Today, on Razyezhaya, I came across a simply perfect illustration of what we’re living through.
Source: Marina Varchenko, Facebook, 25 December 2022. Razyezhaya is a street in central Petersburg that I know like the back of my hand since I lived nearby for many years. ||| TRR
These comments by Mira Tai were published by Doxa, the Russian online student magazine that has become a prominent voice against the war.
Hello! It’s Mira.
The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has compelled many people, who live in Russia but are not ethnic Russians [russkie], to think about how we actually became the “small peoples of Russia” [a widely used term for the non-Russian nationalities that make up about one fifth of Russia’s population]. We saw many parallels between the way that the “Russian world” is trying to swallow up independent Ukraine, and the way that the ethnic republics “voluntarily became part of Russia” previously.
We have seen how the state, in which openly-declared nationalists hold leading posts in government bodies, justifies the massacre of citizens of a neighbouring country as “denazification”. We have seen how the propaganda machine is speaking openly about the renaissance of a gigantic centralised empire, in which there is no identity except Russian, and no other language than Russian.
These months have made all of us pose a mass of difficult questions, to ourselves and to each other. And no matter how hard the Russian propaganda machine tries to ridicule or denigrate this process, it will not be stopped and not be turned back – because we have changed. The surge of anger among non-Russian people has gone too far. The genie will not be put back in the bottle.
And the further it goes, the more astonishing it becomes that the majority of prominent Russian liberals and representatives of the “anti-Putin resistance”, continue to ignore what is happening. A great example is the new educational project, “Renaissance” [“Vozrozhdenie”], which opened today [23 December] and which has been loudly advertised on Ekaterina Schulmann’s Youtube channel over the last few months.
For the project, nine men and Ekaterina Schulmann invite people to take courses on the theory of democracy, capitalism and protest, the history of Christianity, and so on. They promise that in future this knowledge will facilitate the working-out of “a strategy for the Russian state, rebuilt and reborn as the inheritor of Russian, European and world culture”. Judging by the visual images chosen – golden-haired young women in Monomakh caps [the crown symbol of the pre-1917 Russian autocracy], gold leaf and portraits of monarchs – the school’s founders are especially inspired by the aesthetics of the Russian empire.
In a video in the section “About Us”, the word “civilisation” appears together with a picture of a young, rouged Ekaterina the Second [usually Catherine the Great in English-language history books] – the empress who first seized Crimea and began the process of genocide against the Crimean Tatars. That same Ekaterina, whose army slaughtered the population of whole towns in the name of the country’s “growth”.
And so in the tenth month of the full-scale Russian attack on Ukraine, we continue to witness how Russian liberals ignore any consideration of decolonisation. They do not even pose questions about the ideas and interests of those who have not been, and do not want to be, “inheritors of Russian culture”. They have not been troubled by doubts about the abstract liberal ideals of “democracy, freedom and peace”; they have no hesitation in proposing “Europe” as the source of progress, as opposed to the east. One of the courses offered by “Renaissance” is titled, in the best traditions of orientalism: “The East: a delicate matter”. …
People who can today link the word “civilisation” with portraits of Ekaterina the Second and festive, gold-trimmed panoramas of Moscow and St Petersburg, and who can promise the “renaissance of Russia”, must be blind and deaf to the suffering, and the hatred, of the Chechen people, who were subjected to genocide by the nearly-democratic Moscow of the 1990s. Blind and deaf to the hatred, and suffering, of the Ukrainian people, subjected to genocide by the authoritarian Moscow of 2022. Blind and deaf to the hatred, and suffering, of everyone whose first language definitely should not have to be Russian. And this lack of feeling is monstrous.
□ These comments appeared in Doxa’s Anti-War Digest on 23 December. I have translated them, because I think they offer useful starting-points for discussion about “decolonisation” of Russia that has begun not only among anti-war Russians, but also among those elsewhere who take the side of Ukrainian resistance. With Mira Tai, we witness “how Russian liberals ignore any consideration of decolonisation” – and, I would add, some self-proclaimed socialists do the same. One such is the writer and publicist Boris Kagarlitsky, who is to teach courses for “Renaissance,” and appears in its introduction video. He expressed opposition to this year’s invasion, but only after years of support for Russia’s imperial adventure in Ukraine since 2014 (for which he was criticised on this blog and elsewhere). SP.
□ To read more about Doxa in English, see an interview with Doxa activists just published by the Ukrainian socialist journal Spil’ne (Commons), and these speeches from the dock by Doxa editors Armen Aramyan, Volodya Metelkin, and Natasha Tyshkevich. They were tried on criminal charges last year, after publishing a video that discussed whether teachers should discourage students from attending demonstrations to support Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner. (Doxa’s new website is in Russian.)
The main problem with TV Rain is that neither its staffers nor its defenders really understand what the problem with it is.
It is especially funny when people who have been stumping for years for “situational cooperation with the regime in the Kremlin for good ends” are outraged by the revocation of TV Rain’s license.
Sooner or later, they’ll get round to you, too.
“Moderate law-abiding protest” in Russia isn’t worth anything at all, basically. Its value is negative, rather. It does not give one the moral high ground and does not empower one to write off errors. On the contrary. And those who want to continue the policy of compromise shouldn’t be offended that no one regards them as a real opposition and sees no value in them.
[TV Rain’s broadcast was revoked] not because “there are such laws in Latvia”, or because “they are traumatized due to the occupation,” or because [the Latvians] suffer from “Russophobia.”
