The News from Petersburg

“Mariupol. Saint Petersburg.” A snapshot purportedly taken earlier today by Tatyana Razumovskaya (see her Facebook post, below).

The LED composition “Double Hearts” has been installed on Palace Square in honor of the sister city relationship between Petersburg and Mariupol, as reported on the city’s VK page.

The “Double Hearts” project was approved by Governor Alexander Beglov. Earlier, the installation was on display in a Mariupol city park. It symbolizes the unity, friendship, and love between people living in the sister cities.

Earlier, 78.ru reported that Petersburg authorities would hold a “Wish Tree” event for children from Mariupol.

Source: “Installation honoring sister city relationship between Mariupol and St. Petersburg appears on Palace Square,” 78.ru, 12 December 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


A NIGHTMARISH IMAGE

Palace Square right now. It’s a three-minute walk from here to the house where I grew up and the school where I studied. Right there is the Hermitage, where I used to work.

I wish this were a dream and I could wake up.

Source: Tatyana Razumovskaya, Facebook, 13 December 2022. Thanks to VG for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader


Alexander Andreyev from St. Petersburg has been killed in the military operations in Ukraine. In 2020, he graduated from School No. 368 in the city’s Frunzensky District. The school administration reported the news on its VK page.

During his school years, Andreyev was the captain of the 368 Superheroes volunteer group, and “from the very beginning he was eager to defend his Motherland,” reports the school’s VK page. In the summer, the young man went to serve and was enlisted in the 76th Pskov Airborne Division, the page reports. Later, he signed a contact, and in early October he was sent to the war zone, the post says.

Alexander was killed on October 18, according to the school administration, when the observation post where the soldier was located came under mortar attack. Andreyev was awarded the Order of Courage and buried in the Avenue of Heroes at Babigon Cemetery, the message says.

This is at least the fourth known death of a Petersburger in the war in Ukraine. Earlier, a school teacher from Petersburg, physical education teacher Vadim Sedov, was killed there. In addition, in the first week of October, Andrei Nikiforov, a member of the Nevsky Bar Association, was killed near Lisichansk. In mid-November, news arrived of the death in Mariupol of Konstantin Simonov, a Petersburger who volunteered to fight in March.

Source: “Another Petersburger dies in the war in Ukraine — he volunteered in the summer,” Bumaga, 11 December 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


The Smolny [Petersburg city hall] is considering three options for special parking permits for residents of the Admiralty District [rayon], Fontanka.ru writes. On November 1, paid parking was introduced there, and locals were given the option to park their cars in their municipal precinct [okrug] for 1,800 rubles a year, the online media outlet reported.

Petersburgers recalled that residents of the Central District use similar permits throughout its territory, and not only in their own [smaller] municipal precincts, Fontanka.ru reports.

As the media outlet’s journalists have written without specifying their source, there are now three possible options for how paid parking will work for Admiralty District residents:

— everything will remain as it is: supporters of this proposal say that permits are needed so that a person can park outside their house for free, while trips around the district only increase traffic, which is what the reform is meant to combat

— the validity of permits will extend to the entire district: proponents of this idea believe that such innovations will soften the public outcry

— residents of the Admiralty District will be able to choose another district in which their permits are valid, giving them the opportunity to travel around nearby districts without worrying about paying for parking.

According to the media outlet, the Smolny will make a choice in the coming days.

Paid parking was introduced in the Admiralty District on November 1. Now those who want to park their car here have to pay 39 or 100 rubles per hour, depending on the type of vehicle, or buy an expensive monthly or annual pass.

But for those who live in the district, the authorities have introduced special annual parking permits that cost 1,800 rubles a year, but are valid only in the municipal precinct in which the motorist owns property or is registered to live. To park a car in any other municipal precinct, one has to pay the standard fare.

Source: “Petersburgers are dissatisfied with the new parking system in the city center. Here are three options for the authorities to solve this problem,” Bumaga, 11 December 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


“I serve Russia!”

🎖On December 9, our country celebrates Day of Heroes of the Fatherland. On this day, Heroes of the Soviet Union, Heroes of the Russian Federation, and recipients of the Order of St. George and the Order of Glory are honored.

And on this day we want to tell you about a hero of our time, Alexander Igorevich Andreyev, a graduate of our school.

🎖ALEXANDER IGOREVICH ANDREYEV

During his school years, Sasha was the team captain of the 368 Superheroes volunteer movement.

From the very beginning of the SMO, he sought to defend the Motherland. In the summer he went to serve and was able to enlist in the legendary Pskov 76th Airborne Division.

He signed a contract [as a volunteer] and just recently, in early October, was deployed in the special military operation.

On October 17, his unit was involved in heavy combat. When a comrade’s machine gun jammed, Alexander covered him before he himself attacked the enemy’s positions, thus contributing to the further advance of the paratroopers. By the end of the day, an enemy fortification had been captured. The next day, October 18, Alexander was at an observation post when the enemy opened fire with a mortar. He was hit by a shell and fatally wounded.

He died at his combat post. He was twenty years old.

By decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Alexander Andreyev has been awarded the Order of Courage.

Alexander is buried at the Babigon Cemetery on the Avenue of Heroes.

🕯May the memory of this Russian Hero, friend and faithful comrade live forever.

We will never forget you!

Source: Secondary School No. 368 Frunzensky District of St. Petersburg, VK, 9 December 2022. Image of Alexander Andreyev courtesy of School No. 368. Translated by the Russian Reader


Petersburg is all gussied up in sparkling joyful lights. The holiday is coming to our town.

