Vicky Cristina Petersburg

vicky cristina barcelona

Barcelona should be compared with St. Petersburg rather than with Moscow. The city really resembles Russia’s cultural capital. It has its own language (the press is sold in two languages: Spanish and Catalan), its own traditions, its own attitude to bullfighting (bluntly negative), its own modernist architectural masterpieces, its own neverending construction project (the Sagrada Família), and many other things of its own, something most of the locals do not hesitate to declare openly by hanging the Catalan flag on every balcony, thus demonstrating their own importance and independence.
Salfetki, July 23, 2017

What is this inveterate world traveler on about?

Do Petersburgers have a bluntly negative attitude to bullfighting? Is there bullfighting in Petersburg? (No.)

Do they hang the offical Petersburg or Ingrian flags on their balconies? Do they even hang the Russian flag on their balconies? Do they feel independent from the rest of Russia? (For the most part, no.)

What neverending construction project does Salfetki have in mind?

On the other hand, Petersburg does have modernist architectural masterpieces, but almost without exception they are either ignored altogether or roundly abused.

Maybe there was something to the Soviet policy of keeping the vast majority of its extraordinarily happy socialist subjects locked up inside the country’s endless expanses, because now that Russians (with money) are free to travel the world, especially Europe, all they can see and want to see is either social collapse and rampant Islamization (the first of which they signally fail to notice at home, as they also fail to notice Russia’s rather large NATIVE Muslim population) or a different version of the Motherland, as in this woebegone travelogue.

salfetki-sexy girlfriend in barcelona with Fjällräven backpackSalfetki’s sexy girlfriend on the streets of Barcelona (or is it Petersburg?)—sporting a Fjällräven knapsack, of course.

It is true there are two languages in Petersburg (and the rest of urbanized Russia, as far as I know), although the second language does not have its own press per se. It is more of a patois, like the one spoken by Alex and his pals in A Clockwork Orange. You encounter truckloads of it on social media and trendy websites like The Village (whose blatantly English moniker is hardly accidental).

You also see a lot of it on the streets, as I did yesterday.

novy chiken gurme ekzotik

In Petersburg patois, the sign reads, “Novy Chiken Gurme Ekzotik.” This translates into English as “New Chicken Gourmet Exotic.” TRR

Photos by Salfetki and the Russian Reader

Leviathan

DSCN4214“Precinct Election Commission for Polling Station No. 2218.” This is the innocent-looking sign the leviathan that has strangled democracy, including free elections, in Russia puts out to signal its presence. It achieves victory over earnest voters and honest election observers, some of whom valiantly serve on such commissions, by killing them with a hundred thousand cuts. Writ large, the flagrant tricks and shady practices used by neighborhood and local election officials add up to national elections that are rigged from top to bottom. Although this trickery has been well documented by independent observers, Russian reporters, and researchers, the sheer weight of it somehow has never made an impression on western journalists, who continue to write as if Putin’s popularity were a scientifically proven fact instead of carefully crafted mixture of massive coercion and hoodwinking. Photo by the Russian Reader

Central Election Commission Does Not Accredit 4,500 Presidential Election Observers Affiliated with Navalny 
Mediazona
March 7, 2018

The Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) has refused to accredit 4,500 presidential election observers affiliated with the news website Leviathan, created by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. Navalny has written about the incident on his Telegram channel.

“We were suddenly told today that [Leviathan] had been shut down by the court, and the CEC would not accredit it. Earlier we have received accreditation for 4,500 observers affiliated with Leviathan. Now they are left without accreditation. Even [Vladimir] Churov [the previous CEC chair, replaced in 2016 by Ella Pamfilova] didn’t do such things,” wrote Navalny.

In addition, the CEC has refused accrediate observers affiliated with the online publication Molniya (“Lightning”), which sponsors election observers from the Golos Movement for the Defense of Voters’ Rights.

Golos co-chair Grigory Melkonyants confirmed to Mediazona there were problems with accrediting election observers registered by Molniya. He said that 850 people who had signed contracts with Molniya in October 2017 were at issue.

Molniya submitted accreditation applications to the CEC two weeks ago. The CEC informed them that it had sent them a written reply by post. Melkonyants said that in the the past the CEC would always simply invite Golos to come to its offices and pick up the accreditation papers. Now, on the contrary, the commission’s decision is unknown: they would have to wait for the letter to arrive. Melkonyants believes this testifies to the likelihood the Molniya observers will have their accreditation requests rejected.

