Agronom Yurri: Songs of Chuvash People from Siberia

90th release from Antonovka Records

Chuvash villages appeared in Russia’s Irkutsk Province during the Stolypin agrarian reforms at the beginning of the 20th century. Later, many Chuvash went there immediately after World War II. The songs on the album are mainly from the latter period.

Kukkuk Ensemble (“Cuckoo” in Chuvash, tracks 1-9) was formed in the village of Tagna in the Zalarinsky Dstrict. Its members range in age from 22 to 56.

Upper photo on the album cover, from left to right:
1. Marina Matveeva (leader)
2. Tatyana Vinogradova
3. Anastasia Vinogradova
4. Elena Avramenko
5. Olga Smirnova
6. Elena Dasheeva

The members of the duo The Belkovy Sisters (tracks 10-17) were born in the village of Uspensky-3 in the neighboring Ziminsky District. The duo is named after their mother’s maiden name. Nadezhda now lives nearby in the village of Maslyanogorsk, while Veronika lives in the city of Irkutsk. Nadezhda is a teacher of the Chuvash language, while Veronika is the chair of the Chuvash national cultural organization Yultash.

Part of the sisters’ repertoire (tracks 10, 14, 15) consists of popular Russian folk songs translated into Chuvash. The “Young Agronomist Song” was translated locally in Siberia and is a hallmark of the duo.

Lower photo on the album cover, from left to right:
1. Nadezhda Fidikova
2. Veronika Timofeeva

Recorded on July 9, 2022, in the House of Culture of the Village of Srednepikhtinsky, Zalarinsky District, Irkutsk Region, Russia.

Thanks to Veronika and all the performers, as well as Elena Ludwig, Lyudmila Gerda, and Natalia Dmitrieva.

Source: Antonovka Records (Facebook), 22 January 2023. The liner notes, above, have been edited slightly for clarity’s sake.

Khudain Gol: Voices of the Kuda Valley

 
88th release from Antonovka Records
 
Buryats are a native people of the Republic of Buryatia, the Irkutsk region and the Transbaikal region. The Irkutsk Region (Russian: oblast) consists of 32 districts (Russian: rayons), six of which form the Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Area (Russian: okrug) with the capital in the village of Ust-Ordynsky (Ust-Orda). Thus, in the administrative structure, the okrug has an intermediate position between the region and the district. From 1990 to 2008, however, it was a separate subject of the Russian Federation equal in status to a region. In 2008 the status was downgraded.
 
The Khudain Gol (“Kuda Valley” in Buryat) Ensemble was founded in Ust-Orda in 1986. The band performs folk songs of the local Buryats in their own arrangements. The leader is Nina Baldynova, the choirmaster is Bayar Zhambalov.
 
On the album cover photo, from left to right:
1. Irina Yatogurova: vocals
2. Bayar Zhambalov: vocals, chanza (10, 11)
3. Victoria Khakhalova: vocals
4. Nina Baldynova: vocals
5. Andrey Banzaraktsaev: vocals, solo vocals (10)
6. Nina Baldaeva: vocals
7. Elena Barkhunova: vocals
8. Alexander Mantatov: vocals, solo vocals (11)
9. Victoria Mandanova: vocals
10. Albina Makhasoeva: vocals
11. Alexander Tsybenov: vocals
 
The Buryat song titles are written as given by the performers and may differ slightly from the literary version.
 
Recorded on July 18, 2022 at the Ust-Ordynsky House of Culture, Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Area, Irkutsk Region, Russia.
 
Thanks to Irina Molotkova, the ensemble, Lyudmila Gerda, and Natalya Dmitrieva.
 
 
Source: Antonovka Records, Facebook, 8 January 2023
 
 
 

Ayhal Ammosov: “Yakutian Punk Against War”

Ayhal Ammosov standing in front of a funeral bureau holding a placard that reads, “The groom has arrived.”  Photo courtesy of Mediazona via Aikhal Ammosov

The Free Yakutia Foundation has published a letter from Ayhal Ammosov, an anti-war activist who disappeared last week. The letter is dated November 22.

Ammosov, who faces criminal charges stemming from his public activism, has not been in touch with friends and family since December 11. They suggest that law enforcement agencies may be involved in his disappearance, Sibir.Realii reports.

In the published letter, the activist writes: “If you are reading this letter, it means that something has happened to me, something really serious. I can’t sit here right now and wonder what could have happened to me in the future, but I think that either I’m missing or I’ve been killed. This was to be expected, because they would not have given me a quiet life, especially in the republic.”

Ammosov goes on to note that he was not going to “stop” in his struggle, and that he has numerous plans.

“They are trying to intimidate us, to shut our mouths. They are trying to break us, but we will not give up, we will endure everything — all these trials, all the persecution, all the tortures and beatings. I believe in myself and in my supporters. I had to do this and I will go all the way to the end,” he writes.

In late August, it was reported that criminal charges had been filed against grassroots activist and leader of the punk band Crispy Newspaper Ayhal Ammosov for publicly discrediting the actions of the Russian army. OVD Info wrote that the charges stemmed from a banner, emblazoned with the slogan “Yakutian punk against war” (in English), which Ammosov attempted to hang on a building in downtown Yakutsk on August 13 — the same day that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin arrived in the city. The musician was also sentenced to fifteen days of administrative arrest for his protest.

On December 13, according to friends of the activist, Ammosov did not appear in the Yakutsk City Court for a hearing in his criminal trial on charges of discrediting the army. In addition, according to the Free Yakutia Foundation, persons unknown had recently been following Ammosov.

Source: “Letter by missing Yakut activist published,” Radio Svoboda, 22 December 2022


Musician and artist Ayhal Ammosov, who was known in Yakutsk before the war as the leader of the punk band Crispy Newspaper, began to regularly stage anti-war protests after Ukraine was invaded. For a few months he managed to hide from the police and Center “E” [the Russian Interior Ministry’s “anti-extremism” police] but ultimately his activism ended with a pile of administrative charges of “discrediting” of the Russian army — and one criminal charge for the selfsame “discrediting.” Mediazona recounts here how concert performances gave way, in Ammosov’s life, first to anti-war leaflets and graffiti and a semi-clandestine existence, and then to endless games of “crabs” in jail and the threat of hard time in prison.

Punk rock has always been marked by its anti-war stance, and the Yakutsk punk scene, one of the most distinctive in Russia, was no exception. In early 2018, the band Crispy Newspaper performed at a concert organized by the label Youth of the North. After taking the stage, a young man with a microphone began to do the pogo while two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer churned out aggressively rhythmic music. When the band stopped playing, the young man made a short introductory speech: “Every day is a war, a war with the society that gave birth to us. We are descendants of slaves, sons of the proletariat, children of incomplete families, freaks, outcasts and rebels. And if we are here, then we have something to say, and if I am destined to drop dead today, I would like to say only one thing: if we’re going to die, let’s do it with music!”

The young man was Ayhal Ammosov: the name in his passport is Igor Ivanov, but he plans to make the pseudonym his official name. Four years later, when Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine, this thirty-year-old punk, poet, musician and artist would prove to be one of Yakutia’s most consistent anti-war activists.

