Friendship of Peoples

Elena Zaharova
September 4, 2018

It’s impossible for non-Russians to live in the Russian Federation. They should leave the country. I know it’s complicated, but it’s more complicated than burying your children or having to nurse them back to health like this.

I know from my own experience. I’ve heard my fill of stories.

The harder life becomes in Russia, the tougher people will be on non-Russians. The blame here lies not with young, uneducated morons from troubled families, but with the ideologues of neo-Nazism and nationalism. And maybe the Kremlin will pick up the topic again when it needs to look for “enemies.”

Just don’t tell me the Soviet Union was a friendship of peoples. A friendship of people, sure, but the peoples were always pitted against each other.


Svetlana Choyzhinimayeva

September 4, 2018

My nephew was beaten up on Sunday evening, just for the heck of it. Or, rather, not just for the heck of it, but because of his narrow eyes and the color of his skin. We spent all night at the hospital. The examination was brief, but the doctors said they had to wait another two to four days to be sure of the final diagnosis. My nephew’s left eye hurts, and he cannot open it. You can see for yourself.

Something similar happened to another nephew of mine around fifteen years ago, when he was in his sixth year at the Sechenov Medical Academy in Moscow. We had been returning from a concert by the beloved People’s Artist and singer Lyudmila Zykina, a concert to which she had invited us.

We took different trains in the subway. The boy was dozing in the train, his eyes half closed, when suddenly a boot smashed into his face with savage force. Although my nephew was a boxer, there was nothing he could do against a two-meter-tall, thickheaded lout. The result was a broken jaw, being fed through a tube for three months, and having to prepare for his thesis defense. The boy lost forty kilos.

How are non-Russians supposed to go on living?

Photo courtesy of Elena Zaharova and Svetlana Choyzhinimayeva. Translated by the Russian Reader

A Mass Grave for Journalists and Journalism?

"A dirty word!" Central District, Petersburg, July 18, 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader
“A dirty word!” Central District, Petersburg, July 18, 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

Moscow. July 20. Interfax.Ru. Official Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has commented on the death of journalist Pavel Sheremet in Kiev.

“A car in which Pavel Sheremet was located has exploded in Kiev. [He was] a professional unafraid to speak his mind to power, to different regimes at different times. Ukraine (not the country, but the system) has become a mass grave for journalists and journalism,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

As if Russia itself weren’t a “mass grave for journalists and journalism.” It takes a lot of the wrong kind of chutzpah to lie and gangbang the truth like these blood monkeys do every single day of their lives.

And Ms. Zakharova’s unspoken implication that Russia, unlike Ukraine, is a “system” that encourages “telling truth to power” is really beyond perverse.

Let us take a tiny peak into the mass grave for journalists and journalism mighty Russia has dug over the past couple of decades.

In 2009, the International Federation of Journalists and the Russian Union of Journalist issued a report, entitled Partial Justice, “to gather evidence surrounding the 300 deaths and disappearances of journalists in Russia between 1993 and 2009.”

When it comes to media freedom more generally, Russia has also been going downhill on a trolley with no brakes over the past decade, and things are bound to get worse with the recent passage into law of the so-called Yarovaya package, which cracks down on individual privacy, privacy of correspondence and communication, freedom of speech, the right not to rat on one’s friends and acquaintances, the ability to speak one’s mind freely to power on social media, and lots of other things.

So what was Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova crowing about? She was actually celebrating Pavel Sheremet’s death by pretending to speak from a place where such violence against journalists and journalism is impossible and unthinkable. But we all know that is a bald-faced lie, and she knows it too.

Why couldn’t she just keep her mouth shut? Isn’t that what the Russian government wants its subjects to do from now until kingdom come anyway? Why can’t the powers that be here also practice some tactful silence now and then?

Drawing to Go on Living


Drawing to Go on Living
Yuri Ivashchenko
November 3, 2015

Photographer Yuri Ivashchenko looks for people who have been assaulted by racists and homophobes in Russia. He asks them to make a schematic drawing of what happened to them on a snapshot of the crime scene.

Mikhail Tumasov, Russia. Assaulted April 2012 in Samara

Mikhail came out to a new friend, who violently assaulted him. Mikhail spent a week in the hospital. A magistrate judge rejected Mikhail’s lawsuit, since Mikhail had not listed the assailant’s birthplace, registered address, and other personal data.


Ibrahim Yunusov, Uzbekistan. Assaulted on October 3, 2008, at Sokolovskaya railway platform in the Moscow Region

Ibrahim and his brother, immigrants from Central Asia, were assaulted at the railway platform, where they had gone to see off a Belarusian friend. When eyewitnesses of the assault called the police, the officers who arrived on the scene suspected the brothers had been involved in a recent rash of telephone thefts on commuter trains. Despite eyewitness testimony corroborating the Yunusovs’ alibi, a court found them guilty of stealing other people’s property and sentenced Ibrahim to a year of probation. His brother Rustam was sentenced to six months of probation. The six months they had spent in a pretrial detention facility was deducted from their sentences.


Alexander Lee, Uzbekistan. Assaulted June 17, 2014, on Leningrad Highway in Moscow

Alexander was standing at a tram stop when several men attacked him. Fighting them off, he ran towards the Sokol subway station. Screaming, “Kill him!” ten to fifteen young men chased Alexander. They caught up with him and surrounded him on a lawn. One of the assailants hit Alexander in the back. He fell to the ground and was beaten up by the mob. The assailants took Alexander’s telephone and wallet, which contained around 10,000 rubles. Later, passersby called an ambulance. Alexander was taken to hospital, where he spent over a month.  Doctors have diagnosed Alexander with a bruised spinal cord. A criminal investigation of the assault is underway, and there are suspects in the case.


Mele, Cameroon. Assaulted November 30, 2013, at the Novoslobodskya subway station in Moscow

Mele was attacked in the late evening at the turnstile to the subway by a man shouting racist slogans.

The assailant was arrested. He confessed his guilt in court and was released after reaching a settlement with Mele that involved paying him compensation and apologizing.


Anvar Yusupov, Tajikistan. Assaulted January 16, 20112, in the Moscow subway

A group of drunken young men, their faces covered in scarves, attacked Anvar and two of his friends when they were returning home from work. Noticing the young men were wielding knives, Anvar decided to defend himself with a beer bottle and managed to wound one of the assailants. Subsequently, the wounded young man was arrested in Saint Petersburg for stealing tennis shoes and testified about the incident in the subway. The court, however, found Yusupov guilty and sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment in a penal colony, which was later commuted to a fine. 



John, Russia. Assaulted April 18, 2015, near Nevsky Prospect, 184, in Saint Petersburg

John was walking down the street in rainbow-colored glasses when he drew even with two young men. One of them bumped John hard with his shoulder. John asked the passerby why he had done this. The man replied that he hated “fags” and head-butted John. John responded by pepper-spraying the assailant, who fled the scene with his companion. The police refused to open a criminal investigation into the incident.


Translated by the Russian Reader