatant manipulations, says the Russian Embassy in Washington.
“We draw your attention to another fit of hysteria in the local media about the allegedly unlawful detention of Wall Street Journal correspondent Gershkovich after the Moscow City Court declined to change the pretrial restrictions for the espionage suspect. Shielding itself behind the principles of freedom of speech, the American press has been brazenly trying to interfere with the Russian justice system and to question its independence,” the diplomatic mission noted.
“Attempts to present Gershkovich as an innocent victim, and his subversive activities as [performance of his] journalistic duties are a blatant manipulation. The local media, serving the interests of Washington’s ruling circles, have long been famous for this,” the Russian diplomats pointed out.
The ridiculous Meduza strikes again, now deliberately misnaming the (nonexistent) “Network” (and, by the by, passing off the FSB’s torture-“collaborated” fairytales as facts) after just as deliberately, three years ago, torpedoing the broad-based solidarity movement that had finally sprung up in support of the defendants in the so-called Network Case.*
There is unprecedented public outrage at the verdict and the prison sentences requested by the prosecutor. Hundreds of open letters and appeals—from musicians, poets, cinematographers, book publishers, artists, teachers, and municipal councilors—are published. For the first time in Russia, the practice of torture by the special services is openly and massively condemned. The verdict is called an attempt to intimidate the Russian people. The public demands a review of the Network Case and an investigation of the claims of torture. People stand in a huge queue on Moscow’s Lubyanka Square to take turns doing solo pickets.
But a week later, the wave of indignation is shot down. Meduza publishes a controversial article, “Four Went In, Only Two Returned,” in which a certain Alexei Poltavets confesses to a double murder that he committed, allegedly, with defendants in the Network Case. There had long been rumors about the so-called Ryazan Case—the murders of Artyom Dorofeyev and Ekaterina Levchenko in the woods near Ryazan—within the activist community, but the story had never surfaced, because there was no evidence. There is no evidence now, either: the Network’s involvement in the murder is not corroborated by anything other than the claims made by Poltavets. Poltavets himself is in Kiev, and no formal murder charges are made against the Network. But it is enough to discredit the solidarity campaign. Now, in the eyes of society, those who take the side of the Network Case defendants are defending murderers. Public outrage fades, and the verdict remains the same
Academic freedom in the Putinist dictatorship is the freedom to criticize the enemy:
MARCH 17, 2020 | The media center at the Alexandrinsky Theater’s New Stage (Fontanka Embankment, 49A, St. Petersburg) will host the first event in a series of conversations between the outstanding scholars of our time, on the occasion of the European University in St. Petersburg’s 25th birthday. A conversation between historical sociologist and NYU Abu Dhabi professor Georgi Derlugian and Russian international affairs journalist, political scientist, and editor-in-chief of the magazine Russia in Global Politics Fyodor Lukyanov will open the series of encounter. The topic of their discussion is “TRUMP AND HIS DOCTRINE: HOW THE US PRESIDENT TREATS THE WORLD ORDER WITH SHOCK THERAPY.”
The freedom to imagine that a dictatorship is actually a hipster’s paradise:
MARCH 14, 2023 | The Open Living Room at the Lermontov Library (Liteiny Prospect., 17–19) will host a lecture by Yevgenia Kuziner, a graduate student at the HSE Center for Youth Studies, “POINT OF ATTRACTION: HOW, BY WHOM AND FOR WHOM ARE CREATIVE SPACES CREATED IN THE CITY?” | Starts at 6:30 p.m. | Registration required | Detailed information at https://otkrytaya-gostinaya.timepad.ru/event/2331631/
And the freedom to pretend that real sociology is possible in dictatorships:
APRIL 13, 2023 is the deadline to apply to the 19th Russian-Chinese Sociological Conference, “CONTEMPORARY CITIES AND SOCIAL GOVERNANCE IN RUSSIA AND CHINA,” which will take place April 21–22, 2023. The conference will be held in an online format and hosted by St. Petersburg State University, Russia. The languages of the conference are Russian, Chinese and English. Detailed information at https://soc.spbu.ru/images/nauka/inffo-letter_21-22.04.2023_3.pdf
The Forty-First is a completely original production.
It is chockablock with irony and actorly improvisation.
There will be loads of laughter, convulsive choking back of tears, fond embraces, and love gushing down the throat during this play. As it wafts into the theater’s low flies, the powerful actorly energy is instantly transmitted to the audience.
This is a restoration of Vlad Furman’s legendary production The Forty-First, based on the novel [sic] of the same name by Boris Lavrenyov.
The love story of the Red Army sniper Maria Basova (aka Maryutka), picking off “enemies” one by one (the thirty-first, the thirty-second… the forty-first!), and the White Army officer Govorukha-Otrok (who was to be her forty-first victim, but survives) is known to audiences from Grigory Chukhrai’s eponymous film version, starring Izolda Izvitskaya and Oleg Strizhenov.
Vlad Furman staged The Forty-First at the Mironov Theater in 2000. It was one of the best theatrical productions in Petersburg, and its director and performers were nominated for Petersburg’s highest theatrical honor, the Golden Spotlight.
Boris Lavrenyov’s story is incredibly timely today.
Love is severely tested by the Civil War and differences in political views.
A new generation of actors takes to the stage in this new production of The Forty-First.
Twenty years later, the production features very young artists who have been working with Vlad Furman for several years in stagings of The Merchant of Venice and Medea. The older generation of artists at the Andrei Mironov Theater joins them in this production.
Source: Bileter.ru. Still from the play The Forty-First courtesy of the Andrei Mironov Theater (St. Petersburg). Translated by the Russian Reader
In March 1942, Pierre Matisse, an art dealer and son of the artist Henri Matisse, opened the show Artists in Exile at his gallery in New York’s Fuller Building. It featured one work each by fourteen artists who had fled the rising tide of fascism and totalitarianism in Europe. Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, André Breton , Piet Mondrian, Jacques Lipschitz, Ossip Zadkine, and the other men (not a single woman was shown at exhibition) came from different countries and strata of society and represented different modernist trends in art: Dadaism, Surrealism, Cubism, and De Stijl. Since the late 1930s, these trends had been vilified and condemned, and in many cases their works had been destroyed by the Nazis as so-called degenerate art.
