“Whitewashing Nazism”

Center “E” sifts through Petersburger’s social network posts: they’ve already found one that merited a criminal charge
Fontanka.ru
December 10, 2021

Center “E” field officers have detained a 40-year-old Petersburg man on suspicion of whitewashing Nazism. A post that the man published a year ago on the social network VKontakte (VK) triggered the criminal investigation.

As Fontanka.ru learned on December 10, the text denied the crimes of the Nazis and also contained lies about what the USSR did during the Second World War.

In late November 2021, the investigative department for the city’s Krasnoe Selo district launched a criminal case under Article 354.1 of the Russian Criminal Code. On December 8, the author of the post was detained. Investigators are currently trying to establish whether there were other violations by scrutinizing the social media posts of the Petersburger, who, judging by his VK page, is an ordinary working stiff [rabotyaga].

COMMENTS (19)

dimon’s iphone
Dec 10, 2021 at 5:36 p.m.
When will people realize that “Kontakt” [VKontakte] and “Telega” [Telegram] are the Okhrana’s mousetraps? They can fill a lot of quotas this way. What matters is that it’s all safe: it doesn’t involve chasing down armed bearded men.

wow
Dec 10, 2021 at 1:32 p.m.
History is going in circles. We’ve gone back to telling political jokes in the kitchen. But soon we’ll have to think about whether even that is safe…

At a local Communist Party meeting in 1937 a parrot suddenly flies in the window and shouts, “Down with the Communists, down with the Soviet government!” before flying away.

The local NKVD freaks out. They go on an apartment-by-apartment hunt for the talking parrot.

Entering yet another apartment, they ask the man who lives there whether he has a parrot.

“Yes!” he says.

“Does it talk?”

“Yes,” the man answers.

“Show us!”

The man opens the refrigerator, whence they hear a parrot shout, “Long live Comrade Stalin! Long live the Communist Party!”

The NKVD officers see they have the wrong parrot and leave.

The man opens the refrigerator door again and says, “Well, bitch, do you understand now what Siberia is like?!”

2nd Komsomol Street in Petersburg. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

PETERSBURG MAN DETAINED FOR SOCIAL NETWORK POST
He was released on his own recognizance
Darya Medvedeva
78.ru
December 9, 2021

A Petersburg man was detained for a post on the social network VKontakte, a source in law enforcement has told 78.ru.

As the police found out, no later than May of this year the man posted in the public domain a text denying the criminal wrongdoing of the Nazis and misinformation about what the USSR did during the Second World War.

The 50-year-old “blogger” was detained on 2nd Komsomol Street on December 8. A criminal case has been launched against him on suspicion that he tried to rehabilitate Nazism. The police assume that he was involved in other crimes. He has been released on his own recognizance.

[…]

The emphasis is mine. Translated by the Russian Reader

Freud and Obama at the Parade

Sergey Fedulov, Freud and Obama at the Parade, 2021. Gouache on paper. Courtesy of Studio 6 at St. Petersburg Municipal Psychiatric Hospital No. 6. Photo courtesy of Mikhail Ryzhov. The painting is currently on view at the exhibition Beyond the Establishment, at the Marble Palace of the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

Beyond the Establishment is an inclusive project of the Russian Museum and the first large-scale attempt to present the work of non-professional modern artists with mental disorders and/or psychiatric experience from an artistic point of view. Without diminishing the social significance of the exhibition, the aesthetic value of the artworks is in the foreground. The authors presented here express their personal attitude to the world through creativity, which fits well into the strategies of contemporary art, where the factor of professional artistic education has long ceased to prevail. First of all, these artists are distinguished by [their] lack of involvement in the art community, the art establishment and its marketing strategies, the current discourse on art, etc.

The process of including such art into common artistic practice was launched at the beginning of the twentieth century, but the terms that arose decades ago have acquired new shades of meaning over time and now no longer seem to be either correct or accurate enough to describe the phenomenon in its entirety. This also applies to the two most common terms: art brut and outsider art. The title of this exhibition, Beyond the Establishment, does not solve terminological problems, but indicates the intersection point for the six artists represented here.

