Sergey Yermakov: Protest Duckies and the Actionism of Fact

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Inflated rubber duckie at June 12, 2017, anti-corruption protest rally in Petersburg. The duckie was later detained by police. Photo courtesy of The Poke

Sergey Yermakov
Protest Duckies and the Actionism of Fact

The final performances by Voina’s so-called Petersburg faction could be termed “actionism of fact” by analogy with “literature of fact,” a project the LEF mob tried and failed to realize in the 1920s.

Voina took ordinary actions from the repertoire of protest and resistance, actions requiring no special skills—turning over a police car, torching a paddy wagon, dousing policemen with urine—and simply did them in their performances.

What happened to the performances due to their actions?

First, the performances simply were carried out, like ordinary actions, bereft of aesthetic and symbolic depth. (We will bracket the question of Alexei Plutser-Sarno’s defamiliarizing press releases.) “They really did it.”

Second, the actions were glorified by the very fact they were performed by the actionists. They were bathed in an aura of glory, but note that this aura was totally colorless. It had no density whatsoever, and it produced no distortions in the albedo. This was because the actions were as commonplace as could be, actions available to everyone, actions to which nothing was added except their execution. (Well, yes, and the group’s signature.)

The actionist readymade (or “readydone”) and actionism of fact, unlike the classic artistic readymade, have no need of a special aesthetic space, such as a museum. Unlike literature of fact (if this literary project had actually been implemented in the twenties), actionism may well avoid the traps of language and representation.

Voina thus directly took on the issue of politically effective action. There is a certain actionist Platonism to it, but if we bypass Plato (no matter how we regard the violence of his gesture) we cannot ask ourselves about art’s attitude and access to politics.

In the Republic, Plato does not suggest banishing all poets for fobbing off the phantom of excellence (εἰδώλων ἀρετῆς) on citizens instead of virtue (i.e., the thought of action). He would let the non-mimetic poets, who glorify the gods and sing the praises of good men (ἐγκώμια τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς), stay in the city. Voina’s Petersburg faction non-mimetically sang the praises not of citizens themselves, but certain actions as such, simply by performing them. Their implicit message was something like: Look, this is up for grabs for everyone, and yet if you carry out this glorious deed, you will not be unoriginal and overshadowed by us, because this is basically something anyone could do. This is a kind of democratic and non-hierarchical political Platonism.

Voina did these performances before the May 6, 2012, clashes between protesters and police on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. They seemingly had offered the demos who took to the streets a possible repertoire of elementary actions. (Of course, the total number of such actions is much greater, and not all of them are either criminal or so primitive. What matters in this case is only the dimension itself.) But the demos did not heed their call, preferring to play at making witty posters, from the December 2011 rally on Sakharov Avenue to this day, and exchanging anti-regime memes in the social networks. (That is, the circumstances are in some way symmetrical to the exile of the poets. In this case, however, the demos itself has turned its back on genuinely political artists, immersing itself in the carnivalesque mimesis of the meme.) By rejecting the dimension of the glorious deed, however, the demos has refused to be itself, because it is eventful, rather than substantial, in contrast to the phantasm of the ethnos.

It took Pyotr Pavlensky half a dozen performances to get close to the place where Voina had arrived in the spring of 2011, that is, in order to torch the front door at FSB headquarters in Moscow. In many ways, the performance was a step backwards, for example, when it came to the question of withdrawal. The guerillas of Voina insisted on retreating in a well-conceived way and unexpectedly returning to strike again. (This is the only worthwhile “We’ll be back!” It is a far cry from Navalny and Co.) But Pavlensky, in many respects by way of accommodating an aesthetic impulse, stood his ground to the bitter end. He has thus proven to be a more direct follower of the National Bolsheviks than Voina when it comes to this issue.

So Voina is still waiting for its demos and valiant citizens back in the spring of 2011, scornfully gazing at rubber duckies, meme politics, and witty anti-Kremlin t-shirts.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Sergey Yermakov is a professional translator who was involved in several of Pyotr Pavlensky’s performances. My thanks to Mr. Yermakov for his kind permission to publish this essay here.

No Protest Is Illegal

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Anti-corruption protester detained on Tverskaya Street in Moscow, June 12, 2017. Photo courtesy of Mayorova.net and Irina Taubinskaya

Below, you will find a brief, eyewitness account of the rough custom to which people detained at the anti-corruption protest rally on the Field of Mars in Petersburg on June 12, 2017, have been subjected by police as the have been slowly “processed,” sometimes with no legal representation and in gross violation of their rights as detainees, by the police and courts.

The Russian “legal and law enforcement” systems are shambles, for the simple reason they don’t exist at all. They are fictions.

What does exist is the supreme will of the blood monkey who answered questions all day yesterday on TV or something like that, and the lesser wills of his cronies and satraps.

Those exist.

