Victory Day is a memorable holiday for every citizen of St. Petersburg! During the celebration of the Great Victory, each of us remembers the heroic deeds of our grandfathers. In keeping with a long-established tradition, many musicians dedicate their concerts to this important date.
On May 15, the Lensovet Palace of Culture will host “Echo of Victory,” a soulful solo musical performance by Dmitry Pevtsov and the Pevtsov Orchestra.
“Echo of Victory” is a new themed concert in which poems and songs of the war years and the best songs of Soviet and modern composers will be performed. The program will feature such songs as “Airplanes First of All,” “From Dawn to Dawn,” and, of course, everyone’s favorite song, which has become a symbol of the celebration of May 9—”Victory Day”!
We invite everyone to the “Echo of Victory” concert on May 15 at the Lensovet Palace of Culture. Let’s remember the great songs of that heroic time and once again feel proud of our great nation!
Directed by Denis Isakov
Duration 1 hour 40 minutes (without intermission)
Source: Bileter.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader
The Russian authorities and Russian propagandists have been competing with each other to recreate something outwardly similar to the Soviet system in our country. The message to Russian society is simple: we are different, we have a different path, don’t look anywhere else, this is our destiny — to be unlike everyone in the world. And yet there are more and more traits of our country’s yesterday in its tomorrow.
For some reason, the speakers at the Knowledge educational forum, starting with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, called directly for Russia’s self-isolation. Mishustin demanded that we achieve independence from foreign designs in the information sphere. The word “independence” has been increasingly used to mean isolation and breaking ties.
Deputies in the State Duma have proposed re-establishing the mandatory three-year “repayment through job placement” for university graduates, and prohibiting those who have not served in the army from working in the civil service.
With Ella Pamfilova, head of the Russian Central Elections Commission, on hand as a friendly observer, Uzbekistan held a referendum on April 30 to decide whether to adopt a new constitution that would grant the current president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the right to de facto lifelong rule by lengthening presidential terms from five to seven years and nullifying Mirziyoyev’s previous terms. The ballot, which involved digital technologies, produced a turnout of 84.54%, and according to preliminary data, 90.21% of voters said yes to the amendments, which would change two-thirds of the Constitution, while 9.35% of voters voted no, and 0.49% of the ballots were disqualified. Although democratic procedures were seemingly followed, Uzbekistan is moving away from democracy.
Something makes us see Pamfilova’s visit to Uzbekistan not only as a trip “to strengthen friendship and cooperation,” but also as a completely practical exchange of know-how in organizing such referendums. Only by adopting a new constitution can the first and second chapters of the current Russian Constitution be amended, and it is the second chapter that enshrines civil rights and freedoms, we should recall.
Alexander Bastrykin, the prominent human rights activist and chair of the Russian Investigative Committee, has proposed adopting a new Russian constitution that would enshrine a state ideology, completely eliminate international law’s precendence over domestic law, and re-envision human rights as an institution alien and hostile to Russia, as something encroaching on its sovereignty. Uzbekistan’s know-how in voting on a new constitution will come in handy for the Russian Central Election Commission.
At seven o’clock this evening live on Citizen TV, we will talk about why, exactly, the Russian authorities are so enthusiastic about Soviet political practice and the Soviet style, and where such intentions can lead our country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed with the need [for Russia] to develop its own communication protocols instead of foreign TCP/IP to ensure the country’s technological sovereignty and independence.
On Thursday, the head of state held an event at the Rudnevo Industrial Park during which the specifics of the development of domestic unmanned aerial systems were discussed. In this context, Alexander Selyutin, board chair of the Technojet group, spoke about the “Internet from Russia” project.
After listening to the proposals, Putin turned to his aide Maxim Oreshkin.
“Maxim Stanislavovich, talk to your colleagues, then report back to me separately, we need to help. This is obligatory, because if you have advanced proposals, your own, of course, we need to do everything to support them. It means technological sovereignty, and better competitiveness, and independence. […] We will definitely help,” the president said.
