“Telephone Terrorism”

Alexander Petrosyan, “Today on Sennaya Square [in Petersburg],” Facebook, 24 September 2022

In Petersburg, police have searched the homes of activists, as well as the home of Sota journalist Victoria Arefieva. The security forces broke down the door to Arefieva’s apartment, seized electronic devices belonging to the journalist and her sister, and detained her for forty-eight hours on suspicion of making a phoney bomb threat to the St. Petersburg City Court, Sota wrote on Saturday, September 24.

In addition, searches were conducted at the homes of persons implicated in the case of the Vesna Movement activists Yevgeny Fateyev and Valentin Khoroshenin, whom a court has banned from “engaging in certain activities.” The security forces also visited the home of activist Pallada Bashurova, against whom two “telephone terrorism” investigations have been launched, OVD Info reports. Yevgenia Litvinova, a member of the Petersburg Human Rights Council, was also detained in connection with a “telephone terrorism” case.

New protests against mobilization scheduled for September 24

According to Sota, the searches are connected with protests, scheduled for September 24, against the “partial mobilization”; law enforcement agencies thereby are attempting to prevent their coverage in the press. Vesna, a democratic youth movement, called on Russians to engage in a new round of protests in the wake of the first wave that occurred on the day Russian President Vladimir Putin made the announcement. “Mogilization [“grave-ization”] is actively going on all over the country. Soon thousands of our men could go to the front. We can and must oppose it!” Vesna said in a statement issued on September 22.

According to the online human rights project OVD Info, on September 21, the police detained more than 1,300 protesters in thirty-nine cities across Russia. Most of the arrests occurred in Moscow and Petersburg. In some police departments, the detainees were handed summonses to the military enlistment office right on the spot.

Source: Olga Lebedeva, “Homes of activists and journalists searched in Petersburg,” DW, 24 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

KVN Trix

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

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

INDEED!!!

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


KVN Trix

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Source: “KVN,” Wikipedia

Moscow Nights

A screenshot of the end credits to the 9 March 2017 episode of The Big Bang Theory, as translated here.

‘”Meduza,” whom I have every reason to trust . . .”

Western “observers” of Russian politics have the strangest notions of which Russian sources can be trusted. I was told earlier today, by a subscriber to the late Louis Proyect’s Marxmail list, that if I (meaning me, the guy who lived in Russia for twenty years) wanted to know what was really happening in Russia nowadays, I should read Boris Kagarlitsky.

Meduza, who in the halcyon pre-war days discredited themselves so many times, but especially when they destroyed the burgeoning grassroots solidarity campaign in support of the Network Case defendants by publishing a thoroughly scurrilous “investigative report” implicating some of the defendants in an unsolved double murder.

— Boris Kagarlitsky, the man who in 2014 did more than anyone else to peddle to gullible westerners the obnoxious hogwash that the Russian takeover of parts of the Donbas was really a grassroots populist uprising against the bad guys in Kyiv, a man whose flimsy “institute” and odious opinion website Rabkor were financed directly by the Kremlin back in the days when the Kremlin still regarded him as a useful idiot. (The Kremlin doesn’t see him that way anymore, clearly, but now it should be too late for him to redeem himself in the eyes of progressive humanity.” ||| TRR


Yesterday’s Top Stories

Good evening, friends. Here are the main news of the day:

— The Gulf of Finland has turned green. What is happening and how is it related to the heat? https://t.me/paperpaper_ru/27596

— Supplies of premium headphones manufactured by Sennheiser, Marshall, Sony and JBL are running out in Russia, Kommersant writes. Here is the rundown on supplies in St. Petersburg: https://ppr.today/9MGEytX

— [Russian online retailer] Wildberries has changed the name on the main page of its website. It now calls itself Yagodki [“Berries”]: https://t.me/paperpaper_ru/27604

iStories talked to [Russian] soldiers traced to shootings and robberies in the Kyiv region. One confessed to everything: https://ppr.today/e3hRqev