Many of these artists were aided by art dealers and patrons such as Pierre Matisse, and collectors such as Peggy Guggenheim. Museums also played a vital role in helping artists and their immediate families. The first director of the Museum of Modern Art Alfred Barr and his wife, the art historian Margaret Scolari Barr, worked with the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC). The artistic community, founded as it was on humanist principles and nonviolence, generally did what it should have done: it sought to render mutual aid and fight evil.
[These two opening paragraphs seem to have been plagiarized, in translation, from this article, originally published on the website of the WWII National Museum in New Orleans, to which I have already linked above — TRR.]
Eighty-one years later, the director of the seemingly progressive Multimedia Art Museum, Olga Sviblova, appeared at the Knowledge Society Awards in the Kremlin — along with Yana Churikova, Fyodor Bondarchuk, and Polina Gagarina. Immediately after the war started, a year ago, the Garage Museum issued a high-profile essentially anti-war statement and halted all exhibitions. It could have served as an example and an impetus for other institutions to stop the widespread normalization of the war, but this has not happened. A year later, we find that museum’s statement has itself disappeared* from all official sources.
*UPD: We were mistaken. The announcement on the suspension of exhibitions remains on the museum’s website, but doesn’t appear on the main page anymore. The museum also currently shows archive-based artists projects.
Alas, we can safely say that the art community in Russia passively supports the war, living it up in the public space at venues somehow associated with contemporary art. Why is this happening? Shouldn’t the artistic community be grounded in humanist principles and nonviolence? How did it happen that (with rare exceptions) the Russian art scene, which survives mainly on government money but aspires to be part of the global community, has been silent in the midst of war? Juliet Sarkisyan, an art critic who blogs at the Telegram channel Juliet has a gun, answers these questions.
Since the war’s outbreak members of the culture community have been leaving Russia because they do not agree with the state’s current repressive and imperialist policies. They do not see any prospects here at home: they do not want to merge with the masses and have anything to do with the official agenda. They generally leave for the opportunity to speak freely and make art. But some do not see the point in producing the latter at all (at least while the war is going on), since this can free up resources and time for helping Ukrainians, as well as showing solidarity through their silence.
A narrow stratum of the artistic community underwent a reorientation — instead of the usual artistic practices, they have preferred to engage in activism, and art criticism became homogeneous. Some continue to do it anonymously in Russia, while others have been forced to leave the Russian Federation for this reason (and many others). In any case, for reasons of security, I cannot give anyone’s surnames and first names as examples. The other part of the artistic community — apparently, the prevailing one — continues to engage in the production of art, come hell or high water, within Russia’s current system. Putin recently issued a decree on the “Fundamentals of State Cultural Policy,” which is designed to reaffirm traditional values and introduce censorship for cultural events. I would like to take the liberty to criticize cultural workers (opposed to the war) who blindly continue their artistic endeavor inside Russia, while also taking into account all the difficulties and, as it were, the impossibility of choice they face. But first we need to figure out who cultural figures are and what their mission is.
What exactly is this “artistic community” face to face with this war? Are they intellectuals or an intelligentsia? In the modern use of the terms “intelligentsia” and “intellectuals,” there are two markedly pronounced trends. The first is typified by the synonymous use of terms, implying, in fact, the merging of the concepts. The second trend involves preserving and consistently distinguishing both the terminology and the concepts themselves.
Michel Foucault identifies intellectuals “in the political, not the sociological sense of the word, in other words the person who utilizes his knowledge, his competence and his relation to truth in the field of political struggles.” [This passage is not in quotation marks in the original article, although it is a direct quotation.] In the first part of the book Intellectuals and Power [a three-volume 2002 Russian-language compendium of his articles and interviews] Foucault writes: “What we call today ‘the intellectual’ […] was, I think, an offspring of the jurist, or at any rate of the man who invoked the universality of a just law, if necessary against the legal professions themselves (Voltaire, in France, is the prototype of such intellectuals). […] [T]he intellectual has a three-fold specificity: that of his class position (whether as petty-bourgeois in the service of capitalism or ‘organic’ intellectual of the proletariat); that of his conditions of life and work, linked to his condition as an intellectual (his field of research, his place in a laboratory, the political and economic demands to which he submits or against which he rebels, in the university, the hospital, etc.); lastly, the specificity of the politics of truth in our societies” [Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972–1977, ed. Colin Gordon (1980), pp. 128–132].
Antonio Gramsci also spoke about the organic intellectuals mentioned by Foucault. The Italian [sic] believed that there was not one, but many different types of intellectuals. Intellectual activity does not necessarily imply devotion to the ideas of socialism. Most intellectuals, Gramsci noted, were reluctant to change or saw themselves not as conservatives or liberators, but rather as technical thinkers. Gramsci offers a convenient series of distinctions among organic intellectuals, traditional intellectuals, and intellectuals of the new type.
Organic intellectuals form a completely different type of social stratum. Their activity consists “in active participation in practical life, as constructor, organiser, ‘permanent persuader’ and not just a simple orator” (Gramsci, 1971: 10) [sic: Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, ed. and trans. Quentin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (1971), p. 10]. “Organic intellectuals” [quotation marks — sic] not only have special knowledge, but also become legislators of meanings: they have a special understanding of what is happening and are actively involved in politics.
No matter how intellectuals are defined — as bearers of culture or as critically thinking people — it is obvious that in the twentieth century there were significant changes in the organization and nature of intellectual life. The most widespread meaning of the word “intellectual” is even narrower and includes a political dimension. Real intellectuals are those who go beyond their immediate area of expertise to intervene in public policy issues, usually in a spirit of disagreement with the authorities. This concept was first popularized by the archetypal intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre.