Before February 24, he almost never engaged in political activism, except for putting up leaflets criticizing the head of Yakutia, Yegor Borisov and his henchmen, but Ammosov himself recalls those protests as not particularly interesting. His friend Mikhail Pogosov (his name has been changed to protect his identity), who has now left Yakutia, recalls that some time before the invasion they wagered whether there would be a war or not. Ammosov was sure that there would be a war — and won two pizzas.

“People wrote: ‘You can come to my place for the night, then leave in the morning.’ So that’s what I did.”

Ammosov recalls that after the war began, he warned a comrade that he was going to protest, and he replied, “If you can combine it with work, do it.” At the time, Ayhal worked as a barista in a coffee shop.

Crispy Newspaper broke up back in January, so that Ammosov could focus on anti-war activism. His most active period was during the first two months of the war. For example, Ammosov was photographed outside a funeral services bureau holding a placard that read, “The groom has arrived.” (This phrase is uttered by the policeman in Alexei Balabanov’s film Cargo 200 as he dumps the corpse of a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan into a bed to which his fiancee is handcuffed.)

Photo courtesy of Mediazona via Ayhal Ammosov’s Instagram page

On another occasion, the activist, who then appeared on Instagram only in a mask covering his face, posed with a placard that read, Kun kihite komuskes. Ayyy kihite ahynygas.

“It means, ‘The man of light is compassionate, merciful. The man of the sun is a defender, a helper.’ The Ayyy are the supreme gods, the light for the Sakha people,” Ammosov explains. “I wanted to remind my people who they are. They should not attack and kill other people or attack foreign countries. The strong must protect the weak.”

Ammosov soon learned from friends that the security forces were looking for him. For example, the police paid a visit to a former Crispy Newspaper guitarist at his workplace, the House of Musicians. The guitarist later told a friend that he was taken to the police department and even threatened with death: the police demanded that he give them Ayhal’s address, phone number or other leads. The young man did not tell them anything — the artist says that they were not in close touch. Besides, Ammosov had already switched to a semi-clandestine existence by that time: he often changed cell phones and slept at the homes of friends or the coffee shop. Later, he would only work one-day temp jobs, for example, clearing roofs of snow.

At night, the activist continued going out to put up leaflets and draw graffiti. Back in March, Center “E” became concerned (as follows from Ammosov’s criminal case file) about the local artist’s anti-war activism, which he talked about on his publicly accessible Instagram page.

As his friend Mikhail recalls, at that time Ayhal was interested in everyone who opposed the Russian government — for example, he was interested in a video featuring [Chechen independence leader] Dzhokhar Dudayev. Mikhail himself also went out at night several times with his friend to put up leaflets.

According to Ammosov, at that time he did not trust close relatives and friends: he was afraid that the security forces could find him. He would only briefly inform his mother that everything was fine.

“Many people in Yakutsk knew me, so I had support: if anything happened, I could turn to them. But it was dangerous, of course,” recalls Ammosov. “I didn’t know whether they would turn me in or set me up. People wrote: ‘You can come to my place, spend the night, have breakfast, and then go [in the morning].’ So that’s what I did.”

“Ayhal led a kind of anonymous lifestyle. No one knew where he worked or lived. He would only mention the district [where he was at the time],” confirms Mikhail.

This went on for about two months. In late April, Ammosov was finally detained while leaving a grocery store.

“Yakutian punk against war” — a raft of administrative charges and one criminal case

Ammosov was held at a police department for “almost a week.” According to the musician, he was threatened while he was in a cell. The police tried to force him to record an apology on video, and did not give him water.

His friend Mikhail adds: “The police in Yakutsk are not particularly fussy. I have been beaten when I was drunk and beaten when I was sober. It’s true, however, that I like to talk about the rights of policemen. They hate everyone equally, locals and nonresidents alike.”

For leafleting, graffiti, and posting photos of [anti-war] placards on Instagram, Ammosov was charged several times with administrative offenses — minor disorderly conduct (Administrative Offenses Code Article 20.1.1) and “discrediting” the Russian army (Administrative Offenses Code Article 20.3.3.1).

A series of court hearings ensued. On April 27, two administrative cases against Ayhal were tried in the Yakutsk City Court, and three more were tried a day later. For example, the court ruled that a graffito written on a wall, Suoh buollun serii, constituted “discrediting” the army. It translates as “Let there be no war”, and is a line from a song.

“They used to sing it in schools, everyone knows it,” Ammosov explains, perplexed.

By late May, the trials were over. The punk was found guilty on all the charges, and he was fined a little more than 90 thousand rubles. The summer passed relatively calmly. Ammosov tried to earn money to pay off the fines, but he was unsuccessful, managing to amass only half of the amount needed.

For a period of time, Ammosov, along with other concerned residents of Yakutia, helped build a house for Anatoly Chomchoyev, a local nuclear physicist who in May was shot with a trauma pistol and stabbed by men driving a vehicle marked “Russian National Guard.” The Interior Ministry, reporting on the arrest of two suspects, claimed that the men, who were intoxicated, had tried to drive through private land fenced off with a barrier. Chomchoyev had refused to let them through and was assaulted. The ministry did not mention the suspects’ place of work in its press release.

In August, the artist had the idea for the protest of which he is most proud. Later, when interrogated by a police investigator, Ammosov said that he had borrowed a bicycle from a friend to ride around Yakutsk when he noticed the Nugget swimming pool, in the very center of town. He took down an advertising banner he found on the street, and on August 12 asked his girlfriend to videotape him writing the slogan Yakutian punk against war on the back of the banner.

On August 13, two days before Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s arrival in Yakutsk, the punk climbed onto the roof of the swimming pool building. A friend filmed the protest, standing on the opposite side of Taloye, the small lake on whose shore stands the swimming pool building. After hanging the banner, the musician raised his arm in a clenched fist salute and descended the outdoor fire escape. None of the photos or video of the protest has been preserved: the security forces were already waiting for Ammosov and his girlfriend at the bottom of the fire escape and immediately confiscated their phones.

Ammosov was later charged with the criminal offense of repeat “discrediting” of the Russian army (per Article 280.3.1 of the Criminal Code, which states that criminal charges can be filed if a person already has already been charged administratively once in the past year for the same violation.) Ammosov faces up to three years in prison or a fine of 100 to 300 thousand rubles if convicted.

Police investigators examined not only the protest involving the banner at the pool, but Ammosov’s previous anti-war protests as well. The police forensic experts predictably found signs of “discrediting” the army in fairly innocent statements. For example, analyzing the placard featuring the Yakut proverb “the man of the sun is a defender,” the forensic experts concluded that the statement recognizes that “showing pity for Ukrainians suffering onslaught, attack, and encroachment by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and protecting them from the actions of the latter, is true and correct.”

The experts appointed by the investigators also analyzed Ayhal’s gesture at the pool: his right arm raised with his fist clenched. “The Rotfront salute is a call to unite in the fight against fascism, by which the actions of the Russian authorities are meant as the addressee,” they write.