[It happened] because the real value of “moderate” oppositionists who even in exile remain loyal to the pro-regime “silent majority” is close to nil.
Since they do nothing to bring Russia’s defeat closer even by a second, they perform no important political, humanitarian or military function.
They are thus useless.
Source: Aleksandr Fukson, Facebook, 6 December 2022. Translation and photo by the Russian Reader
The “[TV] Rain Case” has wound up sadly, at the end of the day. After the revocation of its license, the channel’s editorial team had a good opportunity to apologize once again to the audience, to the large group of Russian opposition media located in Latvia, and to the Latvian government and the European Union as a whole, which have been supporting Russian media in exile, and to announce that the editorial team hopes that the license would be restored.
But that’s not what happened. What did happen was much, much worse. Moscow imperial haughtiness came pouring out of all the cracks. For Moscow journalists are “citizens of the world,: and so they are empowered teach other peoples to respect human rights, including “freedom of opinion.” [TV Rain editor-in-chief] Tikhon [Dzyadko] shot off his mouth about the “absurd decision” for some reason. It’s just a mystery: Tikhon is smart, after all, and all of them are quite sensible there, and TV Rain is an essential media institution and does its job well. Why do they have to talk arrogantly to the government of Latvia?
Over the last twenty-four hours, TV Rain’s liberal well-wishers have written tons of disparaging, mocking posts about Latvia, which “is trampling” [on the rights of Russians], etc. They say that it is impossible to relocate there, that the folks in the former outskirts of our empire don’t like us. Well, no fucking wonder, eh?! No, we shall never get over this haughtiness. You knock yourself out trying to argue that it is possible to “recycle experience” and stop this haughtiness, when — oops! —all your work is nullified. Apparently, those who say that we just have to raze the whole MSK down to the foundations are right. Otherwise, there will be no life for anyone.
Source: Alexander Morozov, Facebook, 6 December 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader
It’s impossible, of course, to look at all the Russian chutzpah about “Latvia helped Putin today.”
In the summer, Latvia transferred 200 million euros worth of weapons and uniforms to Ukraine. This is just from what I remember offhand. They also sent six self-propelled howitzers and six helicopters. For Latvia’s small military budget, this is a lot, in relative terms.
What has the Russian opposition sent to Ukraine? Their fervent greetings? The demand not to offend them on the internet? Maxim Katz’s program?
Latvia has already done much more for [a Ukrainian] victory than all the TV Rains and Katzes combined, just millions of times more.
Source: Dmytro Raevsky, Facebook, 6 December 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader
Latvia’s decision Tuesday to withdraw the broadcast license of independent Russian television channel Dozhd caused disbelief and anger among the media outlet’s journalists and soul-searching among other Russian journalists in exile.
The Baltic country’s media watchdog said in a statement announcing the revocation that Dozhd posed “threats to national security and social order” following a series of fines issued over the outlet’s coverage of the war in Ukraine.
“I’ve been fighting for all these years to remain human in any situation… [but] I feel like a disgusting scoundrel,” Dozhd co-founder Natalia Sindeeva said between sobs in a video posted to her Telegram channel after the announcement.
“The entire TV channel is at stake.”
While Dozhd has yet to announce its response, the Latvian decision poses difficult questions for other independent Russian media outlets forced into exile in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dozhd was one of a group of independent Russian media outlets that re-established themselves abroad after the passage of repressive wartime censorship laws earlier this year, with many congregating in the Latvian capital.
Other independent Russian media outlets based in Riga include Meduza, the BBC Russian Service, and Novaya Gazeta Europe.
“It’s a very bad sign for journalists,” said one reporter from a Russian-language media outlet that moved to Riga after the start of the war who requested anonymity as he had been told not to comment on the Dozhd situation.
“Journalists obviously cannot go back to Russia where they are threatened with criminal prosecution. But they are also unlikely to be able to work quietly in Latvia.”
Many would “think of moving to another country as soon as they have the opportunity,” said another Russian journalist in Latvia who also requested anonymity.
Dozhd first came under fire when anchor Alexei Korostelev last week asked TV viewers to send information on Russia’s drafted soldiers and mistakes during the mobilization. The channel was subsequently fined for displaying a map showing annexed Crimea as part of Russia and for calling the Russian Armed Forces “our army.”
Some Ukrainian and Latvian commentators interpreted Korostelev’s words as an expression of support for Russian troops in Ukraine.
The Latvian authorities opened an investigation into Dozhd on Friday, saying that “the statements made in the program are directed against the interests of Latvia’s national security.” The Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) on Tuesday also called for a ban of Dozhd’s YouTube channel in Latvia.
Latvia’s State Security Service urged the authorities on Tuesday to bar Korostelev from entering the country, adding that it also warned Dozhd editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko of possible “criminal liability in case of committing criminal offenses.”
“Today’s decision is absurd and it has nothing to do with common sense,” said Dzyadko during Tuesday’s live news show.
“When you are switched off the air for far-fetched reasons for the first time — it is perceived as a tragedy,” Dzyadko said, referring to the channel’s removal from Russian cable packages in 2014.
“When eight years later you are called a threat to the national security of Latvia — it is perceived as a farce,” he said.
Dozhd — which started broadcasting from Latvia in June after its staff fled Russia — said it would continue to broadcast on its YouTube channel. The channel also has offices in Tbilisi and Amsterdam.
Korostelev, who was fired by Dozhd for his words, said on Friday that they had been no more than “a slip of the tongue.”
Despite his protestations, his words have caused widespread anger, however.