And Jürgen Habermas, a major theorist of the Frankfurt School of social philosophy, who has paid serious attention to the theory and practice of politics, was convinced by his own experience of the effectiveness of such an approach to political life. He has argued that “philosophers, along with writers, historians and other experts, should act in the public sphere as intellectuals and least of all as interpreters and elucidators of any one doctrine.” [This is a quotation from an 1989 interview of Habermas by Yuri Senokosov, as published, in Russian translation, in Jürgen Habermas, Democracy, Reason, Morality: Moscow Lectures and Interviews (Moscow: Academia: 1995), pp. 109–110. Judging by the peculiarly specific way it is introduced here by Ms. Sarkisyan, the wording was discovered by her in Elena Iosifovna Kukushkina, “The Intelligentsia in the Political Life of Society,”Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta, Series 12: Political Science, 4 (2012): 21, where the passage in question is incorrectly indicated as being on page `113 of the book —TRR.] In 1953, he took on Martin Heidegger in the wake of the latter’s newly discovered Nazi sympathies in a review of Heidegger’s book Introduction to Metaphysics. In the late fifties and early eighties, Habermas was involved in pan-European anti-nuclear movements, and in the sixties he was one of the leading theorists of the student movement in Germany, although in 1967 he actually broke with the radical core of this movement when he warned about the possibility of “leftist fascism.” In 1977 he protested against the restriction of civil liberties posed by domestic anti-terrorist legislation, and in 1985–1987 he was involved in the so-called historians’ debate on the nature and extent of Germany’s guilt in the war, condemning what he considered historical revisionism of Germany’s Nazi past. He also warned about the dangers of German nationalism in connection with the unification of Germany in 1989–1990.
Intellectuals from different countries — the scientists, writers, artists and humanists of the twentieth century — amassed a wealth of experience in solving problems on a global scale. In the period between the two world wars, they led anti-fascist movements and fought to prevent interethnic conflicts and liberate countries from colonial dependence. By initiating and being actively involved in these campaigns, the world cultural elite demonstrated the intelligentsia’s truly inexhaustible possibilities of the intelligentsia as a force capable of having a tangible impact on political processes at different levels. [This paragraph has been copied almost verbatim from page 22 of Elena Kukushkina’s scholarly article, as cited above — TRR.]
The cultural and artistic community — whether it consists of intellectuals or not — has the weight, influence, and social capital to make the fight against the current regime effective. As for their responsibility, they are capable of exposing the lies of governments and analyzing their actions in terms of causes, motives, and often hidden intentions. Privilege confers opportunity, and opportunity imposes responsibility. For me, the urgent question today is what responsibility should Russian society, in particular the intelligentsia (of which the artistic community is a part), bear when it comes to horrors of the full-scale war in Ukraine. And of course, this question (about the responsibility borne by people of the aggressor nation for the war it has launched) is not new at all.
The philosopher Noam Chomsky, for example, criticized the American government and the Vietnam War in the book [sic]The Responsibility of Intellectuals. Privilege, he argues, entails the responsibility to tell the truth and expose lies. But our intellectual culture supports this ideal only nominally. Yes, it is forbidden in Russia to publicly voice an opinion that differs from the government’s rhetoric. Otherwise, one risks criminal prosecution, which can even lead to imprisonment. What other options are left if a basic human need — freedom of speech — is taken away from us? Are there niches in which we can preserve our humanity while also avoiding tentacles of the state? It seems that during a war it is difficult to engage in aesthetics. It takes us down the path to escapism and the opportunity to close our eyes to everything that is happening around you us. In peacetime, there are trends that establish a certain regime for artists.
But since the beginning of the war, Russian public cultural activity has not undergone any structural changes or even hints of them. New galleries and cultural centers have been opening (e.g., the Zotov Center, Nakovalnya Gallery, and Seréne Gallery), and the old ones continue to operate as if nothing has happened.
Only a few such venues have curtailed their public programs (and not all of them due to political convictions): Typography Contemporary Art Center, Kerka Gallery, the space It’s Not Herе, the Sphere Foundation (the former Smirnov and Sorokin Foundation), Fragment Gallery, and the Garage Museum. Where does normalization come from? The government has been sparing no efort to hide the war crimes that it commits every day, not only with the help of propaganda, but also through attempts to preserve the normal life that existed before the war. Tomorrow will be the same as today. This illusion of normality also occurs in everyday life. The cultural realm has also played a considerable role in generating it. All the existing cultural institutions and people involved to one degree or another in the production of public life are this totalitarian regime’s witting or unwitting opportunists.
The Russian intelligentsia, as represented by the artistic community (if it can be called that at all), is against the war in Ukraine. But even if it verbally opposes war crimes and imperialism, it supports the existing state of things in its actions, thus contradicting itself. Collaboration with institutions (especially those directly dependent on the Russian federal culture ministry, whose head in an interview called for killing Ukrainians) and the absence of discussion about rethinking the cultural field within the country suggest that the cultural community refuses to react at all to the events taking place this minute in Ukraine. It refuses to accept any responsibility for what is happening.
Fairs, exhibitions, public educational outreach, and the production of uncritical art only perpetuate the status quo and play along with the official agenda. To understand what I am talking about, look at the list of exhibitors at the Cosmoscow Art Fair in September 2022. The fair, to which Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was invited, imposed strict censorship on its participants.
This familiar pre-war environment is exactly what the government wants to see. We have seemingly begun to forget that we live in a totalitarian state, and everything we produce on its territory is part of it and monitored thanks to the presence of a single comprehensive ideology. What kind of art production can we talk about when there is strict censorship of all legal channels of information? Censorship is usually exercised in the name of so-called national security interests or as part of larger-scale campaigns to protect morality. (In our case, this is the policy to preserve and strengthen “traditional Russian spiritual and moral values.”)
Regimes try to monopolize artistic production either by co-opting artists to the point that they become mouthpieces and servants of the state, or by restricting the access of independent artists to places for displaying and implementing artistic expression. What kind of independent public art can we talk about? The usual strategies of artistic activity no longer work. It’s time to admit it.
We have begun to forget that no uncritical culture is possible at a time when the mass killings of civilians, violence, and torture are taking place daily, and the integrity of a sovereign neighboring state is being destroyed. What kind of art production in the Russian Federation is there to talk about when you are a member of the aggressor nation? Even if you adhere to an anti-war stance, how can art in state-controlled institutional venues be perceived from the outside as anything other than serving this regime?
Russian culture should be held accountable for the war in Ukraine. But people often downplay the importance of culture in political and public life, regarding it as a separate part of the personal realm rather than as a fusion of the forms of social interaction. We need to recognize that the current regime did not suddenly emerge on February 24, 2022. It had to be built up and supported for many years to officially establish itself once and for all and launch a full-scale war in Ukraine. All these years we ignored this build-up, living in a world of illusions. Unfortunately, this illusion is still maintained. In many ways, it is created by part of the cultural and artistic communities.
Many people who have remained in Russia might not agree with me. How can artists earn money without resorting to public utterance and without cooperating with institutions? How can galleries stop working? After all, this is their source of income (although it often does not bring in money, but vice versa). How can we just come to a standstill and not produce anything?
