Alexander Yegorov’s Funeral

On May 26, Kirishi bid farewell to Alexander Yegorov, a contract-service marine who was killed in Ukraine. Our correspondent describes Alexander’s funeral and what his loved ones say about his military service and the circumstances of his death.

Alexander Yegorov. Photo courtesy of VKontakte and Bumaga

Groups of people gather outside the Sunrise Youth and Leisure Center in Kirishi. Almost everyone is holding red carnations — they have come to a civil memorial service for guards marine Alexander Yegorov. One of the deceased man’s twenty-year-old friends has brought black roses. Yegorov’s friends and classmates are followed by a group of distant relatives and teachers. Russian National Guardsmen and military servicemen stand each in their separate groups. Gradually, people converge in a long queue. The queue is headed by a boy of about ten years old in a camouflage uniform, combat boots, and beret, along with an old woman wearing a headscarf.

A military band greets those entering the funeral hall. People lay flowers on a table near the coffin, which is upholstered in red cloth. A Russian flag has been draped over the coffin. Yegorov’s father, mother, and twelve-year-old sister are seated near the coffin. People go up to them, express their condolences, and hug them.

Opposite Yegorov’s close relatives stand medal-bedecked military men, solemnly holding their caps in their hands. The ten-year-old boy in camouflage uniform stands in the center of the hall. Like the adults, he holds his beret in his hand. Two young guards armed with machine guns stand on honor duty near the coffin.

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

A local councilman in a suit jacket ushers the father of the deceased to the microphone. It is hard for him to talk. He cries, barely able to stand on his feet.

“He wanted this himself. He went on his own accord — a real man. As they said, he saved a comrade… I have also been in combat, I know what it is like. Our friend, our son, is no longer with us. I can’t say anything more.”

Yegorov’s father is followed by members of the Kirishi district council. The words “demilitarization” and “denazification” crop up often in their speeches. “We watch TV, we know everything,” one of them says. Another ends his speech by repeating the president’s quote from the Gospel: “There is no greater love than if someone gives his soul for his friends.”

A minute of silence follows. Then a vocational college teacher recalls that Alexander was “not a hooligan” as a student. He says that Alexander would have been an excellent welder.

One of the military men haltingly recounts Yegorov’s act of heroism. Alexander “personally knocked out two enemy tanks” and went to provide first aid to a comrade, but died on the battlefield “as a result of hostile artillery fire.” The military man announces that Alexander has been awarded the Order of Courage posthumously by presidential decree for his courage and heroism.

Anton, a close friend of the deceased, is the last to speak. He is wearing an overcoat and black gloves. It was he who brought the black roses.

Alexander Yegorov’s childhood friend Anton. Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

Alexander’s friend Anton:

“Sasha loved style and was well-groomed. He always wore black gloves, chains, and watches, and loved expensive whiskey. He was quite pretentious and finicky. He was obsessed with business. He was an unusual guy. Since he was charismatic and handsome, many girls fell in love with him, almost all of them. He should have worked as a model. We’ve known each other for fourteen years, we went to the same school. Then we went to vocational college. Sasha studied to be a welder, while I studied to be an auto mechanic, but we saw each other often. He was really into personal growth. He was interested in relationship psychology, business, and marketing, and was an excellent binary options trader. He was always on the lookout for information and constantly learning things. He liked to read books. He really liked the books The Richest Man in Babylon and Personal Development for Smart People. And he gave me relationship advice and helped me find girls, like a personal psychologist.”

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

In his eulogy, Anton admits that he had a falling out with the deceased a year ago, that he would like to ask him for forgiveness and hopes that all his friends will forgive Alexander and that Alexander will forgive all of them.

Someone in the audience shouts, “What are you talking about, you fucking idiot!?”

The speeches are over. The military band plays. One of the council members invites everyone to travel to the Meryatino cemetery.

Alexander’s friend Anton:

“He wanted to dodge the draft at first, to not join the army, but last year he decided to go. I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe it was quarrels with friends that incited him. He had begun to behave very rudely and disrespectfully towards me and often had arguments with others. He and I communicated less often — he was a high-maintenance guy.

“In the army, he wrote that he felt abandoned. I would guess that he joined the army for the money, and he needed the money to implement his big plans. He wanted to create his own clothing brand, launch a business of some kind, and get rich himself to help others get rich.