However, he noted it was still possible to register as an observer affiliated with a particular candidate, and Golos was now working on this.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade GMV for the heads-up

No Contest

DSCN4290“March 18, 2018. Russian Presidential Election. Our Country, Our President, Our Choice! Russian Central Election Commission.” February 19, 2018, Ligovsky Prospect, Central Petersburg. Photo by the Russian Reader

Valery Dymshits
Facebook
March 4, 2018

I am somewhat surprised to see the ongoing discussion on whether to vote in the [Russian presidential] election or not. Some people write that if you don’t vote, your ballot will be used, and so on. Meaning it is assumed in advance the election commission is a band of brigands. If this is so, however, they can do whatever they want and, most important, at any level they can enter any figure they like in their official count. What difference does it make, then, if they use your ballot or not?

Actually, there is no election. Why be involved in something that does not exist? I think it is important not only to avoid attending this strange event oneself but also to explain to everyone why they should not attend, either.

DSCN2984On this “get out the vote” billboard, recently photographed somewhere in central Petersburg, a “vandal” has lightly crossed out the word “election.” Photo by the Russian Reader

Cities with populations over a million will have voter turnouts just over 50%, says a person close to the presidential administration.

All polling is a tool for actively shaping reality. Figures are used to try and suggest a particular interpretation of events, notes another source close to the administration. In his opinion, the downturn in Putin’s support rating can be explained by a lack of activity and mistakes during the campaign.

“In reality, the figure are much lower. The actual turnout is expected to be between 55% and 60%. Putin’s result will range, depending on the region, from 50% to 65%. It will be an accomplishment if the turnout in Moscow is over 50%.”

The difference between the turnout in major cities and the provinces could be as much as 20%. Usually, on the contrary, the turnout in the provinces is between 10% and 12% greater, says another person close to the presidential administration.

What happens next depends on the whether the mechanism for penciling in votes gets turned on or not. If the election is staged with the full use of the administrative resource, something I do not rule out, it does not matter who gets what in reality. If the elections are staged fairly, Putin’s result in cities with populations over a million will be lower, while his opponents’ will be slightly higher.”

The turnout in cities with populations over a million will be between 45% and 55%, the source believes.

Source: Yelena Mukhametshina and Olga Churakova, “Putin’s Rating Has Dropped Abruptly in the Major Cities,” Vedomosti, March 7, 2018

Translated by the Russian Reader. The emphasis, above, is mine.

The Principal Tasks of Russophiles Today

DSCN4491.jpg

The two principal tasks of professional Russophiles today are 1) maintaining a stony silence on the subject of the Kremlin’s “intervention” in Syria; 2) repeating as often as possible the ludicrous claim that the US has been gripped by “hysterical Russophobia.”

Judging by what I have seen so far, Russophiles have been doing a crackerjack job carrying out their two principal tasks.

That the commission of these tasks puts them firmly on the side of the forces quickly destroying Russia itself is a matter beyond the competence of professional Russophiles, most of whom do not live in Russia. Nor would most of them want to live in Russia if presented with the opportunity. TRR

Photo: Taste the Legend. The Whopper. Flame Grilled, 24 February 2018, Furshtatskaya Street, Central Petersburg. Photo by the Russian Reader

Lev Schlosberg: The Veil of Public Opinion

 

Lev Schlosberg is a member of the Pskov Regional Assembly and the Yabloko Democratic Party’s national political committee. Photo courtesy of Pskovskaya Guberniya Online

The Veil of Public Opinion: Russian Opinion Polling Has Become Part and Parcel of State Propaganda 
Lev Schlosberg
Pskovskaya Guberniya Online
1 March 2018

Public opinion polls are constant companions of politics and national election campaigns. In democratic countries, polls are reflections of the public discourse surrounding politicians, ideas, political platforms, and conflicts. They echo public opinion in all its fullness and thus facilitate the public discourse itself regardless of who is involved in it: the authorities, the opposition or society at large. In twenty-first century Russia, political pollsters have a different job. They are tasked with persuading society the regime is terrific and everything (or nearly everything) is going great. During elections, they are supposed to generate the illusion of nationwide support for the authorities.

Polling is a tool of political manipulation in the hands of bureaucrats. Polling data is meant not merely to testify to broad support for the authorities but also to persuade dissidents they are few and far between, to discourage them and sap them of their will.

There is a whole set of techniques behind manipulating public opinion. The findings of public opinion polls, allegedly obtained scientifically, by means of formal research methods, are supposed to convince people of their objectivity and impartiality.

