Bite the Bullet in the Back of Your Head

151019.spooks1Where is Harry Pearce when we need him? Photo courtesy of Universum Film and Lite

“While Kiev may have prevented a killing, the next time a Kremlin critic is murdered the first question will be: are they really dead?”

What all the rabid verbiage about Arkady Babchenko’s “stunt” boils down to is that a good number Russians and, surprisingly, non-Russians (e.g., Reporters without Borders, the BBC, etc.) believe that, when you are confronted by a much more powerful or cunning enemy, such as the Putinist state, the noble thing is to roll over and let yourself be killed.

Everyone loves a martyr for a cause, even when an endless series of martyrs jeopardizes any real cause, if only because at some point the people who believe in the cause will eventually surrender if the cause is so needlessly dangerous, and its leading lights forbid its lesser lights from defending themselves when attacked by the enemy, much more from going on the offensive against the same enemy.

That would be unthinkable!

No, it is better to roll over and bite the bullet in the back of the head. Your friends will relish laying flowers on your grave for years to come, and if you are famous they might even hold annual memorial rallies or marches for you. The regime does not find such powwows threatening in the least, because they make the opposition to their rule look weak and pathologically attracted to victimhood.

Besides, even ordinary Russian law enforcement and judicial practice tends to frown on people who defend themselves too vigorously, often prosecuting and punishing them instead of their assailants.

When the assailants are police officers, this is triply true, as we saw during the infamous Bolotnaya Square Case, in which over thirty people were charged with “rioting” and “violence against police officers” for the mildest acts of self-defense or even their entire absence, after a small army of police attacked a peaceable, authorized opposition march in Moscow on May 6, 2012, without provocation.

It is remarkable, then, how many Russians have internalized and made their peace with a quasi-doctrine of passive non-resistance that has been coupled with a total reluctance to come to the defense of others set upon by criminals or the police, whose actions and intentions are often indistinguishable.

What is surprising is that this madness is also endorsed by seemingly respectable foreign organizations like the BBC, who have been pushing the “this discredits Ukraine forever” line for the last forty-eight hours as if their lives depended on it, and Reporters without Borders, who in their statement also came close to suggesting that if Babchenko had been an honorable journalist he would have let himself be iced by the Kremlin’s assassins.

The real back story is that there are considerable forces in western society who find it awfully irritating and inconvenient for their big picture that Ukraine and its defenders have not just given up the ghost, but have continued to put up a fight, however ineffective and puny when matched against the ostensible might of the Putinist empire.

For some reason, the resistance against this murderous empire mounted the other day by Babchenko and his defenders in the SBU has caused more offense and tongue wagging than the actual armed resistance, often quite bloody and indiscriminate and crawling with unsavory characters, we have seen in Eastern Ukraine over the last four years.

Putting it as crudely as possible, Babchenko and his SBU collaborators figured out a way to fight back and win a small victory against the Putinist empire without spilling a single drop of blood, and now lots of high-minded people are hopping mad at them, including John Simpson of the BBC (who this morning attempted, hilariously, to make up for yesterday’s tirade by remarking that if Anna Politkovskaya had pulled off the same escapade, he would have been happy) and the now utterly discredited Reporters without Borders, which has implicitly endorsed the murder of dissident journalists by the Kremlin.

At times like this I wish the fictional Harry Pearce, head of counter-terrorism at MI5 in Spooks, really were a defender of the realm, because, as he himself says at the end of the excellent Spooks movie (Spooks: The Greater Good), only people like him are ruthless enough to get the job done and actually defend the realm. If you have ever seen the show, you will realize defending the realm does not consist of running around running up a high body count, but of  being able to distinguish at the right time between friend and foe, a job that is infinitely harder than it sounds.

How is that a screwed-up but otherwise peaceable country that was invaded unprovoked by its much more powerful neighbor and a dissident journalist who fled to that country are seen as enemies by half the Russian intelligentsia and half the journalistic organizations in Europe?

If Harry Pearce were real, and I were his boss, I would want him delicately probing into why exactly the BBC has mounted such a vicious attack against Babchenko and the Ukrainian authorities in the last two days. I would be especially interested in investigating the motives of the avuncular John Simpson, whose tirade against Babchenko live on the air yesterday on Radio 4 was so unseemly and vehement I felt I must be hallucinating. (After listening to the tirade, I was not surprised to find he had filed this crypto-Putinist copy from occupied Crimea in March 2015.)

The Babchenko affair has nothing to do with fake news. It has to do with whether smaller, less powerful countries and essentially powerless individuals who oppose more powerful countries have the right to defend themselves at all.

The implication is the SBU should have waited in ambush for Babchenko’s killer with a squad of fifty armed men and then lit him up like a Roman candle when he arrived rather than plan and enact the much subtler and more effective counter-attack they claim to have carried out.

We live in extraordinarily strange times. // TRR

Russia Has No Senate or Senators

800px-Maccari-CiceroCesare Maccari, Cicero Denounces Catiline, 1889. Fresco. Palazzo Madama, Rome. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Russia’s Senate wants a visit from Mark Zuckerberg.”
The Real Russia. Today email newsletter, May 30, 2018

I am not a huge fan of Mark Zuckerberg, but he can easily turn down this invitation, if only because Russia does not have a senate.

