I haven’t written here for a long time generally and about Vitya in particular. We haven’t seen each other for almost two months. That’s an awfully long time, and I miss him terribly. Soon I will fly back to Orenburg and tell you how Vitya is doing, but after meeting with him.
In the meantime, I’ll tell you about the money, my favorite topic, because there is a constant need for it and it is constantly running out.
Vitya is now “painting the town red” on his own money. Recently, I got hold of 100 thousand rubles from his bank account, which Vitya had earned before he was sent down and which were blocked because he is a “terrorist.” I couldn’t get my hands on the other 70 thousand. They are frozen until Vitya is removed from the registry of “terrorists.”
Those 100 thousand rubles have really come in handy. I am now using them to pay for trips and lawyer’s fees. In 2023, we have already spent 190 thousand rubles on tickets and lawyer’s fees over eight trips. (Luckily, the tickets in January were also quite cheap.) And to this we have to add lodging costs in Orenburg and monthly transfers to Vitya’s account for shopping in the penal colony’s commissary and penalties “for refusing to work” (we are now appealing the latter in court), as well as all sorts of unforeseen expenses, such as notary services, medicines, etc.
So very soon Vitya’s 100 thousand rubles will be done. In 2023, 60 thousand rubles have trickled onto the bank card we use to solicit donations for Vitya, and even then only because 50 thousand rubles were suddenly donated in February. In other months, total donations have ranged between three and 15 thousand. We still have a small reserve left, but it’s really small. It will last us for another month or two at most.
The good news is that we seemingly might be able to get back some of this money, but it will take a long time. In January, the court made the first decision to compensate our expenses in one of the cases we won. This is not compensation for moral injury, but only reimbursement of the lawyer’s travel expenses (50 thousand). The penal colony filed an appeal of course, and the date for that hearing has not even been set yet. And the district court judge has been postponing all our other claims for compensation, waiting for the appeal court’s decision on the first case. Then, if the ruling remains in force, we will wait for this money to be returned: it seems this will take up to three months, So it’s still a long time before we’ll see those initial 50 thousand again, so for the time being we definitely need donations. We have also finally started filing claims for compensation for moral injury, but there have been no hearings on these claims yet.
All the year and a half that Vitya has been in Orenburg, we have spent a lot of money fighting on his behalf, but we have been winning half of our cases in the courts, and ultimately this leads to an improvement in Vitya’s conditions (which are still harsh, however). Lawyer Vitaly Cherkasov has been working selflessly on all of Vitya’s cases since the first days of his arrest, traveling several times a month between St. Petersburg and Orenburg.
To get to the point: if you are able to donate money, please do. If you have no way to donate money, then maybe you know someone who does and you can share this post with them. Or just repost it. Or maybe you can advise us about where or to whom we can apply for financial support. All such help on your part is incredibly valuable.
In keeping with established tradition, if someone from the FSIN and their ilk are reading this, DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH — WE’RE NOT GIVING UP.
Send your donations to help pay the lawyer’s fees and Vitya’s daily expenses to:
Source: Jenya Kulakova (Facebook), 20 March 2023. Ms. Kulakova, who is a friend of mine and one of my favorite people on this planet, is the public defender of Viktor Filinkov, a young Kazakhstani national convicted 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, “creating a terrorist community.” I have posted extensively on the case and its aftermath over the last five years. The wardens at the penal colony in Orenburg where Mr. Filinkov is currently serving his sentence have seemingly singled him out since his arrival there, endlessly finding him “guilty” of various (mythical) infractions. With the help of Ms. Kulakova and his defense attorney, Vitaly Cherkasov, Mr. Filinkov has mounted a series of successful legal challenges against this flagrant abuse of his civil and legal rights. The PayPal account that Ms. Kulakova lists, above, is managed by the Moscow chapter of the Anarchist Black Cross and is completely reliable. I have made donations to it on several occasions in the past. Thank you! ||| Thomas H. Campbell, The Russian Reader
Ms. Kulakova and Mr. Filinkov met earlier today (25 March 2023), and Ms. Kulakova posted this snapshot from their meeting:
Ruslan Zinin is a real Russian hero, but you won’t find many Russians talking about his heroism or his current plight for the simple reason that they’ve convinced themselves that there is nothing more to be said or done about their country’s dreadful criminal invasion of Ukraine. It is now up to Ukrainians and the “collective West” to stop Putin, whatever the cost. The vast majority of Russians have better things to do, apparently. In the last few days alone, I’ve seen smart Russian friends of mine, people I definitely consider to be among the country’s best and brightest and even (in other circumstances) the most courageous, writing angrily about alleged government bank bailouts in the US and the supposed tendency of US “taxpayers” to vote for conservative politicians, or how they can’t talk about the things that matter to them on social media due to the war (about which they emphatically don’t want to write because enough has been said about it already), or wondering aloud why it took so long for “them” (i.e., the “international community”) to issue an arrest warrant for Putin.||| TRR
Ruslan Zinin transferred to solitary confinement
Ruslan Zinin’s mother Marina Zinina has reported that on March 21 [her son] was transferred to a solitary confinement cell without explanation.
“They came and took him away, saying, ‘Let’s go to another place.’ They put him in the basement in a solitary confinement cell. […] The conditions are terrible. It’s damp and cold and reeks of sewage, and rats are running around, and there’s nothing in the cell at all, except for a cot. There’s nowhere to store food, nowhere to get water, there’s no kettle, there’s nothing.”
Marina Zinina also said that Ruslan has not received any letters for two weeks, despite the fact that FSIN-Pismo [the Russian penitentiary system’s electronic correspondence service] has been sending people notifications that their letters had been vetted by the censor and handed over to Ruslan.
Solitary confinement is one of two forms of punishment for violating the rules in a pretrial detention center. (The second is a reprimand.) The warden of the pretrial detention center or his deputy can impose these penalties. But before imposing a penalty, the prisoner is given the opportunity to write an explanation about their alleged violation, and they must be notified of the penalty in writing.
Zinin was not charged with violating the rules of the pretrial detention center, and was not informed of any such decisions on the part of the warden.
We consider Zinin’s transfer to solitary confinement to be an escalation of pressure on the prisoner, an attempt to silence him and get him to consent to unfounded accusations of “terrorism.”
A logging truck driver from Ust-Ilimsk (Irkutsk Region), Zinin fired several shots from a sawn-off shotgun at the local military commissar in the midst of the mobilization announced in September of last year. He was incited to do this by the draft notice that had arrived for his brother. The military commissar survived the attack.
In early March, Zinin was charged with committing a “terrorist act” (per Article 205.2.b of the Russian Federal Criminal Code).
Despite the fact that letters are not being handed on to Ruslan at the moment, they remain an important support tool. A large flow of letters shows the wardens at the pretrial detention center that a lot of people are concerned about Ruslan’s plight. An even greater flow of letters and complaints in connection with their non-receipt has repeatedly been shown to be capable of breaking through the information blockade that the authorities impose on political prisoners.
Address for letters and parcels to Ruslan:
Zinin Ruslan Alexandrovich (born 1997)
63 ul. Barrikad, SIZO-1
Irkutsk 664019 Russian Federation
You can send letters electronically from anywhere in the world via the FSIN-Pismo service (subject to payment with a Russian-issued bank card) or the free, volunteer-run resource RosUznik (which allows you to remain anonymous).
❗️ If in the last two weeks FSIN-Pismo has sent you a notification of delivery, write to the service’s support team that your letter was not passed on to Ruslan. (You can say that you found about this in the media.)
Solidarity Zone has been providing comprehensive assistance to Ruslan Zinin and his family.
Source: Solidarity Zone (Facebook), 22 March 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. People living outside Russia will find it difficult, if not impossible, to use the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s FSIN-Pismo service. It is also probably impossible or nearly impossible to send parcels to Russian detention facilities from abroad. But you can send letters — translated into Russian (if you don’t know a competent translator, you can use a free online translation service such as Google Translate) — to Ruslan Zinin (and many other Russian political prisoners) via RosUznik, as mentioned above. You can also ask me (email@example.com) for assistance and advice in sending letters.
