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

Jedi and Dakota Festing in Place on Roofs in Petersburg

Maxim Dorofeyev, Jedi Techniques: How to Tame Your Monkey, Empty Your Inbox, and Save Thought Fuel

Why, even when he knows how to work the right way, does a person actually do everything the way he’s used to doing it—that is, the wrong way? Maxim Dorofeyev explains in simple and accessible language why this happens. When you read his book, you’ll learn how thinking and memory work; why you fritter away your brain’s resources; how to conserve them; and how to concentrate properly, articulate tasks, and reactive yourself for productive work. These practical, proven, and well-founded techniques will help you make your to-do list really work and guarantee that you achieve your goals.

Source: LitRes


Roof Place (sic)

Roof Place is a cultural space located on Vasilievsky Island in the building of a former tannery built in 1893. Since its opening in 2016, the site has attracted creative people and connoisseurs of the active lifestyle and comfortable outdoor recreation. Its powerful audio system and convenient location make it a perfect arena [sic] for parties, concerts, and summer festivals.

Source: Bileter.ru


Rita Dakota (her real name is Margarita Gerasimovich, and she was born in Minsk in 1990 — not on the Pine Ridge Reservation) will be performing at Roof Place’s Roof Fest on July 19. Tickets run from 46 to 77 euros (per the official, not the actual, exchange rate). Screenshot of the concert’s page on Bileter.ru


The point? That Russia, especially its two capitals (Petersburg and Moscow), was never as slavishly “westernizing” as during Putinism’s full flowering. Even a “proxy war with the west” cannot stop this trend, apparently. Hence the mass exodus of many of the “westernizers” and “westernized” from the country after February 24. (You didn’t think all of them left because they’re wild-eyed dissidents opposed to the war, did you?) And often as not this “westernization” has been marked by needless, wholesale injections of English into Russian. By the way, this didn’t happen in the allegedly more slavishly westernizing nineties that have served as a Putinist stalking horse the last glorious twenty-three years. ||| TRR

The Long Whip

A powerful body and lusty good looks were Ben Franklin’s ticket to a better life. Born a slave, he was raised to be a stud and then purchased as a bodyguard by the influential liberal Creole, Etienne LeGrand.

LeGrand trusts Ben with his life, educates him, and defends his word against that of Claudette Latham, wife of Dr. Latham, who accuses Ben of rape. Ben clears himself—but not without realizing his physical appearance attracts whites as well as blacks: Claudette had wanted Ben to seduce her.

When the Civil War begins, Ben is further confused by the new concepts of freedom stirred by the election of Lincoln. Why not stay forever with LeGrand in the magnificent New Orleans town house and sprawling plantation? Why not stay close to the startling beauty of the octoroon Odette, whom he loves?

But Odette leaves him to live with an infamous slave dealer. War begins, and Ben is granted his freedom. Rising to the rank of Union Colonel, he finds himself fighting for identity against those who have given him what little identity he has. At the moment when life and freedom become precious, he must face the reality of losing both.

Source: Inside dust jacket blurb on an autographed hardcover copy of John Hicks, The Long Whip (1969), discovered in a Little Free Library in Pacific Grove, California, 30 June 2022


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July 1, 2022

Dear Thomas: 

Happy Independence Day Weekend! 

This weekend while you’re celebrating, I hope you take a moment to think about all the people throughout history who have worked so hard to make America the greatest country in the world. From the Founding Fathers to those who have defended our freedoms in combat, to the farmers who feed our country every day, and so many more. I am thankful for you each and every day.   

As always, my office is open and ready to serve constituents of Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District! Please do not hesitate to get in touch if there is anything I can do to help. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July and God bless America. Sincerely, 

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Michelle Fischbach
Member of  Congress 

Please do not reply to this email, the mailbox is not monitored.  To comment further please click here.

Source: Email newsletter from US Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (R — Minnesota), 1 July 2022; duplicated here.

Selling Eclairs at the Gates of Auschwitz

I am subscribed to a number of email newsletters from theaters, publishers, and clubs, including Russian ones.

And until recently, I myself came up with advertising for the books that we released.

But certain things have changed, haven’t they? Many, of course, have stopped sending newsletters, but some continue. Here is a letter from the International Baltic House Theater Festival [in Petersburg], summoning people to its performances as if nothing has happened. And the venerable publishers Ad Marginem fervently invite people to their tent at the Red Square Book Festival. It’s right on Red Square, where the earth is the roundest!

Hello, friends, have you lost your fucking minds by any chance? I don’t know how it looks in Moscow or Petersburg, but from where I’m sitting, it looks as appropriate as selling eclairs at the gates of Auschwitz.

Source: Dmitry Volchek, Facebook, 2 June 2022. Screenshot and translation by the Russian Reader


Approaching the 100-day mark in a war that he refuses to call by its name, Russian President Vladimir Putin is a man intent on conveying the impression of business as usual.