Discussing the phrases “Long live peace” or “No war”, these experts note: “They were often used in Soviet times, but in a different socio-cultural situation.”

Aikhal Ammosov outside the Yakutsk City Court. Photo courtesy of Mediazona via Aikhal Ammosov

However, the forensic experts based their assessment of Ammosov’s slogans and gestures not only on those statements themselves, but also on the report of the musician’s interrogation. On the day of his arrest, Ammosov told an investigator outright that he believed that Russia had invaded Ukraine, that there was not a “special military operation” going on there, but a real war, and that he had wanted to draw people’s attention to this.

A day later, during another interrogation, Ammosov nevertheless noted that the slogan on the banner implied that he was opposed to war in general, not specifically the war in Ukraine. He now admits that he resorted to this trick hoping that he would not be sent to remand prison and would be able to find a lawyer and brainstorm some options for his defense.

A month in jail with “crabs” and men back from Ukraine

Ammosov says that he spent several days in police stations and was transported from one to another. Formally, the activist had been released on his own recognizance, but he was not actually released — the musician was sent to jail for twenty-four hours several times in a row. On August 17, the court jailed him for fifteen days for minor disorderly conduct, followed by two more jail sentences — on September 2, for seven days, and on September 9, for another fifteen days — both times for failing to pay in a timely manner the fines imposed on him (per Administrative Offenses Code Article 20.25) after he was convicted on administrative charges of “discrediting” the army.

Consequently, Ammosov spent over a month under administrative arrest. After being released, Ayhal shared two main impressions that had nothing to do with the disgusting food and the conditions of detention.

First, he was sentenced to his first fifteen days in jail for, allegedly, pasting a “Banned in Sakha” sticker under the picture of a former Crispy Newspaper guitarist on the honor board at the municipal water and sanitation authority, where the musician is now employed. (“Banned in Sakha” is a paraphrase of the title of the song “Banned in D.C.,” by the hardcore punk band Bad Brains.) The police and the court claimed that this was done on August 14, although Ammosov had by that time already been detained for the protest at the swimming pool. The investigator took advantage of this circumstance: while the artist was serving his jail sentence, the investigator petitioned the court to send Ammosov to the pretrial detention center for violating the terms of his release on his own recognizance. The court sided with the activist, who insisted that he could not have pasted the sticker after his arrest. (The court also sided with the girlfriend, with whom, according to the police, Ammosov had pasted the sticker. Although the police asked the Yakutsk City Court to jail her for fifteen days too, the judge only fined her a thousand rubles.)

Second, two men who had been involved in combat in Ukraine were among the anti-war activist’s cellmates. One was an ethnic Russian with the call sign “Temple,” who had served with the Wagner Group. He said that he had been wounded but had not received compensation. The second was an Evenk whose call sign was “Evenk.” He was a veteran of the first Chechen war and a sniper.

“They didn’t say anything bad to me,” Ammosov recalls. “They said, Well, if you’ve done so much for all this, for your beliefs, you’re sitting here in jail, and you haven’t been broken yet, then you rock, man! You just have to understand that Russia is going to win, we’re going to beat the crap out of everyone. This, they said, is a fact. So the fact that you are doing some kind of anti-war shit… there will be wars anyway.”

Ammosov spent his days reading books and playing “crabs” [mandavoshka] — a prison game in which the players roll dice and move figurines around a map. The dice and figurines are fashioned from bread and toothpaste, while the map is drawn on a piece of paper or carved on a table. Care packages were regularly delivered by friends, so Ammosov had instant noodles, fruit and cigarettes, which he would give to his cellmates.

The musician recalls that when he was detained he was wearing shorts, but when he was released, on the morning of September 24, it was snowing, although the snow soon melted. By this time, mobilization for the war with Ukraine had already been announced in Russia.

“I just wanted to speak out, I wanted to do something”

Yakutsk, about which Ammosov had once proudly said that it was a young people’s city with a diverse music scene, seemed deserted to him: “Only old men, young women and ‘Zeders’ are left.” The musician recalls the raids on shopping malls and mentions that his cousin was mobilized.

“I remember that, in the spring, most musicians stopped communicating with me. They were afraid that the FSB and Center ‘E’ guys would try to catch them too. And then, when the mobilization began, they all left for Kazakhstan and from Kazakhstan they began writing fiercely to me and supporting me, as if they had always supported me. I thought, Well, what the fuck,” the Yakut punk says ironically.

Ayhal is no longer involved in anti-war activism. He got a job as an orderly in a care home where he takes care of the elderly and disabled. Only once, according to him, a prosecutor visited him at work to warn him about the inadmissibility of violating the laws on extremism, before taking him to a separate room and advising him “not to get cocky.” Meanwhile, the activist is preparing for his criminal trial, which was supposed to start on November 23 in the Yakutsk City Court, but has been postponed to December 13. He is not planning to plead guilty, but he hopes that he won’t be sent to a penal colony. And he has no regrets.

“I just wanted to speak out, I wanted to do something,” the musician explains. “Well, at the beginning, when the war started, and when I had the court hearings in the spring, people didn’t understand why I was doing it. There was no mobilization back then. But when the mobilization started, everyone was like, ‘Fuck, he was right, we should have done something earlier.'”

Source: Dima Shvets, “Yakutian punk against war: the man behind the placard ‘The groom has arrived’ tried on criminal charges of ‘discrediting’ the army,”Mediazona, 23 November 2022


Dude… this is frickin’ amazing… roaring out of Asia’s northernmost punk scene, Yakutsk (Russia), this phenomenal 70’s/80’s inspired punk band Crispy Newspaper have released a brand new album of solid gold material! You HAVE to check out this band…

Further below check out what the band is like live.

Stay in touch at this link with Youth of North who seem to be a collective/label that releases music from the scene from here.

Source: “Yakutsk Punk Band Crispy Newspaper Release PHENOMENAL Album [Russia],”Unite Asia, 17 October 2020. Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for inspiring this entire post by sending me the links to all the articles translated and/or reposted here. This post is dedicated to my little sister K., whose birthday is today. ||| TRR

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UPDATE, 9 JANUARY 2022. Various Russian-language media outlets have reported today that Ayhal Ammosov is now safe and sound in Kazakhstan. ||| TRR

Anna Chagina: “Putin Is a Demon Who Stole My Country”


Anna Chagina at an anti-war protest in Tomsk, 6 March 2022. Photo: Dmitry Kandinsky/vtomske.ru

On the early morning of November 30, the security forces came to the home of Tomsk musician and teacher Anna Chagina: this was how she found out that she been charged with the criminal offense of “discrediting the army.” Chagina had been detained at an anti-war rally on March 6. In September, the Prosecutor General’s Office blocked Chagina’s page on VK over anti-war posts, which have now served as the grounds for the criminal charges against her under Article 280.3.1 of the Criminal Code. The maximum penalty is up to three years in prison.