I have just read a letter from an acquaintance in a neighboring country:

“There has been no electricity in my city for almost a month. Previously, it was on for four hours a day, then for two, and then for one to two hours every few days. The last time the electricity was on was Friday for two hours. There are no schedules: it can be turned on at three a.m. when everyone is asleep and you just miss it. Along with electricity, there is also no water and heating, although it’s winter outside. Since electricity is provided for one to two hours every few days, it is only at this time that the cellphone tower begins to send out a signal. The rest of the time there is no mobile connection or internet. We have been plunged into the nineteenth century and life has come to a grinding halt.”

Source: Sergey Abashin, Facebook, 13 December 2022. Photo, above, by the author. Translated by the Russian Reader

Question 5

Four and half years ago, I had to renew my Russian permanent residence permit. The procedure had changed considerably since the last time I’d applied for the permit. Among the changes were two written exams that applicants were now required to pass — a Russian language exam and a Russian civics exam. I decided to study for them by doing practice exams that I found online. One of the civics question was “Question 5,” screenshotted above. It’s a multiple choice question. The examinee must decide whether the “RF” (the Russian Federation) is a) a totalitarian state, b) an authoritarian state, c) a hybrid state, or d) a democratic state. To be honest, I no longer remember whether this particular question came up in the actual exam, which I passed with flying colors. But I thought that you, my readers, might find it productive to ponder this question while reading the following three items, ripped straight from this week’s headlines in the Russian media. At the end of this post, you’ll see what the “right” answer was (in 2018, at least) and the answer I tried to give when taking the online practice quiz. ||| TRR


The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation has identified 17 priority topics for state financial support of film production in 2023.

The procedure and conditions for selection competitions in 2023 will be announced at the end of December 2022.

“We publish a list of topics before the start of competitions for financing production, hoping that filmmakers will take into account the priorities of state support for film production when developing projects. The Ministry of Culture continues to support such important topics for society as the protection of family values, patriotic education, preservation of the traditions of Russia’s regions, the success of domestic science, and popularization of the professions of engineer and teacher. Given modern realities, we consider it necessary to focus as well on countering attempts to falsify history and modern manifestations of the ideology of Nazism, to talk about the heroism and dedication of Russian soldiers during the special operation and the work of front-line brigades and volunteers,” said Olga Lyubimova, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation.

Some priority topics have been established pursuant to the Decrees of the President of the Russian Federation: “On the Approval of the Foundations of State Policy for the Preservation and Strengthening of Traditional Russian Spiritual and Moral Values,” dated 09.11.2022, No. 809; “On the Announcement of the Decade of Childhood in the Russian Federation,” dated 29.05.2017, No. 240; “On the Announcement of the Decade of Science and Technology in the Russian Federation,” dated 25.04.2022, No. 231; and “On Holding the Year of the Teacher and Mentor in the Russian Federation,” dated 27.06.2022, No. 401.

The list of priority topics includes:

1. Russia’s culture. The preservation, creation and dissemination of traditional values.

2. The decade of childhood. Families and children, their protection and support.

3. Russian science: innovations, technologies, priorities.

4. Historical cinema. History lessons, memory lessons. Countering attempts to falsify history. Russia’s peacekeeping mission of Russia. Russia’s historical victories. The eightieth anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. The Soviet soldier’s mission of liberation Generational conflict, generational continuity.

5. Russia as a modern, stable and secure state that provides opportunities for growth and self-realization.

6. The heroes among us. Stories of modern Russia’s outstanding individuals. Popularizing the teaching profession. School and college as important stages in social adaptation and personal orientation. The role of teachers and mentors in shaping the individual.

7. Motivating young people to master manual trades and engineering jobs. Improving the social status of the manual worker and the engineer, of research and innovation.

8. Film chronicle. The current state, culture and traditions of Russia’s regions. Development of the Far East and the Arctic. The life of small towns and villages, life in the provinces. Little Russia as a historical region of Russia.

9. Adaptations of works of Russian classical literature, including with the use of animation.

10. Films about outstanding figures in history, culture, science and sports. Popularizing the medical profession. Films about sporting achievements and victories.

11. Countering modern manifestations of the ideology of Nazism and fascism. Popularizing heroism and the dedication of Russian soldiers during the special military operation.

12. Popularizing service in the Russian Armed Forces of Russia. Society’s unanimous support of the army (front-line brigades and volunteers). Strengthening the status of the military profession as based on historical events and recent history.

13. The spiritual, moral and patriotic education of Russian citizens. Countering extremism. Images and models of behavior and creative motivation for modern youth. Spiritual leaders. The volunteer movement in Russia and the CIS countries as an international popularization of volunteerism.

14. The neocolonial policy of the Anglo-Saxon world. The degradation of Europe. The formation of a multipolar world.

15. Society without borders: the self-realization of people with disabilities. Volunteering in Russia. Active longevity.

16. Films about teenagers. Formation of values in life and guidelines while growing up. Disorientation in public space, information overload, forming one’s own way of thinking.

17. Modern society. Moral and ethical choice. Civic engagement. Social unity.

Source: “The Ministry of Culture of Russia has identified priority topics for state support of film production in 2023,” Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, 30 November 2022. Thanks to Radio Svoboda for the link. Translated by the Russian Reader


At a secondary school in the Leningrad Region, the Agalatovo Education Center, students were quizzed about racism, Russophobia and the emotions provoked by songs about the Motherland. A photo of the questionnaire, entitled “Patriot and Citizen,” was sent to Rotunda by the parents of one of the schoolchildren. Here are some of statements the children had to evaluate by answering “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know.”