It does have something called the Federation Council, which is supposedly the upper house of the Russian parliament, a mostly fictitious organization itself, considering how its MPs are essentially appointed to their seats, not elected by popular vote.

The members of the Federation Council are a group of Putinist lackeys. They are handpicked by the Kremlin to represent Russia’s ninety-some regions. In most cases, however, they have nothing whatsoever to do with those regions, unlike during the rough-and-tumble Yeltsin administration, when each region’s two-person Federation Council consisted of its elected head and an elected representative of its own parliament. As I recall, this was the set-up not because Yeltsin decreed it, but because the regions themselves decided to run their own house of parliament this way, meaning the Federation Council was often a rowdy bunch, opposed to Yeltsin’s proposals and policies, just like the parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, which was so notoriously rowdy it often made the news in other countries. That does not happen anymore.

Nowadays, however, most Federation Council members are either natives or longtime residents of Moscow and Petersburg, both called “capitals” for similarly pompous reason. Like their fellows MPs in the State Duma, Federation Councillors engage in neither vigorous debate nor rebellion, but in rubber-stamping the increasingly odious law bills drafted for them by the Kremlin and various government ministries. They do their jobs as executioners of the remnants of Russian democracy and civil liberty so uncomplainingly and speedily that opposition-minded Russians have taken to calling the parliament the “mad printer.”

Naturally, given their real condition as contemptible yes-men, the Federation Councillors decided it would be more dignified if they fancied themselves “senators” and dubbed their rinky-dink collective sinecure a “senate.”

The funny thing is the non-senators have succeeded in hoodwinking nearly all reporters, even foreign reporters, into adopting this utterly groundless, self-aggrandizing, hokey moniker.

This is hardly surprising, since, in my experience, reporters are gullible creatures. I once persuaded a Russian reporter I was an unemployed Finnish shipbuilding engineer from Turku who had turned his life around by making fresh mango and salt lasses from a cart in downtown Helsinki. She duly reported this non-fact about my fictional alter-ego in her article about the latest edition of International Restaurant Day. The article was duly published in a well-known Petersburg daily, which has since gone defunct. I had just been joking to pass the time of day while making lasses outside in less than clement late-spring weather, but the reporter took me seriously. She even snapped my picture or, rather, the picture of the Finnish ex-shipbuilder from Turku, and it, too, was printed, properly captioned, in her overview of Restaurant Day in Petersburg.

The resident of New Haven, Conn., who edits the daily English newsletter for the online Russian-language news website-in-exile Meduza has bought into the “Russia Senate” con hook, line, and sinker, too. Seemingly indifferent to what really happens in our rapidly re-totalitarianizing country, he has endowed us with a senate on several occasions, in fact. You see, it is the done thing nowadays, whether it is actually true or not.

But I don’t have to buy it, nor does Mark Zuckerberg. And neither should you.

Russia has no senate and, hence, no senators. Anyone who says or writes otherwise is indulging in glibness for reasons that should make you question everything else they write or say. Good reporters write something because it it true or reported to be true. They don’t involve themselves in collective hoaxes, especially, as in this case, in an easily disproved imposture that has gone on for years. // TRR

Brazil

brazil.jpegJonathan Pryce and Terry McKeown in Brazil (1985). Courtesy of imdb.com

Authorized to Remain Silent
Why We Know Nothing about the Outcome of Most Criminal Cases and Verdicts against People Who, According to the Russian Secret Services, Planned or Attempted to Carry Out Terrorist Attacks 
Alexandra Taranova
Novaya Gazeta
April 27, 2018

High-ranking officials from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Russian Interior Ministry (MVD), and the Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAK) regularly report on the effective measures against terrorism undertaken by their agencies. If we add reports of constant counter-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus, especially in Dagestan and Chechnya, operations involving shootouts and the storming of houses, we might get the impression the level of terrorism in Russia is close to critical, resembling the circumstances somewhere in Afghanistan, the only difference being that Afghanistan does not have the FSB, the MVD, and the NAK to protect it.

Over the past two weeks, there were at least two such stories in the news.

A few days ago, the FSB reported it had “impeded the criminal activity of supporters of the international terrorist organization Islamic State, who […] had begun planning high-profile terrorist attacks using firearms and improvised explosive devices.”

The FSB’s Public Relations Office specified the terrorist attacks were to be carried out in goverment buildings in Stavropol Territory.

Earlier, TASS, citing the FSB’s Public Relations Office, reported that, since the beginning of the 2018, six terrorist attacks had been prevented (including attacks in Ufa, Saratov, and Ingushetia), while three crimes of a terrorist nature had been committed (in Khabarovsk Territory, Dagestan, and Sakhalin Region), and this had been discussed at a meeting of the NAK. Other media outlets quoted FSB director Alexander Bortnikov, who claimed that last year the security services had prevented twenty-five terrorist attacks, but four attacks, alas, had gone ahead.