As his army fought its way into the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk this week, Putin was making awkward small talk in a televised ceremony to honor parents of exceptionally large families.

Since the start of May, he has met – mostly online – with educators, oil and transport bosses, officials responsible for tackling forest fires, and the heads of at least a dozen Russian regions, many of them thousands of miles from Ukraine.

Along with several sessions of his Security Council and a series of calls with foreign leaders, he found time for a video address to players, trainers and spectators of the All-Russian Night Hockey League.

The appearance of solid, even boring routine is consistent with the Kremlin’s narrative that it is not fighting a war – merely waging a “special military operation” to bring a troublesome neighbor to heel.

For a man whose army has heavily underperformed in Ukraine and been beaten back from its two biggest cities, suffering untold thousands of casualties, Putin shows no visible sign of stress.

In contrast with the run-up to the Feb. 24 invasion, when he denounced Ukraine and the West in bitter, angry speeches, his rhetoric is restrained. The 69-year-old appears calm, focused and fully in command of data and details.

While acknowledging the impact of Western sanctions, he tells Russians their economy will emerge stronger and more self-sufficient, while the West will suffer a boomerang effect from spiraling food and fuel prices.

[…]

But as the war grinds on with no end in sight, Putin faces an increasing challenge to maintain the semblance of normality.

Economically, the situation will worsen as sanctions bite harder and Russia heads towards recession.

[…]

The words “war” and “Ukraine” were never spoken during Putin’s 40-minute video encounter on Wednesday with the prolific families, including Vadim and Larisa Kadzayev with their 15 children from Beslan in the North Caucasus region.

Wearing their best dresses and suits, the families sat stiffly at tables laden with flowers and food as Putin called on them in turn to introduce themselves. On the same day, eight empty school buses pulled into the main square of Lviv in western Ukraine to serve as a reminder of 243 Ukrainian children killed since the start of Putin’s invasion.

The closest he came to acknowledging the war was in a pair of references to the plight of children in Donbas and the “extraordinary situation” there.

Russia had many problems but that was always the case, he said as he wrapped up the online meeting. “Nothing unusual is actually happening here.”

Source: Mark Trevelyan, “Putin clings to semblance of normality as his war grinds on,” Reuters, 2 June 2022


Simon Pirani:

‘At least as bad as Russia itself are the areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian armed forces in 2014 – Crimea and the so called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk – and the small amount of territory Russia has taken this year. In Crimea, all civic activism, especially by the Tatar community, has been savagely punished. People are being sent to jail for many years for something they posted on line. The “republics” are ruled by lawless, quasi-state administrations. The list of human rights abuses – torture, illegal imprisonment, forced labour, terrorism against political opponents – is long. Most of the population of the “republics” left, years ago. Industry has collapsed. As for Kherson and other areas occupied this year, local government and civil society has been assaulted, opponents of Russian rule assassinated and kidnapped, and demonstrations broken up. Putin forecast that Ukrainians would welcome his army with open arms; I literally do not know of one single example of that happening. If people are looking for explanations about Ukrainians’ heightened sense of nationalism, part of it may be in the horrendous conditions in the parts of their country occupied by Russia. Who would welcome being ruled by a bunch of cynical, lawless thugs?’

Source: “In Quillversation: A Russian Imperial Project (Simon Pirani and Anthony McIntyre Discuss the Russian War on Ukraine),” The Pensive Quill, 1 June 2022

Will Smith’s Choice

Will Smith’s Choice

The idol of millions! He went from being an insecure guy who had had a difficult childhood to being one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. This year it was he who won the Oscar for his role in the biopic King Richard. His unique autobiography will tell you about his road to becoming a superstar, and our selection will give you a chance to look at Will Smith’s bookshelf!

Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist

It is this bestseller by Paulo Coelho that the actor often calls his favorite book. This philosophical novel about dreams that defy fate can change the life of any reader.

Source: screenshot of “What Will Smith reads (and recommends you read),” an email newsletter from LitRes, a popular Russian ebook service, 12 April 2022. Will Smith’s other alleged recommendations are Richard Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Translated by the Russian Reader, who has purchased and downloaded a good number of ebooks from LitRes over the last several years.


Putin’s is a regional politics: it is aimed at defending a particular region and its alleged ethno-cultural identity. Iran and the Islamist movements in general have served as the model for those seeking to banish all things Western in the hope that when you remove them, your true cultural identity (for example, an Islamic identify) will shine forth with its natural light. The same thing is gradually happening now in China and India. Cultural identity is discovered by purging the “Western abominations” that have accumulated like a dense layer on its surface. Russia has repeatedly evinced the desire to purge itself of the West—of Facebook, McDonald’s, modern art, rock music, of everything that the Russian does not need and can do perfectly well without. The belief is that if this stuff is removed, the divine wisdom of the Russian spirit will shine with its own light.

