You Went Away

A gravestone at El Carmelo Cemetery, Pacific Grove, California, 25 May 2023. Photo by the Russian Reader

Everyone I know who has left [Russia] has improved their circumstances by leaving. I understand that mine is a biased sample, but it is still a sample. One young woman recently said it to me outright: “Things have got better for all of us because of the war. And that scares me.”

We are beneficiaries of the war, me included. I have started earning more money. I live in a great place, better than where I lived in Moscow. Everyone respects me, which was unheard of in Moscow, and sometimes they even recognize me on the streets. Every day something good happens to me: new projects, interviews, interesting encounters. And I’ve generally started feeling better. I have become calmer, kinder, more confident in myself, and I smile more often.

And all because the war is underway.

It scares me to admit it, but sometimes I think: if only it had started fifteen years earlier, when I was younger and I had more vim and vigor. Would it have been to hard for them to arrange? How wonderful my life would have turned out then.

I realized this back in 2014, when I spoke with people who had gone to fight in Donbas completely voluntarily. Yes, of course, there were ideological idiots among. Some were in it for the money. But many honestly admitted that there was nothing else for them to do. Life had become meaningless and hopeless: TV, vodka, the wife. Life was boring, there were no prospects. They had to raise the stakes, and so they went to war.

I was like that myself. In 2014, I worked at a terrible dreary job. My personal life had come to a dead end. I felt that what mattered most in life was happening somewhere other than where I was, and I was just rotting where I was. It was like Groundhog Day, like being in a sludge which you can not get out. Everything was unreal, inauthentic, imaginary. And so I went to report in Donbas, because I knew for sure that that was reality. It didn’t matter what kind of reality, but whatever it was, it was the real thing.

And suddenly everything fell into place. I am a feckless, indecisive person, poorly adapted to life. But suddenly, in the midst of war, I felt that I was in my element. I knew exactly what to do, I had no doubts, I took responsibility. And everything panned out for me, something I wouldn’t have dared to dream of in peacetime. But why was war just the ticket?

There was even a fire in my belly. I thought: there is a chance for people like me in this mess, in this chaos. Now I’m going to show you assholes just like—you’ll dance to my tune. You had me all wrong…

It sounds nice, but there’s something despicable about it.

So did all those failed poets, provincial schoolteachers, and hairdressers with cosmic-scale ambitions who in 1917 posed for pretty photographs and then engaged in mass executions. That’s how history is made. And then they were shot themselves.

And it also eliminates the need for choice. Oh, how easy it is to make decisions when there is no other choice! Can’t make up your mind? It’s okay, the course of things will choose for you. “The coercive force of reality,” as Babel said. Force majeure, as they say in the courts.

In December 2022, I had good papers made for myself, and so now I can move freely around the world. And my first thought was: that’s it, now I’m going to Kyiv. From there I’ll go to Odesa and Kharkiv. I know how it’s done. I have to go. I won’t forgive myself later if I don’t go, so off I go!

But I didn’t go. I wasn’t able to double dare myself. I couldn’t explain to myself why I had to go to the war and what I would do there. I already have a different life from the one I led in Moscow. I don’t need to compensate, to show my worth in a particular way, to prove anything to myself. I think I’m recovering, I’m getting better.

“Have you read the news? What a beautiful article you could write!” a friend recently wrote to me. “Come on, have a whack at it! It would be a powerful move!”

I texted him: “Go fuck yourself!”

But another person wrote: “We have a problem here. Can you…” I answered briefly: “Yes, I’ll do it.”

I’m recovering, but I’m not quite recovered yet.

P.S. For those who are outraged by the first sentence.

I lived badly in Russia, I had nothing to lose. So yes, my life has improved. Everything is relative.

You had been living well, apparently, and now you are experiencing difficulties trying to restore your previous standard of living. That’s also the way the ball bounces. I hate everything about the way things were. I wouldn’t want things to be like they were before.

Source: Yan Shenkman (Facebook), 26 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

Ultra Bra, “Sinä lähdit pois” (“You Went Away,” 1997)

In the wee hours neither of us can party anymore
In the wee hours neither of us can party anymore
Tired gazes, hoarse voices
In the background a sun that doesn’t warm
In the background a sun that doesn’t warm

You went away
From the balcony I watched
Your receding back
You skirted the puddles
And I guess you won’t regret this parting

All the birds in the bushes sing before seven in the morning
All the birds in the bushes sing before seven in the morning
Tired gazes, hoarse voices
In the background a sun that doesn’t warm
In the background a sun that doesn’t warm

You went away
From the balcony I watched
Your receding back
You skirted the puddles
And I guess you won’t regret this parting, parting

The night’s last drink
Turns into breakfast
To which I added coffee

You went away
From the balcony I watched
Your receding back
You skirted the puddles
And I guess you won’t regret this parting

You went away
From the balcony I watched
Your receding back
You skirted the puddles
And I guess you won’t regret this parting, parting, parting

Source: Genius. Translated from the Finnish by the Russian Reader

KYIV, May 29 (Reuters) — Explosions rang out across Kyiv on Monday as Russia launched its 16th air attack on the Ukrainian capital this month, hours after unleashing dozens of missiles and drones overnight.

Panicked residents, some of whom initially ignored the air raid siren as they ate breakfast in cafes, rushed for cover when the sky filled with smoke trails and blast clouds.

All the Russian missiles were shot down, but one person in the central Podil district was taken to hospital, authorities said. No major damage was reported.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said explosions sounded in the capital’s central districts and emergency services were dispatched.

“The attack on Kyiv continues. Don’t leave the shelters!” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukraine shot down 11 cruise and ballistic missiles fired in the second of Monday’s attacks on Kyiv, said Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Heavy air strikes about six hours earlier had targeted the capital, put five Ukrainian aircraft out of action in the west of the country and caused a fire in the Black Sea port of Odesa.

“I would say there has been an activisation, a serious activisation… there are fewer missiles flying, but the regularity of strikes has increased,” said air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat.

Russia’s main targets are typically stocks of Western weapons, energy facilities and government buildings, but the fact the missiles over Kyiv were shot down made it difficult to establish their target on Monday, he said.

Russia has increased the frequency of air attacks as Ukraine prepares to launch a counteroffensive.

Kyiv metro stations were packed with people taking shelter although many residents ignored the air raid alarm until they heard loud blasts in city centre.

A local television report from a junction on a busy highway showed missile wreckage that appeared to have hit a traffic light.

Source: Pavel Polityuk and Max Hunder, “Russia launches 16th air strike on Kyiv this month,” Reuters, 29 May 2023


Just two of the soldiers who were rebuilding the machine-gun nest had been with the battalion since Kherson. One of them, a twenty-nine-year-old construction worker called Bison—because he was built like one—had been hospitalized three times: after being shot in the shoulder, after being wounded by shrapnel in the ankle and knee, and after being wounded by shrapnel in the back and arm. The other veteran, code-named Odesa, had enlisted in the Army in 2015, after dropping out of college. Short and stocky, he had the same serene deportment as Bison. The uncanny extent to which both men had adapted to their lethal environment underscored the agitation of the recent arrivals, who flinched whenever something whistled overhead or crashed nearby.

“I only trust Bison,” Odesa said. “If the new recruits run away, it will mean immediate death for us.” He’d lost nearly all his closest friends in Kherson. Taking out his phone, he swiped through a series of photographs: “Killed . . . killed . . . killed . . . killed . . . killed . . . wounded. . . . Now I have to get used to different people. It’s like starting over.”

Because the high attrition rate had disproportionately affected the bravest and most aggressive soldiers—a phenomenon that one officer called “reverse natural selection”—seasoned infantrymen like Odesa and Bison were extremely valuable and extremely fatigued. After Kherson, Odesa had gone awol. “I was in a bad place psychologically,” he said. “I needed a break.” After two months of resting and recuperating at home, he came back. His return was prompted not by a fear of being punished—what were they going to do, put him in the trenches?—but by a sense of loyalty to his dead friends. “I felt guilty,” he said. “I realized that my place was here.”


Source: Luke Mogelson, “Two Weeks at the Front in Ukraine,” New Yorker, 22 May 2023

Circassian Day of Mourning (May 21)

On the day of the end of the Russian-Caucasian war of 1763–1864, on the day of memory and sorrow of the Circassians, we publish another album-manifesto from Jrpjej.

In addition to music, the album is accompanied by a pdf-zine with our reflection on Circassian songs of the 20th century and their relevance today

“Sefitse” is a line from the song “Quedzoqo Tole Tsiku.”

In the Adyghe language, “se” is a homonym that means both milk and bullet. To intensify the tragedy, the bullet in the song is called black. We found this metaphor and wordplay profound. Death and the life-giving drink go hand in hand, as death permeates the everyday life of wartime.