🇷🇺 Those who criticize what is happening in the country cannot be considered real patriots.
🇷🇺 I owe a lot to my country.
🇷🇺 Sometimes I get very excited when I hear songs about my Motherland.
🇷🇺 We are a strong military power, and that is why we should be respected.
🇷🇺 If I go abroad, I will try not to be seen as Russian.
🇷🇺 I am ready to defend my Motherland in case of serious danger.
🇷🇺 Most of the crimes in our city (village) are committed by outsiders and immigrants.

🇷🇺 Our athletes are often judged unfairly at international competitions, because no one likes Russians.
🇷🇺 If we take into account all the pros and cons, the storage of foreign nuclear waste in Russia brings more financial benefits than it does environmental harm.
🇷🇺 There are nations and peoples who do not deserve to be treated well.
🇷🇺 Vandalism is one of the forms of youth protest.
🇷🇺 It is unfair to put people with dark skin in charge of white people.
🇷🇺 There can be only one true religion.

🤦 The school confirmed to Rotunda that they had conducted such a survey. They agreed to communicate with us only by mail. In a written response signed by the vice principal, they claimed that the questionnaire was needed “as background for a faculty meeting.” The school did not answer questions about how correctly or adequately the questionnaire was worded. Rotunda was unable to contact the school’s principal, Svetlana Sergiyenko. She is a supporter of the United Russia party and has run for election several times on the party’s ticket.

📌 The questionnaire itself seems to have been found by the educators on the internet. In 2014, Belarusian media reported that a similar survey (only with Belarus instead of Russia) was conducted in schools in Minsk.

Source: “Schoolchildren in Leningrad region surveyed on whether they’re ashamed to be Russian,” Rotunda (Telegram), 28 November 2022. Thanks to Leda Garina for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader


There is a belief that the Russian elite under President Vladimir Putin has only ever been interested in money. Yet Putin’s militant, anti-liberal, anti-Western, isolationist, paternalistic, and harshly authoritarian regime has always had an ideology.

This ideology is not systematized, but it does exist, and snippets of it can be found throughout Putin’s speeches, articles, and interviews. Now the war in Ukraine has necessitated a more articulated ideology, however.

The initiative to systematize and codify Putinism has led to a presidential decree listing Russia’s “traditional spiritual and moral values,” as well as the development of a new ideological curriculum for colleges.

It is no longer enough to indoctrinate children in kindergartens and schools. It is now time to unify the worldviews of college students, and, by extension, those of their professors, whose ranks will inevitably be purged. A similar course taught during the Soviet era was known as “Scientific Communism.”

The name for this new curriculum is “Fundamentals of Russian Statehood,” though it might as well be called “Scientific Putinism.” It is composed of four units: “History” – historical policy as the imposition of a mythologized official version of history, which is one of the instruments for manipulating the mass consciousness of Russians; “Cultural Codes” or the “traditional spiritual and moral values,” around which Putin has ordered federal and regional governments to unify; “Russia and the World” — a justification of isolationism, anti-Westernism, and jingoism; and “Vision for the Future,” which sets out what the state hopes to achieve beyond victory in Ukraine and the destruction of the “fifth column.”

The curriculum justifies the cult of the eternal leader and doubles down on the idea that Russia is fighting the forces of evil in Ukraine in an effort to “de-satanize” the country. However, at the same time, Scientific Putinism lacks key components such as development goals or a vision for Russia’s future, focusing as it does almost exclusively on the past.

During Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency, there were teams working on a future-oriented ideology and making road maps based on the idea that Russia would fast-track the modernization of the state and society. Putin’s ideology, however, is one that fundamentally opposes modernization.

Putin has successfully convinced a significant portion of the population that Russia must regain its status as a great power, and that Russia is under attack by both the liberal West and traitors at home. As the regime has grown more authoritarian, its ideology has also become more archaic, its propaganda more obtrusive, and any hopes of modernization have dwindled. 

An ideology that consists of historical, cultural, and religious myths, bogus traditions, and resentment seeks to legitimize an authoritarian regime and delegitimize those who oppose it.

Such an ideology makes it possible to label nonconformists as enemies, and to divide people into “us” and “them.” The division into “us” and “them” doesn’t just provide a marker for self-identification, it also serves to convince the public that there is a certain majority from which they should not stray.

In the past, the only requirement for being part of the “us” was passive, silent, conformist support. Today, however, this is not enough: Russians must surrender their very bodies to be cannon fodder in the supreme leader’s holy war against the “satanic” forces of the West. This is no longer authoritarianism; it is totalitarianism.

Imperialism and colonialism are key components of Putinism and key factors in the war. There is nothing new about this ideology; it comes almost verbatim from Stalinism and from earlier Eurasian and Slavophile narratives.

The war is being passed off as striving to restore historical fairness, as defensive and preventive, and as liberation. According to Putin, the land of the empire must be “returned and reinforced.”

In just a few years, the regime has evolved from a cult of the victory of 1945 to a cult of war itself, and Putin has managed to persuade a large segment of Russian society that the “special military operation” of 2022 is a natural continuation of World War II. In essence, it is an existential war between Russian and Western civilizations.

Putin has started to refer to Russia as an entire civilization. The state is not just sacred and worthy of the ultimate sacrifice; it is also a separate and superior civilization with a “thousand-year history” and its own special path.