— There are 24 free beds for coronavirus patients in St. Petersburg. The authorities will convert two more hospitals to covid wards: https://t.me/paperpaper_ru/27611

— Petersburgers are getting “subpoenas” and telephone calls recruiting them to fight in Ukraine. Those who do not want to fight are asked to sign a “waiver”: https://ppr.today/rY0KrCX

Photo caption: see what the Perseid meteor shower looks like in the countryside near Petersburg: https://ppr.today/GChPNeX

Source: Bumaga (Telegram), 15 August 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Mission of Burma

“The US risks repeating the fate of the Soviet Union. Currently, the greatest threat to America comes from within, argues Donald Tramp.” Screenshot from the TASS page on Telegram. Read the whole story on their website.


“Cooperation between Russia and Myanmar is based on a solid foundation and is not subject to political trends, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin.” Source: TASS (Telegram), 3 August 2022


Kyaw Min Yu, a pro-democracy leader and writer in Myanmar widely known as Ko Jimmy, who rose to prominence in 1988 during protests that helped galvanize political forces opposing military-led regimes for decades to come, was executed with three other activists. He was 53.

In total, Ko Jimmy spent more than 20 years in prison. While detained by the state, which had been under absolute military rule for decades, he worked on literary projects. One surprise bestseller was his translation of a self-help book, which was seen as a manifesto of personal empowerment rare in a country known for its unyielding repression.

Myanmar’s military regime announced that it recently carried out the death sentences, but did not specify when the executions took place at the Insein Prison in Yangon. The junta was strongly denounced by rights groups and governments around the world. But the country’s rulers remained defiant as they seek to crush dissent and political allies of ousted civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

[…]

Source: Brian Murphy, “Kyaw Min Yu, Myanmar activist known as Ko Jimmy, executed at 53,” Washington Post, 26 July 2022


Mission of Burma, “Academy Fight Song”

Writers of Mariupol

This photo shows six members of the National Writers’ Union of Ukraine from Mariupol in 2019. In 2022, the Russian World killed three of them.

Natalia Kharakoz, Evgen Bal, and Bohdan Slyushchynsky all died in March or April.


The story of Evgen Bal’s death is quite terrible. An elderly former submariner, the famous writer was tortured by the Russians over photos with guys from the Azov Battalion. They beat the elderly man with their rifle butts, breaking several ribs.

Scum.

Source: We Survived in Mariupol, Telegram, 25 July 2022, 1:09 p.m. & 1:28 p.m. Translated by the Russian Reader


78-year-old Ukrainian military pensioner, journalist and writer Evgen Bal died on April 2 after being tortured for days in captivity by the Russian military. The reason for the detention and bullying was the journalist’s friendly relations with Ukrainian servicemen.

The aggressor seeks to wipe out any mention of his crimes from the face of the earth. Therefore, they kill all possible witnesses — military, civilians and journalists.

If Yevgeny [sic] Bal had not died, he could have told about the crimes of the Russian army in Mariupol and its environs.

He would talk about the inhuman conditions in which the Russians are holding captured Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

Through his articles and books, the world would know how the Ukrainian military, his friends, resisted the Russian invasion of the besieged Mariupol.

He could show how barbaric Russians behaved in the homes of ordinary Ukrainians.

Killings and shootings of journalists are a gross violation of international law. The enemy can turn a blind eye to laws, but he will not be able to close the eyes of the world to crimes. After all, honouring the memory of those who died for the truth, we will continue to tell their immortal stories.

Source: Media Memorial Day


Natalia Kharakoz, journalist, author, member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and the National Writers’ Union of Ukraine, and head of the Azov Literary Club, died in the russian-blockaded Mariupol in Donetsk region.

This was announced by her relative, Mariupol journalist Anna Kotykhova.

In her comment to an IMI representative, Anna Kotykhova told that Natalia Kharakoz’s house burned down and collapsed. After that, the woman had to live and hide in the basement. In early April, the relatives learned about the woman’s death from her neighbors, but tried to find out the circumstances and causes of death. The lack of communication made it difficult to obtain this information.