It is important for us to release this album on May 21st, the Day of Remembrance for the Adygs. For several years now, we have been releasing special albums on this day. Most often, these are songs from the period of the Russo-Caucasian War. The accompanying text to these albums hardly changes, just as the official discourse in the political space of the North Caucasus does not change. In fact, it has only gotten worse — the 2022 Jrpjej album was our protest against the ban on the mourning procession in Nalchik.

In 2023, the traditional procession is once again officially banned for fabricated reasons. Therefore, any action that helps people remember and resist assimilation seems particularly important to us.

Songs about the executed Zalimgery Keref, the battle of Kars, of Tole Kodzoko bleeding in the trench, and others tell us that the methods of repression do not change. But no matter how much our voices are drowned out, these songs still resonate. One hundred years ago and right now.

This album is about memory, action, and solidarity.

Timur Kodzoko
Daiana Kulova
Alan Shawdjan
Gupsa Pashtova
Astemir Ashiboko
Zaurkan Mazlo

Session musicians:
Aslan Tashu
Dzhanet Siukhova
Iland Khadjaev

Recorded on September 2022 and April 2023.
Recording location: Dom Radio, Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria

Sound and mixing: Timur Kodzoko
Cover art: Milana Khalilova
Liner notes: Bulat Khalilov
Translation: Bella Mirzoeva

Source: Ored Recordings (Bandcamp) Please consider paying (whatever you like) at the link and thus being able to download a high-quality mp3 file of the album, which includes a fascinating 47-page illustrated booklet in Russian and English. ||| ••• TRR •••


Unlike Inversia, Nalchik’s Platform festival was conceived, organized and launched literally on the fly. In the summer of 2019, Bulat Khalilov and Timur Kodzokov, the founders of the ethnographic music label Ored Recordings, specializing in the traditional music of the peoples of the Caucasus, came up with the idea of holding an educational and musical marathon in their hometown of Nalchik. They appealed for support to Oksana Shukhostanova from the Art Hall Platform Urban Development Institute, an agency under the municipal administration, who acted as an intermediary between the mayor’s office and festival organizers, and also gave the event its name.

“Platform is primarily a festival of urban culture, and music is only one of its components”, Khalilov says. “In terms of engaging with urban spaces and communities, we have both strengths and points that are sagging and need to be improved. For example, we open new places for fun-filled informal events. So, the first festival breathed life into the almost-forgotten but once-popular Dance Hall. It had been a long time since live music was played there, especially in this format.”

Subsequently, the festival was held in one of the halls at the House of Trade Unions in the city center, where, according to the event’s organizers, no cultural events had ever been held at all.

“It is quite odd, because both the pompous Soviet-style building itself and the hall, with its excellent acoustics, were begging for something interesting to happen in them. Last year, at this location, we staged performances by Utro, Pasosh, Fyodor’s Garden, Alina Petrova and Sergei Khramtsevich, and Foresteppe. And most recently (in January 2021), Platform had a cool spin-off – a collaboration between Ored Recordings and Le Guess Who? For this project, Platform and Ored swapped places: the label was the organizer, while the institution was the partner. A mini-festival of contemporary Circassian music – from traditional to black – was held in the concert studio of Radio House, where folk choirs, orchestras and many more musicians were recorded in Soviet times. Now we (Ored and Platform) are planning to work with regional radio, so we want to continue to do something interesting in these spaces.”

On the other hand, Platform has not yet able to utilize several venues at once, thus immersing the whole of Nalchik in an atmosphere of musical celebration. Khalilov argues that this is a problem of scale and resources: at this stage, the organizers cannot afford to invite many musicians and hold a large number of other activities in the city – for example, educational events (lectures, seminars, master classes, film screenings) and interdisciplinary events (exhibitions, audiovisual performances, theater productions) – in order to engage more locations and more diverse sites.

“I see a problem in the fact that we don’t always manage to involve local communities,” says Bulat. “In terms of music, this happens because the local scene is still in its infancy: we have almost no musicians that we could put in the same line-up with Brom or Utro without compromising the quality. The exceptions are the local traditional music and rare gems like the vinyl DJ RK.”

The organizers also note that interacting with city hall is one of the most difficult aspects of their work. As in the case of Inversia, communication with the authorities often comes down to solving formal issues and proving to officials that the festival has great potential for developing the city, improving its image, boosting tourism in the region, and so on. The Platform team admits, however, that the Nalchik administration provides all possible assistance to their undertaking: the festival receives a considerable chunk of its budget through city hall. And yet, they say, the cooperation could be closer and more productive, thus benefiting, first of all, the city itself. Because, as Platform’s curators emphasize, the main goal of the festival, as well as of Ored Recordings, is to build a community or environment for traditional music that would fit into a contemporary context – that is, to generate conditions in which performers understand how and why to make music, and listeners, where to listen to it. Platform aims to grow communities in Nalchik that will nurture profoundly local phenomena (in music, literature, etc.) that are in demand both at home and globally.

“That’s why we combine traditional music and the provisional ‘stars’ of independent music in the line-up,” Khalilov says. “Having Pasosh and Susanna Talijokova on the same stage with dance performances is strange even by the standards of local music lovers. I’m not sure that our audience deciphers this message, but with each subsequent festival, it is noticeable how the teenagers who have come for the post-punk and fans of Circassian music get used to each other and do not perceive different music as something strange.”

Finally, the Platform team regards the negative experience of interacting with local non-folk musicians as another problem. “Many of them send applications to play at the festival, but rarely come to the festival itself,” says Bulat. “It’s strange when people seem to want their moment of glory at the festival, but they don’t seem to need it.” He notes that, perhaps, it is a matter of time and soon there will be groups of a suitable format in Nalchik, or maybe something deeply local in contrast to Platform, since the festival is focused on a somewhat narrow albeit woke audience. (According to him, there are other events in Nalchik for mass audiences, including Art Bazaar, Gastrofest, and the Festival of Flowers.) Any of those outcomes would be tantamount to progress in Khalilov’s eyes.

“In terms of interacting with the city and the local community, we look at festivals like Le Guess Who? and Unsound, and among the Russian festivals we are inspired by Bol and Inversia,” Khalilov continues. “Although it’s a young festival, Platform copes with this job at some level. We always have something local on stage. If the festival had more resources, it would be possible to recruit more local musicians to various projects. We are working in this direction, but it is also vital that local content is presented not only as part of a quota or due to having a local residence permit. You cannot make allowances for a musician because they live in Nalchik. I am sure that Jrpjej is invited to major festivals not because they’re ‘exotic’ (although some of the audience, of course, perceives them as these weird Circassians), but because of their unique sound and good material. We think it’s important to show local residents and local musicians that, musically speaking, geography and your home address are not big obstacles. You can find more advantages than obstacles in living in Nalchik.”

Platform’s impact on Nalchik’s cultural image is still difficult to assess — the festival is too new. There are a lot of people in the city who haven’t even heard of it. The organizers are sure that their project and Ored Recordings reveal and highlight an important problem: in fact, there is neither a culture industry nor a clearly delineated media space in Nalchik.

“If you’re promoting a concert at DOM or Shagi in Moscow, I understand that you have to send announcements to Afisha and The Village, and post info on the right Telegram channels and VK community pages, but it’s not entirely clear how you convey information to the Nalchik audience,” Bulat says. “There are no information channels, everything is as spontaneous and quirky as possible. We are working on this aspect, which is also a good thing.”

On the other hand, Platform has formed its own audience, which waits for the festival to come around each year and asks the organizers to invite specific performers (from Ivan Dorn to M8L8TH). There are also fans from other regions who come to Nalchik specifically for Platform. And, finally, there is attention from the media. So, for some locals and outsiders, Nalchik has already become a more comfortable and interesting place to live and visit.


Source: Kristina Sarkhanyants, “South by Northeast: Music Festivals and the Cultural Cachet of Mid-Size Russian Cities,” trans. Thomas H. Campbell, V–A–C Sreda, no. 20 (May 2021)

The authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria have banned holding events in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War, threatening responsibility for violating the ban, reports Aslan Beshto, the chair of the Coordinating Council of Adyghe Public Associations.

Caucasian Knot has reported that in 2022, the authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria refused to sanction a march in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War. Despite the ban, on May 21, a mourning meeting was held at the “Tree of Life” monument, and several dozen young people held a march in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War on the streets of Nalchik. The police drew up a report on the violation of public order against a horseman who took part in the march.

On May 20, 2022, participants of the mourning events held at the “Tree of Life” monument in Nalchik lit 101 candles. The activists criticized the republic’s authorities for cancelling the march on the Circassian Day of Mourning.