On December 1, the court imposed pretrial restrictions on Chagina: she was banned from using the internet and mail, leaving home after ten o’clock in the evening, and attending mass events. On the evening of December 1, after the court hearing, Chagina talked to Sibir.Realii’s correspondent about her criminal case and her scenarios for how and when the war would end.

“Gentlemen, this is my house and my rules”

On the eve of the visit from the security forces, Chagina celebrated her birthday, and her guests had left late. She hadn’t sleep half the night because her nineteen-year-old daughter had a fever, and at six a.m. the doorbell rang. Anna opened it and saw an entire brigade: “There were two witnesses, two field officers from the FSB, an investigator, a special forces soldier, and a lawyer.” Only after returning from the temporary detention center, where she had spent the night, did she discover that the peephole in her door had been prudently sealed with a sticker on the stairwell side. At the time, Chagina had been too busy to notice it: she says that fear had made it hard for her to breathe and she was constantly thirsty. The second feeling she had was indignation.

– As soon as they came, I said, “Gentlemen, this is my house and my rules.” I insisted that they take off their shoes. They rifled through all my books and looked through all the folders. I have a lot of papers — printouts, sheet music, archives. They confiscated computer equipment and a bunch of flash drives and phones, including ones that didn’t work.

To calm her nerves, Anna picked up a guitar and put on a concert. She sang children’s songs and Okudzhava.

– Actually, I rarely give concerts, but then and there I realized that there would be no such opportunity anymore. I was trying not to pay attention to them.

– Did you have a lawyer present?

– They brought a lawyer with them. The court-appointed lawyer was both theirs and mine. At my request, she telephoned my friend Igor, but during the search she didn’t tell me, for example, that I could write in the report that I was against their videotaping during the search. We added that when I was already at the Investigative Committee. My daughter had also wanted to film the search on camera, but her smartphone was taken away. I was scared that I would first be locked up in a temporary detention facility for forty-eight hours, and then immediately sent to a pretrial detention center for two months.

The police search of Anna’s house lasted about three hours, after which she and her daughter were taken to the Investigative Committee.

– My daughter had a temperature of 39 [degrees Centigrade — 36.6 degrees Centigrade is considered normal body temperature]. I asked that she be questioned first as a witness and released, and after that they could talk to me. But first I was interrogated for four hours, and my daughter waited ll that time. The court-appointed lawyer told me that with such a temperature she could have refused to go in for questioning, but for some reason she told me that after the fact. Today, my daughter was taken away by ambulance with pneumonia.

During the interrogation at the Investigative Committee, Chagina cited Article 51 [of the Russian Constitution, which gives people the right not to give evidence themselves, their spouses, or close relatives] and refused to testify about the case per se.

– I verbally said that I did not admit any guilt, but, in my opinion, this was not included in the arrest report. They gave me some document about cooperating with the investigation and asked me to read it carefully. But I refused to cooperate, and I wrote on this document that I did not consider it necessary to read it. Copies of the search and arrest reports were not given to me because, they said, the the court-appointed lawyer had photographed them.

– And then you were taken to the pretrial detention center?

– Yes. To have something to do there, I took a pocket Bible with me from home. I was in solitary confinement. It was cold, and the sink and toilet stank. By law, I could be kept there for forty-eight hours, so I asked for cleaning liquid or power to wash the sink and toilet. They brought it in the morning.

The light does not go off at night. Radio Vanya, a pop station, was playing in the cell until ten p.m. I am a musician, and have other musical preferences. To keep this music from seeping into my mind, I meditated. I read the Bible. I spent the time well.

Anna Chagina. Photo courtesy of Ms. Chagina via RFE/RL

– How did the court hearing go?

– I had petitioned for a change of counsel, and the attorney I had retained was already at the hearing. We were able to keep the hearing open to the public. The investigator asked the court to impose pretrial restrictions that would prohibit me from using all means of communication. The lawyer asked for a mitigation, and I was still permitted to use the telephone.

Chagina is now forbidden to use the internet and mail, leave home after ten o’clock in the evening, or attend mass events.

– They put a Federal Penitentiary Service tracking bracelet on you. How do you like it?

– When I would see such a bracelet on others, I would think, Those are the fetters of Satan! It’s fine so far. I haven’t tried doing yoga in this bracelet yet. I’ll work out, and it’ll be clear how it feels… I’m talking calmly and even joking, but in fact I’m in shock. Once I saw a man who, after an accident, was standing there with a split skull – his brain was clearly visible, but he was talking calmly. He was in shock from the pain. Something similar is happening to me now.

– How much will the court-imposed pretrial restrictions, the ban on using the internet and leaving the house in the evening, complicate your life?

– Things couldn’t have been worse even before the criminal case came along. In September, the Prosecutor General’s Office blocked my VK page, which had a very strong impact on me, because I used this page to advertise private lessons and find music students. I have a very low income. I was selling my apartment to buy a smaller dwelling and pay off my debts, but due to the fact that I am now a criminal defendant, I cannot wrap up the deal.

“Blessed are the peacemakers”

Chagina recalls how she gave a concert on the eve of the March anti-war rally.

– There were about a hundred people there. Before playing, I openly spoke out against the war. I played one of my favorite Ukrainian carols on the violin. It was very warmly received. After the concert, a woman from the audience approached me: “My son is going to the [anti-war] rally on March 6th. I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid.” There were others. They were surprised: “You say that war is always bad. That it was Russia who attacked.” But even these people did not condemn me, but shared their misgivings with me.

My daughter went to a solo anti-war picket on March 3 and was immediately taken away. This was even before the laws were tightened, which occurred on March 5. I was afraid to go out on March 6, but I couldn’t stay away. My friend, who is seriously ill, went to the rally with her family. I can’t tell you her name, because I’m afraid that they will start pulling in everyone again. Her husband was detained. I thought hat she would be detained next. She had come out with a placard that read, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” I took the placard from her and held it up. I stood there holding it for ten minutes before they put me in a traffic police car and took me to the Soviet District police department. I was later fined on administrative charges of “discrediting the army.”

– How long have you been in the protest movement?

– Protest rallies are not the most important thing in my life, but I’m used to openly voicing my opinion. I went out to protest for Navalny and for TV2 [the Tomsk independent TV channel shut down by the authorities in 2014 — SR]. In 2014, when Crimea began, I went to a protest rally carrying a placard that read, “Don’t shoot your brothers.”

– Why are you personally against this war?

– I am against any war. Violence cannot solve any conflict. I sincerely admire the martial arts, if it is an honest one-on-one duel without weapons. But you can achieve only universal death through wholesale slaughter.

I rethought a lot of things after February 24. The war enabled me to separate what I love from what I hate. I had wanted to leave Russia for many years before the war. I hate it when a person endlessly tolerates what cannot be tolerated — humiliation, filth, an unseemly life — and does nothing about it. War is an attempt by such people to resolve the logjam of problems through violence and hysteria.

– What do you like about Russia?

– I love the nature. I love a certain kind of simplicity. Not the the kind of simplicity that is worse than thievery, but the kind of simplicity that can be called openness. The war made it possible to find out that there are many honest and decent people among Russians. Before the war, I was little interested in politics, and I didn’t closely follow the events in Donbas. I was busy with my family, my art, and my work.