But does everyone really continue to work because of economic dependence, and not out of social necessity — that is, because they belong to a scene where there is a fear of losing the context that gives a person meaning? It boils down either to staying, accepting the state of things, and leading your normal life (as far as it is possible to do that at all now) or giving up on it and leaving. Of course, this dichotomy is not the only one: there are many other ways of living this war. None of us, including me, has answers to these questions. The question, rather, is whether we are aware of what kind of force and political dimension our position can have and what responsibility we should have to Ukraine. Time will pass and the question will arise: how did the Russian intellectual community behave during the war? Silence is also an answer, however.
In April, the project for restoring the Arch of Triumph, the most famous structure of the Syrian city of Palmyra, should be ready and presented to the public, according to our sources involved with restoring the ancient city.
The Petersburg organizations involved in the project have been doing their design work remotely. They considered it safer because, according to the restorers, not all the terrorists in Syria have been “pacified” yet.
The restoration is coordinated by the Institute of the History of Material Culture (IIMC RAS), which signed an agreement on the restoring the arch with the Syrian Department of Antiquities in March of last year. The details of the agreement are unknown. In November of last year, the archaeological excavations were completed. The project also involves the State Hermitage Museum and the architectural firms of Maxim Atayants and Studio 44. Atayants, as a connoisseur of antiquity, is more responsible for the “theoretical” part, that is, for the choice of approach. Five specialists from Studio 44, including Nikita Yavein, the head of the firm, are involved, and they are working on technical issues. According to sources, other firms are also involved — for example, the restoration company Agio.
The Arch of Triumph itself was built during the reign of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (193–211 CE) and, apparently, glorifies his victories. It underwent restoration involving reinforced concrete elements in the 1930s. The arch was partially destroyed in 2015, during the Syrian civil war. The central span and one of the pylons collapsed.
More alive than Buddha
Until recently, it had not been decided exactly how to restore the arch — to its state at the time when terrorists attempted to blow it up (which means reproducing the version produced by the restorers in the 1930s), or in some other way. The Venice Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites stipulates that monuments should be preserved in the form in which they have come down to our time. According to established practice, reconstruction by means of anastylosis, as the most sparing method, is permitted for ancient ruins. In this approach, the surviving stones are put back in place. But experts do not want to limit themselves only to anastylosis in the case of Palmyra.
First, it would look uninteresting: the edifice would not make the proper impression, and it is probably not worth the effort. Second, much of the stone in the lower part of the arch has been lost or compromised and would still have to be reinforced or recreated. According to the IIMC RAS, about 40% of the structure remains standing. Another 30% of the stone blocks are not in their place, but they can be used in the restoration. The remaining sections are partly or completely destroyed. That is, there is slightly less genuine material than is usually required for a restoration (i.e., 80-90% of authentic stone). UNESCO has long refused to restore the statues of Buddha blown up by the Taliban in Afghanistan (they have not yet been restored) precisely on the grounds that a significant part of the stone was lost.
Meanwhile, the project for the arch must also be vetted by UNESCO since Palmyra is a World Heritage Site. Moreover, not everything is cut and dried when it comes to UNESCO, as shown, for example, by the rather critical report issued by its monitoring mission that visited Russia in 2019.
Two arguments have been drawn up to justify the design decisions to high-level international institutions. First, that the recreation would be reversible. That is, sometime in the future the arch could be disassembled again if so desired and the new inclusions (such as the “crowns” on the stone blocks) removed, and it would look more or less as it looked before it was blown up. The second argument is that the arch is a symbol of both Palmyra and all of Syria. And in the case of symbols, recreation seems to be permitted.
The issue turns out to be largely legal. Perhaps that is why Alexei Mikhailov, the deputy chair of the city’s Landmarks Use and Preservation Committee (KGIOP), known, in particular, for his work designed historical preservation zones in central Petersburg, has been appointed to the team of restorers. In a comment to the TV channel Saint Petersburg, Mikhailov drew an analogy with Notre Dame Cathedral. Located in Paris, like UNESCO’s headquarters, the cathedral is currently undergoing reconstruction after a fire in 2019.
“We are now drawing the parallel that the arch of Palmyra is as much of a symbol as Notre Dame is for Paris. And it is a reconstruction that is underway there. This is very important and must be conveyed to our international colleagues. It will determine which form of restoration will be employed,” Mikhailov said.
Our sources say that negotiations were held with Petersburg restorers about restoring other sites in Palmyra and Syria. Apparently, they intensified after the devastating earthquake that hit Syria about a month ago. (According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), aftershocks from that quake continue to occur.) Last week, Vedomosti reported, citing a diplomatic source, that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is scheduled to visit Russia. As one of that newspaper’s sources suggests, he may ask for Moscow’s help in recovery work.
Scholars without borders
Petersburg experts agree that it is necessary to maintain world heritage. They disagree only about whether such aid is a burden or not.
“I don’t think it’s a lot of money compared to other government spending,” Alexander Kitsula, vice president of the St. Petersburg Union of Architects, told DP. At the same time, he noted that, with all due respect to the history of Petersburg, the antiquities of Palmyra “are incomparably more important than the excavations at Okhta Point.”
“It is wrong to let world culture be lost in any case, and if our country has reserves that can be sent there, it is probably the right thing to do. But, of course, our country also has huge holes in this area,” he believes. The expert emphasizes that Russia’s antiquities are no less in need of attention than foreign ones.
“My personal opinion is that we still have tons of work to do here at home. And this is far from a first-degree problem for the Russian Federation in general. But if someone has decided that it has to be done, then it has to be done,” Pasechnik added.
Alexei Kovalyov, a researcher at the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, sees no problems in the fact that our scholars are also at work in Palmyra.
“St. Petersburg has been one of the world’s major centers for archaeology. Our expeditions are working in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and our expedition in Iraq has just been resumed. Such projects are part of our international policy: they are usually funded per intergovernmental agreements. In the case of Palmyra, this means the Syrian side,” Kovalev explained. He also added that there are many specialists in ancient monuments working in Petersburg who know the peculiarities of the architecture of the period to which Palmyra belongs.
On February 23, Nikolai Zodchii was detained by police in Khabarovsk for appearing in public with these images of Vladimir Putin, which had originally appeared in broadcasts on state-run Channel One. Thanks to the indomitable VB for the snapshot and the heads-up, and for his personal fortitude in dismal circumstances. ||| TRR
When contacted by the media, the Kommunalnik health resort, located in the Omsk Region, refused to comment on reports of the death of a female Russian national during a speed pancake-eating contest.
