Yuri Leiderman: The Black General

Yuri Leiderman
Facebook
September 29, 2021

“The Black General”
I arrived in the city of Heraklion and checked into the hotel. I turned on the TV while I got settled in. On TV5Monde, a group of intellectuals in well-chosen nonchalant jackets was discussing Rimbaud, Kafka and Gallimard’s new releases.

I should have been like them, I thought enviously.

I could have become like them, I thought, horrified.

There is no Pinochet to reign them in,
No Black Colonel,
No Black General,
I thought with a grin.

So I am the very last Black General, overgrown and useless and grassy, I thought without much emotion, after appending hands, palms, and wrists, like claws, like threads, to the seams.

Translated and reproduced here with the artist’s kind permission by the Russian Reader

Book Description

Book Description

Yulia Yakovleva is the author of the popular series of novels Leningrad Fairy Tales, in which the story of Stalin’s terror and the pre-war years is told with frightening and disarming naivety, because it is told by children for children.

Karina Dobrotvorskaya blew up the internet and reader communities thanks to the release of the novel Has Anyone seen my Girl? The film based on the novel, starring Anna Chipovskaya, Victoria Isakova and Alexander Gorchilin, was a hit.

The new novel, written by Yulia and Karina in collaboration, has everything that makes a work striking and memorable:

* an interesting, offbeat story about the distant future

* a love affair

* a detective story

* a uniquely designed world, described in detail

* a European feel that makes the novel look like a translation

The novel is about our near future, but it reads like a novel about the present.

In the new world, wokeness and the ecological revolution have triumphed. All emotions, except positive and non-confrontational ones, are prohibited. There are fines for violations. If you ate more than the norm, and an inspector finds you’re overweight, there’s also a fine. You can’t offend anyone, not even an ant.

How long can a person live amid such horror?

Yakovleva and Dobrotvorskaya write both ironically and seriously about the new ethics [political correctness], the cult of Greta Thunberg, people carried away with moral norms — and the fact that natural human nature will triumph anyway.

The novel combines the best of the authors’ talents: a fascinating plot from Yulia Yakovleva and Dobrotvorskaya’s subtle, profound psychological insight.

The novel is a niche leader.

Source: LitRes. Image courtesy of Ozon. Translated by the Russian Reader

The Post-Soviet Imaginary

“Tashkent 1930,” reads the caption in the original posting of this photo on Facebook. The girls are wearing shirts bearing the (Latin) abbreviation “UzSSR” (Uzbekistan Soviet Socialist Republic). The cotton boll emblem on their shirts suggests they might be headed for the cotton fields as “voluntary” pickers, an abusive practice that is still common there. Thanks to Sergey Abashin for the heads-up.
Anatoly Belkin, “Persimmon Vendor,” Imperial Porcelain Factory. Posted on Facebook by Andrei Yerokhin. Thanks to Sergei Damberg for the heads-up. Despite this figurine’s “old timey” (Soviet) appearance, underscored by the “Ovoshchprodtorg No. 17” (“Vegetable Retail Organization No. 17”) logo  on the stand, a commenter claims the work is by a modern artist.

Five Years in Prison for Belarusian Anarchist Blogger Mikola Dziadok

The Regime Sentences Anarchist and Blogger Mikola Dziadok
Pramen
November 10, 2021

Today, the last hearing in the trial of Mikola Dziadok took place. He was found guilty on all charges and sent to a medium-security penal colony for 5 years. The sentence was fully consistent with what the prosecutor requested.

Last year, the anarchist was targeted by the GUBOPiK for his numerous publications about this organization of pro-Lukashenko activists. From July 2020 until his arrest in November 2020, Mikola was in hiding: the repressive apparatus searched for him for almost five months with all the forces at its disposal.

When he was arrested, Dziadok was tortured to gain access to encrypted data on his computer. In many ways, the torture itself was the revenge of the security services on the blogger and anarchist activist for his political work.

This trial has once again shown that the Lukashenko regime is afraid not only of physical confrontation on the streets, but also of confrontation in the information realm. After all, in 2020 it was words that Mikola used to fight the dictatorship in our country. Moreover, he did not leave the country, as other bloggers did, but stayed.

We hope that Mikola, like all the other prisoners of the revolution, will not have to wait long for freedom, and very soon we will meet them on the outside!

Thanks to Antti Rautiainen for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

“They were right to shoot people”

Natalia Vvedenskaya
Facebook
November 12, 2021

In the early 2000s, our computer broke down. There were few computer repairmen back then, and a passing acquaintance suggested her husband for the job. The young man came over and quickly fixed everything. Over tea it transpired that he worked at the FSB.