Within this history, cultural codes are being passed down from generation to generation as part of the country’s political DNA. This state-civilization has its own pantheon of heroes unchanged from the Soviet era: Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Joseph Stalin, and Yuri Gagarin.

This state-civilization has always been under attack by enviers and foes, making its state of permanent conflict critical, and not simply limited to the battlefield. The state must win in all aspects — in culture and in sports, in the construction of Olympic facilities, and in the war against Ukraine and the West.  

To defend the sovereignty of this state-civilization, the Kremlin is counting on the security services, or siloviki, who have been given additional funding and are reinforced by spin doctors and so-called “journalists” in the Kremlin’s service.

The Culture Ministry, the communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, and the Russian Orthodox Church are becoming de facto siloviki themselves, enjoying as they do the right to block or ban media, restrict the sales of books by authors who oppose the war, and decide who can perform on theater stages.

The ideology has become corporeal, bolstered by political and military acts, such as the annexation of Crimea and the “special military operation.” In short, the special ideological operation is ongoing, and it seems to be faring rather better than the military one. 

This article was originally published by the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace.

Source: Andrei Kolesnikov, “Scientific Putinism: Shaping Official Ideology in Russia,” Moscow Times, 27 November 2022. Thanks to Mark Teeter for the heads-up.


Back in the summer of 2018 I tried to answer Question 5 truthfully, replying that the Russian Federation was an “authoritarian state.” But the right answer, then, was “democratic state,” as it turned out. Again, I don’t remember now whether this question on the actual civics exam that I took, but there were several other “ideological” questions like it, which I would have answered “incorrectly,” thus jeopardizing my chances to get a residence permit, if I hadn’t been schooled in advance by the practice quizzes I’d found online. ||| TRR

Academia.edu


This is a screen shot of a portion of an email sent to me earlier today by Academia.edu, “a for-profit open repository of academic articles free to read by visitors. Uploading and downloading is restricted to registered users. Additional features are accessible only as a paid subscription. Since 2016 various social networking utilities have been added.”

So much for the idea of not giving a platform to out-and-out fascists like Alexander Dugin, whose “academic” credentials are borne out by serious-sounding nonsense like the following, as found in Last War of the World-Island and translated by John Bryant:

In all the principal parameters, the Russian Federation is the geopolitical heir to the preceding historical, political, and social forms that took shape around the territory of the Russian plain: Kievan Rus, the Golden Horde, the Muscovite Czardom, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union. This continuity is not only territorial, but also historical, social, spiritual, political, and ethnic. From ancient times, the Russian government began to form in the Heartland, gradually expanding, until it occupied the entire Heartland and the zones adjoining it. The spatial expansion of Russian control over Eurasian territories was accompanied by a parallel sociological process: the strengthening in Russian society of “land-based” social arrangements, characteristic of a civilization of the continental type. The fundamental features of this civilization are:

• conservatism;
• holism;
• collective anthropology (the narod is more important than the individual);

• sacrifice;
• an idealistic orientation;
• the values of faithfulness, asceticism, honor, and loyalty.

Sociology, following Sombart, calls this a “heroic civilization.” According to the sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, it is the ideal sociocultural system. This sociological trait was expressed in various political forms, which had a common denominator: the constant reproduction of civilizational constants and basic values, historically expressed in different ways. The political system of Kievan Rus differs qualitatively from the politics of the Horde, and that, in turn, from the Muscovite Czardom. After Peter I, the political system sharply changed again, and the October Revolution of 1917 also led to the emergence of a radically new type of statehood. After the collapse of the USSR there arose on the territory of the Heartland another government, again differing from the previous ones: today’s Russian Federation.

But throughout Russian political history, all these political forms, which have qualitative differences and are founded on different and sometimes directly contradictory ideological principles, had a set of common traits. Everywhere, we see the political expression of the social arrangements characteristic of a society of the continental, “land-based,” heroic type. These sociological peculiarities emerged in politics through the phenomenon that the philosopher-Eurasianists of the 1920s called “ideocracy.” The ideational model in the sociocultural sphere, as a general trait of Russian society throughout its history, was expressed in politics as ideocracy, which also had different ideological forms, but preserved a vertical, hierarchical, “messianic” structure of government.

It Does Hurt to Dream

“Russian angel carrier, Artillery Museum, Saint Petersburg.” Source: Pavel Pryanikov, Facebook, 6 November 2022

Alexander Kharichev, head of the Presidential Department for Supporting the Work of the State Council, and three other experts have published a scholarly article entitled “Perception of basic values, factors, and structures of Russia’s socio-historical development, as based on research and testing.” As part of the study, seventy people from the student bodies of Moscow State University and the Higher School of Economics and the teaching staff of a conference in Sevastopol [sic] were interviewed. Among the metaphors of the future they proposed was the burnt second volume of Dead Souls; among the concepts of the modern state, “the Motherland with a laser sword”; among the concepts of the future, “Russia as the world’s ‘guardian of good” and “Pasty” [sic: “Pirozhok”]. The authors concluded that the dominant value for the Russian family is the people of Russia, which itself is a “family of families.”

Mr. Kharichev’s co-authors were Andrei Shutov, dean of the faculty of political science at Moscow State University; Andrei Polosin, doctor of political science and head of Rosatom’s regional interaction department; and Ekaterina Sokolova, deputy executive director for strategy and forecasting at the Expert Institute for Social Research. The article was published in October in the Journal of Political Studies.

The study was conducted by means of group discussions from March to May. The seventy participants answered questions about what Russian statehood is, what would happen to the country in ten years, what our future is, and a number of others.

