Circassian Day of Mourning (May 21)

On the day of the end of the Russian-Caucasian war of 1763–1864, on the day of memory and sorrow of the Circassians, we publish another album-manifesto from Jrpjej.

In addition to music, the album is accompanied by a pdf-zine with our reflection on Circassian songs of the 20th century and their relevance today

“Sefitse” is a line from the song “Quedzoqo Tole Tsiku.”

In the Adyghe language, “se” is a homonym that means both milk and bullet. To intensify the tragedy, the bullet in the song is called black. We found this metaphor and wordplay profound. Death and the life-giving drink go hand in hand, as death permeates the everyday life of wartime.

It is important for us to release this album on May 21st, the Day of Remembrance for the Adygs. For several years now, we have been releasing special albums on this day. Most often, these are songs from the period of the Russo-Caucasian War. The accompanying text to these albums hardly changes, just as the official discourse in the political space of the North Caucasus does not change. In fact, it has only gotten worse — the 2022 Jrpjej album was our protest against the ban on the mourning procession in Nalchik.

In 2023, the traditional procession is once again officially banned for fabricated reasons. Therefore, any action that helps people remember and resist assimilation seems particularly important to us.

Songs about the executed Zalimgery Keref, the battle of Kars, of Tole Kodzoko bleeding in the trench, and others tell us that the methods of repression do not change. But no matter how much our voices are drowned out, these songs still resonate. One hundred years ago and right now.

This album is about memory, action, and solidarity.

Timur Kodzoko
Daiana Kulova
Alan Shawdjan
Gupsa Pashtova
Astemir Ashiboko
Zaurkan Mazlo

Session musicians:
Aslan Tashu
Dzhanet Siukhova
Iland Khadjaev

Recorded on September 2022 and April 2023.
Recording location: Dom Radio, Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria

Sound and mixing: Timur Kodzoko
Cover art: Milana Khalilova
Liner notes: Bulat Khalilov
Translation: Bella Mirzoeva

Source: Ored Recordings (Bandcamp) Please consider paying (whatever you like) at the link and thus being able to download a high-quality mp3 file of the album, which includes a fascinating 47-page illustrated booklet in Russian and English. ||| ••• TRR •••


Unlike Inversia, Nalchik’s Platform festival was conceived, organized and launched literally on the fly. In the summer of 2019, Bulat Khalilov and Timur Kodzokov, the founders of the ethnographic music label Ored Recordings, specializing in the traditional music of the peoples of the Caucasus, came up with the idea of holding an educational and musical marathon in their hometown of Nalchik. They appealed for support to Oksana Shukhostanova from the Art Hall Platform Urban Development Institute, an agency under the municipal administration, who acted as an intermediary between the mayor’s office and festival organizers, and also gave the event its name.

“Platform is primarily a festival of urban culture, and music is only one of its components”, Khalilov says. “In terms of engaging with urban spaces and communities, we have both strengths and points that are sagging and need to be improved. For example, we open new places for fun-filled informal events. So, the first festival breathed life into the almost-forgotten but once-popular Dance Hall. It had been a long time since live music was played there, especially in this format.”

Subsequently, the festival was held in one of the halls at the House of Trade Unions in the city center, where, according to the event’s organizers, no cultural events had ever been held at all.

“It is quite odd, because both the pompous Soviet-style building itself and the hall, with its excellent acoustics, were begging for something interesting to happen in them. Last year, at this location, we staged performances by Utro, Pasosh, Fyodor’s Garden, Alina Petrova and Sergei Khramtsevich, and Foresteppe. And most recently (in January 2021), Platform had a cool spin-off – a collaboration between Ored Recordings and Le Guess Who? For this project, Platform and Ored swapped places: the label was the organizer, while the institution was the partner. A mini-festival of contemporary Circassian music – from traditional to black – was held in the concert studio of Radio House, where folk choirs, orchestras and many more musicians were recorded in Soviet times. Now we (Ored and Platform) are planning to work with regional radio, so we want to continue to do something interesting in these spaces.”

On the other hand, Platform has not yet able to utilize several venues at once, thus immersing the whole of Nalchik in an atmosphere of musical celebration. Khalilov argues that this is a problem of scale and resources: at this stage, the organizers cannot afford to invite many musicians and hold a large number of other activities in the city – for example, educational events (lectures, seminars, master classes, film screenings) and interdisciplinary events (exhibitions, audiovisual performances, theater productions) – in order to engage more locations and more diverse sites.

“I see a problem in the fact that we don’t always manage to involve local communities,” says Bulat. “In terms of music, this happens because the local scene is still in its infancy: we have almost no musicians that we could put in the same line-up with Brom or Utro without compromising the quality. The exceptions are the local traditional music and rare gems like the vinyl DJ RK.”

The organizers also note that interacting with city hall is one of the most difficult aspects of their work. As in the case of Inversia, communication with the authorities often comes down to solving formal issues and proving to officials that the festival has great potential for developing the city, improving its image, boosting tourism in the region, and so on. The Platform team admits, however, that the Nalchik administration provides all possible assistance to their undertaking: the festival receives a considerable chunk of its budget through city hall. And yet, they say, the cooperation could be closer and more productive, thus benefiting, first of all, the city itself. Because, as Platform’s curators emphasize, the main goal of the festival, as well as of Ored Recordings, is to build a community or environment for traditional music that would fit into a contemporary context – that is, to generate conditions in which performers understand how and why to make music, and listeners, where to listen to it. Platform aims to grow communities in Nalchik that will nurture profoundly local phenomena (in music, literature, etc.) that are in demand both at home and globally.

“That’s why we combine traditional music and the provisional ‘stars’ of independent music in the line-up,” Khalilov says. “Having Pasosh and Susanna Talijokova on the same stage with dance performances is strange even by the standards of local music lovers. I’m not sure that our audience deciphers this message, but with each subsequent festival, it is noticeable how the teenagers who have come for the post-punk and fans of Circassian music get used to each other and do not perceive different music as something strange.”

Finally, the Platform team regards the negative experience of interacting with local non-folk musicians as another problem. “Many of them send applications to play at the festival, but rarely come to the festival itself,” says Bulat. “It’s strange when people seem to want their moment of glory at the festival, but they don’t seem to need it.” He notes that, perhaps, it is a matter of time and soon there will be groups of a suitable format in Nalchik, or maybe something deeply local in contrast to Platform, since the festival is focused on a somewhat narrow albeit woke audience. (According to him, there are other events in Nalchik for mass audiences, including Art Bazaar, Gastrofest, and the Festival of Flowers.) Any of those outcomes would be tantamount to progress in Khalilov’s eyes.

“In terms of interacting with the city and the local community, we look at festivals like Le Guess Who? and Unsound, and among the Russian festivals we are inspired by Bol and Inversia,” Khalilov continues. “Although it’s a young festival, Platform copes with this job at some level. We always have something local on stage. If the festival had more resources, it would be possible to recruit more local musicians to various projects. We are working in this direction, but it is also vital that local content is presented not only as part of a quota or due to having a local residence permit. You cannot make allowances for a musician because they live in Nalchik. I am sure that Jrpjej is invited to major festivals not because they’re ‘exotic’ (although some of the audience, of course, perceives them as these weird Circassians), but because of their unique sound and good material. We think it’s important to show local residents and local musicians that, musically speaking, geography and your home address are not big obstacles. You can find more advantages than obstacles in living in Nalchik.”

Platform’s impact on Nalchik’s cultural image is still difficult to assess — the festival is too new. There are a lot of people in the city who haven’t even heard of it. The organizers are sure that their project and Ored Recordings reveal and highlight an important problem: in fact, there is neither a culture industry nor a clearly delineated media space in Nalchik.

“If you’re promoting a concert at DOM or Shagi in Moscow, I understand that you have to send announcements to Afisha and The Village, and post info on the right Telegram channels and VK community pages, but it’s not entirely clear how you convey information to the Nalchik audience,” Bulat says. “There are no information channels, everything is as spontaneous and quirky as possible. We are working on this aspect, which is also a good thing.”

On the other hand, Platform has formed its own audience, which waits for the festival to come around each year and asks the organizers to invite specific performers (from Ivan Dorn to M8L8TH). There are also fans from other regions who come to Nalchik specifically for Platform. And, finally, there is attention from the media. So, for some locals and outsiders, Nalchik has already become a more comfortable and interesting place to live and visit.


Source: Kristina Sarkhanyants, “South by Northeast: Music Festivals and the Cultural Cachet of Mid-Size Russian Cities,” trans. Thomas H. Campbell, V–A–C Sreda, no. 20 (May 2021)

The authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria have banned holding events in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War, threatening responsibility for violating the ban, reports Aslan Beshto, the chair of the Coordinating Council of Adyghe Public Associations.