Those wishing to take part in a virtual LDPR rally at the monument to Vladimir Zhirinovsky created in Minecraft have overloaded the server. The number of applications exceeded twelve thousand, LDPR’s press service informed us.
As Andrei Svintsov, a member of the LDPR faction [in the State Duma], noted, this is only the first such event. The Liberal Democrats plan to continue using [Minecraft] and other gaming platforms to communicate with voters and attract new supporters, becoming in fact “Russia’s first digital party.”
The MP also recalled that experts continue to work on the “Cyber Zhirinovsky” political algorithm, which was previously announced by the party’s current leader Leonid Slutsky.
In late April, Judge Yevgenia Nikolayeva closed a court hearing at which it was decided how much time to give Alexei Navalny to examine the 196 volumes of the latest criminal case against him. According to the police investigator, this was necessary in order to protect investigatory privilege.
Over the past five years, judges in Russia have increasingly closed court hearings to observers, journalists, and even relatives of defendants. Because of this, defense lawyers cannot inform the public about what happens in these proceedings. Mediazona reviewed the judicial statistics and discovered that, in 2022, judges ruled 25,587 times to hear cases in closed chambers. This was almost twice as often as in 2018, when judges decided 13,172 times to hear cases without outsiders present.
The Constitution actually guarantees that your case should be heard in open court, but there are exceptions. The principal exceptions are cases involving state secrets (which is why all treason and espionage trials are closed), cases against defendants under sixteen years of age, and cases involving sexual offenses. The statistics for all such cases have not changed much in recent years.
But there is one more exception — a trial can be closed to “ensure the safety” of the people involved in the proceedings and their loved ones. This extremely vague wording allows judges to close any court hearing. Judges make vigorous use of it, especially when hearing high-profile cases.
Here’s another example. In September, the Moscow City Court closed the hearing of an appeal against the verdict in the “fake news” trial of municipal district council deputy Alexei Gorinov, who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for an argument over a children’s drawing contest in which he had said that children were dying in the war in Ukraine The judge alleged that the court had received threats, and said that the hearing would have to be closed for the safety of the parties to the proceedings.
Russian judges may be following the lead of their Belarusian colleagues, who have learned how to conduct political trials without outside scrutiny. They cite covid regulations, or fill the gallery with persons unknown, or don’t let anyone except the relatives of the defendants in the courtroom. Russian courts have begun to use many of these methods. And the Belarusian courts can declare a hearing closed without explaining the reasons at all.
The authorities do not want people to know about political trials, to monitor these trials, or to support the accused. That is why, on the contrary, it is important for society today to talk about political prisoners and help them.
A Russian version of the song by the French left-wing chansonnier Georges Moustaki. Translation: Kirill Medvedev. Guitar: Oleg Zhuravlev. Video: Nikolay Oleynikov
Don’t ask what her name is, she’s Beloved and tender, but fickle Very spunky, she’ll wake up and go forward To a new life that shines and sings
Bullied and branded Tortured and executed Well, how much can she suffer! And she rises up and strikes, And spends many, many years in prison, Yes, we betrayed her But we only love her more and more And so we want to follow her Right to the end
What her name is, don’t ask, my friend, She’s just a mayflower and a wild fruit She sprouts anywhere, like grass Her path will take her wherever she wishes
Don’t ask what her name is, she’s Sometimes beloved, sometimes persecuted, but faithful This girl that everyone is waiting for Permanent revolution is her name
My husband telephoned, saying that he had been working in Pushkin today (which never happened, but okay), and couldn’t come home. I asked why he couldn’t—it was just past six in the evening, according to the clock.
“Just you take a look at the sky,” he replied. “It’s as black as pitch. It’s impossible to travel, you can’t see a thing. It’s probably a shitstorm—a big one, the final one.”