Based on the discussions, the researchers formed a five-level “pentabasis”: person—family—society—state—country. Dominant values were formed for each level. For the country, [this dominant value] is patriotism; for the state, it is trust in the institutions of power; for the family, it is the people of Russia; for society, it is harmony; for the person, it is creativity. “The thesis was voiced that European society is individualistic, whereas our main value is family + family with friends, which leads to the emergence of the thesis ‘family as a level.’ The dominant value: the people of the Russian Federation as a family of families. Stimulating the birth rate and the concept of a ‘big family,’ the article says [just as incoherently in the original as in this translation].

  • Metaphors of Russia’s future. “The state as a novel” (written collectively by citizens, it has alternative endings); “the Russian future as the second part of Dead Souls, burned by Gogol,” “the state as the Firebird.”
  • Concepts of the modern state.[The] Motherland with a laser sword” (a source of pride for the Russian spirit and a guide to the future), “the friendly service state.”
  • Messianic concepts of the future state. “Russia as a ‘prophet country’ (opposed to the Grand Inquisitor), “Russia as the world guardian, the ‘guardian of good.'”
  • Idealistic concepts of the future state. “Wondrous City” ([i.e., promoting] inclusivity, coexistence, acceptance of others as equals; “in no case to be confused with the term ‘tolerance'”), “Pasty” (harmoniously combines different things).
  • Mechanistic concepts of the future state. “Kaleidoscope” (a multifaceted future), “a medium-sized magnet state” (generates a field for a particular community).

The study participants concluded that the person in the “Russia of the Future” is “proud of his country, influential and highly employable, financially secure, [and] free within certain community rules.” According to the authors of the article, the ideas of self-realization in the Russian Federation are very different from those common in the Western world.

“In the Russian case, self-realization or mission means that an individual contributes to the country’s development. Capitalizing [on one’s] mission is an optional stage,” the authors write.

Source: Leonid Uvarchev, “Alexander Kharichev from the presidential administration wrote an article about imagining Russia’s future,” Kommersant, 7 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

“Why Our Cause Is Just”: Medvedev’s National Unity Day Telegram

Dmitry Medvedev. Photo courtesy of his Telegram channel

WHY OUR CAUSE IS JUST
Answers to simple questions on National Unity Day

What are we fighting for? Russia is a huge, rich country. We don’t need foreign territories; we have plenty of everything. But there is our land, which is sacred to us, on which our ancestors lived and on which our people live today. And which we will not surrender to anyone. We are defending our people. We are fighting for all of our own people, for our land, for our thousand-year history.

Who is fighting against us? We are fighting against those who hate us, who ban our language, our values, and even our faith, who spread hatred towards the history of our Fatherland.

A part of the dying world is against us today. It consists of a bunch of crazy Nazi drug addicts, the common people they have drugged and intimidated, and a large pack of barking dogs from the western kennel. They are joined by motley pack of grunting piggies and narrow-minded philistines from the disintegrated western empire with saliva running down their chins due to degeneration. They have no faith and ideals, except for the harmful vices they have contrived and the standards of doublethink they impose, which deny the morality bestowed on normal people. Therefore, by rising up against them, we have gained sacred power.

Where are our former friends? We have been abandoned by some frightened partners — and I could not give a flying crap about them. That means they were not our friends, but just random fellow travelers, clingers, and hangers-on.

Cowardly traitors and greedy defectors have bugged out for the back of beyond — may their bones rot in a foreign land. They are not among us, but we have become stronger and purer.

Why were we silent for a long time? We were weak and devastated by hard times. And now we have shaken off the sticky sleep and dreary gloom of the last decades, into which the death of the former Fatherland had plunged us. Other countries have been waiting for our awakening, countries raped by the lords of darkness, slaveholders and oppressors who dream of their monstrous colonial past and long to preserve their power over the world. Many countries have long disbelieved their nonsense but are still afraid of them. Soon they will wake up once and for all. And when the rotten world order collapses, it will bury all its arrogant priests, bloodthirsty adepts, mocking henchmen, and tongue-tied mankurts under the multi-ton pile of its own debris.

What is our weapon? There are various weapons. We have the capacity to dispatch all our enemies to a fiery hell, but that is not our mission. We listen to the Creator’s words in our hearts and obey them. These words give us a sacred purpose. The goal is to stop the supreme ruler of hell, no matter what name he uses – Satan, Lucifer, or Iblis. For his goal is destruction. Our goal is life.

His weapon is an elaborate lie.

But our weapon is the Truth.

That is why our cause is just.

That is why the victory will be ours!

Happy Holidays!

Source: Dmitry Medvedev, Telegram, 4 November 2022. Mr. Medvedev, the former Russian president, has 910,612 subscribers on Telegram. For reactions to his National Unity Day post, see Asya Rudina, “‘Iblis crept up unnoticed’: Bloggers on Dmitry Medvedev’s creative work,” Radio Svoboda, 7 November 2022 (in Russian). Translated by Your Answer Needs Demented Examples Xavier, with a little assistance from the Russian Reader. For an alternative vision of Russian patriotism, also prompted by the November 4 National Unity Day holiday, see Kirill Medvedev (no relation), “‘If There Is No People, There Is No Left Either’: Progressive History and Patriotism from Below,” Posle, 2 November 2022. I can endorse neither of these visions, alas. ||| TRR

You Don’t Speak for Us

A Statement by the Free Nations League

Regarding the Convocation of a Congress of People’s Deputies of the Russian Federation in Poland

From open sources, we have learned about an undertaking to convene a Congress of People’s Deputies in the town of Jabłonna, Poland (November 4–7, 2022). The delegates to the Congress are parliamentary deputies of different years and different levels who were elected in internationally recognized elections. Rejection of the war between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014 and a willingness to change the socio-political system established in the Russian Federation are their common platform. The event’s organizers have announced that they will adopt a “Declaration on the Constitutional Principles of a Free Russia after the Putin regime’s overthrow,” a “list of priority decisions by the post-Putin Russian government,” etc.