“It is possible that his father urged him to serve in the army, like, ‘it’ll make you a man,’ and his father was an authority figure to him. Not that he actually said, “Go into the army, you need to become a man,” but Sasha took his words to heart. He was always independent. He hadn’t wanted to join the army until the last moment, but either his father said something to him, or he just wanted to avoid the difficulties that could arise when applying for a job [for failing to perform his mandatory military service].

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

On the way to the cemetery, a military UAZ off-road vehicle with an open top, the letters Z and V pasted on its sides and flying three flags, cruises behind the van carrying the coffin. In the car, among people in military uniform, sits the father of the deceased in civilian clothes, his face turned into the wind.

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

At the cemetery, the zinc coffin’s lid is removed. There is a small aperture around the deceased’s face, and a photo of Alexander in military uniform has been placed on the center of the coffin. We are seemingly given the chance to compare the person before he went into the army and afterwards. People stand by the coffin for a long time, peering at it and saying their farewells.

“Mom, this is our little son!” the father of the deceased screams, turning to his wife. Both of them fall on the coffin, hugging the zinc.

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

The burial rites begin. The father becomes faint and falls over. People prop him up and put him in the military vehicle, where he sits with his eyes half closed. Two girls sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by dying.” Some people cross themselves. Nearby, a group of military men discuss the circumstances of Alexander’s death in a low voice. One of them has served in Ukraine, apparently.

“A large piece of shrapnel got under his helmet, and small pieces, minor stuff, struck his bulletproof vest. They broke his ribs.”

“And the one he saved, did he survive?”

“I don’t know, he’s in the hospital. They [Ukrainians] were prepared. Everything there is dug up, crisscrossed with trenches. There was preparation.”

The knowledgeable young man continues.

“Not that there are no connections. Using phones is forbidden. There are cellular connections only in certain places. If they [soldiers] go up to a cell tower [to get a better connection], sooner or later [the Ukrainians] get a fix on them, just like our guys get a fix on them.”

Alexander’s friend Anton:

“As I was told, Alexander at first served in Kaliningrad in the motorized infantry, but then he was sent to a repair battalion when they found out that he was a welder. While he was doing his [obligatory] service, he signed a contract [to continue his service as a paid volunteer serviceman], thinking that he would go to Syria. Who knew that the war would begin? He had signed a contract. The war began and [instead of] Syria, he was sent to Ukraine.

“We did not communicate when he was serving in the army, but four months later he called me and apologized for everything. He seemed to have said goodbye to everyone in advance, saying that he would soon be gone. He wrote me big congratulatory ‘poems,’ and said he missed me. And he wrote messages to everyone about how he wanted to see them take off. He told me that he hoped I would become a hotshot masseur. He told a friend that she would be able to become a streamer, and told another friend to find himself. That’s what he is like — a spiritual mentor. Shortly before his death, he wrote a very heartfelt letter to his parents, but no one read it except his father. It was probably quite personal.”

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

The burial rites end, the funeral march plays. The father of the deceased has come to his senses. He approaches the coffin again and hugs his wife. At this moment, everyone shudders as shots are fired. The honor guard is concealed from Yegorov’s relatives and friends by the funeral home van — no one expected the shots. People instinctively duck, and the father covers his ears with his hands.

The coffin is lowered into the grave.

“The Snickers! They forgot to put in the Snickers!” he screams.

People reassure that the Snickers have been put in the coffin, but the father rushes at the grave anyway.

“Forgive me, son, I didn’t want to get you…”

Two comrades try to hold him back by force. The people around him admonish him.

“Your son is a hero, but you…”

Three gravediggers begin filling in the hole. The father escapes and runs up to it again. One of the gravediggers roughly pushes him away. The father falls.

“Someone give him smelling salts.”

Alexander’s friend Anton:

“[Alexander] told me that a phone had been found on someone in his unit. They wanted to arrest the guy, because phones are banned in their unit. But Sasha made an agreement with the person who wanted to arrest him, and gave him his own phone so that there would be no problems for the other guy. Sasha always stood up for his friends. He gave a lot of things away and protected his friends — friends were very important to him. He sacrificed a lot and shared a lot, whether it was money or knowledge. He wanted his friends to be successful too. He wanted to help them grow up and achieve something, to find themselves, to help them start doing something. I told him quite often during his lifetime that I loved him. Many people loved him, and he loved them too.”