So when asking the question of who exactly ordered the arrests of the six hundred and fifty some arrestees of June 12, 2017, and the harsh sentences of five to fifteen days in the hoosegow and fines of up to 15,000 rubles most of them were handed by the city’s district courts (again, in conditions where many of them were dehumanized constantly, despite the best efforts of Petersburg’s wonderful Aid to Detainees Group and other volunteers and well-wishers to support them) you need look no farther than the head blood monkey in the Kremlin and his precious “power vertical.” They are the ones who gave the orders to treat the protesters this way, not anyone on the ground.

I was irked to hear the BBC’s Moscow correspondent refer, the other day, to the concurrent protests on Tverskaya, in Moscow, where a similarly large number of people were arrested, as “illegal.” Setting aside for a second the rights to free assembly and free speech enjoyed by all Russian citizens, as enshrined in the 1993 Russian Federal Constitution, the Petersburg authorities several years ago designated the Field of Mars as the city’s “Hyde Park,” the place where city dwellers could go, supposedly, to air their grievances without making a special application to the authorities. (This need to apply for permits is itself a mostly unconstitutional practice, backed, of course, by the country’s kangaroo higher courts, who are also a part of its so-called telephone justice system).

In reality, Petersburg authorities have let their so-called Hyde Park be used the way it was intended only when the numbers of protesters or their particular grievances have not been threatening enough, although, of course, police are still always on hand to photograph, videotape, and ID the protesters, and even copy down the slogans on their placards, which they immediately radio to their superiors. Just in case, you know, and to make sure the protesters know the state is monitoring them

When, on the other hand, the topics raised and/or numbers of protesters have not been to the liking of the powers that be, local or otherwise, Petersburg’s “Hyde Park” has instantly been deemed yet another no-go zone, the protests declared “illegal,” and the protesters and, sometimes, the counter-protesters, dragged off into paddy wagons and taken to police precincs.

Sometimes, the protesters are merely held in police custody for a few hours or overnight, and then released scot-free. But when the regime wants to teach them a lesson about how much freedom they really have in the world’s largest “sovereign democracy,” they get the book thrown at them, as we have seen over the past several days in Petersburg. That is, for one and the same legal/illegal act, either nothing will happen to you or your life will be scuttled for two weeks or a month (as in the case of “ringleaders” like Alexei Navalny, who was arrested at the door to his block of flats before he could get to the “illegal” protest and sentenced to thirty days in the slammer), and your already meager finances will have a nice dent put into them.

So, if I were a BBC or other foreign correspondent, I wouldn’t be so quick to dub any protest in Putinist Russia “illegal.” That’s tantamount to saying that the police and courts have the right to do with Russians detained for real or imaginary offenses what they will.

It’s also an admission on the part of these foreign correspondents that, in the case of the protesters, they don’t understand the offenses are wholly imaginary, i.e., trumped-up, that they are, in fact, a little bit of the ultra-violence, meted out in smallish doses to discourage the kids from coming out again. TRR

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16% of the St. Petersburg Public Monitoring Commission
Facebook
June 15, 2017

I am deciphering my conversations with arrestees:

“We were driven to the courthouse in handcuffs, and tied to each other. We arrived, they untied us, and took us upstairs to the courtroom. We had no defense counsel. The court sentenced us to five days in jail and a fine. We were driven back to the police precinct, where we cuffed to chairs and each other. (The cuffs immediately caused pain to the second person.) The guy with the keys to the handcuffs went off somewhere. We were cuffed for two and a half hours. We asked to go to the toilet, to uncuff us, but our requests were ignored. This happened next to the cells. The cells were not locked.

“Then they uncuffed us from the chair, cuffed us to each other, put us in a van, and took us to [the temporary detention center at] Zakharyevskaya Street, 6.”

This incident occurred on June 13, at the 78th Police Precinct, in St. Petersburg’s Central District

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Jenya Kulakova for the heads-up on the link and Sasha Feldberg for the photo.

You’ll Have Your Day in Court, But Keep Your Mouth Shut

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Police guarding the entrance to the Dzherzhinsky District Court, in downtown Petersburg, on the morning of June 13, 2017. Many of the people detained during the previous day’s anti-corruption protest rally on the nearby Field of Mars were brought to this courthouse for their administrative (misdemeanor) hearings after spending the night in police custody. According to media reports and eyewitness accounts, most of the six hundred and fifty some detainees, who had in fact merely been exercising their constitutional rights to assembly and free speech on a site deliberately designated by the mayor’s office, several years ago, as the city’s “Hyde Park,” have been sentenced to several days in jail and heavy fines. Photo courtesy of zaks.ru

Supreme Court Rules Courts Have Right to Deprive People of Right to Speak during Administrative Hearings
Echo of Moscow
June 13, 2017