Caucasian Knot has reported that in 2022, the authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria refused to sanction a march in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War. Despite the ban, on May 21, a mourning meeting was held at the “Tree of Life” monument, and several dozen young people held a march in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War on the streets of Nalchik. The police drew up a report on the violation of public order against a horseman who took part in the march.

On May 20, 2022, participants of the mourning events held at the “Tree of Life” monument in Nalchik lit 101 candles. The activists criticized the republic’s authorities for cancelling the march on the Circassian Day of Mourning.

According to Aslan Beshto, the chair of the Coordinating Council of Adyghe Public Associations, he was warned that if organizers held an unsanctioned rally, they would be brough to responsibility under the “rally” article, Kavkaz.Realii reports.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet [news] agency Caucasian Knot on May 14, 2023 at 01:08 pm MSK. To access the full text of the article [in Russian], click here.

Source: “Nalchik activists refused [i.e., were denied permission] to hold events on Circassian Day of Mourning,” Caucasian Knot, 15 May 2023


Events have been held in Nalchik to commemorate the Circassian Day of Mourning, including a march through the streets of the city that was not permitted by the authorities. The people involved in the events considered it vital to preserve Adyghe traditions.

As Caucasian Knot has reported, May 21, the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Caucasian War, was officially declared a holiday in Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, where Circassians are the titular nation. This year, the authorities in Kabardino-Balkaria banned holding events in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War on May 20 and 21, threatening to prosecute those who violated the ban, said Aslan Beshto, chair of the Coordinating Council of Adyghe Public Associations.

Adyghe (Circassians) is the common name for a people living in Russia and abroad, who have been divided into Kabardians, Circassians, and Adygeans. May 21 is celebrated annually as Circassian Day of Mourning, according to the Caucasian Knot reference guide.

Several events were held in Nalchik to commemorate the Circassian Day of Mourning

Events commemorating the 159th anniversary of the end of the Caucasian War began in Nalchik on the evening of May 20 at the Tree of Life Memorial. There, the republic’s musical groups performed folk songs about the dramatic events of the Caucasian War, and 159 candles were lit. Traditional funeral treats, lakum, were handed out to attendees our correspondent reported.

Today, the main events took place in Nalchik, including an unauthorized march by several dozen people through downtown Nalchik from the railway station to Abkhazia Square, and from there to the Tree of Life Memorial. The marchers carried [Circassian] flags and periodically shouted the phrase “the Adyghe tribe is alive” in their native language. Although the march had not been permitted by authorities, no one stopped them.

The Caucasian War, which lasted from 1763 to 1864, brought the Adyghe peoples to the brink of extinction. After the war and the mass deportation of Adyghe to the Ottoman Empire, a little more than 50,000 Adyghe remained in their homeland. The Russian authorities have not yet acknowledged the Circassian genocide during the war.

Several hundred people gathered in the park near the Tree of Life Memorial. At twelve noon Moscow time, a rally began. It was kicked off by Mukhadin Kumakhov, Kabardino-Balkaria’s minister of culture. He explained that the head of the republic, veterans, members of parliament, members of the government, heads of administration of districts and villages, clergy and elders had came to honor the memory of their ancestors.

Most of the speech given by Houti Sokhrokov, president of the International Circassian Association, was in Kabardian. In Russian, he said that 159 years had passed “since the bloodiest war.” “We stand today in a place sacred to all the Adyghe, the Tree of Life Memorial, and remember those who fell in that war. We shall cherish the memory of their courage in our hearts, and pray that this never happen to any nation again,” he said.

Sokhrokov then asked for a minute of silence, after which continued his speech. “As we remember today the events of those distant years, we pay tribute to the wisdom, foresight, fortitude and perseverance of our ancestors, who, despite all their hardships, saved the Adyghe people, remained faithful to the fateful choice they had made once upon a time, and preserved their historical homeland for future generations. This historical continuity has not been severed. It is only thanks to this that the Adyghe have preserved their language, traditions and culture,” he said.

The republic’s leading Muslim clerics performed a dua, a memorial prayer ritual, after which flowers were laid at the memorial, our correspondent reported.

Nalchik residents pointed out the importance of preserving Adyghe traditions

The date is a sad one for Adyghe, Timur Shardanov, chair of the Council of Veterans of the War in Abkhazia told our correspondent. “Today is a sad day for us Adyghe. We war veterans have come to honor the memory of ancestors who passed away at that time. We cherish their memory and try to pass it on to our [children]. We must do this so that it does not happen again somewhere. We know what war is, and we don’t want our children to see it,” he said.

Shardanov argues that an equestrian procession is optional on the Day of Mourning. The main thing, in his opinion, is to come to the memorial and stand for a while there.

An injustice was committed against the Adyghe, which consists not only in the expulsion of the people, but “also in an attempt to erase the memory of this page of history,” another attendee, Alexei Bekshokov argues. “The Koran says: I have forbidden injustice to myself and I forbid it to you,” he explained to our correspondent

Bekshokov considers the ban on the equestrian procession an excessive measure. “Nothing would have happened if it had taken place. Horse marches were part of Circassian history,” he said.

In 2022, the authorities in Kabardino-Balkaria turned down a request by a grassroots group to hold a solemn procession in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War. Despite the ban, on 21 May 2022, several dozen young people marched through the streets of Nalchik. The security forces charged a rider who took part in the procession with disturbing the peace. The atmosphere during the march was tense, and the clash between the police and the riders heated it up even more, eyewitnesses said. The march had been held for many years without incident, Martin Kochesoko, the president of [rights group] Habze, noted at the time.

Anatoly Thagapsoev, a resident of Nalchik, argues that the best tribute to the memory of their ancestors would be if the Adyghe did not lose traditions which have been part of their existence for centuries.

“I see that women without headscarves and men without hats have come to the memorial event. This used not to be allowed among the Adyghe. They bring children in ethnic costumes and take pictures of them in front of the memorial, as if it were a holiday. The line between the Adyghe man and the Adyghe woman, the older and younger [generations], is also being erased. Previously, a woman had no right to cross a road in front of a man. When a man passed by, a woman had to stand up, even if it was a boy, for the boy is a future man. These are nuances, but being Adyghe consisted of them,” the Nalchik resident told our correspondent.

Community leader Idar Tsipinov believes that the Adyghe Day of Remembrance contributes to the revival of national consciousness. “Personally, I am opposed to globalization. I believe that the more nations, the more different cultures there are, the more interesting it is. This does not mean that we live in the past. This means that we live in the present, we look to the future, but we don’t forget the past either,” he told our correspondent.

Caucasian Knot collects articles on the situation of Circassians in Russia and abroad on the thematic page “The Circassian Question.” Our “Reference” section also contains the article “The parade in Krasnaya Polyana: How Russia broke the Circassian resistance.”

Source: “Nalchik residents hold march on Circassian Day of Mourning despite ban by authorities,” Caucasian Knot, 21 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

The Circassian Day of Mourning (Adyghe: Шъыгъо-шӏэжъ маф, Russian: День памяти жертв Кавказской войны) or the Day of Mourning for the Victims of the Circassian Genocide (often censored in Russian media as Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Caucasus War) is mourned every year on 21 May in remembrance of the victims of the Russo-Circassian War and the subsequent Circassian genocide by members of the Circassian diaspora. The choice of the date is due to the fact that on 21 May 1864, General Pavel Grabbe held a military parade in the what is now Krasnaya Polyana in honor of the victory in the Battle of Qbaada.


From 1763 to 1864 the Circassians fought against the Russians in the Russian-Circassian War. During the war, Russian Empire employed a genocidal strategy of massacring Circassian civilians. Only a small percentage who accepted Russification and resettlement within the Russian Empire were completely spared. The remaining Circassian population who refused were variously dispersed or killed en masse. Circassian villages would be located and burnt, systematically starved, or their entire population massacred. Leo Tolstoy reports that Russian soldiers would attack village houses at night. Sir Pelgrave, a British diplomat who witnessed the events, adds that “their only crime was not being Russian.”

A mass deportation was launched against the surviving population before the end of the war in 1864 and it was mostly completed by 1867. Some died from epidemics or starvation among the crowds of deportees and were reportedly eaten by dogs after their death. Others died when the ships underway sank during storms. Calculations, including taking into account the Russian government’s own archival figures, have estimated a loss of 80–97% of the Circassian population in the process. The displaced people were settled primarily to the Ottoman Empire.

In 1914, Nicholas II celebrated the 50th anniversary of the defeat of the Circassians, describing it as one of the empire’s greatest victories. Boris Yeltsin acknowledged in 1996 when signing a peace treaty with Chechnya during the First Chechen War that the war was a tragedy whose responsibility lies with Russia.


In 1990, the Circassians designated 21 May as the Day of Mourning for their people, on which they commemorate the tragedy of the nation. It is memorable and non-working day in the three republics of the Russian Federation  (Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia) as well as in the Circassian villages of the Krasnodar Krai. The government of the partially recognized Republic of Abkhazia also mourns the day of mourning on May 21 (until 2011, it was mourned on May 31).