Source: Beyond the Establishment

A rendering of the text below, about the artist Sergey Fedulov, in Russian Sign Language

Sergey Fedulov (born in 1981) started drawing at an early age. His grandfather was an artist and supported his grandson’s hobby, allowing him to make art any way he wanted and anywhere he wanted—even on the walls. After finishing school, Sergey studied to be a restorer at college. At first, he drew from life, as many artists do, but he always dreamed of finding his own special technique and original manner, and he was helped to do this at the Alternative Studio at Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic No. 7. After the Alternative Studio closed in 2018, the artist began working at Studio 6 at Psychiatric Hospital No. 6 and found support from the Outsiderville project.

Fedulov is fond of science fiction and is prone to supernatural interpretations of social and political conflicts. The artist’s style can be defined as a fantastic realism that is not averse to irony and sarcasm. In his world, communism has triumphed on a universal scale, but it is not aggressive or threatening: it is the ideal model of intergalactic order. The frightening potential of political myths is rendered harmless: they turn into anecdote, fairy tale, awkwardness. In the curators’ opinion, the inclusion of Masyanya as a recurring character helps Sergey openly fantasize and feel free on the paper. In every work there is a dialogue—not only between earthly authorities, but also with the inhabitants of other planets, who can also be heard. The frightening potential of political myths is neutralized—they are turned into anecdotes, fairy tales, embarrassments. Dream and reality are intertwined: Comrade Stalin meets Napoleon, the psychiatrist Pyotr Kashchenko treats aliens, Sigmund Freud and Barack Obama review a military parade, and these events are calmly observed by the cat Masyanya, the artist’s pet. According to the curators, the inclusion of Masyanya as a recurring character has enanbled Sergey to fantasize freely on the paper.

Fedulov’s works have been shown at the Russian Museum (St. Petersburg, 2019, 2020), the Museum of Russian Lubok and Naive Art (Moscow, 2019), the Ariadne’s Thread Festival (Moscow, 2018), the 2nd Triennial of Self-Taught Artists (Yagodina, Serbia, 2019) and Art Brut Global. Phase II (a virtual project of the Outsider Art Fair, 2020). His work was also in competition at the Paralym Art World Cup in Tokyo in 2020.

Source: Beyond the Establishment. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Mikhail Ryzhov and Victoria Andreyeva for bringing this marvelous artist and this show to my attention.

Thanksgiving: Petersburg’s Culture Laundromat

Five years ago, Vanya Lendyashov, Nochlezhka’s engineer, sent a letter to David Papaskiri, the owner of Prachka.com, a chain of laundromats. Vanya wrote to ask how best to organize a mobile laundry point, a kind of laundry on wheels where homeless people could get their clothes clean for free. David responded by offering to set up a full-fledged laundromat with washing machines and dryers, just like the ones in his chain, especially for Nochlezhka. He decided to give us the equipment for free—we only had to find a suitable building. Our volunteers joined the search and soon found a space at Borovaya, 116, not far from Nochlezhka’s shelter.

Thus began the story of our Culture Laundromat, which has been running like clockwork for five years. Over the years, three and half thousand people have used the laundromat, whose washers and dryers have run over twenty-seven thousand cycles. The laundromat has helped our patrons to go to interviews in clean clothes and get a job, to feel like normal people, to save money, and to avoid condemnation and hatred.

A video about how the Culture Laundromat is organized, and about the people who come there for help

The project got its name thanks to the famous joke “Hello, is this the laundromat?” Jokes aside, the place really has become not just a laundromat, but a genuine space for culture. During off hours, a theater studio has rehearsed there, volunteers with the Persimmon project have gathered there to knit warm clothes for homeless people, an apartment concert has been staged there, and the Notyetpozner team filmed an episode there featuring Shortparis lead singer Nikolai Komyagin.

 

There are shelves of books at the Culture Laundromat and stacks of newspapers and crosswords. Indoor plants turn green on a whatnot in the back. It’s a great place to wash off the grit and grime of hard, terrible days and put on warm clean clothes before going out the door and continuing the path to home from the streets.

Like all our other projects, the Culture Laundromat operates thanks to the people who support us. Thank you for this anniversary and for every day that Nochlezhka is up and running.

