Disappeared: Abror Azimov

Abror Azimov. Photo courtesy of The Insider

Abror Azimov, sentenced to life in prison for Petersburg subway bombing, disappears during transfer: there has been no news of him for a month
The Insider
November 2, 2021

Abror Azimov, sentenced to life imprisonment in the case of the Petersburg subway bombing, has disappeared on his way to a penal colony. The convicted man’s father Ahral Azimov has told The Insider that nothing has been known about his whereabouts for over a month.

In mid-September, Abror Azimov was allegedly transferred from the Crosses pre-trial detention center in Petersburg. By verdict of the court, he was to be delivered to a high-security penal colony. The other defendants in the case have already been taken to various penitentiary facilities, including Abror’s brother Akram Azimov.

The last time Abror Azimov telephoned his parents was on September 14 from the Crosses. He said then that all the other defendants in the case had been transferred, and suggested that he would probably be transferred soon, too, the convict’s father said.

According to Petersburg philologist Elena Efros, who has been corresponding with Azimov, the last letter she received from him was from the Butyrka pre-trial detention center in Moscow on September 29, the day he was sent to the next transit prison. “There he writes that he would let me or his father know as soon as he arrived, but so far we’ve heard nothing,” Efros said.

Abror’s father sent several appeals to the authorities asking them to inform him which colony his son was sent to. On October 26, a response came from the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service office for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, in which they claim that the wardens at Pre-Trial Detention Center No. 1 (The Crosses) had sent a letter to the convicted man’s father informing him about the place where his son was serving his sentence. Ahral Azimov says he has not received any letter. In this regard, he submitted an appeal to the prosecutor’s office, requesting they conduct an inquiry.

Abror Azimov’s lawyer Jargalma Dorzhiyeva told The Insider that she also has no information about his whereabouts. “I have no information about where Azimov is. Currently, I only have his consent to file a cassation appeal,” the lawyer said.

In December 2019, Azimov was sentenced to life in prison. His brother Akram Azimov and another defendant in the case, Muhamadusup Ermatov, were sentenced to 28 years in a maximum-security penal colony. Eight more defendants were sentenced to prison term of up to 19 years. All of them denied any wrongdoing, and four of them, including Abror and Akram Azimov, reported that they had been brutally tortured.

The blast on the line between the subway stations Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologicheskii Institut occurred on 3 April  2017. Sixteen people were killed and fifty more were [hospitalized].

Abror Azimov reported that he and Akram were abducted and tortured in a secret FSB prison in the Moscow Region before their official detention. During the trial, he testified that he had been tortured into confessing to organizing the terrorist attack. The other defendants in the case have also repeatedly stated that they had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. All of them had come to Russia at different times to earn money: they worked on construction sites, in cafes and as taxi divers. At one of the first hearings in the trial, they pressed sheets of paper against the glass of the cage on which they had written “We were framed,” “We are not guilty,” and “You will see that there is nothing on us.”

Read more about this case in The Insider article “‘My brother’s screams were audible from the next cell’: torture, secret FSB prisons and falsification of evidence in the case of the terrorist attack in the Petersburg subway.”

Translated by the Russian Reader. Please read my previous posts on the presumed terrorist attack in the Petersburg subway, the case against its alleged “financiers and planners,” its roots in the Islamophobia that has infected Russia under Putin, and the shocking lack of local and international solidarity with the eleven Central Asian migrant workers scapegoated and convicted in the case.

What Matters in Russia

The Facebook post appealing for help in finding missing Bashkir activist Ilham Yanberdin

Environmental activist disappears, his belongings found in forest belt 
OVD Info
October 17, 2021

His associates have been looking for Bashkir grassroots activist Ilham Yanberdin (Ilham Vakhtovik) for a week. They published an appeal on social media, stating that Yanberdin’s relatives had not been able to contact him since October 11.