A plenary session of the Russian Supreme Court ruled today that courts have the right to deprive people of the right to speak during administrative [misdemeanor] hearings. As Interfax reported, the move was requested by the Prosecutor General’s Office, which had argued it would speed up administrative proceedings and prevent the misuse of procedural rights. This argument was made in a statement by the Prosecutor General’s Office issued after the plenary session, at which Deputy Prosecutor General Leonid Korzhinyok was present. In an interview with Echo, Ivan Pavlov, a lawyer and head of the Team 29 association of lawyers and journalists, said the Prosecutor General’s Office’s motives were clear.  According to Pavlov, the office, headed by Yuri Chaika, realizes the judicial system simply cannot cope with the number of detainees under the standard procedure, as stipulated by law. Pavlov added that, unlike laws, rulings by plenary sessions of the Supreme Court take effect immediately, so today’s ruling can be applied from now on. The Supreme Court’s plenary ruling “On the Use of Procedural Coercive Measures during Administrative Hearings” renders the court system meaningless. Such was the opinion voiced to Echo by Elena Lukyanova, professor of constitutional and municipal law at the Higher School of Economics. She added that a broad public discussion of the issue would be needed to force an overturning of the ruling.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Alexei Kouprianov for the heads-up

Their Day in Court

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Detained protesters at a police precinct in Petersburg. Photo copyright Andrey Kalikh and courtesy of the Aid to Detainees Group in Petersburg and Fontanka.ru

This is not the first time (nor probably the last time) that activist Varya Mikkhaylova has been featured on this website.  Below, she and Andrey Kalikh describe their experiences in police custody and court after being detained by riot police along with 656 other protesters during an anti-corruption rally held on the Field of Mars in Petersburg on June 12, Russia Day. TRR

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Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
June 14, 2017

Almost everyone in our precinct has had their court hearing and been convicted. Nearly everyone who tried to file appeals and not plead guilty was given the maximum sentence: up to fourteen days in jail + fines of 10,000 rubles and greater. Those who plead guilty and make no attempt to defend themselves get off easier: one of them got three days in jail. The only person in our precinct who got off without a jail term was the husband of a pregnant woman.

In this regard, everyone’s mood is dominated by legal nihilism. They have been chewing out the human rights activists, who they say have only made things worse. Apparently, that is the real objective of all these hearings.

By the by, there are truly random people among the detainees in our precinct, but they are more aggressive towards people like me than to the authorities. They give the protesters and human rights activists hell, and ask why we’re dissatisfied. (After thirty hours in police custody, there in other word for this than Stockholm syndrome.) [One person who commented on the original post, in Russian, suggested that these “random people” were, in fact, police provocateurs and spies. Planting them in the cells of political prisoners and dissidents had been a common practice under the Soviets—TRR.]

One of these random detainees is a lawyer. He came down on everyone harder than anyone else, saying we should withdraw our appeals and refuse legal assistance. What irony: he has a master’s degree in law.

Before they are sent to the detention center, the police forcibly take everyone’s fingerprints, although this is against the law.

We are in a decent precinct. The conditions are terribly unsanitary and crowded, but the staff treat us like human beings. They let us charge our telephones, let us have smoke breakes, and sometimes even take us to the can, where there is an actual toilet, not a stinky hole in the floor. On the other hand, among themselves they talk about how everyone who protested on the Field of Mars did it because they had been promised 5,000 rubles.

Yesterday, we spent the night in the cells. There were sixteen bodies and six beds, but we had mattresses, pillows, and bed linens even. Today, non-political prisoners were brought to the cells. (When one of them refused to remove his crucifix, four officers threw him on the floor, cuffed him, and forcibly removed the crucifix. Another of these prisoners is obviously in a bad way. He beats the walls, scratches the window until he bleeds, and screams. He wet himself in his cell, but no one has any intention of taking him to hospital.) So we spend the night sitting in the corridor.

Me and one other young man have still not been taken to court for our hearings.

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Andrey Kalikh
Facebook
Saint Petersburg, Russia
June 14, 2017

St. Petersburg’s Frunzensky District Court is the apotheosis of evil. The hearings began at eleven p.m. One, apparently very angry judge is handling the cases. Everyone is being sentenced to ten to fifteen days in jail, plus they are fined ten thousand to fifteen thousand rubles. We fearfully await the sentence he will give our friend the father with four children.

People are kept on the bus before the hearings. They are exhausted, the conditions are tortuous, and something has to be done about this court. It is monstrous.

UPDATE. Our dad with four children emerged from the courthouse at two in the morning. He had been fined 10,700 rubles [approx. 167 euros]. He said that of the 106 people who had been sentenced at that point, only six had got off with fines. Everyone else had been sentenced to five to fifteen days in jail, plus had been fined ten thousand to fifteen thousand rubles.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade SK and Andrey Kalikh for the heads-up

They Jump on Anything That Moves, Part 2: The Arrest of Dmitry Trubitsyn

Alyona Rydannykh
Facebook
June 9, 2017

The Trial and the 1990s have arrived in Akademgorodok. It’s awful and dishonest and scary. All of Akademgorodok, including the polite employees at the courthouse, are on the side of common sense and Dima’s side. Everyone knows everyone else in our town, and if people in a place like that say someone has a perfect reputation, they really mean perfect.