In the light of this news:

🔹 We cannot but note the fact that [free and fair] elections in the Russian Federation disappeared long before 2014. Ethno-national political parties were banned thirteen years before Ukrainian region of Crimea was annexed. Thus, despite the fact that the Russian Federation, according to its own constitution, is a federation, and most of the ethno-national republics within the Russian Federation are nation-states with their own constitutions, parliaments, and governments, we have been deprived of the opportunity to represent and defend our interests in representative bodies for decades.

🔹 We acknowledge that the Russian Federation as a state has gone too far both in its ethno-national policy (extolling the Russian nation as chosen and endowing it with a special status in the Russian Federal Constitution) and in its foreign policy, thus completely destroying the legal space of the federation. The Russian Federation currently has no clear and legitimate borders, nor does it have legitimate representative bodies, since there are “deputies” and “senators” seated in the Federal Assembly who were, allegedly, delegated by illegally annexed foreign territories.

In light of the above considerations, we, representatives of the ethno-national and regionalist movements united in the Free Nations League, declare the following:

1. We do not recognize any political forces and hubs that would justify maintaining the Russian Federation in its current form. We have no need of arbitrators from Moscow, neither from the authorities nor from the opposition. We are open to dialogue and contact only with those who publicly support the right of enslaved peoples to establish independent States.

2. The Russian Federation cannot be re-established by cutting off what was seized by force and holding new elections. It is not elections that are at issue, but the very nature of Russian statehood: it is imperialist and exudes aggression towards its neighbors. This means that we, representatives of ethno-national republics and regions, have the right to shape our own destiny. If there is a discussion of independence for certain lands, let the people themselves hold this discussion, let them decide which confederations or unions to join, free from the intervention of federal forces, be they the government or the opposition. Any attempts at “peacekeeping,” attempts to teach us how to exercise our right to self-determination, will be rejected by us, and if they are intrusive, they will be met with a forceful response.

3. The process of forming a new Russian state should be voluntary and undertaken exclusively by those federal subjects whose legislative bodies vote to join a new federation. All federal parties currently represented among the federal authorities should be banned since they profess a misanthropic ideology that has produced thousands of victims and millions of refugees. The legislative bodies of the former federal subjects must be re-elected democratically, by open and secret ballot, with the involvement of ethno-national and regional political parties. There can be no automatic entry into the “renewed” Russia, no joining it “by inheritance.”

This appeal has been signed by representatives of the following national movements:

Bashkir

Ruslan Gabbasov, head of the Bashkir National Political Center (BNPC)

Ilshat Kinzyabayev, member of the BNPC

Buryat

Radjana Dugar-DePonte, representative of the Erhatan Buryat Democratic Movement in the USA

Cossack

Vyacheslav Demin, elder of the Cossack National Liberation Movement

Oirat-Kalmyk

Arslang Sanjiyev, chair of the Oirat-Kalmyk People’s Congress

Erentsen Dolyayev, deputy chair of the Oirat-Kalmyk People’s Congress

Batyr Boromannayev, deputy chair of the Oirat-Kalmyk People’s Congress

Vladimir Dovdanov, deputy chair of the Oirat-Kalmyk People’s Congress

Albert Sharapov

Tatar

Rafis Kashapov, deputy prime minister of the Government of Independent Tatarstan in Exile, co-founder of the Free Idel-Ural Movement

Farit Zakiyev, chair of the Tatar Public Center

Nafis Kashapov, deputy prime minister of the Government of Independent Tatarstan in Exile

Irshat Khabi

Chechen

Khamzat Grozny, a political exile in France from the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria

Erzya

Bolyayen Syres

Vitaly Romashkin

Ozhomason Kirdya

Source: Free Nations League, Facebook, 31 October 2022. Thanks to Sergey Ogurtsov for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader


“Nations represented in the League: Buryats, Cossacks, Kalmyks, Erzya, Bashkirs, Tatars”

The FNL’s Principles

1

The Russian Federation is an empire that keeps its colonies in servitude by force. It is impossible to liberate them by holding a referendum, just as a referendum on the observance of human rights is impossible under conditions of state terror.

2

The peoples of the Russian Federation should be able to exercise their right to self-determination. Further federations or confederations can be established only a voluntary basis, not by diktat of the former federal center.

3

We declare the principle of the presumption of identity and agency [sub’ektnost’]. Accordingly, with the collapse of the current political regime in the Russian Federation, the regions have no need to appeal to anything to endow themselves with sovereignty. By definition, all regions acquire complete sovereignty and full independence from Moscow, and only then, as free territories, do they decide their future: whether they want to maintain independence, unite with other regions and republics, or create a confederation of states.

4

All subjects of the Russian Federation have the right to independently determine their future.

Source: “About Us,” Free Nations League. Translated by the Russian Reader

Life’s Rich Pageant: The Case of Yan Sidorov

Yan Sidorov. Photo courtesy of Memorial Human Rights Center

Minus one:Yan Sidorov, a former political prisoner in the Rostov Case, has volunteered for the war.