The only problem is (and it is an old problem that has been around since the nineteenth century) that this process of stripping and purging Russia of everything Western can never end. There is a non-European cultural substrate in Iran, India, and China. So, when you purge everything European, something homegrown, something originally non-European, does emerge. I am not saying whether this exists in Russia or not. I can only say that all attempts to find it have proved futile and suicidal. That is, the movement back to origins and the Russian World have proved completely suicidal.

In this sense, Russia has reproduced a well-known trope of German culture. In the nineteenth century, Germans also argued that German culture was inherently different from Western civilization, that German culture should be purged of Western civilization to be manifested in all its might. Upon closer examination, however, it transpired that this power was purely negative. German thinkers reflected on this, even glorifying these suicidal, self-destructive tendencies to some extent. Russian culture did this to some extent, too. We can read about the suicidal search for one’s foundations in Dostoevsky’s works, for example. From a cultural perspective, the new paroxysm to purge things Western and get back to Russianness, which we are now witnessing, is a purely suicidal operation.

Source: Boris Groys (in conversation with Liza Lazerson), “Putin: Restoration of Destruction,” E-Flux Journal, no. 126 (April 2022). Translated by Thomas H. Campbell

The Show Must Go On

A warehouse in the Edelweiss (Stroybat) hardware store chain in Petersburg. Photo: Sergei Yermokhin/Delovoi Peterburg

Good day!

Skimping on bags and paper, problems with electric cars, and the rise in price of coffee beans

Skimping on little things. Retailers and catering are reducing the use of certain types of packaging, containers, and consumables. Some things you have to give up against your will.

Tired of waiting for guests. The travel industry wants to get a tax exemption from Petersburg city hall, an extension of cashback, and a new version of Booking.com.

Russians charge slowly but drive fast. Sanctions have blocked the way to Russia for foreign electric cars, but import substitution is already being readied.

Pecking like a bird. Petersburg coffee roasters have faced logistical problems. Green coffee beans have risen in price by 15-50%, which has already affected retail prices.

They keep well. In the current situation, warehouses remain the most stable segment of the commercial real estate market, experts argue.

Have a good day!

Source: Delovoi Peterburg, daily email newsletter to subscribers, 7 April 2022. Photo by Sergei Yermokhin for Delovoi Petersburg. Translated by the Russian Reader


Queen’s hits as played by a symphony orchestra

Show must go on? [sic in English] We agree! Great news for everyone who has dreamed of going to a concert by the legendary Queen. On April 21, the group’s international hits will be performed at Tinkoff Arena by the IP Orchestra under the direction of the brilliant Igor Ponomarenko.

Queen is one of the greatest bands in history: their cultural legacy has changed the world of music forever.

The supremely rich acoustic palette of a symphony orchestra, new arrangements of classic Queen compositions, the wild drive of the musicians on stage, and the charming voice of the soloists — all this is part of the patented “Queen Show. Show Must go on” [sic in English].

The IP Orchestra performing Queen Show. Show Must go on. Tickets for their April 21 performance cost between 1,500 and 2,500 rubles [approx. 17-28 euros]. Subscribers to Bileter.ru’s newsletter get a 10% discount

The IP Orchestra has long established itself as a brand not only in Russia, but also in the countries of the near and far abroad. The band has toured on five continents, performed at the world’s best venues, and has thousands of admiring viewers and loyal listeners.

To attend this event, you will need a QR code showing that you have been fully vaccinated or have had the disease, or a certificate showing that you have had a full course of a vaccine, or a document confirming that you have been granted a medical exemption from vaccination along with a negative PCR test for participants and guests over eighteen years of age.

Source: Bileter.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader


Unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control, all parts of J. K. Rowling’s famous saga about the boy wizard will be unavailable on LitRes in three days. Only now can you buy them in time with a 25% discount! It is important that every book remains in your personal library forever.

“Unfortunately, the Harry Potter series will disappear from the LitRes shelves at 23:59 p.m. on 8 April 2022. Buy the books in time and they will remain with you forever.”

To activate the discount, follow this link or enter ACCIO on the promo code page. The offer is valid until April 8.

Source: LitRes email newsletter for customers, 6 April 2022. Image, above, captured on this page on their website. Translated by the Russian Reader

Last Address in Petersburg: Isaak Mechik

Isaak Mechik

A plaque memorializing Isaak Moiseyevich Mechik will be installed at 3 Dnepropetrovsk Street in St. Petersburg on Sunday, February 13, at 12 p.m. At the time of his arrest, 56-year-old Isaak Mechik worked as the manager of the workers’ dormitory of the Leningrad mirror factory, but during his life he had had many different occupations: he was involved in winemaking, had worked on the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway, had fought in the First World War, and had laid tram rails. He was arrested in October 1937. He was shot on charges of espionage and counter-revolutionary activities in January 1938.