“An author of countless books and the editor of my books, on the first day of the invasion she emailed me the draft of my next book with the postscript ‘Sending this while there is still Internet access, save it.’ I did.

But I did not save any of her books. The apartments – both mine and hers – burned to the ground along with all the books. And I don’t know if her lines have survived in at least one library, at least one museum, at least in someone’s intact house.

Now I really want to reread her short story ‘Anyuta’s Letters,’ about how Anyuta lived through the Second World War – same Anyuta after whom I was named. But I can only snatch fragments from memory,” Kotykhova wrote.

As IMI reported, as of April 29, 22 journalists had been killed in shelling by the russian occupiers since the beginning of their full-scale offensive in Ukraine.

Source: Institute of Mass Information, 3 May 2022


The Russian occupiers killed Bohdan Slyushchynsky, a doctor of sociology and professor at Mariupol State University.

This was reported on Facebook by the Department of Philosophy and Sociology of Mariupol State University, Censor.NET informs.

“The Department of Philosophy and Sociology, Mariupol State University and the entire Ukrainian sociological community have suffered irreparable losses — as a result of Russian aggression, Doctor of Sociology, Professor Bohdan Slyushchynsky died.

“Bohdan Vasyliovych was the man who created and actively developed the specialty ‘Sociology’ in the industrial city of Mariupol from scratch. He managed to create a unique atmosphere at the department, when all teachers and students really felt like one family. They came to him with good news and support in difficult times, shared their victories and complained about failures. Bohdan Vasyliovych could find his own approach to each of those words. He raised many real professionals and just decent people. Scientist, teacher, musician, poet, talented manager — it is difficult to list all the talents of Bohdan Vasyliovych.

“On this tragic day, the MSU sociological family longs for its mentor. He will always remain in our hearts! Kingdom of Heaven!” said [the]statement.

Source: “Rashists killed Bohdan Slyushchynsky, professor at Mariupol State University,” Censor.Net, 8 May 2022

Morning in a Pine Forest

A morning in a pine forest is luscious in these comfy slippers.

The number of mentions of the military operation in Ukraine in the Russian media and Russian-language segments of social networks has been falling for the second month in a row, as evidenced by the data gathered by Medialogy.

According to Medialogy, a decrease in the number of publications dealing with the military operation has been observed for the second month in a row. If between March 1 and 15, users of social networks made 3.16 million posts [mentioning the war], then in the first half of April they made only 2.46 million (22% less), according to RBC.

Meanwhile, the mention of the war in social networks from May 1 to May 15 decreased by 52% compared to the same period in March, and amounted to 1.52 million messages, according to Medialogy’s figures.

Medialogy used its own proprietary algorithms to count mentions of the word “special operation” in the Russian-language segments of Telegram, VKontakte, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, OK, Rutube, Likee, Yappy, messengers, blogs, and forums, as well as Instagram and Facebook (which are owned by Meta, a company that has been deemed an extremist organization and banned in Russia) while also excluding other possible synonyms.

Medialogy also recorded a decrease in the number of mentions of the so-called special military operation in the Russian media. In the first half of May, the special operation was the subject of more than 147 thousand pieces. This is 26% less than during the same period in April, and two times less than in March. Between March 1 and 15, more than 305 thousand items [on the war] were published in the media.

In total, in March, journalists dealt with the topic of the military operation in over 572 thousand pieces. In April, this number had dropped to 375 thousand, and from May 1 to May 22, to 214 thousand.

Source: “Military actions in Ukraine mentioned less and less in Russian media,” thinktanks.by, 28 May 2022. Thanks to Paul Goble for the link. Image found in a sponsored ad for Topdrawer on Facebook. Translated by the Russian Reader

Alexander Yegorov’s Funeral

On May 26, Kirishi bid farewell to Alexander Yegorov, a contract-service marine who was killed in Ukraine. Our correspondent describes Alexander’s funeral and what his loved ones say about his military service and the circumstances of his death.