Earlier, it was reported that a female contestant at a speed pancake-eating competition in the Omsk Region had choked to death. Currently, the exact cause of death is unknown, but the contestant’s death has been confirmed by law enforcement agencies. The 38-year-old female Russian national [rossiyanka] died before the ambulance arrived.
The celebration at which the pancake-eating competition took place was held at the Kommunalnik health resort in the Omsk Region on Saturday, February 25.
A spokesperson for the health resort refused to comment on reports of the death of the female Russian national and the absence of an ambulance team at the competition site.
In December 2022, it was reported that a 61-year-old resident of the Moscow Region had died after choking on a pancake.
Russians had been warned against overeating pancakes during Shrovetide. According to specialist Boris Mendelevich, overeating pancakes cooked with large amounts of oil is harmful to the body. In addition, heavy food can cause complications in the gastrointestinal tract.
Riot police officers in St. Petersburg detained 131 teenagers over a mass brawl that occurred in the Galereya shopping center, the media reports.
The publication [sic], citing police sources, indicated that the PMC Redan teenage subculture was involved in the incident.
It is reported that other minors attacked a teenager in clothes embossed with a spider, which is the symbol of PMC Redan. One teenager was injured during the brawl.
Riot police arrived at the scene and detained 131 individuals. The Galereya shopping center was closed for entry, and shoppers were released only after police checked them.
Earlier, it was reported that Novosibirsk law enforcement officers had staged a dragnet to detain teenagers devotees of the PMC Redan subculture. The raid took place in the eponymous [sic] Galereya shopping center.
According to the head of the Safe Internet League, PMC Redan (as well as anime in general) is a “depressive-aggressive subculture,” and animeshniks themselves espouse violence and are willing to use it.
Such subcultures emerge, [Ekaterina] Mizulina argues, because teenagers have too much free time, as well as due to the manipulations of irresponsible bloggers and provocateurs who are encouraged by foreign states to engage in them.
In this regard, Mizulina suggests that “it is interesting to package the right meanings for children,” ideologically attack “all these spiders”, and also introduce control over social networks and the media — namely, to prohibit the coverage of “such topics.”
“No one has done more to popularize this local phenomenon than the media and social networks. […] Redan cells are growing like mushrooms after rain from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad,” Mizulina writes.
At the same time, it has been the state-run media that has written most about the activities of the so-called PMC Redan. Before them, information about teenage animeshniks strolling through shopping malls in telltale clothes appeared mainly on local community social media pages.
Source: Alexei Paramonov, “Ekaterina Mizulina urges media ban on PMC Redan,” Kartoteka, 26 February 2023. Translated by TRR. Fontanka.ru published this long, strange tirade-cum-report about the clash between riot police and teenagers at the Galereya shopping center in Petersburg (which is a stone’s throw from our house), on the one hand, and between “redans” and “ofniks,” on the other. If you donate one hundred dollars to this website, I’ll translate and publish that article here, although it left me hardly less befuddled about what happened in my old neighborhood this past weekend than before I’d read it.
The Cheryomushkinsky Court of Moscow placed house arrest on the leader of the Redan youth group
The Cheryomushkinsky Court of Moscow sent one of the leaders of the youth informal group “PMC Redan” under house arrest, reports TASS.
He is accused of attacking a teenager in the metropolitan metro – under part 2 of article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code (Hooliganism with the use of weapons or objects used as weapons), the court noted. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for up to seven years.
According to the agency, initially the investigators demanded that the accused be sent to a pre-trial detention center, but the court did not agree with this. Earlier, the Cheryomushkinsky court sent three more accomplices to the crime under house arrest.
On February 23, a teenager who was a member of the PMC Redan was beaten at the Lubyanka metro station. Teenagers wear long dark hair and spider badges on their clothes. They were inspired by the Genea Redan gang from the Hunter x Hunter manga. The symbol of this group is a spider with the number four. It is specified that young people oppose football fans, natives from the Caucasus and migrants.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged the possibility of Russia facing a breakup in the future, with its population to be divided into separate nations, the country’s news agency TASS reported on Feb. 26.
Putin’s interview with Rossiya 1 TV channel marks the first time that the Russian dictator has publicly commented on the potential disintegration of Russia.
According to him, “if the West manages to make the Russian Federation collapse and to assume control of its fragments,” the Russian people may not survive as a nation.
“If we go down this path (of Russia’s collapse — ed.), I think that the fate of many peoples of Russia, and first of all, of course, the Russian people, may change drastically,” Putin said.
“I even doubt that such an ethnic group as the Russian people will survive as it is today, with some Muscovites, Uralian and others remaining instead.”
In addition, the Russian president claimed that “these plans are set out on paper.”
“But it’s all there, it’s all written, it’s all on a piece of paper,” Putin said.
“Well, now that their attempts to reshape the world exclusively for themselves after the collapse of the USSR have led to this situation, well, of course, we’ll have to respond to this.”
“They have one goal of liquidating the former Soviet Union and its main part, the Russian Federation. And later, [after liquidating Russia] they will probably admit us to the so-called family of civilized peoples, but only by parts, each part separately,” he said.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov earlier said that the West has not yet made a final decision on what to do with Russia and does not understand how the full-scale war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine should end. However, the world should prepare for the collapse of Russia.
Previously, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that after the war is over, Russia will disintegrate into separate statelets, while Ukraine will retain its sovereignty and independence.
This is the 7×7 team on the line. This newsletter has been written by Oleg Gradov. What inspired the environmental protests at Shiyes and why there is no mass protest nowadays is the subject of our newsletter today.
Approximate reading time: 4 minutes.
I’m sorry if you’re from Moscow and our headline hurts your feelings. No one will be scolding the residents of the capital in this newsletter. The quote “Moscow lost its fucking mind” refers only to the leadership of that city and our country, but we will talk more about this later.
One of the few successful cases of protest in Russia’s recent history is Shiyes. In 2018, the authorities decided to construct a landfill in the Arkhangelsk Region to dispose of the waste produced by residents of the Russian capital. The locals did not like it, they started holding protest rallies, and eventually the landfill project was canceled. For this newsletter, I spoke with Dmitry Sekushin, one of the participants and coordinators of the Shiyes protest movement. Marina Feldt, an ex-staffer with the Navalny organization in Arkhangelsk, spontaneously joined our conversation.