“When ‘good Russians’ are helping ‘bad Russians’ — can the world finally understand that they are all the same?” Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko wrote on Telegram on Friday.
Over the weekend, at least three journalists resigned from Dozhd to show their solidarity with Korostelev, while others told The Moscow Times that the current situation reminded them of the crackdown on opposition media in Russia and would ultimately only help Moscow push its pro-war narrative.
“It was the worst thing we could do in that situation… I want to say sorry,” Sindeeva said in an emotional video statement on Tuesday after the revocation of the license, in which she also asked the fired journalists, including Korostelev, to return.
International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Latvia on Tuesday to rethink its decision.
“Dozhd is one of the few independent channels with Russian journalists broadcasting to the Russian-speaking public,” Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement.
“The withdrawal of its license would be a serious blow to journalistic freedom, independence and pluralism.”
Some Ukrainian officials also expressed their support for Dozhd.
“They explained their position absolutely clearly, that their position is anti-war and pro-Ukrainian,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said on Tuesday.
Latvia’s decision to revoke Dozhd’s license would make it harder to report “truthful and objective information for Russian-speaking audiences,” a Russian journalist in Latvia, who requested anonymity, told The Moscow Times.
“That is exactly what the Kremlin is trying to achieve.”
Source: “Latvian Decision to Revoke Russian TV Station’s License Sparks Fear, Disbelief,” Moscow Times, 6 December 2022
Olga Nazarenko, a university lecturer in Ivanovo, risks going to prison for simply hanging the Ukrainian flag in the window of her own flat. Neighbors from the building opposite regularly complain about her. Nazarenko goes on anti-war pickets, where aggressive fellow citizens attack her. And the pickets have already triggered a criminal case against her. Repeated visits and searches by police officers at night and early in the morning have become routine for her children. Nazarenko sees the situation in Russia as nearly hopeless. She is amazed at how the country’s maternal instinct has even been destroyed: Russians dutifully send their children off to die for nothing. Despite all this, she considers it her duty to talk to people. She remains in Russia, and has no plans to emigrate.
Recently, the police rang at Nazarenko’s door at three o’clock in the morning. They demanded to be let in so that they could remove the Ukrainian flag. It has been hanging for six months on the balcony of the activist’s flat in an ordinary multi-storey residential building in the city of Ivanovo. Nazarenko refused to let the police in without a search warrant. Through the door, the night visitors informed her that neighbors had filed another complaint about the Ukrainian flag. The law enforcement officers left, only to return at seven in the morning and knock on the door for a long time. Nazarenko did not unlock the door, but wrote a complaint against the police to the prosecutor’s office.
Over the past two months, the police have visited the well-known anti-war protester at least four times. In the autumn, two criminal cases were opened against Nazarenko, one of them under the so-called Dadin article of the Russian criminal code. The medical school at which the activist has worked for almost twenty-four years has suspended her employment. The university lecturer is currently listed as a “suspect” by the authorities. Despite the fact that term of her undertaking not to leave the country, which went into effect after the criminal case was launched, has recently expired, she has no plans to leave Russia. She talked to Radio Svoboda about her principled choice.
— How did you find out that you had been identified as a suspect in a criminal case?
— I learned that a criminal case had been launched against me under Article 280.3 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code (“Public actions aimed at discrediting the deployment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”) from the Center “E” officers who came to my workplace at around eleven a.m. on September 20. They obliged my colleagues to to serve as witnesses, searched my desk, and found two placards. Before that, my laptop was seized without my knowledge. The bigwigs at the medical school wanted to conceal it at first, but I made a fuss. It transpired that the Center “E” officers did not even give our management rep a copy of the report for the seizure of the laptop, nor did he demand one from them. Then we went to my house; fortunately, there were no handcuffs on me. There they carefully rummaged for a long time: they took our phones (even the phone of my young son), a computer, old leaflets, our personal money, and the savings of our daughter, who is a university student. The money was returned to her, but the police kept our funds for themselves, and they are not planning to give them back to us, apparently.
— How did your children react to the search of your home?
— My son was in a little shock, especially since they took something that belonged to him. My daughter behaved calmly. She talked to the police a little. She asked whether their “assistant” was an adult: the computer technician they brought with them looked quite young. A Center “E” officer replied tersely that they were all adults and all officers. My daughter is already an adult, and she understands everything and supports me. My family took the search well, because this was not my first encounter with the relevant authorities due to politics. In the spring, at seven a.m., the riot police came to search the flat since I had been identified as a witness in a vandalism cased launched against another activist. Then they tried to prevent me from calling a lawyer, seized my phone, my computer, 138 posters, and the Ukrainian flag from the window. The law enforcement agencies’ interest in me had already become something routine.
— How long has the Ukrainian flag been hanging in the window of your flat?
— Every year since 2014, I had hung up the flag of Ukraine on the country’s Independence Day. Last year, I put it in the window and decided not to take it down. Police officers visited me after complaints were made, and they demanded explanations about the flag. I refused to explain anything to them. In the spring, after my apartment was searched, and they took the Ukrainian flag with them. I sewed a new one and hung it in the window again. I did the same thing after the search in the autumn.
— Why did you do that?
— For reasons of principle: if I support Ukraine, then I support it. And most importantly: no one in uniform and flashing a badge gets to decide what hangs in my window.
— What was the first criminal case brought against you for?
— Were you not intimidated when they launched a criminal case and searched your flat?