According to Aslan Beshto, the chair of the Coordinating Council of Adyghe Public Associations, he was warned that if organizers held an unsanctioned rally, they would be brough to responsibility under the “rally” article, Kavkaz.Realii reports.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet [news] agency Caucasian Knot on May 14, 2023 at 01:08 pm MSK. To access the full text of the article [in Russian], click here.

Source: “Nalchik activists refused [i.e., were denied permission] to hold events on Circassian Day of Mourning,” Caucasian Knot, 15 May 2023


Events have been held in Nalchik to commemorate the Circassian Day of Mourning, including a march through the streets of the city that was not permitted by the authorities. The people involved in the events considered it vital to preserve Adyghe traditions.

As Caucasian Knot has reported, May 21, the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Caucasian War, was officially declared a holiday in Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, where Circassians are the titular nation. This year, the authorities in Kabardino-Balkaria banned holding events in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War on May 20 and 21, threatening to prosecute those who violated the ban, said Aslan Beshto, chair of the Coordinating Council of Adyghe Public Associations.

Adyghe (Circassians) is the common name for a people living in Russia and abroad, who have been divided into Kabardians, Circassians, and Adygeans. May 21 is celebrated annually as Circassian Day of Mourning, according to the Caucasian Knot reference guide.

Several events were held in Nalchik to commemorate the Circassian Day of Mourning

Events commemorating the 159th anniversary of the end of the Caucasian War began in Nalchik on the evening of May 20 at the Tree of Life Memorial. There, the republic’s musical groups performed folk songs about the dramatic events of the Caucasian War, and 159 candles were lit. Traditional funeral treats, lakum, were handed out to attendees our correspondent reported.

Today, the main events took place in Nalchik, including an unauthorized march by several dozen people through downtown Nalchik from the railway station to Abkhazia Square, and from there to the Tree of Life Memorial. The marchers carried [Circassian] flags and periodically shouted the phrase “the Adyghe tribe is alive” in their native language. Although the march had not been permitted by authorities, no one stopped them.

The Caucasian War, which lasted from 1763 to 1864, brought the Adyghe peoples to the brink of extinction. After the war and the mass deportation of Adyghe to the Ottoman Empire, a little more than 50,000 Adyghe remained in their homeland. The Russian authorities have not yet acknowledged the Circassian genocide during the war.

Several hundred people gathered in the park near the Tree of Life Memorial. At twelve noon Moscow time, a rally began. It was kicked off by Mukhadin Kumakhov, Kabardino-Balkaria’s minister of culture. He explained that the head of the republic, veterans, members of parliament, members of the government, heads of administration of districts and villages, clergy and elders had came to honor the memory of their ancestors.

Most of the speech given by Houti Sokhrokov, president of the International Circassian Association, was in Kabardian. In Russian, he said that 159 years had passed “since the bloodiest war.” “We stand today in a place sacred to all the Adyghe, the Tree of Life Memorial, and remember those who fell in that war. We shall cherish the memory of their courage in our hearts, and pray that this never happen to any nation again,” he said.

Sokhrokov then asked for a minute of silence, after which continued his speech. “As we remember today the events of those distant years, we pay tribute to the wisdom, foresight, fortitude and perseverance of our ancestors, who, despite all their hardships, saved the Adyghe people, remained faithful to the fateful choice they had made once upon a time, and preserved their historical homeland for future generations. This historical continuity has not been severed. It is only thanks to this that the Adyghe have preserved their language, traditions and culture,” he said.

The republic’s leading Muslim clerics performed a dua, a memorial prayer ritual, after which flowers were laid at the memorial, our correspondent reported.

Nalchik residents pointed out the importance of preserving Adyghe traditions

The date is a sad one for Adyghe, Timur Shardanov, chair of the Council of Veterans of the War in Abkhazia told our correspondent. “Today is a sad day for us Adyghe. We war veterans have come to honor the memory of ancestors who passed away at that time. We cherish their memory and try to pass it on to our [children]. We must do this so that it does not happen again somewhere. We know what war is, and we don’t want our children to see it,” he said.

Shardanov argues that an equestrian procession is optional on the Day of Mourning. The main thing, in his opinion, is to come to the memorial and stand for a while there.

An injustice was committed against the Adyghe, which consists not only in the expulsion of the people, but “also in an attempt to erase the memory of this page of history,” another attendee, Alexei Bekshokov argues. “The Koran says: I have forbidden injustice to myself and I forbid it to you,” he explained to our correspondent

Bekshokov considers the ban on the equestrian procession an excessive measure. “Nothing would have happened if it had taken place. Horse marches were part of Circassian history,” he said.

In 2022, the authorities in Kabardino-Balkaria turned down a request by a grassroots group to hold a solemn procession in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War. Despite the ban, on 21 May 2022, several dozen young people marched through the streets of Nalchik. The security forces charged a rider who took part in the procession with disturbing the peace. The atmosphere during the march was tense, and the clash between the police and the riders heated it up even more, eyewitnesses said. The march had been held for many years without incident, Martin Kochesoko, the president of [rights group] Habze, noted at the time.

Anatoly Thagapsoev, a resident of Nalchik, argues that the best tribute to the memory of their ancestors would be if the Adyghe did not lose traditions which have been part of their existence for centuries.

“I see that women without headscarves and men without hats have come to the memorial event. This used not to be allowed among the Adyghe. They bring children in ethnic costumes and take pictures of them in front of the memorial, as if it were a holiday. The line between the Adyghe man and the Adyghe woman, the older and younger [generations], is also being erased. Previously, a woman had no right to cross a road in front of a man. When a man passed by, a woman had to stand up, even if it was a boy, for the boy is a future man. These are nuances, but being Adyghe consisted of them,” the Nalchik resident told our correspondent.

Community leader Idar Tsipinov believes that the Adyghe Day of Remembrance contributes to the revival of national consciousness. “Personally, I am opposed to globalization. I believe that the more nations, the more different cultures there are, the more interesting it is. This does not mean that we live in the past. This means that we live in the present, we look to the future, but we don’t forget the past either,” he told our correspondent.

Caucasian Knot collects articles on the situation of Circassians in Russia and abroad on the thematic page “The Circassian Question.” Our “Reference” section also contains the article “The parade in Krasnaya Polyana: How Russia broke the Circassian resistance.”

Source: “Nalchik residents hold march on Circassian Day of Mourning despite ban by authorities,” Caucasian Knot, 21 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

The Circassian Day of Mourning (Adyghe: Шъыгъо-шӏэжъ маф, Russian: День памяти жертв Кавказской войны) or the Day of Mourning for the Victims of the Circassian Genocide (often censored in Russian media as Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Caucasus War) is mourned every year on 21 May in remembrance of the victims of the Russo-Circassian War and the subsequent Circassian genocide by members of the Circassian diaspora. The choice of the date is due to the fact that on 21 May 1864, General Pavel Grabbe held a military parade in the what is now Krasnaya Polyana in honor of the victory in the Battle of Qbaada.


From 1763 to 1864 the Circassians fought against the Russians in the Russian-Circassian War. During the war, Russian Empire employed a genocidal strategy of massacring Circassian civilians. Only a small percentage who accepted Russification and resettlement within the Russian Empire were completely spared. The remaining Circassian population who refused were variously dispersed or killed en masse. Circassian villages would be located and burnt, systematically starved, or their entire population massacred. Leo Tolstoy reports that Russian soldiers would attack village houses at night. Sir Pelgrave, a British diplomat who witnessed the events, adds that “their only crime was not being Russian.”

A mass deportation was launched against the surviving population before the end of the war in 1864 and it was mostly completed by 1867. Some died from epidemics or starvation among the crowds of deportees and were reportedly eaten by dogs after their death. Others died when the ships underway sank during storms. Calculations, including taking into account the Russian government’s own archival figures, have estimated a loss of 80–97% of the Circassian population in the process. The displaced people were settled primarily to the Ottoman Empire.

In 1914, Nicholas II celebrated the 50th anniversary of the defeat of the Circassians, describing it as one of the empire’s greatest victories. Boris Yeltsin acknowledged in 1996 when signing a peace treaty with Chechnya during the First Chechen War that the war was a tragedy whose responsibility lies with Russia.


In 1990, the Circassians designated 21 May as the Day of Mourning for their people, on which they commemorate the tragedy of the nation. It is memorable and non-working day in the three republics of the Russian Federation  (Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia) as well as in the Circassian villages of the Krasnodar Krai. The government of the partially recognized Republic of Abkhazia also mourns the day of mourning on May 21 (until 2011, it was mourned on May 31).

The day is also widely mourned with rallies and processions in countries with a large Circassian diaspora, such as Turkey, Germany, United States, Jordan and other countries of the Middle East.