How awful.

Image may contain: 1 person
Dmitry Trubitsyn

Mikhail Amelkin
Facebook
June 9, 2017

The police searched Tion yesterday. They detained Dima Trubitsyn, the company’s founder and inspiration.

This is a continuation of the hullabaloo over registering medical equipment. All the recommendations were implemented, but now the case has shifted to different plane, and Dima is personally at risk.

I’ve known Dima since school. He’s a fine honest man with a crystal clean reputation. He has done a lot not only for the company’s employees but also for education, for schoolchildren and university students, for the consumers of our products, and for the economy as a whole.  He has always said he would prove it was possible and necessary to run a successful tech company in Russia, to support the country and the economy with actions, not words. He has never been involved in politics, believing one shouldn’t whinge and complain, but get up and do it.

I realize the law enforcement agencies play the game by their own rules. Professional lawyers are now working on the defense. I would be flummoxed if Dima were remanded into police custody during the investigation. From my point of view, that would be overdoing it. Dima is not a villain: I believe that with all my heart. Jail is too severe a measure of restraint for such an honest man, a man willing to prove his case with his visor open and standing up straight.

How can you help? By reposting this message and voicing your support for Dima in the comments to the repost. Tell us about Dima as you know him. Show that you care, that you are concerned about the situation and are keeping an eye on it.

What WON’T help is screaming, chewing out the authorities, and guessing and surmising why what happened has happened. I would ask you not to do this out of respect for Dima, who never engaged in such jawboning himself.

What is it stake is not the company, but a specific man’s life, a man who has not wronged anyone. I just ask you to support him on the personal level. He’s a good man. He’s never lived for himself, and, even as he has been locked up in the pretrial detention facility, he has been planning to make the world a better place.

Tion Smart Microclimate
Faceboook
June 9, 2017

We wish to inform you that on June 8, Tion’s offices in Novosibirsk, Berdsk, and Moscow were searched by law enforcement in connection with a case involving the sale of medical products that, allegedly, do not meet safety requirements.

Tion works in strict compliance with the laws of the Russian Federation. We regard the present circumstances as unjustified pressure on a transparent, law-abiding company, since all the equipment we sell has the necessary permits.

The current grievances are rooted in the past, when there were inaccuracies in registration certificates due to imperfections in legislation. The inaccuracies were corrected on a routine basis and in close cooperation with the relevant government agencies. The selectivity of the investigative bodies raises obvious suspicions that this is a deliberate campaign against a market leader.

The decision to take the company’s director general into police custody is unjustified and aimed at hindering the company’s work. Such actions were typical in the 1990s.

Nevertheless, it is business as usual at Tion. We have been fulfilling our obligations to our employees, contractors, and clients. The company’s non-medical businesses have not be affected.

We will defend our position in accordance with established procedure and are confident of success.

Ilya Beterov

Facebook
June 10, 2017

Briefly about Dima for those who don’t know about him and the whole situation. We studied at university together. Then he went into business, and I stayed in science and became a lecturer. Our paths almost never crossed for several years. Then I started taking my students to see his company, to show them a beautiful, modern production facility, built from scratch by an ordinary man. Basically, it was a paradigm of success in the innovative economy, which was all the rage back then. The atmosphere of enthusiasm, youth, and dynamism was also impressive. Later, more and more new educational projects sprang up around Dima, and the company built its own lab for researching aerosols, expanded its ties with the physics department, and established a foundation for supporting students at physics and maths magnet schools. Accordingly, Dima has a rare reputation in our day and age, and because of it I am taking his side without knowing all the particulars of the present case. He and I diverged in terms of political views. I believed that doing business in Russia without protection from the criminal world or the authorities was madness, but Dima was an optimist. Actually, this optimism has two sides. On the one hand, a production facility like that would have been impossible without it. On the other hand, I can easily imagine the carelessness with paperwork that is common in Russia did not bypass the company and served as the peg on which to hang the present case. At the same time, I’m confident Dima was never involved in falsifying descriptions of equipment. Despite my thoroughgoing skepticism, I didn’t anticipate he would be the first of us to come under attack. I learned about the attack against him a year ago, and I believe it is coming from fairly serious criminal and oligarchic organizations. The name and surname of the person who ordered the attack can be easily found. But then a simple question arises. Maybe we should stop hypocritically arguing that Russia needs a competitive economy, technological clusters, innovation, financing from the business world, and other nonsense? There are people with influence. If the production of something has to be set up, give them the assignment, and they will hire specialists and get the job done. But the chatter about innovation and competitiveness has to be stopped once and for all.

Novosibirsk Entrepreneur Detained over Bacteria
RBC
June 9, 2017

The head of one of the oldest residents of Akademgorodok Technopark, Aeroservis LLC’s Dmitry Trubitsyn, has been detained by investigating authorities over charges he sold defective air purifiers.