The day is also widely mourned with rallies and processions in countries with a large Circassian diaspora, such as Turkey, Germany, United States, Jordan and other countries of the Middle East.

Source: Wikipedia

The Russo-Circassian War (AdygheУрыс-адыгэ зауэromanized: Wurıs-adığə zawə; Russian: Русско-черкесская война; 1763–1864; also known as the Russian invasion of Circassia) was the invasion of Circassia by Russia, starting in July 17, 1763 (O.S) with the Russian Empire assuming authority in Circassia, followed by the Circassian refusal, ending 101 years later with the last army of Circassia defeated on 21 May 1864 (O.S), making it exhausting and casualty-heavy for both sides. The Circassians fought the Russians longer than all the other peoples of the Caucasus, and the Russo-Circassian War was the longest war both Russia and Circassia have ever fought.

During and after the war, the Russian Empire employed a genocidal strategy of systematically massacring civilians which resulted in the Circassian genocide where up to 2,000,000 Circassians (85-97% of the total population) were either killed or expelled to the Ottoman Empire (especially to modern-day Turkey; see Circassians in Turkey), creating the Circassian diaspora. While the war was initially an isolated conflict, Russian expansion through the entire region soon drew a number of other nations in the Caucasus into the conflict. As such, the war is often considered the western half of the Caucasus War.

During the war, the Russian Empire did not recognize Circassia as an independent region, and as a result, it considered Circassia Russian land which was under rebel occupation, despite the fact that the region was not and had never been under Russian control. Russian generals did not refer to the Circassians by their ethnic name, instead, they called the Circassians “mountaineers”, “bandits”, and “mountain scum”. The war has been subjected to historical revisionism and it has also garnered controversy due to the fact that later Russian sources mostly ignored or belittled the conflict, and Russian state media and officials have gone as far as to claim that the conflict “never happened” and they have also claimed that Circassia “voluntarily joined Russia in the 16th century”.


Source: Wikipedia

May 21 marks the Circassian Day of Mourning, a time of remembrance for the victims of the Russo-Circassian War.

In 1864, the Caucasian War ended on this day. The Russian Empire held a prayer service and celebrated the victory. For Circassians this war ended in tragedy: the loss of independence, mass extermination of the population, eviction to the Ottoman Empire, Syria and other countries, the breakdown of the social system, and a colossal trauma.

For Circassians May 21 is more than just a sad date, and the Russo-Circassian War is not a thing of the past. These events still determine our reality. What the official Russian historical science interprets as a military-political conflict or even the pacification of a troubled region, Circassians perceive as genocide.

The events of 1864 and the subsequent colonization of the former Circassia and the North Caucasus remain an acute problem that official authorities ignore.

One can re-read the texts for our releases on May 21 or the posts we have made in past years. They are all relevant and can be reproduced again and again. There are no shifts or new trends in Russian society or the official political course.

There are also alarming signs that discourse is being further constricted. In 2020 and 2021, the traditional mourning procession in Nalchik was canceled due to the pandemic. The Circassian public accepted the extraordinary circumstances, and it did not cause any indignation.

In 2022, the rally was canceled again for strange reasons. The authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria did not clarify them, and the International Circassian Association referred to “difficult times” and “the situation with the special operation in Ukraine”.

The Circassian community was outraged by the absurdity of these statements. And so were we.

Initially, we did not plan to release an album, but make a post about grief and memory. On May 17, we learned that the main Circassian symbolic event in our hometown was canceled. Yes, there will be a minute of silence and other mourning events, but there will be no main unifying procession in which Circassians of different views, confessions, and political orientation stand shoulder to shoulder to make a peaceful democratic statement.

And we decided to record and publish an album with songs of the Russo-Circassian War.

This is our traditional way of memorizing the past, a call for working with heritage and defending our subjectivity. We believe that problems need to be discussed and solved together, and not put off until better times. Otherwise, these better times will never come.

The songs on this album are war and mourning ballads of those who fought for their independence. For us, this is also an anti-militaristic statement, since all this music is set against repression and aggression.

Circassians, who have suffered from imperialism, must understand that colonial optics and repressive methods are unacceptable against any other groups of people, small or large. Every group or community has the right to determine its future.

Timur Kodzoko — guitar, shichepshin, vocals
Alan Shawdjan — vocals, accordion
Daiana Kulova — vocals, shichepshin, percussion

Guest singers:
Zaurbek Kozh
Zaur Nagoy

Sound recording: Timur Kodzoko
Sound editing, mixing: Timur Kodzokov
Cover photo: Elina Karaeva
Cover design: Milana Khalilova
Text: Bulat Khalilov and Bella Mirzoeva
Recorded on May 20-21, 2022
Recording location: Dom Radio, Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria

Except “Тыгъужъыкъо Къызбэч,” recorded by Daan Duurland at Katzwijm Studio, Netherlands, November 2021.

NB. This entry was updated on 22 May 2023. ||| ••• TRR •••

All Happy Families Are Alike

Cheburashka (center) and friends. Photo: Yulia Vlasova/

A monument entitled The Happy Family was unveiled in the park near Kaliningrad’s Lower Lake. Located between the Palace of Creativity of Children and Youth and the Regional Trade Unions Federation building, the site was transferred to the church in 2012. In 2022, the Kaliningrad Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church applied to the Kaliningrad administration for permission to beautify the park. However, by that time the square had already actually been landscaped, only the promised sculpture was missing.

The unveiling ceremony took place on Thursday, May 11. The Happy Family is represented by a woman sitting on a bench with a small child surrounded by two more children, a man and a dog. On the same bench there is a sign saying “Do not look for your happiness in other people’s families. You won’t find it there.” A less noticeable sign is attached to the back of the bench, stating that “Happy Family Park was created by the Kaliningrad Diocese with the support of the Governor of the Kaliningrad Region Anton Alikhanov and Yevgeny Verkholaz.” Ivan Melnikov, a sculptor from Samara, authored the composition.

Both Governor Anton Alikhanov and Regional Legislative Assembly deputy Yevgeny Verkholaz joined Archbishop of Kaliningrad and the Baltics Seraphim in unveiling the monument. Verkholaz, in particular, called on everyone wishing for a happy family life to stroke the members of the sculpted nuclear family unit and make a wish, explaining that he himself, for example, had stroked the girl and fathered a daughter.

The event was also attended by the chairman of the Regional Legislative Assembly Andrei Kropotkin, the head of the Kaliningrad administration Elena Dyatlova accompanied by the new head of the city Oleg Aminov, State Duma deputy Marina Orgeeva, and Senator [sic] Alexander Yaroshuk.

Source: Yulia Vlasova, “Yaroshuk, Cheburashka, Alikhanov: Happy Family monument unveiled in Kaliningrad (photo reportage),” Novyi Kaliningrad, 11 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Marina Varchenko for the heads-up. The Happy Family seems to have provoked a mostly negative reaction among the readers of the Novyi Kaliningrad VK page.

Luminary Recordings: Akhtseh Rayondin Maniyar

We’re thrilled to announce our latest album, a result of a collaboration between Ored Recordings and Luminary, an educational center in the village of Khryug, in the Ahtynsky district of Dagestan.

Luminary works with local children, offering them various classes in design, programming, music, and other fascinating topics. Our collaboration with them involved a three-day expedition of young Lezgins through their native Ahtynsky district, recording the songs of bards, local ensembles, and cultural workers.

In addition to the audio release, we’ve also published a printed zine, in which the children describe their experience, and we share our thoughts on the symbolism of such trips.

Ored Recordings is an ethnographic label, whose team travels mainly in the Caucasus, studying and recording local music. While there are many similar projects around the world, they are often led by white Europeans on an “exotic safari” in foreign lands. However, in our case, things are different. Ored Recordings is led by Circassians, who immerse themselves in their own tradition and the culture of their neighbors. In our eyes, there is less exoticism and orientalism, which can be found in the work of the French in Tibet or Americans in Ethiopia.

Nevertheless, we know relatively little about the music and culture of neighboring republics. Even in Dagestan, we may be neighbors, but we are still outsiders. We try to bridge the gap by taking local guides and carefully preparing for trips to other republics. However, the most honest thing we can do is to send the locals on the expedition themselves, without us.

When the Luminary center in Khryug invited us to do something together with their kids, it became evident that they should go on an expedition to their native villages and share their music and personal discoveries with everyone.

Ored Recordings’ role was to provide young ethnographers with tools, without imposing our vision. We didn’t teach young Lezgins what music was worthy of recording and what should be forgotten. Nor did we decide for them what would become a hit or what would be boring.

The result is an album of diverse music, the faces of living bearers of tradition, an engaging story of an ethnographic adventure, and a beautiful zine.

Importantly, the project is not interesting merely because it was done by children. The release and zine by the Luminary kids are not cute; they are serious works that adults could have done worse. And to us, this carries great symbolic value: traditional music does not belong to us — the elders, academics, and art curators. It’s for everyone, especially the new generations.