Photo: Pavel K. for Bumaga

The gravediggers cover the mound of dirt with fir branches, and then people come up and lay flowers atop the branches. Having calmed down, the father holds his own tiny, intimate ceremony involving church candles. Then he turns to the young people in the crowd, his son’s classmates, and invites them to the wake.

“Aren’t you friends of Sasha? Come with us to the Eden.”

As you leave the town of Kirishi, on the left side of the highway, you see the ruins of a building that has not been completely demolished. Coming closer, you realize that this is the Echo of War monument: the ruins of a pre-war factory boiler room. The description says that the monument serves as a reminder to future generations of war’s horrific consequences.


Source: Pavel K., “‘He said goodbye to everyone in advance, saying that he would soon be gone’: how Kirishi buried Alexander Yegorov, killed in Ukraine,” Bumaga, 28 May 2022. The article’s author (and photographer) is identified here by a pseudonym for reasons of personal safety. Thanks to JG for the heads-up and KA for the encouragement. Translated by Thomas Campbell, who has edited this website for the last fifteen years and has no reason to be afraid of identifying himself, something that he mostly avoided doing during this website’s first twelve years, when it was produced in Petersburg, Russia.


The Echo of War monument in Kirishi, Leningrad Region, Russia. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, which notes: “During the war, the front line passed through the city of Kirishi. The fiercest battles took place in Kirishi in December 1941, during which most of the town’s buildings were destroyed. The front line constantly passed through Kirishi for about two years.”

A Completely Different Country

Would-be Young Pioneers in Novosibirsk. Gorky Palace of Culture in Novosibirsk/vk.com. Courtesy of the Moscow Times

This is a completely different country

This social media post about life in the late USSR helps to better understand where we find ourselves today.

The latest insane campaign to create some kind of children’s organization has everyone and their mother cursing their childhoods as Young Pioneers. I won’t do it. There was all kinds of stuff back then, both good and disgusting. 

All these conversations about how the USSR is being reincarnated right now are utter horseshit. There’s almost nothing now that resembles what I witnessed from my birth to 1991. This is a completely different country with a completely different state ideology.

Many of us were naive and lived a life of illusions. We were dazed and confused, sometimes dreadfully so, but we cheerfully scorned the authorities. Not in our wildest nightmares could we have imagined the insane public statements of support you see nowadays. Today’s archaic cannibals were mostly hiding out in their caves back then. And there wasn’t anything like today’s monstrous inequality. Although the costs were terrible, there was actual social mobility in many respects.

Yes, we lived much more poorly than now. The economy was a ridiculous mess, and the whole country worked for the defense industry, and there was all kinds of insanity. But people wanted a peaceful life, not a great empire at any cost.

I wouldn’t want to go back to the USSR for anything in the world. But what’s been built over the past thirty years is worse, way worse.

Source: Nevoina (“No(t)war”), Telegram, 20 May 2022. Translated by the Fabulous AM


Students in Siberia have opened a 50-year-old time capsule containing a wish for peace and international friendship from their Soviet peers, local media reported Thursday.

The Soviet students’ message of hope for a peaceful future was unearthed as Russia faces unprecedented economic and political isolation in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. 

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s founding, members of the Pioneers youth organization in the city of Novosibirsk sealed a time capsule in their school’s walls in May 1972 — to be opened by future students after another 50 years.

Those same Soviet students, now well into adulthood, helped open the time capsule at a ceremony Thursday.


										 					Gorky Palace of Culture in Novosibirsk / vk.com
Photo: Gorky Palace of Culture in Novosibirsk/vk.com. Courtesy of the Moscow Times

In a letter placed inside the time capsule, the Soviet middle schoolers recite the history of the Young Pioneers and boast of the engineering achievements of the U.S.S.R. before wishing their descendants peace and international cooperation.

“Life is so beautiful and amazing, and you have to make it even more wonderful, so don’t waste your time. […] Live your life the same way that the bright sun shines on everyone, so that your thoughts and deeds warm and delight everyone,” the message reads.

“May you have friends all over the world. May there always be peace!” 

The letter’s now-elderly authors read the message themselves on stage, Sibir Media reported

Russia celebrated Thursday the one hundredth anniversary of the Young Pioneers — the Soviet youth organization whose members ranged from age 9 to 15 — with events including costumed parades and speeches at schools.