Source: Wikipedia

The Russo-Circassian War (AdygheУрыс-адыгэ зауэromanized: Wurıs-adığə zawə; Russian: Русско-черкесская война; 1763–1864; also known as the Russian invasion of Circassia) was the invasion of Circassia by Russia, starting in July 17, 1763 (O.S) with the Russian Empire assuming authority in Circassia, followed by the Circassian refusal, ending 101 years later with the last army of Circassia defeated on 21 May 1864 (O.S), making it exhausting and casualty-heavy for both sides. The Circassians fought the Russians longer than all the other peoples of the Caucasus, and the Russo-Circassian War was the longest war both Russia and Circassia have ever fought.

During and after the war, the Russian Empire employed a genocidal strategy of systematically massacring civilians which resulted in the Circassian genocide where up to 2,000,000 Circassians (85-97% of the total population) were either killed or expelled to the Ottoman Empire (especially to modern-day Turkey; see Circassians in Turkey), creating the Circassian diaspora. While the war was initially an isolated conflict, Russian expansion through the entire region soon drew a number of other nations in the Caucasus into the conflict. As such, the war is often considered the western half of the Caucasus War.

During the war, the Russian Empire did not recognize Circassia as an independent region, and as a result, it considered Circassia Russian land which was under rebel occupation, despite the fact that the region was not and had never been under Russian control. Russian generals did not refer to the Circassians by their ethnic name, instead, they called the Circassians “mountaineers”, “bandits”, and “mountain scum”. The war has been subjected to historical revisionism and it has also garnered controversy due to the fact that later Russian sources mostly ignored or belittled the conflict, and Russian state media and officials have gone as far as to claim that the conflict “never happened” and they have also claimed that Circassia “voluntarily joined Russia in the 16th century”.


Source: Wikipedia

May 21 marks the Circassian Day of Mourning, a time of remembrance for the victims of the Russo-Circassian War.

In 1864, the Caucasian War ended on this day. The Russian Empire held a prayer service and celebrated the victory. For Circassians this war ended in tragedy: the loss of independence, mass extermination of the population, eviction to the Ottoman Empire, Syria and other countries, the breakdown of the social system, and a colossal trauma.

For Circassians May 21 is more than just a sad date, and the Russo-Circassian War is not a thing of the past. These events still determine our reality. What the official Russian historical science interprets as a military-political conflict or even the pacification of a troubled region, Circassians perceive as genocide.

The events of 1864 and the subsequent colonization of the former Circassia and the North Caucasus remain an acute problem that official authorities ignore.

One can re-read the texts for our releases on May 21 or the posts we have made in past years. They are all relevant and can be reproduced again and again. There are no shifts or new trends in Russian society or the official political course.

There are also alarming signs that discourse is being further constricted. In 2020 and 2021, the traditional mourning procession in Nalchik was canceled due to the pandemic. The Circassian public accepted the extraordinary circumstances, and it did not cause any indignation.

In 2022, the rally was canceled again for strange reasons. The authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria did not clarify them, and the International Circassian Association referred to “difficult times” and “the situation with the special operation in Ukraine”.

The Circassian community was outraged by the absurdity of these statements. And so were we.

Initially, we did not plan to release an album, but make a post about grief and memory. On May 17, we learned that the main Circassian symbolic event in our hometown was canceled. Yes, there will be a minute of silence and other mourning events, but there will be no main unifying procession in which Circassians of different views, confessions, and political orientation stand shoulder to shoulder to make a peaceful democratic statement.

And we decided to record and publish an album with songs of the Russo-Circassian War.

This is our traditional way of memorizing the past, a call for working with heritage and defending our subjectivity. We believe that problems need to be discussed and solved together, and not put off until better times. Otherwise, these better times will never come.

The songs on this album are war and mourning ballads of those who fought for their independence. For us, this is also an anti-militaristic statement, since all this music is set against repression and aggression.

Circassians, who have suffered from imperialism, must understand that colonial optics and repressive methods are unacceptable against any other groups of people, small or large. Every group or community has the right to determine its future.

Timur Kodzoko — guitar, shichepshin, vocals
Alan Shawdjan — vocals, accordion
Daiana Kulova — vocals, shichepshin, percussion

Guest singers:
Zaurbek Kozh
Zaur Nagoy

Sound recording: Timur Kodzoko
Sound editing, mixing: Timur Kodzokov
Cover photo: Elina Karaeva
Cover design: Milana Khalilova
Text: Bulat Khalilov and Bella Mirzoeva
Recorded on May 20-21, 2022
Recording location: Dom Radio, Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria

Except “Тыгъужъыкъо Къызбэч,” recorded by Daan Duurland at Katzwijm Studio, Netherlands, November 2021.

NB. This entry was updated on 22 May 2023. ||| ••• TRR •••

The Spectre

Royal Trux, “The Spectre” (1993)
My faith is in the spectre 
and there it shall remain
The spectre is a surgeon 
and an atomic guide
He haunts the lenses of my eyes
And the chemicals in my brain 

Once there was a rich man 
who drank from the spectre's cup
He always held his head so high 
but he never would look up
The spectre was above his head 
hanging like a sword
The lesson now it must be said
the spectre is its own reward

Lyrics courtesy of: David Gauthier (YouTube)

Three Denver police officers were injured early Friday morning while responding to a call for a welfare check. It began at 12:30 a.m. Friday when one officer arrived for a welfare check in the 600 block of North Pennsylvania Street. 

As the officer was speaking with the individual who made the call, the person in question came out of the building and attacked the officer, ripping off his police badge and then using it to cut the officer. 

  Neil Hagerty/DENVER POLICE

As responding officers arrived, the man remained combative and injured two other officers. 

The suspect has been identified as Neil Hagerty, 57. He remains in custody for investigation of aggravated assault to a peace officer. 

The three officers involved suffered cuts and abrasions during the struggle. All three have been released from the hospital. 

Source: “3 Denver police officers injured, suspect Neil Hagerty arrested,” CBS News Colorado, 14 April 2023

Manny (left), wearing a Royal Trux: Veterans of Disorder t-shirt during “Grapes of Wrath,” season 1, episode 3 of Black Books

“All cops are bastardi.” Corner of Rigaer Strasse and Liebigstrasse, Berlin-Friedrichshain, 20 May 2019
The now-decimated anarcho-feminist punk squat Liebig 34, which I watched the deliriously awful Berlin police surveil, harass, and raid on a nearly daily basis during the winter and spring of 2019, is visible in the upper left of the photo. Photo by the Russian Reader
A closer view of the exact same street corner, only three days earlier, on 17 May 2019. Photo by the Russian Reader

Last week, we witnessed the deaths of 33 Palestinians in Gaza by an unprovoked Israeli murder campaign — or as they named it, “Operation Shield and Arrow.” The assault on Gaza not only coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, but also underscored the fact that the brutality with which Israel ethnically cleansed some three-quarters of a million Palestinians in 1948 continues to this day.

Palestinians around the world took to the streets not only to protest their governments’ complicity in the latest Israeli massacre, but also to have a space to express their grief and mourn 75 years of violent colonization, apartheid, and displacement. Given that Israel continues to prevent the return of millions of refugees and their descendants, remembering the Nakba is foundational to a Palestinian identity centered around our yearning to be back in our homeland.

Yet in countries like Germany, which is home to thousands of Palestinians, our right to freedom of expression and assembly is dangerously under attack. For the second year in a row, the Berlin police preemptively banned all Nakba commemorations and demonstrations, surpassing the upswing in violent policing tactics being reported elsewhere in Western Europe, including the U.K. The ban was implemented on the basis that the Nakba Day events posed an “immediate danger” of antisemitism and the glorification of violence.

Last year, Berlin police arrested and detained 170 people, including some who did not even participate in a demonstration; in a recent court hearing, a police officer admitted that they targeted people for wearing the keffiyeh, being dressed in the colors of the Palestinian flag, or simply looking like they intended to join a rally.

Following this year’s ban, the only event allowed to take place was a purely cultural one at Berlin’s Hermannplatz last Saturday. But even this was authorized with heavy conditions: police banned all speeches, took down signs at stands that included the words “BDS” or “Nakba,” confiscated political pamphlets, and at one point even told organizers that dabke, the traditional Palestinian dance, was “too political.” Surrounded by dozens of police officers who continuously videotaped the event, Berlin succeeded in making Palestinians feel the chilling effect of full-blown repression.

In the name of tackling “Israel-related antisemitism,” German authorities are doing Israel’s bidding in their own country. Now, however, it seems they are also keen on mimicking Israel’s repressive tactics against all expressions of Palestinian identity. Earlier this year, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir ordered the Israeli police to enforce a ban on the Palestinian flag in public spaces, claiming that the flag is a rallying symbol for “terrorists.” And just last Saturday, the Berlin police banned a gathering that ironically was centered around the historical banning of the Palestinian flag, organized by Palestinian, Jewish, and German women.