Alexander Yegorov. Photo courtesy of VKontakte and Bumaga

Groups of people gather outside the Sunrise Youth and Leisure Center in Kirishi. Almost everyone is holding red carnations — they have come to a civil memorial service for guards marine Alexander Yegorov. One of the deceased man’s twenty-year-old friends has brought black roses. Yegorov’s friends and classmates are followed by a group of distant relatives and teachers. Russian National Guardsmen and military servicemen stand each in their separate groups. Gradually, people converge in a long queue. The queue is headed by a boy of about ten years old in a camouflage uniform, combat boots, and beret, along with an old woman wearing a headscarf.

A military band greets those entering the funeral hall. People lay flowers on a table near the coffin, which is upholstered in red cloth. A Russian flag has been draped over the coffin. Yegorov’s father, mother, and twelve-year-old sister are seated near the coffin. People go up to them, express their condolences, and hug them.

Opposite Yegorov’s close relatives stand medal-bedecked military men, solemnly holding their caps in their hands. The ten-year-old boy in camouflage uniform stands in the center of the hall. Like the adults, he holds his beret in his hand. Two young guards armed with machine guns stand on honor duty near the coffin.

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

A local councilman in a suit jacket ushers the father of the deceased to the microphone. It is hard for him to talk. He cries, barely able to stand on his feet.

“He wanted this himself. He went on his own accord — a real man. As they said, he saved a comrade… I have also been in combat, I know what it is like. Our friend, our son, is no longer with us. I can’t say anything more.”

Yegorov’s father is followed by members of the Kirishi district council. The words “demilitarization” and “denazification” crop up often in their speeches. “We watch TV, we know everything,” one of them says. Another ends his speech by repeating the president’s quote from the Gospel: “There is no greater love than if someone gives his soul for his friends.”

A minute of silence follows. Then a vocational college teacher recalls that Alexander was “not a hooligan” as a student. He says that Alexander would have been an excellent welder.

One of the military men haltingly recounts Yegorov’s act of heroism. Alexander “personally knocked out two enemy tanks” and went to provide first aid to a comrade, but died on the battlefield “as a result of hostile artillery fire.” The military man announces that Alexander has been awarded the Order of Courage posthumously by presidential decree for his courage and heroism.

Anton, a close friend of the deceased, is the last to speak. He is wearing an overcoat and black gloves. It was he who brought the black roses.

Alexander Yegorov’s childhood friend Anton. Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

Alexander’s friend Anton:

“Sasha loved style and was well-groomed. He always wore black gloves, chains, and watches, and loved expensive whiskey. He was quite pretentious and finicky. He was obsessed with business. He was an unusual guy. Since he was charismatic and handsome, many girls fell in love with him, almost all of them. He should have worked as a model. We’ve known each other for fourteen years, we went to the same school. Then we went to vocational college. Sasha studied to be a welder, while I studied to be an auto mechanic, but we saw each other often. He was really into personal growth. He was interested in relationship psychology, business, and marketing, and was an excellent binary options trader. He was always on the lookout for information and constantly learning things. He liked to read books. He really liked the books The Richest Man in Babylon and Personal Development for Smart People. And he gave me relationship advice and helped me find girls, like a personal psychologist.”

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

In his eulogy, Anton admits that he had a falling out with the deceased a year ago, that he would like to ask him for forgiveness and hopes that all his friends will forgive Alexander and that Alexander will forgive all of them.

Someone in the audience shouts, “What are you talking about, you fucking idiot!?”

The speeches are over. The military band plays. One of the council members invites everyone to travel to the Meryatino cemetery.

Alexander’s friend Anton:

“He wanted to dodge the draft at first, to not join the army, but last year he decided to go. I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe it was quarrels with friends that incited him. He had begun to behave very rudely and disrespectfully towards me and often had arguments with others. He and I communicated less often — he was a high-maintenance guy.