Source: “Siberian Students Uncover Soviet Peers’ Wish for Peace in 50-Year-Old Time Capsule,” Moscow Times, 20 May 2022.

Convictions

https://vimeo.com/197503611

Convictions, doc, 2016

Password: beliefs

The 15th of May is Conscientious Objectors’ Day.

We started to make this film in 2014 during the annexation of Crimea by Russia. it seemed that by 2022 only the epigraph would remain relevant.

“You’ll pretend you were men instead of babies, and you’ll be played in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men.”

Watching the first war crimes trial in Ukraine over Vadim Shishimarin, it becomes quite obvious that this war is also being waged by children under the control of vile old men.

I understand how and why Russian guys from the provinces ended up in Ukraine.

Source: Tatiana Chistova, Facebook, 15 May 2022. Thanks to Jenya Kulakova for the heads-up and so much more. NB. This film is freely viewable on Vimeo only today, 15 May, apparently. Since it is a “private” video, I was unable to embed it here. UPDATE (17 MAY 2022) The film seems to be indefinitely viewable, so please take the opportunity to watch it using the URL and password listed, above. An acquaintance described it as “deadly serious and very funny too.” ||| TRR

Children

PAZ-3205 bus. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

I have spent half the day wandering around Orenburg on various errands. At a crossing, I saw a yellow PAZ bus, marked “Children” and with a flashing light. I thought, wow, how they take care of their children’s safety. But I didn’t look inside. But now I have just seen a column of three yellow “Children” buses with flashing lights — and it wasn’t children inside them, but soldiers.

Source: Jenya Kulakova, Facebook, 6 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


Sometimes it seems that United Russia has reached the limits of cynicism and nothing they do can surprise you. But their functionaries hand a crippled soldier a package of buckwheat and a bottle of sunflower oil, shove the party logo in his hand, and proudly post the photo. And it becomes clear that United Russia’s cynicism is a bottomless pit.

Source: Ilya Yashin, Facebook, 5 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


If anyone did not understand why I think that my daughter should not go to school in the Russian Federation, this is her class and homeroom teacher at a fucking Victory Day trivia competition.

Fortunately, my daughter didn’t go to school today.

Source: Leda Garina, Facebook, 6 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Young, Poor, Dead

IStories
Young, Poor, Dead

The war against Ukraine has entered its third month, but there is still no public list in Russia of the soldiers killed. Isolated cases have been reported by the heads of regions or districts where soldiers lived, or by the schools and sports clubs where they studied and trained.

We compiled our list by studying and rechecking reports from open sources. As of this writing, we have confirmed the deaths of 1,855 men.

What we have learned
It is mostly young soldiers who have perished in the war: their average age is 28. More than 80% were between the ages of 18 and 35, and 40% were younger than 25.

Due to the war, the mortality rate among young men in Russia has already increased by more than a quarter, and by several times in those regions with the most war dead. (For example, in Buryatia, the number of deaths of men under 30 has already increased by more than two and half times.)

Russian regions with the highest number of confirmed war dead in Ukraine

Per 100 thousand men between 18 to 45 years old: Buryatia, 46 men; Tyva, 44; North Ossetia, 40; Kostroma Region, 28; Altai, 25; Jewish Autonomous Region, 25; Pskov Region, 21; Dagestan, 19; Transbaikal Territory, 19; Orenburg Region, 18

In absolute numbers: Dagestan, 123 men; Buryatia, 91; Volgograd Region, 75; Orenburg Region, 64; North Ossetia, 52; Chelyabinsk Region, 49; Bashkortostan, 49; Saratov Region, 46; Krasnodar Territory, 44; Stavropol Territory, 43

Source: Istories, Telegram channel Goryushko

The deaths of young men in the war will eventually cause demographic problems for Russia: the birth rate will drop sharply, which means that the population will decrease. Demographer Alexei Raksha argues that in 2023 we may face the lowest number of births in the entire recent history of Russia.

Military service in Russia is an extremely low prestige job, but new people are constantly going into the army. Why?

What is the quality of life in the regions with the largest numbers of war dead in Ukraine?

Read the investigative report on our website.