Sidorov served four years in prison in the Rostov Case, in which the court decided that two posters and thirty leaflets were evidence of “attempted organization of mass disturbances.” The Memorial Human Rights Center recognized him as a political prisoner.

Yan was released from prison a year ago, and he had planned to work in human rights protection. There were no vacancies in human rights organizations, however, and so he had to get a job as a food delivery courier.

Yan socialized with many leftist and liberal activists, but he also maintained relations with the red-brown National Bolsheviks.

Apparently, the latter were nicer to him. Several mutual friends have informed me that Yan Sidorov has joined the ranks of Eduard Limonov’s Other Russia and gone to the front.

I still don’t get how the National Bolsheviks degenerated from a flamboyant opposition party into the vanguard of the Kremlin regime. The late Limonov was always an imperialist, however.

But how — how?! — former political prisoners become defenders of Putin’s dictatorship, no one seems to understand. As one of my cellmates used to say, “Everyone has gone off their fucking gourd!”

Well, before he starts shooting, it’s not too late for him to change his mind. Maybe he will shake himself free of this delusion after all.

Source: Ivan Astashin, Facebook, 27 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


Russian human rights activist Yan Sidorov is facing the prospect of three years under harsh probation conditions, when he is released next week from the penal colony where he has spent the last two years, Amnesty International said today.

Yan Sidorov is a prisoner of conscience, whose attempts to hold a peaceful protest in 2017 resulted in an imprisonment at a Dimitrovgrad penal colony after he had spent two years in pre-trial detention. He is set to be released on 3 November, but on 29 October Dimitrovgrad City Court will hear a request by the authorities to impose a severely restrictive probation period.

“Russian authorities are sending a clear signal to all young activists that participation in peaceful protests can come at huge personal cost. Yan Sidorov has already served four years in prison; he may now have to spend three more under strict police surveillance, forbidden to go out after 10 pm and banned from travelling outside the Krasnodar region,” said Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

“The Russian penitentiary authorities must immediately withdraw their request to impose additional arbitrary restrictions on Yan Sidorov and release him unconditionally. Yan Sidorov has done nothing but exercise his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and this outrageous campaign of punishment must end.”

Background

Two weeks ahead of Yan Sidorov’s release from penal colony IK-10 in Dimitrovgrad (Central Russia), the penitentiary administration requested that the court impose a three-year probation period on him. Conditions include obligatory biweekly registration at the local police station and a curfew between 10 pm and 6 am; Sidorov would also be banned from leaving his native Krasnodar region, and banned from attending or participating in any mass events. The Dimitrovgrad City Court will hear this case on 29 October. On 15 October, the penal colony authorities accused Yan Sidorov of violation of the prison regime regulations – allegedly for not attending morning workout – and placed him in a punishment cell for seven days.

In October 2019, Yan Sidorov and his friend Vladislav Mordasov, who spent almost two years in pre-trial detention, were found guilty of “attempted organization of mass disturbances”, and each sentenced to more than six years imprisonment for organizing a peaceful protest in November 2017. The protest was in support of dozens of people in Rostov-on-Don (Southern Russia) who had lost their homes in mass fires. Their sentences were subsequently reduced to four years on cassation. Vladislav Mordasov serving his sentence in IK-9 penal colony in Shakhty (Rostov-on-Don region) is due to be released on 3 November as well.

Source: “Russia: Prisoner of conscience Yan Sidorov faces further restrictions after release,” Amnesty International, 28 October 2021

Russian Soul Music

Since Masha Gessen quite literally believes that the Russian “liberal” intelligentsia is God’s gift to humankind, she writes the following nationalist nonsense with a completely straight face:

In the seven and a half months since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, hundreds of thousands of Russians have left their country. Many of them are journalists, writers, poets, or artists, and they, along with some who are still in Russia, have been producing essays, poems, Facebook posts, and podcasts trying to grapple with the condition of being citizens of a country waging a genocidal colonial war. Some of their Ukrainian counterparts have scoffed at their soul-searching. Ukrainians, indeed, have bigger and more immediate problems. But they also have certainty—they know who they are in the world, while for Russians nothing is as it once seemed to be.

[…]

The last time people were writing in Russian so urgently was in the late nineteen-eighties. Soviet citizens back then had been confronted with their past—the Stalinist terror. That moment gave Russia, among other things, Memorial, the human-rights organization that, along with Ukrainian and Belarusian activists, won the Nobel Peace Prize last week. Now Russian citizens are being confronted with their present. The writers in exile have physically fled their country (as has much of Memorial’s leadership) and are trying to write their way to a new Russia. Their imagination extends far beyond the Russian constitution to a world that’s radically different, and better than not only Putin’s revanchist Russian World but the world we currently inhabit.

Source: Masha Gessen, “The War in Ukraine Launches a New Battle for the Russian Soul,” The New Yorker, 9 October 2022. The emphasis is mine.


“Yoga for your health.” Central Petersburg, 6 July 2017. Photo by the Russian Reader

The queue for the ferry. There are Russian tourists behind me. (If you thought there were none of them [in Europe anymore], think again.) The boat arrives, but there’s not room enough for everyone and the guard closes the barrier just in front of us. Everyone stands there meekly, except my compatriots. As soon as the guard turns around, they dive under the barrier and run onto the crowded ship. They look like Moscow hipsters.