— All this was to be expected. And no, it didn’t intimidate me. I continued going to anti-war pickets and rallies in support of those who have been persecuted for making anti-war statements, and I talked to people on the streets. A second criminal case was soon launched against me under the so-called Dadin article (i.e., Article 212.1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code: “repeated violation of the established procedure for organizing or holding a meeting, rally, demonstration, march, or picket”). In October, Center “E” officers and the investigator who was running the first criminal case against me came again to search my flat. They were accompanied by several people in black masks and bulletproof vests. It’s hot in our flat, and I saw sweat on their faces, probably from overexertion. I even felt sorry for them. The search was superficial; they didn’t see anything new, apparently. They again seized our phones and a couple of posters. Once they got into the flat, they immediately rushed to the balcony and again pulled down the Ukrainian flag. I told them that I hadn’t violated the law when I hung up the flag, since I wasn’t infringing on the building’s communal property. The Center “E” guys replied that I should understand how turbulent the situation was now. They asked me why I was hanging the flag up. I said that it reflected my position and my aesthetic tastes.
— Do you like the colors yellow and blue?
— Yes, they are my favorite colors: the sky and the sun. The next day I sewed another Ukrainian flag and hung it out.
— Do you usually sew Ukrainian flags on a sewing machine?
— Yes. There are many shops in Ivanovo where you can buy fabric. I found a good one and bought three sets at once. It will last for a long time.
— Why do you think that it is the neighbors who filed complaints against over the flag?
— Only residents of the house located opposite mine can see the flag all the time. The denunciations are probably written by neighbors and residents of the neighboring house. I saw one complaint. The poor lady wrote: “I see the Ukrainian flag every morning and I consider it unacceptable in such a situation as we have now.” I even felt sorry for her. After I hung out the Ukrainian flag, the neighbors living in the apartments below and above mine hung out Russian flags. After the search, a “Z” was again written on my apartment’s mailbox and a note was tossed in it that said, “Ukraine is no more. Take down your rag and dry yourself with it.”
– How did the medical school react to the criminal cases against you?
– The management suspended me on the grounds that the articles of the Criminal Code brought against me hinder my work as a lecturer. My colleagues were upset. We have worked together for many years. Besides, now they have to do my duties. My colleagues do not talk about politics. Most of my colleagues are apolitical. But they have voiced their support to me and hope that everything will be resolved somehow. I studied at the medical school for six years, and after graduation I stayed on there to work. That is, my entire adult life, almost thirty years, has been connected with the medical school.
— Have you been able to get another job?
— Due to the criminal cases, I cannot tell an employer how long I would be able to work for them. So, I will look for something temporary, and then my professional career will depend on the court’s decision.
— How many pickets did you hold in the autumn?
— In September and October, I held four or five pickets. Since the second criminal case was launched, I have not yet gone out to protest, but I’m going to continue to voice my civic stance.
— Why are you going to continue to hold anti-war pickets, despite the serious risks of ending up in a Russian prison?
– I have beliefs, and I will act in keeping with them. As long as I can talk, I’ll keep doing it. What is the point of having principles if you don’t act on them, regardless of the risks?
— Do you have the support of friends, family, and associates?
— I have moral support from friends, and there are also simple acquaintances who support me and help me raise the money for fines. I am being defended by attorney Oskar Cherdzhiyev.
— Aren’t you annoyed by like-minded people who emigrated instead of getting involved in anti-war protests with you?
— If the question is about ordinary Russian citizens, and not about protest leaders, then I’m not annoyed. I understand that nothing will change in the near future. People in difficult circumstances choose the best option for themselves. We have one life, and everyone has the right to live it as they please. Besides, emigration is now a rational, appropriate solution. Many of those who have gone abroad continue their protest activities: they go to anti-war protests at Russian embassies, help refugees from Ukraine and Russia, and work on publicity.
— But why is it the best option for you to stay in Russia and go to anti-war pickets, rather than worry about your own safety?
— My choice is based on the fact that I can do more in terms of working with people in Russia than I could in emigration. I’m rubbish at information technology. It’s easier for me to talk to passersby at street protests in the hope of getting my message to them. Russia is my country, and I won’t let them kick me out. I have the right to my own country and I don’t want to leave Russia for anywhere else. I will stay here and do what I think is necessary, voice my position. If I left, I would feel bad because I got scared and ran away.
— Do you think your long-term street activism has produced any results?
— If we’re talking about changing people’s minds, I don’t see any particular results. The war is so propagandized that a few people who publicly voice a different viewpoint cannot shift the minds of the majority in the other direction. My protests are meant to have an effect on the people who are having doubts. I have succeeded in making such people think. But the main purpose of my protests is to support like-minded people among Russians and Ukrainians. Thanks to my actions, among other things, friends in Ukraine know that not everyone in Russia is an “orc.”
— How has the reaction of passersby to your pickets changed since the war with Ukraine began?
— I’ve observed that people have become more guarded and scared. They usually dash past me quickly, averting their eyes. The reactions of those who do not hide them have become quite polarized. Either passersby are emotionally grateful, or they almost pounce on me, fists flying, and call me a Banderite. At the last picket, a man grabbed my placard and tore it up. There have been more negative reactions to my pickets than friendly ones, but this is not surprising. It is amazing how, with such propaganda, one hundred percent of people don’t react negatively to anti-war protests.
— How do you manage to be so tolerant towards people whose views differ from yours?
— I would not call my attitude towards them tolerant. I just understand what motivates their behavior: a lack of critical thinking skills, plus the fear and the reverence for the authorities that is inscribed in their subcortex. Powerful state propaganda combines with excessive loyalty to those in power. Thus, Russian citizens support all decisions by high-ranking officials.