According to police investigators, Aeroservis (Tion Group of Companies) received permission in 2011 to manufacture the TION-A and TION-V air purifiers, which eliminate bacteria and viruses.

Later, investigators claim that Trubitsyn “had the idea of producing and selling the air purifiers in violation of established standards in order to reduce production costs and maximize profits from their sale.”

They allege that the suspect built and sold air purifiers lacking the necessary components for air purification.

“As a result, during the specified period, the rigged equipment was delivered to clinics in over one hundred cities and towns in Russia. Yet the proceeds from the sale of each air purifier ranged from 45,000 to 98,000 rubles,” the investigators write in their statement to the press.

Tion has said it regards the situation as “unjustified pressure on a transparent, law-abiding company, since all the equipment we sell has the necessary permits.”

According to the company, the charges made by the investigative authorities have to do with the past, “when there were inaccuracies in registration certificates due to imperfections in legislation.”

They say the inaccuracies were corrected when they were brought to light, but “the selectivity of the investigative bodies raises obvious suspicions this is a deliberate campaign against a market leader.”

“The decision to take the company’s director general into police custody is unjustified and aimed at hindering the company’s work. Such actions were typical in the 1990s.”

The company likewise said it was conducting business as usual.

Charges have been filed under Article 238.1, Part 2, Paragraph a, of the Russian Federal Criminal Code: the production and sale of unregistered medical devices on a large scale. The crime is punishable by a prison sentence of five to eight years and a fine of one million to three million rubles.

Dmitry Trubitsyn, a 35-year-old Novosibirsk entrepreneur, founded the Tion Group of Companies.

Founded in Novosibirsk, Tion designs, produces, and sells modern air purifiers. Production takes place at the Berdsk Electromechanical Plant and in China, while design is done at the Akademgorodok Technopark.

Alexei Okunev
Facebook
June 9, 2017

The company that custom-ordered the criminal investigation, Potok (“Stream) does not use “UV, ozone, HEPA filters, and photocatalysis” in its air purifiers. They don’t even use “chemical substances.” This is called “space-age technology” and will be delivered to hospitals and maternity hospitals.

Oksana Trubitsyna
Facebook
June 11, 2017

Friends, thank you so much for your support.

The criminal case against Dmitry Trubitsyn and the police searches at the company are unprecedented coercion against a successful, law-abiding business.

Unfortunately, it is not only we who are under attack but also the very possibility of establishing successful tech companies in Russia. This cannot be tolerated.

Tion is a transparent company. Tion’s equipment is effective and safe. Dmitry Trubitsyn has not broken the law.

We will prove it in court.

We are not entirely certain of the reasons for what has been happening to us. We assume the law enforcement agencies are being used as a tool by competitors. Alas, market competition in Russia can assume such ugly shapes.

What is happening now with Tion?
– Dmitry Trubitsyn and his lawyers are deciding what steps to take next to defend themselves.
– We have appealed to the ombudsman for the defense of entrepreneurs’ rights.
– Tion’s management seeks to ensure the company’s smooth operation. After the weekend, everyone will come to work and keep working on projects.
– Tion has been closely interacting with the media. We are preparing answers to the flood of negativity that has washed over us and defending our reputation.

What can you do?
– Pass all your ideas, thoughts, and useful contacts on to the Tion employees you know. We will review everything and contact you if necessary.
– Write a letter to the President of the Russian Federation via the official website letters.kremlin.ru. Unlike the well-known website Change.org, the Kremlin is required by law to reply to your letters. A large number of letters could raise the issue to the very highest level.

What can do harm to the cause?
– Uncoordinated communication with the media and, especially, with television can misshape perceptions of the situation badly. It will be harder and harder for us to fight back.
– Involving various politicians and public figures. The situation facing Tion is a matter of (harsh and unacceptable) relations within the market. Interacting with political forces automatically strips us of part of our support and forces us to deal with irrelevant issues. It will complicate our lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the accusations against Tion?

Law enforcement is attempting to accuse us of manufacturing low-quality medical equipment by citing the outcomes of a study allegedly done by one of Rosdravnadzor’s expert review centers. [Rozdravnadzor is the Russian Federal Service for the Oversight of Public Health and Social Development—TRR.] The substantive part of the expert review is lacking: technical tests were not conducted by any experts.

Special attention should be paid to the fact we were able to receive the findings of the “expert review” only two months after our competitors had been using them with a vengeance.

Is it true that Tion’s products are dangerous to your health?

Our products are safe, as confirmed by dozens of independent examinations. Many of these examinations can be be easily accessed on our official website.

Why, then, have investigators concluded your equipment is dangerous?

Conclusions on the danger of using the equipment are based on a mismatch between the mass of the air purifier, as indicated in the instruction manual, and the mass, as indicated in the registration file.

The accusation is without substance. It is bureaucratic and very far from the truth.

Is it true that Tion’s products were initially equipped with photocatalytic filters, but at some point the company stopped using them?