I looked at the sky, and it actually was black. Incredibly low fluffy white clouds floated past, lit up from within by something. Right under these clouds a building was being built; it was already six floors tall. Little devils rode on the clouds, grimacing and pulling up people who were clinging to the edges. The entire scene seemed quite tiny to me.
I told my husband what I saw.
“What is that huge thing they’re building?” I asked. “And who are those people clinging to the clouds?”
My husband was quite surprised.
“They’re building a fence around our beautiful motherland, the tallest fence in the world. Those are people who didn’t leave in time. The little devils are having fun with them by picking them up, but no one knows where they’ll throw them off. They just hope it’s on the other side of the fence.”
Yuli Boyarshinov, convicted in the Petersburg portion of the so-called Network Case, has been released, our correspondent reports. His parents, wife, and friends were on hand to meet Boyarshinov.
Boyarshinov was released from Penal Colony No. 7 in Segezha, Republic of Karelia, early in the morning of April 21, although his relatives and friends had expected him to be released in the afternoon.
Boyarshinov said that the wardens gave him a ticket for the train to Petersburg, which departs at ten a.m., and released him right on time for that train. “Customer-oriented service,” Boyarshinov said by way of explaining the rush to release him from the penal colony.
The FSB launched a criminal case against the so-called Network “terrorist community” in October 2017. Eleven individuals from Penza, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, most of them anarchists and antifascists, were detained and then remanded in custody. According to FSB investigators, the young people had established a networked community with the aim of committing terrorist attacks and overthrowing the government.
Boyarshinov and Viktor Filinkov were arrested and eventually tried in Petersburg. Filinkov was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, while Boyarshinov was sentenced to five and a half years in a penal colony. Later, however, his sentence was reduced by three months.
Most of the accused claimed that the evidence was fabricated by the FSB, and repeatedly stated that they had given confessions under torture. The Russian Investigative Committee, however, failed to find any illegalities in the actions of the FSB officers involved the case.
Yuli “Yulian” Boyarshinov, one of the Petersburg defendants in the Network Case, has been released from prison, after having spent over five years in custody. Bumaga was there to capture Boyarshinov’s first moments on the outside, where he was reunited with his wife and his parents.
Boyarshinov was detained in January 2018 and had been in custody from then until his release earlier today. In June 2020, he was sentenced to five and a half years in a penal colony on charges of “involvement in a terrorist community,” but an appeals court later reduced his sentence by three months. The sentence took into account the time Boyarshinov had already spent in jail.
The Network Case is also known as the Penza Case, since most of the defendants were detained in Penza. However, the FSB claim that the “terrorist community” operated cells not only in Penza, but also in Petersburg, Moscow, Omsk, and Belarus. Leftist activists, antifascists, anarchists, and airsoft players were detained as part of the Network Case.
Before his arrest, Boyarshinov had been employed as an industrial climber and was involved in charity work. He recounted that he had been tortured in the pretrial detention center.
Boyarshinov pleaded guilty to the charges, claiming that the Network’s participants had come together for the purpose of self-defense training. And yet Boyarshinov did not make a deal with prosecutors and refused to testify against the other defendants.
Boyarshinov is the second person involved in the Network Case to be released. The first was Igor Shishkin, who was detained at the same time as Boyarshinov. Shishkin was released in July 2021, after which he spoke to the press about having been tortured.
In pre-revolutionary Russia, the raznochintsy were people whose social status did not strictly conform to the notions of “hereditary nobleman” or “eminent merchant.” Minor clerks, retired soldiers, servants of various stripes, laborers and, of course, students and other intellectual workers lived in neighborhoods remote from Nevsky Prospect.
The museum traces its roots back to 1924.
Cossack Lane has been home to a memorial address since 1924. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) lived here from February 12, 1894 to April 25, 1895, and after his death, residents of the neighboring buildings established “Ilyich’s Corner” on the street.