For the most part, however, it is impossible to verify these reports, because, with rare exceptions, the terrorists, either potential terrorists or those who, allegedly, carried out terrorist attacks, are identified by name. Neither the Russian Investigative Committee (SKR) nor the FSB informs Russians about subsequent investigations, about whether all the terrorists and their accomplices have been rounded up. Likewise, with rare exceptions, we know nothing either about court trials or verdicts handed down in those trials.

Novaya Gazeta monitored reports about prevented terrorist attacks from November 2015 to November 2017. We analyzed all the media publications on this score: the outcome of our analysis has been summarized in the table, below. The veil of secrecy makes it extremely hard to figure out what reports merely repeat each other, that is, what reports relate to one and the same events, and we have thus arrived at an overall figure for the number of such reports. Subsequently, by using media reports and court sentencing databases, we have counted the number of cases that officially resulted in court sentences.

Most news reports about prevented terrorist attacks in Russia are not followed up. For example, at one point it was reported (see below) that five people with ties to Islamic State had been apprehended in Moscow and Ingushetia for planning terrorist attacks, and this same news report mentioned that a criminal case had been launched. But only the surname of the alleged band’s leader was identified, and he was supposedly killed while he was apprehended. There is no more information about the case. Over a year later, we have no idea how the investigation ended, whether the case went to trial, and whether the trial resulted in convictions and verdicts.

Other trends also emerged.

During the two-year period we monitored, reports about prevented terrorist attacks and apprehended terrorists encompassed a particular group of Russian regions: Moscow, Crimea, Petersburg, Kazan, Rostov, Baskortostan, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, and Krasnoyarsk. When we turn to verdicts handed down in such cases, this list narrows even further. Rostov leads the country, followed by Crimea. There are two reports each from Krasnoyarsk and Kazan, and several isolated incidents. The largest number of news reports about terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage, i.e., 30% of all the reports we compiled and analyzed, originated in Crimea.

  FSB MVD NAK Russian Security Council (Sovbez)
Number of reports of prevented terrorists, November 2015–November 2017 3,505 reports (18,560 identical reports in the media) 1,702 reports

(3,571 identical reports in the media)

492 reports

(852 identical reports in the media)

236 reports

(1,122 identical reports in the media)

Outcomes: arrests, criminal charges, verdicts, etc. 13 verdicts,

14 arrests

3 verdicts,

2 arrests

2 incidents: in one case, it was reported that all the detainees had been killed; in the other, that the detainees awaited trial, but were not identified by name. It is impossible to find out what happened to any detainees, since no information was provided about them. The exception is Lenur Islyamov, who is currently at large and vigorously pursuing his objectives.

The Triumps of the Special Services with No Follow-Up
Here are the most revealing examples.

On November 12, 2016, RBC reported the security services had apprehended a group of ten terrorists, migrants from Central Asia. According to the FSB, they planned “high-profile terrorist attacks” in heavily congested areas of Moscow and Petersburg. Officials confiscated four homemade bombs, firearms, ammunition, and communications devices from the militants. The FSB claimed all the detainees had confessed to their crimes.

In the same news report, the FSB was quoted as having reported that on October 23, 2016 “there occurred an attack on police officers, during which two alleged terrorists were shot dead” in Nizhny Novgorod. The report stressed that, three days later, the banned group ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, just as it had taken responsibility for an attack on a traffic police post in Moscow Region on August 18, 2016.

There were no names and no details. The outcomes of the investigations, the plight of the detainees, and judicial rulings were never made public, nor did state investigators or defense counsel share any information.

This same RBC article mentions that, four days before the alleged incident in Nizhny Novgorod, the SKR had reported the apprehension of an ISIL supporter who had been planning a terrorist attack at a factory in Kazan, while Interfax‘s sources reported the apprehension of a man who had been planning a terrorist attack in Samara.  It was also reported that in early May 2016 the FSB had reported the apprehension of Russian nationals in Krasnoyarsk who were “linked to international terrorist organizations and had planned a terrorist attack during the May holidays.”

No names were mentioned at the time. Later, however, details of the case were made public.

Thus, on April 7, 2017, Tatar Inform News Agency reported that the Volga District Military Court in Kazan had handed down a verdict in the case of Robert Sakhiyev. He was found guilty of attempting to establish a terrorist cell in Kazan. The first report that a terrorist attack had been planned at an aviation plant in Kazan was supplied by Artyom Khokhorin, Interior Minister of Tatarstan, during a meeting of MVD heads. According to police investigators, Sakhiyev had been in close contact with a certain Sukhrob Baltabayev, who was allegedly on the international wanted list for involvement in an illegal armed group. Using a smartphone, Sakhiyev had supposedly studied the plant’s layout via a satellite image.