With Israel’s encouragement, Germany’s adoption of the stifling IHRA definition of antisemitism and the Bundestag’s passing of the anti-BDS resolution has opened the floodgates to a new wave of repression against all aspects of Palestinian identity, bringing the ongoing Nakba to Europe.

I am the granddaughter of Palestinian refugees who were violently expelled from our ancestral village of Jimzu in the center of historic Palestine. Dispersed all over the world and becoming refugees within Palestine, my family still instilled in me a remembrance of our past and a yearning for our eventual return.

July 9, 1948, the date on which the Yiftach Brigade of the Zionist paramilitary group the Palmach invaded Jimzu, was the beginning of a lifetime of perseverance and resistance for my family and eventually me. Yet I am only one of thousands of Palestinians in Germany with identical stories, all living in a country that values the supreme power of a foreign state over its own citizens and residents.

“We want to die in our homes in Palestine,” my great grandfather, the mukhtar of the Aqabat Jaber refugee camp in Jericho, said in the documentary, “Aqabat Jaber — Peace with No Return?” “Who doesn’t want to live in peace?” he continued. “But there can be no peace without our right to return home. It will take years, it won’t happen now — it will take time, but we’re only here temporarily.”

Source: Hebh Jamal, “Where we can Palestinians mourn our catastrophe?” +972 Magazine, 18 May 2023

Luminary Recordings: Akhtseh Rayondin Maniyar

We’re thrilled to announce our latest album, a result of a collaboration between Ored Recordings and Luminary, an educational center in the village of Khryug, in the Ahtynsky district of Dagestan.

Luminary works with local children, offering them various classes in design, programming, music, and other fascinating topics. Our collaboration with them involved a three-day expedition of young Lezgins through their native Ahtynsky district, recording the songs of bards, local ensembles, and cultural workers.

In addition to the audio release, we’ve also published a printed zine, in which the children describe their experience, and we share our thoughts on the symbolism of such trips.

Ored Recordings is an ethnographic label, whose team travels mainly in the Caucasus, studying and recording local music. While there are many similar projects around the world, they are often led by white Europeans on an “exotic safari” in foreign lands. However, in our case, things are different. Ored Recordings is led by Circassians, who immerse themselves in their own tradition and the culture of their neighbors. In our eyes, there is less exoticism and orientalism, which can be found in the work of the French in Tibet or Americans in Ethiopia.

Nevertheless, we know relatively little about the music and culture of neighboring republics. Even in Dagestan, we may be neighbors, but we are still outsiders. We try to bridge the gap by taking local guides and carefully preparing for trips to other republics. However, the most honest thing we can do is to send the locals on the expedition themselves, without us.

When the Luminary center in Khryug invited us to do something together with their kids, it became evident that they should go on an expedition to their native villages and share their music and personal discoveries with everyone.

Ored Recordings’ role was to provide young ethnographers with tools, without imposing our vision. We didn’t teach young Lezgins what music was worthy of recording and what should be forgotten. Nor did we decide for them what would become a hit or what would be boring.

The result is an album of diverse music, the faces of living bearers of tradition, an engaging story of an ethnographic adventure, and a beautiful zine.

Importantly, the project is not interesting merely because it was done by children. The release and zine by the Luminary kids are not cute; they are serious works that adults could have done worse. And to us, this carries great symbolic value: traditional music does not belong to us — the elders, academics, and art curators. It’s for everyone, especially the new generations.

We hope you enjoy this album and take a moment to appreciate the work of these talented young musicians and ethnographers.

Source: Ored Recordings (Bandcamp)


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A solo concert by singer and composer Yulia Slavyanskaya

May 21, 18:00

Holy Spirit Spiritual and Educational Center [Alexander Nevsky Lavra, St. Petersburg]

Buy a ticket


Yulia Slavyanskaya is a Russian singer of spiritual and patriotic songs. In 2002, she recorded her first album Wake up, Soul!, which was a real success! The singer attracted numerous fans who value spirituality, a positive attitude, and patriotism in music. Yulia writes her own music based on the poems of contemporary poets and classic poets.

Even the youngest listeners like the songs of this beautiful performer of contemporary songs [sic] about the soul and for the soul, songs about love for each other and for one’s Motherland. Her extraordinary lucid voice cannot be confused with anyone else’s!

For many years, Yulia Slavyanskaya has been performing solo concerts all over Russia. She has been joyfully welcomed in Donetsk, Gorlovka [sic], Belarus, Serbia, Abkhazia, Kirghizia [sic], and Montenegro.

She has been a prizewinner at many Russian and international festivals of spiritual song. She was awarded the Republic of Abkhazia’s highest honor, the Akhdz-Apsha (“Honor and Glory”) medal, in the third degree, and has received numerous awards from municipal, public, and religious organizations in Russia and other countries.

Yulia Slavyanskaya’s concert and performances can be viewed on the TV channels Spas, Soyuz, A Minor, and My Joy. You can also get to know her work on the website юлия-славянская.рф and social networks on the Internet.

Yulia Slavyanskaya’s concerts are attended by whole families. Her work is filled with amazing light and purity! At the concert in St. Petersburg, Yulia will perform songs from all six of her released albums.

By tradition, the little children who attend Yulia Slavyanskaya’s concert will become its active participants.

Source:, via their weekly email newsletter. Ticket prices for the concert range between 700 and 1,500 rubles. Translated by the Russian Reader

“Encounters at the Lavra,” Soyuz TV (562K subscribers), 2,055 views, Mar 29, 2021. Priest Anatoly Pershin welcomes Orthodox singer and composer Yulia Slavyanskaya. The program features songs based on the lyrics of Archpriest Andrei Logvinov: “The Martyrs’ Candles Were Lighted” and “So Much Is Given.” Father Anatoly performs the song “How I Want Purity.”

Made in the USSR (May Day 2023)

A man sporting a “Made in the USSR” tattoo, Liteiny Prospect, Petersburg, May 1, 2023.
Photo by Vadim F. Lurie, reproduced here with his kind permission

Victory Day is a memorable holiday for every citizen of St. Petersburg! During the celebration of the Great Victory, each of us remembers the heroic deeds of our grandfathers. In keeping with a long-established tradition, many musicians dedicate their concerts to this important date.

On May 15, the Lensovet Palace of Culture will host “Echo of Victory,” a soulful solo musical performance by Dmitry Pevtsov and the Pevtsov Orchestra.

Dmitry Pevtsov, “Echo of Victory,” 15 May, Lensovet Palace of Culture

“Echo of Victory” is a new themed concert in which poems and songs of the war years and the best songs of Soviet and modern composers will be performed. The program will feature such songs as “Airplanes First of All,” “From Dawn to Dawn,” and, of course, everyone’s favorite song, which has become a symbol of the celebration of May 9—”Victory Day”!

We invite everyone to the “Echo of Victory” concert on May 15 at the Lensovet Palace of Culture. Let’s remember the great songs of that heroic time and once again feel proud of our great nation!

Directed by Denis Isakov

Duration 1 hour 40 minutes (without intermission)

Source: Translated by the Russian Reader

The Russian authorities and Russian propagandists have been competing with each other to recreate something outwardly similar to the Soviet system in our country. The message to Russian society is simple: we are different, we have a different path, don’t look anywhere else, this is our destiny — to be unlike everyone in the world. And yet there are more and more traits of our country’s yesterday in its tomorrow.

For some reason, the speakers at the Knowledge educational forum, starting with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, called directly for Russia’s self-isolation. Mishustin demanded that we achieve independence from foreign designs in the information sphere. The word “independence” has been increasingly used to mean isolation and breaking ties.

Deputies in the State Duma have proposed re-establishing the mandatory three-year “repayment through job placement” for university graduates, and prohibiting those who have not served in the army from working in the civil service.

With Ella Pamfilova, head of the Russian Central Elections Commission, on hand as a friendly observer, Uzbekistan held a referendum on April 30 to decide whether to adopt a new constitution that would grant the current president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the right to de facto lifelong rule by lengthening presidential terms from five to seven years and nullifying Mirziyoyev’s previous terms. The ballot, which involved digital technologies, produced a turnout of 84.54%, and according to preliminary data, 90.21% of voters said yes to the amendments, which would change two-thirds of the Constitution, while 9.35% of voters voted no, and 0.49% of the ballots were disqualified. Although democratic procedures were seemingly followed, Uzbekistan is moving away from democracy.

Something makes us see Pamfilova’s visit to Uzbekistan not only as a trip “to strengthen friendship and cooperation,” but also as a completely practical exchange of know-how in organizing such referendums. Only by adopting a new constitution can the first and second chapters of the current Russian Constitution be amended, and it is the second chapter that enshrines civil rights and freedoms, we should recall.