In 1938, Ilyich’s Corner was turned into the V.I. Ulyanov Apartment Museum, part of the Leningrad branch of the Central Museum of Lenin. In 1992, the mayor of St. Petersburg ordered that the museum be preserved as as a historical landmark. It was granted the status of a state museum under the jurisdiction of the Lenin District (later, the Admiralty District) of St. Petersburg and became known as the Museum of the History of the Revolutionary Democratic Movement of the 1880s and 1890s.
In September 2003, by order of St. Petersburg city hall, the museum was transferred to the jurisdiction of the St. Petersburg Culture Committee. In 2006, in connection with the opening of a new permanent exposition, Around the Semyonovsky Regimental Parade Ground, the museum was given its current name — the Raznochintsy Petersburg Memorial Museum
First, if you know someone who might like this newsletter, please forward it to them.
Next, the story. I know many people this week are focused on the killing of Russian blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in St Petersburg. We are working on that (stay tuned).
But I want to talk about the long-term impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine and the social crisis it has caused in my country.
In this case, it’s about Ukraine’s teachers, who are facing serious salary cuts against a backdrop of high inflation, prices, rents and costs of basic services.
It’s a story about who is paying the price of Russia’s war, which has caused hundreds of billions of dollars of direct and indirect damage to Ukraine.
To do it, I spoke to teachers, local officials and trade union activists to find out how the Ukrainian government is being forced to pursue austerity – and what that means for hard-working people across the country.
I found that some local authorities are managing to pick up the shortfall in central grants – while others just can’t do it, as tax income has dropped off following the invasion.
Either way, local officials know it’s political suicide to fire people en masse, and have to scramble and scrape to get through the funding shortfall.
But it feels like a crisis postponed – rather than solved.
DDT frontman Yuri Shevchuk has released the video “Motherland, Come Home.” In the new single, he calls on his country to stop the war and go about its own business. The video was shot by Shevchuk in collaboration with producer and composer Dmitry Yemelyanov.
Yuri Shevchuk wrote the poem “Motherland, Come Home” in the summer of 2022, a few months after Russia had launched its invasion of Ukraine. In the run-up to the invasion’s anniversary, the rocker set it to music and recorded the song. “Don’t go crazy, this is not your war,” Shevchuk urges listeners.
Shevchuk has repeatedly spoken out against the war in Ukraine. He has consistently taken a pacifist stance and opposed all wars, including the military operations in Chechnya, South Ossetia, and anywhere else in the world.
In 2022, Shevchuk was fined fifty thousand rubles after he was found guilty of “discrediting” the actions of the Russian army. The occasion for the fine was an anti-war statement he made in May at a concert in Ufa. After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, concerts by his band, DDT, in Russia have often been postponed or canceled “due to technical difficulties.”
In the summer of 2022, the media reported the existence of a list of “banned” Russian artists who had opposed the war in Ukraine, including the bands DDT, B2, Aquarium, and Pornofilms, the rappers Face and Oxxxymiron, and the solo performers Zemfira, Monetochka, and Vasya Oblomov. There were more than fifty names on the list. Many of the musicians have already faced the cancellation of concerts, and some have been designated “foreign agents” by the Russian Justice Ministry.
Does it make sense to torch military enlistment offices? The short answer is no. And here’s why not.
From the outset of the mobilization in Russia, military enlistment offices have been targeted by arson attacks. We realized that this appears striking and effective and may seem like a good way to voice your protest. But is this really the case? Let’s unpack it.
1. It is ineffective. Most often, arson does not damage individual records in any way — the fire is either put out in time, or there is no fire at all. There are no exact statistics here, but an analysis of news reports about the arson attacks confirms that in most cases they didn’t accomplish anything.
Moreover, the authorities have now started digitizing conscript databases, which will soon render the destruction of paper files meaningless.
2. It involves very (!) high risks. Statistics show that arsonists are very often tracked down by the police: 48% of activists involved in arson attacks have been detained.