On August 2, 2017, RIA Novosti reported that a visting collegium of judges from the Far East District Military Court in Krasnoyarsk had sentenced Zh.Zh. Mirzayev, M.M. Abdullayev, and Zh.A. Abdusamatov for planning a terrorist attack in Krasnoyarsk in May 2016 during Victory Day celebrations. Mirzayev was sentenced to 18 years in prison; Abdullayev, to 11 years in prison; and Abdusamatov, to 11 years in a maximum security penal colony. According to investigators, Mirzayev worked as a shuttle bus driver in Krasnoyarsk and maintained contact with Islamic State via the internet. Mirzayev decided to carry out a terrorist attack by blowing up a shuttle bus.

On January 26, 2017, TASS reported the police and FSB had identified a group of eight people planning terrorist attacks in Moscow in the run-up to State Duma elections. Oleg Baranov, chief of the Moscow police, had reported on the incident at an expanded collegium of the MVD’s Main Moscow Directorate.

We know nothing more about what happened to the “identified” would-be terrorists.

On January 31, 2017, RBC issued a bulletin that the Russian secret services had prevented an attempt to carry out terrorist attacks in Moscow during the 2016 Ice Hockey World Championships. The source of the news was Igor Kulyagin, deputy head of staff at the NAK. The militants were allegedly detained on May 2.

“We succeed in catching them as a result of a vigorous investigative and search operation in the city of Moscow,” the FSB added.

The names of the militants were not reported nor was there any news about an investigation and trial.

In the same news item, Mr. Kulyagin is quoted as saying, “In total, Russian special services prevented around [sic] 40 terrorist attacks, liquidated [sic] about [sic] 140 militants and 24 underground leaders, and apprehended about [sic] 900 people in 2016.”

According to Mr. Kulyagin, in Ingushetia on November 14, 2016, the authorities uncovered five militants who “had been planning terrorist attacks in crowded places during the New Year’s holidays, including near the French Embassy in Moscow.”

Again, the reading public was not provided with any names or information about the progress of the investigation. The only alleged terrorist who was identified was Rustam Aselderov, who had been murdered.

“According to the special services, [Aselderov] was involved in terrorist attacks in Volgograd in 2013 and Makhachkala in 2011.”

We have no idea whether an official investigation of his murder was ever carried out.

Lenta.Ru reported on February 1, 2017, that FSB officers in Krasnodar Territory had prevented a terrorist attack. The supposed terrorists had planned an explosion at New Year’s celebrations. A possible perpetrator of the terrorist attack, a 38-year-old native of a Northern Caucasus republic, was apprehended. No other particulars of the incident were reported, and they still have not been made public to this day.

On October 2, 2017, Russia Today, citing the FSB, reported an IS cell had been apprehended in Moscow Region. Its members has allegedly planned to carry out “high-profile terrorist attacks” in crowded places, including public transport. The FSB added that foreign emissaries had led the cell, whose members had included Russian nationals.

No names or details were subsequently provided to the public.

The same article reported that, on August 31, 2017, the FSB had apprehended two migrants from Central Asia, who had been planning terrorist attacks in congested places in Moscow and Moscow Region on September 1. RIA Novosti reported the same “news” in August 2017. The detainees were, allegedly, members of IS.

According to the FSB, one of the men had “planned to attack people with knives.” His comrade had planned to become a suicide bomber and blow himself up in a crowd. Supposedly, he had made a confession.

We know nothing about what happened to the two men and the criminal case against them.

On November 7, 2017, Izvestia reported MVD head Vladimir Kolokoltsev’s claim that a Kyrgyzstani national had been apprehended in the Moscow Region town of Khimki. The man had, allegedly, been planning to carry out a terrorist attack outside a subway station using a KamAZ truck. The detained man was not identified. We know nothing about what has happened to him or whether the investigation of the case has been completed.

Trials of Terrorists
On July 19, 2016, RIA Novosti reported the Russian Supreme Court had reduced the sentence (from 16 years to 15.5 years) of one of two radical Islamists convicted of plotting a terrorist attack in the mosque in the town of Pyt-Yakh in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. 

“The panel of judges has decided the verdict of the court, which sentenced Rizvan Agashirinov and Abdul Magomedaliyev to prison terms of 16 and 20 years, respectively, should be mitigated in the case of Agashirinov, and left in force in the case Magomedaliyev.”

On August 31, 2016, TASS reported the North Caucasus District Military Court had sentenced Russian national Rashid Yevloyev, a militant with the so-called Caucasus Emirate, to six years in a penal colony for planning terrorist attacks.

On February 15, 2017, Moskovsky Komsomolets reported the Moscow District Military Court had sentenced Aslan Baysultanov, Mokhmad Mezhidov, and Elman Ashayev. According to investigators, after returning in 2015 from Syria, where they had fought on the side of ISIL, Baysultanov and his accomplices had manufactured a homemade explosive device in order to carry out a terrorist attack on public transport in Moscow.

Baysultanov was sentenced to 14 years in prison; Ashayev, to 12 years, and Mezhidov, to 3 years.

On May 10, 2017, Interfax reported the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don had sentenced ISIL recruiters who had been apprehended in Volgograd Region. The alleged ringleader, Raman Radzhabov, was sentenced to 4 years in prison after being found guilty of recruiting residents of Volgograd Region. His accomplices—Azamat Kurkumgaliyev, Gayrat Abdurasulov, Nurken Akhetov, and Idris Umarov—were found guilty of aiding and abetting Radzhabov, and given sentences of of 2 to 2.5 years in prison.