Alexander Bastrykin, the prominent human rights activist and chair of the Russian Investigative Committee, has proposed adopting a new Russian constitution that would enshrine a state ideology, completely eliminate international law’s precendence over domestic law, and re-envision human rights as an institution alien and hostile to Russia, as something encroaching on its sovereignty. Uzbekistan’s know-how in voting on a new constitution will come in handy for the Russian Central Election Commission.

At seven o’clock this evening live on Citizen TV, we will talk about why, exactly, the Russian authorities are so enthusiastic about Soviet political practice and the Soviet style, and where such intentions can lead our country.

Source: Citizen TV (YouTube), 1 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed with the need [for Russia] to develop its own communication protocols instead of foreign TCP/IP to ensure the country’s technological sovereignty and independence.

On Thursday, the head of state held an event at the Rudnevo Industrial Park during which the specifics of the development of domestic unmanned aerial systems were discussed. In this context, Alexander Selyutin, board chair of the Technojet group, spoke about the “Internet from Russia” project.

After listening to the proposals, Putin turned to his aide Maxim Oreshkin.

“Maxim Stanislavovich, talk to your colleagues, then report back to me separately, we need to help. This is obligatory, because if you have advanced proposals, your own, of course, we need to do everything to support them. It means technological sovereignty, and better competitiveness, and independence. […] We will definitely help,” the president said.

Source: “Putin supports creation of Russian communication protocols as alternative to foreign ones: head of state held event at Rudnevo Industrial Park where specifics of developing domestic unmanned aerial systems were discussed,” TASS, 27 April 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Lev Schlosberg for the heads-up.

Those wishing to take part in a virtual LDPR rally at the monument to Vladimir Zhirinovsky created in Minecraft have overloaded the server. The number of applications exceeded twelve thousand, LDPR’s press service informed us.

As Andrei Svintsov, a member of the LDPR faction [in the State Duma], noted, this is only the first such event. The Liberal Democrats plan to continue using [Minecraft] and other gaming platforms to communicate with voters and attract new supporters, becoming in fact “Russia’s first digital party.”

The MP also recalled that experts continue to work on the “Cyber Zhirinovsky” political algorithm, which was previously announced by the party’s current leader Leonid Slutsky.

Photo: Official LDPR Telegram channel

Source: TASS (Telegram), 1 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

In late April, Judge Yevgenia Nikolayeva closed a court hearing at which it was decided how much time to give Alexei Navalny to examine the 196 volumes of the latest criminal case against him. According to the police investigator, this was necessary in order to protect investigatory privilege.

Navalny’s case is not unique. There have been other such decisions recently. Judges closed a court hearing on the killing of the blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, decided the fates of conscientious objectors without witnesses present, ruled on pretrial restrictions in absentia for journalist Ilya Krasilchik, and extended the arrest of politician Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Over the past five years, judges in Russia have increasingly closed court hearings to observers, journalists, and even relatives of defendants. Because of this, defense lawyers cannot inform the public about what happens in these proceedings. Mediazona reviewed the judicial statistics and discovered that, in 2022, judges ruled 25,587 times to hear cases in closed chambers. This was almost twice as often as in 2018, when judges decided 13,172 times to hear cases without outsiders present.

The Constitution actually guarantees that your case should be heard in open court, but there are exceptions. The principal exceptions are cases involving state secrets (which is why all treason and espionage trials are closed), cases against defendants under sixteen years of age, and cases involving sexual offenses. The statistics for all such cases have not changed much in recent years.

But there is one more exception — a trial can be closed to “ensure the safety” of the people involved in the proceedings and their loved ones. This extremely vague wording allows judges to close any court hearing. Judges make vigorous use of it, especially when hearing high-profile cases.

Here’s another example. In September, the Moscow City Court closed the hearing of an appeal against the verdict in the “fake news” trial of municipal district council deputy Alexei Gorinov, who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for an argument over a children’s drawing contest in which he had said that children were dying in the war in Ukraine The judge alleged that the court had received threats, and said that the hearing would have to be closed for the safety of the parties to the proceedings.

Russian judges may be following the lead of their Belarusian colleagues, who have learned how to conduct political trials without outside scrutiny. They cite covid regulations, or fill the gallery with persons unknown, or don’t let anyone except the relatives of the defendants in the courtroom. Russian courts have begun to use many of these methods. And the Belarusian courts can declare a hearing closed without explaining the reasons at all.

The authorities do not want people to know about political trials, to monitor these trials, or to support the accused. That is why, on the contrary, it is important for society today to talk about political prisoners and help them.

Source: I Don’t Get It email newsletter (Mediazona), 1 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

A Russian version of the song by the French left-wing chansonnier Georges Moustaki. Translation: Kirill Medvedev. Guitar: Oleg Zhuravlev. Video: Nikolay Oleynikov

Don’t ask what her name is, she’s
Beloved and tender, but fickle
Very spunky, she’ll wake up and go forward
To a new life that shines and sings

Bullied and branded
Tortured and executed
Well, how much can she suffer!
And she rises up and strikes,
And spends many, many years in prison,
Yes, we betrayed her
But we only love her more and more
And so we want to follow her
Right to the end

What her name is, don’t ask, my friend,
She’s just a mayflower and a wild fruit
She sprouts anywhere, like grass
Her path will take her wherever she wishes

Don’t ask what her name is, she’s
Sometimes beloved, sometimes persecuted, but faithful
This girl that everyone is waiting for
Permanent revolution is her name

Original song by Georges Moustaki

Source: Arkady Kots Group (YouTube), 1 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

“Motherland, Come Home”

DDT frontman Yuri Shevchuk has released the video “Motherland, Come Home.” In the new single, he calls on his country to stop the war and go about its own business. The video was shot by Shevchuk in collaboration with producer and composer Dmitry Yemelyanov.

Yuri Shevchuk wrote the poem “Motherland, Come Home” in the summer of 2022, a few months after Russia had launched its invasion of Ukraine. In the run-up to the invasion’s anniversary, the rocker set it to music and recorded the song. “Don’t go crazy, this is not your war,” Shevchuk urges listeners.

Yuri Shevchuk & Dmitry Yemelyanov, “Motherland, Come Home”

Shevchuk has repeatedly spoken out against the war in Ukraine. He has consistently taken a pacifist stance and opposed all wars, including the military operations in Chechnya, South Ossetia, and anywhere else in the world.

In 2022, Shevchuk was fined fifty thousand rubles after he was found guilty of “discrediting” the actions of the Russian army. The occasion for the fine was an anti-war statement he made in May at a concert in Ufa. After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, concerts by his band, DDT, in Russia have often been postponed or canceled “due to technical difficulties.”

In the summer of 2022, the media reported the existence of a list of “banned” Russian artists who had opposed the war in Ukraine, including the bands DDT, B2, Aquarium, and Pornofilms, the rappers Face and Oxxxymiron, and the solo performers Zemfira, Monetochka, and Vasya Oblomov. There were more than fifty names on the list. Many of the musicians have already faced the cancellation of concerts, and some have been designated “foreign agents” by the Russian Justice Ministry.

Source: “Yuri Shevchuk releases anti-war video ‘Motherland, Come Home,'” Radio Svoboda, 19 February 2023. Translated by the TRR. Thanks to Kerstin Nickig for the heads-up.

Никотиновый вдох,
Распальцованный взгляд,
Я ещё не подох,
Ещё мои шланги горят.

A nicotine breath,
A swaggering look,
I’m not dead yet,
My hoses are still on fire.

Этой лютой весной
Суета с тишиной
Пульс неровный несут.
Пульс неровный несут
Моё сердце на суд.

This fierce spring
Helter-skelter and silence,
The pulse is uneven.
The pulse is uneven
My heart is on trial.

Опустело село,
Пьёт Рязань из Днепра,
От венков расцвело,
В рыжей глине – дыра.

The village is deserted,
Ryazan drinks from the Dnieper,
The wreaths have burst into blossom,
There is a hole in the red clay.

Маята, как сорняк
Телевизор в печи,
У державы стояк.
У державы стояк,
Воют бабы в ночи.

The torment is like a weed
The TV’s like a furnace,
The empire has a boner.
The empire has a boner,
Women howl in the night.

Тёмен век мой.
Господи, как всё случилось?
Рваный лик твой –
Укололась и забылась.
Не сходи с ума,
Это не твоя война.
Ждут грачи в полях весной.
Родина, вернись домой!

My age is dark.
My God, how did it happen?
Your ragged face,
Pricked and forgotten.
Don’t go crazy,
This is not your war.
Rooks wait in the fields in spring.
Motherland, come home!

Безнадёги иной
Я не переживал,
Коллективной виной –
Сделал шаг и пропал.

Other doom and gloom
Didn’t bother me,
But with collective guilt
I took a step and went MIA.

Давит воздух густой,
Но тебя не забыть,
Мертвецов напоить.
Мертвецов напоить
Родниковой водой.