Yes, it is true. Photocatalytic filters facilitate the removal of molecular pollutants (i.e., those in a gaseous state, unlike dust and microorganisms). In Tion’s products, this function is still performed by a catalytic adsorption filter, which handles molecular pollutants just as well as photocatalytic filters.

Is it true that Tion got rid of the photocatalytic filter covertly?

No, it’s not true. Tion’s website describes its air purification technology in detail. It doesn’t involve photocatalysis.

Police investigators claim that, after the photocatalytic filters were removed, Tion’s products ceased to eliminate viruses and bacteria. Is this true?

No, it’s not true. Viruses and bacteria are eliminated by HEPA filtration. Moreover, the captured microorganisms are additionally deactivated by ozone, which is subsequently destroyed by the catalytic adsorption filter.

Tion’s photocatalytic filter-less products passed all the necessary certifications and were registered for medical use. Roszdravnadzor had no complaints.

Moreover, certain competitors never used photocatalysis in their equipment, which in no way kept them from obtaining permits.

Is it true that Tion specifically removed the photocatalytic filter in order to save money and increase its profits?

Yes, it’s true, and it’s a good thing. Only perverted logic can lead one to the conclusions which police investigators have reached.

Photocatalytic filters are not obligatory for effective purification. Tion’s design makes it possible to achieve the necessary level of decontamination without resorting to photocatalysis, which has been proven by multiple independent studies.

Business should make a profit. Reducing costs is an absolutely legal and reasonable means of increasing profits. Introducing new, more effective, and cheaper technologies is one way to reduce costs without reducing the quality of products. Designing, popularizing, and making new, more efficient technologies cheaper is the Tion way.

Tion’s profits are spent on designing new products and on charity and social projects that you all know about. This is not to mention the fact we pay taxes and salaries.

Is it true that Tion founder Dmitry Trubitsyn made a front man director instead of him?

No, it is not true. As the company grew and new investors came on board, its structure became more complicated. At the moment of his arrest, Dmitry Trubitsyn was the director general of Tion Holding Company JSC, to which the other legal entities in the Tion Group of Companies belong as subsidiaries, for example, Aeroservis LLC, which is the subject of the criminal investigation.

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A huge thanks to Alyonna Rydannykh for the heads-up and supplying me with all the Facebook posts and articles used in this collage reportage. Translated by the Russian Reader. This is latest in an occasional series of posts on the regime’s apparent hostility toward medium and small businesses and traders. You can read the previous post in the series here. TRR

The Enemy Within Is Everywhere

The Russian National Guard Has Been Crushing the General Staff
Alexander Goltz, Military Observer
The New Times
June 5, 2017

A calling card of a militaristic society is the tendency of the authorities to respond to all challenges by means of force, military or otherwise. The Kremlin’s fear of so-called color revolutions has materialized into a buildup of the resources available to the recently minted Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya), which was designed to quell unrest. Unprecedented powers have now been added to its resources. 

 «Чтобы все было в ажуре». Экспонаты организованной Росгвардией выставки, которая посвящена технологиям правохранительных органов, Красноармейск, Московская область, 25 мая 2017 года. Фото: Антон Луканин/ТАСС“So that everything is just so” (Chtoby vsyo bylo v azhure). Exhibits at a trade show, organized by the Russian National Guard, dealing with law enforcement equipment. Krasnomarmeysk, Moscow Region, May 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of Anton Lukanin/TASS

In the last part of May, when the public was distracted by the police raids on the Gogol Center and director Kirill Serebrennikov, almost no one noticed a new decree, issued by President Putin, which approved the “Regulations on the Tactical and Geographical Organization of the Forces of the Russian Federal National Guard.” At first glance, it is a run-of-the-mill and extraordinarily boring bureaucratic document. But that it is only at first glance. In fact, only a few lines in the decree point to a genuine revolution in the organization of Russia’s military.

“By decision of the President of the Russian Federation,” reads the document, “the units and divisions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as well as other military formations and bodies, can be transferred to the tactical subordination of the district commander to perform tasks assigned to National Guard troops.”

A New Kind of War

In both Soviet and post-Soviet times, the possibility was envisaged that the Internal Troops of the Interior Ministry, on whose basis the Russian National Guard was established in 2016, could be subordinated to the Armed Forces. After all, an external foe could have gained the upper hand over the army, and to repel it, it would have been necessary to concentrate all the country’s military forces into a single fist. Units from the Internal Troops have been involved in all major military exercises in recent years under the command of the army. But it has never been suggested that army units would be subordinated to the command of the Internal Troops.

There were no hints in last year’s law, which instituted the Russian National Guard, that army units could be subordinated to Guard commanders, for such subordination could mean only one thing: the Kremlin regards domestic threats as much more dangerous than foreign threats. These domestic threats are so serious that, at some point, the Russian National Guard might lack the strength to repel them, although, according to its commander-in-chief, Viktor Zolotov, its troop strength has doubled in comparison with the Internal Troops (which had 187,000 men in its ranks before their reassignment), i.e., the Russian National Guard has close to 400,000 soldiers. The president’s decree means the authorities concede the possibility of large-scale unrest that would affect the entire country. Under such circumstances, all reserves would be deployed, and the army would be engaged in performing their notorious “internal function,” something the military has avoided like the plague both in Soviet and post-Soviet times.