This was still amazing then, so we naively asked him how he could work in such a place, for the heirs of criminals and all that. And this twenty-five-year-old man literally said, “They were right to shoot people. They just should have done it more quietly.”

Now the whole country from top to bottom is run by people from the FSB. Of course, they want to ban Memorial. What need is there to remember if it was “right” to shoot people? What need is there to defend human rights if it is “right” to imprison people now?

The liquidation of Memorial is just the final whistle: the boat is leaving the dock. We’ll still put up a bit of a fight, of course. What else can we do?  But all the same.

___________

The acquaintance soon divorced the man because he had begun beating their child.

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The document, above, is from the family archive. Roman Troshchenko, a priest, worked as a physician’s assistant in an orphanage after serving time in the camps. He was shot, allegedly, for “spreading rumors among the children and the populace that the Soviet regime would fall and the fascists would come to power.”

Translated by the Russian Reader

The Gun Club

Your guide will meet you at your hotel and bring you either by metro or onboard a classic Soviet military van (option) to our shooting range. There, you will learn to master 3 iconic Soviet weapons, under supervision of a professional trainer. Discover the thrill of shooting military grade weapons loaded with live bullets! We bring at your trigger finger: 1) The Yarygin Pistol – Standard Russian military sidearm. Caliber 9mm 2) The Kalashnikov AK-47 – Legendary Russian assault rifle, will surely shake your foundations. Caliber 7.62×39 3) The Dragunov sniper rifle – Iconic Russian sniper, in service for more than 50 years! The Dragunov is a semi-automatic rifle with massive power! Get your adrenaline shot firing its 7.62×54 rounds!

Source: Trip Advisor

November 11, 2021

Imagine there’s an aggressive, martial society that sends its soldiers around the world, intervening here and there, undermining all global democratic institutions and norms for arbitrating conflict, reserving for itself the sole right to decide which governments are legitimate, and defending the wealth of a small handful of nations—its own especially—against the interests of the vast majority.

Imagine further that the government of this nation, which so carelessly throws its soldiers into wars of choice in the pursuit of political and economic power, creates a propaganda campaign to convince the public that it is their civic duty to gush and fawn over veterans, to thank them for their “service,” to honor their “sacrifices,” and to never question the purpose of their missions, because to do so would disrespect the lives squandered in the pursuit of such noble goals.

Now imagine there’s a holiday, exclusively reserved for celebrating all of this propaganda.

What an impressive system that would be, completely impenetrable from outside critique. Global aggression masked as a noble mission, brutal violence reframed as a necessary means to an honorable end. War after war, foreign nations ravaged, one after another, and the public can only wince at the same time it thanks its veterans for their service.

What’s more impressive is that it’s a system that perpetuates itself. Through the celebration of warrior holidays, everyone practices their roles and each new generation finds their place in the pageantry. Civilians’ relationship to the military is basically one of cheerleadership. Soldiers are forever trapped as the sacrificial lambs of their society, sent to die for the wealth and power of their leaders (but everyone is taught to call it “defense”). And those who survive are celebrated as the sacred symbol of the nation itself, who civilians must praise and who children learn to revere.

So, if you’ve followed me through the allegory, obviously this is crazy and this can’t continue to go on like this.

 

Hunting Season

Since no one wants to ask me to comment on [Valery] Rashkin and the moose, I will tell you myself.

This is punishment for disloyalty. Rashkin flirted with the Navalnists and now, after the elections, he is being punished. Punishment is the only means available to the authorities to react to disloyalty and it concerns everyone involved in the process, not just the opposition. Remember what happened to Poklonskaya.

I emphasize that, in this situation, talking about Rashkin’s personal qualities, alcoholism or hunting is simply meaningless, or rather inappropriate, because talking nonsense diverts the conversation away from the main point — the political terror practiced by the authorities.

Anyone who pokes their head up even a little bit is immediately pulled out, strung up and skinned real good. This is a metaphor for animal husbandry, not hunting. Don’t say that I’m exaggerating — it’s still terror, intimidation and the destruction of even minimal nodes of [anti-regime] organization. The authorities don’t need to engage in mass killings yet, because the opposition is peaceful and manageable.

P.S. Hunting should not be banned, but the use of weapons in hunting should be prohibited. if you want to kill a moose, go ahead: you have teeth and two legs.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Valery Rashkin, pictured during a Russian parliament session in March 2020. AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin/Euronews

Valery Rashkin: Russian MP accused of illegal hunting after elk carcass found in car
Euronews
October 29, 2021

A Russian MP has been accused of illegal hunting after the remains of an elk were found in his car.