If you are caught, a criminal case and a hefty prison sentence are virtually inevitable. Moreover, these arson attacks are most often charged as “terrorism” — and the people charged face up to fifteen years in prison if convicted.
3. It endangers others. Military enlistment offices are often guarded, which means that the watchmen may suffer. In addition, military enlistment offices are sometimes located in or near residential buildings, and the fire can spread to them.
4. There are other ways to resist that are safer and more effective. Considering all of the above, simply talking to friends and relatives (and writing on social media) about how to avoid mobilization seems to be a much more effective and safer means of resistance.
We have compiled a complete list of methods of online and offline resistance here.
What protest methods you choose is your decision alone, of course. But we urge you to be aware and prudent in this matter and not to give in to emotions. Much more good comes from activists who aren’t in jail.
On January 11, Vesna surprised me more than ever. Have you already read the post [translated, above] with (almost) the same name?
I’ll admit that I didn’t even know about this movement until February 24. But after the start of they full-scale invasion, they proved their mettle, unlike other public movements. From the earliest days of the war, they spoke out against the invasion and urged people to protest. Vesna announced mass protests while other liberal democratic organizations took no decisive action. Neither [Alexei Navalny’s] Anti-Corruption Foundation nor [opposition liberal party] Yabloko, for example, supported the call for mass street protests then. Vesna called for and was involved in the protests themselves, for which its members were persecuted and the movement was designated “extremist” by the authorities.
I try not to criticize methods and approaches to anti-war protests: everyone has the right to protest and resist as they are able and see fit. Today, however I want to speak critically about Vesna and respond to the piece, entitled “Does it make sense to torch military enlistment offices? The short answer is no. And here’s why not.”
Let’s analyze the arguments made in the post.
1. Ineffectiveness. Vesna claims that torching military enlistment offices makes no sense, since military enlistment records are not destroyed as a result of these actions. Indeed, many arson attacks on military enlistment offices have caused quite superficial damage: the flames did not spread into the offices where the paper files of conscripts might have been stored. However, this has not always been the case. For example, as a result of the actions taken by Ilya Farber (a village schoolteacher), the room in a military enlistment office where official documents were stored was destroyed by fire, as was a room at a recruiting office containing the personal belongings of employees. Moreover, we should bear in mind that the authorities and propagandists have a stake in downplaying the damage from such attacks.
When analyzing direct actions, it is also important to take into account what the guerrillas themselves say, and not to talk about the abstract results of possible actions. Did they want to destroy records at all? Moreover, it is not only military enlistment offices that are set on fire. For example, Bogdan Ziza, who threw a Molotov cocktail into a municipal administration building in Crimea, explained his motives as follows: “[I did it] so that those who are against this war, who are sitting at home and are afraid to voice their opinion, see that they are not alone.” And Alexei Rozhkov, who torched a military enlistment office on March 11, argues that the actions of guerrillas forced the authorities to withdraw conscripts from the combat zone.
If we talk about effectiveness in terms of direct action, then Vesna’s criticism is patently ridiculous: the movement has never proposed direct action tactics. If the railway saboteurs, for example, argued that torching military enlistment offices was “ineffective,” that would be a different conversation.
As for the digitization of draftee records, at the moment there is no information that it has been successfully implemented, except for claims by the authorities about staring the process. On the basis of the first wave of mobilization, the Moscow Times explained why rapid digitization of the Russian draft registration system is impossible under present conditions.
2. High risks. Indeed, people are persecuted for torching military enlistment offices. But anything else you do to counteract the Russian military machine is also fraught with high risks. You can now get a long stint in prison for the things you say. Not only Moscow municipal district councilor Alexei Gorinov (7 years) and politician Ilya Yashin (8.5 years) but also Vologda engineer [sic] Vladimir Rumyantsev (3 years) have already been handed harsh prison sentences for, allegedly, disseminating “fake news” about the army. To date, these sentences have been even harsher than those already handed down for anti-war arson. It is impossible to assess in which case it would be easier for the state to track you down and persecute you — after you torched a military enlistment office, or after you publicly posted the truth about the war. It all depends, primarily, on the security precautions you take.