On May 30, 2017, RIA Novosti reported the ringleader of a failed terrorist attack in Kabardino-Balkaria, Adam Berezgov, had been sentenced to 7 years in prison. The defendant was found guilty of “planning a terrorist attack, illegally acquiring and carrying explosive substances or devices, and illegally manufacturing an explosive device.”

On July 27, 2017, TV Rain reported the Russian Supreme Court had increased by three years the sentence handed down to Ruslan Zeytullayev, who had been convicted and sentenced to 12 years for organizing in Crimea a cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist group banned in Russia. Zeytullayev’s sentence is now 15 years in prison.

On July 31, 2017, RIA Novosti reported the North Caucasus District Military Court had sentenced Ukrainian national Alexei Sizonovich to 12 years in a penal colony for involvement in planning a terrorist attack that was to have taken place in September 2016. The court ruled the 61-year-old defendant and an “unidentifed person” had, allegedly, established a group in Kyiv “for the commission of bombings and terrorist attacks in Ukraine and the Russian Federation.” It was reported the defendant “repented.”

On August 11, 2017, Lenta.Ru reported the North Caucasus District Military Court had sentenced 19-year-old Ukrainian national Artur Panov to 8 years in a medium-security penal colony for terrorism. Panov was found guilty of facilitating terrorism, planning a terrorist attack, and illegally manufacturing explosive substances. His accomplice, Maxim Smyshlayev, was sentenced to 10 years in a maximum-security penal colony.

At the trial, Panov pled guilty to calling for terrorism, and manufacturing and possessing explosives, but pled innocent to inducement to terrorism. Smyshlayev pled innocent to all charges.

On September 18, 2017, RIA Novosti reported a court in Rostov-on-Don had convicted defendants Tatyana Karpenko and Natalya Grishina, who were found guilty of planning a terrorist attack in a shopping mall. Karpenko was sentenced to 14.5 years in prison, while Grishina was sentenced to 9 years.

“The investigation and the court established Karpenko and Grishina were supporters of radical Islamist movements. […] From October 2015 to January 2016, the defendants planned to commit a terrorist attack in the guise of a religious suicide,” the Investigative Directorate of the SKR reported.

Fakes
On April 17, 2017, Memorial Human Rights Center issued a press release stating the case of the planned terrorist attack in the Moscow movie theater Kirghizia had been a frame-up. The human rights activists declared the 15 people convicted in the case political prisoners. It was a high-profile case. Novaya Gazeta wrote at the time that the MVD and FSB had insisted on pursuing terrorism charges, while the SKR had avoided charging the suspects with planning a terrorist attacking, accusing them only of possession of weapons in a multi-room apartment inhabited by several people who barely knew each other. It was then the case was taken away from the SKR.

Whatever the explanation for the trends we have identified, it is vital to note that Russian society is exceedingly poorly informed about the progress of the war on terrorism conducted by Russia’s special services, despite the huge number of reports about planned terrorist attacks. Due to the fact the names of the accused are hidden for some reason, and the court sentences that have been handed down are not made public in due form (even on specially designated official websites), it is impossible to evaluate the scale of the threat and the effectiveness of the special services, and to separate actual criminal cases from those that never went to court because the charges were trumped-up. Meanwhile, using media reports on prevented terrorist attacks for propaganda purposes contributes to an increase in aggressiveness and anxiety among the populace, who has no way of knowing whether all the apprehended terrorists have been punished, and whether this punishment was deserved.

Thanks to George Losev for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

This Is What Antifascism Looks Like

Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
May 11, 2018

We stood, too. Not because we believed it would change anything, but so nothing would change us.

The good news was that many passersby were aware of The Network Case, especially young people. Tons of schoolkids had their picture taken with me, promising to come out next time themselves. Amazing kids.

picket 1.jpg
“Stop torture at the FSB”

picket-2.jpg
“They’re not terrorists. The terrorists are at the FSB, and they torture people.”

picket-3
“Frame-up, Sadism, Banditism (FSB). Free the antifascists!”

picket-4
“Antifascists are tortured in the country that defeated fascism. Rupression.com.”

picket-5
“Give me back my 1937. Antifascists are tortured in the country that defeated fascism. So who won? Rupression.com”

All photos by Jenya Kulakova

***************

Petersburg Anarchist Black Cross
Facebook
May 11, 2018

Nikolai Boyarshinov, father of Yuli Boyarshinov, a suspect in The Network Case, carried out a solo picket on Nevsky Prospect this evening. He held up a placard that read, “My father, Nikolai S. Boyarshinov, fought against the fascists. My son, Yuli N. Boyarshinov, an antifascist, has been arrested by the FSB. Did we defeat the fascists? Or have we been infected by fascism?”

picket 6

Nikolai Boyarshinov was joined by ten or so activists in a series of solo pickets. They also stood on Nevsky, holding up placards with slogans that read, “Antifascists are tortured in the country that defeated fascism,” “Stop torture at the FSB,” and “Free the antifascists.” They leafleted passersby. They also collected signatures on a group letter to the warden of Remand Prison No. 6 in Gorelovo, demanding Yuli Boyarshinov be housed in humane conditions.

