Tortured Petersburg Antifascist Viktor Filinkov Transferred to Remand Prison in Leningrad Region

Staff at Remand Prison No. 6 (Gorelovo, Leningrad Region) celebrating Fatherland Defenders Day, 23 February 2018. Photo courtesy of the prison’s website.

Yana Teplitskaya
Facebook
March 16, 2018

We just visted Russian Federal Penitentiary Service Remand Prison No. 3 and learned that Viktor Filinkov was transferred to Remand Prison No. 6 the day before yesterday. Members of the Petersburg Public Monitoring Commission have no access to this prison, because it is located in Leningrad Region.

There are one hundred inmates per cell in Remand Prison No. 6, and there have been many complaints that “pressure cookers” are employed there.*

There are reasons to believe that Viktor may be tortured again.

UPDATE. Alexander Gennenbereg and Anna Osnach, wonderful members of the Leningrad Region PMC, have been to Remand Prison No. 6. Viktor is still in “quarantine,” a cell for sixteen inmates. There were no signs he had been beaten, nor did he say he had been beaten. Prison staff told the PMC members Viktor would be transferred from the quarantine cell on Monday.

We do not know the formal grounds for his transfer to another remand prison.

At Remand Prison No. 3, members of the Petersburg PMC were told that the papers for the transfer (“a decision by the court or the investigator”) were located at Remand Prison No. 6, but when the members of the Leningrad Region PMC visited Remand Prison No. 6 they were told the transfer was due to “optimization” and the directive for the transfer was located at Remand Prison No. 3.

In fact, Viktor was transferred yesterday morning, not the day before yesterday.

Unlike Remand Prison No. 3, it is impossible to protect inmates in Remand Prison No. 6. In Remand Prison No. 3, the cells are designed for two inmates and there are CCTV cameras everywhere, while Remand Prison No. 6 contains barracks designed for one hundred inmates. (Incidentally, unlike Petersburg’s remand prisons, there are often more inmates in Remand Prison No. 6 than there are beds, and the inmates take it in turns to sleep.) We get a large number of complaints of beatings,  hazings,** and so forth from Remand Prison No. 6. It is impossible to monitor the place.

We have to get Viktor out of there.

* My translation for the Russian prison slang term press-khata. According to Wiktionary, a press-khata is a “prison cell in which the wardens, with the help of cooperating prisoners, create intolerable conditions for inmates they do not like. ◆ ‘Cell No. 45 was considered a pressure cooker. The most notorious, murderous “bitches” were locked up there. If it was necessary to break someone’s spirit or just kill him, they were the people to turn to, since it was inexpensive. Often, a few packets of tea sufficed.’ Yevgeny Sartinov, The Last Empire, I: The Coup.”

** My translation for the Russian prison slang term propiska, literally, “registration.” Various Russian prison hazing rituals are described in the relevant article in Alexander Kuchinsky, A Prison Encyclopedia (1998).

Translated by the Russian Reader

If you have not heard about the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case and the related crackdown against Russian grassroots and political activists on the eve of the March 18 Russian presidential election, you need to read the following articles and spread the word.

Moscow District Deputies Beaten as Constructivist Quarter Demolished

A scale model of the Pogodinskaya Quarter. Courtesy of Archnadzor
A scale model of the Pogodinskaya Quarter. Courtesy of Archnadzor

Moscow Municipal District Deputies Opposed to Demolition of Pogodinskaya Quarter Beaten
Radio Svoboda
June 6, 2016

Pogodinskaya was built in the 1920s and has been recognized as a constructivist landmark. 

On Monday, municipal district council deputies Alexandra Parushina and Andrei Voronkov were beaten in Moscow’s Khamovniki District while trying to prevent the demolition of several buildings in the Pogodinskaya Quarter, a recognized constructivist landmark. Radio Svoboda got the news from Parushina herself. She was forced to seek medical attention after the assault: her leg had been injured.

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Khamovniki Municipal District Council Deputies Alexandra Parushina and Andrei Voronkov. Courtesy of mo-hamovniki.ru

Parushina said the demolition of the buildings in the Pogodinskaya Quarter had begun on Monday without warning. According to here, when the deputies arrived at the scene and demanded that the company carrying out the works show them permits for the demolitions, they were assaulted by security guards.