– Are you able to understand why the parents of conscripts did not come out in droves to protests after the mobilization was announced?
— It’s beyond my comprehension. The maternal instinct is a powerful biological mechanism. As conceived by nature, it should be stronger than any propaganda. Apparently, there has been a real degradation in our society over the past twenty years. Total state propaganda, which includes not only the media, but also the education system, has aimed to completely distort values. Fear and reverence for power, submission to it, which never disappeared in many Russians, have now resurfaced especially strongly. Unfortunately, learned helplessness has overcome the maternal instinct. I do not know if such people can change anything.
— This is not the first year that you have been constantly going out to protest. Perhaps you have a hope that Russia will become a free country?
— It’s hard to say. Historically, Russia has been going in circles all the time, rather than developing in a spiral. But I still want to hope that Russia will become a developed and free country. However, this won’t happen soon, perhaps in one hundred years.
“The US risks repeating the fate of the Soviet Union. Currently, the greatest threat to America comes from within, argues Donald Tramp.” Screenshot from the TASS page on Telegram. Read the whole story on their website.
“Cooperation between Russia and Myanmar is based on a solid foundation and is not subject to political trends, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin.” Source: TASS (Telegram), 3 August 2022
Kyaw Min Yu, a pro-democracy leader and writer in Myanmar widely known as Ko Jimmy, who rose to prominence in 1988 during protests that helped galvanize political forces opposing military-led regimes for decades to come, was executed with three other activists. He was 53.
In total, Ko Jimmy spent more than 20 years in prison. While detained by the state, which had been under absolute military rule for decades, he worked on literary projects. One surprise bestseller was his translation of a self-help book, which was seen as a manifesto of personal empowerment rare in a country known for its unyielding repression.
Myanmar’s military regime announced that it recently carried out the death sentences, but did not specify when the executions took place at the Insein Prison in Yangon. The junta was strongly denounced by rights groups and governments around the world. But the country’s rulers remained defiant as they seek to crush dissent and political allies of ousted civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Source: Brian Murphy, “Kyaw Min Yu, Myanmar activist known as Ko Jimmy, executed at 53,” Washington Post, 26 July 2022
Karelian historian and human rights activist Yuri Dmitriev, who was sentenced to fifteen years in prison in late 2021, has been transferred to a maximum security penal colony in Mordovia, Interfax reports, citing Dmitriev’s attorney Viktor Anufriev as its source.
The historian will serve his sentence in Correctional Colony No. 18 in the village of Potma. Dmitriev must spend another ten years in the colony [to serve out his sentence].
The first criminal case against Yuri Dmitriev was launched in 2016. The historian was accused of making child pornography involving an adopted daughter. He denied any wrongdoing. The court acquitted Dmitriev, but in 2018 new charges were filed against him. In addition to making pornography, he was accused of sexually abusing his daughter and illegally possessing a weapon.
In the summer of 2020, a court in Petrozavodsk sentenced Dmitriev to three and a half years in a maximum security penal colony. In September of the same year, the Supreme Court of Karelia toughened Dmitriev’s sentence to thirteen years in a maximum security penal colony. In December of last year, the court increased Dmitriev’s sentence to fifteen years in a penal colony. The court found him guilty of producing child pornography, committing indecent acts, and illegally possessing a weapon. He had previously been acquitted on all three charges.
A historian and the head of the Karelian branch of Memorial, Dmitriev and his colleagues discovered, in the 1990s, the killing fields at Sandarmokh, where people were shot during the Great Terror. In total, about 150 grave pits were identified and marked, in which the remains of approximately four and a half thousand people could be located.
A journalistic investigation [by Proekt] alleged that the historian’s persecution was linked to Anatoly Seryshev, an aide to President Vladimir Putin, who previously headed the Karelian FSB, where he was charged, among other things, with purging the opposition from the region.
As Kommersant has learned, Russian schools have received new recommendations on teaching special lessons in the light of the “special military operation” in Ukraine. In this case, teachers must organize classes for students in grades 5-9 and 10-11 on the topic of “anti-Russian sanctions and their impact on the domestic economy.” In the training manual, this “impact” is depicted rather positively: schoolchildren are told about the growth of the share of Russian-made products in several sectors, and then they are asked to assess which countries would suffer great economic losses from sanctions. Economists interviewed by Kommersant point out the mistakes made by the manual’s authors and warn that Russian schoolchildren will soon see the effect of sanctions themselves.
Materials for the “sanctions” lesson were handed over to Kommersant by a teacher in the Moscow Region. We found reports on such lessons on the websites of a number of schools in the Moscow, Oryol and Samara regions. As stated in the manual, teachers should “show Russia’s capacities for overcoming the negative consequences of the sanctions pressure brought by western countries on our society’s economy [and] give [pupils] an idea of the main vector of anti-sanctions policy in the Russian Federation.” The classes are to be held as part of social studies courses.
At the beginning of the lesson, teachers must quote President Vladimir Putin that “unprecedented external pressure has been exerted on Russia.” They must then ask schoolchildren whether they know “what the priority measures of our state’s anti-sanctions policy are.”
Only then should teachers tell their pupils what sanctions are: “Restrictions designed to ‘punish’ a country for its actions.” At this point, they must also clarify what “actions” are meant: “the special military operation being conducted by Russia in Ukraine, occasioned by the need to protect the population of Donbas.” Examples of sanctions include the freezing of assets of state corporations and banks, as well as a portion of Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves. Another example is the departure of foreign companies.