“In the army, he wrote that he felt abandoned. I would guess that he joined the army for the money, and he needed the money to implement his big plans. He wanted to create his own clothing brand, launch a business of some kind, and get rich himself to help others get rich.

“It is possible that his father urged him to serve in the army, like, ‘it’ll make you a man,’ and his father was an authority figure to him. Not that he actually said, “Go into the army, you need to become a man,” but Sasha took his words to heart. He was always independent. He hadn’t wanted to join the army until the last moment, but either his father said something to him, or he just wanted to avoid the difficulties that could arise when applying for a job [for failing to perform his mandatory military service].

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

On the way to the cemetery, a military UAZ off-road vehicle with an open top, the letters Z and V pasted on its sides and flying three flags, cruises behind the van carrying the coffin. In the car, among people in military uniform, sits the father of the deceased in civilian clothes, his face turned into the wind.

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

At the cemetery, the zinc coffin’s lid is removed. There is a small aperture around the deceased’s face, and a photo of Alexander in military uniform has been placed on the center of the coffin. We are seemingly given the chance to compare the person before he went into the army and afterwards. People stand by the coffin for a long time, peering at it and saying their farewells.

“Mom, this is our little son!” the father of the deceased screams, turning to his wife. Both of them fall on the coffin, hugging the zinc.

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

The burial rites begin. The father becomes faint and falls over. People prop him up and put him in the military vehicle, where he sits with his eyes half closed. Two girls sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by dying.” Some people cross themselves. Nearby, a group of military men discuss the circumstances of Alexander’s death in a low voice. One of them has served in Ukraine, apparently.

“A large piece of shrapnel got under his helmet, and small pieces, minor stuff, struck his bulletproof vest. They broke his ribs.”

“And the one he saved, did he survive?”

“I don’t know, he’s in the hospital. They [Ukrainians] were prepared. Everything there is dug up, crisscrossed with trenches. There was preparation.”

The knowledgeable young man continues.

“Not that there are no connections. Using phones is forbidden. There are cellular connections only in certain places. If they [soldiers] go up to a cell tower [to get a better connection], sooner or later [the Ukrainians] get a fix on them, just like our guys get a fix on them.”

Alexander’s friend Anton:

“As I was told, Alexander at first served in Kaliningrad in the motorized infantry, but then he was sent to a repair battalion when they found out that he was a welder. While he was doing his [obligatory] service, he signed a contract [to continue his service as a paid volunteer serviceman], thinking that he would go to Syria. Who knew that the war would begin? He had signed a contract. The war began and [instead of] Syria, he was sent to Ukraine.

“We did not communicate when he was serving in the army, but four months later he called me and apologized for everything. He seemed to have said goodbye to everyone in advance, saying that he would soon be gone. He wrote me big congratulatory ‘poems,’ and said he missed me. And he wrote messages to everyone about how he wanted to see them take off. He told me that he hoped I would become a hotshot masseur. He told a friend that she would be able to become a streamer, and told another friend to find himself. That’s what he is like — a spiritual mentor. Shortly before his death, he wrote a very heartfelt letter to his parents, but no one read it except his father. It was probably quite personal.”

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

The burial rites end, the funeral march plays. The father of the deceased has come to his senses. He approaches the coffin again and hugs his wife. At this moment, everyone shudders as shots are fired. The honor guard is concealed from Yegorov’s relatives and friends by the funeral home van — no one expected the shots. People instinctively duck, and the father covers his ears with his hands.

The coffin is lowered into the grave.

“The Snickers! They forgot to put in the Snickers!” he screams.

People reassure that the Snickers have been put in the coffin, but the father rushes at the grave anyway.

“Forgive me, son, I didn’t want to get you…”

Two comrades try to hold him back by force. The people around him admonish him.

“Your son is a hero, but you…”

Three gravediggers begin filling in the hole. The father escapes and runs up to it again. One of the gravediggers roughly pushes him away. The father falls.