Honest political polling and sociological research is something that goes on in free, democratic societies. When answering questions on a questionnaire or taking part in a group or individual focused interview, a person should be sure she can speak openly and safely, even when she criticizes the authorities.

Fear is the enemy of honest polling. In authoritarian and, especially, totalitarian societies, people are afraid of making critical statements with their names attached to them, whether that entails filling out a standardized questionnaire or answering a question openly and at length. The classic set-up is when the interviewer knocks on someone’s door or comes up to someone on the street and asks, “How would you rate Vladimir Putin’s performance? Do you support him completely, partially or not at all? To ensure the quality of our poll you may get a follow-up telephone call. Please give me your name and telephone number.”

How do you think approximtely 86% of respondents would behave? Well, that is, in fact, how they behave: by giving the “right” answer.” There are many examples of this.

Now put yourself in the shoes of rank-and-file Russians, who are regaled round the clock with tales of Putin’s 86% popularity rating by all manner of mass media: TV, radio, newspaper, the internet.  People who do not agree with the authorities but are not experienced in the nitty-gritty of politics will imagine they belong to an obvious, hopeless political minority. They are social outcasts, virtually bereft of kindred spirits.

This is the impression the people behind such political pressure polling want to achieve. A picture of absolute political domination stifles a person’s will and reduces his willingness to voice his stance and take action. This extends to getting involved in politics and voting in elections.

When a person feels insignificantly small, she is made tired and exhausted by the very feeling of her smallness and insignificance. Thoughts of emigrating often occur to people who feel they are in the minority, trapped in a political ghetto.

Political pressure polling is a new means of combating dissent, of attacking the opposition.

VTsIOM recently reported that, according to the findings of an extensive telephone poll (one of the least reliable polling methods), 81% of voters plan to vote in the March 18 Russian presidential election.

Enthusiastic nationwide support is the dream of all dictators. As people who suffer from hypertrophied inferiority complexes, dictators compensate by demanding the entire nation love, adore, and admire them. This popular love must be constantly corroborated by public opinion polls and elections.

Under authoritarian regimes, all authentic democratic institutions are reduced to imitations and desecrations, and public opinion polls are very revealing instances of this.  The mirror of society is turned into a fake painted on a blank wall.

Political pressure polling performs another vital function by setting the bar for electoral fraud.  If the polls anticipate a voter turnout of 81%, officials at all levels will work to ensure an 81% turnout. If the polls say 70% of Russians support the so-called national leader, officials will encourage election commissions at all levels to ensure he takes home 70% of the popular vote.

A vicious circle is produced. One lies begets another, and the lies generate fear and violence. To top it all off, lies generate aggression. Public opinion research serves as a means of zombifying and corrupting public opinion.

Instead of a portrait of society, we see a caricature of society.

At the same time, the authorities lose society’s feedback. They do not know or understand what people think and want, sending themselves and the entire country into a dead end. In the absence of honest polling, the authorities and society are blinded. God knows where the road could lead if no one can see the road itself and no one understands where the country is headed.

Political pressure polling is a veil that conceals the truth of events from the authorities and from society. This is quite dangerous and can produce tremendous shocks.

Until the last minute, the dictator has no clue what people think about him. Then the moment of disaster dawns. On the eve of his overthow and execution, Nicolae Ceaușescu’s official popularity rating was 95%. It did not protect him, but rather hastened his terrible demise.

Currently, Russian society lacks a reliable map of public opinion, because fear has paralyzed many people, and because when the authorities pimp an honest profession, far from all of the people who practice it remain faithful to its standards. Doing so is difficult and takes great courage.

Enveloped in such darkness, we need to understand a few things.

First, it is impossible to stop the course of history. An unfree society will yield to a free society. Our responsibility is to go in the right direction.

Second, the less the authorities know the truth, the sooner the regime will come to an end. It takes time and patience.

Third, in order to know and understand the truth, it is enough to ask yourself, “What do I think? What do I believe? What are my convictions?” Under no circumstances should you give up on yourself.

The job of free people in today’s Russia is not to lose face.

Ultimately, it will change the face of the entire country.