When did these people decide that everything is permitted them and that there are no prohibitions and rules? I missed this moment because the Soviet Untermenschen among whom I grew up considered themselves worse than everyone and were afraid of making a peep. Who instilled this hubris in them? How did they get it into their heads that they could go to war with the whole world and win?

(A spare boat was brought in five minutes later, of course, and it took us all away without any fuss or crush.)

Source: Dmitry Volchek, Facebook, 15 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Why They Fight

I’m writing once more about the Donbas and our true goals in carrying out the SMO. Everyone should know this, given that there are still many Russians wondering what it was all for. This category of people should know that the events in Donbas did not arise in a vacuum.

We are fighting not only for the liberation of peaceful people from years of Nazi tyranny. We are fighting for the future of our country, Russia — for our traditions and identity, for spiritual and moral values, for religion and the triumph of justice.

If we have been saying for many, many years that NATO’s force should not threaten us and prance at Russia’s borders, it only meant that we would not sit still and watch them place the sword of Damocles over us.

If we kept saying for a long time, patiently, discreetly, but intelligibly, that they shouldn’t torture and exterminate the Russian-speaking population of Donbas, it simply meant that they should be treated equally, respectfully, without prejudice.

Further, if we said that the Crimea is ours, [and] that this is the choice of Crimeans themselves, then it was not worth regularly and monotonously repeating that you would invade this area at the first opportunity.

Finally, if we persistently repeated that you could cherish and lust after your faceless LGBT masses as much as you wanted, but don’t impose it on us, it just meant that we wouldn’t allow it at home. We do not understand or accept it. But even in this case, sanctions were imposed on Russia — just for rejecting LGBT values.

Listen to the combat general, Hero of Russia, and commander of the Akhmad special forces battalion Apti Alaudinov. He uses accessible, simple words, and speaks reasonably and intelligibly. Everything he says is very clear and precise!

Source: Kadyrov_95 (Ramzan Kadyrov), Telegram, 10 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


The apparent collapse of the Russian forces has caused shock waves in Moscow. The leader of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, who sent his own fighters to Ukraine, said if there are not immediate changes in Russia’s conduct of the invasion, “he would have to contact the leadership of the country to explain to them the real situation on the ground.”

Source: Steve Hendrix, Serhii Korolchuk and Robyn Dixon, “Amid Ukraine’s startling gains, liberated villages describe Russian troops dropping rifles and fleeing,” Washington Post, 11 September 2022


Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, speaking in the State Duma on Tuesday, September 13, dubbed the “special operation in Ukraine” a war and called for a nationwide mobilization in Russia.

“How does a special military operation differ from a war? You can stop a military operation at any time. You cannot stop a war: it ends either with victory or defeat. I’m suggesting to you that there is a war going on, and we have no right to lose it. We must not panic now. We need a full mobilization of the country; we need completely different laws,” the online publication Sota quotes Zyuganov as saying.

Gennady Zyuganov, chair of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russian Federation (KPRF):
“Today, Russia’s fate depends on victory in Donbas. We need a total mobilization of the country.
We need completely different laws.” Source: Sota

Earlier, Communist Party MP Mikhail Matveyev suggested that governors and MPs volunteer for the front. For his part, Mikhail Degtyarev, the governor of Khabarovsk Territory, said a few days ago that he would like to go to Ukraine as a volunteer, but he could not, because he had no right to resign his post. Residents of the region launched a petition proposing to “help the governor realize his dream to go to fight in Donbas.” It has been signed by several tens of thousands of people.

Later, the press service of the Communist Party commented on the party leader’s statement. Zyuganov had spoken primarily about mobilizing Russia’s economy, political system and resources in the face of the impending threat, said Communist Party press secretary Alexander Yushchenko. He claimed that [Zyugannov’s statement] had nothing to do with the military. “Some groups are engaged in outright provocations, like the people who have spread this news. I would would say that such people should generally be executed,” Yushchenko said.

[…]

Source: Sergei Romashenko, “Zyuganov says a war, not a special operation, underway in Ukraine,” DW, 13 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Leave the Capitol

A view of Nevsky Prospect, Petersburg’s main thoroughfare, with the Russian National Library (the so-called Publichka), Gostiny Dvor shopping center, the tower of the former City Duma building, the cupola of Kazan Cathedral, and the cupola of St. Isaac’s Cathedral visible on the left in ascending. This picture-perfect cityscape was used by the Facebook page I Love St. Petersburg to illustrate the bizarre, banal, pseudo-historical sentiment that I’ve translated, below. Petersburg was built on the land of the Ingrian people and the captured Swedish fortress of Nyenskans. Or rather, that’s a no less valid way of putting it.

St. Petersburg is the only European capital that has not been captured by the enemy in any period of history.

Source: I Love St. Petersburg (@spb.love.you), Facebook, 13 August 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


(Upper left, in Russian) “Kiev is the mother of Russian cities.”
(Lower right, in Ukrainian) “If I had known, I would have had an abortion.”

Source: Petya Pyatochkin, Facebook, 12 August 2022. Thanks to Volodya Y. for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader


Leave the Capitol

Lyrics

(1)

The tables covered in beer
Showbiz whines, minute detail (2)
Hand on the shoulder in Leicester Square (3)
It’s vaudeville pub back room dusty pictures of
White frocked girls and music teachers
The beds too clean
Water’s poisonous for the system (4)

And you know in your brain
Leave the capitol!   (5)
Exit this Roman Shell!   (6)
Then you know you must leave the capitol

Straight home, straight home, straight home
One room, one room  (7)

Continue reading “Leave the Capitol”