We hope you enjoy this album and take a moment to appreciate the work of these talented young musicians and ethnographers.

Source: Ored Recordings (Bandcamp)

The Price of “Treason” Is 2,500 Rubles: The Case of Tamara Parshina

Tamara Parshina
Photo courtesy of the BBC via Activatica

A Khabarovsk woman, detained in March on suspicion of treason for financing the Ukrainian armed forces, has been identified by BBC journalists as twenty-three-year-old Tamara Parshina. Parshina’s initials and surname appeared in a judicial database in late April, when her term of detention was extended at the FSB’s request.

Parshina graduated from the Far Eastern State University of Railway Engineering (DVGUPS) with a degree in information systems and information technologies. Prior to that, the accused studied at the prep school on Leningrad Street, which was also where she was detained. The young woman was employed at the Khabarovsk Regional Compulsory Health Insurance Fund.

After Parshina’s arrest, there were rumors that she was an activist in the I Am/We Are Furgal movement. However, the regular attendees of the pickets in support of ex-regional governor Sergei Furgal said that no one they knew had been arrested in the case. Furgal’s headquarters called the claim that the detainee was an activist in the movement an attempt to discredit it.

The attorney Kaloy Akhilgov reported that Parshina had donated a total of 2,500 rubles [approx. 29 euros] in small amounts to various Ukrainian charitable foundations. She is currently in custody at Moscow’s Lefortovo remand prison.

Parshina is the youngest person so far detained on suspicion of treason in Russia. She faces up to twenty years in prison if convicted. The toughening of the punishment for treason occurred after Parshina’s arrest. Also, women are not given life sentences in Russia: the maximum sentence for women is twenty-five years.

Source: “Khabarovsk woman arrested for treason identified,” Activatica, 13 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Olga Mazurova for the heads-up.

“The FSB has detained a Khabarovsk woman, an activist in the I Am/We Are Furgal movement, on suspicion of treason for financing the Ukrainian armed forces, the FSB’s public relations office has told us. Criminal charges have been filed. Video footage courtesy of Russian Federal Security Service Public Relations Office.” Source: TASS (Telegram), 13 March 2023

In March, the FSB began accusing Russians of providing financial assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces and charging them with treason. The BBC has discovered that 36-year-old Nina Slobodchikova from Novosibirsk was the first to be detained, followed by 23-year-old Tamara Parshina from Khabarovsk (who is the youngest Russian woman so far accused of treason). Both women were employed in the IT field before their arrests. One of them has relatives in Ukraine.

Two men in camouflage walk briskly, skirting snowdrifts, down a snow-covered sidewalk. They chase down and grab a young woman in a light-colored down jacket carrying a small bag. Her face has been blurred: only a strand of hair that has escaped from under her cap is visible. She is confused and crying. Something falls from her hands to the ground; one of the men picks it up and says, “Calm down.” The girl is bundled into a black minibus with tinted windows.

This is video footage shot by the FSB. In the next scene, the detainee, now carrying a backpack, enters the FSB’s Khabarovsk Territory offices, escorted by security forces officers. She is then seen being led up the gangway of an Aeroflot Boeing 777 named in honor of Marshal of the USSR Vasily Chuikov. The sign above the airport reads “Khabarovsk.” At the end of the video, the young woman disembarks from the plane at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. In the final shots, she is led through the courtyard of Lefortovo remand prison. Her hands are cuffed behind her back.

The video appeared in the media on March 13, the same day the FSB reported that it had detained a Khabarovsk woman on suspicion of treason for financially aiding the Ukrainian army. The BBC was told by the Lefortov court that pretrial restraints had been imposed on Parshina on March 9 in Khabarovsk. According to information obtained on the website Flightradar24, the Chuikov Boeing flew to Moscow around three o’clock in the afternoon on March 9.


The BBC tracked down classmates and acquaintances of 23-year-old Tamara Parshina on social media. One of them recognized the young woman in the video released by FSB. “Those are her sneakers,” she said. “And she seems to be sobbing too. I remember because she often cried at school. The hair is curly, like hers. She also wore glasses.” Her description matches photos of Parshina on social media.

Parshina’s friends do not know the exact nature of the charges against her. “It seems that she donated money last spring [in 2022] to some organization that helps someone in Ukraine,” an acquaintance of the young woman wrote to the BBC. Parshina’s mother declined to speak with the BBC about her daughter.

The FSB reported that the young woman was detained on Leningrad Street in Khabarovsk “near the train station.” According to a friend, [that was a coincidence]: she merely lived in the neighborhood. Leningrad Street is also the location of the prep school that Parshina attended and where she won academic competitions. [I was unable to access this link from my computer — TRR.]

In 2021, Parshina graduated from the Far Eastern State University of Railway Engineering (DVGUPS) with a degree in information systems and information technologies. “Novice web developer […] looking for remote work, but would also consider relocating,” she wrote about herself on LinkedIn.

After graduating from university, the young woman worked at the Khabarovsk Regional Compulsory Health Insurance Fund, said a former university classmate.

Friends of Parshina with whom the BBC spoke had lost contact with her in the winter. “[In February] some friend of hers wrote to me: he was also looking for her. I wrote to her wherever I could, but she didn’t reply to me,” one of them said. Another friend of Parshina from a group in which they played board games together claims that Parshina had not been in touch with him since late January.

The FSB alleged that Parshina was “an activist in the ‘I Am/We Are Furgal’ movement.” With this as their slogan, thousands of the region’s residents protested in support of ex-governor Sergei Furgal after his arrest [on murder charges] in the summer of 2020. In February of this year, Furgal was sentenced to 22 years in prison. According to the FSB, the Khabarovsk woman, motivated, allegedly, by “political hatred and enmity,” donated money to the Ukrainian armed forces for the purchase of weapons, ammunition, and uniforms. Now she is housed in the same Moscow prison as Furgal.

Parshina’s friends were not aware of her protest activities. “To be honest, I don’t think she was involved in that,” a former university classmate told the BBC. “I know that she was subscribed to various environmental activists and feminists on Instagram.”

Six months before his arrest, Furgal paid a visit to DVGUPS, where Parshina was studying at that time. There were many students in attendance, and the Khabarovsk Territory government published a report about the visit on its website. [This website seems to be blocked to users outside Russia — TRR.] Parshina is not in any of the photos of this event.

On March 13, Khabarovsk regional MP Sergei Bezdenezhnykh, a Furgal ally, wrote on his Telegram channel that “none of the I Am/We Are Furgal activists recognized the detainee.”

“As a member of the Furgal team, I can say that she has nothing to do with us. I have the sense that certain forces want to link financing of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the ex-governor’s name. The movement is not official, it is not registered anywhere. First and foremost, it is an indefinitely large group of people,” Bezdenezhnykh wrote. The Furgal team, he claims, supports Russia, not Ukraine.

The FSB alleges that Parshina donated “personal funds” to the Armed Forces of Ukraine on grounds of “political hatred and enmity,” without specifying at whom these feelings of hers were directed.

It was this motive that the Khabarovsk Regional Court had previously ruled an aggravating circumstance in another treason case. In the autumn of 2022, it sentenced Vyacheslav Mamukov to twelve and a half years in a maximum-security penal colony for, allegedly, attempting to sell information on the design of thirty Russian bridges to the Ukrainian special services.


Source: Sergei Goryashko and Ksenia Churmanova, “‘I want peace, to hug my mother, and to walk around Kyiv’: two stories of Russian women accused by FSB of financing the Ukrainian army,” BBC News Russian Service, 11 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

Nikita Tushkanov: “I Will Not Change My Stance”

Nikita Tushkanov (above left), in the cage at his trial. Photo courtesy of RFE/RL

Nikita Tushkanov, 29, a history teacher from the town of Mikun in the Komi Republic, has been sentenced to five and a half years in a medium-security penal colony on charges of “repeatedly discrediting” [the Russian army] and “condoning terrorism” over posts and comments he made on the VKontakte social network. It took the court about nine hours to consider all the evidence in the criminal case and render its verdict. Sever.Realii takes a look at the trial and the basis of the prosecution’s case.

The criminal trial against Nikita Tushkanov, a 29-year-old historian and history and social studies teacher from the Komi Republic, ended with this brief closing statement by the defendant:

“I think we know the verdict in advance. So I cannot influence the decisions you make with my closing statement. I will not change my stance on the events in Ukraine. Moreover, I condemn them and consider them criminal. At the outset of the hearing, I asked for a recusal. It was not granted, of course. In this regard, I would like to say that I don’t want to ask you for justice, but I can’t ask you for mercy.”