Source: I(mportant)Stories, email newsletter, 4 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

______________

Most Russians are getting a distorted picture of what Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Even the use of the words “war” or “invasion” is prohibited and state-controlled TV does not acknowledge that Russian troops are attacking civilians. Russian soldiers aren’t allowed to call home from Ukraine, and the military authorities are tight-lipped, even when their soldiers are taken prisoner. So how can Russian families find out what’s become of their sons? Some search for help through a Ukrainian website, which posts pictures and videos of dead and captured Russian soldiers on the internet. Tim Whewell follows the stories of two Russian families – one from western Russia whose son was taken prisoner in the early days of the war. And one from the very far east whose family worry about how his frame of mind is holding up against the relentless onslaught of anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

Source: BBC Radio 4, 3 May 2022

Molotov Cocktail Party

Video still of burning military recruitment office in Moscow Region.
Courtesy of Moskovsky Komsomolets via the Moscow Times

Since the war in Ukraine broke out, protesters have set fire to military enlistment offices in several regions of Russia. The media has reported at least five such incidents. The people detained in these cases told police that they were trying to disrupt the spring recruitment campaign.

On February 28, a 21-year-old local resident set fire to the military enlistment office in Lukhovitsy, Moscow Region, to protest the war’s outbreak. After he was detained, he said that he wanted to destroy the archive containing the personal files of conscripts in order to prevent mobilization. Two weeks later, he escaped from the police station.

In March, military enlistment offices caught fire in Voronezh, Sverdlovsk Region, and Ivanovo Region. In all cases, local residents threw Molotov cocktails in the windows of these offices. The young men who started the fires in the Sverdlovsk and Ivanovo regions were detained. Both of them explained their actions by saying that they wanted to disrupt the draft campaign amid the hostilities in Ukraine. Moreover, persons unknown had scrawled anti-war appeals on local government buildings and shops in several towns in the Ivanovo Region before the blaze.

In April, Molotov cocktails were thrown at the military enlistment office in the village of Zubova Polyana in Mordovia. In this case, the protesters achieved their goal: the recruitment campaign was stopped. The rooms in the office where the data of conscripts were stored caught on fire.

The spring draft in Russia began on April 1 and will end on July 15. 134,500 young men are scheduled to be drafted into the army.

The Russian authorities have repeatedly claimed that conscripted soldiers will not be sent to fight in Ukraine. However, on March 9, the Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged for the first time that conscripts were fighting in Ukraine, and reported that several conscript soldiers had been captured.

On February 24, university student Anastasia Levashova threw a Molotov cocktail at an antiwar rally in Moscow. The court sentenced her to two years in prison for violating Article 318.1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code, which criminalizes the use of violence against authorities.

Source: Moscow Times (Russian Service), 21 April 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader.

The War Criminal vs. the Asylum Seeker (The Case of Danila Vasilyev)

Danila Vasilyev

Maria Tyurikova • Facebook • December 31, 2021

URGENT MESSAGE FOR MEDIA AND HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES!

SHARE AND PROMOTE!

Stop deportation of Danila Vasilyev!

PREAMBLE

As a politically active young man, Mr. Vasilyev took part in various movements that took place around the presidential election in Russia in 2018.

He is also a founder of an athletics club which provided the local youth with an opportunity to exercise, take part in competitions and tournaments, as well as to participate in cultural events and activities. The athletic society was also involved in regional politics and a number of its members were political activists. Mr. Vasilyev also participated in the work of a YouTube channel that satirised current Russian political events and Russian politicians.

“War criminal V.V. Pynya”: a photo from a 2018 protest action in Perm accusing Vladimir Putin of war crimes in Ukraine and Syria. Photo by Alexander Kotov. Courtesy of varlamov.ru

As an act of civil disobedience and due to their disagreement with Russian foreign and internal policy (mainly due to the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Russian carpet bombings of civilian population in Syria), on 11.11.2018 Mr. Vasilyev and two of his friends (A. Shabarchin and A. Etkin) organised a political performance at one of Perm’s squares. The performance consisted of a mannequin with a mask of Vladimir Putin, that was tied to a pole. The placard on the mannequin’s chest read «Военный Преступник Пыня В.В.» [Translation: “War Criminal V.V. Pynya”; this is a derogatory nickname fior Vladimir Putin.] This political performance was recorded and later published on YouTube and various social media.