When the war began, Tomsk showed a new side to me. I have reached a different level of social connection and communication here. Despite the fact that we don’t agree about everything, we still manage to keep in touch. This is very important to me. It is for the sake of this that it is worth going to protest rallies. Love will save the world.

Anna Chagina. Photo courtesy of Ms. Chagina via RFE/RL

– You had already been found guilty on administrative charges of “discrediting the army” for your posts on VK, which eventually served as the pretext for the criminal charges. Did you understand what the consequences could be?

– I understood. But it was important for me to convey my position to people. I am mentally ready for the fact that the state will punish me for this. I haven’t yet talked in detail to the lawyer who is defending me. But, as far as I understand, I face either a prison sentence or a huge fine. I’m not afraid of either.

I felt like I was being watched, but I couldn’t quite believe it. I saw some people outside, standing below my apartment. The FSB field officer who escorted me today said that he had personally shadowed me. And the investigator said that all the investigators at the Soviet District police department know me. Apparently, they were all here pulling shifts. By Tomsk standards, I have a rather large social media following — more than a thousand people on VK. And I have a lot of acquaintances from very different circles that do not intersect in any way.

– Which posts on VK did they deem “discrediting”?

– I have only read the arrest reports so far, not the stuff in the criminal case file. As far as I understand, the incriminating posts are the ones featuring texts by the Christian thinker Pavel Levushkan and the philosopher Nikolai Karpitsky, as copied from Facebook and posted on my VK page, with the authorship of the texts indicated. Karpitsky is a philosopher who lived in Tomsk and headed the Tomsk Anti-Fascist Committee, but now lives in Ukraine. He talks about necrophilic imperialism and about why Russians behave this way, both in war and in peacetime. Plus the comment “No war!” which I wrote below someone else’s post on VK.

“I am also to blame”

– Anna, why do you think there is no mass anti-war movement in Russia nine months after the start of the war and even in the wake of the mobilization?

– Because no one wants to go to prison. But when mobilization began, the war affected even those who had hoped to remain observer. I am acquainted with a Tomsk family in which the husband works at Gazprom and the wife teaches at a university. The husband earned good money, and the family traveled a lot around the world. But when the war began, they did not object to its officially stated aims, nor were they surprised by the claims of the propagandists that Putin was fighting NATO and gay parades in the west. But then the husband received a conscription summons, and their point of view changed immediately. The husband fled abroad.

– Speaking of emigration. You’d already had an admin. You saw that you were being followed. Why didn’t you leave?

– I had obligations. I didn’t emigrate due to my family. My daughter has health problems. My mom is here. I have a grandmother and a grandfather who are already ninety years old. Finally, my romantic partner is here.

– And you don’t even consider such a possibility for yourself in the future?

– I consider it, of course. More precisely, I would like to travel around the world, immerse myself for a long while in a different culture, in a different linguistic environment, and live in a different climate. I am a very curious person. Before the war, I had such plans: when the children grow up, I’m off! But I wasn’t thinking about the kind of emigration in which you leave and burn all your bridges.

– In your opinion, who is to blame for the fact that this war began?

– Putin, first of all. He signs off on all the decisions. But he’s not the only one to blame. I am also to blame. I voted for Putin the first time he was elected. It was the only time I voted for him. He seemed like a man who could do something good for the country. I was very naive, and I didn’t know anything about Putin’s past. The epiphany came when I noticed that Russian reality had begun to resemble C.S. Lewis’s science fiction novel That Hideous Strength. There is this character, the Grey Shadow, in the novel. He is nowhere and everywhere. His henchmen on the ground resemble him and poison the atmosphere. And there, as in Putin’s Russia, they endlessly repair what doesn’t need to be repaired and generate the semblance of busyness.

The “castling move” and even the “nullification” seemed mere absurdities. But I didn’t expect the scale of demonism that we see now. Like Stalin or Hitler, Putin is a demon who stole my country.

– How long can this war last, and how will it end?

– I have three scenarios: reasonable, mystical, and punk/optimistic. Which one would you like to hear?

– Let’s hear all three in turn.

– Reason says that this is going to go on for a long time, for many years. Even if the fighting against Ukraine ends in the foreseeable future — within two years — it is unlikely that everything will end quickly in Russia itself. But I don’t want to talk about a civil war.

The mystical point of view says that the war is part of an ongoing struggle between Good and Evil, which just touched us personally now.

And the punk scenario says that “We will leave the zoo,” as Yegor Letov sang. Lately, before the criminal case, I wanted to forget everything, and just believe that sooner or later we would stop being monkeys who piss on each other. That we would exit our individual cages and become human beings.

– Do you see any rudiments that give you hope that an epiphany, a kind of purification, is possible in Russia?

– I see them. Many of my friends say, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to build something here. This is my homeland, and I won’t surrender it to anyone.” Among them are calm optimists who believe that “this too shall pass,” and determined folks who are ready to fight.

An acquaintance of mine supported Navalny and left for California forever to avoid criminal charges. But his friend, an American, on the contrary, moved to Altai from California ten years ago, became a Russian farmer, and has no plans to leave Russia. I love the Russian language and Russian culture, but I’m not a nationalist — I’m a globalist. I am for a world without borders, and I hope Russia will one day become a part of this world.

– You took a Bible with you to the temporary detention center. Do you consider yourself Orthodox? How do you feel about the fact that the ROC has been stumping for the war?

– I practice integral spirituality, but I still seek guidance in the Orthodox Church and consider myself a Christian. The ROC’s official position [on the war] is a disgrace, and all [other] Orthodox churches have condemned it. Real Russian Orthodoxy and what it is associated with today are heaven and earth. What is the Christian conclusion here? God is merciful. And He is merciful to those who labor under delusions, too. Another thing is that everyone suffers for their delusions, including the deluded themselves.

Anna Chagina (left) in concert with other musicians. Photo courtesy of Ms. Chagina via RFE/RL

– All the independent media that reported your arrest wrote that you are a musician. What kind of music do you play?

– I graduated from music college as a violist and I play the viola. I teach violin. I’ve had a bunch of musical groups in the past. I’ve played rock, punk, folk, and Celtic. In addition, I’ve played with an ensemble of violinists. I worked in a symphony orchestra for a year.

– Is there a particular kind of music that serves as a lifeline for you nowadays?

– I’ve been listening to very little music lately — I’ve been overloaded. But Bach is always a lifeline. One of my relatively recent discoveries is the Petersburg singer Sasha Sokolova, who, unfortunately, died of cancer. I can say of her music that it’s about our time.

– Do you imagine that the court could acquit you?

– I’m not counting on it… When I was dozing in the cell at the temporary detention center, I thought it would be cool to open my eyes in the morning and see the ocean, clean and transparent. In exactly the same way I believe that the court could hand down a fair verdict — as in a pipe dream, as in a miracle. I believe this war will end. I admit that a miracle is possible.