The passersby included people who asked how to help, who thanked and shook the hands of the picketers, and who voiced their support to Nikolai Boyarshinov. There were also people who said it was not possible that antifascists were tortured in Russia, people who heatedly argued with the picketers.

Police offers warned the protesters a distance of fifty meters must be maintained between solo pickets. They checked the papers of the picketers. Standing next to Nikolai Boyarshinov, they waited an hour and a half for him to roll up his placard and leave Nevsky Prospect.

Thanks to everyone who came out today to voice their solidarity. Write letters to the arrested antifascists, support their parents, and strengthen the networks of solidarity.

Translated by the Russian Reader

***************

What you can do to support the Penza and Petersburg antifascists and anarchists tortured and imprisoned by the FSB

  • Donate money to the Anarchist Black Cross via PayPal (abc-msk@riseup.net) and make sure to specify that your donation is earmarked for “Rupression.”
  • Spread the word about The Network Case aka the Penza-Petersburg “Terrorism Case.” You can find more information about the case and in=depth articles translated into English on this website (see below), rupression.com, and openDemocracyRussia.
  • Organize solidarity events where you live to raise money and drawn attention to the plight of the tortured Penza and Petersburg antifascists. Go to the website It’s Going Down to find downloadable, printable posters and flyers. You can also read more about the case there.
  • If you have the time and means to design, produce, and sell solidarity merch, please write to rupression@protonmail.com.
  • Write letters and postcards to the prisoners. Letters and postcards must be written in Russian or translated into Russian. You will find the addresses of the prisoners here.
  • Design a solidarity postcard that can be printed out and used by others to send messages of support to the prisoners. Send your ideas to rupression@protonmail.com.
  • Write letters of support to the prisoners’ loved ones via rupression@protonmail.com.
  • Translate the articles and information at rupression.com and this website into languages other than Russian and English, and publish your translations on social media and your own websites and blogs.
  • If you know someone famous, ask them to record a solidarity video, write an op-ed piece for a mainstream newspaper or write letters to the prisoners.
  • If you know someone who is a print, internet, TV or radio journalist, encourage them to write an article or broadcast a report about the case. Write to rupression@protonmail.com or the email listed on this website, and we will be happy to arrange interviews and provide additional information. It is extremely important this case break into the mainstream media both in Russia and abroad. Despite their apparent brashness, the FSB and their ilk do not like publicity. The more publicity the case gets, the safer our comrades will be in remand prison from violence at the hands of prison stooges and more torture at the hands of the FSB, and the more likely the Russian authorities will be likely to drop the case altogether or release the defendants for time served if the case ever does go to trial. Why? Because the case is a complete frame-up, based on testimony obtained under torture. When the complaints filed by the accused reach the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and are ultimately ajudicated, the Russian government will be forced to pay heavy fines for its cruel mockery of justice.

***************

If you have not been following the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case and other cases involving frame-ups, torture, and violent intimidation by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and other parts of the Russian police state, read and repost the recent articles the Russian Reader has translated and published on these subjects.

OVD Info: He’s No Tsar to Us in Facts and Figures

traffic sign in spbSlava Ptrk, Traffic Sign in Petersburg, 2018. Photo courtesy of OVD Info

OVD Info, That Was the Week That Was Email Newsletter, Special Edition:
How the He’s No Tsar to Us Protests Played Out Nationwide

Saturday, May 5, 2018, witnessed large-scale, nationwide protests by supporters of Alexei Navalny, who voiced their opposition to Vladimir Putin’s new term as president. This was how the protests went down in facts and figures.

The police behaved roughly. They detained not only demonstrators but also random passerby, children and reporters, and OVD Info’s hotline got more than one call about police brutality. In Moscow, so-called Cossacks joined regular police in dispersing the rally.  The so-called Cossacks beat people using whips, and a man with a raccoon was among the detainees. The Bell discovered the so-called Cossacks had ties with the mayor’s office. In Chelyabinsk, local activists were detained before the protest rally on suspicion of theft, while in Saratov, police detained a 12-year-old boy.

According to the information we have available, a total of 1,600 people were detained in 27 cities. Around 300 spent the night in police stations.*

  • 719 detainees in Moscow were taken to 42 police stations; around 154 people spent the night in custody.
  • 217 detainees in Petersburg were taken to 29 police stations; around 95 people spent the night in custody.
  • 185 people were detained in Chelyabinsk.
  • 75 people were detained in Yakutsk.
  • 64 people were detained in Krasnodar.
  • 63 people were detained in Togliatti, half of them minors.
  • 48 people were detained in Voronezh.
  • 45 people were detained in Krasnoyarsk.
  • 28 people were detained in Kaluga.
  • 24 people were detained in Astrakhan.
  • 22 people were detained in Novokuznetsk.
  • 20 people were detained in Belgorod.
  • 18 people were detained in Vladimir.
  • 16 people were detained in Samara.
  • 10 people each were detained in Barnaul and Blagoveshchensk.
  • 9 people were detained in Penza.
  • 6 people each were detained in Tver and Kurgan.
  • 5 people were detained in Sochi.
  • 2 people each were detained in Kemerovo, Naberezhnye Chelny, and Rostov-on-Don.
  • 1 person each was detained in Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Smolensk, and Tomsk.
*You can view the complete list of detainees, including names and the police stations where they were taken, here.