On 03.01.2019 Mr. Vasilyev and his friends were detained and their homes searched. They were charged with «Hooliganism committed by an organised group in a preliminary conspiracy» (Article 213, Part 2 of the Russian Penal Code). The investigation was conducted among others by the Russian Centre for Prevention of Extremism (known as Centre E), which in reality is one of the main tools of oppression and are frequently used to suppress and terrorise the opposition. The case and the course proceedings were covered by a variety of Russian and international media, while a number of organisations and individuals called the case a political one. On 18.08.2020 A. Shabarchin and D. Vasilyev were found guilty.

Mr. Vasilyev’s sentence ended on 18.09.2021.

THE GETAWAY

Due to persecution Mr. Vasilyev decided to leave Russia and seek political asylum in Europe. Once his probation term ended, he applied for and subsequently received a Hungarian tourist visa and on 14.10.2021 arrived in Budapest. His intention was to seek political asylum in Hungary in accordance with the Dublin Regulation. Upon arrival he reported to a Hungarian police officer at the Budapest Airport, who directed him to an immigration centre where he was informed that Hungary does not accept refugees, asylum seekers and does not grant political asylum. He was instructed to travel to Austria.

He was never able to apply for political asylum in Hungary, no formalised procedure took place (including verbal application), he was not at any point taken into custody and the Hungarian authorities refused to provide any written acknowledgement of his presence there.

He spent the night in a hostel in Budapest and the following day of 15.10.2021 took a train to Vienna.

Upon his arrival at Vienna Central Station on 15.10.2021 (Friday) evening, Mr. Vasilyev entered a local police station where he stated that he seeks political asylum due to persecution in his homeland. Once again he was unable to apply for asylum. He was given a piece of paper with the address of the nearest immigration centre and was told to report there on Monday. As his Schengen tourist visa was still valid for several days, Mr Vasilyev was able to leave the police station and for the next two days was hosted at a private residence of compassionate Austrian nationals.

The day of his arrival in Austria, the Russian authorities arrested a number of his friends and colleagues from the Perm athletic club. Mr Vasilyev’s flat was stormed by the Russian police and his whereabouts were investigated by both police and Russian security services.

On 18.10.2021 he reported to the Refugee Centre at Traiskirchen in Lower Austria, as it was established that he was under no legal obligation to report to the Viennese centre that he was referred to. There, Mr. Vasilyev once again attempted to seek political asylum, however, he was told to report to the Refugee Centre located near the Vienna International Airport Schwechat where he was finally able to apply for political asylum and begin the asylum seeking process as defined by the laws of the Austrian Republic. Following the required first interview he was transferred to the Traiskirchen Refugee Centre.

On 23.10.2021 Mr Vasilyev was transferred to a Refugee Centre in Ohlsdorf, Upper Austria, on the outskirts of Gmunden.

AWAITING DEPORTATION FROM AUSTRIA

On 27.12.2021 Mr Vasilyev received a letter from the Austrian authorities that suggests his eminent deportation to Hungary, in accordance with the Dublin Regulation. On the 29.12.2021 he was able to discuss the document in question with an advisor provided by the Bundesamt für Fremdenwesen und Asyl who failed to clarify the nature of the letter and was unable to communicate with Mr. Vasilyev in a language that he could understand. On 30.12.2021 Mr Vasilyev contacted the responsible agency (Bundesamt für Fremdenwesen und Asyl) with the desire to clarify the content of the letter and in order to preemptively appeal the possibility of deportation.

The Hungarian authorities instructed Mr. Vasilyev to travel to Austria in order to seek political asylum. The current Hungarian government led by Victor Orban is on good terms with the current Russian regime and will undoubtedly repatriate a Russian national who seeks political asylum. The practices of the Hungarian government in regards to refugees and asylum seekers have been criticised by both the UNHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights).

It is very likely that the Russian Federation will demand Mr Vasilyev’s extradition based on falsified criminal charges. In the event of his return to the Russian Federation, Mr Vasilyev will be arrested and tried on either false criminal charges or charged with one of the offences that the Russian prosecution service is currently attempting to pin on his friends and his colleagues from the Perm athletic club. A number of them were arrested in October 2021 and several are awaiting trial. In recent years, the regime of Vladimir Putin frequently tries political activists and opposition figures on fabricated criminal charges.