The next day, a judge with the Second Western District Military Court sentenced Tushkanov to five and a half years in a medium-security penal colony over a post and several comments published on VKontakte about the war in Ukraine and the explosion on the Crimean Bridge on 8 October 2022, which the Russian authorities have declared a terrorist attack. Essentially, the judge needed only a single working day, 10 May, to review the evidence and testimony and reach a verdict. Nikita’s relatives, who were witnesses in the case, were not allowed to attend the first half of the hearing, at which the findings of a forensic examination were read into the record.

“A birthday gift for Putler”

The criminal case against Nikita Tushkanov was launched in December 2022. He was initially accused only of “condoning terrorism” over a post about the bomb blast on the Crimean Bridge, but subsequently he was also charged with “repeated discrediting” of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, also over posts he made on VKontakte.


The Russian authorities declared the blast on the Crimean Bridge a terrorist attack a day after the incident. The entries on Nikita Tushkanov’s social media page were made on 8 October, the day of the blast, when the incident had not yet been declared a terrorist attack.

Tushkanov was arrested in early December 2022. He later recounted that the police had been monitoring his VKontakte page for several months before the criminal case was launched. He had been written up on administrative charges of “discrediting the army” over social media posts.

The accusations were triggered by a post that read, “A birthday present for Putler. Grandpa turned 70 years old. The last anniversary of the last shithead. P.S. The Crimean Bridge was blown up today. De jure, the Ukrainians have destroyed their own bridge, what psychos…,” and discussions of the events in the comments to this post.

What other phrases were cited in the case against Nikita Tushkanov?

In addition to the post about the blast on the Crimean Bridge, the evidence in the case included comments that Tushkanov made beneath the post. Among the comments that were entered into evidence were the following (the original spelling and punctuation have been preserved — SR):

“Desktop photo for phone”

“Crimea was annexed (if you understand such words at all)”

“It’s delightful that the aggressor is getting f*****”

“My country carries out terrorist attacks by attacking peaceful cities in Ukraine. Any more questions?”

“Maybe you consider yourself a part of this state. I don’t. I didn’t elect this president, the government, and all the rest of it. My homeland has been seized by fascists and I don’t consider myself a part of it”

“How is it a terrorist attack? I don’t understand. Destroying the infrastructure and a symbol of Putin’s Russia, that’s a terrorist attack?”

“For what people? Ukraine did not ask [Russia] to build a bridge on its own land”

“Should we be sad?”

“Putin annexed the occupied territories”

“That’s what the ‘partial’ deadening mobilization does!”

“I *** didn’t get it, but it’s very interesting. What information? They weren’t annexed? Or were there no armed people there while the ‘referendum’ was going on? What’s wrong? Are the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation beating the **** out of the Armed Forces of Ukraine? Then why the mobilization? And what about ‘Z Power of PraVda’?”

The criminal case against Tushkanov was based on a forensic examination conducted by an expert from the Federal Security Service’s Komi Republic office. During the trial, Tushkanov asked the expert to explain how “discrediting” differs from ordinary criticism. The expert replied that discrediting involves creating a negative image, while criticism involves making suggestions to rectify a situation.

In the forensic examination itself, the expert found that there was no evidence in Tushkanov’s posts of his calling for the blast, but there were “signs of acknowledging the ideology and practice of perpetrating the blast that warranted support and imitation” and “discrediting” the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

The expert detected condoning of terrorism in the phrase about the “gift”: the word “gift” and the phrase “the Ukrainians destroyed their own bridge,” constituted, according to the expert, an attempt to condone the blast.

The purpose of the word “Putler,” according to the expert, was to “destabilize the activities of the authorities of the Russian Federation or impact their decision-making.”

The comment “Desktop photo” constituted “a positive assessment of the explosion on the Crimean Bridge, voiced as a desire to save” the picture.

The expert also detected justification for the explosion on the Crimean Bridge in the phrase “my homeland has been seized by fascists”: it was “expressed by the justification for the explosion: ‘My homeland has been seized by fascists’ (exploding the bridge is a response to the fact that the Russian Federation has been seized by fascists).”

The FSB expert also found evidence of discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Tushkanov’s comments about the annexation of the occupied territories, “the deadening mobilization,” and armed people during the “referendums” on annexation of the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia.

Tushkanov’s relatives and his close friends were also questioned in court. They described Tushkanov positively and said that they had not touched on political topics in personal conversations.

Nikita Tushkanov. Photo courtesy of the Moscow Times

Testifying in court, Tushkanov again stressed that he had not renounced his comments and did not understand how he could be tried for condoning terrorism if his post had been published a day before the Russian authorities declared the explosion on the Crimean Bridge a terrorist attack. Here is a complete transcript of Tushkanov’s testimony:

I, Nikita Alexeyevich Tushkanov, date of birth 24 April 1994, was born and grew up in the small village of Chuprovo in Komi’s Udora District. My mother was a teacher and, later, the director of the school, while my father was the director of the House of Culture. My grandmother was a home-front worker and the daughter of a frontline soldier who was killed in the fight against Nazism on 1 January 1945 and was awarded the Order of the Red Star. Grandfather was the son of an exiled kulak from Voroshilovgrad (Luhansk), and his mother had been denounced by a neighbor and subjected to political persecution.
I grew up in this environment. From childhood I learned about the horrors of war and the horror of losing parents, through the tears of my grandmother and my grandfather I knew how hard it was for the children of victims of political persecution to live.
With this knowledge and a sense of duty, I joined a search party in 2013 and until 2019 was involved in searching for unburied soldiers and officers of the Winter War of 1939–40 and the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 and reburying them with full military honors.
I loved my homeland and continue to love it, but my love changed due to the way my country, Russia, has behaved towards its own citizens (including veterans, leaving them on the sidelines of life, without assistance) and in the international arena.
I used to see no difference between the concepts of “State” and “Homeland,” but now they are absolutely opposed concepts for me. How did this happen?
It all started in 2014, and not with the annexation of Crimea, which I accepted, as did the majority of the [Russian] populace. It all started with combat involving unidentified military units in which my comrades served. They told me firsthand about what went on there and who did what.
Strelkov (Girkin) […] has himself admitted on numerous occasions that he, a former FSB officer, “pressed the button that launched the war.” This was followed by the downing of Flight MH-17 and the emergence in Russian territory of fresh graves for soldiers and military personnel from the “they aren’t there” echelon. Since 2014, my State has supported the separatists and thrown more and more victims into the furnace of war.
We have had to pay for it all. Sanctions were imposed, and the so-called pension reform was carried out, but they simply confiscated the populace’s hard-earned money. They froze the invested part of pensions, raised the VAT, and much more. In the name of what?
It’s not the sea that drowns people, but the puddle.
I was baffled by the building of the Crimean Bridge. Didn’t we have other places where bridges needed to be built? There were thousands of possible places for this. But [they built the bridge] on territory that Ukraine recognizes as its own, as does the entire international community.
The Russian authorities called construction of the bridge a “historic mission,” one of the key tasks in the “final unification of Crimea and Russia.” Meanwhile, people’s salaries were not paid on time, and roads and bridges fell into disrepair. Why weren’t we building bridges to Sakhalin?
While still engaged in searches [for WWII soldiers still missing in action], I realized that war was pretty only at parades and musters, but in fact it was only DEATH and those whose remains I carried out of forests, fields, and swamps could tell the whole truth about war. Only the dead and the maimed know the truth about war! War is a crime, and unleashing it is a crime for which there is no justification.
The Anschluss of Austria took place in the same way as [Russia’s] “reunification” with Crimea. My state unleashed a war in Ukraine in 2014, and in February 2022, led by the President, it unleashed a full-scale war while simultaneously ensnarling the whole world by unleashing a world war, the third world war. It was my state that doomed tens of thousands of people to death and doomed millions to suffering. And the so-called special military operation has been going on for more than a year.
And now I am charged with violating two articles of the Russian Federal Criminal Code.
Article 205.2.2
I should say that I reject terrorism. I do not approve of acts of terrorism, and I regard them only negatively, no matter who commits them. I have not made calls for terrorist attacks, and I have never sought to condone their goals.
The Russian authorities allegedly declared on 8 October that the damage that had occurred on the Crimean Bridge was a terrorist act, but the media reported this only on the evening of 9 October, and the President of the Russian Federation himself did not refer to the damage to the bridge as a terrorist attack in his initial comments. Information about the terrorist attack also appeared on the [web] page of the Russian Investigative Committee in the late afternoon of 9 October.
The [social media] post in question [in the case against Tushkanov] was published on 8 October at 10:04 a.m. Moscow Time. I could not have foreseen the fact that the damage to the bridge, a military target, would be declared a terrorist attack.
From the very launch of the (auto and rail) bridge, it was used by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, including during preparations for the 24 February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. There were relevant publications on this topic, the use of the bridge (logically) as military infrastructure. The bridge is part of the military logistics chain for supplying the Southern Grouping of Troops in the war with Ukraine.
Thus, the damaging of the bridge as a facility used for military purposes (i.e., the transport of equipment, missiles, personnel, and provisions) cannot be declared a terrorist attack, just as is the case with all military facilities that are fair targets for damage and/or destruction. The sinking of the warship Moskva was thus also a “terrorist attack,” judging by the rationale of the Russian authorities.
Despite the fact that terrorism and acts of terrorism pursue clear goals of generating publicity and pressure [on their targets], no one has claimed responsibility for the incident on the bridge, no terrorist organization has made demands, and there have been no statements [of responsibility].
It was an act of sabotage, targeting a site that is still used for military purposes. So I thought at the time [when I published my social media post] and I still think so to this day. But it was in no way an act of terrorism.
Ukraine considers Crimea its own territory and is in the active phase of hostilities, which also points to the fact that [the attack on the Crimean Bridge] was and is an instance of sabotage.
In any military action, bridges are key targets for disrupting the logistics and supplying of enemy troops, as illustrated by the famous “rail wars” on the Berezina River during the Second World War and in this “special military operation,” which has been going on for over a year. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation blew up and destroyed bridges in the Novomoskovsk District of the Dnipropetrovsk Region (22 April 2022), the Preobrazhensky Bridge in Zaporizzhia, and other bridges even BEFORE the incident on the Crimean Bridge.
In any war, bridges are key supply routes for armies, such as the bridges blown up by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and the bridges under the control of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation that have been attacked by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
But while accusing Ukraine of engaging in terrorism by sabotaging the Crimean Bridge, the Russian authorities have continuously launched more than 18,000 missile strikes on Ukraine and, according to the Ukrainian authorities, 97% of those strikes targeted civilian sites, including (just to mention a few) Kyiv thermal power plant no. 5, Zmiivska thermal power plant, Kharkhiv thermal power plant no. 5, Burshtyn thermal power plant, and so on.
In response to the attacks on the Dnieper and the Kremenchuk hydroelectric stations, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the bombing of civilian infrastructure was a response to a strike by Ukrainian drones on ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. Fifty of [Ukraine’s] energy infrastructure has been damaged, and attacks continue, rendering cities literally uninhabitable.
These strikes did not affect the supplying of weapons and other materiel to the front. They affected such critical [civilian] infrastructure as heating, water supply, and healthcare.
And all of the above attacks on civilian targets took place before the attack on the Crimean Bridge. Who committed a terrorist attack after that?
When I published my post on the explosion on the Crimean Bridge I regarded it as damage to a military target. And I regarded the country [allegedly responsible for the sabotage], a country which is under direct attack from the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as involved in a war, as indicated in [my] comments to the text.
According to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, public condoning of terrorism constitutes a crime from the moment it is disseminated. [My] post was published on 8 October at 10:04 a.m., while the media reported the declaration of the incident as an act of terrorism on the evening of 9 October 2023.
Article 280.3.1
The concept of “discrediting” the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is not specified anywhere and is not substantiated. There is no such concept in the case files or the indictment, and it is absent in regulatory acts.
As for the “maintenance of international peace,” after the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, Russia was subjected to sanctions that caused great damage to many of its economic structures, and caused many manufacturers to exit the Russian market.
According to the international community, the main purpose of the strikes on Ukraine’s energy grid was the desire to sow fear among the populace and make people’s lives unbearable!
As a result of this “defense of its own interests and its citizens,” Russia has turned into a worse scarecrow than Afghanistan.
On May 22, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine declared Russia a terrorist state.
On August 2, 2022, the Saeima of Latvia declared Russia a sponsor of terrorism.
On October 13 (after the bombing and destruction of a portion of the Ukrainian power grid), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe declared the Russian government a terrorist regime.
On October 18, Estonia declared the Russian Federation a state sponsor of terrorism.
On October 26, Poland declared the Russian regime a terrorist regime, and Russia a state that supported and implemented terrorist measures.
On November 13, the Czech Parliament declared the Russian regime a terrorist regime.
On November 21, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution stating that the Russian Federation and its current regime are acting as a terrorist organization.
On November 23, the European Parliament declared that Russia uses the means of terrorism and is a state sponsor of terrorism, due to Russian strikes on civilian targets in Ukraine, energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and shelters.
On November 24, the Netherlands declared the Russian Federation a sponsor of terrorism.
In 2022, after Russian strikes on vital infrastructure sites in Ukraine, from the. legal point of view Russia meets the criteria of a “terrorist state,” as adopted in the United States and the EU.
The world is on the verge of a nuclear war, and it all started with the actions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and personally their commander-in-chief.
However, [the borders of Ukraine] were recognized by both parties (Ukraine and Russia) back in 1992.
[The borders] of the Russian Federation are fixed in the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which can be changed only by means of a referendum, in which the whole country, its entire multinational people, approves them. Amendments to the Constitution and its articles made arbitrarily by the President or anyone else are illegal and constitute a crime.
According to the laws of the Russian Federation, these are also crimes:
  1. Planning, preparing, unleashing, or waging a war of aggression (per Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 353)
  2. Publicly calling for war to be waged (per Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 354)
  3. Genocide (per Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 357)
  4. Engaging in mercenary activities (per Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 359)
  5. Engaging in international terrorism (per Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 361)
Along with all of the aforesaid, I would like to say that no one apart from the authorities of the Russian Federation and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation threatens international security, but the citizens of the Russian Federation, including myself, have no right or possibility to countervail the actions of the authorities and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
The purpose of my posts was to show my disagreement with the horror that has gone on for over a year, a horror in which hundreds of people die every day. In the name of what?
With the start of the special military operation, war broke out not only on the front lines and in the international arena, but also in the soul of every person. The hearts of millions of Russians are in the firing line. We are all now in a state of mental civil war, a civil war that was unleashed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Vladimir Putin), the Federation Council, the Security Council, and the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

Source: “‘I will not change my stance’: history teacher from Komi gets five and a half years for anti-war posts,” Sever.Realii (Radio Svoboda), 11 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for the heads-up. Mediazona, which has also published a complete transcript of Mr. Tushkanov’s testimony, included a slightly different version of his closing statement at the trial, which I have translated below:

I think we know the verdict in advance. I don’t think I can influence the decisions you make with my closing statement.

I have not changed my stance about the “incident” or, I don’t know, “the events that occurred in Ukraine”: it remains what it was. I condemn the war. I consider it criminal. Just like all aggression.

Well, even in the Criminal Code there is an article about necessary self-defense. Which is being employed by the other side [the Ukrainian military].

At the outset of the hearing, I asked for a recusal. You, of course, did not grant it. In this regard, I would like to say…

I don’t want to ask you for justice, but I can’t ask you for mercy.

HIV Is on the Rise Again in Russia

The number of new cases of HIV infection in Russia has been growing again. In 2022, 63,150 people were diagnosed with HIV, while a year earlier this figure was 61,098 people, according to the Russian Health Ministry. During the pandemic, fewer cases of HIV infection were detected in Russia due to reduced testing coverage and lockdowns.

The HIV detection rate in Russia increased by eight percent per 100,000 people in a year. There was an even bigger jump in particular regions. Compared with 2021, this figure almost doubled in the Belgorod Region. It increased by 76% in the Kaluga Region, by 66% in Yakutia, and by 60% in Ingushetia and the Altai Republic.

HIV infection rates in Russia per 100,000 people between 2004 and 2022, according to the Russian Health Ministry.

However, the Health Ministry’s data encompasses only people who have registered as outpatients at AIDS centers. They do not reflect those who have tested positive for HIV, but were not registered. The number of such people is as high as twenty percent of all confirmed cases of infection, estimates Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Epidemiology and AIDS Prevention Research Department at Rospotrebnadzor’s Central Epidemiology Research Institute. Nor does this figure include foreign nationals and anonymous positive tests.

In 2021, 1,138,000 people with a confirmed diagnosis of HIV diagnosis resided in Russia. In 2022, another 60,000 people were diagnosed with HIV. To these groups we need to add around 300,000 people (according to Pokrovsky’s estimates) who have HIV but don’t know it because they haven’t been tested. Thus, the number of HIV-positive people in Russia is one and a half million, which is one percent of the country’s population.

2.6% of pregnant women in the Irkutsk Region are HIV positive.

At the Congress on Infectious Diseases, Pokrovsky said that almost a third of Russia’s regions are undergoing the generalized (third) stage of the HIV epidemic. He explained that there are three stages of the epidemic. The first (initial) stage involves isolated cases. The second (concentrated) stage occurs when more than five percent of any high-risk subpopulation is infected (for example, prison inmates, drug addicts, or sex workers, while the third (generalized) stage occurs when more than one percent of pregnant women are infected with HIV.

According to Pokrovsky, nine Russian regions are in the first stage of the epidemic, while forty-eight are in the concentrated stage, and twenty-seven are in the generalized stage. In the Irkutsk Region, 2.6% of pregnant women have been diagnosed with HIV, he noted. Ten percent of Russian prison inmates are infected with HIV, and four percent of Russian men over the age of forty have HIV, adds Pokrovsky.