Valery Rashkin, a politician for the opposition Communist party, told Russian media that he was stopped by police while driving in Russia’s Saratov region.

Rashkin has stated that he and his companion did not shoot the animal and had planned to report the matter to the authorities.

“I believe this is a provocation,” he told the independent broadcaster RTVI on Friday.

Russian police said they were alerted to gunfire in the Lysogorsk district, 900 kilometres east of Moscow, and found a car at the scene of the incident.

“During the inspection of the car, the police found fragments of an elk carcass, an ax, and two knives with traces of blood,” they said in a statement.

The two men inside the car said they had only found the animal’s shot carcass and had “decided to butcher it,” police added.

The driver of the vehicle also refused to undergo a test for alcohol at the scene. Authorities later discovered two weapons cases, hidden in a bush near the remains of the elk.

“In one of them there was a hunting rifle with a night vision sight, and in the second there was a tripod and cartridges,” the police said.

“In addition, the cases contain a weapon permit and a hunting ticket issued in the name of V.F. Rashkin.”

“A criminal case was initiated on the fact of illegal hunting,” the regional interior ministry said in a statement.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said they had taken over the case following “great public outcry”.

“The involvement of the deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Valery Rashkin, in the incident is being verified,” they added in a statement.

As a Russian MP, Raskhin holds immunity from prosecution but lawmakers can be stripped of that privilege by a vote in parliament.

He could also be dismissed by the Duma if found guilty of hunting without a license, which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years.

Rashkin recently took part in several demonstrations, claiming that the Russian parliamentary elections were marred by electoral voting fraud.

Doppelganger

“It’s kind of a dystopia. In some respects. Of course, it has nothing to do with reality. The world is shrinking and becoming cramped. Something or someone is always offended in close quarters. And there’s always someone pointing a gun at your head. Sometimes it’s you.”

Masyanya, Episode 152: “Doppelganger.” (Toggle the “CC” button for English subtitles)

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The caste of those deprived of their civil rights — foreign agents, undesirable organizations, extremists of all stripes — will constantly expand. Social stigmatization will be strongly encouraged. The number of persons on different registries and lists, and under police watch will grow exponentially. Legal restrictions — bans on participating in elections, serving on various public councils, founding mass media, attending football matches, working in certain areas, and so on — will be supplemented by defamation campaigns. The separation of the estates in terms of legal and social status will be vigorously encouraged by the authorities.

Source: Pavel Chikov, “Not a Tyranny Yet: A Prognosis for the Rest of Putin’s Fourth Term,” Republic, 19 October 2021. Translated by the Russian Reader

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Artist unknown, Russian National Guardsmen in Their Free Time. Posted by Dmitry Vrubel on Facebook. Thanks to Sergei Damberg for the heads-up

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Security forces raided a gathering to write letters to political prisoners at the Vogel Bar. They showed up along with Rospotrebnadzor officials for a surprise inspection on the evening of October 24. After managing to tally forty-five people on the premises and not find markings on the floor mats, the officials sealed the establishment prior to a court hearing. The bar’s management fears bankruptcy and plans to open a new bar in a new location.

The latest gathering to letters to political prisoners at the Vogel this time ended with a visit by regulatory authorities. The police officers who arrived twenty minutes after the event started immediately stated that the 76th police precinct had received a complaint alleging that the bar was not in compliance with the mask mandate. At that moment, the gathering, at which attendees were to write letters to the performance artist Pavel Krisevich, jailed on charges of disorderly conduct after a performance on Red Square in which he pretended to shoot himself, had just begun. That evening, Krisevich’s friends and acquaintances, as well as former political prisoners, were to speak to the guests. One of the bar’s co-founders, Valentin Khoroshenin, told Zaks.Ru that the complaint claimed that a “meeting of anti-covidniks” was planned for that evening at the Vogel. He believes that this was just an excuse to find non-existent violations and close the bar.

The inspection report indicated that more than forty-five people were present in the room at the time. The bar’s management are adamant that this was not the case. The Vogel’s owners have already studied surveillance camera tapes and counted less than forty people on the premises, including the police officers.

Other violations included the absence of markings on floor mats and an insufficient supply of medical masks. According to regulations, such establishments should have a five days’ supply of personal protective equipment. The available supply was only enough for one day. Rospotrebnadzor officials did not enter the kitchen. According to Khoroshenin, they claimed they were too tired to do so.

Vogel Bar has been in business since March 2021. From the very beginning it advertised itself as a venue for activists: political lectures, discussions and debates were held there. During this entire time, Rospotrebnadzor never carried out inspections. But the Interior Ministry regularly sent its people there. For example, Center “E” officers attended the debates. The security forces showed up for other letter-writing gatherings, but everything had ended without trouble.