Logging truck driver Ruslan Zinin grabbed a sawed-off shotgun when, in the wake of the “partial” mobilization’s annoucement, a summons arrived for his brother. On September 26, Zinin went to the military enlistment office in Ust-Ilimsk (Irkutsk Region). Military commissar Alexander Yeliseyev was giving a speech as he dispatched dozens of people to the slaughter. His disdainful attitude towards the mobilized men, as well as his remarks that they themselves were to blame, that they had “piled up loans” and “had heaps of children,” outraged Zinin to the depths of his soul. At that moment, someone in the room asked, “Where are we going?” “We’re all going home now!” Zinin shouted back and fired twice at the military commissar.
Consequently, Zinin’s brother was not mobilized (and, perhaps, the mobilization was temporarily suspended in the district), and military commissar Yeliseyev spent a month and a half in the hospital.
Zinin himself was remanded in custody and charged with “encroachment on the life of a law enforcement officer” (per Article 317 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
The charge was incommensurate with Zinin’s actions [and the circumstances]: the military commissar is not a law enforcement officer and was not performing tasks to protect public order.
However, police investigators went even further and reclassified the charge to “commission of a terrorist act” (per Article 205.2.b of the Criminal Code).
Formally speaking, this is a lesser charge since it does not stipulate life imprisonment, unlike the previous one. However, there cannot be a jury trial for those charged with “terrorism,” judges cannot impose sentences below the statutory minimum, and part of the sentence must be served in a closed prison [as opposed to a penal colony, in which inmates live together in open-plan barracks]. This is not to mention the mass of smaller infringements on the rights of a person convicted as a “terrorist.” Person convicted under this article must be sentenced to between twelve and twenty years in prison.
Currently, we do not know Zinin’s opinion on the matter, nor the specifics of the indictment, because the defense lawyer was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. However, the Solidarity Zone team in any case considers the accusation unfounded, regarding it as nothing other than lawlessness on the part of law enforcement agencies and an attempt to intimidate society. One of the main points of the criminal code article on “terrorism” is to terrorize the populace. In this case it is not Zinin’s actions that constitute “terrorism,” but, on the contrary, the actions of the authorities.
As before, you can support Ruslan by sending him a letter or parcel. If your letters are not passed by the censor or you do not receive a reply from Ruslan, let us know and file a complaint. Templates for complaints can be found on our Telegram channel.
Address for letters and parcels:
Zinin Ruslan Alexandrovich (born 1997)
63 ul. Barrikad, SIZO-1
Irkutsk 664019 Russian Federation
You can send letters electronically from anywhere in the world via the FSIN-Pismo service (subject to payment with a Russian-issued bank card) or the free, volunteer-run resource RosUznik (which allows you to remain anonymous).
Solidarity Zone is providing comprehensive assistance to Ruslan Zinin and his family.
Source: Solidarity Zone (Facebook), 9 March 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. People living outside Russia will find it difficult, if not impossible, to use the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s FSIN-Pismo service. It is also probably impossible or nearly impossible to send parcels to Russian detention facilities from abroad. But you can send letters — translated into Russian (if you don’t know a competent translator, you can use a free online translation service such as Google Translate) — to Ruslan Zinin (and many other Russian political prisoners) via RosUznik, as mentioned above. You can also ask me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance and advice in sending letters.
I have been in police custody since April of last year. I was formally charged in early June, and since then I have been an “accused” man. I see this word in paperwork, I sign statements containing it, and that is how the prison authorities address me. “Accused” has been my new social status for the past nine months.
A criminal change can be a serious burden. I have met people in prison, albeit a few, who are plagued by a sense of guilt for what they have done. In this sense, though, my case is simple. All the accusations against me are ridiculous and absurd, and the article [in the criminal code] under which I am being tried should not exist, basically. I find it easy and pleasant to take a consistent stance and to tell the truth. I have always adhered to this principle both in public life and in personal matters.
The investigation, whilst trying to accuse me of spreading “fakes,” has constructed one giant fake. Literally the entire indictment, from the first word to the last, is at odds with reality. I subscribe to every word I wrote a year ago. All my emotional assessments have retained their force, and all factual claims have been borne out many times. So there can be no question of any sense of guilt on my part in terms of the present case.
Life, though, is much more complicated than a trumped-up criminal case. A year ago, events happened that shocked the world. In a matter of days, the foundations of life, which had seemed to us unshakable, were destroyed. The most terrible pictures stepped off the pages of history textbooks, reviving the nightmares of bygone years and wars whose fury had long ago been stilled. Unable to stop this ongoing tragedy, tens of millions of Russians have come face to face with an oppressive sense of guilt. It is a normal reaction to the monstrously abnormal situation in which all of us find ourselves.
If you feel guilty, it means that you have a conscience. It means that you cannot see the suffering of innocent people without feeling pain in your heart, that you are able to empathize with someone else’s grief. What is more, a sense of guilt for the actions of one’s country is impossible without a sense of belonging. It means that no matter where you are now, you maintain an emotional connection with your homeland, you realize that you are a citizen of Russia and worry about its fate. You — we — are real patriots of Russia in the true sense of the word! We love our country, and so we are especially hurt and ashamed that this inhuman war is waged on its behalf.
It is vital to remember that the guilt that we cannot help but feel is irrational per see. After all, we are not actually to blame for what is happening. The blame is on those who unleashed and wage this war, on those who issue and carry out criminal orders, on those who commit outrages on foreign soil, as well as on those who condone these crimes by cracking down on their own people and generating an atmosphere of fear and intolerance.
On the contrary, we want to live in a free and peaceful country. We want a better future for ourselves and our neighbors. In order for our hopes to come true, we must move away from a passive sense of guilt, focused on the past, and strive to realize our own civic responsibility. We must move away from regrets about what has happened to solving existing problems and making plans for the future. Yes, right now we are unable to stop the war, but this does not mean that we are powerless. I want each of you to think about what you can do personally. The answer “nothing” is not acceptable. First, if you are not on the side of the scoundrels, if you have remained true to yourself, have kept your wits about you, and have not fallen into despair, if you are listening to me now or reading this text, this is much more than nothing. And second, even I can do something and am doing something. I keep talking, communicating the truth about events to people. I have been using this trial as a platform for public anti-war statements. To the best of my ability, I have been helping those who, due to their civic stance, have found themselves on the same side of the bars as me. You have many more opportunities to act today for the sake of our common better tomorrow.
Our problem is the inability to take the initiative and find allies. We are used to following leaders and waiting for instructions. Don’t wait — act! Become volunteers, help refugees, support political prisoners, form horizontal ties. Get to know your neighbors, colleagues and classmates, set common goals and achieve them together. When someone needs your help, don’t ignore them. Make this world a better place for us and for our children.
We like to repeat, like a mantra, the words “Russia will be free!” But Russia is us, and what it will be depends only on us. The war will inevitably end, and then the regime that unleashed it will cease to exist. This is the law of history. We have a lot of work ahead of us, work which we must start now. This work of ours, I am sure, is bound to succeed. Russia will be free — because we will make it so.
Source: Darya Kornilova (Facebook), 1 March 2023. Thanks to Elena Zaharova for the heads-up. Originally published on the website of the movement For Human Rights. Translated by the Russian Reader. The verdict in Mr. Ivanov’s case is scheduled to be announced on March 7. The prosecutor has asked the court to find him guilty as charged and sentence him to nine years in prison. See my translation of Mediazona‘s detailed account of the case and trial against Mr. Ivanov, below.
Russian lawmakers on Thursday voted in favor of a bill that would make it a criminal offense to “discredit” anyone fighting on Russia’s side in the war in Ukraine, not just the Russian military.
The legislation aims to expand current laws criminalizing the discrediting of the Russian Armed Forces to include mercenaries serving in the ranks of Russia’s growing number of private military companies, such as the Wagner Group.
The bill was unexpectedly introduced by State Duma deputies Wednesday in the form of amendments to two largely unrelated bills that were already due to be voted on in the lower chamber of the Russian parliament.
If signed into law, the amendments would introduce sentences of up to seven years in prison for “public acts aimed at discrediting volunteer formations, organizations or individuals” that are aiding the work of the Russian Armed Forces.
The proposed amendments also increase the maximum punishment for violating the existing law against spreading “false” information about the army.