Source: Masha Kalinkina, Nochlezhka email newsletter, 25 November 2021. Photo and videos courtesy of Nochlezhka. You can support Nochlezhka by making a donation (via Visa, Mastercard, Apple Pay, Google Pay or PayPal) here. Translated by the Russian Reader

Disappeared: Abror Azimov

Abror Azimov. Photo courtesy of The Insider

Abror Azimov, sentenced to life in prison for Petersburg subway bombing, disappears during transfer: there has been no news of him for a month
The Insider
November 2, 2021

Abror Azimov, sentenced to life imprisonment in the case of the Petersburg subway bombing, has disappeared on his way to a penal colony. The convicted man’s father Ahral Azimov has told The Insider that nothing has been known about his whereabouts for over a month.

In mid-September, Abror Azimov was allegedly transferred from the Crosses pre-trial detention center in Petersburg. By verdict of the court, he was to be delivered to a high-security penal colony. The other defendants in the case have already been taken to various penitentiary facilities, including Abror’s brother Akram Azimov.

The last time Abror Azimov telephoned his parents was on September 14 from the Crosses. He said then that all the other defendants in the case had been transferred, and suggested that he would probably be transferred soon, too, the convict’s father said.

According to Petersburg philologist Elena Efros, who has been corresponding with Azimov, the last letter she received from him was from the Butyrka pre-trial detention center in Moscow on September 29, the day he was sent to the next transit prison. “There he writes that he would let me or his father know as soon as he arrived, but so far we’ve heard nothing,” Efros said.

Abror’s father sent several appeals to the authorities asking them to inform him which colony his son was sent to. On October 26, a response came from the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service office for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, in which they claim that the wardens at Pre-Trial Detention Center No. 1 (The Crosses) had sent a letter to the convicted man’s father informing him about the place where his son was serving his sentence. Ahral Azimov says he has not received any letter. In this regard, he submitted an appeal to the prosecutor’s office, requesting they conduct an inquiry.

Abror Azimov’s lawyer Jargalma Dorzhiyeva told The Insider that she also has no information about his whereabouts. “I have no information about where Azimov is. Currently, I only have his consent to file a cassation appeal,” the lawyer said.

In December 2019, Azimov was sentenced to life in prison. His brother Akram Azimov and another defendant in the case, Muhamadusup Ermatov, were sentenced to 28 years in a maximum-security penal colony. Eight more defendants were sentenced to prison term of up to 19 years. All of them denied any wrongdoing, and four of them, including Abror and Akram Azimov, reported that they had been brutally tortured.

The blast on the line between the subway stations Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologicheskii Institut occurred on 3 April  2017. Sixteen people were killed and fifty more were [hospitalized].

Abror Azimov reported that he and Akram were abducted and tortured in a secret FSB prison in the Moscow Region before their official detention. During the trial, he testified that he had been tortured into confessing to organizing the terrorist attack. The other defendants in the case have also repeatedly stated that they had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. All of them had come to Russia at different times to earn money: they worked on construction sites, in cafes and as taxi divers. At one of the first hearings in the trial, they pressed sheets of paper against the glass of the cage on which they had written “We were framed,” “We are not guilty,” and “You will see that there is nothing on us.”

Read more about this case in The Insider article “‘My brother’s screams were audible from the next cell’: torture, secret FSB prisons and falsification of evidence in the case of the terrorist attack in the Petersburg subway.”

Translated by the Russian Reader. Please read my previous posts on the presumed terrorist attack in the Petersburg subway, the case against its alleged “financiers and planners,” its roots in the Islamophobia that has infected Russia under Putin, and the shocking lack of local and international solidarity with the eleven Central Asian migrant workers scapegoated and convicted in the case.

11/11

 

“Killer icicles” on the rooftop of a building in downtown Petersburg, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

11 November 2021

The Russian Prosecutor General’s office has petitioned the Russian Supreme Court to “liquidate” the venerated human rights, educational and charitable organization Memorial, reports the BBC’s Russian Service.