Thanks to Comrade Preobrazhenskaya for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

This Russian Life

medicinal lettersFeatured Letter: But There Is Sun in the Countryside! ‘You know how hard life in the countryside can be, especially in the winter when the snow drifts so badly you cannot leave the house. All the more so because I needed to help the young folks when our granddaughter was born. We moved to the city, but we could not live there long. Of course, the stores and the clinic were nearby, and that was convenient, but what was the point? It’s abnormal to breathe exhaust fumes from cars and gaze all winter at a grey, gloomy sky. You cannot open the window because of the noise and soot. And the ailments you get when you are trapped between four walls are not slow in coming. In the countryside, the sun makes an appearance every day, even in the winter, the pure snow glitters, and the air is like a salve. And we get Medicinal Letters regularly, in which there are prescriptions for nearly any ailment. It was a good thing we didn’t sell the house. Our son had to fix it up and insulate it, and now everyone is happy. Our granddaughter comes for frequent visits. We have everything for her: a sled, skies, and skates. The girl is сheerful and kind, and Grandma and Grandpa’s little helper, not something you can say about every city kid. May God bless you and your loved ones with health and happiness. A.E. Vikhrova, Perm.’ Our Readers Know How to Be Healthy.” Cover page of Medicinal Letters 4 (400), February 2018

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rita-evilScreenshot from Danish TV series Rita. Courtesy of Netflix

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wine-dear or cheap“Should you cook with cheap wine or expensive wine?” Source unknown

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fridge magnet calendar2018 refrigerator magnet tear calendar. Published by Bronze Horseman Publishers (www.mvsadnik.ru) in an edition of 3,000 copies. Rated 0+

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destroy floridaScreenshot of the imaginary obliteration of Florida by Russian missiles, as broadcast live on RT at 1:24 p.m. MSK, 1 March 2018. Video courtesy of the Daily Star,  1 March 2018

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fdd choco bar.jpeg“February 23. Fatherland Defenders Day. Dark Chocolate.” Manufacturer unknown. Purchased at Bukvoyed Bookstore in Galeria Shopping Center, 30A Ligovsky Prospect, St. Petersburg, for ₽121 (approx. €1.73) on 23 February 2018

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tokarev's eyesVasily Yegorovich Tokarev, Arkhangelsk. Right after the army I got a job as a welder. I worked for many years in the tundra on various gas and oil pipelines. The job was hard on the eyes in itself. There were the constant flashes from the welding equipment, and the weather conditions in the north were also extreme. So, I would get conjuctivitis and styes from time to time. My eyes were always red and caked with pus, and nothing could relieve the gritty feeling and smarting. Farsightedness became a problem, and I had to drag glasses with me everywhere. During a routine exam, the doctor diagnosed glaucoma! I went through all the drugs available at the chemist’s, but the payoff was practically nonexistent. That was when I decided to try Okapin drops. At first, I went through a whole course of treatment, but now I only use them sometimes as preventative. The results have been excellent. My eyes are not red and inflamed, I no longer have that feeling of burning and grittiness, and my eyesight has rebounded so that I no longer have any need of glasses or doctors. The pressure in my eyes has dropped to 17 mmHg. I see great both far and up close, I don’t squint, and nothing bothers me!” Excerpted from the front page of the Health Herald [March 2018], an advertising circular disguised as a newspaper.

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sms.jpg“March 18 is the election of the president of the Russian Federation. You can choose a voting station in advance, including the one assigned to your registered domicile. To do this, before March 12 you must submit—.” Excerpt from an SMS received on my mobile phone at 1:24 p.m. MSK, 3 March 2018.

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all goes well 1Refrigerator magnet “All Goes Well.” On the reverse side of the magnet, the human being is identified as “The President of the Russian Federation. Vladimir Putin.” The dog is not identified by name.

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Old Woman Crossing Street on Cold Day in Petersburg, 27 February 2018. Photo by the Russian Reader

Assembled and translated by the Russian Reader. Dedicated to Comrade SG on his birthday

Your Husband Safely Made the Flight to Minsk after We Abducted Him in Petersburg

filinkov flight police letter

The Petersburg police have sent Alexandra Filinkova, wife of antifascist Viktor Filinkov, who was abducted by the FSB, tortured in their custody, and is now jailed in a Petersburg remand prison, charged with “involvement in a terrorist group,” a letter claiming it conducted a review and determined that on 23 January 2018, when Viktor was in fact abducted by FSB officers from Pulkovo Airport, in reality he safely flew from Pulkovo Airport in Petersburg to National Airport in Minsk, where he was supposed to catch a connecting flight to Kyiv, where Alexandra was waiting for him.

It is sometimes hard to know how to react to the abysmal cynicism of the Russian authorities.

Thanks to the indomitable Yana Teplitskaya for the heads-up.

If you haven’t heard yet about the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case, you need to read the following articles and spread the word.