Those found guilty of “spreading fake information” about the army or a volunteer military formation would then face up to five years in prison instead of the three years outlined in the current law.
The new law would also raise the maximum fine from 700,000 rubles ($9,250) to 1.5 million rubles ($19,830).
In cases in which the dissemination of “false information” is deemed to have had “grave consequences,” violators could face up to 15 years in prison, under the new legislation.
The bill must now pass its third reading in the State Duma on March 14 before going to the upper house of parliament for approval and then finally to the president for his signature.
The trial of Dmitry Ivanov, a mathematics student and creator of the Telegram channel “MSU Protesting,” is nearing completion in Moscow’s Timiryazevsky District Court. Ivanov is accused of disseminating “fake news” about the army. (The investigators claim that reports of war crimes, the killing of civilians and the destruction of Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure are “fake news,” as well as Ivanov’s refusal to call the war a “special operation.”) Today, Prosecutor Yulia Pravosud asked the court to sentence Ivanov to nine years in prison. Mediazona examines the grounds for the case against the activist and how investigators have tried to prove his guilt.
“Don’t betray the Motherland, Dima” was the message painted on 16 March 2022 on the door of the Moscow flat in which the Moscow State University student Dmitry Ivanov had lived all twenty-two years of his life. The message was embellished with three huge Z’s. At the time, Ivanov joked: “We have already washed off the door — a simple Soviet acetone helped us make short work of the paint.” The Telegram channel “MSU Protesting,” which he had created and ran, continued to write about the war and anti-war protests inside Russia, until its author was detained on April 28 as he was leaving the university. He has not been released since.
On April 29, the Nikulinsky District Court jailed Ivanov for ten days for “organizing a rally” — this is how the security forces deemed one of the posts in his channel. He served his jail sentence in the Sakharovo Temporary Detention Center for Foreign Nationals outside of Moscow, but on May 9 he was detained as he was leaving the facility and sentenced again under the same article of the Administrative Offenses Code — this time for twenty-five days. The student missed the state exams and was unable to submit his honor’s thesis. After serving the new sentence, he was immediately detained again on June 2, this time on a criminal charges. He was taken from the detention center to the Investigative Committee for questioning.
Ivanov managed to transfer the admin of “MSU Protesting” to his friend Nikita Zaitsev. Ivanov’s friends later created a separate channel in his support, “Prison MSU.”
“From the very beginning of my imprisonment, I have lucked out in terms of symbolic dates. I was tried on Victory Day and on the day the mobilization began, and I was transferred to the pretrial detention center on Russia Day. Another hearing will be held on the anniversary of Navalny’s return to Russia. Back then it seemed that all the masks had been doffed and there was nothing more that could shock us. If only we had known what would happen a year later,” Ivanov wrote in a letter to our correspondent.
What Dmitry Ivanov is accused of
The case against Ivanov was handled by the Investigative Committee’s First Major Case Department. Like most cases investigated under the article on “fakes about the military,” it was launched on the basis of “law enforcement intelligence.” Еhe report on the student was written by Lieutenant Colonel A.L. Kapustin, a field officer in the FSB’s Moscow and Moscow Region directorate.
Kapustin copied several posts from “MSU Protesting,” and Captain K.A. Myagkov, a major case investigator, concluded that they were sufficient to launch a criminal case.
The prosecution argues that the activist, “motivated by political hatred” and “foreseeing the inevitability of socially dangerous consequences in the form of undermining and discrediting the current state authorities,” is alleged to have disseminated the following claims on Telegram between 4 March and 4 April 2022:
— the Russian army attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant;
— The Russian armed forces have been destroying cities and civilian infrastructure and killing civilians in Ukraine;
— Russia is waging a real war, not a “special military operation”;
— Russian aviation has suffered significant losses in the war;
— Russian soldiers committed war crimes in the towns of Bucha and Irpen.
Most of the posts that investigators attributed to Ivanov were reposts of allegations made by other people, including politician Alexei Navalny, Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky, BBC journalist Ilya Barabanov, blogger Maxim Katz, and the writers on social media news page Lentach.
From a broken phone to a canceled thesis defense: how field officers and MSU officials persecuted an undesirable student
In 2018, Ivanov was a student majoring in computational mathematics and cybernetics. Along with dozens of other students and lecturers, he protested against construction of a World Cup fan zone outside Moscow State University’s main building. The inhabitants of the building complained that the construction work prevented them from working during the day and sleeping at night, and that the crowds of fans would make their lives unbearable.
It was then that Ivanov launched the initially anonymous Telegram channel “MSU Protesting,” in which he described in detail the struggle of students and lecturers against developers. He would go on to write about other protest actions. On 16 December 2018, Ivanov was detained at a rally outside the FSB building in Moscow: the infamous Center “E” officer Alexei Okopny did not like the fact that the student had photographed him.
The very next day, Ivanov’s channel ceased to be anonymous. “Hi, my name is Dima, I’m 19, I study at Moscow State University, and today I became a victim of torture,” the student wrote. He said that after his arrest the security forces had demanded that he give them the password to his phone; when he refused, they beat him and threatened to rape him with a police baton. Having failed to achieve their goal, they simply broke the phone, and access to “MSU Protesting” was lost. Ivanov created a new channel with the same name and recounted his experiences in detail in his inaugural post.
Ivanov thus became one of the well-known activists whom the security forces snatched from the crowd first during protests. On 2 February 2021, he was detained at a rally in support of Alexei Navalny, who had returned to Russia after recovering from poisoning. It was then that, for the first time, the Meshchansky District Court sent the student to the Temporary Detention Center for Foreign Nationals in Sakharovo for thirty days. At this center for migrants facing deportation, where Moscow opposition activists were taken to serve their administrative sentences that winter, a second charge sheet was drawn up against Ivanov because he argued with the guards. Ten more days were added to the thirty days he had got for attending the rally.
Ivanov’s friends estimated that he spent a total of 101 days under administrative arrest.
Ivanov was scheduled to defend his honor’s thesis on 1 June 2022. The student was supposed to be released from the detention center on the second of June. Ivanov’s defense team asked the court to shorten the term of arrest by at least one day and requested a postponement from the examination commission, but to no avail. In July, Ivanov was expelled from Moscow State University for not having passed the state final certification.
“I got out of the subway, saw a building with paddy wagons, and decided to give evidence”: the prosecution’s witnesses
The investigation into the Ivanov case was completed in two months. During this time, several witnesses were questioned at the Investigative Committee. Only one of them, Yuliaslava Korolevich, a school friend of the activist, testified in his defense. The security forces searched the home of Korolevich and her mother, and then brought the young woman in for questioning. She said only that she knows Dmitry “as a person who can listen and help out in difficult times, and who is intelligent, rational and logical by nature.”
The other witnesses in the case did not have their homes searched. All of them unfailingly identified themselves as “patriots” during questioning, and the wording of their testimony against Ivanov overlaps almost verbatim. All of them described the arrested student “negatively as an anti-Russian fascist,” and his posts in the Telegram channel as “not corresponding to the position of the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation.”
The most verbose among the witnesses was the former dean of the Faculty of Fundamental Physical and Chemical Engineering at Moscow State University Lyudmila Grigorieva, infamous for her confrontation with student activists. In 2021, she was forced to resign after she called the Initiative Group at the university “western liberasts” who “grunt, crawl and shit constantly for scraps.”
During questioning, Grigorieva labeled herself “a patriot and a person who loves her country very much, and also stands for kindness, state power, unity, and public order.” She thus considered it her duty to testify against a student who, in her opinion, is a “fascist” and “belongs to a political sect.”
“Ivanov hates people who do not share his liberal views, and defends all the dregs of society,” she said.
Later, at the trial, Grigorieva voiced the hope that not only Ivanov, but also another opposition mathematician from Moscow State University, associate professor Mikhail Lobanov, would pay for “anti-Russian activities.”
Three more prosecution witnesses are Grigorieva’s former subordinates Alexander Krasilnikov, Daniil Afanasyev, and her former graduate student Kirill Borisevich. In court, none of them (like the ex-dean herself) could explain how they had ended up in the investigator’s office and had decided to testify against Ivanov.