“Someone give him smelling salts.”

Alexander’s friend Anton:

“[Alexander] told me that a phone had been found on someone in his unit. They wanted to arrest the guy, because phones are banned in their unit. But Sasha made an agreement with the person who wanted to arrest him, and gave him his own phone so that there would be no problems for the other guy. Sasha always stood up for his friends. He gave a lot of things away and protected his friends — friends were very important to him. He sacrificed a lot and shared a lot, whether it was money or knowledge. He wanted his friends to be successful too. He wanted to help them grow up and achieve something, to find themselves, to help them start doing something. I told him quite often during his lifetime that I loved him. Many people loved him, and he loved them too.”

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

The gravediggers cover the mound of dirt with fir branches, and then people come up and lay flowers atop the branches. Having calmed down, the father holds his own tiny, intimate ceremony involving church candles. Then he turns to the young people in the crowd, his son’s classmates, and invites them to the wake.

“Aren’t you friends of Sasha? Come with us to the Eden.”

As you leave the town of Kirishi, on the left side of the highway, you see the ruins of a building that has not been completely demolished. Coming closer, you realize that this is the Echo of War monument: the ruins of a pre-war factory boiler room. The description says that the monument serves as a reminder to future generations of war’s horrific consequences.


Source: Pavel K., “‘He said goodbye to everyone in advance, saying that he would soon be gone’: how Kirishi buried Alexander Yegorov, killed in Ukraine,” Bumaga, 28 May 2022. The article’s author (and photographer) is identified here by a pseudonym for reasons of personal safety. Thanks to JG for the heads-up and KA for the encouragement. Translated by Thomas Campbell, who has edited this website for the last fifteen years and has no reason to be afraid of identifying himself, something that he mostly avoided doing during this website’s first twelve years, when it was produced in Petersburg, Russia.


The Echo of War monument in Kirishi, Leningrad Region, Russia. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, which notes: “During the war, the front line passed through the city of Kirishi. The fiercest battles took place in Kirishi in December 1941, during which most of the town’s buildings were destroyed. The front line constantly passed through Kirishi for about two years.”

There Will Be No Irina Slavina Square in Nizhny Novgorod

Irina Slavina

The Nizhny Novgorod authorities have refused to memorialize journalist Irina Slavina, who committed self-immolation on October 2, 2020, blaming the Russian state for her death. The journalist’s death was preceded by a search at her house as part of a criminal investigation into local businessman Mikhail Iosilevich, who was charged with “[carrying out the work of] an undesirable organization” (per Article 284.1 of the Criminal Code). In 2019, Slavina was sentenced to pay a fine of 70 thousand rubles for “involvement in the work of an undesirable organization.”

After Slavina’s death, human rights activists attempted to get the Investigative Committee to launch a criminal investigation of possible “incitement to suicide,” but the Committee turned them down on three occasions. The first time it argued that the journalist had suffered, possibly, from a “mixed personality disorder,” while the second time the Committee ruled that the suicide was the result of “emotional turmoil and a conscious wish to die.”

One of the projects undertaken by Irina Slavina, editor-in-chief of the independent Nizhny Novgorod publication Koza Press and a grassroots activist, was the rescue in 2015-2018 of a green zone near her house where the city authorities had decided to build a shopping center. The developer cut down dozens of trees, but the construction itself was stopped through the efforts of grassroots activists.

After Slavina’s self-immolation, Nizhny Novgorod residents began bringing flowers to the place of her death every Friday. Friends of the journalist planted flowers and seedlings in a small park near her house, dubbing the site “Slavina Square.”

Инициативная группа со созданию сквера имени Ирины Славиной
Irina Slavina Square pressure group

At the same time, activists gathered signatures on a petition asking that the place Slavina had fought to save from redevelopment officially bear her name. The greenery in the square was also restored by the heads of the city’s Nizhegorodsky district. But these officials did not support the idea to naming the square after the journalist. They decided instead to name it in honor of the local architect Vadim Voronkov.

