“Focus”: The Lesson of Shiyes

Dmitry Sekushin. Photo courtesy of 7×7

Hi!

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.

Fewer people showed up for the anti-war rallies in 2022 than for the [2021] rallies in support of Alexei Navalny. Dmitry argues that the reason for people’s passive behavior is fear.

“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.”

If you like this newsletter, subscribe to my Telegram channel.

Source:  Oleg Ogradov, “The idea that Moscow had lost its fucking mind united people,” Focus (an email newsletter produced by the online regional news and analysis magazine 7×7), 28 January 2023. Translated by Thomas Campbell

“Our People Are Not Terrorists”

Defense attorney Edem Semedlyaev and Crimean Tatar political prisoner Raif Fevziev, Rostov-on-Don, Russia, 12 January 2023. Imam Fevziev’s t-shirt reads, “Our people are not terrorists.” Photo courtesy of Imam Fevziev and Crimean Solidarity via Mumine Saliyeva

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

Armen Aramyan: Russians Are Not Chimpanzees

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.

Alexander Zamyatin, in a discussion of the emigration on the podcast This Is the Base, makes a great point: “You can’t be a gravedigger of the old regime while grieving for its missed opportunities.” We can speculate for a long time about NAP’s origins, and why many members of the anti-war movement espouse this position.

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

News from Ukraine Bulletin 27

A Ukrainian flag at Il Vecchio Italian restaurant in Pacific Grove, California, October 2022. Photo by the Russian Reader

News from Ukraine Bulletin 27 (3 January 2023)

A Digest of News from Ukrainian Sources

News from the territories occupied by Russia:

Russia moves to legislate ‘impunity’ for all war crimes committed in occupied Ukraine  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 30th)

Crimean Tatar civic journalist sentenced to 11 years for refusing to collaborate with Russia’s FSB  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 30th)

Russians kidnapped 30 mayors, 7 of them went missing – Kyiv Mayor  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 30th)

Detention centre employee who helped torture Ukrainians found in Kherson  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 30th)

Abducted Ukrainian civic journalist sentenced to 7 years in brazen show of lawlessness in Russian-occupied Crimea   (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 29th)

Russia plans to imprison soldier who admitted to murder and plunder in Ukraine – for ‘circulating fake news’  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 28th)

“She did everything so that Ukraine could see: Crimeans are still waiting for liberation”: human rights activists called Iryna Danylovych’s sentence fabricated (Zmina, December 28th)

Russians threatened to kill abducted Crimean Tatar’s family if he didn’t sign fake ‘confession’  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 28th)

News from Ukraine – general:

Life during wartime (Alice Zhuravel on Twitter, January 2nd)

Ukraine prepares to give free rein to property developers  (Open Democracy, December 28th)

14 tons of humanitarian aid delivered to Donetsk (Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, 26 December)

Film about the working conditions of Ukrainian railway workers  (Spil’ne / Solidarity Collectives, December 27th)

Trapped in the Trenches in Ukraine  (New Yorker, December 26th)

Analysis and comment:

Special Issue on Ukraine  (Insurgent Notes, January)

“There is nothing cheaper in Russia than human life”  (Der Standard, December 31st)

Russia. Renaissance is not going to happen  (People & Nature, December 28th)

TikTok in service of FSB. How a social network for funny videos turned into a Kremlin propaganda mouthpiece  (The Insider, December 28th)

How Kremlin organizes pro-Putin rallies in Germany and why neo-Nazis participate  (The Insider, December 27th)

Multipolarity, the Mantra of Authoritarianism  (The India Forum, December 20th)

Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict in Ukraine? (Europe Solidaire, December 23rd)

Research of human rights abuses:

Homes and lives destroyed in northern Ukraine (Tribunal for Putin, 28 December)

Ukraine must ratify the Rome Statute now (Tribunal for Putin, 28 December)

“They put him in the basement, tortured him, and tore his tendons.” How Russia terrorizes ZNPP staff to keep a tight grip on the plant  (The Insider, December 22nd)

International solidarity:

Thanks to you  (Solidarity Collectives, December 29th)

==

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.