What is Shiyes?
Shiyes is a small railway station in the southeast of the Arkhangelsk Region on the border with the Komi Republic. Protests against the landfill took place between 2018 and 2021. The protests at Shies were heavily supported by residents of the Arkhangelsk Region: [according to a poll by the Levada Center] 95% were opposed to the landfill, while 25% were willing to attend unsanctioned protest rallies. The activists were supported by both Russian and foreign journalists, as well as by residents of thirty Russian regions who were concerned about environmental problems and held protests in their own cities.
“The metropole does what it wants”
Where does such support for a regional protest come from? “The landfill itself would have made only a few people want to fight back,” says Dmitry Sekushin. “You have to understand how people feel about this. In our case, it was the feeling that we are a colony, and the metropole does what it wants with us. The idea that Moscow had lost its fucking mind united people.”
Realizing that you were part of a whole, not a splinter, was an important piece in the protests at Shiyes. People were aware of their responsibility for their native land and were proud of their background. “If someone in 2017 in Arkhangelsk had said that he was a Pomor, people would have thought that he was a freak. But in 2019, everyone was already proud to call themselves Pomors. This does not mean that we want to see Pomorye separated from Russia. It was just a unifying factor,” says Dmitry.
People can unite without becoming a homogeneous mass. The protests at Shiyes were environmental, not political: the activists’ demands had to with the basic human right to a decent environment. “One shouldn’t see the mass of protesters who defended Shiyes as ants,” Dmitry says on this score. “They were completely different people. I don’t see anything surprising about the fact that many of the protesters turned out to be fascists [i.e., they now support the war or are involved in it — 7×7]. They were like that in the first place.”
The goal makes all the difference
An achievable goal defines the methods of protest. “We had a goal — getting the [Shiyes landfill] project canceled. Not overthrowing Putin, not overthrowing Orlov, our [regional] governor. The goal was to shut down the project,” Sekushin emphasizes. Politicizing the protests at Shiyes could have a negative impact on the movement.
However, every day the activists were approached by people who argued that they were “protesting the wrong way.” “Some were dissatisfied with the fact that we did not talk about politics and did not chew out Putin,” says Sekushin.
To preserve the environmental component of the protests, Dmitry had to partly abandon media publicity from the opposition. “In the first few months of our protest, around December 2018, I wrote to Leonid Volkov asking Navalny not to say anything about Shiyes. I understood that the authorities would hold Navalny against us,” he says.
If you hang out on VK, you’ll go down on criminal charges
The activists used social networks to unite the protesters: they ran accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as a group page on VK. In Russia’s regions, VK remains one of the primary social networks even now, despite all the security risks. “We used VKontakte for contact with the outside world. It is wildly popular in the Arkhangelsk Region — 85-90% of social media users are on it. But for internal matters, we used only Telegram, which is a more secure network,” says Sekushin.
Nowadays, many activists do not trust Telegram, preferring instead such open-source messaging apps as Signal and Element.
Why are there no mass protests now?
Whereas, during peacetime, activists tried to separate environmental protests from political protests, it is almost impossible to do so now. On 26 February 2022, the Pechora Rescue Committee published a post on its VK group page demanding an end to the hostilities. “Protecting social, environmental and other human and civil rights is impossible in conditions of war,” the activists wrote in their statement. Movements that were originally focused on the environment began to make political demands, and the environmental protest movement was politicized.
“Last year there were no mass protests in Russia because people are afraid,” he says. “Because they’ve learned to be helpless. This is the result of the yearslong destruction of critical thinking and political competition, and the yearslong implicit social contract [between the Putin regime and the Russian people]: ‘You don’t meddle in politics, and we don’t interfere with your lives.’ This agreement is no longer valid, but it’s too late to change anything.”
At this point, Marina Feldt, an ex-staffer at the Navalny organization’s office in Arkhangelsk, joins my conversation with Dmitry. She argues that people in Russia support the war because it gives them positive emotions.
“The main idea of the protests at Shiyes was ‘Moscow is fucked in the head,'” she says. “This is the idea of disconnection: there is Moscow, and and then there is us — Pomorye. But the war in Ukraine is driven by the idea of unification. People in the regions often lack a sense of involvement with the rest of Russia; it seems to them that that they are unwanted. But this war is where people can feel needed by their Motherland. The government has humiliated people so much that now they can rejoice in something that would not be considered decent under normal circumstances.”
Dmitry Sekushin argues that any country can be brought to such a state: “If you propagandized a European country like this for twenty-two years, it too would become fascist.”
In one of his interviews from the dungeons of the Rostov pretrial detention center, Dagestani journalist Abdulmumin Hajiyev commented on the everyday lives of inmates: “Lately, I’ve been thinking about taking cooking lessons. For some reason, there has been a skilled cook in every cell I’ve inhabited since Makhachkala. Sirazhutdin (Kumyk), Magomed (Avar), Rutem and Alim (Crimean Tatars) — I always admired the enthusiasm and care with which those guys spent several hours every day cooking something delicious for their cellmates with only a bucket and an immersion hot-water boiler to hand. Hajiyev also mentions Alim Karimov, a defendant in the Crimean Hizb ut-Tahrir case, with whom he has shared a cell for a over year a year. Over this time, Alim has learned Arabic.
Yesterday, a Russian court sentenced Karimov and four other defendants, among whom there are pensioners with disabilities, to thirteen years in prison each. The two years it took to try the case on the merits were memorable in several ways. There was an ambulance present at the hearings, but its crew did not provide qualified medical care to the defendants, who were forbidden to speak Crimean Tatar during the proceedings. Putting old men in the dock for talking about Islam had nothing to do with the letter of the law. Instead, it speaks to Islamophobia cloaking itself in the law’s guise, and to the disgrace of the foot soldiers who executed this drama.
A few days ago, my fellow journalist had the opportunity to hand over to me his new articles, one of which tells the story of Ernes Ametov, a cellmate from Crimea, who was sentenced to eleven years in prison by a military court in late December because he would not do a deal with a lie.