Teachers should then tell pupils that Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin “has identified protecting the domestic market and keeping the able-bodied population employed as the most important focus of the anti-sanctions policy.” And students have to answer the question “Why exactly are these areas a priority?”
The manual also contains a link to a video about the benefits of import substitution.
The video explains that, in the 1990s and early 2000s, imported products prevailed over domestic ones. “Active advertising of foreign goods” and “the idea of the superiority of imported products and the inability of Russian manufacturers to bring similar products online” were pushed. But by 2022, the situation had changed dramatically, says the voice-over: the share of Russian-made products had grown in food production machinery (from 12% to 45%), agricultural machinery (from 24% to 55%), and machine tool construction (from 18% to 38%). It is also suggested that teachers show pupils statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade during the lesson. The statistics purportedly show that the share of Russian goods across the entire civilian range of commodities has increased many times in the field of mechanical engineering since 2014.
“Together with pupils, the teachers conclude that economic policy in recent years has been aimed at increasing protections for domestic producers and ensuring their sustainability in the face of external crises,” the lesson script says. At this point, students in grades 5-9 are asked to list the set of measures taken to support the Russian economy and citizens in “conditions of increased pressure from sanctions,” while high school students have to describe their intended effect.
At the end of the lesson, students must fill out a feedback form. They have to answer the following questions: “Are the sanctions against Russia fair?”, “Will the sanctions lead to a strengthening of the Russian economy?”, and “Who will suffer great economic losses?”
There are three possible answers to the last question: Russia, the NATO countries, or all countries of the world.
The Education Ministry confirmed to Kommersant that it had sent methodological recommendations to schools. They were developed by the Institute of Education Development Strategies, which is subordinated to the Ministry. The Ministry noted that “leading third-party experts” from different industries had been involved in developing the lesson scenario. “The lesson materials offer schoolchildren the chance to familiarize themselves with the measures taken by the president and the government to counteract sanctions by unfriendly countries,” the Ministry told Kommersant. “The lesson materials specially emphasize the characteristics of the import substitution policy that has been implemented in Russia in recent years. The lesson assumes the active involvement of students when working with documents and interactive materials containing important information about the Russian economy’s achievements in various sectors and its readiness to resist sanctions,” they said.
Teachers from schools in Crimea and Sevastopol confirmed to Kommersant that they would have to give such lessons. And yet, they refused to give a personal assessment of the lessons, explaining that they were afraid of violating the laws on disrespect for the authorities and discrediting the armed forces. The Irkutsk Regional Ministry of Education said that lessons on import substitution had already been conducted (as extracurricular classes) for 85,000 students in 154 schools. “Children have generally shown an interest and reacted positively to the information,” they noted.
Kommersant asked economists to comment on the manual. Natalya Zubarevich, a specialist in regional socio-economic development, refused to look at it. “Why should I read this manual? It’s already clear as it is that we will lose the most advanced technology industries,“ she told Kommersant. “There is no need to hurry. Even if this manual is read aloud to children, life will show them how things really stand. In the summer, or certainly in the autumn, the children will come home and see for themselves that their families have no money, and that there is no way to buy certain goods.”
The manual’s specialized language is too complicated for both schoolchildren and teachers, says Vladimir Salnikov, an expert at the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting.
“Many points [in the manual] are quite correct at the qualitative level, but you can argue with individual figures,” says Salnikov. “For example, according to our estimates, the share of imports in certain industries is slightly higher [than indicated in the lesson materials]. Mr. Salnikov considers it an incorrect decision to present mechanical engineering as a good example of import substitution. “Things were going much better in the Russian food industry and in a number of segments of the chemical industry. And things have been quite good in some parts of light industry,” the expert says, “but the progress has been worse in mechanical engineering.”
The presentation states that “the share of Russian-made goods in the automotive industry” increased from 7% in 2014 to 86.3% in 2020. Kommersant‘s sources in the automotive industry confess that they do not understand where these figures came from: “Probably, the figures for 2020 include Russia’s entire production of cars, regardless of localization. But in this case, it is wrong to call the goods absolutely domestic. It’s also unclear why the manual’s authors cite the figure of 7% for 2014. In fact, at that time, Russian production’s share in the car market was about 75%. It’s a shame that schoolchildren will receive distorted information,” they said. Our sources also reminded us that the only automotive plants currently operating in Russia are those belonging to GAZ, UAZ, KamAZ, Mazda Sollers, and the Chinese brand Haval. The rest have been idled due to sanctions.
In early March, the Education Ministry recommended that schools hold a special history lesson (see Kommersant, 2 March 2022). Its goal was to “shape” an adequate stance among high school students on the issue of the special peacekeeping operation by the armed forces. Later, classes devoted to fake news were held in schools, in which students were urged not to believe the reports of the Ukrainian authorities about the number of Russian soldiers who had been killed (see Kommersant, 11 March 2022). Finally, during the “Brotherhood of Slavic Peoples” lesson, schoolchildren were told about the kindred cultures of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, “who should remain a single people today and not succumb to the provocations of those trying to divide them.”
Source: Anna Vasilyeva, Maria Starikova, Olga Nikitina; Vlad Nikiforov (Irkutsk); and Alexander Dremlyugin (Simferopol), Kommersant, 5 April 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader
Join us for the Book Launch and Panel Discussion for The Wayland Rudd Collection by Yevgeniy Fiks 6 PM ET, Wednesday, November 17, 2021
This event will be held via Zoom. To register for this event go here.