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The Yandex Xmas Blues

A Yandex Eats courier schlepping the service’s instantly recognizable backpack

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, Kommersant writes 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.

Source: Andrei Gorelikov, “Yandex couriers go on strike — so far, for five days in Moscow and Petersburg,” Rabota.ru, 21 December 2022. Photo courtesy of Rabota.ru via iStock. Translated by TRR


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.

In addition, our sources told us what happened inside the company after the start of the war, after the publication of an investigation by Meduza in the spring, and what the first “hural” looked like in early December after Alexei Kudrin was appointed head of the “Russian” Yandex.

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.

Source: “Yandex fired employee who revealed how censorship is practiced at Yandex.News because he had been talking to The Village,” The Village, 23 December 2022. Translated by TRR

Radio Free Vologda: The Case of Vladimir Rumyantsev

Vladimir Rumyantsev, in the cage at Vologda City Court. Image courtesy of BBC Russian Service via SOTA

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.

Source: “Stoker from Vologda sentenced to three years for anti-war radio,” BBC News Russian Service, 22 December 2022. Thanks to MV for the heads-up. Translated by TRR


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.

Source: Sotavision (YouTube), 22 December 2022 (in Russian). Annotation translated by TRR


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.

Inside:

00:00 Intro

01:36 The story of Vladimir Rumyantsev’s underground radio station in Vologda

08:12 “We have more than 4,000 court rulings: people are being punished for voicing their opinions”

10:23 Vitaly Gotra: 691,000 rubles in fines for anti-war leaflets

15:44 Actress Galina Borisova: “I painted the slogan ‘No war!’ all over the stairwells”

22:26 Who is being persecuted in Russia for “discrediting the deployment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation” and how

23:40 Zaurbek Zhambekov: two years probation for removing a Z sticker from a car

28:22 Why are so many resources being wasted on persecuting people for their words?

29:02 Sasha Skochilenko: six months in remand prison for anti-war price tags

33:59 Philippenzo: attacked for anti-war art

37:22 How Vitaly Gotra was left without a job for his anti-war position

39:36 How Vladimir Rumyantsev built an underground radio station and broadcast about the war

45:01 “It seems it is considered bad form to talk about the war”

52:55 “Rumyantsev gets too many letters”: how people on the outside support people accused of “spreading fake news”

55:00 “Now everyone is living in fear that a bomb will be planted”

55:43 Galina Borisova: “I will pay the fine using money I set aside for my funeral”

We thank Caucasian Knot and OVD Info for their assistance in making this report.

[…]

Support Sasha Skochilenko: https://skochilenko.ru

Support us by donating to TV Rain: https://tvrain.tv/

Follow the headlines and new episodes of programs on TV Rain’s Telegram channel: https://t.me/tvrain

#partisans#wаr#tvrain

Source: TV Rain (YouTube), 10 October 2022 (in Russian). Annotation translated by TRR

News from Ukraine Bulletin 25

A pro-Ukrainian poster in the window of a home in Monterey, California, 18 December 2022. Photo by the Russian Reader

News from Ukraine Bulletin 25 (18 December 2022)

A Digest of News from Ukrainian Sources

News from the territories occupied by Russia:

Russians abduct about 40 children from Luhansk Oblast to Russia  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 16th)

Russian invaders abduct Melitopol lecturer in new wave of terror (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 15th)

Unending torture of Crimean Tatar political prisoner for refusal to collaborate with Russia’s FSB  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 14th)

Children’s torture chambers found in liberated territories  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 14th)

Russians hold 232 residents of Zaporizhzhia Oblast in captivity  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 12th)

Russian invaders abduct Ukrainians in large numbers for grotesque ‘international terrorism trials’(Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 12th)