One of the initiators of the idea of naming the square after Irina Slavina was the Dront Ecological Center, whose employees petitioned the mayor’s office. But the authorities turned the request down, explaining that Slavina was not “an outstanding statesman and public figure or a spokesperson for science, culture, art and other public spheres who deserved broad recognition for her work.”

Local media recall that Nizhny Novgorod regional governor Gleb Nikitin had once presented Slavina with an official certificate of gratitude for her professional journalistic work and personal service and had earlier promised that he would make every effort “to ensure that the investigation of the circumstances that led to the tragedy is supervised at the highest level.”

Дочь Ирины Славиной Маргарита
Irina Slavina’s daughter Margarita, holding a placard that reads, “While my mom was burning alive, you were silent.”

In April of this year, Dront began collecting signatures from ordinary Nizhny Novgorod residents who would like to see a Slavina Square in the city. The petition drive is still ongoing, but officials have already made their decision.

According to the newspaper Kommersant-Privolzhye, new trees were planted in the square a few days ago. The daughter of architect Vadim Voronkov, who was employed as the city’s chief architect for twenty years [in Soviet times, when it was still the closed city of Gorky], took part in the planting ceremony, which was organized by the Nizhny Novgorod State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

Alexei Fomenko, an activist with the project 42 — I Have the Right, called this decision by the authorities “a special operation on Slavina Boulevard.”

“For several decades, no one cared about the boulevard or the architect Voronkov. At one time, it was even decided to build the boulevard over. But then, suddenly, there is a ceremony, tree planting, and children. The mayor’s office and the deputies of the City Duma, realizing that we would not back down, and having no desire, on the one hand, to get a kick in the butt from their superiors, and on the other, getting their mugs dirty yet again, decided to resort to the good old ruse of round up some public employees, holding the necessary event hugger-mugger, and formalizing everything properly,” says Fomenko.

The plan of the authorities has not been welcomed on social media. Irina Slavina’s husband Alexei Murakhtayev was categorical in his condemnation.

“The authorities are once again doing something stupid. I do not know who the architect Voronkov was and what he has to do with this square. There must be some kind of cause and effect relationship! There is no cause, however, but the effect will be people’s discontent,” the deceased journalist’s husband argues.

The Nizhny Novgorod authorities explained their refusal to memorialize Slavina by claiming that her work “did not deserve broad recognition.” Vladimir Iordan, a friend of the journalist and a lecturer at the Nizhny Novgorod Theater School, does not agree with their appraisal.

“I have never met a more outstanding public figure capable of sacrificing their life for the sake of the ideals of justice, a more implacable campaigner against corruption and totalitarianism, a more honest and caring person. Slavina’s articles disciplined officials and deputies, and they exposed embezzlers. Governor Nikitin, when it was advantageous to him, liked to underscore that he reacted to all of Ira’s articles and requests. But Slavina was more than just a journalist — she was a real public figure in the original sense of the phrase. She was a driving force in many grassroots campaigns — against the lawlessness of tow truck operators, against the punitive beautification of parks and squares, against the redevelopment of Nizhny Novgorod’s historic center. She was a sensitive person who completely rejected injustice, lies, and hypocrisy,” says Iordan.

German Knyazev, an entrepreneur, public figure, and friend of Slavina, is sure that Slavina will not be memorialized under the current political regime.

“I think her main achievement was doing independent journalism in a totalitarian state, and my prediction is that this totalitarian state will never name a square after her,” Knyazev argues.

Meanwhile, the Iosilevich case, responsible for the humiliating search took place at Slavina’s home the day before her death, continues. Entrepreneur and activist Mikhail Iosilevich is on trial, accused of collaborating with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia and threatening a witness. Despite the flimsy evidence, the prosecutor has requested four and half years in a minimum security prison camp for Iosilevich. On the eve of his trial he tried to leave Russia using an Israeli passport. The attempt was unsuccessful: Iosilevich was removed from a plane bound for Tel Aviv. According to the activist, his departure would have been the “ideal option” for all parties in the trial. “But no it is then! We will go on with the oral arguments, the rebuttals, the final statement . . . and the conviction of an innocent man,” Iosilevich wrote in a telegram.