Isaak Mechik was the grandfather of the writer Sergei Dovlatov, who devoted the first chapter of his book Ours: A Russian Family Album [1983; English translation, 1989] to him.

More than twenty years later, my father, after a long effort, had Grandpa’s name rehabilitated “for lack of corpus delicti.” For me the question is, just what was going on back then? For the sake of what, exactly, was that delightfully senseless and amusing life cut off?

We invite you to join the plaque installation ceremony. We ask you to maintain social distancing and wear a mask to avoid exposing yourself and others to the risk of coronavirus infection. Thank you, and be healthy!

Photo courtesy of Fontanka.ru via bessmertnybarak.ru. Source of text: Last Address in St. Petersburg email newsletter, February 6, 2022; translated by the Russian Reader. Source of Dovlatov quotation: Harper’s Magazine, May 1989, p. 26; translated by Anne Frydman.

The Scarlet Flower

The musical on ice The Scarlet Flower is not only a colorful performance, but also a socially significant project. The show’s mission is to play a significant role in educating the younger generation and fostering a sense of patriotism through a combination of music and sports. “Of course, our musical on ice encourages young people to be more interested in their native literature. The Scarlet Flower and its Western European counterpart Beauty and the Beast have a lot in common and no less important differences. Our task is to make a show that no one else has done in terms of its scope and beauty, and to prove to the whole world that our work is much more colorful, more interesting, deeper, more romantic and brighter,” said Tatiana Navka.

Source: Bileter.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader

From 2014 to 2015, [Tatiana] Navka was the beneficiary of Carina Global Assets Ltd., an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. In February 2019, questions were raised over Navka and her husband’s wealth following reports about their ownership of multiple properties in the Moscow region. An investigation by The Guardian suggested that Navka may have underreported income, claimed married status for several years after her divorce from Zhulin, and falsely told the IRS that she had sold a house.

In 2016, Navka caused controversy when she and her dancing partner, Andrei Burkovsky, appeared in the Russian version of Dancing on Ice dressed as Holocaust concentration camp prisoners.

In 2021, Tatiana Navka made and published homophobic comments to Spanish gymnast Cristofer Benítez. Through her social networks, she said that rhythmic gymnastics gymnastics was a “feminine sport,” and that she is glad that in her country men are not allowed to participate in rhythmic gymnastics “and hopefully never will.”

Source: Wikipedia

Book Description

Book Description

Yulia Yakovleva is the author of the popular series of novels Leningrad Fairy Tales, in which the story of Stalin’s terror and the pre-war years is told with frightening and disarming naivety, because it is told by children for children.

Karina Dobrotvorskaya blew up the internet and reader communities thanks to the release of the novel Has Anyone seen my Girl? The film based on the novel, starring Anna Chipovskaya, Victoria Isakova and Alexander Gorchilin, was a hit.

The new novel, written by Yulia and Karina in collaboration, has everything that makes a work striking and memorable:

* an interesting, offbeat story about the distant future

* a love affair

* a detective story

* a uniquely designed world, described in detail

* a European feel that makes the novel look like a translation

The novel is about our near future, but it reads like a novel about the present.

In the new world, wokeness and the ecological revolution have triumphed. All emotions, except positive and non-confrontational ones, are prohibited. There are fines for violations. If you ate more than the norm, and an inspector finds you’re overweight, there’s also a fine. You can’t offend anyone, not even an ant.

How long can a person live amid such horror?

Yakovleva and Dobrotvorskaya write both ironically and seriously about the new ethics [political correctness], the cult of Greta Thunberg, people carried away with moral norms — and the fact that natural human nature will triumph anyway.

The novel combines the best of the authors’ talents: a fascinating plot from Yulia Yakovleva and Dobrotvorskaya’s subtle, profound psychological insight.

The novel is a niche leader.

Source: LitRes. Image courtesy of Ozon. Translated by the Russian Reader

Subtle Forms of Utter Hogwash

Dostoevsky and the Russian Soul

Rowan Williams’ fascination with Russia began when, as a boy, he watched Sergei Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible on television. After that he became a born again Russophile, learned the language, and even completed a doctorate on Russian Christianity. But no Russian figure has held his fascination more than Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Dostoevsky is still considered among the greatest novelists the world has ever produced. But his talent for writing complex, often contradictory characters is rooted in a single traumatic moment when, as a young man, he found himself before a firing squad. The event changed his life, his writing, and his views on Russia’s place in the world.

Now that tensions between Russia and the West are once again running high, Rowan considers what the author’s life and thought can tell us about the country today.

Ultimately, Rowan finds, what makes Dostoevsky such a wonderful novelist is his humanity. At a time of deep divides, this is a writer with something to offer us all.

Source: BBC Radio 4

Source: Twitter.com