News from Ukraine – general:

3,000 miners trapped in mines after Russian missile strikes in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 17th)

Number of child victims continues to rise: Russia has killed 450 Ukrainian children  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 17th)

Ukraine is fighting for freedom. That means protecting independent journalism  (Open Democracy, December 15th)

Law on the Media, Electoral Code, and Days of Silence as a Rudiment (Opora, December 14th)

Twenty percent of Ukraine’s population leave country because of war  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 14th)

Meet the Activists Arming Leftists on Ukraine’s Frontlines  (Novara Media, December 12th)

KVPU activities during #16daysofactivism  (Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, December 12th)

“Had to crawl past severed arms and legs for a long time, can’t eat meat anymore”. How AFU fighters cope with PTSD  (The Insider, December 10th)

Analysis and comment:

No, privatisation should not be restarted after the war  (Spil’ne (Commons), December 14th)

The Left View on the Prospects of Peace Negotiations  (Sotsia’lnyi Rukh, December 12th)

Research of human rights abuses:

Russian propaganda media and ex-President guilty of direct incitement to genocide in Ukraine, report finds  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 13th)

Truncheons, stun guns, gas masks. A report from a Russian torture chamber in Izium  (Tribunal for Putin, December 13th)

==

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.  

Support openDemocracy’s Coverage of Russia and Ukraine!

My name’s Tom and I run openDemocracy’s coverage of Russia and Ukraine.

Do you remember where you were when Putin’s invasion started? I do: I remember texting friends and colleagues in Ukraine, who were in the middle of packing their bags. In the space of a few hours in February, I tore up my plans for the year. I knew our incredible team would face a challenge like no other.

It’s a nightmare that has taken all their skills and contacts to cover for you.

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One of our long-standing journalists in Kyiv somehow wrote an article on that first day of the Russian invasion – a day, she said, that felt like a week.

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Read more

Thank you for helping raise £42,000 for journalists in Ukraine

Roubles and repression: how life in Russian-occupied Kherson is changing

Ukrainian prisoners of war reveal torture and humiliation in Russian jails

Russia forced them to fight. Ukraine tried them for treason

Source: openDemocracy email newsletter, 8 December 2022

News from Ukraine Bulletin 23

A Ukrainian flag on the fence of a home in Monterey, California, 14 November 2022. Photo by the Russian Reader

News from Ukraine Bulletin 23 (4 December 2022)

A Digest of News from Ukrainian Sources

News from the territories occupied by Russia:

Russian occupiers hand out draft summons to residents queuing for water in occupied Makiivka  (Ukrainska Pravda, December 4th)

‘Pensioner from Makariv witnesses the death of his grandson’  (Tribunal for Putin, December 2nd)

The Russians “amused themselves”, destroying Izyum’s old buildings  (Tribunal for Putin, December 2nd)

Russians deliberately beat Ukrainian haemophiliac, threaten to rape his 17-year-old sister in front of her father  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 2nd)

Children trained to be ‘Putin’s faithful soldiers’ in Russian-occupied Crimea  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 2nd)

Russia sentences Crimean Solidarity activist to 17 years for defending political prisoners  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, December 1st)

Russians forcibly deport 37 local residents from Kinburn Spit  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 30th)

Russian occupiers in southern Ukraine interrogate children who fail to attend Russian schools  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 30th)

Evangelical deacon and his son found murdered near Nova Kakhovka after being abducted by the Russians  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, November 30th)

The Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced another Crimean Tatar activist – Marlen Mustafatev to 17 years in prison  (Lutfiye Zudiyeva on Twitter, November 30th)

Ukrainian poet and writer Volodymyr Vakulenko killed after being seized by Russian invaders (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, November 29th)

Russian invaders abduct two Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests from Berdiansk and accuse them of ‘terrorism’  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, November 29th)

Threatened and starved: Russian sergeant tortured Donbas veterans in Katiuzhanka  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 28th)