At the same time, the demolition continued “literally right over the heads” of the deputies, Parushina added.

The authorization for demolition of the Pogodinskaya Quarter, built in the 1920s in the constructivist style by architects V.I. Bibikov and Ya.E. Ostrovsky, and engineer A.N. Volkov, was issued in late 2015. Donstroi plans to build luxury housing on the site. In January, architectural preservationists from Archnadzor demanded the authorization be rescinded.

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Vandalism’s Next Address: Pogodinskaya Street
Archnadzor
May 11, 2016

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There has been a strange media buzz around the constructivist Pogodinskaya Quarter (Pogodinskaya Street 2/3, blgs. 1–4). It is obvious Moscow public opinion is being prepared for the quarter’s demolition.

Articles about a shelter for homeless people and asocial elements having suddenly arisen in Pogodinskaya have been published one after another in the media and blogosphere, and the articles have all followed the same pattern. According to their authors, there is only one means of solving the problem: a speedy demolition and a foundation pit in place of the constructivist buildings. For some reason there is no talk about how it would make more sense to fix up the buildings and at least provide for their normal conservation, just as there as is no talk about a “flophouse” somehow emerging on premises strictly guarded by the developer, premises that journalists could not even infiltrate. If a landmark is turned into a trash heap, it is not the landmark’s fault.

The widespread practice of conversion, successful examples of which exist in Moscow as well (in particular, the recent and current restoration projects of the constructivist complexes on Suvorovskaya Street, Matrosskaya Tishina, and Preobrazhensky Val) show that constructivist residential developments can and should be saved. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

In January 2016, despite the decision by the Moscow Municipal Commission on Urban Development in Conservation Areas (the so-called Demolition Commission), recognizing Pogodinskaya’s historical and architectural value and  disallowing its demolition, the developer was suddenly issued authorization to prepare for the quarter’s demolition. Due to public outcry, a quick demolition did not come off. The Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage confirmed that the commission’s decision remained in force.

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The issue of Pogodinskaya’s conservation status has not resolved yet. We hope the decision will take into account the opinion of the members of Department of Cultural Heritage’s Research and Methodology Council, and the negative verdict on the Taganskaya Automatic Telephone Exchange building will not be repeated, a verdict publicly contested by the presidium of this esteemed advisory body.

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As long as the houses at Pogodinskaya 2/3 are not declared landmarks, they could be demolished in the near future, demolished despite the decision of the Commission on Urban Development in Conservation Areas, which can no longer reaffirm its verdict, as it was itself abolished by city authorities in early 2016, demolished due to the lack of venue for discussion in Moscow where the issue of historical architectural preservation could examined openly and with invited experts. In the legal vacuum formed in the wake of the Demolition Commission’s disbanding, destruction of Soviet avant-garde buildings, of which demolition of the Taganskaya Automatic Telephone Exchange was a flagrant instance, will proceed apace.

The Taganskaya Automatic Telephone Exchange was destroyed despite the protests of residents and experts. There was no dialogue among the authorities, the developer, and residents. This scenario must not be repeated in the case of Pogodinskaya. It is not possible to continue deciding the continue of whether to preserve or destroy historic buildings at the closed sessions of the Urban Planning and Land Commission. We need an open dialogue in which all stakeholders would be able to voice their arguments. The example of Saint Petersburg, which managed to resolve the issue of preserving the so-called Siege Substation, shows that such dialogue is possible as part of the Heritage Council.

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Archnadzor calls on the Moscow authorities to execute the president’s instructions and establish a Moscow Mayoral Council for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, thus ensuring an open dialogue and discussion of the most important urban development issues, including the problem of preserving Moscow constructivism, with the broad involvement of experts on historical preservation. A similar appeal was made by leading experts and architects, outraged by the demolition of the Taganskaya Automatic Telephone Exchange. We fully share their position.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Photographs by Maria Korobova and Natalya Melikova. Courtesy of Archnadzor. For more on this latest bit of bad news, see Ola Cichowlas, “Deconstructing Moscow’s Constructivist Legacy,” Moscow Times, June 9, 2016You can also read my numerous posts on what I have termed “catastrophic urban development” in Russia’s major cities.