How can the complicated intersection of race and Communist internationalism be engaged through cultural materials from the cold war period? Artist Yevgeniy Fiks has compiled The Wayland Rudd Collection archive of Soviet media images of Africans and African Americans—from propaganda posters to postage stamps—mainly related to African liberation movements and civil rights struggles. In this new publication, meditations, reflections, and research-based essays by scholars, poets, and artists address the complicated intersection of race and Communist internationalism, with particular focus on the Soviet Union’s critique of systemic racism in the US.
The project is named after Wayland Rudd (1900-1952), a Black American actor who moved to the Soviet Union in 1932 and appeared in many Soviet films and theatrical performances. The stories of Rudd and other expat African Americans in the Soviet Union are given special attention in the book.
Bringing together post-colonial and post-Soviet perspectives, the book maps the complicated and often contradictory intersection of race and Communism in the Soviet context, exposing the interweaving of internationalism, solidarity, humanism, and Communist ideals with practices of othering and exoticization.
Please join moderator Jennifer Wilson and panelists Christina Kiaer, Christopher Stackhouse, Denise Milstein, Dread Scott, and Yevgeniy Fiks for a dynamic investigation of these materials and their implications today.
For more information and to purchase the book click here.
This event is organized by The James Gallery and Ugly Duckling Presse.
The Facebook post appealing for help in finding missing Bashkir activist Ilham Yanberdin
Environmental activist disappears, his belongings found in forest belt OVD Info
October 17, 2021
His associates have been looking for Bashkir grassroots activist Ilham Yanberdin (Ilham Vakhtovik) for a week. They published an appeal on social media, stating that Yanberdin’s relatives had not been able to contact him since October 11.
Idel.Realiireported that, on October 17, passersby found Yanberdin’s phone and personal belongings in the forest belt of the Ufa neighborhood of Inors, near the place where the activist lived. The missing person’s case has been transferred to the criminal investigation department.
Ilham Yanberdin is known in Bashkortostan for his active role in opposition protests. Among these were rallies in defense of the Kushtau shihan and actions by Alexei Navalny’s supporters. He was prosecuted for the protests that took place in January 2021.
In Ufa, the Interior Ministry sought to collect more than two million rubles from Yanberdin, Lilia Chanysheva and Olga Komleva for the “work” of its police officers during the January 2021 protest rallies. A similar decision was made by a court in Omsk. Daniil Chebykin and Nikita Konstantinov were judged to have been the organizers of the January 23 and 31 protests there and ordered to pay the Interior Ministry more than one and a half million rubles.
In June 2021, Yanberdin was detained at a people’s assembly held after the environmental activist Ildar Yumagulov was attacked and beaten by persons unknown on April 18 in Baymak. Yanberdin was later released from court. The case file was sent back to the police for verification due to violations in writing up the arrest sheet.
Translated by the Russian Reader
9 Moscow Restaurants Awarded Coveted Michelin Stars
Andrea Palasciano (AFP) Moscow Times
October 15, 2021
French gastronomic bible the Michelin Guide awarded nine Moscow restaurants with its coveted stars on Thursday, unveiling its first lineup of recommended eateries in Russia’s up-and-coming food scene.
Long derided as a gastronomic wasteland, Russia’s restaurant scene has emerged in recent years from a post-Soviet reputation for blandness, with establishments in Moscow regularly making lists of some of the world’s best.
Representatives of the Michelin guide — considered the international standard of restaurant rankings — released the first Moscow edition of their iconic red book at a ceremony at Moscow.
Sixty-nine restaurants were recommended in all.
Two restaurants — Twins Garden run by twin brothers Ivan and Sergei Berezutskiy, and chef Artem Estafev’s Artest — were given two stars.
Seven restaurants were given one star, including White Rabbit, whose chef Vladimir Mukhin featured in an episode of the Netflix documentary series “Chef’s Table.”
None were given three stars — the Holy Grail of the restaurant world.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said at the ceremony that the release of the guide was an important event at a tough time for the restaurant industry.
“It’s big moral support in this time of pandemic, when restaurants are having a particularly difficult time,” he said.
Sobyanin said it also showed Russia had rediscovered a food tradition that had suffered under the Soviet Union.
“Unfortunately during the Soviet period these traditions were lost,” he said.
“I am proud that Moscow’s restaurants have become a calling card for our fantastic city.”
Michelin’s international director Gwendal Poullennec told a press conference that the guide had used an international team of inspectors for its list and there was “no compromise in our methodology.”
Speaking to AFP earlier, he said Russia’s food scene had been “reinventing” itself since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
“There is an evolution of the Russian culinary scene. It is more and more dynamic,” Poullennec said.
He said he was surprised by “the quality and abundance of produce” in Moscow restaurants, highlighting in particular the seafood, such as crab and caviar, that are “exclusive” elsewhere but in Russia are available at a “reasonable price.”
Russia became the 35th country to have a Michelin guide and Moscow is the first city of the former Soviet Union to be awarded stars.
The selection of restaurants will appear in print and also be available via an app in 25 languages, including Russian.
Crab, smetana and borscht
Michelin in December said that chefs in Moscow had set themselves apart by highlighting Russian ingredients, including king crab from the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok and smetana, the sour cream used in preparing beef stroganoff.
Moscow restaurants have increasingly turned to local ingredients after Western sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 resulted in a scarcity of many European foods.
A number of restaurants that relied on meat, cheese and fish imported from the West were forced to close, while those that strived to source their ingredients from Russian regions became more competitive.