3. Endangering lives. Vesna’s arguments on this score completely echo the wording of pro-government media and prosecutors’ speeches: allegedly, when a military enlistment office is torched, people could get hurt. Attention! Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, guerrillas have carried out more than eighty anti-war arson attacks and not a single living being has been harmed! The guerrillas carry out their actions at night and plan attacks so that people do not get hurt. This is how they are discussed on the direct action Telegram channels, and the guerrillas themselves say the same thing.
4, Unsafe and ineffective. As an alternative to arson, Vesna suggests educating friends and relatives about how to avoid mobilization. Educating is, of course, an important and necessary thing to do. However, it alone is not enough to stop the war. They mention no other effective methods of resistance in their post.
I would suggest that you draw your own conclusions.
Finally, I have a few wishes. If you are planning any action that the state may regard as a criminal offense — a guerrilla action or an anti-war statement — please assess the risks and take all possible security precautions. To do this, use the guides that have been compiled online and study the know-how of forerunners. Keep in mind that even this may not be enough. Recommendations on physical security from the Combat Organization of Anarcho-Communists (BOAK) can be found in this article published DOXA. And to learn the basics of digital security, take a look the website Security in a Box.
You can find even more guides to security on the internet: don’t neglect perusing them and follow the rules they establish daily. The time you spend working through questions of security will in any case be less than the time spent in police custody in the event of your arrest after a protest action or a careless statement on the internet.
Study the safety guides mentioned in the introduction, if you thought it was not so important or had put it off for later.
How сan you take your minds off things?
Listen to the 10th edition of the podcast Zhenskii srok (“Women’s Prison Stint”) about how women revolutionaries fought the good fight and how they did time in Tsarist Russia. Among other things, the podcast explains what was mean by the term “oranges” back then and why officials and security forces were afraid of “oranges.”
For many years the Russian opposition propagandised a particular manner of protest: clean, peaceful protest of the urban class, not dirtied with violence or even any pretension to violence. I was politicised at that time. I am 25, and I first went to a street demonstration when I was 17, in the second year of study at university. And I learned the lessons conscientiously: when somebody urges people to free a demonstrator who is being detained – that’s a provocation. If someone proposes to stay put on a square and not leave, or to occupy a government building – that’s a provocateur, and that person should be paid no heed.
We are better than them, because we do not use violence, and they do. Let everyone see us and our principles as unarmed, peaceful protesters, who are beaten by cosmonauts [Russian riot police] in full combat gear. Then they will understand what is going on. Why go on a demonstration? To express our opinion, to show that we are here. And if there are enough of us, that will produce a split in the elite.
Evidently, this strategy didn’t work. Whether it worked at one time is probably not so important now. I am convinced, by my own life experience, that it has failed. A year and a half ago, I recorded an inoffensive video to support student protests – and for that got a year’s house arrest. [Reported here, SP.] And in that year, the Russian authorities succeeded in destroying the remains of the electoral system, and invading Ukraine. No peaceful protest could stop them.
During that time, as the anti-Putin opposition de-escalated protests and adapted to new prohibitions — you need to give advance notice about a demo? OK. You need to set up metal detectors on site? Very good — the authorities, by contrast, escalated the conflict with society. They pursued ever-more-contrived legal cases — for actions ranging from throwing a plastic cup at a cop, to liking stuff or joking on Twitter.
We have been retreating tactically for a long time, and finally wound up on the edge of a precipice —in a situation where not to protest would be immoral, but where, at the same time, the most inoffensive action could result in the most serious sanctions. The neurosis in which a large part of Russian society now finds itself — all those arguments about who is more ethically immaculate: those who have left, those who have stayed, those who have half-left or one-quarter-stayed; who has the moral right to speak about something and who doesn’t — all this is a result of living in a paradox.