Today, Russia’s Southern District Military Court again handed down a verdict to a Crimean Tatar religious figure. Imam Raif Fevziev was sentenced to seventeen years in a high-security penal colony (with the first three years to be served in an ordinary prison) for having a seventy-minute conversation about religion. His trial took place at the same time as the trial of Crimean defendants in another criminal case. Friends and colleagues of Fevziev’s — the religious figures Ismet Ibragimov, Vadim Bektemirov, Aider Dzhapparov, and Lenur Khalilov — had earlier been sentenced to brutal terms of imprisonment by the very same court. These are textbook political persecutions: the NKVD used the same methods, in the past, to eradicate and destroy religious and public figures who had influence among the people.
It is quite difficult to cope with such a merciless chronicle of crackdowns. But when you see and feel what kind of regime you have come face to face with, and how the political prisoners, their families, and a whole people wisely and peacefully oppose it, you have no choice but to recharge your batteries, be more resilient, and go on working, while believing ever more fiercely that change will come.
I read in a book that a system based on segregation and tyranny is a large-scale manmade disaster. The people involved in perpetuating it may well understand that the breakdown of such a “juggernaut” is inevitable, and that they themselves, collectively, are causing the breakdown. But each of them assumes that it’s not their own personal fault, but everyone else’s. Each of them, on the contrary, believes that they are trying to save it — through cruelty, by cracking down on those dubbed “enemies” and “undesirables.” Ultimately, however, they fail to save it.
Source: Mumine Saliyeva, Facebook, 12 January 2023. Translated by Hecksinductionhour
These are scenes from a May 2008 session of Petersburg’s Street University, a grassroots undertaking that I helped launch in response to the Putin regime’s sudden, underhanded shutdown of the nearby European University in February 2008. I unearthed these snapshots from my long-dormant Photobucket account, about whose existence I was reminded by an email from the service that I found by accident in my spam folder whilst working on this post earlier this morning. I think it’s a nice illustration of the point made, below, by Armen Aramyan, who must have been nearly the same age as Tasya, the little girl in the second and third pictures, when I took them. If the war can be stopped and Russian society can be salvaged in the foreseeable future, however, it will require a lot more than creative “sociology,” the right combination of critical theories, the power of (“progressive”) positive thinking, and hypervigilant discursive gatekeeping. At minimum, it will require a massive manifestation. This would be different in kind and magnitude from the current instances of grassroots resistance that Mr. Aramyan enumerates below, which are almost entirely the work of lone individuals, not the actions of a seriously mobilized grassroots or, much less, of a more or less widespread and vigorous “anti-war movement.” ||| TRR
Hi, this is Armen Aramyan!
On Monday, iStories published a column by its editor, Roman Anin, in which he laments the moral degradation that “has engulfed not only the so-called elites, but also society.” He claims that the majority of Russians support military aggression, and that the political system is in such decline that we can make predictions about Russia’s future by invoking the discourse of primatology.
“Human DNA is 99% the same as the DNA of chimpanzees, whose entire polity revolves around the alpha male. While the alpha male is young and strong, he keeps the whole pack at bay, manages the distribution of resources, mates with all the females, and severely punishes those who question his authority. But as soon as the alpha male begins to age and show signs of weakness, a fierce war to take his place ensues. […] In my opinion, the Russian political system today is not much different from the power arrangements in chimpanzee troops.”
There is no grassroots resistance in the Russia about which Anin writes. There is no torching of military enlistment offices, no teachers who refuse to conduct propaganda lessons, no activists who assist Ukrainians in getting out of Russia. There are no people prosecuted for speaking out and acting against the authorities. There are only big shots who divvy up the loot behind closed doors.
But activists and anti-war resistance do exist, and [some] sociologists have claimed that the pro-war segment of Russian society is a small minority that is averse to political action of any kind.
Why do we continue to encounter such remarks?
I would suggest calling the worldview that informs such remarks Naive Anti-Putinism, or NAP.
NAP sees Russia as a fringe country. The processes in it can be explained only through allusions to fantasy novels, such as dubbing Russia “Mordor,” from The Lord of the Rings, or referencing the Harry Potter universe. (Have the images from fantasy novels run out and we are now on the Planet of the Apes?) Russia is so unique that there are processes taking place in it that don’t exist anywhere else (with the possible exception of North Korea). This Russia suffers from a patriarchal regime and a total absence of democratic institutions. (That is, power belongs to individual groups and their leaders, who do not rely on any institutions). The enlightened achievements of European democracies have not yet reached Russia, and so now we are doomed to live amidst an endless Games of Thrones (to invoke yet another fantasy novel comparison). In this system, all that remains for us is to analyze what intrigues the different Kremlin clans are pursuing.
Resistance, grassroots movements, the struggle for democracy, and revolution are impossible in this reality. So, all that naive anti-Putinists are capable of doing is resorting to moral critiques delivered from a superior position and continuing to admonish us that the common folk in Russia are bad, having failed to accept the enlightened achievements of European democracies. If there is no democracy [in Russia], [that is because] the ordinary folk simply don’t want it. That is NAP’s entire explanatory arsenal.
Naive Anti-Putinism does not envision the possibility of change in Russia, much less revolution or the destruction of Putin’s elite. It is a readymade scheme that enables certain groups in society to make peace with reality and continue to watch the new season of Game of Thrones.
For example, if you are a businessman or an IT worker who relocated [to another country] after the war’s outbreak and invested all your resources in adapting to a new place (most likely — quite successfully), you probably don’t really want to figure out how to build democracy in Russia and support the grassroots resistance.
But you can also imagine another situation: you are a researcher who has spent a great deal of time and effort investigating how the power elite throws bags of money around. Probably, at some point, you might imagine that there is nothing else besides this cynical redistribution of the loot.
But if we want to end the war and build democracy in Russia, we need to think differently. Even if we imagine that this is impossible right now, do we really think that democracy is altogether impossible in Russia? And if it is possible, what would it look like in reality? What movements would be needed to make it happen? How would they gain power? How would this power be redistributed and how to make sure that it is not abused? These are the questions that should concern all of us members of the anti-war movement on a daily basis.
Centuries of class, colonial, and gender oppression led to the emergence of strong theories elucidating the structure of power in modern societies. The crises of the nineteenth century spurred the elaboration of theories about class and capitalism. Representattives colonized peoples, as well as their allies in the West, formulated theories about how imperialism and colonialism function. Activists and theorists of women’s movements offered accounts of how gender dominance operates in modern societies.