Since the new articles of the Criminal Code and the Administrative Offenses Code on discrediting the Russian army and disseminating “fake news” about it came into force, more than 100 criminal cases have been launched in Russia and around 4,500 reports of administrative offenses have been filed, according to Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, speaking at a session of the State Duma on October 19.

According to OVD Info, a total of 352 people are under suspicion or facing charges in so-called anti-war criminal cases launched in Russia between February 24 and November 24. As of 23 November 2022, 5,159 administrative offenses cases have been instituted in Russia under Article 20.3.3 of the Administrative Offenses Code (i.e., for “discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”).

On March 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law criminalizing “fake news” about the actions of the Russian Armed Forces. Russians can be fined up to 1.5 million rubles or imprisoned for up to three years for violating the new Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code, defined as “Public dissemination of deliberately false information about the deployment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.” Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes “discrediting” the Russian army, stipulates a sentence of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to a million rubles.

Source: “‘Putin is a demon who stole my country;: an educator accused of ‘discrediting the army’ talks about her criminal case and believing in a miracle,” Sibir.Realii (Radio Svoboda), 3 December 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader, who in the “real world” would have been paid 275 dollars or euros for this work (as an experienced professional translator) or, at least, 75 dollars for the five hours I spent doing it, per the minimum wage in the US state where I currently live. Please make a donation to this free resource today and thus send me the message that you value the work I do here and want me to continue doing it.

This Ain’t No Disco

Some schoolchildren thus learned about the existence of Time Machine and DDT.

The Telegram channel Caution, Moscow, citing the parents of students as it sources, writes that a blacklist of artists whose songs are forbidden to play during school disco parties has been distributed in Moscow schools. The list includes artists who have spoken out against the special [military] operation, and some of them have moved abroad.

In the screenshot posted on the Telegram channel, the section is titled “Forbidden music.” In addition to Zemfira and Valery Meladze, it features several dozen artists, including Morgenshtern,* Oxxxymiron, Aquarium, Boris Grebenshchikov, B2, Face, Noize MC,* Little Big, Ivan Dorn, Vera Brezhneva, and Svetlana Loboda. However, the list does not replicate the list of “undesirable” artists that was published in the media this past summer. In any case, Monetochka is not on [the new list].


“Thematic disco parties. We’re going to be holding thematic disco parties quite soon. Every class has a theme. The head boys and head girls of each class should chip in 10 tracks (identifying which class it is). But let’s not forget that the music has to be danceable. Forbidden music: Morgenshtern, Noize MC, Manizha, Oxxxymiron, Nogu Svelo, DDT, Time Machine, Louna, Aquarium, Valery Meladze, B2, Face, Zemfira, Little Big, 2Mashas, Alekseev, Max Barskhikh, Vera Brezhneva, Boris Grebenshchikov, Anacondaz, Nerves, Kasta, Alone in a Canoe, Okean Elzy, Ivan Dorn, Dorofeeva, Svetlana Loboda, Monatik, Potap & Nastya Kamenskikh. There must be no mention of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, narcotics, or adult content [in the songs]!”


According to the parents, the list of banned artists was delivered to the head boys and head girls of classes, who are in charge of the musical program at the New Year’s dance parties. “The children reacted normally. They said, ‘Well, no means no.’ They asked questions about who DDT and Time Machine were and what they sang. But they did want to listen to Morgenshtern,” the parents said.

The [Moscow] Department of Education told Moskvich Mag that they “did not restrict schoolchildren in their choice of music, did not make stop lists, and did not identify performers who were not desirable to feature at events.”

* Has been placed on the Justice Ministry’s list of “foreign agents.”

Source: “Zemfira and Meladze: blacklists of artists for discos issued in Moscow schools,” Moskvich Mag, 15 December 2022. Translated by TRR

Erkhuu Khoto: Songs of Buryats from Irkutsk

83rd release from Antonovka Records

Erkhuu Khoto is the Buryat name for the city of Irkutsk, in which khoto means “city.” Buryats are the indigenous people of this area.

The Ayanga Ensemble (ayanga means “melody” in Buryat) was founded in 1998, the leader is Tsybigmit Damdinzhapova.

The band performs mainly songs of the Irkutsk Buryats, some of which were directly inherited from their ancestors. For example, Evgenia Baldynova learned song 4 from her grandfather. And song 5 was passed on to Petr Saganov from his grandmother Lilia Zhebadaeva, who, in turn, learned it from her grandfather Danchi Nikolaev, born in 1875. And Evgenia and Peter are the oldest (86 years old) and the youngest (27 years old) members of Ayanga respectively.

Some of the ensemble participants moved to Irkutsk from Buryatia and Transbaikal, so particular songs come from there. For example, Onon is a river in Transbaikal Territory.

Ayanga Ensemble (from left to right on the album cover photo):
1. Oyuna Chimitova — vocals
2. Khanda Bazarova — vocals
3. Valentina Bardakhanova — vocals
4. Petr Saganov — vocals, solo vocals (5, 13)
5. Rinchin-Khanda Lubsanova — vocals, solo vocals (12, 16), vocals in duo (9)
6. Olga Radnaeva — vocals, solo vocals (10)
7. Tatyana Turmakova — vocals, solo vocals (7)
8. Eduard Khalzanov — vocals, vocals in duo (6)
9. Tsybigmit Mitupovna Damdinzhapova — vocals, solo vocals (11, 14, 17), vocals in duo (9)
10. Evgenia Baldynova — vocals, solo vocals (15)
11. Zinaida Egnaeva — vocals, vocals in duo (6)
12. Alla Dmitrieva – vocals
13. Svetlana Inchizhinova – vocals

The calligraphic inscription on the cover is the name of the ensemble written in Old Mongolian script by Rinchin-Khanda Lubsanova.

The Buryat song titles are written as given by the performers and may differ slightly from the literary version.

Recorded in Irkutsk on July 3, 2022.

Thanks to Tsybigmit and the ensemble, Sergey Shotkinov, Lyudmila Gerda, Natalya Dmitrieva.

Source: Antonovka Records, Facebook, 11 December 2022

Erzyan Morot: Fiddle Tunes from Erzya Mordva Villages of Samara Province

78th release from Antonovka Records

Armas Otto Väisänen (1890-1969) was a famous Finnish ethnomusicologist and ethnographer.

In 1914, when his native Finland was still part of the Russian Empire, he traveled around Samara province and recorded music of traditional fiddlers from local Erzya Mordva villages on wax cylinders. These recordings have been preserved in the Finnish archives.

The album Erzyan Morot (“Erzyan Melodies”) presents those tunes played by modern Russian fiddlers as close to the original as possible .

The number in the brackets after each melody is its number in the collection Mordwinische Melodien (“Mordovian Melodies”, Helsinki, 1948) compiled by Väisänen.

Performers:
Sofia Balueva (tracks 1-4), recorded August 14, 2021 in St. Petersburg
Sofia Fayzrakhmanova (tracks 5-10), recorded at the same place
Tatyana Yamberdova (track 11), recorded on October 23, 2021 in the town of Velikiye Luki

The idea of ​​the project by Ksenia Goncharova and Andrey Davydov.