In 2022, regions of Siberia and the Urals — Krasnoyarsk and Perm Territories, Orenburg, Kemerovo, Irkutsk, Tomsk, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk, Kurgan and Sverdlovsk regions — remained the leaders in the rate of HIV spread, as in previous years.

“Regions of Siberia and the Urals are leaders in the rate of HIV spread. Number of new HIV infections per 100,000 people.
Click on the region or start typing its name in the search box to see specific figures.”
This map is interactive in the original article, as published on the Important Stories website.

And yet, flying in the face of its own data, which showed an increase in cases, in March of this year the Health Ministry reported a reduction in the number of new cases of HIV infection in 2022.

According to the UN strategy for eradicating HIV, a country should seek to hit the “90–90–90” treatment target if they want to beat the epidemic. This means that ninety percent of people with HIV should know their status, ninety percent of people who know they are HIV positive should receive sustained treatment, and ninety percent of patients undergoing treatment should have an undetectable (i.e., very low) viral load. When this is the case, an HIV-positive person undergoing antiretroviral therapy cannot transmit the virus to another person.

Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment is the principal means of combating HIV. Every person living with the immunodeficiency virus should receive this therapy. But that is not the case now.

In 2021, 82% of people who had regular medical check-ups and 56% of all those living with a confirmed diagnosis of HIV infection received ARV treatment, according to Rospotrebnadzor’s AIDS Prevention and Monitoring Center. An undetectable viral load was attained by eighty percent of those receiving ARV treatment.

The rest — more than half a million people with a confirmed diagnosis — do not receive treatment. Their viral load remains detectable, so they risk spreading the infection.

By law, Russian citizens should receive ARV treatment for free. However, the Health Ministry procures less medicine than HIV-positive people need, and has not increased the treatment budget despite the fact that the number of patients has been growing every year. Every day, the project “” fields messages from patients complaining about the unavailability of treatment.

49% of Russians registered as HIV positive are covered by drugs purchased by the state.

In 2021, Russia procured only 391,000 annual doses, according to the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. This covers approximately 49% of the number of people who receive follow-up care, and 34.4% of all people registered as HIV-positive. Therapy coverage was thus fifteen percent lower in 2021 than in 2020.

The drugs procurement budget for 2023–2025 must be increased by at least fifteen billion rubles annually in order to provide all patients with the necessary treatment. However, the Finance Ministry is willing to allocate 31.7 billion rubles for drugs procurement annually during the period 2023–2025 — that is, it does not plan to increase spending.

And yet, according to one estimate, Russia spent ten trillion rubles on the war over the past year. This same amount of money could provide all Russians in need of it with ARV treatment for 270 years in a row.

The Health Ministry procures drugs for ARV treatment on the federal level, while the regions must purchase the drugs they lack themselves, an activist who helps people with HIV explained to Important Stories on condition of anonymity.

According to her, AIDS centers in the regions submit applications to the Health Ministry for the amount of drugs they need. But the Health Ministry buys less than requested — for example, AIDS centers might apply for ten thousand doses, but the Health Ministry buys them only seven thousand. The regions have to find the money to make up for the shortfall in drugs.

“We must increase the number of patients in treatment and increase coverage,” our source told us. “At the moment, it is unclear what to do without additional allocations of money for purchasing medicines.”

If the Russian authorities spent ten trillion rubles on medicines, rather than on the war in Ukraine, they could provide HIV-infected Russians with the treatment they need for 270 years in a row.

The regions are not required to buy additional medicines, nor do all of them do it. Consequently, patients find themselves in unequal conditions: in richer regions, they receive the appropriate treatment, while in poorer regions they do not. Moreover, spending on drugs does not depend on how bad the HIV epidemic is in a particular region. This can be seen by looking at procurements of the drug Dolutegravir. According to our source, it is a well-researched and rather expensive drug that is suitable for many patients. But the Health Ministry has been reducing its purchases of the drug, while the country’s richest regions — the Tyumen Region, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District — spent the most of their own funds on it in 2022.

More than half of Russia’s regions did not purchase additional Dolutegravir for their patients at all, including, for example, the Sverdlovsk Region, where almost three thousand new patients were registered in 2022.

More than 77% of the money spent on Dolutegravir was spent by regions where only 23% of new HIV patients live.

Cutting-edge HIV treatment is available mainly to residents of rich regions

More than 77% of the public funds spent on procuring the drug Dolutegravir in 2022 were allocated by regions where only 23% of new cases live

A table showing how much Russia’s regions spent, in rubles and as a percentage of nationwide spending, on the ARV drug Dolutegravir in 2022, versus new cases of HIV infection last year, both in sheer numbers and as a percentage of the national total. The list includes Tyumen Region (at the top), Moscow, St. Petersburg, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District, Chelyabinsk Region, Irkutsk Region, Tula Region, Novosibirsk Region, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Murmansk Region, and “all other regions.”

In 2022, Kommersant wrote about the reduction of purchases of expensive drugs for which there are no less-expensive substitutes. In 2021, such drugs accounted for 67% of the total volume of ARV treatment purchases, while in 2022, this figure was 55%. Cheaper drugs are being purchased to replace them.

Reducing the choice of drugs available makes it more difficult for patients to choose a treatment that suits them without causing side effects. It happens that only one drug out of four is suitable for a person, but the region where they live does not supply it.

Pokrovsky notes that the 63,000 new cases in 2022 is a high rate of infection. In reality, there are even more HIV-positive people in Russia, since the country’s most vulnerable groups are less likely to be tested.

“In part, the large number of new cases is due to the fact that we do test a large portion of the population: more than forty million tests were done in 2022. (But we must take into account the fact that, for example, pregnant women and donors are tested several times a year.) On the other hand, people who are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection — drug users and men who have sex with other men — are not tested enough,” Pokrovsky says.

68% of new HIV infections in Russia were the result of heterosexual sexual contact,
so sex education is needed to combat the epidemic.

Pokrovsky argues that to effectively combat the epidemic, the Russian government should promote sex education and fund social advertising campaigns.

“Nowadays, the biggest chunk of funding, over 30 billion rubles [per year], is spent on procuring drugs,” he says. “Treatment is supported by the pharmaceutical companies, so that is where the bulk of the funds are allocated. But there are no market-based solutions to prevention. In this case, you can only count on public funds. Very little is allocated for prevention, literally 500 million rubles [per year], and this amount does not grow from year to year. Most of it is spent on appeals to get tested, rather than on teaching people how not to get infected with HIV. Sex education is now practically prohibited [in Russia].”

Russia was among the top five countries in terms of new HIV case numbers in 2021. According to UNAIDS (the United Nations HIV/AIDS program), Russia accounted for 3.9% of the one and a half million new cases of infection in the world. Russia was bested, in 2021, only by South Africa (14% of all new cases), Mozambique (6.5%), Nigeria (4.9%), and India (4.2%). The Russian Foreign Ministry dubbed the news a “dirty information campaign” on the part of the West. Instead of receiving support, many Russian NGOs campaigning for HIV prevention and patient care have been labeled “foreign agents” by the Russian authorities.

Contrary to the stereotype that drug addicts are the most infected segment of the populace, heterosexual sexual contact is now the primary mode of HIV transmission in Russia, accounting for 68% of new cases.

You can take an HIV test free of charge and anonymously at AIDS centers in all regions of the country.

Source: “Every third region of Russia is experiencing a third-stage HIV epidemic. But the authorities refuse to recognize the growth of infections and purchase the medicines needed. Cutting-edge drugs are available to patients only in the wealthiest regions,” Important Stories (IStories), 13 April 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader

In Russian prisons, they said they were deprived of effective treatments for their H.I.V. On the battlefield in Ukraine, they were offered hope, with the promise of anti-viral medications if they agreed to fight.

It was a recruiting pitch that worked for many Russian prisoners.

About 20 percent of recruits in Russian prisoner units are H.I.V. positive, Ukrainian authorities estimate based on infection rates in captured soldiers. Serving on the front lines seemed less risky than staying in prison, the detainees said in interviews with The New York Times.

“Conditions were very harsh” in Russian prison, said Timur, 37, an H.I.V.-positive Russian soldier interviewed at a detention site in the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine, and identified only by a first name, worried that he would face retaliation if he returned to Russia in a prisoner swap.

After he was sentenced to 10 years for drug dealing, the doctors in the Russian prison changed the anti-viral medication he had been taking to control H.I.V. to types he feared were not effective, Timur said.

He said he did not think he could survive a decade in Russian prison with H.I.V. In December, he agreed to serve six months in the Wagner mercenary group in exchange for a pardon and supplies of anti-viral medications.

“I understood I would have a quick death or a slow death,” he said of choosing between poor H.I.V. treatment in prison and participating in assaults in Russia’s war in Ukraine. “I chose a quick death.”