Lecturer beaten, ‘tried’ and imprisoned in Russian-occupied Crimea for a Ukrainian patriotic song  (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, November 28th)

Forcing Ukrainians to take up arms against their country is a war crime.” How Russia is mobilizing Ukrainians in occupied territories  (The Insider, November 12th)

News from Ukraine – general:

Ukrainians on the front line face a winter without warmth or light (Open Democracy, December 1st)

Ukraine’s nurses face brutal winter as health austerity collides with war  (Open Democracy, November 29th)

Dark times. How Ukraine is surviving without light, water, and heat  (The Insider, November 28th)

32,000 civilian properties and 700 infrastructure facilities have been damaged by Russians  (Ukrainska Pravda, November 27th)

Analysis and comment:

Thread in response to my thread about tankies and the Holodomor  (Taras Bilous on Twitter, December 2nd)

Economic Policy of Ukraine  (Luke Cooper on PeaceRep, December 1st)

Solidarity vital to expel Russia  (The Chartist, November 29th)

Together in Trouble: Social Policy for Just Reconstruction in Ukraine  (Spil’ne (Commons), November 28th)

Learning At The Teachers  (The Pensive Quill, November 27th)

Research of human rights abuses:

Abducted and tortured by the Russians, Kherson’s survivors tell their stories (Open Democracy, December 1st)

Ukraine 5AM Coalition will discuss in The Hague the mechanisms of holding Russia accountable for war crimes  (Zmina, December 1st)

‘Every second felt like eternity’: Inside the torture chambers of Ukraine’s occupied northeast (The Independent, December 1st)

Damage to historical monuments and religious buildings (24 February to 15 November 2022, Kharkiv Region)  (Tribunal for Putin, November 30th)

An appeal for support from Open Democracy:

@opendemocracyru  needs your help  (Tom Rowley on Twitter, December 4th)

==

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.

“Face the Wall, Don’t Look Down”: Solidarity Becomes a Criminal Act in Moscow

A view of the entrance to Open Space Moscow. Photo courtesy of Mediazona

On the evening of November 24, masked security forces officers broke into Open Space in Moscow, where fifty people had gathered to support the anarchists arrested in the Tyumen Case and write postcards to political prisoners. The security forces, who were probably commanded by a colonel from Center “E”, made the visitors lie down on the floor or stood them facing the wall and held them for several hours, beating some of them. They didn’t let a lawyer inside.

On November 24, an evening of solidarity for the defendants in the Tyumen Case took place in Open Space, a co-working space for activists in Moscow’s Basmanny District. Six anarchists from Tyumen, Surgut and Yekaterinburg have been arrested and charged with organizing a “terrorist community,” and all of them have said they were tortured.

The event was open to the public and had been advertised, for example, by the online magazine DOXA. (Recently, State Duma deputies demanded that the magazine be designated an “extremist organization.”)

The event started around six o’clock, and about forty to fifty people were in attendance, says one of the participants. Some eyewitnesses say that before the security forces arrived, they signed postcards in support of political prisoners, while others said that they recited or listened to poetry. In any case, when an intermission was announced, the guests went outside to smoke — and at that moment a paddy wagon drove up to the building, and masked security forces officers stormed the venue.

Video footage of the beginning of the raid, which the SOTAvision journalist Ksenia Tamurka managed to shoot before she was detained, shows that the masked security forces officers behaved in a demonstratively rough manner. They shouted, kicked over furniture, and knocked the phone out of the correspondent’s hands. After the phone falls, the sounds of blows and shouts are audible in the footage: “Hands behind your head!”, “Legs wider!”, “Face the wall, don’t look down!”

The security forces officers forced some of the young people to lie down on the floor, while they made the rest of them, including the young women, stand facing the wall, forbidding them to move. A young woman who had left the event during the break and unhappily returned to retrieve a tote bag she had forgotten told SOTA that she stood facing the wall for about an hour.