If we reject the entire legacy of critical theory, as many NAPpers do, then we need to propose something else. But this something is definitely not primatology or allusions to Harry Potter. But one might have to read other books to to find this something else.
P. S. But also do not assume that the animal kingdom — and in particular the political systems of primates — is so primitive. Usually, reducing people to animals is a conservative move whose purpose is to show that human relations are grounded in competition and the struggle for survival, in which the strongest win. I recommend reading this essay by the anthropologist David Graeber, in which he argues that this is not at all the case.
Source: Armen Aramyan, DOXA Anti-War Newsletter #313 (10 January 2023). Mr. Aramyan is one of the editors of the online anti-war magazine DOXA. In April 2021, he and three other editors of the then-student magazine were sentenced to two years of “correctional labor” (i.e., community service) over a video questioning whether it was right for teachers to discourage students from attending rallies protesting opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s incarceration. Translated by the Russian Reader
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The trade union Courier called for Yandex food delivery workers to strike from December 20 to December 25.
The workers claim that their situation has deteriorated considerably since Yandex took over Delivery Club and subsequently monopolized the industry. The union said that couriers are constantly discriminated against through a rigid system of fines and a lack of legal guarantees.
Supporters of the strike demand a return to the practice of drawing up regular employment contracts between management and couriers instead of independent contractor and self-employment contracts. They also insist on reinstating the order fee in the amount of 110 rubles, revising the system of fines, and reducing the delivery range for foot couriers to three kilometers.
In addition, they have demanded the release of the head of the trade union, Kirill Ukraintsev, who was arrested in April for violating the law on protest rallies.
The first stage of the strike is planned for Moscow and St. Petersburg; in the capital, about 600 couriers may not go to work. The trade union has called for Yandex Taxi drivers to join the action, as well as blocking the cash desks of restaurants.
Citing the Yandex Eats press service, Kommersantwrites that the company is unaware of any dissatisfaction with working conditions. At the same time, the press service emphasizes that the average salary of couriers increased by 30% over the past year.
Late last year, Yandex couriers protested in Kemerovo. In April 2022, dissatisfaction among delivery workers was caused by a 20% reduction in wages, prompting talk of a possible strike. Denying the problems voiced, Yandex has constantly reported about bonuses for its couriers, including life and health insurance and improved working conditions.
During the company’s weekly open video call (these events are dubbed “hurals”) on the morning of Friday, December 23, a Yandex executive informed staffers that its security service had tracked down an employee who had been in contact with editors at The Village for an article about how censorship works at Yandex News. The employee would be fired, he said. Thus, it had taken the company a mere seventeen hours to trace one of our sources. Yandex does not make public comments.
Yesterday, The Village published a major investigation by journalist Andrei Serafimov detailing how, after the start of the war, a group of developers at Yandex made it their mission prove the existence of censorship at Yandex News, the service that, for over a decade, has provided millions of Russians with their “picture of the day.” The service handpicked the “top stories” from the media that would be shown on Yandex’s main page.
Journalists had previously surmised that only news from handpicked, government-approved media outlets made it on the Yandex main page: even the former head of Yandex News had said that there was a “whitelist” of such outlets. Our investigation has shown, for the first time, what these whitelists (both Moscow and national) look like. In conversation with former and current Yandex employees who have been researching the way Yandex News is coded, we found out which news outlets have a chance to be featured in the “picture of the day,” as well as how the “trusted” algorithm works. Presumably, it marks “pre-approved” media that are never “penalized for headlines.” These fifteen outlets contribute the vast majority of the top national news stories featured on Yandex News.
We recommend that you read the full investigation and share it on social media, as well as purchase a subscription —this is the only way we can publish more such stories. The Village receives no grants and does not collaborate with any national government.
Vladimir Rumyantsev, a former factory boiler plant stoker from Vologda, has been sentenced to three years in prison. He was found guilty of violating the article [in the Russian criminal code] on disseminating “fake news” about the Russian army. He had his own underground radio station on which he spoke out against the war.
The criminal charges against the 61-year-old man were made public on July 14. The next day, the court remanded him in custody to a pretrial detention center. On December 20, in a hearing at the Vologda City Court, the prosecutor requested that Rumyantsev be sentenced to six years in a penal colony.
The grounds for the criminal case were Rumyantsev’s posts on social media, as well as the fact that the man was spreading information about the war in Ukraine via his amateur radio station.
The podcast Hello, You’re A Foreign Agent, produced by journalists Sonya Groysman and Olga Churakova, described Rumyantsev as a music lover, local amateur historian, and creator of the video blog Vovan Media. The man worked for twenty years as a boiler plant stoker at a local machine tool factory, and after its closure, as a municipal trolleybus conductor.
His underground radio station operated on transmitters purchased on AliExpress. Rumyantsev built it eight years ago and regularly went on the air, mostly playing Soviet hits. After the outbreak of the war, he began to pay more attention to political topics. In the summer, he was the first person in Vologda charged with disseminating “fake news” about the Russian army.
Rumyantsev pleaded not guilty to the charges. It is not known whether his radio station had listeners and how many listeners it did have, according to Groysman’s special report on TV Rain [see below].
The article on dissemination of “fake news” about the military, as prompted by political hatred (Article 207.3.2.d of the Russian Federal Criminal Code), which Rumyantsev was accused of violating, stipulates a maximum punishment of ten years in prison.
Previously, long prison sentences for violating this article were handed down to Alexei Gorinov, a deputy of the Krasnoselsky municipal district in Moscow, and opposition politician Ilya Yashin. They were sentenced to seven years and eight and a half years in prison, respectively.
Vologda boiler plant stoker Vladimir Rumyantsev was found guilty of disseminating “fake news” about the army on the pacifist radio station he created. 61-year-old Rumyantsev faces up to six years in a medium security penal colony. According to the investigation, and now the trial court, Rumyantsev published reposts about the SMO in Ukraine on his VK page, and also broadcast audio reports that the Investigative Committee considers “fake news” about the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation at a frequency of 91.7 MHz.
From the very beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Russian authorities have been waging another war — against Russian citizens who do not support the invasion. In the seven months since the laws virtually establishing wartime censorship were adopted, more than four thousand charges have been filed for alleged violations of the law against “discrediting” the army. According to OVD Info, the defendants in these criminal cases are 116 people whose stories usually warrant only a couple of lines in the news. Sonya Groysman’s film is about these people, who despite everything have remained in Russia.