Source: Antonovka Records, Facebook, 25 November 2022

___________

Armas Otto Aapo Väisänen (9 April 1890 – 18 July 1969) was an eminent Finnish scholar of folk music, an ethnographer and ethnomusicologist.

Väisänen was born in Savonranta. In the early twentieth century he documented, in recordings and photographs, traditional Finnish music and musicians. With a scholarship from the Finno-Ugrian Society Väisänen traveled to Russia in 1914 to collect Finnish folk melodies. He made field trips to MordoviaIngriaVeps, Russian Karelia. His activities also marked the a new stage in the history of collecting Seto folk songs in Southern Estonia. After the first trip in 1912 he made 6 field trips to Estonia between 1912 and 1923.

A. O. Väisänen’s dissertation was presented in 1939 on Ob-Ugrian folk music in German: Untersuchungen über die Ob-ugrischen Melodien: eine vergleichende Studien nebst methodischer Einleitung.

Between 1926 and 1957 Väisänen hold the position of the head of the folk music department at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland. He was the professor of musicology at University of Helsinki from 1956 to 1959. He died in Helsinki, aged 79.

Source: Wikipedia

Outshined

This tool is called a chicken debeaker. It does exactly what you would expect with a name like that…it partially removes the beaks of chickens in order to reduce cannibalism, egg cracking, and feather pecking. This debeaker would be plugged into an electrical outlet which would heat the opening, like a hot guillotine. The chicken would then be held in place by a human with their beak in the opening. The human would then close the opening by stepping on the foot pedal on the ground thus trimming off a portion of the chicken’s beak. Debeaking is a common practice today in many egg laying facilities although the ethics of this practice has been called into question by many opponents of debeaking.

Source: Murray County Historical Museum, Facebook, 18 October 2022. Lightly edited to eliminate typos.


These handsome kids aren’t studying Russian.

We are announcing a contest for the most interesting story about how you learn Russian!

To enter, you need to publish a post or shoot a video in which you talk in Russian how and why you started learning Russian. You can tell us what difficulties you have encountered and what funny stories have happened to you during your acquaintance with the “great and mighty” language. If you have something to share, then we are waiting for your post.

Be sure to tag the Rossotrudnichestvo account and add the hashtags #ILearnRussianRS #RussianHouse #Rossotrudnichestvo.

The contest will run from October 15 to November 15. On November 22, we will announce three winners on our social media accounts. They receive an annual subscription to the electronic and audiobook service ru.bookmate.com.

Good luck!

Source: Russian House in Kathmandu, Facebook, 19 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader. A quick search revealed that the image used, above, is a stock image entitled “Studying with my boyfriend.”


The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Russian: Федеральное агентство по делам Содружества Независимых Государств, соотечественников, проживающих за рубежом, и по международному гуманитарному сотрудничеству), commonly known as Rossotrudnichestvo (Russian: Россотрудничество), is an autonomous Russian federal government agency under the jurisdiction of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and cultural exchange. Rossotrudnichestvo operates in Central Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe (but mostly in the Commonwealth of Independent States).

The agency was created from its predecessor agency by Presidential decree, signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 6 September 2008, with the aim of maintaining Russia’s influence in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and to foster friendly ties for the advancement of Russia’s political and economic interests in foreign states.

According to OECD estimates, 2019 official development assistance from Russia increased to US$1.2 billion.

Rossotrudnichestvo was assessed by expert observers to be organising and orchestrating synchronous pro-Russian public rallies, demonstrations, and vehicle convoys across Europe in April 2022 in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Demonstrations were held simultaneously in Dublin (Ireland), Berlin, Hanover, Frankfurt (Germany), Limassol (Cyprus), and Athens (Greece).

Source: Wikipedia


Soundgarden, “Outshined” (1991)

Well, I got up feeling so down
I got off being sold out
I’ve kept the movie rolling
But the story’s getting old now
Oh yeah

Well I just looked in the mirror
And things aren’t looking so good
I’m looking California
And feeling Minnesota
Oh yeah

So now you know
Who gets mystified
So now you know
Who gets mystified

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
Yeah it gives me the butterflies, gives me away
‘Til I’m up on my feet again

Hey I’m feeling
Oh I’m feeling
Outshined, outshined, outshined, outshined
Oh yeah

Well someone let the dogs out
They’ll show you where the truth is
The grass is always greener
Where the dogs are shitting
Oh yeah

Well I’m feeling that I’m sober
Even though I’m drinking
Well I can’t get any lower
Still I feel I’m sinking

So now you know
Who gets mystified
So now you know
Who gets mystified

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
Yeah it gives me the butterflies, gives me away
‘Til I’m up on my feet again

I’m feeling
Oh I’m feeling
Outshined, outshined, outshined, outshined

Ooh yeah

Outshined

So now you know
Who gets mystified

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
Yeah it gives me the butterflies, gives me away
‘Til I’m up on my feet again

Oh I’m feeling
Oh I’m feeling

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
And yeah it gives me the butterflies, gives me away
‘Til I’m up on my feet again

Oh I’m feeling
Oh I’m feeling
Outshined, outshined, outshined, outshined

Source: Chris J. Cornell, “Outshined,” as quoted by Musicxmatch

Reuters


President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s first mobilization since World War Two, warning the West that if it continued what he called its “nuclear blackmail” that Moscow would respond with the might of all its vast arsenal.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect our people – this is not a bluff,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation, adding Russia had “lots of weapons to reply.”

One-way flights out of Russia were selling out fast after Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists, and Russia’s opposition called for protests.

Residents of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv dismissed Putin’s move as a mark of desperation and expressed confidence in their own armed forces to drive Russian troops from their country.

The European Union’s executive body told Putin to stop his “reckless” nuclear gamble, while Britain said the threats must be taken seriously.

Alexander Glushko says he spent the last fortnight of the Russian occupation of his hometown of Izium in northeast Ukraine jailed by Russian soldiers in the dank ruins of a police station where he was tortured with electric wires.

Pope Francis said that Ukrainians were being subjected to savageness, monstrosities and torture, calling them a “noble” people being martyred.