“When I turned my head, I was told to keep facing the wall. An hour later, they apparently took out my passport from my tote bag and summoned me to another room, where most everyone was lying face down on the floor. I sat down and we waited further. Then after, I don’t know, thirty minutes, I was summoned by other Russian National Guard officers. They asked me where my phone was, and I showed them. They asked me to unlock it, but I said no, citing Article 23 [of the Russian Constitution, which enshrines the right to privacy]. They were like no, you’re going to unlock it. And when I had already sat down, there was already a young female journalist after me, and she refused to show them her phone. They dragged her by the hair and she screamed,” the young woman said.

After what she saw, the young woman agreed to unlock the phone, and the security forces wrote down its IMEI. Another woman, who attended event with a child, said that the security forces officers demanded that she show them her Telegram chats and latest bank transfers to find out “whether she sponsored terrorism.”

The young woman who was screaming was SOTA journalist Ksenia Tamurka. The media outlet has not yet published the commentary of the journalist herself. One of the detainees recounted the assault on Tamurka as told by another eyewitness; another young man heard the journalist screaming, although he was in another room.

He said that the security forces treated the young men in various ways: in his opinion, it largely depended on the length of their hair. The young man pointed out that the security forces also detained members of Narcotics Anonymous, whose meeting was going on in the next room. “And when they were asked what they were doing there, they said, We are drug addicts, we don’t know anyone here! Then they were taken away from where we were, and [the police] talked to them separately,” he recalled.

At some point, the security forces perhaps began to behave a little less harshly. In video footage recorded a few hours after the start of the search, it is clear that the detainees were no longer pressed against the wall, but were simply looking at it. The security forces did not detain the journalists who shot the video, but, according to a Sota correspondent, they did drag a passerby inside the building after he looked in the window.

The security forces did not let the lawyer Leysan Mannapova, who arrived at the scene of the raid, inside the building, claiming that her warrant was incorrectly executed. A man who came to rescue his fourteen-year-old brother also failed to get inside the building.

The detainees were loaded into the paddy wagon only a few hours later, and the minors among them were released along the way. The rest were brought to the Basmanny police department.

One of them said that she and four young men were beaten at the station. According to the young woman, the security forces officers “struck her when she was lying on the floor.” One detainee was “beaten with a baton and a book,” and another young man was “thrown on a chair and kicked.” According to her, the police found a balaclava, an emergency hammer from a bus, and a traumatic pistol, which he had a permit to carry, on one of the men who was beaten.

Another young woman could not recall beatings and said only that the detainees wrote statements at the police department “about what they actually did.” Alexei Melnikov, a member of the Public Monitoring Commission who was recently appointed to the Presidential Human Rights Council, went inside the department and saw the detainees while they were making their statements, but also made no mention of possible violence.

The detainees were released from the department around two o’clock in the morning. None of them reported that they were forced to sign any documents other than their statements. Tamurka left the department last, around four in the morning.

Golos coordinator Vladimir Yegorov identified the colonel from Center “E” in video footage of the security forces escorting the detainees to the paddy wagon. According to Yegorov, he was beaten during a search of the Golos office on October 5 on the colonel’s orders. Yegorov does not know the policeman’s name, because it was not listed in the search report. According to SOTA, the masked security officers accompanying the colonel at Open Space serve in the second field regiment of the Interior Ministry’s Moscow Main Directorate.

Correction (7 p.m., November 25): The article originally stated that the journalist Ksenia Tamurka left the police department along with the other detainees around two o’clock in the morning. SOTAvision later clarified that she came out last, around four o’clock in the morning.

Source: Nikita Sologub, “‘Face the wall, don’t look down’: security forces raid solidarity event for defendants in Tyumen Case,” Mediazona, 25 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader. This is the second part of a two-part feature on the 24 November raid on Open Space Moscow. You can read part one — journalist Ksenia Tamurka’s first-person account of the incident — here.