A snowy street in downtown Petersburg, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

200 Years Ago

On this day in 1821, Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow into the family of an army doctor who worked at a hospital for the poor. After finishing school in Moscow, Dostoevsky joined the army and studied engineering in St. Petersburg, where he was captivated — or perhaps invented — the city’s dark allure. He published his first novel, “Poor Folk,” in 1845. Four years later he was arrested for being in a literary club that discussed banned books critical of the authorities; he was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted just moments before he was to be shot. He spent four years in a prison camp and another six years of compulsory military service.

A snow-covered Alexander Pushkin on Pushkinskaya Street in Petersburg, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

1 Year Ago

The US correspondent of a newfangled “leftist” Russian website, writing one year ago:

“If you believe the mass American media, former Vice President Joe Biden won the US presidential election. If you believe the camp of the current president Donald Trump and American Marxists (a bizarre interweaving), it was not without machinations. I personally have no confidence in any of the candidates, much less in their parties, or in the American electoral system as a whole.”

 

Corner of Bolshaya Podyacheskaya Street and Nikolsky Lane at the Fontanka River in Petersburg, with a view of the Trinity Cathedral of the Izmailovо Life Guards Regiment in the background, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

11 November 2021

Officials Decide to Send Network Case Convict Viktor Filinkov to Single-Cell Room, Then to Punitive Detention
Mediazona
November 11, 2021

Prison officials have decided to send Viktor Filinkov, convicted in the [Network] case, who was sent to Orenburg Correctional Colony No. 1 in August, to a single-cell room for a month, and then to a punitive detention cell for ten days. His public defender Evgenia Kulakova reported this turn of events to Mediazona.

According to Kulakova, yesterday the prison’s disciplinary commission decided to send Filinkov to a single-cell room [abbreviated EPKT in Russian, this is a prison within a prison for the most “unruly” or “dangerous” inmates] because of razor blades that, as the prisoner noted, had been planted [in his cell] by Federal Penitentiary Service officers on his birthday. The second penalty was imposed on the young man for “inter-cell communication.”

Filinkov was delivered to Orenburg Correctional Colony No. 1 in August after 45 days in transport. Since then, he has spent only three days in the general population. He has spent the rest of the time in a punitive isolation cell or strict conditions of detention.

On October 6, Filinkov received a month-long reprimand for his [alleged] refusal to sweep the exercise yard in the colony and transferred to a single-cell room. He was also put on a watch list as someone “prone to systematic violation of internal regulations.” Kulakova also said that on October 30, Political Prisoners Day, he went on a hunger strike.

Filinkov demanded freedom for all political prisoners and that he be moved from solitary confinement. A few days later he added a new demand — that books, newspapers and writing materials be brought to his cell. He ended his hunger strike on November 9.

In 2020, the Second Western District Military Court, sitting in St. Petersburg, sentenced Filinkov to seven years in a penal colony in the Network case. He was found guilty of involvement in a terrorist community (punishable under Article 204.5.2 of the Criminal Code). Filinkov was the first of the young men charged in the case to report that he had been tortured by the security forces.

Translated by the Russian Reader

2 Lungs, 2 Eyes

Forgive me, dear,
For I’m a human being:
Two lungs, two eyes
And only one heart.

I took this snapshot during a long, memorable walk with Dima Vorobyev, Marina Maraeva and her dog through a gloriously snowy Petersburg five years ago today.

When I posted it on Facebook, Slava Popov pointed out to me that the graffito was a quotation from the 2013 song “Ships,” by the Petersburg “math rock” band Samoe Bolshoe Prostoe Chislo (“The Largest Prime Number,” usually identified by the acronym SBPCh).

[intro]
Parah-poo-pah-boo-pah-boo paah-boo-bah-poo-bah
Parah-poo-pah-boo-pah-boo paah-boo-bah-poo-bah
Parah-poo-pah-boo-pah-boo paah-boo-bah-poo-bah
Paah-poo-baah-poo-baah-boo-baah

[chorus]
Sadness is the place where the ships come
Windstorm is what we put in our tea
Dried apricots lift cars off the ground
When you cry, I go to the pier
Sadness is the place where the ships come
Hurricane is what we put in our tea
Dried apricots lift cars off the ground
When you cry, I go to the pier

[hook]
Where do the ships come from?
Where do the ships come from?
Where do the ships come from?