Immediately after Slavina’s self-immolation, the Nizhny Novgorod regional prosecutor’s office ruled that the search in her apartment had been lawful. The search was part of the investigation into Iosilevich, which was prompted by his alleged cooperation with Open Russia. It is still not clear what form this “cooperation” took, however.

“Today, at 6:00 a.m., 12 people entered my apartment using a blowtorch and a crowbar: Russian Investigative Committee officers, police, SWAT officers, [official] witnesses. My husband opened the door. I, being naked, got dressed under the supervision of a woman I didn’t know. A search was carried out. We were not allowed to call a lawyer. They were looking for pamphlets, leaflets, Open Russia accounts, perhaps an icon with the face of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. I don’t have any of these things,” Slavina wrote [on Facebook that day].

The next day, Slavina burned herself outside the Interior Ministry headquarters in Nizhny Novgorod. She left a suicide note on Facebook: “I ask you to blame the Russian Federation for my death.”

Source: Alexander Lugov, Radio Svoboda, 12 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Young, Poor, Dead

IStories
Young, Poor, Dead

The war against Ukraine has entered its third month, but there is still no public list in Russia of the soldiers killed. Isolated cases have been reported by the heads of regions or districts where soldiers lived, or by the schools and sports clubs where they studied and trained.

We compiled our list by studying and rechecking reports from open sources. As of this writing, we have confirmed the deaths of 1,855 men.

What we have learned
It is mostly young soldiers who have perished in the war: their average age is 28. More than 80% were between the ages of 18 and 35, and 40% were younger than 25.

Due to the war, the mortality rate among young men in Russia has already increased by more than a quarter, and by several times in those regions with the most war dead. (For example, in Buryatia, the number of deaths of men under 30 has already increased by more than two and half times.)

Russian regions with the highest number of confirmed war dead in Ukraine

Per 100 thousand men between 18 to 45 years old: Buryatia, 46 men; Tyva, 44; North Ossetia, 40; Kostroma Region, 28; Altai, 25; Jewish Autonomous Region, 25; Pskov Region, 21; Dagestan, 19; Transbaikal Territory, 19; Orenburg Region, 18

In absolute numbers: Dagestan, 123 men; Buryatia, 91; Volgograd Region, 75; Orenburg Region, 64; North Ossetia, 52; Chelyabinsk Region, 49; Bashkortostan, 49; Saratov Region, 46; Krasnodar Territory, 44; Stavropol Territory, 43

Source: Istories, Telegram channel Goryushko

The deaths of young men in the war will eventually cause demographic problems for Russia: the birth rate will drop sharply, which means that the population will decrease. Demographer Alexei Raksha argues that in 2023 we may face the lowest number of births in the entire recent history of Russia.

Military service in Russia is an extremely low prestige job, but new people are constantly going into the army. Why?

What is the quality of life in the regions with the largest numbers of war dead in Ukraine?

Read the investigative report on our website.

Source: I(mportant)Stories, email newsletter, 4 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

______________

Most Russians are getting a distorted picture of what Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Even the use of the words “war” or “invasion” is prohibited and state-controlled TV does not acknowledge that Russian troops are attacking civilians. Russian soldiers aren’t allowed to call home from Ukraine, and the military authorities are tight-lipped, even when their soldiers are taken prisoner. So how can Russian families find out what’s become of their sons? Some search for help through a Ukrainian website, which posts pictures and videos of dead and captured Russian soldiers on the internet. Tim Whewell follows the stories of two Russian families – one from western Russia whose son was taken prisoner in the early days of the war. And one from the very far east whose family worry about how his frame of mind is holding up against the relentless onslaught of anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

Source: BBC Radio 4, 3 May 2022