In the aftermath of the rallies, criminal charges have been filed against one detainee.  In Petersburg, a policeman named Sukhorukov has accused Mikhail Tsakunov of knocking out his tooth “deliberately, motivated by enmity.” Charges were filed under Article 318 Part 2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code: health- or life-threatening violence against a police office. Tsakunov could be sent to prison for ten years if found guilty. Video footage of the young man’s arrest can be viewed here.

The detainees were tried on Sunday in Petersburg, Vladimir, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, and Chelyabinsk. 

Alexei Navalny was detained on Pushkin Square in Moscow. At the police station, he was written up for two administrative offenses: repeated violation of the procedures for holding public events and failure to obey a police officer’s lawful order. He was not kept in the police station overnight. His court hearing will take place on May 11.

What Did We Do?

We helped detainees in twenty police stations in Moscow and coordinated the rendering of legal aid in Chelyabinsk, Kaluga, and Krasnoyarsk.

In the space of twenty-four hours,* our hotline received 2,156 calls for a total duration of 64 hours and 45 minutes.

  • 5 hours and 24 minutes of that time was taken up by 93 legal consultations.
  • We were called 1,014 times.
  • We called back to verify information 1,142 times.

* From six in the morning on May 5 to six in the morning on May 6.

We do intake not only on our hotline but also using our Law Bot and our Red Button application.

  • 147 people reported being detained through Law Bot.
  • 78 reports of people being detained were received through the Red Button.
  • 1,993 people had installed the bot as of May 3.

43 volunteers helped us gather information on the detentions, putting in approximately 260 hours of work. You can sign up to join our team of volunteers here.

We can help a lot of people, but we need money to do it. Donations keep the 24-hour  hotline running. They pay for legal services. They pay people to write the news and analyze human rights violations in Russia. You can support us here.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Bourgeois Baby Madness Brings Russia to Brink of Ruin

image001

Sure, babies are cute, but when they are born in Russia they have every chance of growing up to be “terrorists” and “extremists.” At least, that is how they are regarded by the Kremlin and its fascist guard dogs at the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Photo courtesy of New Kids Center

It’s amusing (actually, it’s disgusting) how much the former Soviet socialist republic known as the Russian Federation has been overtaken by bourgeois baby madness, while at the very same time conditions for raising children in a decent, safe place have been deteriorating by the minute in Russia.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to have a kid in a country where the country’s top law enforcement agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB) reserves the right to destroy a young person’s life because its officers are stupid thugs incapable of distinguishing actual terrorists from gifted young chemists?

This brings me to another, related point that has bothered me for a long time.

Former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was executed by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in the most excruciating way possible for his alleged “treason,” is invariably referred to as a “spy” by the remarkably gullible Anglophone press. But Litvinenko was never a spy. He was an FSB officer whose bailiwick was combating organized crime. When he realized, in the late 1990s, that his own law enforcement agency had become as criminal and corrupt as the gangsters it was supposedly combating, he first tried to bring it to the Russian public’s attention.

Do you remember the heavily covered press conference where he spoke about these problems (including the fact he had been ordered to assassinate Boris Berezovsky), his face masked by a balaclava, along with several of his FSB colleagues?

When Litvinenko realized, however, that nothing would come of his campaign, and his life was in danger, he defected to Great Britain.

God knows that Mr. Litvinenko was probably a naïve man albeit a brave and honest one. I wish the same could be said of most of his fellow countrymen, who are crazy about babies but won’t rub two fingers together to make their country a place where young people are regarded as anything other than potential “terrorists” and “extremists.”

You don’t believe me? Then read this little horrorshow for good measure. // TRR

“Hug Your Son and We’ll Open Fire”

“Hug Your Son and We’ll Open Fire”
Sergei Yeremeyev
Zaks.Ru
April 19, 2018

Petersburg’s Krasnoye Selo District Court has extended the arrest of Yuli Boyarshinov, a 26-year-old industrial climber charged with involvement in The Network, an alleged “terrorist community.” The accused’s parents, who took the stand as witnesses during the court hearing, were grilled about their son’s vices, job, and hobbies. After listening to their account of a loving son whose health has suffered while he had been imprisoned in Remand Prison No. 6 in Gorelovo, the court remanded Boyarshinov in custody for another two months, until June 22.

Open and Closed
Boyarshinov’s custody hearing was held in open chambers for ten minutes or so, before the court granted the police investigator’s motion to hear the case in closed chambers. Two reporters and a member of the Human Rights Council, who had been admitted into the courtroom, had to go back out into the corridor, where the other thirty people who had attempted to attend the hearing and had not been admitted to the courtroom were writing complaints about their not having been admitted.