If Danila Vasilyev is returned to Russia and imprisoned, it is possible that he will not survive prison. Those who oppose the Russian government are frequently murdered while incarcerated, tortured by the prison authorities and denied medical assistance. The most prominent case is that of Sergei Magnitsky, a tax advisor who uncovered large-scale corruption and died in prison due to denial of medical assistance. His death resulted in international outrage and a number of sanction lists against Russian officials, enacted by the European Union and the United States.

!!! WE URGE ALL MEDIA, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES, DECISION MAKERS, and all [concerned] people to stand up for Danila and PREVENT THE EXECUTION OF THE OFFICIAL DECISION TO DEPORT HIM TO HUNGARY and further to the Russian Federation !!!

(Credits to Democratic Movement for Freedom in Russia – Vienna, Austria , Michael Alexander Albert Korobkov-Voeikov for the text)

I have edited this message slightly to make it more readable. ||| TRR


Russian Jets Knock Out Water Supply In Syria’s Idlib • RFE/RL • January 2, 2022

Russian warplanes have bombed a pumping station that provides water to rebel-controlled Idlib city in northwestern Syria, potentially depriving hundreds of thousands of people in the overcrowded city of water, according to witnesses and a monitoring group.

Russian Sukhoi jets dropped bombs in Idlib and several surrounding villages on January 2, witnesses and the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

“Reliable sources said that Russian fighter jets have so far carried out nearly 10 air strikes targeting the vicinity of Al-Sheikh Yusuf village in western Idlib countryside, the vicinity of the central prison near Idlib city, and the vicinity of Sejer water station, which feeds Idlib city and its western villages, leaving the station out of action as pipes have been damaged,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

An official at the city’s water utility service confirmed the pumping station was out of action as a result of the strikes.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian or the Syrian armies.

More than 3 million civilians live in jihadist and rebel-controlled Idlib Province, many of them displaced from other parts of Syria during the country’s decade-long civil war. Most of the population in Idlib is dependent on UN humanitarian assistance to survive.

In March 2020, Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, and Turkey, which supports some opposition groups, agreed to a de-escalation zone in Idlib. However, rebel attacks and Russian and Syrian bombing have continued despite the cease-fire.

Turkey has thousands of troops deployed at bases in Idlib to deter a Syrian Army offensive, which it fears would push millions of people across the border as refugees.

Syrian and Russian planes have carried out deadly aerial strikes on schools, hospitals, markets, and other infrastructure in Idlib Province that UN investigators and rights groups say may amount to war crimes.

Jihadist factions have also been accused of carrying out possible war crimes.

Maxim Drozhzhin: An LGBT Refugee from Russia

Maxim Drozhzhin. Courtesy of RFE/RL

Student expelled from St. Petersburg State University ensemble due to orientation has left Russia 
Sever.Realii (Radio Svoboda)
December 17, 2021

Maxim Drozhzhin, a St. Petersburg State University student who was earlier expelled from the university folklore ensemble due to [his sexual] orientation, has left Russia, he has informed Sever.Realii. According to him, he left Russia because he was “tired of being afraid.”

“It was hard psychologically in Russia. Hurtful. You study for eight years, you try hard, you get an education, but then you can’t get a job anywhere. They check my social networks and it turns out that I don’t suit them because I’m gay. It’s crazy: you’re not even fit for an amateur group. I’ve also been accused of being an LGBT propagandist and a libertine. It all started at St. Petersburg State University: my department didn’t treat me very well. Everyone knew about the conflict with the ensemble,” Drozhzhin said.

The student added that there are “strong negative sentiments” in Russian society towards people or phenomena that are “disliked” by the authorities.

“Yesterday I called my mom for the first time and said that I had left. The first thing she asked me was, ‘I hope not to Ukraine?’ A lot of bad things are said about Ukraine, and people have a negative image [of it]. It’s the same thing with LGBT people. They can easily label me as a propagandist: they would start writing nasty things about me in the pro-government media, and people would treat me differently. Although I’m not even an LGBT activist—I don’t go on pickets, I don’t work in [LGBT] organizations, I just do creative work. I don’t hide my orientation. In Russia today, if you do not hide your orientation, you’re automatically an activist,” Drozhzhin said.

Maxim is currently living in a refugee center in a European country. (He did not specify where exactly.) According to the student, the conditions there are “very good,” even better than in the St. Petersburg State University dormitory where he had lived. He is the only Russian speaker in the center. He communicates with everyone in “broken” English.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be here. Whether I will be given [refugee] status or not is still unclear. They can say no, go back. But I don’t want to go back. It’s very hard for me in Russia,” Drozhzhin explains.

The student said that in Russia he had received threats from Timur Bulatov, the well-known homophobic activist.

“He wrote to me that they would not do anything physical to me, but they would punish me by law. After that, a certain Zhilina immediately filed a complaint against me with four different officials, and a probe into my posts on social networks was launched,” Maxim says.

He does not know the result of the police probe. Due to his departure he had “dropped out of life” and had not communicated with anyone about it.

In November, the police began probing Maxim Drozhzhin’s social media posts for “LGBT propaganda.” Drozhzhin, after consulting with a lawyer, refused to write an explanatory statement at the dormitory and asked the police to send a summons. Consequently, the student was summoned to the police department. There he learned that the complaint against him had been filed by Nadezhda Zhilina, head of the nonprofit We Are for Change. Zhilina explained to Sever.Realii that she had sent identically worded complaints to Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov, Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, and St. Petersburg State University Rector Nikolai Kropochev. In the complaint, Zhilina, on behalf of the “parental, patriotic and Orthodox community,” requested a probe into Drozhzhin for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations, dissemination of personal information, [and] extremist activities directed against the country’s constitutional system.” In addition, she asked officials for information about Drozhzhin’s sources of income and requested that he be declared an individual “foreign agent media outlet.”

Translated by the Russian Reader

The Police

This is the first thing that pops up when you do an image search for “the Russian police.” The caption reads: “A Russian police officer detains a teenager during rally in St Petersburg protesting against retirement age increases. Photograph: Roman Pimenov/AP.” Courtesy of the Guardian

There is no “politics” in Russia anymore, only “police” (per Jacques Rancière’s distinction). And this is what “police” in Russia are up to, 24/7, 365 days a year:

University student Miloslava Malyarova and her boyfriend were detained on the streets of Moscow in August. They were held at the police station overnight without explanation, and their personal belongings, internal passports and mobile phones were confiscated. During the night, Miloslava says, a drunk police officer came into her cell and raped her. The young woman tried to slash her wrists with a razor in order to force the police to release her, but she was held until morning.

The Investigative Committee, with whom she lodged a complaint the next day, has refused to launch a criminal case. They decided that the young woman entered into sexual contact with the policeman voluntarily. After all, no injuries characteristic of rape were found on her body. “She did not resist enough,” they concluded.

Source: “Locals” Facebook page, which cites a proper article on the incident published in Takie Dela (who in turn refer to a post on Russian MP Sergei Shargunov’s Telegram channel). Thanks to Maria Mila for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Death to F—-ts

“Death to faggots.” Photo courtesy of Baza via Mediazona

Performers at show in honor of Yaroslavl patriotic club’s 20th anniversary smash stage prop with the inscription “Death to faggots” using sledgehammer 
Mediazona
August 31, 2021

During a performance by the military patriotic club Paratrooper in Yaroslavl, the regional news website 76.ru has reported, the performers used a sledgehammer to smash a stage-prop brick inscribed with the phrase “Death to faggots.”

According to the website, a performance in honor of the club’s 20th anniversary was held at the Dobrynin Palace of Culture in Yaroslavl on August 29. The performers took their comrade, placed a prop shaped like a white brick, inscribed with the phrase “Death to faggots,” on him and smashed it with a sledgehammer.

Andrei Palachev, the head of Paratrooper, explained to 76.ru that the club members had been joking.

“The kids just decided to make a joke and drew this inscription at the last moment. Faggots have no business being in Russia at all. […] And why should [the performers] be punished? They just don’t like fudge packers, and I don’t like them either. The family should be traditional: a boy and a girl, and not all this faggotry,” Palachev said.

Igor Derbin, the palace of culture’s director, stressed that this part of the performance had not been vetted with him.

“We are outraged. Initially, the event was supposed to be pleasant and joyful. We weren’t expecting their stunt. It was not planned in advance or agreed upon, because they knew that we would not allow it. By doing what they did, they canceled all the good impressions made by the event,” he added.

Taras Sidorin, the head of the Yaroslavl branch of the veterans organization Defender, said that he had filed a complaint with the police about the incident. “We consider such outburst incitement to murder. […] There were small children in the audience. This behavior is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Translated by the Russian Reader