[verse]
Today is a really special day
Stupid, ridiculous and funny
I throw a t-shirt into a faded shadow
It’s so hot I don’t know whether to laugh or cry
Whether to stand or lie on the yellow grass
Prickly, withered and spiteful
You’re all dummies in my head
Who have swapped a night’s lodging for an overnight stay
To go to the sea through a steppe and a half
And another three along the way
Guys in underpants, kids in underpants,
Everything on the way in underpants
I look at a cow, at a dragonfly
It’s a pity that I’m a human being
At birds, at dogs, at a gray nanny goat
That life has slowed down
I’m sorry I brought you to this dump
I’m sorry, goat, for the dump
It could have been a kangaroo in your place
A koala chewing bark
But I remembered something from my childhood, from books
About the fleet and about a fraternal people
We’ll cut straight through the fence here
I remember there is a turn
Sorry for the scales running out loud
For joy that immediately turns to grief
But out loud, in front of the goat, because there are more than two of us
I swear the sea is there beyond the garden
In the meantime, there is the garden, where
Melons, plums and peppers live out their days
I’m sorry, dear, for I’m a human being
Two lungs, two eyes and only one heart

[hook]
Where do the ships come from?
Where do the ships come from?
Where do the ships come from?
Ааааh-аааh-аааh

[refrain]
Sadness is the place where the ships come
Hurricane is what we put in our tea
Dried apricots lift cars off the ground
When you cry, I go to the pier
Sadness is the place where the ships come
Hurricane is what we put in our tea
Dried apricots lift cars off the ground
When you cry, I go to the pier

[bridge]
Parah-poo-pah-boo-pah-boo paah-boo-bah-poo-bah
Parah-poo-pah-boo-pah-boo paah-boo-bah-poo-bah
Parah-poo-pah-boo-pah-boo paah-boo-bah-poo-bah
Paah-poo-baah-poo-baah-boo-baah

Source: Genius.com. The refrain plays on the fact that the words pechal’ (sadness) and prichal (pier), and uragan (windstorm) and kuraga (dried apricots) are near rhymes. “Ships” was released on SPBCh’s 2013 LP Forest Oracle. Translated by the Russian Reader

Comrade Sharapov almost as immediately pointed out the striking similarity between SBPCh’s graffitoed sentiment and “Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue,” a song by the venerable Vancouver punk band Nomeansno, released on their fourth album, Wrong (1989).

Look Back in Anger (Hotel Sovietskaya)

The Hotel Sovietskaya in Petersburg, as seen from 8th Red Army Street. Photo by the Russian Reader

The architects who designed the Hotel Sovietskaya (Levinson, Gankevich, Pribulsky, Panfilov, 1963-1965) on Lermontovsky Prospect in Leningrad-Petersburg are literally the only people in the city’s architectural history to have shown they had the slightest clue about how to design and situate a modern high-rise in a quite peculiar, “touchy” built environment.

And yet I have never heard anyone say a kind word about the building. Maybe I hang out with the wrong people, but I think the Hotel Sovietskaya is cool, stylish, and just the ticket.

Since no one learned any lessons from the Hotel Sovietskaya, however, the city’s reigning mafia of anarchitects and catastrophists have blithely sashayed from one soul-destroying monstrosity to the next, turning some parts of the city into unlivable aesthetic disaster zones.

People complain about these buildings, too, of course. So far as I know, however, the prevailing opinion is that the only decent new buildings in the inner city are imitations of pre-revolutionary buildings.

When proposed abstractly, that sounds like a plausible albeit boring approach to a thorny problem and a surly, anti-modernist public, but in reality local architects are as helpless when it comes to emulating neoclassicism, baroque, eclecticism, and art deco as they are all thumbs when the flavor of the day is constructivism and all other forms of modernism, early and late.

If you don’t believe me, go have a look at the dreadful “neoconstructivist” block of flats one of the city’s big-name nincompoops plopped down right next to Erich Mendelsohn’s now-denuded and orphaned Red Banner Factory power station, which has been given a “eurorenovation”-style makeover by way of subjugating it to the reigning architectural regime and local public opinion’s retro-tsarist disdain for modernism. ||| TRR, 6 November 2018