“I was walking from the subway, I had got out of the subway. I saw a building with paddy wagons, and decided to give evidence,” Krasilnikov said uncertainly. Each of the three repeated verbatim Grigorieva’s epithets for the student, and in court they read their testimony from a phone or a piece of paper.
What connects the unemployed man Ivan Lyamin and Kolomna Philharmonic musician Mikhail Zhuravlev with the case of Ivanov is not at all clear. In court, Lyamin explained that he had “accidentally stumbled upon” the Telegram channel “MSU Protesting.” He would sometimes read it. He then told an acquaintance about it, who advised him to contact the Investigative Committee.
Zhuravlev claimed that he had decided to testify so that justice would prevail.
“Because freedom of speech has become too much,” he said.
During questioning, Zhuravlev said that Ivanov “is trying to disorient his readers about the events in Ukraine and impose a sense of guilt for the conduct of the special operation not only on Russian citizens, but on all ethnic Russians. He is also trying to shape public opinion among citizens of the Russian Federation about the need to stop the actions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine in order to preserve the power of the nationalists.”
The witness could not repeat such a long statement from memory, so in court the prosecutor had to read out his written testimony .
The evidence and witnesses for the defense
The prosecution argues that, since the posts on the Telegram channel “MSU Protesting” diverged from the official reports of the Defense Ministry, meaning that they were “deliberately false,” this is sufficient proof of Ivanov’s guilt. This conclusion was reached by linguists from the FSB, who testified in court.
Defense counsel Maria Eismont asked psychologist Veronika Konstantinova and linguist Igor Zharkov to prepare an independent expert analysis of the activist’s posts. They concluded that, at the time of their publication, the information in Ivanov’s posts was not “knowingly false” from his point of view. The prosecutor retorted that the experts were only “trying to discredit the actions of the investigation.”
In addition to the expert analysis, the defense presented the testimony of seven people in court. Unlike the prosecution witnesses, all of them were personally acquainted with Ivanov. Andrei Stroganov taught Ivanov computer science at school. Ivanov worked on his honor’s thesis with Alexei Borodin, a senior researcher at the Institute of System Programming. Ivan Shmatin, a fifth-year student at Moscow State University is not only friends with the defendant, but also knows Lyudmila Grigorieva, whom he called “a person hyper-concentrated on people who espouse democratic values.”
All of them described the accused as an honest individual and a talented mathematician. This was said by activists Irina Yakutenko and Konstantin Kotov, with whom Ivanov had been involved in solidarity campaigns for political prisoners — the mathematician Azat Miftakhov and the defendants in the New Greatness Case.
Mathematician and leftist politician Mikhail Lobanov, for whose election campaign to the State Duma Ivanov had worked, was also summoned to court. He talked about defendant’s involvement in the life of the university. According to Lobanov, “Uniquely, Dima was not embittered, even as he was being persecuted for his views.”
Grigory Mikhnov-Voytenko, a bishop of the Apostolic Orthodox Church and a human rights activist, helps Ukrainian refugees who find themselves in Russia. Their accounts fully confirm the veracity of Ivanov’s posts, the clergyman said in court.
A billy club and a dog in court, summonses to the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry
On January 19, Ivanov was beaten by a guard. The reason was that the defendant did not immediately exit the “fish tank” after the court hearing, but stayed to find out from Maria Eismont when she would visit him in the pretrial detention center. It later transpired that the escort guard’s name was Alexei Nikolayevich Zhalnin.
Without giving the defendant a chance to talk to his lawyer, Zhalnin dragged Ivanov into the escort guard room. The next day, Ivanov told Eismont that the escort had taken him downstairs, turned off his body cam, and kicked him in the head and ribs and beaten him with a billy club. Zhalnin tried to put Ivanov’s head into the toilet and threatened that he would “insert a stick in his anus.” The second escort guard “watched” this and “did nothing.” The bruises suffered by the activist were documented at the detention center’s medical unit.
The defense has filed complaints about Zhalnin’s actions to numerous authorities, but so far to no avail. At the subsequent hearings, however, Ivanov was escorted by emphatically polite guards, and Judge Daria Pugacheva asked whether he had any complaints about the escort. Meanwhile, bailiffs stopped letting members of the public who could not recall the judge’s surname into the courthouse. Previously it had been enough to name the defendant’s last name at the entrance. A continuously whining service dog appeared in the courtroom.
Coincidentally, all these security measures were introduced when Eismont persuaded the court to call as witnesses Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya.
“Ivanov is charged with a serious crime based on a comparison of his texts with statements made by Nebenzya, Lavrov, and Konashenkov. This means that these people are essentially witnesses for the prosecution, and so he has the right to question them in court,” the lawyer argued.
Eismont had attempted to use this trick before, at the trial of the politician Ilya Yashin, but the court did not even issue summonses to the high-ranking officials then. In the Ivanov case, the summons reached their addressees, but the witnesses ignored them.
What else Ivanov was asked in court
Before oral arguments were made, Ivanov was himself put on the witness stand. While answering the questions posed by Prosecutor Yulia Pravosud, he explained why, as a student, he had written about pension reform, how he had checked his sources of information for reliability, and which media outlets he trusted. The prosecutor then tried to get Ivanov to talk about allegations that the Russian language has been banned in Ukraine.
“Do you know anything about Zelensky’s attitude toward the Russian language?” she asked.
“It’s his native language, basically. He’s completely fluent in it,” Ivanov replied.
“Is the Russian language banned or not banned [in Ukraine]?”
“I had not heard that the Russian language was banned in Ukraine. As far as I know, many regions used it as the primary one. The Mariupol City Hall maintained all its social media and websites in Russian even after 2014.”
“I see, and what about Zelensky’s position? Does he allow [Ukrainians] to communicate [in Russian]?”
“Probably, if he forbade communication in Russian, the mayor of Mariupol would not have spoken publicly in Russian, and would not have maintained online resources in Russian.”
Prosecutor Pravosud then read aloud a post from “MSU Protesting” in which Ivanov admitted that he could face criminal charges for his statements about the Russian army’s actions in Ukraine.
“Why did you, knowing of the criminal liability, still write on your Telegram channel?” she asked Ivanov.
“‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.’ That’s a quote from George Orwell,” he said. “Should I explain it to you?”
Pyl spoke with Asians of Russia cofounder Vasily Matenov about how the campaign has been helping people despite hounding from the Russian Interior Ministry, and why the residents of Russia’s ethnic republics are the most vulnerable to the Russian state.
How a social media page about ethnic cultures grew into a mutual aid project
Asians of Russia came into being five years ago. I am Buryat myself, and my wife is Tuvan. We lived in Novosibirsk for a while. It’s a city where there are many migrants from Central Asia, and yet the locals often have a negative attitude to this. When you say that you come from Irkutsk, they don’t understand how that could be. Five years ago, we decided to create a social media page that would promote the culture of different nations, so that people could see which nations live in Russia and what their lives are like.
At some point, our social media followers started contacting us for help. We began raising money to treat children with serious illnesses, or to pay for tours by ethnic children’s ensembles. The posts that hit home with the public were reposted thousands of times. We recruited volunteers and raised money to fight the forest fires in Yakutia. People began to trust us more and more.
We somehow got the idea to help manufacturers of local products: furniture, clothing, and jewelry. We began traveling to the regions, filmed stories about their enterprises, talked about what products they produce, and how production is organized. This went on for several months. They paid us small amounts of money, and so we earned a little. But we didn’t have any funding or grants at all.
How Asians of Russia helped its followers after the war’s outbreak
On February 24, I immediately started posting photos from the war, images of soldiers and prisoners, on our Instagram page. At first, users wrote that none of it was true. Then people from the regions began to recognize their relatives among the soldiers. A panic arose.
Lawmakers and officials wrote to us and threatened us. Then the law on “fake news” about the military was passed. One follower telephoned us and said that an acquaintance of his at the Interior Ministry’s Department K (which deals with information technology) had told him that they were very interested in us.
After some time, unknown people started knocking on our door. We didn’t open it: we pretended that no one was home. This went on for three days. On the third day, we exited the apartment late at night and left the country. The Zimin Foundation offered us help in getting out of Russia and a little financial support. My wife and I now live in Poland.
We do crowdfunding campaigns as needed. We raised money to pay the fines people had to pay for making anti-war statements and going to anti-war rallies. These fundraisers raised the amounts of money needed in a matter of minutes.
When the mobilization began, we raised money for buses so that people could leave for Kazakhstan or Mongolia. We were able to evacuate a lot of people in concert with other organizations: we joined forces with with both ethnic movements and the Feminist Anti-War Resistance. Together, we looked for taxi drivers or private carriers who would take people to the border.
We also hired lawyers to help contract soldiers legally refuse to do military service, and we helped conscientious objectors and those whose requests to be dismissed from military service were not approved. Over the past year, we have raised fourteen thousand dollars to pay lawyers and get people out of Russia.
From a follower:
Hello dear ones! You can publish my letter, because a lot of people look at your page and the problem I want to write about is very dire for all of us right now!
We live in a small village, and my husband and I have two underage children. My husband and I were orphans, so we live in a private house that we received from the state. I will not describe what terrible quality these houses are: I hope everyone knows and understands this.
During the mobilization, they tried to take my husband to fight. They were not stopped even by the fact that he has a group-three disability.
After consulting with friends, we decided that it would be better for him to go to Kazakhstan than to go to kill and most likely get killed. Our children love Dad very much, they just wouldn’t survive it. We’d rather he be alive far away than dead in the neighborhood cemetery.
He and a friend quickly packed and left for Kazakhstan. Our little ones call him every evening by video link. Everything has gone well for them in Kazakhstan. They found a job that provides them with a room in a hostel, for which I am very grateful to the Kazakhs!
Our small household has now fallen entirely on my shoulders. We have chickens and a cow, which is about to bear offspring. The house is heated by a stove. We burn coal, which costs about three thousand rubles per ton with delivery. There is no water in the house: we have to go to the nearest water pump for water.
I take the children to school myself, because I’m afraid of dogs. We have had several cases of dogs attacking children, it is very scary. The temperature here is now minus thirty degrees. It was minus forty the previous two weeks.
Don’t get me wrong. We are not in the habit of complaining. We were taught that one must endure no matter how hard life is. But if you think about it, do we deserve such a life?
The children and I like to watch travel shows on YouTube and see how people in other countries live. Watching such programs, you begin to realize that we too could have better lives.
I look at the children and imagine what awaits them, what the future will be like, and I cry at night. 😭 I want to give up everything and leave, but where can I go with two small children and with no money? It’s very scary.
I want to appeal to all those who have not yet lost their minds: may you have strength and patience. Take care of yourselves.
How the authorities have been trying to divide the ethnic community
We have always tried to produce high-quality content, to shoot high-quality videos. So, we initially attracted a very high-quality audience: there were almost no supporters of the war among them. The average age of our audience is between twenty-five and forty-five, and it has been growing even since Instagram was blocked in Russia.
There were bot attacks on our public page. At the same time, there was an influx of followers who would disappear after a couple of hours. They could write racist comments, about which they themselves might file complaints so that our public page would be blocked, or so that it would be subject to a shadow ban and would not show up in the feed.
I know people who are mixed up in such things. First, they organize bot attacks, and then they become aides to lawmakers.
The purpose of these bots is not just to block our profile, but to divide society so that there is no consensus on any issue. You can write any old nonsense. One of our followers admitted that he had worked in such a troll factory. They were told that they could even write that they opposed the authorities. What mattered was that they avoided coming to a unified stance in the comments.
Why Russia’s ethnic regions are the most vulnerable
The authorities understand that if there were a unity of opinion and a common cause in the ethnic regions, everything could flare up like a match. Therefore, propaganda is stronger here: there is not a single independent media outlet. We were in Georgia, and the Georgians said that god forbid the authorities would do something that the people did not like: everyone would immediately go to the parliament to protest. This happens because there is a national cause in Georgia.
There are very close family and friendship ties in the ethnic republics. It is customary in our part of the world to be in touch with fourth cousins and go visit them . It is vital for us to stand up for each other. The authorities have been doing everything possible to destroy this unity in the regions.
That is why all discontent and all protest in Russia is nipped in the bud. For example, when Dmitry Trapeznikov, who had been among the leaders of the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” was appointed acting mayor of Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, the whole region rose up to oppose him. The residents of Elista packed the city’s main square every day for a month. Consequently, Russian National Guardsmen from Moscow were brought to Kalmykia to break up the protest, and then all the protest leaders were put on trial. Since then, people in other regions have simply been afraid to take to the streets in protest.
The residents of the Russia’s ethnic republics are the most vulnerable part of the country’s population. They don’t know their rights well. There is no internet in the villages, and people speak Russian poorly. If the authorities go to the villages to mobilize young men for the war, how can they protect themselves? So, we must develop democracy in Russia, starting with the regions.
I’m not a politician or a political scientist. I don’t know exactly how to restructure Russia after Ukraine’s victory, or whether the ethnic republics will secede and how to do that. But I do know that, without independence, nations perish. For example, there are fewer than ten thousand Shors left in Russia, although they are an ethnic group that has existed for two thousand years, since before there were ethnic Russians.
If Russia wins the war, it will only get worse. We must not just turn out for rallies for a free Russia. We must make sure that Ukraine wins. Only then can we take up the vital task of preserving the independence of the nations living now as part of Russia.
Artist and activist Yelena Osipova holding a handmade placard that reads, “PUTIN IS WAR. WE DON’T WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN/WE DON’T WANT TO DIE FOR PUTIN,” and standing next to a Russian flag emblazoned with the slogan “NO WAR.” Ms. Osipova is standing outside Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral in downtown Petersburg, but it is unclear when, exactly, this photo was taken. Photo courtesy of Astra and the St. Petersburg Aid to Detainees Group.
The St. Petersburg Aid to Detainees Group reports:
“The elderly artist and activist Yelena Osipova was detained in Petersburg after taking to the streets with anti-war posters. The police promise to take her home, while stopping along the way at the police department to ‘sign papers.'”
Meanwhile, in other news, one of Petersburg’s most well-known “opposition” political scientists reported earlier today that personally he was having a fantastic day today (which is the first anniversary of his country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine for no other reason than it could) because one of his grad students has had an article accepted for publication in a prestigious academic journal.
That’s everything you need to know about the Russian liberal intelligentsia today: they’re continuing to live their best lives (at home, and abroad) while social “losers” and nobodies like Yelena Osipova fight the good fight. ||| TRR
An abundance of news — especially bad news — sometimes robs a person of empathy. They have no compassion for anyone and do not want to help. They pay no mind to important events such as the military operations in Ukraine or disasters around the world. If this happens to loved ones, they seem callous to us, as if they are hiding their heads in the sand and refusing to look at reality. But when it concerns someone personally, they may wonder whether everything is okay with them.
Contemplative practices teacher Viktor Shiryaev explained to 7×7 why feelings disappear, how to bring them back, and why.
Viktor Shiryaev is a teacher of modern contemplative and somatic practices, a mindfulness instructor [instruktor maindfulnes], and an expert in adult maturation. He runs the Telegram channel Act of Presence, where he discusses mindfulness and meditation techniques, and does consultations.
— Is it normal to read the news and not to feel anything? How can people not have an emotional response to photos from Mariupol, to stories about injustice or emergencies?
— I think it’s fine. Everything that happens to people is governed by certain mechanisms. There are several of them involved here.
First, things regarded as “close to home” are felt more acutely. Photos of an earthquake in Turkey or a tsunami in Haiti that causes thousands of deaths are very poorly registered by our minds. People who have no relatives or direct contacts in Mariupol may not feel anything — and not because they lack empathy, but because it is happening to someone else and is therefore abstract.
The second mechanism is numbness, withdrawal. This is also a normal stress reaction, a defense mechanism. If you worry all the time, it is impossible to live and work normally. During our lifetimes, there has not been a single day that there were no wars on the planet. If you feel all this and constantly suffer from it — after all, empathy is generally premised on the idea that “when you hurt, I hurt too” — life will be uncomfortable.
The third mechanism is rationalization — that is, persuading yourself that what is happening is normal. This reduces empathy and sensitivity. For example, you think, “They’re all Nazis, it’s okay.” The fact that they are human beings is obscured by this “rational” argument.
The fourth mechanism is hardening. We are going through a collective trauma. Russians [rossiyane, i.e., Russian citizens] throughout the post-Soviet space [sic] are the result of the negative selection that has occurred over the last one hundred years: dekulakization, the Stalinist purges, the Holodomor, the forcible transfer of populations, World War II, the Stalinist crackdowns, the anti-cosmopolitan campaign, the Doctors’ Plot, the Afghan and Chechen wars, and so on. All this leaves scars on the psyche and on people’s behavior. Scar tissue is qualitatively different from normal skin. And while the idea of self-care and letting go of the past is more clearly expressed in the west, people in Russia become callous because they just put up with things: “I can take it,” “I’m no weakling,” “Hit me harder.”
— Do people come to you and say, “I don’t feel anything and I want to fix it”?
— Sensitive people who are trying to live in the midst of all the horror and stress, without turning away from it and disengaging, come to me more often. The complaint “I don’t feel anything” is a more advanced case. A person should not only take note of this, but also understand that it causes them harm. There is this meme:
Decreased sensitivity ultimately complicates life, because it affects both your emotions and your body. It makes your life poorer.
— What should I do if earlier I took a keen interest in the news but now I don’t feel anything — if numbness, as you call it, has set in? Is it worth deliberately reading even more news to make myself feel something?
— You should not specifically trigger [triggerit’] yourself by reading the news, looking at war photos or something like that. This is pointless, because if the “chill” arose due to our unwillingness and inability to see things, then by forcibly increasing the intensity of the stimulus we will only make ourselves feel worse.
What makes sense is gently restoring your sensitivity per se.
How to regain sensitivity Viktor Shiryaev’s advice
Observe the sensations in your body — name them: touching, warm, smooth.
Observe your state of mind — try to name it: tense, calm, flustered, pleased.
Ask yourself how you are doing now more often. Give a specific answer.
Deploy scenarios to wind down the stress cycle: bath/massage, shaking [sheiking], physiological sigh, time with no phone and TV in the company of loved ones and/or in nature, high-quality physical activity.
— So, freezing up is a normal reaction on the part of the psyche? Or is it an occasion to consult with a psychologist?
— Ideally, of course, it should not come to this. So-called preventive medicine is much better than treating a disorder that has already taken hold.
Regular psycho-emotional fitness training — all kinds of methods of skillful self-support, meditation, mindfulness practice, physical training, and therapy — help to ready us for higher psycho-emotional loads. It works the same way as physical exercise: a trained body copes with challenges more easily.
You definitely need to go to specialists when you can’t “ride it out.” They have ways to help you.
— There are situations when one person in a couple, a group of friends or a family avidly watches the news, reacts to it and wants to discuss it, while the others don’t want to delve into anything and go about their business, saying that it doesn’t concern them and they don’t want to get bogged down in other people’s troubles. What should one do when there are different levels of sensitivity and different needs, when it is important for one person to experience and feel, while the other person wants to remain neutral?
— Respect the other’s feelings and needs. Talk about your feelings without trying to convince the other person and prove that your way of doing things is “right.” It is possible that it is only right for you. It is possible that you’re right on principle. But when we feel that we are being attacked, we want to defend ourselves, not to open up to the other person.
Dialogue — the opportunity to be seen, heard and accepted — involves opening up towards each other, thawing out.
— If a person is worried whether everything is okay with them, how can they can validate [validirovat’] their “feeling of insensitivity”?
— Everything that happens to us is normal. Not in the sense of being “good,” but in the sense of that’s how things are. It is normal to “freeze up” in moments of acute stress or amidst prolonged stress, because this is how the self-preservation instinct works.
The self-preservation instinct is much bigger and older than us. Even relatively feeble emotions diminish access to the rational and adult parts of the psyche — we are “captured” by emotions, let alone by truly tragic events.
It is important to understand and accept this, to carefully and gently regain access to your emotions. Not through force, violence and “overriding,” but through a kind attitude, gentleness and love.
The little green van sped down the road, the Russian forces just across the river. Inside, Halyna Luhova, the mayor of Kherson, cradled a helmet in her lap and gazed out the bulletproof window.
When the first shell ripped open, directly in the path of the van, maybe 200 yards ahead, her driver locked his elbows and tightened his grip on the wheel and drove straight through the cloud of fresh black smoke.
“Oh my god,” Ms. Luhova said, as we raced with her through the city. “They’re hunting me.”
The second shell landed even closer.
She’s been almost killed six times. She sleeps on a cot in a hallway. She makes $375 a month, and her city in southern Ukraine has become one of the war’s most pummeled places, fired on by Russian artillery nearly every hour.
But Ms. Luhova, the only female mayor of a major city in Ukraine, remains determined to project a sense of normality even though Kherson is anything but normal. She holds regular meetings — in underground bunkers. She excoriates department heads — for taking too long to set up bomb shelters. She circulates in neighborhoods and chit-chats with residents — whose lives have been torn apart by explosions.
She chalks up any complaints about corruption or mismanagement — and there are plenty — to rumor-mongering by Russian-backed collaborators who are paid to frustrate her administration.
Kherson, a port city on the Dnipro River, was captured by Russian forces in March; liberated by Ukrainian forces in November; and now, three months later, lies nearly deserted. Packs of out-of-school children roam the empty boulevards lined with leafless trees and centuries-old buildings cracked in half.
The Order is a group narrative therapy service. Uncertainty, wars, stress, trauma, isolation — you don’t have to cope with these difficulties in life alone. We’ll help you keep from losing yourself and regain control over your life’s story.
What does group therapy offer?
You reflect on and accept what you have experienced in a safe environment
You sort out the mess of your attitudes and fears
You get the support of professional psychologists and mentors [mentorov]
You see yourself from a new angle — through the eyes and experience of others
You find your own network of supportive people
You improve your communication skills and escape social isolation
You realize the value of your own life and relationships
You gain the inner strength to go on living
Feedback from group members
These art therapy sessions are literally an experiment in collective self-healing using creative improvised means that release everyone’s creative impulses. It’s an incredible experience of uniting people, one so necessary in our strange time. Despite the extreme difficulty of attending online sessions due to the blackouts in Kyiv, I look forward to each one and get ready knowing that I’m going to touch a miracle. The amazing original technique and wonderful company keep my soul warm and light for a long time after. Thank you for being there!
JOURNALIST, WRITER, TEACHER
It’s a very strange feeling doing group therapy on Zoom: it’s like watching a TV series. Kit Loring has so much sincerity and empathy — I couldn’t believe what was happening was real, because I hadn’t met such people before. And the careful way he uses words and his tone were alarming at first. I got used to it over time. I like watching how people open up inside [sic] the session. And if a connection is established with the members of the group, it becomes very easy to trust them and speak openly. You understand that everyone has their own pain, but it’s also familiar to you now or it was familiar in the past.
After the initial sessions, I feel that I’ve started to undergo psychological metamorphoses. Thanks to correctly posed questions and images, I am able to get in touch with experiences and sensitive moments, to “unpack” my emotions. Everything is done as carefully as possible: Kit Loring and the curators create a safe space in which it’s not scary to open up and be heard. I recommend it to everyone who wants to look inside themselves through the prism of creativity and start working with deep experiences using the tools of words, colors and images.
The group sessions with Kit Loring are incredibly fulfilling and healing. It’s like a healing touch. The warmth of understanding spreads throughout the body. It really is like magic. Pulling out your painful experiences, opening up to other people in the group, all of them so different, and helping them too, you become stronger and begin to understand what else you can do with all of it. Complicated events and memories are no longer so complicated and forbidden. And, it seems, I no longer want to cover my eyes with my hands, I want to look into someone else’s eyes.
Due to traumas, it had become difficult for me to create (and often function), but in The Order, unexpectedly, I was pleased to find an accepting online space and validation [validatsiia] of my opinions and experiences. The meetings create a trusting atmosphere and mutual understanding. After the sessions, I have a pleasant feeling of unity with people, albeit strangers. Every time this magic happens in my mind —”Oh, I’m not the only one who feels and thinks like this” — and it’s worth a lot. I recommend these groups if you’re lonely and you find it difficult to talk about your traumas and thoughts with others.
How does it work?
You go through testing that helps you formulate your goals and helps us place you in a mini-group
We break the cohort into small groups. You have your own separate chat and meetings once a week
CONTRACT WITH YOURSELF
Signing a contract with yourself and supporting each other’s efforts is a vital part of the healing
ONLINE SESSIONS EVERY WEEK
The cohort first meets with an expert on Zoom, and then the groups move on to intimate interaction — all this lasts two and a half to three hours
MATERIALS FOR HEALING
Regular exercises designed by our specialists enable you to rethink significant events and attitudes
REWRITING YOUR STORY
Practices and tools, songs, drawing, communication and poems help you process fears and anxieties
SUPPORT AND CARE
You are guided by psychologists and curators to whom you always turn for advice
You rethink difficulties with the healing power of creativity and find your own bearings
Each cohort is led by experienced psychotherapists and psychologists, experts, lecturers and mentors who help you transform your experiences.
Certified British clinical art therapist, clinical supervisor and trainer, member of the British Association of Drama Therapists, co-founder and co-director of the humanitarian art therapy organization Ragamuffin International (South Wales, UK).
Senior expert at Meta, a service for selecting proven psychotherapists. Over 12 years of experience in the field of psychotherapy. Over 8 years of experience as a therapist working with psychological trauma. Over 5 years of experience consulting and evaluating midlevel and senior managers.
CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE
Organizer and leader of art therapy groups and support groups. I use an integrative approach in my work, relying on both research and cultural aspects. Lecturer for several youth organizations, designer of psychological games. Over five years of experience working with trauma.
JOURNALIST, REPORTER AND FILMMAKER
A star of American journalism who has worked for the world’s best publications — The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times Magazine. He has twice received the Peabody Award, one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in journalism, and his bestseller There Are No Children Here was included in a list of the 150 most influential books of the twentieth century.
JOURNALIST, REPORTER, WRITER
He became famous for his debut book about the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda, one of the bloodiest in the history of mankind. For more than 30 years, he has been telling poignant stories from all over the world, has received dozens of professional awards and has written four books. He has been published in The New Yorker and edited the magazine The Paris Review.
ART MENTOR, CONTEMPORARY ARTIST, CURATOR
Lecturer at the Moscow School of Contemporary Art (MSCA) and the British Higher School of Art & Design (BHSAD). Did her master’s at Saint Martins. Collaborated with the Tate Museum in London. Zhanna’s projects have been exhibited at Saatchi, Tate Modern, Kochi Biennale, Moscow Biennale, Cube and many other venues. Her works are in the collection of the Russian Museum and private collections around the world.
We were discussing the connection between narrative and trauma, and a female colleague of mine asked why we reassemble our identity after traumatic events. Why do we give up our previous identity? I found the comments of the other participants very interesting.
Many of the responses focused on the fact that the reassembling one’s identity is necessary, because otherwise the unprocessed trauma would begin to burst out in unexpected places, and you would feel it pulling you down. Along with this, the question arose: Can an identity be false? Here, the answers focused on the fact that self-deception won’t help, because you know the truth. Many of the participants concluded that false identity = problems that (do not) express themselves in reality and that poison life.
I thought about this discussion for a long time (I don’t always manage to get involved in the moment), and the responses made me ask even more questions:
Do I know the truth about what has happened and is happening to me?
If for some reason I decide to create a “false” identity for myself, then maybe it functions after all? And if it does function, then how?
First: Do I know the truth about what has happened and is happening to me?
I can say with confidence that I am aware of what has happened to me in my life, when it happened, and how it happened like no one else. It is on this understanding that I string together my narrative about myself. But to be honest, some of the stories that I know about myself in detail I either relate to others and sometimes to myself in abridged form, or I change the conclusions that I had once come to.
Sometimes my conclusions change in the process of growing up, which means that the truth can also be flexible. And it doesn’t happen because I cannot or do no want to be honest with myself or with others. Everything I tell is my truth, what I know myself. But some of the events in my life are imprinted in my memory, as if I saw them from the outside, and some through the eyes of my parents, while still other stories I remember vaguely.
Is it possible in this case to talk about a division between true and false narratives, even if I am not sure myself where the boundaries of truth lie?
Second: If for some reason I create a “false” identity for myself, then maybe it functions after all?
I will give the stupidest example on the planet. It’s from the TV series Hunters, which I decided to watch to take my mind off things.
Attention: there will be a spoiler next, which will be highlighted in color in the newsletter.
TW: The Holocaust
The Hunters live in the US in the 1970s and catch Nazis who somehow escaped punishment and live new lives under assumed names. One of the central characters of the series is Meyer Offerman, a former concentration camp inmate and the leader of the Hunters. At the end of the first season, it transpires that Offerman has been impersonated by Wilhelm Zuchs, a Nazi doctor from Auschwitz. After Soviet troops liberated the camp, Zuchs was imprisoned, but was able to escape. He killed the real Offerman, had plastic surgery and started a “new life.” According to Zuchs-Offerman, he “lived like a Jew and became a Jew”: he went to synagogue, learned the language, and read the Torah. As he himself claims, he understands that he cannot atone for his crimes, but neither is he any longer the Nazi he once was.
End of spoiler
Can at least one of the identities we have be false? We might have been different one, two, three years ago, and this doesn’t limit our potential for change. How do we recognize when we’re lying to ourselves? Or not to ourselves, but to others, if this lie doesn’t reinforce the narrative we have already constructed? And why can’t a story that might seem untrue to someone be your story? Who has the last say in determining the veracity of someone’s identity?
I don’t have clear answers to this question. What’s more, I am sure that these questions should be regularly addressed and we should check whether the answers we’ve already given still work. I myself have delved into this discussion to set in motion the already nearly ossified answers in my head. I think checking whether our beliefs correspond to reality is a good exercise for each of us. And here as well an attempt to catch oneself out in a lie might become an artificial restriction on change.
Perhaps the trauma needs to be lived through, perhaps the identity may be false. And yet, I don’t believe that while traumatic events are still ongoing any of us can make definite judgments about our own or someone else’s identity and its truth.
Whether you do a “good job” of living throughh your personal and social traumatic events is up to you to decide, just as it’s up to you evaluate your narratives about yourself. But this doesn’t dissolve us of responsibility for the ethical choices (and their consequences) that I/we make every day.
Source: Dasha Manzhura, Anti-War Newsletter #347 (DOXA), 13 February 2023. Ms. Manzhura is an editor at DOXA. Translated by the Russian Reader
Known as Minnesota’s favorite Americana band of the 99%, The Gated Community celebrates the release of their highly anticipated new album The Honor and Glory of The Gated Community. Showcasing beautiful harmonies, multiple lead singers and virtuosic soloists, this 5th album from the folk/country cult favorites shows the band stepping out of their Marxist bluegrass band box to create poignant songs of personal and collective loss — many of which were written just a few blocks from where Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct station was burned and abandoned following the murder of George Floyd.
Living just a few blocks from the 3rd Precinct, frontman Sumanth Gopinath (vocals, guitar) and his partner Beth Hartman (vocals, percussion) were filled with a particular anxiety and dread. “We went through a lot during the uprising itself, but we also feared repeat occurrences of violence at various points – like the November 2020 election, January 6, the inauguration and the Chauvin trial,” Gopinath says. “Moreover, family and friends died or nearly died from COVID-19. My retired colleague David Bernstein passed in March 2020, my aunt died in June 2020, and my uncle was in the hospital for months.”
Although The Gated Community started tracking some of the album in 2019 and early 2020, an electrical failure (caused by the 2020 unrest) fried the studio’s primary and backup hard drives. Left with only a few tracks and a whole new whirlwind of emotions stirred up by the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, subsequent protests and the rise of fascism in America, the band reworked old songs and arranged new ones written by Gopinath during the pandemic. “Not being able to make music with the other five band members during 2020, I began composing classical music again for the first time in 25 years,” Gopinath says. “I also continued to write songs for the band until we were finally able to do some very distanced outdoor rehearsals in fall of that year.”
With various health concerns among band members, they worked safely and slowly, rehearsing and recording the new tracks with John Miller at Future Condo Studio in Minneapolis. Mastered by Bruce Templeton at Microphonic Mastering, the album was finally done in 2022. Their most ambitious yet, it includes 13 originals with powerful lyrics and thoughtful arrangements. Although still marked by the playfulness that have won them such a loyal following, these songs have less punk urgency and more of the laid-back folk and country vibes of some of their songwriting heroes – from the Ralph Stanley-inspired a capella song “To the Sea Once More” (written for Kobe Dimock-Heisler, a young man of color on the autism spectrum who had just been murdered by police in Brooklyn Center, MN, on Aug. 31, 2019) to the Terry Allen-esque “Mariia” (about the alleged Russian spy and current politician Maria Butina) to the Townes Van Zandt-sounding “Another Fire” (written following the nightly fires that erupted in South Minneapolis after George Floyd’s murder) to the beautiful simplicity of Gillian Welch exhibited in “The Life From My Eyes” (about domestic violence towards women). The album also features the heartfelt playing of recently retired fiddler Teresa Gowan.
Once thought of as a niche novelty outfit, The Gated Community show their evolution into a sophisticated band that mixes social commentary with emotionally rich songwriting. They are incredibly proud to bring this album into the world after the collective traumas of the past three years and are finding solace in playing together once more.
released February 3, 2023
The Gated Community is Sumanth Gopinath, Cody Johnson, Teresa Gowan, Paul Hatlelid, Rosie Harris, Beth Hartman, and Nate Knutson
with special guest Adrienne Miller
words by Sumanth Gopinath, music by The Gated Community
produced by The Gated Community and John Miller
recorded at Future Condo Studio by John Miller
mixed by John Miller
mastered by Bruce Templeton, Microphonic Mastering
thanks and much love to our families, friends, and fans
special thanks to Tom Campbell and Adam Zahller
in memory of the family members and friends we lost over the past few years, including Liz Adams, Stan Adler, Shekhar Bal, David Bernstein, Josette Bethany, Max Bromley, Jason Christenson, Karen Dresser, Marian Gopinath, Gwen Hartman, Dave Hoenack, Qadri Ismail, Chad Marsolek, Jim McDonald, Ryan Muncy, Rita Elizabeth Nye, Peter Schimke, and Jerold Marvin Schultz
“MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN” FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT STUDENTS FROM UKRAINE, BELARUS, AND RUSSIA AFFECTED BY WAR OR PERSECUTION
Tamizdat Project Inc. is launching a two-month campaign “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” to support undergraduate students forced to leave their home countries due to Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine or persecution in Belarus and Russia for their anti-war stance.
On January 30, 2023, we are opening two online charity book auctions and a donation campaign to help these students pursue their academic careers in a safe environment. We are inviting the public to join our Rare Books Auction, which features a variety of first editions of “contraband” literature from behind the Iron Curtain and books by émigré authors, a Signed and Inscribed Books Auction with nearly 300 titles inscribed or signed for our cause by over 100 contemporary writers and scholars, and a “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” online fundraiser.
Since February 24, 2022, many initiatives have been launched across American campuses to support scholars at risk. Very few, however, have been set up for students, who have not yet established themselves in academia but have also been forced to leave home and need to continue their education elsewhere. Tamizdat Project Inc. has taken the initiative to help the next generation of scholars when they most need it.
The proceeds will be distributed to undergraduate students to help them pay for tuition and living expenses while studying in the U.S. (e.g., we will pay their dormitory bills or offer stipends to participate in Tamizdat Project). We will work with the colleges and universities that have admitted them to make this goal a reality. A breakdown of how the funds will be distributed will be provided at a later date. Our campaign brings together prominent writers and academics in the diaspora to help today’s refugees, much as we wish no such effort was ever necessary. We are joined by Nobel Prize Laureate Svetlana Alexievich, director of Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute Serhii Plokhy, émigré writer and critic Alexander Genis, rap singer Noize MC, to name but a few.
“On the last day of 2022, as we all were getting ready to celebrate the arrival of the new year the Russian missile attack hit Kyiv, causing serious damage to the buildings and properties of the Kyiv University. … It had become the worst year for the higher education since the end of World War II. Any assistance we can provide for students of Ukraine will be greatly appreciated by the students in the universities under fire and the students-refugees in Ukraine and abroad.” — Serhii Plokhy, professor of Ukrainian history, Harvard University
“I am glad to take part in this project. After all, the auction that Tamizdat Project has put together is not just about rare books that make any library more precious and interesting. It is also part of the living history of free literature and thought, uninterrupted even today. These books, as dissidents used to say, are relics of the struggle ‘for our freedom and yours.’ They unite authors and readers, turning even those unfamiliar with each other into allies.” — Alexander Genis, author
Tamizdat Project is a not-for-profit public scholarship and charity initiative devoted to the study of banned books from the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War (“tamizdat” means literally “published over there,” that is, abroad). Today, these books remind us that freedom and education know no boundaries. We are a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization with a tax-exempt status: donations and gifts are deductible to the extent allowable by the IRS.
On 11 October 2022, amidst the recently announced military mobilization, Roman Nasryev and his friend Alexei Nuriyev broke a window on the first floor of the municipal administration building in the town of Bakal in the Chelyabinsk Region and threw Molotov cocktails into it. There was a military enlistment office in the building.
Local pro-government media outlets dubbed the young men “the rockers who threw Molotov cocktails at city hall.”
Initially, Nasryev and Nuriyev were charged with “destroying or damaging property” (per Article 167.2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code). Later, however, after the FSB had homed in on the case, the charge was revised to “committing a terrorist act” (per Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code).
Roman and Alexei were also later accused of “undergoing training in order to carry out terrorist activities” (per Article 205.3 of the Criminal Code).
Law enforcement claimed that the accused “took courses on carrying out terrorist activities via the Internet and by phone.” In response to such a strange and dubious claim, a subscriber to one of the Telegram channels ironically quipped, “Apparently, they did not train well. Distance learning is still not as good as in-person instruction.”
Roman and Alexei face from fifteen to thirty years of imprisonment or life in prison if convicted as charged. To date, these are the most serious charges brought against suspects or defendants in anti-war arson cases.
On October 21, Rosfinmonitoring added Nuriyev and Nasryev to its list of “extremists and terrorists.”
27-year-old Roman Nasryev worked as a driver in the Interior Ministry’s extra-departmental security guard service (now overseen by the Russian National Guard). He and Nuriyev played in the Bakal rock band Room 32. Relatives tell us that he liked to learn to play musical instruments on his own, including guitar, mouth harp, harmonica, dombra, and flute. Roman’s other hobbies were sports, especially running and calisthenics, skiing, writing poetry, cars, and fishing.
Both of the accused men hold anti-war views. Politically, Nasryev describes himself as a libertarian. (Earlier, we mistakenly wrote that he held left-wing views.) Roman explains that he did what he did to protest the war in Ukraine and the military mobilization.
Roman is married and has two children, a four-year-old daughter and a son, who was born in November, when Roman was already in remand prison.
On January 27, the young men’s remand in custody was extended for six months, until 4 August 2023. Both prisoners of conscience are currently being held at Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 in Chelyabinsk. Nasryev is being held in solitary confinement.
You can support Roman by sending him a letter or parcel. (There is no limit on the number of parcels inmates at the pretrial detention center can receive). Letters not only cheer up inmates and strengthen their spirits, but also show the security forces that people are paying keen attention to what happens to them, and this can prevent the security forces from engaging in lawlessness and torture.
You can also start a correspondence with Roman — his wide-ranging interests are listed above.
Address for letters and parcels:
Nasryev Roman Raifovich (born 1995)
53 ul. Rossiyskaya, SIZO-1
Chelyabinsk 456006 Russian Federation
(It is also possible to send emails to inmates via the Zonatelecom service.)
Solidarity Zone supports Roman Nasryev.
Source: Solidarity Zone (Facebook), 31 January 2023. Translated by Thomas Campbell. People living outside Russia will not be able to use the Zonatelecom service. It is also impossible or nearly impossible to send parcels to Russian detention facilities from abroad. In many cases, however, you can send letters (which must be written in Russian or translated into Russian) via the free, volunteer-run service RosUznik. As of this writing, Mr. Nasryev has not appeared on their list of supported addressees. You can also ask me (email@example.com) for assistance and advice in sending letters to Russian political prisoners.