Text & photos: Konstantin Lenkov, Zaks.ru, 25 October 2021. Translated by the Russian Reader

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We have been preparing an investigation into torture in Russian prisons for almost a year. It took a lot of time to track down, earn the trust of, and obtain testimonies from former inmates of the penal colony in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Siberia, thousands of kilometers from central Russia. Simultaneously with The Insider’s investigation, Russian human rights activists published an archive of video footage depicting torture being inflicted on prisoners across Russia. The clips, obtained from the FSB and FSIN secret archive, show prisoners from Irkutsk, Saratov, Belgorod, Rostov and other Russian regions being raped, beaten and humiliated. Torture victims explain their torturers’ motives by their desire to break their will in order to obtain material for blackmailing other prisoners, make them confess to crimes, pay tribute, or even to start torturing other prisoners themselves. This all takes place in the modern world, in a country where there is no war, where torturers are not tasked with extracting valuable military information from prisoners at any cost. Torture is rampant in Russia, a country that has signed a number of human rights and anti-torture conventions and seems to enjoy a peaceful life. We have long known that in Russia, prison is not a place of correction, but rather a strange world separate from everything else, where guards and inmates resurrect on a daily basis the practices of the Stalinist Gulag. This has not always been the case. As early as ten years ago there was serious talk in Russia about the need to reform and humanize the penitentiary system. Now things are different. The authorities have been clearly and unambiguously showing how they prefer to rule the country. That is mainly by fear. Investigations into torture have hardly been a revelation, but in a split instant, they made it impossible to ignore torture and pretend it only concerns those behind bars. Of course, the situation will not change overnight, but one thing is certain – this knowledge has now become an integral part of our society. In the following article, we bring you the raw testimony of people who have experienced torture in Russian prisons. They share their thoughts on why it is used, the impact on them, and recount the involvement even of doctors in their ordeal.

Source: The Insider, 19 October 2021. Thanks to Antti Rautiainen for the heads-up

Anti-Coders (#SegregationInAction)

This Instagram post by Roebuck Cafe in Petersburg, explaining that it would be serving only customers with QR codes showing they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or recovered from covid-19, and urging people to telephone 122 and sign up for a jab, elicited the ire of user Izarets, for example, who said they wouldn’t be darkening the cafe’s door anymore, even if they did have a “peekaboo code.”

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Opponents of QR codes stage flash mob on social networks, tagging the posts of companies #WeDon’tPatronizeThem. Etazhi in Petersburg has been targeted ||| Bumaga ||| October 27, 2021 ||| Translated by the Russian Reader

Opponents of the QR code system have launched a flash mob on social media, commenting on the posts of shopping malls, cafes and cultural clusters with the hashtags #WeDon’tPatronizeThem and #SegregationInAction.

The flash mobsters dub the QR codes “peekaboo codes” and “cuckoo codes,” criticizing businesses that have agreed to check whether their customers and patrons have them. The action has touched different cities in Russia, from Noyabrsk, located in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, to St. Petersburg.

For example, the flash mobsters commented a post on Instagram by the Petersburg cultural center Etazhi, announcing that it would be open during the lockdown, but people would be admitted to its exhibitions and observation deck only by presenting a QR code. “It is a pity that you support segregating the population too. We won’t be patronizing you anymore,” wrote one female user. Similar messages appeared under posts by Roebuck Cafe, the Youth Theater on the Fontanka, and other establishments.

Bumaga has explained in detail how the QR code system in St. Petersburg will work.

Read more about it:

  • Why do Russians not get vaccinated? How does the anti-vaxxer community operate? How do you argue with an opponent of vaccines? An anti-pseudoscience campaigner and a scholar who researches fakes answer these questions.

Kontemporari-myuzikl (Onegin’s Demon)

The contemporary musical [kontemporari-myuzikl] Onegin’s Demon is the most successful assault on the classics and the first production in the best traditions of the Russian theater and Broadway.

The creators have decided to call a spade a spade. Few people remember that the poem “The Demon” was written by Pushkin as one of the chapters of Eugene Onegin.

If, as the musical’s libretto has it, in a house of sorrow in Paris you meet an old, crazy Onegin, forgotten by everyone,  tormented by memories of past mistakes, then none other than his personal alter ego, his dark essence, his Demon lets him see his whole life again … and maybe change it.

He is Onegin’s Demon, the director and puppeteer of this unique musical. The creators have laid bare leitmotifs in the novel that had previously gone unspoken. The musical Onegin’s Demon is thus a bold artistic revelation that firmly etches itself in your memory.