In 2014, however, at a conference organized by the Defense Ministry, the generals, wishing to oblige the Kremlin, came to the stunning conclusion that so-called color revolutions were a new form of military action. Thus, in the new edition of The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, published in December 2014, we read that modern military conflicts are characterized by the “integrated use of military force and non-military political, economic, informational and other measures, implemented with extensive use of the populace’s protest potential and special tactical forces.” As we see, the “populace’s protest potential” is equated with the actions of enemy saboteurs.

Loyalty Counts

At this point, seemingly, it was incumbent that something be done. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has on several occasions ordered several military institutions (including the Academy of the General Staff, for example) to carry out research on how the Armed Forces should react to such threats, but the outcomes of this research are still unknown. Likely as not, the officers corps did not wish to dirty its hands by planning how to deploy troops against its own people. All they could force themselves to do was come up with the idea of subordinating the army to the Russian National Guard, thus shifting responsibility to it for using force on the streets of Russia’s cities. Yet the commanders of the army units assigned to the Russian National Guard will themselves have to decide, when push comes to shove, whose orders to carry out and how to carry them out.

Last summer, units of the Russian National Guard and the Airborne Forces engaged in joint exercises in Volgograd Region. Servicemen from two brigades of the Russian National Guard and the Special Ops Centers, as well the Fifty-Sixth Airborne Assault Brigade of the Airborne Forces were involved in the exercises: a total of four thousand men. However, a member of the Defense Ministry, Lieutenant General Andrei Kholzakov, Deputy Commander of the Airborne Forces, was in charge of the maneuvers. The general explained then that the exercises were the first to take place “after the reformation of the Internal Troops. We have been working out issues of interaction to understand how to cooperate in the future.” The reason why, during the initial stages, army generals were tapped to command the exercises is obvious. Their colleagues in the Russian National Guard did not have the know-how and experience to plan large-scale operations. But now, the president’s decree would have us think, the Kremlin favors loyalty over knowledge and ability, and it has subordinated the army to the police. By hook or by crook, the army is being prepared to put down its own people.

Russian National Guard Units in Russia (Districts and Cities Where Units Are Deployed. Source: www.rosgvard.ru

Super Law Enforcement Authority

The authorities, however, have not been hiding what jobs, the most important, as they imagine, the Russian National Guard will have to take on for the state. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin quite seriously dubbed it the “most belligerent military unity solving problems inside the country.” Even so, he underscored that the “Russian National Guard must be armed to the teeth, and not just to the teeth, but with the highest-quality weapons.”

True, the Guard itself is steadily becoming a super law enforcement body, a secret service backed up by thousands of troops. Relatively recently, for example, it transpired that the Guard was establishing a service for monitoring social networks on the internet.

“We see today the areas where we would like to develop. IT is in first place. […] The Russian National Guard plans to train IT specialists and specialists for monitoring social networks,” said Colonel General Sergei Melikov, deputy commander of the Russian National Guard.

According to Melikov, “such training groups” were already functioning at the Perm Military Institute.

Военнослужащие Росгвардии во время курса боевой подготовки, Московская область, февраль 2017 года. Фото: Дмитрий Коротаев/Коммерсантъ Russian National Guardsmen during combat training. Moscow Region, February 2017. Photo courtesy of Dmitry Korotayev/Kommersant

General Melikov claimed the new unit would tasked only with tracking terrorists and preventing their attacks. But it is more likely the cyber-guardsmen will identify groups of “rebels,” including people planning to take part in protest rallies.

In the meantime, the media has reported on the Russian National Guard’s intentions to obtain permission to perform investigative work, thus establishing their own version of the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department (MUR). So far, high-ranking officials in the Guard have decisively denied this. However, General Melikov revealed that the Russian National Guard would train the appropriate specialists if the authorities decided to give them these powers.

Finally, the top brass has consistently been involved in guiding the National Guardsmen ideologically. It would seem their ideal is the NKVD, for the authorities have not limited themselves to naming an tactical division of the Guard after Iron Felix. So, in the very near future, Dzerzhinsky’s name will be resurrected, incorporated as part of the name of the Guard’s Saratov Institute. The Guard’s units and divisions are supposed to be given the insignias and honorary titles of glorious predecessors. Uniformed historians have been tasked with finding something heroic about the NKVD’s troops. It is curious what they will write about the involvement of these “glorious warriors” in wholesale deportations and whether they will use these “heroic examples” to educate the Guardsmen.