For the first few weeks after the invasion, this logic of conflict — that the opposition de-escalates and the state escalates — reached its limits. Peaceful protests came to an end. Resistance didn’t stop: several hundred people, at a minimum, set fire to military recruitment offices or dismantled railways on which the Russian army was sending arms, and soldiers, to the front.
And when this started to happen, a big part of the opposition had nothing to say. Our editorial group was one of the first to try to report on these actions, despite the shortage of information. We were even able to speak to some of the railway partisans in Russia. But much of the independent media and opposition politicians were silent.
The silence ended on 4 October, when [Alexei] Navalny’s team announced that it would again open branches across the whole country, and support different methods of protest, including setting fire to recruitment centres. A month before that, in an interview with Ilya Azara [of Novaya Gazeta, SP], Leonid Volkov [a leading member of Navalny’s team, SP] answered a question about radical actions in this way:
I am ready to congratulate everyone who goes to set fire to a recruitment office or derail a train. But I don’t understand where these people have come from, where to find them, or whether it’s possible to organise them.
Evidently, in the course of a month, something changed. In October, the branches began to collect forms from potential supporters, and on 23 December a platform was set up on the dark web, which could only be accessed via a TOR browser. Navalny’s team stated that the platform will not retain any details of its supporters. [In an interview with DOXA, Navalny’s team clarified that the branches would be clandestine online “networks”, SP.]
For some mysterious reason, news of the reopening of the branches, and of the setting-up of the platform, went practically unnoticed in the Russian media. In October, we were apparently the only (!) publication that talked with members of the Navalny team about the reopening of the branches. Organised antiwar resistance did not make it to the top of the news agenda.
It seems to me that, notwithstanding the mass of questions that political activists want to ask Navaly’s team about this, organised resistance is the only way left to us, out of the war and out of Putinism.
I have had many discussions with antiwar activists and journalists lately, about how they assess their work, nearly a year after the start of full-scale war. The majority of them (of us) are burned out: they don’t see any point in what we are doing. I think part of the problem is that a big part of our activity concerns not resistance, but help and treatment of the symptoms — evacuation and support for refugees. Our activities don’t bring the end of the war nearer, they just alleviate its consequences.
You can count the initiatives focused on resistance on the fingers of two hands. And alas, they are not very effective. A comrade of mine, with whom at the start we put together guides about how to talk to your family members about the war, joked, bitterly:
The Russian army killed another hundred people while we were thinking about how to change the minds of one-and-a-half grandmas.
To get out of this dead end, we must together think of the future that we can achieve by our collective efforts. It’s time to reject fatalism: stop waiting for everything to be decided on the field of battle and putting all our hopes in the Ukrainian armed forces (although much will of course be decided there); stop relying on the prospect that Putin will die soon, that the elite will split and that out of this split shoots of democracy will somehow magically grow. We will not take back for ourselves freedom and the right to shape our own future, unless we ourselves take power away from this elite. The only way that we can do this, under conditions of military dictatorship, is organised resistance.
Such resistance must be based on cooperation between those who have remained in Russia and those who have left. And also those who continue to come and go (and there are many of them). Such resistance can not be coordinated by some allegedly authoritative organisation. It has to be built, by developing cooperation with other antiwar initiatives —especially the feminists and decolonising initiatives, that is, with organisations that have done a huge amount of activity since the all-out invasion and who bring together many thousands of committed supporters.
Most important of all, resistance must expand the boundaries of what we understand by non-violent protest and the permissibility of political violence. We can not allow the dictatorship to impose a language that describes setting fire to a military recruitment office, with no human victims, as “terrorism” and “extremism”.