Source: Linda Noakes, “The Reuters Daily Briefing,” Reuters, 21 September 2022


Reuters

Our own correspondent is sorry to tell
Of an uneasy time that all is not well
On the borders there’s movement
In the hills there is trouble
Food is short, crime is double

Prices have risen as the government fell
Casualties increase as the enemy shell
The climate’s unhealthy, flies and rats thrive
And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape
Gunfire’s increasing
Looting, burning, rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape
Rape

Source: SongMeanings, as written by Colin Newman and Bruce Gilbert

“Ingria Will Be Free”

“Oh, Yeah”

Fontanka.ru has published a list of banned artists”
“The politically active rapper has long opposed the authorities”
“The artist is on all the black lists”
“Now he simply will be unable to give concerts in Russia”
“It is still unclear why Oxxxymiron has come back”

Oh, yeah, confiscate our home
Oh, yeah, move into it
Oh, yeah, choke on it
But we’ll rebuild it

The bait is poison
I’m sick of grand ideas
They say, “It starts with you”
I killed the empire in myself
The proprietor turns purple
There’s no way he can evict us
Our flag sports
White snow and a blue river (and that’s it)
The entertainment world is sick
There is a war next door
They’re dancing the cancan
For shit pie
Bubblegum for you
I’m going back to the underground
To the Solovki bells (ding-dong)
Where is my home
Where is my old house
The old house the sorcerer cursed
It’s shaking
The old gnome hiccups under the mountain
With his old Adam’s apple
Scares us with a nuclear mushroom
Fuck the old people
Who “like” the blood of other people’s sons
To hell with the old house
We’ll rebuild

Oh, yeah, confiscate our home
Oh, yeah, move into it
Oh, yeah, choke on it
But we’ll rebuild it

How sweet it is to make money —
A lollipop from Willy Wonka
Like a bloody caramel
In Bingo Bongo’s tear
But we’ve got a puzzle
What goes in the trash, and what in the bag?
And fuck, culture means reassembling
The Rubik’s Cube
The ball is spinning, spinning
The truffles are disappearing
You won’t fill your belly on bagel holes
Human destinies up in smoke
Like droplets in a bottle bong
The wives of honest folk
They buy their shoes at Patriarch’s Pond (clack-clack-clack)
And it’s business as usual
The dress code is casual
The tan is southern
Epilation in the bikini area
Ethnic cleansing in the occupation zone
But they can’t wash themselves clean in the sea
No matter how much they bathe
Fans don’t forget the troubadour
I send greetings to the IC [Investigative Committee] and the Prosecutor’s Office
An air kiss
To the beautiful pussycats on the Obvodny
Ingria will be free!

Oh, yeah, confiscate our home
Oh, yeah, move into it
Oh, yeah, choke on it
But we’ll rebuild it
But we’ll rebuild it

Source: AZLyrics. Translated by the Russian Reader


In early September, Oxxxymiron suddenly returned to Russia to shoot a new music video. The result is another “extremism” complaint from the grassroots movement Call of the People. He can be said to have come back at the call of the people: Oxxxy’s audience in Russia is estimated in the millions, and Call of the People sends a poison pen letter to the Investigative Committee.

He foresaw this outcome. This is stated in plain text: “I send greetings to the IC and the Prosecutor’s Office!” There are other things in “Oh, Yeah” that don’t get you a pat on the head in the Russian Federation now. There is goofy Petersburg separatism: “Ingria will be free!” The white-and-blue flag of the opposition: “Our flag sports/White snow and a blue river (and that’s it).” “That’s it” — meaning there is no red on their flag, no blood. There are anti-war statements (“Fuck the old people/Who ‘like’ the blood of other people’s sons”) and outrage at the callousness of show business (“The entertainment world is sick/There is a war next door/They’re dancing the cancan/For shit pie”).

This, by the way, quite neatly dovetails with the stance of [ultra-nationalist writer Zakhar] Prilepin, who has been outraged by how the elite and the culture vultures have behaved during the war. Only Miron believes that artists should have compassion for the victims and fight for peace, while Prilepin calls on entertainers to join propaganda teams and stir up hatred for Ukrainians.

All that is in the song, and so the extremism complaint is fair from the point of view of the denouncers who filed it. But one phrase in the complaint — “actions directed against Russia” — is not true. Oxxxymiron calls Russia a home that is no longer habitable, and suggests rebuilding it. This is the song’s point: “Oh, yeah, confiscate our home […] But we’ll rebuild it,” says the refrain. But the house does not cease to be a home. Vladimirskaya Square, Five Corners, interconnected courtyards, and embankments flash on the screen. We will not destroy it, but reassemble it.

Risking his freedom and security, a man came back to his hometown and sang a song about the motherland, about its future. If these are actions against Russia, then what actions are for it?

Like almost all of Miron’s songs, “Oh, Yeah” is literally stuffed with cultural references. “The cursed old house” is from a song by the band Korol i Shut. Willy Wonka is from Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “Shit pie” is from [Yegor] Letov. “I killed the empire in myself” is Letov, too, but Letov says “the state” instead of “the empire.” Yes, Oxxymiron has killed, but it’s the empire he has killed, not the motherland.

“It is still unclear why Oxxxymiron has come back,” Miron says, imitating a news report. In fact, he came back to say all this. “The proprietor turns purple/There’s no way he can evict us” — a rare case nowadays of actions and words not diverging.

Source: Yan Shenkman, “Goodbye, Uralvagonzavod! New songs about the motherland: Oxxxymiron, Shevchuk, Ermen Anti,” Novaya Gazeta Europe, 18 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


In reaction to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Oxxxymiron called for an anti-war movement, stating, “I know that most people in Russia are against this war, and I am confident that the more people would talk about their real attitude to it, the faster we can stop this horror.” He cancelled six sold-out concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg, stating, “I cannot entertain you when Russian missiles are falling on Ukraine. When residents of Kyiv are forced to hide in basements and in the metro, while people are dying.” He later said that it was impossible to hold an anti-war concert in Russia because “total censorship has been implemented, and anyone who speaks out against the war in any way becomes a potential target for criminal prosecution.” He went on to announce a series of benefit concerts in other countries, entitled “Russians Against War”, the proceeds from which would be donated to NGOs helping Ukrainian refugees. The first of these concerts was held in Istanbul, which has a large Russian diaspora consisting of people who left the country in protest of the invasion. The other two concerts were held in London and Berlin.

Source: “Oxxxymiron,” Wikipedia


Alla Pugacheva, Russia’s most beloved pop singer, posted on Sunday on her Instagram account an appeal to the Russian Ministry of Justice asking to be named a “foreign agent” in solidarity with her husband, comedian Maxim Galkin.

“Please include me in the ranks of foreign agents of my beloved country,” her text read, “since I am in solidarity with my husband — an honest, decent and sincere man, a true and incorruptible patriot of Russia who wants his Homeland to flourish in peace, with freedom of speech, and wants an end to our boys dying for illusory goals, which has turned our country into a pariah state and made life a burden for our citizens.”

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pugacheva, Galkin and their children left for Israel. Galkin spent the summer touring in Israel and Europe with stand-up comedy shows that were highly critical of the war and Russian leaders. He performed sold-out shows in Jurmala, Latvia, where the family traditionally spend their summers.

In August, Pugacheva returned to Russia and was quoted in the Russian state press saying that she’d come back “to put things in order, in my head and in your head.” State media also wrote that she planned to send her children to school on Sept. 1.

Galkin was declared a foreign agent on Sept. 16.

Pugacheva joins a now long list of Russian rock and pop musicians speaking out against the war, including DDT frontman Yuri Shevchuk, Andrei Makarevich (Mashina vremeni), Boris Grebenshchikov (Aquarium); Oxxxymiron (Miron Fedorov); Svetlana Loboda; and Noize MC (Ivan Alexeev).

Source: “Pop Diva Alla Pugacheva Comes Out Against the War,” Moscow Times, 18 September 2022