The air is thick,
But I can’t forget you,
Get the dead drunk.
Get the dead drunk
On spring water.

Голоса белены
Тянут мысль одну:
Ты вернёшься с войны,
Вновь попасть на войну.

Voices are faded white
They dredge up one thought:
You’ll come back from the war
To go to war again.

И летят облака,
Разбиваясь в дали,
О крутые бока
Нашей плоской Земли.

And the clouds are flying,
Crashing in the distance
On the craggy sides
Of our flat Earth.

Тёмен век мой.
Господи, как всё случилось?
Рваный лик твой –
Укололась и забылась.
Не сходи с ума,
Это не твоя война.
Ждут грачи в полях весной.
Родина, вернись домой!

My age is dark.
My God, how did it happen?
Your ragged face,
Pricked and forgotten.
Don’t go crazy,
This is not your war.
Rooks wait in the fields in spring.
Motherland, come home!

Source: Yuri Shevchuk & DDT, “Motherland, Come Home,” Reproduktor. Translated by the Russian Reader

Found archival photo of a Young Pioneer on Mozhaiskaya Street in Leningrad, 1982.
Thanks to VG for posting this find on their now-locked Facebook page

“A Calendar of Revolutionary Names. April: Arlen (“Army of Lenin”), Vilenin (“V.I. Lenin”), Viulen (“V.I. Ulyanov-Lenin”), Lublen (“Love Lenin”), Marenlenst (“Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin”), Motvil (“We’re from V.I. Lenin”), etc.

Source: Sergey Abashin (Facebook), 18 February 2023. He took this snapshot at the Sergei Kirov Museum in St. Petersburg.

VICE News (YouTube), “Nationalism or Nothing: Life in Modern Russia,” 10 Feburary 2023: “President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, has led to a tightening of dictatorial powers within Russia. Free-speech is virtually non-existent and the public realm is now dominated by outspoken nationalists, who want more war, not less.” Thanks to Marxmail for the heads-up

Made in Noviny: Songs of Golendra People from Siberia

The Golendras (Olendry, Holendry) of Siberia are a unique people. They originate from Germany or even Holland, to which their name alludes. In former times they lived in Poland, eventually ending up in the western part of the Russian Empire — approximately where the borders of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine now meet, near the Western Bug River.

The Golendras are Lutherans by religion, their prayer book is in Polish and they have German surnames. They adopted a mixture of Polish, Ukrainian and Belarusian as their language. Their songs are sung in this dialect. During the Stolypin agrarian reforms, a part of the Golendras moved to the Irkutsk Region in Siberia, where they founded settlements — Zamusteche (Zamóstecze, whose modern name is Pikhtinsky), Novyny (Nowyny, whose modern name is Srednepikhtinsky) and Dagnik (its name has not changed).

Kvitochka (Kwitoczka, “Little Flower”) Ensemble emerged in 2005 at the Srednepikhtinsky House of Culture. It has the status of a family band, since all the participants are relatives to various degrees.

The ensemble members (on the album cover photo from left to right):

1. Nina Kunz
2. Valentina Zelent
3. Irina Prokopyeva
4. Larisa Bendik
5. Svetlana Ludwig
6. Olga Kunz
7. Elena Vas. Ludwig
8. Vera Kunz
9. Elena Vlad. Ludwig (leader)
10. Natalya Ludwig

The original song titles are given in their Polish spelling.

The names of the older generation people, thanks to whom these songs have been preserved: Emma Pastrik, Anelia Gildebrant, Alvina Zelent, Natalya Kunz, Zuzanna Ludwig, Elizaveta Gildebrant, Adolf Kunz, Alvina Kunz, Bronislava Ludwig, Ivan Zelent.

Recorded at the Srednepikhtinsky House of Culture on July 7, 2022, except for tracks 1 and 26, which were recorded in Dagnik on July 8, 2022, and performed by Anatoly Ludwig.

Thanks to Elena Ludwig, the whole ensemble, Lyudmila Gerda, Natalya Dmitrieva, Lyubov Vasilchenko, and Iwan Strutynski.

Source: Antonovka Records (Facebook), 17 February 2023. I have lightly edited the original liner notes for clarity and readability. ||| TRR


A people called the Golendry (translated presumably as “Hollanders,” “Dutch”) has been living in the remote Siberian taiga for more than a century. The people speaks a mix of Belarusian and Ukrainian, prays in Polish, and has German surnames. They live in the Zalari District of Irkutsk Region and are a true cultural phenomenon. Key to Baikal will tell you what kind of people they are and how they got here.

The History of the Golendry

Several dozen families of Golendry moved to Siberia from the Bug River basin at the beginning of the 20th century, during Stolypin’s agrarian reforms. Back then, the place of the people’s residence was a part of the Russian Empire, but now the territory encompasses the borderlands of Belarus, Ukraine and Poland. There are two explanations of the origins of the word golendry. This term emerged in the early seventeenth century: the Dutch identified themselves in similar fashion (hollandi in Latin). The other explanation is based on the word gautland, meaning a developed land (paseka in Polish), a settlement on deforested land, established by colonists who were called golendry (that is, “stumpers” or “woodcutters,” not “Dutch”). The researcher Eduard Byutov came up with a serious argument against the second explanation, saying that these people were the members of a Dutch community living under “Dutch law” and observing Dutch culture. Byutov emphasized the fact that, in medieval Poland, the social stratum of peasants were called golendry (olendry), and the settlers possessed a special social and legal status. Thus, the term olendry is derived from a lexeme with the same meaning as the ethnonym for “Dutch” in Polish. It was used to designate a special social group of mixed ethnic composition.

Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle, because the term golendry never served to designate any particular ethnic group. From the very beginning it meant a special social group of mixed ethnic composition. Nevertheless, the ethnic composition of this social group evidently included the Dutch, because many of their cultural elements point tto this.

By the beginning of the twentieth century the Golendry had retained their distinctive identity, which differed from neighboring peoples: despite the fact that they spoke local dialects, their religion was different from the surrounding population. They were Lutherans, unlike the Catholic Poles and the Orthodox Belarusians and Ukrainians.

A part of the Golendry migrated to Siberia, primarily due to the lack of land. The settlers gave old names to their new places of residence: Zamusteche, Novyna and Dakhny, in memory of those times when they lived on the Bug. The villages were renamed in Soviet times (now they are known as Pikhtinsk, Srednepikhtinsk and Dagnik).

It is curious that no one was particularly interested in the Pikhtinsk Golendry before the early 1990s. Only in the 1930s and during the Great Patriotic War did their obviously German names and surnames attract the attention of state authorities, which led to certain consequences. Luckily, however, the Golendry were not deported (because they already lived in the taiga) and were not shot. During peacetime, the Golendry were little different from other Soviet people, except that the two Pikhtinsk collective farms consistently produced high yields, year after year. In the 1970s they were doing so well that former residents of Pikhtinsk returned to their native villages from the cities: they built a branch of a clothing factory, a bakery, and a post office there. There were three large elementary schools for the three villages, a rural medical station, shops, and a kindergarten. After perestroika, their prosperity came to an end, however, and the residents of Pikhtinsk once again moved back to the cities. Nowadays, the number of people registered in the villages is larger than that of people actually living there, and the number of inhabitants of these settlements decreases every year.

“The Home of the Golender Gimborg, 1912”

Emptying villages are a widespread phenomenon in Russia, with only one difference: the Golendry are famous now; they will not disappear into obscurity. By the way, the Golendry were “discovered” by scholars by pure accident, thanks to their houses. In 1993-1994, the Irkutsk Central Commission for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Heritage visited these remote taiga villages and paid due attention to the unconventional architecture of the buildings in Pikhtinsk, Srednepikhtinsk and Dagnik. The architecture entailed an exploration of the rest of their culture, and the Golendry were declared a “sensation.”

Customs and traditions

Two museums were established in Srednepikhtinsk: these let people have a look inside a real Golendry house without disturbing their personal space. According to the Lutheran faith of the Golendry, they worship in Polish using the Bible and prayer books. The old people are more religious, while the young people are less so: the situation is common today. So, the holy books in Polish, exhibited in the museums, are now read only by old people, and even not all of those old people can read them. It is curious that the Golendry use the Julian calendar, just like Orthodox people.

The Lutheran Golendry do not have a tradition of regularly visiting cemeteries and taking care of graves. However, the Russian traditions have gradually come to predominate: elaborate headstones have been erected on some graves of the Pikhtinsk Golendry, and the relatives of the deceased can sometimes be seen at the cemetery. Nevertheless, you should not go to the cemetery of the Golendry out of idle curiosity: the residents of Pikhtinsk hate it when someone disturbs the peace of the dead.