Political struggle has always required a wide range of instruments, and if we want to defeat a dictatorship we have to learn how to use them; we need to understand clearly what each of them is good for. For many years we have paid no attention to methods of resistance that, although they are not violent, require much more decisiveness and organisation. It is to these methods that we need now to return.
There is no other way of building democracy in Russia (any democracy — liberal or socialist) without a grassroots resistance movement that can win widespread support. If the majority of opposition politicians in the pre-war period hoped that democracy could fall into their laps as a gift from the elite (as a so-called gesture of goodwill), then this year it has become completely clear: we will never have any power, if we can not ourselves take it in to our own hands.
Ulrike Meinhof [a leader of the Red Army Faction in Germany, 1970–72, SP] once quoted the words of a Black Panther activist [probablyFred Hampton, SP], spoken at a conference in February 1968 against the war in Vietnam:
Protest is when I say I don’t like this. Resistance is when I put an end to what I don’t like. Protest is when I say I refuse to go along with this anymore. Resistance is when I make sure everybody else stops going along too.
This comment was published by DOXA, an independent Russian web site that has grown out of a student magazine to become a prominent voice against the war. Translation by Simon Pirani
There is an interesting controversy on Twitter between DOXA (a left-wing media outlet) and the Vesna Movement (liberals) about violence.
Vesna wheeled out a text arguing that torching military enlistment offices is bad, and DOXA and other leftists responded by explaining why there is no way to do without such tactics now.
In response, the liberals and the publication Kotyol (“Boiler”), which took their side, have deployed a super argument: so why don’t you go to Russia and torch these places yourself, instead of advising others to do it? They also claimed that DOXA embraces Putin’s way of thinking by sending others to get killed instead of themselves.
I’ll join in the fray and answer for myself. First, it’s none of your damn business where I go or don’t go and why.
Second, waging an armed struggle requires financing, training, experience, support bases, and much more. Now of this exists now.
Third, if you liberal assholes had not consistently advocated against every form of illegal resistance for all Putin’s years and decades in power, if you had not demonized “radicals,” just as you are doing now, if you had not readily dubbed “terrorists” all those at whom the authorities pointed a finger, the situation in paragraph 2 would have been different.
Yes, it was you who shat your pants, soiling not only us, but everyone, including the Ukrainians.
The leftists are “talking shit” about violence, but are not traveling to Russia to torch things? Well, at least we’re talking shit!
Look at yourself. The bravest of you, and there are relatively few of those, raise money for the Armed Forces of Ukraine so that Ukrainians will fight and die on your behalf. But you yourselves advocate nonviolence, my ass. Which of us are the hypocrites? Who has embraced Putin’s way of thinking?
If you have at least a drop of conscience, you’ll recall what the liberals wrote in the late nineteenth century about the Decembrists and Narodniks and at least shut your traps on the question of violence.
Source: George Losev (Facebook), 17 January 2023. Translated by Thomas Campbell
The origins of the town of Vorkuta are associated with Vorkutlag, one of the most notorious forced-labour camps of the Gulag. Vorkutlag was established in 1932 with the start of mining. It was the largest of the Gulag camps in European Russia and served as the administrative centre for a large number of smaller camps and subcamps, among them Kotlas, Pechora, and Izhma (modern Sosnogorsk). The Vorkuta uprising, a major rebellion by the camp inmates, occurred in 1953.
In 1941 Vorkuta and the labour camp system based around it were connected to the rest of the world by a prisoner-built rail line linking Konosha, Kotlas, and the camps of Inta. Town status was granted to Vorkuta on November 26, 1943.
A textbook and resource guide store for school teachers, Lomonosov Street, Petersburg, today.
Source: Marina Varchenko, Facebook, 21 October 2022. Remarking on this post, “Marina Marina” wrote: “I got into a fight with a history teacher from Russia in the comments [to another social media post]. She doesn’t see any historical parallels at all. And she says that it was the Americans who made up the history of Ukraine. And that what she teaches there at home is the only truth in the world.” Translated by the Russian Reader