Idel.Realii reported that, on October 17, passersby found Yanberdin’s phone and personal belongings in the forest belt of the Ufa neighborhood of Inors, near the place where the activist lived. The missing person’s case has been transferred to the criminal investigation department.

The day before the disappearance, Yanberdin told his colleagues he planned to attend a protest in defense of the monument to Salavat Yulaev in Ufa on October 11, at which about ten people were detained. He never showed up for the rally.

Ilham Yanberdin is known in Bashkortostan for his active role in opposition protests. Among these were rallies in defense of the Kushtau shihan and actions by Alexei Navalny’s supporters. He was prosecuted for the protests that took place in January 2021.

In Ufa, the Interior Ministry sought to collect more than two million rubles from Yanberdin, Lilia Chanysheva and Olga Komleva for the “work” of its police officers during the January 2021 protest rallies. A similar decision was made by a court in Omsk. Daniil Chebykin and Nikita Konstantinov were judged to have been the organizers of the January 23 and 31 protests there and ordered to pay the Interior Ministry more than one and a half million rubles.

In June 2021, Yanberdin was detained at a people’s assembly held after the environmental activist Ildar Yumagulov was attacked and beaten by persons unknown on April 18 in Baymak. Yanberdin was later released from court. The case file was sent back to the police for verification due to violations in writing up the arrest sheet.

Translated by the Russian Reader

The monument to Salavat Yulaev in Ufa. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

9 Moscow Restaurants Awarded Coveted Michelin Stars
Andrea Palasciano (AFP)
Moscow Times
October 15, 2021

French gastronomic bible the Michelin Guide awarded nine Moscow restaurants with its coveted stars on Thursday, unveiling its first lineup of recommended eateries in Russia’s up-and-coming food scene.

Long derided as a gastronomic wasteland, Russia’s restaurant scene has emerged in recent years from a post-Soviet reputation for blandness, with establishments in Moscow regularly making lists of some of the world’s best.

Representatives of the Michelin guide — considered the international standard of restaurant rankings — released the first Moscow edition of their iconic red book at a ceremony at Moscow.

Sixty-nine restaurants were recommended in all.

Two restaurants — Twins Garden run by twin brothers Ivan and Sergei Berezutskiy, and chef Artem Estafev’s Artest — were given two stars.

Seven restaurants were given one star, including White Rabbit, whose chef Vladimir Mukhin featured in an episode of the Netflix documentary series “Chef’s Table.”

None were given three stars — the Holy Grail of the restaurant world.

‘Difficult time’
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said at the ceremony that the release of the guide was an important event at a tough time for the restaurant industry.

“It’s big moral support in this time of pandemic, when restaurants are having a particularly difficult time,” he said.

Sobyanin said it also showed Russia had rediscovered a food tradition that had suffered under the Soviet Union.

“Unfortunately during the Soviet period these traditions were lost,” he said.

“I am proud that Moscow’s restaurants have become a calling card for our fantastic city.”

Michelin’s international director Gwendal Poullennec told a press conference that the guide had used an international team of inspectors for its list and there was “no compromise in our methodology.”

Speaking to AFP earlier, he said Russia’s food scene had been “reinventing” itself since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

“There is an evolution of the Russian culinary scene. It is more and more dynamic,” Poullennec said.

He said he was surprised by “the quality and abundance of produce” in Moscow restaurants, highlighting in particular the seafood, such as crab and caviar, that are “exclusive” elsewhere but in Russia are available at a “reasonable price.”

Russia became the 35th country to have a Michelin guide and Moscow is the first city of the former Soviet Union to be awarded stars.

The selection of restaurants will appear in print and also be available via an app in 25 languages, including Russian.

Crab, smetana and borscht
Michelin in December said that chefs in Moscow had set themselves apart by highlighting Russian ingredients, including king crab from the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok and smetana, the sour cream used in preparing beef stroganoff.

Moscow restaurants have increasingly turned to local ingredients after Western sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 resulted in a scarcity of many European foods.