Thanks to the 3D video content, the musical Onegin’s Demon can be safely called a movie musical, in which, unlike the cinema, there is no room for error. The musical Onegin’s Demon is a rare opportunity to see in person how, with no editing or multiple takes, real people resurrect the era of ardent romanticism in real time.

Tremble Pushkin purists: “Satan rules love”!* The play features a scene with a naked Tatyana… And does she stay with Onegin in the end? To whom will Tatyana be given?

You have the opportunity to find out firsthand!

Cast:
Onegin – Vasily Turkin and Ivan Ozhogin
The Demon – Sergei Khudyakov
Tatyana – Alina Atlasova and Anastasia Makeyeva
Lensky – Anton Avdeyev
Olga – Natalia Fayerman
Tatiana and Olga’s Mother – Maria Lagatskaya
Nanny – Manana Gogitidze

Music: Anton Tanonov and Gleb Matveychuk
Book: Irina Afanasyeva, Maria Oshmyanskaya, Andrei Pastushenko and Igor Shevchuk
Choreographer: Dmitry Pimonov
Music Director: Anton Tanonov
Creative Producer: Artyom Gridnev

After the third bell, entrance to the auditorium is strictly PROHIBITED!

The musical is performed with one intermission.

Bileter.ru’s review:

Is it possible to produce theater that combines a musical, a movie, a 3D performance and a phantasmagoria, while being based on classical poetry? A few years ago, the idea might have seemed crazy. However, after the incredible, stunning success of the musical Onegin, the trend of boldly genre mash-ups has really taken off. The creators of Onegin’s Demon have gone even further: their new creation has even fewer references to Pushkin’s work and even more deep psychological plot lines that reveal the essence of Onegin’s personality through the lens of his demons. To understand the authors’ intention, you should see the results of their work in person. To make this happen you only need to buy tickets for the musical Onegin’s Demon at a Box Office Directorate ticket outlet or on our website.

The musical Onegin’s Demon undoubtedly risks breaking its predecessor’s popularity records, because this production has even more mystery, mysticism, amazing music, exciting vocal parts and, of course, ultra-modern special effects. The LDM’s New Stage, no matter how spacious it is, will hardly be able to accommodate everyone who wants to watch this show, so if you manage to get tickets to the musical Onegin’s Demon, you can count yourself lucky.

The Pushkin era — its fancy-dress balls, luxurious horse-drawn carriages, duelists and love letters — does not merely come to life on stage. We watch Onegin’s entire biography through the eyes of the character himself, now in his old age. We see with horror and pity what this romantic and slightly bored dandy has become. What are his sins? For what does this half-crazy lonely old man blame himself? And who is he really? Isn’t he the same evil demon who nurtured Eugen’s most negative character traits in his youth?

Many books have been written about alter egos, the individual’s mystical second self, about the ability of soul and body to split: just recall Jekyll and Hyde or the beautiful Dorian Gray. The story of Onegin’s demon is shrouded in the same mysticism and sinister mystery. The creators have made sure that the audience feels the madhouse atmosphere and the painful awareness of their own irreparable mistakes to the tips of their toes. Onegin/The Demon is excruciatingly beautiful, and he is complemented by the musical’s other characters. The stunning voices and fantastic music cause not only the hearts of the audience members who buy tickets to Onegin’s Demon skip more than once. They also make the walls of the LDM tremble.

Source: Bileter.ru

Translated by the Russian Reader

*  The line “Satan rules love” does not appear in Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. As rendered by James Falen, chapter 4, stanza 21 of Pushkin’s great novel in verse reads as follows:

Of course the love of tender beauties
Is surer far than friends or kin:
Your claim upon its joyous duties
Survives when even tempests spin.
Of course it’s so. And yet be wary,
For fashions change, and views will vary,
And nature’s made of wayward stuff—
The charming sex is light as fluff.
What’s more, the husband’s frank opinion
Is bound by any righteous wife
To be respected in this life;
And so your mistress (faithful minion)
May in a trice be swept away:
For Satan treats all love as play.

Source: Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse, trans. James E. Falen (Oxford UP, 1995). The emphasis is mine.

P.S. Stanley Mitchell’s rendering (Penguin, 2008) of the same stanza is even niftier, as my mom would say:

The love you get from tender beauties
Is surer than from kin or friend:
However turbulent its duties,
Your rights are honoured in the end.
That’s so. But then there’s whirling fashion
And nature’s wayward disposition,
And what the monde thinks is enough…
And our sweet sex is light as fluff.
And then, it is to be expected
That virtuous wives will all be true
To husbandly opinions, too;
Your faithful mistress has defected
Before you know it: love’s a joke
That Satan plays on gentlefolk.