The Lutheran Golendry never had any churches of their own in Siberia. They prayed at home in the old days, and still do so now. There is a Lutheran prayer hall in Irkutsk, and the local pastor periodically visits the residents of Pikhtinsk. However, the main rite — baptism — is conducted not by a pastor, but by a local resident. The residents of Pikhtinsk themselves find it difficult to answer why they chose that person exactly. Most likely, because he is a pious man and is respected by everyone. In addition, waiting for the pastor to come or taking the babies to Irkutsk is simply inconvenient.

The museums illustrate the wedding ceremony in great detail: The Golendry still celebrate their weddings in keeping with the old traditions. A cap, the most memorable detail of the local women’s attire, is also associated with the wedding. Women wear a cap instead of a veil on the second day of marriage. There is also a tradition of burying women with their cap on. During the rest of the time the capes are no longer worn, except that they can be worn for tourists.

If you want to get acquainted with the life and traditions of the Golendry, you will have to drive almost 300 kilometers from Irkutsk, or take a train to Zalari Station and then travel the remaining 93 kilometers to Srednepikhtinsk. After this people was “discovered,” it became much easier to get to the places where it resides, but one should book a tour and overnight stay in advance.

Source: Key to Baikal. I have edited the original article for clarity and readability. ||| TRR

The Honor and the Glory of The Gated Community

Known as Minnesota’s favorite Americana band of the 99%, The Gated Community celebrates the release of their highly anticipated new album The Honor and Glory of The Gated Community. Showcasing beautiful harmonies, multiple lead singers and virtuosic soloists, this 5th album from the folk/country cult favorites shows the band stepping out of their Marxist bluegrass band box to create poignant songs of personal and collective loss — many of which were written just a few blocks from where Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct station was burned and abandoned following the murder of George Floyd.

Living just a few blocks from the 3rd Precinct, frontman Sumanth Gopinath (vocals, guitar) and his partner Beth Hartman (vocals, percussion) were filled with a particular anxiety and dread. “We went through a lot during the uprising itself, but we also feared repeat occurrences of violence at various points – like the November 2020 election, January 6, the inauguration and the Chauvin trial,” Gopinath says. “Moreover, family and friends died or nearly died from COVID-19. My retired colleague David Bernstein passed in March 2020, my aunt died in June 2020, and my uncle was in the hospital for months.”

Although The Gated Community started tracking some of the album in 2019 and early 2020, an electrical failure (caused by the 2020 unrest) fried the studio’s primary and backup hard drives. Left with only a few tracks and a whole new whirlwind of emotions stirred up by the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, subsequent protests and the rise of fascism in America, the band reworked old songs and arranged new ones written by Gopinath during the pandemic. “Not being able to make music with the other five band members during 2020, I began composing classical music again for the first time in 25 years,” Gopinath says. “I also continued to write songs for the band until we were finally able to do some very distanced outdoor rehearsals in fall of that year.”

With various health concerns among band members, they worked safely and slowly, rehearsing and recording the new tracks with John Miller at Future Condo Studio in Minneapolis. Mastered by Bruce Templeton at Microphonic Mastering, the album was finally done in 2022. Their most ambitious yet, it includes 13 originals with powerful lyrics and thoughtful arrangements. Although still marked by the playfulness that have won them such a loyal following, these songs have less punk urgency and more of the laid-back folk and country vibes of some of their songwriting heroes – from the Ralph Stanley-inspired a capella song “To the Sea Once More” (written for Kobe Dimock-Heisler, a young man of color on the autism spectrum who had just been murdered by police in Brooklyn Center, MN, on Aug. 31, 2019) to the Terry Allen-esque “Mariia” (about the alleged Russian spy and current politician Maria Butina) to the Townes Van Zandt-sounding “Another Fire” (written following the nightly fires that erupted in South Minneapolis after George Floyd’s murder) to the beautiful simplicity of Gillian Welch exhibited in “The Life From My Eyes” (about domestic violence towards women). The album also features the heartfelt playing of recently retired fiddler Teresa Gowan.

Once thought of as a niche novelty outfit, The Gated Community show their evolution into a sophisticated band that mixes social commentary with emotionally rich songwriting. They are incredibly proud to bring this album into the world after the collective traumas of the past three years and are finding solace in playing together once more.



released February 3, 2023

The Gated Community is Sumanth Gopinath, Cody Johnson, Teresa Gowan, Paul Hatlelid, Rosie Harris, Beth Hartman, and Nate Knutson

with special guest Adrienne Miller

words by Sumanth Gopinath, music by The Gated Community

produced by The Gated Community and John Miller
recorded at Future Condo Studio by John Miller
mixed by John Miller
mastered by Bruce Templeton, Microphonic Mastering

photography by Mark Nye
artwork by Ian Rans

full album information available at
contact us at

thanks and much love to our families, friends, and fans

special thanks to Tom Campbell and Adam Zahller

in memory of the family members and friends we lost over the past few years, including Liz Adams, Stan Adler, Shekhar Bal, David Bernstein, Josette Bethany, Max Bromley, Jason Christenson, Karen Dresser, Marian Gopinath, Gwen Hartman, Dave Hoenack, Qadri Ismail, Chad Marsolek, Jim McDonald, Ryan Muncy, Rita Elizabeth Nye, Peter Schimke, and Jerold Marvin Schultz

© 2023 The Gated Community

Who Is Roman Nasryev?

Roman Nasryev. Photo courtesy of Solidarity Zone

Who is Roman Nasryev?

On 11 October 2022, amidst the recently announced military mobilization, Roman Nasryev and his friend Alexei Nuriyev broke a window on the first floor of the municipal administration building in the town of Bakal in the Chelyabinsk Region and threw Molotov cocktails into it. There was a military enlistment office in the building.

Local pro-government media outlets dubbed the young men “the rockers who threw Molotov cocktails at city hall.”

Initially, Nasryev and Nuriyev were charged with “destroying or damaging property” (per Article 167.2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code). Later, however, after the FSB had homed in on the case, the charge was revised to “committing a terrorist act” (per Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code).

Roman and Alexei were also later accused of “undergoing training in order to carry out terrorist activities” (per Article 205.3 of the Criminal Code).

Law enforcement claimed that the accused “took courses on carrying out terrorist activities via the Internet and by phone.” In response to such a strange and dubious claim, a subscriber to one of the Telegram channels ironically quipped, “Apparently, they did not train well. Distance learning is still not as good as in-person instruction.”

Roman and Alexei face from fifteen to thirty years of imprisonment or life in prison if convicted as charged. To date, these are the most serious charges brought against suspects or defendants in anti-war arson cases.

On October 21, Rosfinmonitoring added Nuriyev and Nasryev to its list of “extremists and terrorists.”

27-year-old Roman Nasryev worked as a driver in the Interior Ministry’s extra-departmental security guard service (now overseen by the Russian National Guard). He and Nuriyev played in the Bakal rock band Room 32. Relatives tell us that he liked to learn to play musical instruments on his own, including guitar, mouth harp, harmonica, dombra, and flute. Roman’s other hobbies were sports, especially running and calisthenics, skiing, writing poetry, cars, and fishing.

Room 32, performing “Hug Me” at the Emergenza Festival four years ago

Both of the accused men hold anti-war views. Politically, Nasryev describes himself as a libertarian. (Earlier, we mistakenly wrote that he held left-wing views.) Roman explains that he did what he did to protest the war in Ukraine and the military mobilization.

Roman is married and has two children, a four-year-old daughter and a son, who was born in November, when Roman was already in remand prison.

On January 27, the young men’s remand in custody was extended for six months, until 4 August 2023. Both prisoners of conscience are currently being held at Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 in Chelyabinsk. Nasryev is being held in solitary confinement.

You can support Roman by sending him a letter or parcel. (There is no limit on the number of parcels inmates at the pretrial detention center can receive). Letters not only cheer up inmates and strengthen their spirits, but also show the security forces that people are paying keen attention to what happens to them, and this can prevent the security forces from engaging in lawlessness and torture.

You can also start a correspondence with Roman — his wide-ranging interests are listed above.

💌📦 Address for letters and parcels:

Nasryev Roman Raifovich (born 1995)
53 ul. Rossiyskaya, SIZO-1
Chelyabinsk 456006 Russian Federation

(It is also possible to send emails to inmates via the Zonatelecom service.)

Solidarity Zone supports Roman Nasryev.

Source: Solidarity Zone (Facebook), 31 January 2023. Translated by Thomas Campbell. People living outside Russia will not be able to use the Zonatelecom service. It is also impossible or nearly impossible to send parcels to Russian detention facilities from abroad. In many cases, however, you can send letters (which must be written in Russian or translated into Russian) via the free, volunteer-run service RosUznik. As of this writing, Mr. Nasryev has not appeared on their list of supported addressees. You can also ask me ( for assistance and advice in sending letters to Russian political prisoners.