A number of restaurants that relied on meat, cheese and fish imported from the West were forced to close, while those that strived to source their ingredients from Russian regions became more competitive.

In explaining why it chose Moscow, the guide last year pointed to the “unique flavors” of the “nation’s emblematic first courses such as borscht.”

Another leading French restaurant guide, Gault et Millau, launched its first Russian edition in 2017. In 2019, Gault & Millau was sold to Russian investors.

Twins Garden and White Rabbit have previously featured on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Michelin also recently expanded to Beijing, Slovenia and California.

Russia Sets New ‘Anti-Records’ for Covid But ‘Somehow This isn’t Agitating Anyone’
Window on Eurasia (Paul Goble)
October 18, 2021

Staunton, Oct. 12 – Russian officials continued to report unprecedentedly high numbers of infections (28,190) and deaths (973) over the last 24 hours, with other statistics equally devastating including a surge of new cases over the last week by 16 percent for Russia as a whole and more than 30 percent in 11 regions.

Twenty-six regions have imposed QR requirements for entrance to public places, and 605 Russian schools have gone completely over to distance instruction. Many more have done so in part. More than 90 percent of Russia’s covid beds are full and 6,000 patients are on ventilators.

And the pandemic is hitting members of the Russian elite, not only in the regions but in Moscow, where 11 Duma deputies are now hospitalized with coronavirus infections, even though 70 percent of the members of the lower house of the legislature have received their shots.

But despite all this and the fact that it is being widely reported, a Rosbalt commentator says, “everything in Russia is calm: people are digging their graves without particular noise … and one has the impression that somehow this isn’t affecting anyone.”

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,

N.B. In the original article, the links were inserted in parentheses in the body of the text. I have embedded them for ease of reading. TRR

Moscow Police Abduct Leftist Activists Elena Bezrukova and Alexander Ognev

AST-Moscow Statement on the Detention of Elena Bezrukova and Alexander Ognev
AST-Moscow
November 18, 2015
nihilist.li

bezrukova
Elena Bezrukova

Police raided the Moscow flat of leftist activist Elena Bezrukova in the early morning of November 18. They searched her home, and our comrade was detained and taken to the Troparevo-Nikulino police station. As of this writing, police officers have refused to provide any information, denying that our comrade is being questioned. Police are denying her basic human rights by not allowing contact with loved ones. Attorney Dmitry Dinze has also not been allowed to see her.

Currently, the whereabouts of our comrade Alexander Ognev, the police’s principal target, are unknown. A native of Lipetsk, Ognev organized protest rallies in his hometown during the nationwide mass protests of 2011–2012. Ognev’s civic stance has come back to haunt him in way that has become common in Putinist Russia. The document exempting him from military service miraculously disappeared from his medical records, and then Ognev received a draft notice. As a conscientious objector, he ignored the call-up, after which he was summoned to the Investigative Committee for questioning. Ognev was then taken to the military recruiting office, where he was illegally detained for three days, choked, and threatened to be sent to “a unit in Dagestan from which [he] would not come back alive.” After his release, the opposition activist’s bruises were documented.

image14398835
Alexander Ognev: “Article 11.3 of the Federal Law on Trade Unions: ‘The level of wages will be agreed with the trade union…’ Thanks to the FNPR (Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia) for low wages.”

Today’s search was connected with plans to file desertion charges against Ognev. It is not clear how it is possible to desert the regular army without spending a single day in the service, but Russian investigators, who serve the criminal regime now established in the Russian Federation, have their own way of thinking, which is not accessible to ordinary citizens.

At this moment we are doing everything possible to find out what has happened to Elena and Alexander and facilitate their release. We are hoping for the best, but Russian realities are such that we should be mentally prepared for any eventuality. Now we really need the support of all libertarian activists. Circulate information and make plans for protest rallies against the latest politically motivated criminal charges, which may be filed against our allies. Remember that only the solidarity of working people can break this system, which cynically ignores basic human rights.