In explaining why it chose Moscow, the guide last year pointed to the “unique flavors” of the “nation’s emblematic first courses such as borscht.”
Another leading French restaurant guide, Gault et Millau, launched its first Russian edition in 2017. In 2019, Gault & Millau was sold to Russian investors.
Twins Garden and White Rabbit have previously featured on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Michelin also recently expanded to Beijing, Slovenia and California.
Twenty-six regions have imposed QR requirements for entrance to public places, and 605 Russian schools have gone completely over to distance instruction. Many more have done so in part. More than 90 percent of Russia’s covid beds are full and 6,000 patients are on ventilators.
And the pandemic is hitting members of the Russian elite, not only in the regions but in Moscow, where 11 Duma deputies are now hospitalized with coronavirus infections, even though 70 percent of the members of the lower house of the legislature have received their shots.
But despite all this and the fact that it is being widely reported, a Rosbalt commentator says, “everything in Russia is calm: people are digging their graves without particular noise … and one has the impression that somehow this isn’t affecting anyone.”
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
The Russian government may be optimistic about getting WHO and EU approval for its vaccines but the Russian tourist industry is less so and doesn’t expect movement before the end of the year.
Screenshot of the Russian Supreme Court’s decision to reject Yuri Dmitriev’s request for a review of his verdict
Russian Supreme Court Refuses to Review Historian Yuri Dmitriev’s Verdict Current Time
October 13, 2021
The Russian Supreme Court will not consider the cassation appeal of the head of Memorial’s Karelian branch, Yuri Dmitriev, who was sentenced to thirteen years in a high-security penal colony on charges of violent acts against a child. This was reported on the court’s website, and human rights activist Zoya Svetova also reported the denial of the request on Facebook.
“Request to transfer the case (cassation complaints, submissions) for consideration at a session of the cassation court has been denied,” the case card on the court’s website says.
This past summer, more than 150 cultural and academic figures sent an open letter to Russian Supreme Court chief justice Vyacheslav Lebedev asking the court to take Dmitriev’s case from the Petrozavodsk courts and render their own verdict.
Svetova reminded her readers that the criminal case against Dmitriev, who was accused of sexual crimes and distributing pornography, has been tried in the courts of Karelia for four and a half years. Twice the courts acquitted the historian, and twice the verdict was overturned.
“That is, [Russian Supreme Court] Judge Abramov read the file of a case in which the Karelian historian was actually acquitted twice, and then these sentences were overturned, but he decided not to review anything at all. That is, he didn’t allow the case to go to the cassation court, so as not to IMITATE justice. Because the outcome had been the same in the cassation court. This is another new low for justice,” Svetova commented on Facebook.
Historian Yuri Dmitriev, who was the first to investigate the mass graves from the Great Terror in Sandarmokh, was initially arrested five years ago, in 2016. He was charged with producing child pornography (punishable under Article 242.2 of the Criminal Code) and committing indecent acts (punishable under Article 135.1 of the Criminal Code) against his adopted daughter, a minor. The charges were occasioned by nude pictures of the child found at Dmitriev’s house, which, as he explained, he had taken so that the children’s welfare authorities could verify at any time that the child was healthy and not injured.
In 2018, he was acquitted of the charges of producing pornography and committing indecent acts, but was sentenced to two and a half years of supervised release for possession of a weapon (punishable under Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code): during a search of Dmitriev’s house, police had found part of the barrel from a hunting rifle.
Dmitriev’s adopted daughter was immediately removed from his custody after the first arrest, and since then she has been living with her grandmother.
In June 2018, Dmitriev was arrested again: a new criminal case was opened against him, this time into commission of violent acts, and the lower court’s initial acquittal in the case was also overturned. According to the new charges, Dmitriev had not only photographed the girl, but also touched her crotch. Dmitriev himself said that he was checking the dryness of the child’s underwear. (The girl had suffered from bedwetting.)
The new trial ended in July 2020 with an acquittal on the indecent acts and pornography charges. However, the Petrozavodsk City Court ruled that Dmitriev was guilty of committing violent acts and sentenced him to three and a half years in a high-security penal colony.
In September 2020, the Karelian Supreme Court, after considering the appeals of the defense and the prosecution against the verdict, increased Dmitriev’s sentence to thirteen years in a high-security penal colony.
On the day of the third cassation court hearing in the Dmitriev case, the investigative journalism website Proekt published an article in which it named a possible “high-ranking curator” overseeing the case. According to Proekt, it could be the Russian presidential aide Anatoly Seryshev, who was head of the FSB in Karelia from 2011 to 2016.
⚡️The Justice Ministry has placed 9 more journalists and 3 companies on its register of “foreign media agents,” including Bellingcat, which investigated Navalny’s poisoning, the founder of the Center for the Protection of Media Rights, a TV Rain journalist, and a BBC journalist.
The list now includes:
🔸Tatyana Voltskaya, Radio Svoboda
🔸Daniil Sotnikov, TV Rain
🔸Katerina Klepikovskaya, Sever.Realii
🔸Аndrei Zakharov, BBC
🔸Galina Arapova, director of the Center for the Protection of Media Rights
🔸Roman Perl, Current Time
🔸Elizaveta Surnacheva, Proekt
🔸Elena Solovieva, Sever.Realii
🔸Eugene Simonov, international coordinator of the Rivers Without Borders Coalition
🔹LLC “МЕМО”(the founding company of Caucasian Knot)
We were happy for the journalists at Novaya Gazeta, but we shouldn’t overdo it, is the message, apparently.