The Potential Enemy 

For the time being, the Russian National Guard’s commanders insist that its main objective is confronting terrorists and armed gangs, underplaying its role in dispersing civilians. But the same day the president’s decree was published, May 20, an article with the byline of Yuri Baluyevsky was published in the Independent Military Observer. In the recent past, Baluyevsky had been chief of the Armed Forces General Staff; he was later deputy secretary of the Security Council, and is now an adviser to the Russian National Guard’s commander-in-chief. His article is notable for its frankness.

“As a military man,” writes Baluyevsky, “I compare our country to a target. The center is the leadership and political elite. The second circle is the economy, the third, infrastructure, the fourth, the populace, and the fifth, the Armed Forces. Currently, it is not the Armed Forces who are being attacked, but the civilian population, since, compared with the military, it is the segment of society most vulnerable to the forces and methods of psychological warfare. The scenario for how events unfold is known from the color revolutions. The organizers get millions of people shouting ‘Down with the government!’ to take to the streets. The authorities start to lose control. Next come sanctions and an integrated attack on the country’s economy. The armed forces don’t know what to do. All of this leads the country to collapse. This is how a modern war could unfold.  The emergence of the National Guard is a response to the challenge to our society, to the threat posed by the use of so-called nonviolent resistance, which it would be more accurate to call a ‘color revolution.'”

Thus, society’s allegedly least responsible segment, the civilian population of one’s own country, has been transformed into a potential enemy against whom the Russian National Guard and the army will be allowed to use force. They will be allowed to use military force against their own people.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade AKH for the heads-up

Maria Eismont: The Dmitriev Case Is the Most Important Thing Happening in Russia Right Now

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Yuri Dmitriev. Photo courtesy of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

The Yuri Dmitriev Case
The Accused Should Be Nominated for a State Prize
Maria Eismont
Vedomosti
June 8, 2017

“A person cannot disappear without a trace. People differ from butterflies in the sense that people have memory,” the man with long grey hair and long grey beard said onscreen.

The presentation of books of remembrance for those shot during the Great Terror in Karelia packed the screening room at the Gulag History Museum in Moscow: people even sat on the stairways. The editor of the books, Karelian historian and search specialist Yuri Dmitriev, from Memorial, was the man talking onscreen. He has spent the last six months in a pretrial detention center, absurdly charged with the crime of producing pornography.

Dmitriev sent his greetings and gratitude from prison, not so much for the kind words said about him, as for acknowledgement of his life’s work. Memorial’s historians all concur it is unique. No other region in Russia has such a complete compendium of the names of those who were shot as Karelia does. As his colleagues argue, Dmitriev succeeded in turning the figures of those who perished during the Great Terror into memorial lists complete with names, biographies, and burial sites.

The speakers occasionally slipped into the past tense, but immediately corrected themselves. Dmitriev is still alive, and we must believe he will soon be released, find the execution site of the other two Solovki “quotas” [political prisoners at the Solovki concentration camp who were transported to three different sites outside the camp in 1937–1938 to be shot and buried in secret—TRR], and present the next book of remembrance. This powerlessness, these slips of the tongue, and the trembling voices fully convey the horror of a time when the days when people were shot are long past but people still fall victim to political repression.

The Yuri Dmitriev case is, perhaps, the most important thing happening in Russia right now, first of all, because a patriot who for decades had, bit by bit, resurrected thousands of names of this country’s citizens from official oblivion, citizens murdered cruelly and senselessly in the state’s name, has himself been subjected to persecution. “The introduction to the list of terror victims will be brief: may they live in our memories forever,” writes Dmitriev in the foreword to one of his compendiums, The Motherland Remembers Them, a book in which the names are listed not in alphabetical order, but under the names of the villages where the victims lived before their arrests. “The moral of the story is also brief: remember! As is my advice: take care of each other.” Now there is a Russian national idea for you. The author of these books of remembrance should be nominated for a state prize and a government grant to keep on with his work.

There is another important thing about the Dmitriev case: the charge his persecutors chose for him. He was not charged with “extremism” or “separatism,” which have been commonplace in politically motivated cases, but with child pornography and depraved actions towards a minor. The charges not only guarantee a long sentence and promise the accused problems in prison but also challenge the public to support him. “What if something really did happen?” Dmitriev’s friends and relatives acknowledge that while those who doubt Dmitriev or are willing to countenance the charges are an overwhelming minority, such people do exist, and some of them are “decent” people.

The number of “pedophilia” cases, based on controversial, contradictory, clearly flimsy evidence and flagrantly unprofessional forensic examinations, has been growing for several years. Recently, I attended a similar event in Naro-Fominsk, seventy kilometers southwest of Moscow. It was also a memorial evening for a living person who had been incarcerated on charges of depravity against a child, actions the man could not have committed, according to witnesses who were nearby when the crime was alleged to have occurred. Dozens of people had come to remember what a good male nurse Zhenya had been. Then they corrected themselves: not had been, but is and will continue to be. Then they cried.

“Pedophilia” cases have long been custom-ordered to rid oneself of rivals and used to pad police conviction statistics, but now they have been put to use in political cases.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for the heads-up