Source: Andrew E. Kramer, ‘”A Quick Death or a Slow Death’: Prisoners Choose War to Get Lifesaving Drugs,” New York Times, 21 April 2023

The Death of Theodor Herzen

Theodor Herzen

A WAKE for Theodor Herzen will take place at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, 20 April 2023, at the Chernyakhovsk District recreation center in the village of Shchegly.

Source: Chernyakhovsk NEWS (VK), 18 April 2023, via Goryushko (Telegram), 18 April 2023, where Mr. Herzen, a resident of the Kaliningrad (Königsberg) Region, is identified as the 20,700th Russian soldier whose death in combat it has confirmed using open sources. It claims to be publishing this catalogue of war dead “for meditation and as a sedative.”

History Matters, “Why Does Russia Own Kaliningrad?” (2020)
RussianPlus, “Kaliningrad, Russia: Russian People and German Heritage” (2021)

In the (Solidarity) Zone

Russia: 19-year sentences for anti-war arson protest

Report by Solidarity Zone

The Central District Military Court at Yekaterinburg, in Russia, yesterday (10 April) handed down 19-year prison sentences to Roman Nasryev and Aleksei Nuriev, for firebombing an administrative office building where a military registration office is based.

Roman Nasryev (left) and Aleksei Nuriev in court. Photo from The Insider

Roman and Aleksei will have to spend the first four years in prison, and the rest in a maximum-security penal colony.

This is the most severe sentence handed down so far for anti-war arson.

Roman and Aleksei received this long term of imprisonment because their actions were defined as a “terrorist act” (Article 205.2 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation) and “undergoing training for the purpose of undertaking terrorist activity” (Article 205.3). The latter Article carries a minimum term of 15 years.

The arson attack that Roman and Aleksei carried out – in reaction to the mlitary mobilisation, and to express their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine – was no more than symbolic. A female security guard was able to put out the fire, with a blanket and a few litres of water. There was damage to a window and some linoleum.

In court Roman Nasryev said:

I decided to carry out this action, because I did not agree with the [military] mobilisation, the “Special Military Operation” and the war as a whole. I simply wanted to show, by my actions, that in our city there is opposition to mobilisation and the “Special Military Operation”. I wanted in this way to make clear my opposition; I wanted my voice to be heard.

Solidarity Zone believes that this type of anti-war arson is not terrorism. That definition is politically motivated, and directly linked to the fact that the Russian government has unleashed a war of aggression against Ukraine.

□ Translated from Solidarity Zone’s Telegram feed. The original asks people to send letters and parcels to Roman and Aleksei in prison. If you are not a Russian speaker and you want to send them a message, there is no point in sending it directly. You can send messages to and I hope to be able to pass them.

More on Russian political prisoners

□ Who is Roman Nasryev? – The Russian Reader

□ “Azat means free.” – Posle Media

□ “We are few and we can’t cope with the stream of repression” –

□ Solidarity Zone translations on The Russian Reader

□ Happy birthday, Kirill Butylin – People & Nature. (This includes links to more information about Solidarity Zone and Russian political prisoners in English.)

Source: People & Nature, 11 April 2023. Thanks to Simon Pirani for permitting me to reprint this post here. ||| TRR

Pavel Korshunov

The case of Pavel Korshunov, accused of “terrorism” over anti-war arson, sent to trial

Pavel Korshunov was detained in the city of Togliatti, Samara Region, as if he were a particularly dangerous criminal — a large number of Interior Ministry special forces soldiers were involved in his capture. But, according to investigators, all that Pavel did was set try and set fire to the Togliatti city administration building the day after the mobilization was announced. In a video posted online by the security forces, Korshunov states that he wanted to impede the mobilization.

Before his arrest, Pavel worked at a boathouse. Citing sources in the security forces, the media also write that Korshunov had previously taken part in protests.

Pavel has been charged with “committing a terrorist act” (per Article 205.2.b of the Russian Federal Criminal Code) and “vandalism” (per Article 214.2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code). He faces from twelve to twenty years in prison if convicted.

On April 7, his case was submitted to the Central District Military Court in Samara. It will be tried by a three-judge panel chaired by Igor Belkin. There is not yet any information about exact trial dates on the court’s website.

Source: Solidarity Zone (Facebook), 9 April 2023. Translated by TRR

Boris Goncharenko

Help a teacher from Krasnodar accused of terrorism!

On the night of October 6, persons unknown set fire to the military enlistment office in the city of Goryachy Klyuch, Krasnodar Territory. The next day, the security forces detained two suspects — Bogdan Abdurakhmanov, a 27-year-old native of Minsk, and Boris Goncharenko, a 34-year-old man from Krasnodar.

Abdurakhmanov and Goncharenko were initially charged with “attempted destruction of property” (per Article 30.3 and Article 167.3 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code) and thus faced no more than three years and nine months of imprisonment if convicted. The FSB intervened in the case, however, and the charge was changed to “committing a terrorist act” (per Article 205.2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code). Bogdan and Boris now face from twelve to twenty years in prison.

Goncharenko graduated from Kuban State University. After graduating, he taught history, social studies, and philosophy at various educational institutions. At one time he worked as a manager for the Garant and Konsultant Plus legal information portals.

Boris does not support Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and after the outbreak of the full-scale war, he was very worried about the fate of the conscripts, including his former and current students.

Goncharenko does not consider himself guilty of “committing a terrorist act.”

Why torching military enlistment offices is not terrorism

Solidarity Zone has found a lawyer to defend Boris Goncharenko and made a down payment on their fee so that they may begin working. On March 29, we announced a campaign to raise the 250 thousand rubles necessary to pay the lawyer’s fees in full during the investigation phase of the case. To date, less than one fifth of the amount of money needed has been raised.

We urge you to support our fundraiser with donations and reposts!

💳 Sberbank card:
2202 2025 4750 6521 (Vasily)

🪙 PayPal: (mark it “for Goncharenko” and designate the payment in euros if possible)

🥷 Cryptocurrency (be sure to email us at if you transfer cryptocurrency to support Boris Goncharenko):

Bitcoin: bc1qn404lrshp3q9gd7852d7w85sa09aq0ch28s3v4
Ethereum: 0x7CE361fA7dAb77D028eaEF7Bbe2943FDF0655D3E
USDT (TRC20): TRcCUHKSMY7iLJPvbDxLc6ZnvAud72jTgj
Other altcoins:

You are not violating any Russian laws by participating in the fundraiser. We have not been deemed “foreign agents” or an “extremist” or “terrorist” organization by the authorities, and raising money to pay a lawyer’s fees is not prohibited in Russia yet. ☺️

Source: Solidarity Zone (Telegram), 6 April 2023. Translated by TRR

Ilya Shakursky’s 27th Birthday

Ilya Shakursky. Photo courtesy of Elena Shakurskaya

Today, April 10, my son Ilya turns 27. This is the sixth birthday he has celebrated behind bars. But every year I wait, believe, and hope that he be released from captivity and be near us. I naively believe in justice and truth. A miracle must happen sometime and Goodness will triumph!

My son, the best in the world, I lovingly congratulate you on your birthday! You are a part of me, and from the bottom of my heart I want to wish you incredibly beautiful days and nights, the most wonderful emotions, and fulfillment of ambitious plans! You deserve everything wonderful; may sincere Faith, pure and devoted Love, and optimistic Hope always remain with you! I wish my son the brightest road today. After all, you are all I have. My mother’s heart very often worries about you. It hurts for every trial you go through. It hurts for everything! Know, son, that you are everything to me. You are my only man, for whom I am not sorry to give my life. You’re my rock.

Ilya’s payphones have been turned off, and at the moment there is no connection with him. Today the weather is as warm and sunny as it was in 1996 [on the day he was born]. May the sun’s rays give hope, faith, kindness, and most importantly freedom to Ilya and to all political prisoners!

Source: Elena Shakurskaya (Facebook), 10 April 2023. Translated by Thomas H. Campbell. In February 2020, Ilya Shakursky was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison as part of the notorious Network Case, in which the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) tortured and framed a dozen anti-fascists in Penza and Petersburg for, allegedly, “organizing a terrorist community.” I have posted extensively on the case and its aftermath over the last five years.

Poetry Recitation

All the swindlers are fleeing Russia:
They have property in the West.
The bandits and sodomites are fleeing
And all those killed by their conscience.

The Judases are running, all going there,
Where there is no love, where there is no Christ.
Where there are gay parades and Nazis,
Liberals and globalists.

God is cleansing Holy Russia,
He protects it himself like his own daughter!
He will not let the evil ones torment us,
May God grant that we keep our faith.
Only an ignoramus doesn't understand
Russia as the last hope.

Let the enemy shout that Putin is bad
And under him all in Russia is bad.
If the whole herd of fleas is mad,
Evidently our Putin has done everything right!

Source: They’re for the War! (Telegram), 6 April 2023. The editor of this channel identifies the boy in the video as a first-grader from the town of Pokrovskoye, Rostov Region. Translated by the Russian Reader