DSCN0951.JPG (171 KB)Mediazona journalist David Frenkel argues with court bailiffs.

Court bailiffs stood in front of the closed courtroom door, apparently defending it from attack by the indignant crowd. When asked by reporters why they were not being allowed in the courtroom, their only replies were “No comment” and “Don’t provoke us.”

However, even the reporters admitted into the courtroom found it hard to sit down. For the latest hearing in the high-profile “case of the antifascists” the authorities chose a tiny room with a single bench for the public that, in fact, could accommodate no more than three people.

Soon after the hearing was closed to the public and reporters, the accused man’s father and mother, Nikolai Boyarshinov and Tatyana Kopylova, were summoned one after the other into the courtroom to give testimony.

When he exited the courtroom, Boyarshinov’s father, barely holding back his tears, talked to reporters.

“I told the court I knew my son well and was certain not only he had not done anything bad but also had not planned to do anything bad. There were questions about his vices. I said he had never drunk or smoked. There were questions about his job. I said Yuli had a steady job, and thanks to it we made ends meet. My wife and I are artists, and lately we have had hardly any commissions. He took care of us,” said Nikolai Boyashinov.

DSCN0959.JPG (184 KB)Nikolai Boyarshinov

After reporters finished talking with him, two friends of his son approached Nikolai Boyarshinov.

“We are really glad to meet you. Hang in there. Everything will be fine,” they told Boyarshinov’s father.

“You know, I’m now often asked about Yuli’s friends, but I’m sure he wouldn’t bother handing out with bad people. If he is friends with people, they’re good people,” Nikolai Boyarshinov said to them.

When she exited the courtroom, Tatyana Kopylova reported that she had been asked similar questions.

“I was asked about his hobbies. I said he enjoyed traveling and reading. I was asked about his job. I said he was an industrial climber and he had been helping us out a lot. I also said my mother’s heart could not stand this worry. The press has informed me that some guys named Kostik, Dima, and Gennady Belyayev had been visiting him and threatening him. [Ms. Kopylova means an article in Novaya Gazeta in which it had been reported Boyarshinov had been visited by FSB officers who threatened him—Editor.] When I go to sleep I think about how Yuli’s night will pass. Why have these people been intimidating Yuli? As it is, the remand prison in Gorelovo is a torture chamber and a cesspool, where all the regulations are violated,” said Tatyana Kopylova.

According to her, Boyarshinov was being deliberately held in poor conditions to extort him into testifying. She also added the cells in Remand Prison No. 6 were so overcrowded her son had had to sleep on the floor, and when he had caught cold he did not receive proper medical treatment.

New Charges
Yuli Boyarshinov was apprehended on January 21, 2018, several days earlier than the other two Petersburgers accused of involvement in The Network, Viktor Filinkov and Igor Shishkin. However, Boyarshinov was initially charged only with illegal possession of explosives (Article 222.1 Part 1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code): police found 400 grams of smoke powder, ordinarily employed in the production of fireworks, in the young man’s backpack during a random ID check. He was charged with involvement in a terrorist community (Article 205.4 Part 2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code) only on April 11, 2018.

The particulars of the new charge are unknown: Boyarshinov’s defense attorney, Olga Krivonos, has signed a nondisclosure agreement regarding the preliminary investigation. The other young men caught up in the case, including Filinkov and witness Ilya Kapustin, have alleged they were tortured into testifying. Members of the Public Monitoring Commission also reported bruises, a fracture, and burns on Igor Shishkin’s body.

Shoot to Kill
After the court issued its ruling, Boyarshinov was escorted into the corridor, where Ms. Kopylova turned to the court bailiff maintaining order there.

“I haven’t seen my son or heard his voice for three months. Could I go up to him and give him a quick hug?” she asked.

The bailiff did not bother with procedural subtleties.

“We’ll open fire and shoot to kill,” he replied.

Twenty minutes later, the prisoner escort guards made the exact same threats to the accused’s friends, who had gathered in the yard of the courthouse to see their comrade one more time. A police escort guard officer did not like the fact some of the young people had cameras. On several occasions he announced either that everyone was too close to the police truck or he could see the people who had gathered were hiding next to the courtroom’s porch. For these offenses, he claimed he was willing to resort to the harshest measures, but push did not come to shove.

His friends greeted Yuli Boyarshinov with a round of applause. He was able to flash them a smile before he was put into the paddy wagon for the trip back to the remand prison.

DSCN0971.JPG (246 KB)Yuli Boyarshinov exits Krasnoye Selo District Court in Petersburg.

P.S. As Boyarshinov’s custody extension hearing was underway in Krasnoye Selo, police were searching the flat once occupied by Ilya Kapustin in the city’s Central District. Interrogated as a witness in The Network case, Kapustin alleged he had been tortured and applied for political asylum in Finland

All photos by Sergei Yeremeyev. Thanks to Nastia Nek for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader