Running: the Numbers

Istanbul, December 2022. Photo courtesy of Republic

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500 vacancies for military registration specialists were advertised from late September to last December last year, according to HeadHunter. Previously, this specialization was considered a rather rare and generally not very sought-after profile in the personnel departments of Russian organizations (private and public). For comparison: only 145 such vacancies were advertised in the whole of 2021. The military mobilization has changed the situation: since September — that is, in just three months — the number of such offers on the labor market has increased by about two and a half times (Superjob’s data also show the same thing). The reasons? One of them (apparently, the main one) is an increase in fines for lapses in paperwork: to avoid them, employers are willing to pay applicants for the popular vacancy 70-80 thousand rubles a month. And this is despite the fact that there is a shortage of a number of other specialists on the labor market (and, presumably, they are no less valuable than SMO-era personnel officers). The number of vacancies on Avito Jobs alone, according to a recent company study, increased by 69% in 2022. Most likely, the trend will continue, serving as a natural continuation of the outflow of people and, ultimately, personnel.

50% — the percentage of last year’s sales of existing housing in the Russian Federation made through a notarized power of attorney. This record figure for the entire observable history of the market, as calculated by investment company Flip, who were commissioned by Kommersant, clearly indicates that the sales trend was primarily shaped by property owners who had emigrated. The high volume of such transactions seems to be an anomalous phenomenon. In 2021, a power of attorney was the basis for sale in no more than 20% of deals. In 2020, this figure was 15%. It was 8% in 2019, and 5% in 2018. You ain’t seen nothing yet, though: the ongoing controversy over whether to confiscate the property of openly anti-war Russians who have left the country must be making an additional contribution to the process of selling apartments and houses, which was gaining momentum as it was.

$81.69 billion — the total amount of deposits by Russian nationals in foreign banks as of the end of November of last year, according to the latest data from the Russian Central Bank. (4.989 trillion rubles were recalculated at the exchange rate in effect on that date.) Over the past eleven months, the amount has more than doubled — and this is even if we rely entirely on the statistics of the Central Bank, which may not have a complete picture of what is happening. (Russian laws oblige citizens to report when they open accounts in foreign banks and move funds in them, but we cannot be absolutely sure that everyone strictly obeys them.) While one part of these funds remains in these bank accounts, the other goes to the purchase of real estate that, for the most part, is also located outside the Russian Federation.

16,300 houses and apartments in Turkey were purchased by Russian nationals in 2022, according to data published by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), as studied by RBC. This is not just three times more than in 2021 (when Russian nationals purchased 5,400 housing units in the Turkish Republic), but also more than the total volume of such transactions over the past six years (16,200). It is not surprising that last year, for the first time, Russians took first place among foreigners in buying housing in Turkey, producing almost a quarter of the corresponding demand with their money. Earlier, we wrote that our compatriots purchased two thousand houses and apartments in Turkey in October 2022 alone, overtaking all other foreign home buyers in that country, as reported by TurkStat.

At first glance, the advantages of investing in Turkey are not entire obvious. Inflation in the country, according to TurkStat, exceeded 84% in November, once again breaking records previously established in the autumn of 1998. The Inflation Analysis Group, an independent Turkish entity, estimated that inflation had reached a whopping 170.7% . In addition, prices for real estate, which have rising robustly, can at any moment just as vigorously drop, taking into account, in particular, the rather murky prospects for “Erdonomics,” depending on the results of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. According to Endeksa, in September, the average price for one square meter of housing in Turkey was about 12 thousand Turkish lira (approx. $644), while the average price per housing unit was just over 1.5 million Turkish lira (approx. $83,700). The term of return on investment in housing is estimated at nineteen years, although in the summer this figure was recalculated to seventeen years.

The intense interest on the part of Russian nationals in buying real estate in Turkey is primarily related to the prospect of obtaining Turkish citizenship, Anna Larina, head of the foreign real estate department at NF Group, explained to Republic. (In turn, having a Turkish passport makes it possible to obtain an American E-2 visa, which speeds up the process of immigrating to the United States.) In this sense, it is logical that Russians have become leaders in terms of the number of residence permits issued in Turkey — 153,000, of which, however, as the Turkish Ministry of Migration clarified, 132,000 are short-term tourist residence permits, which are valid for two years.

Turkey is one of the few countries (but not the only country) that is still open to Russian nationals and their private capital. Thus, as 2022 came to a close, Russian citizens took first place among non-residents in buying real estate in Dubai, Bloomberg recently reported, citing figures provided by the brokerage firm Betterhomes.

Withdrawing funds and setting up a new life abroad eloquently testify to the sentiments prevailing among the Russian urban middle class, primarily. Not all people who sell Russian real estate and buy foreign real estate are necessarily irreconcilable opponents of the regime. And yet, it is clear that the vast majority of these people do not want to live and raise children in Putin’s version of the future, which is practically incompatible with modern civilization. In its own way, it is symptomatic that Russians who support the government and dutifully follow it into its deadly adventures are also dissatisfied with what is happening. If it were possible, they would rather return to the past, to a point in time thirty, forty, or fifty years ago.

63% — the percentage of Russians, according to a December poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), who regret the collapse of the USSR — that is, more than three decades after the event known in Kremlin mythology as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.” Strictly speaking, the current longing for Soviet times cannot be considered a record: after the August 1998 ruble default, there were noticeably more Russians nostalgic for the Soviet Union — 85%. Nevertheless, an important indicator of public attitudes (as recorded, we should underscore, by a quasi-state polling service) is on the rise again, having increased by twelve percentage points since 2011.

It is clear that this sentiment is primarily voiced by the 46–60 age group (88% of whom are “nostalgic”) and to some extent, people aged 31–45 years (79% of whom are “nostalgic”), assuming that a considerable portion of these people associate the late USSR with their happy childhoods and wild youths. However, according to the poll, even today’s Russian youth, that is, people aged 18–30, mostly (64%) consider the Soviet era “generally a good time.” Of course, their judgments are based on the stories of older generations, and most importantly, on the inevitable comparison with what is happening with the largest post-Soviet country right now.

Source: Yevgeny Karasyuk, “Salvation in foreign real estate and a new bout of nostalgia for the USSR: timely numbers from Russia… and a few from Turkey,” Republic, 20 January 2023. Translated by Hambone Brewster, who is still implacably opposed to the Russian “pollocracy” and continues to be surprised that even otherwise smart cookies like Mr. Karasyuk continue to cite Russian “public opinion polls” as reliable sources of real information — rather than, at best, records of sustained trauma and unfreedom.

What Mobilization Has Done to the Sverdlovsk Region

The Sverdlovsk Region is one of the leading Russian regions in terms of the number of casualties among mobilized men. Many of them perished in the Kherson Region, from whose capital Russian army retreated after eight months of occupation. Relatives of the mobilized men said that, despite the fact that the authorities promised not to send untrained soldiers to the front line, their loved ones were killed a week after they were drafted. Some were killed literally within a few days. Despite this, the mothers, wives and children of the mobilized men support the war and thank Putin. Our film explains why.

00:00 Sverdlovsk Region is among the leaders in numbers of mobilized men killed 01:15 “They were quickly dispatched to the Kherson Region” 04:57 A man who had four children was taken away 08:43 How a father went to fight instead of his conscript son 13:10 “We had a funeral, but we didn’t see who we were burying” 14:55 What relatives of dead draftees receive 16:40 The mobilization’s end result

Source: “The Mobilization’s Aftermath: What the War Has Done to Russia,” iStories (YouTube), 14 January 2023 (in Russian, with Russian closed captions).


Alexei Rozhkov responded with Molotov cocktails to the decision by the Russian authorities to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On March 11, he set fire to a military enlistment office in the suburbs of Yekaterinburg. He was detained the same day and charged with “attempted murder”: allegedly, there had been a watchman in the building at the time. The young man faced up to fifteen years in prison.

Alexei was held in a pretrial detention center for six months. The charges were then unexpectedly reduced to a less serious crime — “property damage” — and the insurgent was released on his own recognizance. After a time, thanks to the support of a human rights organization, Rozhkov left Russia, and we were able to speak to him.

Tell me what you did before February 24. Did you have a job? Any hobbies? Were you interested in politics?

Rozhkov: I lived in the city of Beryozovsky, a suburb of Yekaterinburg with a population of about 100 thousand. Yekaterinburg itself can be reached by bus in twenty or thirty minutes. I worked as a sales consultant at a DNS store.

I was fond of music — I’m a guitarist, a bassist. About six years ago, I had a band, Tell Me the Reason. I started recording a solo album [before February 24], which is still not finished due to the war, having to moving around, and being in prison.

I love dynamic, energetic music: it invigorates me, helps me get out of depression, and gets me warmed up and excited.

I have been interested in politics since I was fourteen. [Alexei is now twenty-five.] My views have changed over time. Previously, they were more democratic or something, more legal. Now I can call myself a left-wing anarchist. I have always campaigned to open people’s eyes and make them see what is happening with the country — for example, with the standard of living. I talked to my family and acquaintances, friends and even strangers. I drew leaflets and spray-painted walls. Do you know those big advertising banners? At night, I would climb up and write “Putin is a thief” on them. At the time, he was merely a thief. But now, of course, he is not just a thief but also a murderer. I wrote on such billboards at night so that people would also start asking questions and arrive at the same opinion.

Tell me why you decided to set fire to the military enlistment office. What did you hope to achieve?

Rozhkov: Since February 22, I had been closely following independent media and social media channels. I expected the war to start in the last week of month, because Russian troops were amassed in Belgorod, Belarus, and other border areas. It was obvious that some kind of movement of troops would begin. And it kicked off on February 24. I began to go into a depression. I was constantly flipping channels and reading the news. I was getting worse every day. I just understood that it was impossible to remain indifferent. What is happening now is illegitimate; it is illegal. Any war means death for ordinary folks. A war in the twenty-first century seems somehow alien to me, especially for such ridiculous, made-up reasons. We annexed Crimea in 2014, and I said already back then that it was wrong. Crimea is not ours and will never be ours. I said there would be consequences. And that’s how it turned out.

It is really awful for me to get my head around the fact that people are getting killed — civilians are dying, and those who do not want to fight, but have been drafted, are also getting killed. I wanted to make some kind of appeal for people to start fighting against this war. I wanted to impact the situation, to do something to stop it all or at least weaken [Russian troops]. So, I set fire to the military enlistment office in the city of Beryozovsky. I didn’t try to burn it down. I threw three Molotov cocktails at the glass doors, which broke. I didn’t even expect them to shatter. Actually, I was thinking that I would just set fire to the door, to the entrance. I was unlucky: at that moment, traffic cops were driving past and noticed what I did. [They] put out the fire, and then they followed me. I couldn’t get far. I ran about a kilometer, and I was blinded by the high beam from their vehicle. I tried to get out of there, to run away, but they threatened to shoot me, and I was forced to surrender.

Tell me how you prepared for this. How spontaneous was this protest?

Rozhkov: It happened quite spontaneously. I didn’t even develop an exit plan and was operating in unfamiliar territory. It seemed to me like some kind of self-sacrifice. I perfectly imagined that I would be held [criminally] liable for this, but I had no fear.

After my protest action was carried out, Putin admitted on Channel One that conscript soldiers had been deployed to the military special operation zone, and [said] that they would be withdrawn from there and that those who had sent them would be punished. It was after my arson attempt that he said this. I was the third person in Russia to set fire to a military enlistment office, and this is [an example of how] several people made an impact to save guys like us, guys our same age. [Conscripts] were not killed in the war. None [of them] were killed: they were simply transferred back to Russia, leaving only contract soldiers [in the war zone].

So you think that the arsons of military enlistment offices also influenced this decision by the authorities?

Rozhkov: Yes, I think so. I’m certain of it.

How did you feel while you were in police custody? Was there any pressure from the investigative authorities? What actually happened after you were detained?

Rozhkov: I was detained, handcuffed, searched, thrown into a paddy wagon, and taken to the police station. I was treated pretty badly at the station. The police chief of the city of Beryozovsky threatened me personally that he would piss on me and beat me with a stick — those were literally his words. But there were also decent people [among the police officers] who did not threaten me and talked to me calmly. They supported me so that I would not go into complete shock.

At Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 in Yekaterinburg, I was quarantined at first. They didn’t issue me bed linens, they didn’t give me a pillow or a blanket — they only gave me a pissed-stained mattress. Thank God I didn’t spend much time there. On the fourth day, the head doctor of the psychiatric ward summoned me. Since I have some ailments, she put herself in my shoes and I was transferred to the hospital wing, to the “psycho hut.” Basically, I liked it there. Despite the fact that some people in my cell were wacky, I had almost no conflicts with them. It wasn’t the first time my cellmates had been in prison. I was the only first-timer.

[In the pretrial detention center] they gave me very strong drugs, which made me feel lousy. One of those drugs was risperidone, which is prescribed to schizophrenics. I was given a triple dose. I suffered from restlessness [akathisia], I had panic attacks, I was short of breath and suffered from insomnia. That is, the treatment wasn’t right for me. Nevertheless, I’m glad that I was sent there, and not to gen pop.

I was a “road worker” [the person in a prison cell or block responsible for the “road,” the illegal system of communication among cells] — they respected me and listened to my opinion. Basically, everything was fine while I was in the joint. The prison staff were mostly supportive: you could talk to them a little bit during inspections or when the gruel was served.

During the period of my imprisonment, I was taken for an inpatient mental competency examination to the psychiatric hospital on the Siberian Route [i.e., Sverdlovsk Regional Clinical Psychiatric Hospital]. I stayed there for twenty-one days. There, on the contrary, the prison staff behaved aggressively and tried to provoke many people, including me, into conflict.

Those who succumbed to provocations were tasered and locked up in solitary confinement. The worst, most deranged prison staff, I believe, were in the tenth ward of the psychiatric regional hospital on the Siberian Route.

Did anyone support you while you were in prison, such as relatives, friends, or maybe human rights campaigners?

Rozhkov: When I was in the pretrial detention center, a lawyer from the Anarchist Back Cross came to visit me and offered their help. They also asked whether I wanted to receive letters, [financial?] assistance, care packages, and publicity for my case. I turned down the assistance and publicity, but decided that it would be nice to get letters from concerned folks who help people like us who are in prison. The letters really gave me a boost. My parents and concerned people from Yekaterinburg helped me by bringing me care packages. I won’t name names, but they helped me and are still helping me.

Why did you decide to turn down the assistance from the Anarchist Black Cross?

Rozhkov: Because I gave into the persuasions of my parents and lawyer. They were against my case being [widely] publicized — allegedly, so as to avoid hounding the investigator in my case. They were afraid that he would toughen the punishment if I attracted public attention. So, due to pressure from [my parents and lawyer], I had to turn down this help.

And yet, when you were in the pretrial detention center, as far as I remember, you were facing the rather harsh charge of attempted murder, right?

Rozhkov: Yes, I had been charged with violating Article 105, part two, in combination with Article 30 — “attempted murder, committed with extreme cruelty, from hooligan motives, in a generally dangerous way.” The crime carries a sentence of between eight years to life in prison.

Do you think that someone’s life was actually threatened as a result of what you did?

Rozhkov: I’m absolutely sure that this wasn’t the case. I doubt that there actually was a woman [night watchperson] of some kind in the military enlistment office building. According to the testimony of the policemen who detained me, who helped extinguish the fire, there were no lights turned anywhere on the premises, and they did not see this woman either. So, I doubt that she was there. In addition, in other such cases — I monitored similar cases — no one was charged under the same article of the criminal code as me. There were no guards there.

When you were released on your own recognizance, you didn’t leave the country immediately. What was holding you back?

Rozhkov: I was promised that the charges against me would be light: Article 167 in combination with Article 30, which translates into “attempted destruction of property,” and carries a maximum sentence of five years. But, after looking at the other cases, I realized that sooner or later, Article 205 [“terrorism”] would be rolled out against all of us.

I also wanted to spend as much time as possible with my family, with relatives and friends, so that I could at least somehow restore our relations and thank them. But ultimately I left. I was evacuated from the country.

How did your relatives react to your actions and to your prosecution?

Rozhkov: They said that I had acted stupidly, that it was impossible to go against the system and that I had let everyone else down. They accused me of suffering from a guilt complex. But I believe that I saved people and that my life is a small sacrifice compared to the number of people who survived thanks to what I did. Even if I had been shot when they were detaining me, I would still have achieved more than anyone else.

How are you feeling right now?

Rozhkov: I feel sad and lonely. I am not in my native country. But I have a friend — I am lucky that he ended up here for the same political reasons — and he helps and supports me. I am also supported by evacuation organizations. I feel pretty bad. But now I’ve purchased the medications prescribed by a psychotherapist, and things are getting easier and easier in my head every day. But sometimes a powerful sadness rolls over me, a melancholy due to the fact that I am lonely and had to leave the country.

Berezovsky and Sverdlovsk Region, on a map of the Russian Federation. Image courtesy of DOXA

When we were agreeing to do this interview, you said that after you had left [Russia], you tattooed the anarchy symbol on the back of your hand. Can you tell me about it for the interview?

Rozhkov: The symbol means a lot to me. I am an anarchist myself, a leftist; I espouse this political position. And although a society without powerful authorities and hierarchies seems like a utopia, we could get there. Power should belong to the people, not to a bunch of corrupt bastards who commit terrible crimes. My symbol also means that I share the views of the people who helped me when I was in prison. It says that I am close to these people. And that I, in turn, will also help political prisoners at the first opportunity.

Maybe you would like to convey something to Ukrainians?

Rozhkov: Yes, I would. I want them to know that there are dissenters, people [in Russia] who do not want war with Ukraine or any war at all. I hope that soon no one else will suffer due to this shit that Putin has made happen. Ukrainians are doing a good job of retaking their territory and destroying Russian troops. I think everything will be fine sooner or later. Ukrainians are very strong, motivated people and will defend their territory to the end. I respect them for that. I would have done the same thing in their place.

Source: Ivan Astashin, “‘I believe I saved people’: an interview with one of the first to torch a military enlistment office in Russia,” DOXA, 22 December 2022. Thanks to Simon Pirani for the heads-up. Translated by Hecksinductionhour

Just Business

Source: personal email, December 2022, This is the first time I’ve heard from Raffeisenbank in several years, especially since my account with them has been essentially dormant since well before I left Russia in 2019. ||| TRR


Foreign managers are quitting Petersburg hotels: they are resigning their positions amid the withdrawal of international hotel companies from the Russian market.

In particular, the post of general manager of the five-star Four Seasons Lion Palace has recently been filled by Ekaterina Saburova, who had worked as marketing director at the Four Seasons Moscow Hotel. In an interview with Kommersant-SPb, a spokesman for the Petersburg hotel noted that the previous general manager, Richard Raab, had gone on to work at another hotel in the chain.

Similar personnel changes have taken place at the Grand Moika 22 Hotel, which until recently was part of the Kempinski international chain. The hotel is now headed by Yevgenia Nagimova, and the operations director and Russian staff are responsible for day-to-day operations. The previous general manager, Oliver Kuhn, initially took a similar position at the Kempinski Hotel in Cairo, before running a hotel in the Seychelles. He explained that he had left Russia to transfer to another hotel in the chain. The general director has also been replaced at the Radisson Royal and Park Inn Nevsky: instead of Rune Nordstokke, the hotels are now headed by Mikhail Grobelny, who previously worked as the general manager of the Radisson Blu Belorusskaya Hotel in Moscow.

Experts note that, amidst the departure of international hotel chains [from Russia], industry players have basically lost the need for the position of a general manager responsible for liaising with company management. According to Andrei Petelin, general director of the Hotel Saint Petersburg, the personnel changes may be related to the desire of owners to reduce costs during the crisis [sic], since foreign managers earned more than their Russian counterparts, and also received compensation for housing rental and their children’s education.

Some foreigners still continue to work in Petersburg hotels: Eric Pere, general manager of the Corinthia Hotel St. Petersburg; Gerold Held, general director of the Hotel Astoria and the Angleterre Hotel; and Jaehyuk Yang, manager of Lotte Hotel St. Petersburg. Some industry reps have concerns that further resignations by foreign managers may have a negative impact on the level of service. Andrei Petelin, however, is confident that Petersburg-based managers are able to maintain high standards, because they not only have experience working abroad, but also better understand the needs of Russians coming to the Northern Capital to relax.

Speaking of which, since the beginning of 2022, seven million tourists have visited St. Petersburg. Vice-Governor Boris Piotrovsky noted that in November, bookings at the city’s hotels consistently exceeded the sixty-percent mark.

A few weeks ago, DP wrote about how the Smolny [Petersburg city hall] was again thinking about introducing a resort fee. Hoteliers stated that they considered this step reasonable, but only if the revenues generated were used properly.

Source: “Foreign managers quitting Petersburg hotels in droves,” Delovoi Peterburg, 29 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


620,251 views • Dec 2, 2022 • President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is causing major changes back home. Hundreds of thousands of Russian men are being mobilized to fight and tens of thousands have already been killed or injured. Meanwhile, many Russians have left their country and millions of Ukrainians are thought to have arrived. What impact will these changes have on the Russian population? And could the public response lead to Putin’s downfall? We discuss these questions and more with UCLA’s Oleg Itskhoki in this DW Business Special.

Thanks to Tiina Pasanen for the heads-up. ||| TRR

Going Underground (The Pulkovo Variations)

The river of eclipses is over, but not everyone’s psyche has recovered yet. For example, in the parking lot of Pulkovo Airport, a man decided to attempt an escape.

He stripped to the waist and climbed into a sewer pipe. He managed to crawl twelves meters before getting stuck.

Municipal services had to pull the man out using an excavator.

According to Fontanka.ru, the man is a 21-year-old resident of the city of Zhigulyovsk, in the Samara region.

On November 6, he left home and never returned. He had presumably gone to St. Petersburg to visit friends. It was known that the young man had a return ticket for November 9, but he did not use it.

The entire time his relatives back home and Liza Alert activists had been looking for him, but he was found in the sewer outside Pulkovo Airport, under circumstances already known to us.

Source: St. Petersburg Photo Diary (Natalya Yuda), Facebook, 12 November 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Olga Nazarenko: “What Is the Point of Having Principles If You Don’t Act on Them?”

Olga Nazarenko, a university lecturer in Ivanovo, risks going to prison for simply hanging the Ukrainian flag in the window of her own flat. Neighbors from the building opposite regularly complain about her. Nazarenko goes on anti-war pickets, where aggressive fellow citizens attack her. And the pickets have already triggered a criminal case against her. Repeated visits and searches by police officers at night and early in the morning have become routine for her children. Nazarenko sees the situation in Russia as nearly hopeless. She is amazed at how the country’s maternal instinct has even been destroyed: Russians dutifully send their children off to die for nothing. Despite all this, she considers it her duty to talk to people. She remains in Russia, and has no plans to emigrate.

Recently, the police rang at Nazarenko’s door at three o’clock in the morning. They demanded to be let in so that they could remove the Ukrainian flag. It has been hanging for six months on the balcony of the activist’s flat in an ordinary multi-storey residential building in the city of Ivanovo. Nazarenko refused to let the police in without a search warrant. Through the door, the night visitors informed her that neighbors had filed another complaint about the Ukrainian flag. The law enforcement officers left, only to return at seven in the morning and knock on the door for a long time. Nazarenko did not unlock the door, but wrote a complaint against the police to the prosecutor’s office.

Over the past two months, the police have visited the well-known anti-war protester at least four times. In the autumn, two criminal cases were opened against Nazarenko, one of them under the so-called Dadin article of the Russian criminal code. The medical school at which the activist has worked for almost twenty-four years has suspended her employment. The university lecturer is currently listed as a “suspect” by the authorities. Despite the fact that term of her undertaking not to leave the country, which went into effect after the criminal case was launched, has recently expired, she has no plans to leave Russia. She talked to Radio Svoboda about her principled choice.

Olga Nazarenko, holding a placard that reads: “If those who oppose the war are imprisoned, fascism has won.
Alexandra Skochilenko face five to ten years in prison for anti-war stickers…” Photo courtesy of Radio Svoboda

— How did you find out that you had been identified as a suspect in a criminal case?

— I learned that a criminal case had been launched against me under Article 280.3 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code (“Public actions aimed at discrediting the deployment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”) from the Center “E” officers who came to my workplace at around eleven a.m. on September 20. They obliged my colleagues to to serve as witnesses, searched my desk, and found two placards. Before that, my laptop was seized without my knowledge. The bigwigs at the medical school wanted to conceal it at first, but I made a fuss. It transpired that the Center “E” officers did not even give our management rep a copy of the report for the seizure of the laptop, nor did he demand one from them. Then we went to my house; fortunately, there were no handcuffs on me. There they carefully rummaged for a long time: they took our phones (even the phone of my young son), a computer, old leaflets, our personal money, and the savings of our daughter, who is a university student. The money was returned to her, but the police kept our funds for themselves, and they are not planning to give them back to us, apparently.

— How did your children react to the search of your home?

— My son was in a little shock, especially since they took something that belonged to him. My daughter behaved calmly. She talked to the police a little. She asked whether their “assistant” was an adult: the computer technician they brought with them looked quite young. A Center “E” officer replied tersely that they were all adults and all officers. My daughter is already an adult, and she understands everything and supports me. My family took the search well, because this was not my first encounter with the relevant authorities due to politics. In the spring, at seven a.m., the riot police came to search the flat since I had been identified as a witness in a vandalism cased launched against another activist. Then they tried to prevent me from calling a lawyer, seized my phone, my computer, 138 posters, and the Ukrainian flag from the window. The law enforcement agencies’ interest in me had already become something routine.

Оlga Nazarenko in her office at the medical school. Photo by Oskar Cherdzhiyev. Courtesy of Radio Svoboda

— How long has the Ukrainian flag been hanging in the window of your flat?

— Every year since 2014, I had hung up the flag of Ukraine on the country’s Independence Day. Last year, I put it in the window and decided not to take it down. Police officers visited me after complaints were made, and they demanded explanations about the flag. I refused to explain anything to them. In the spring, after my apartment was searched, and they took the Ukrainian flag with them. I sewed a new one and hung it in the window again. I did the same thing after the search in the autumn.

— Why did you do that?

— For reasons of principle: if I support Ukraine, then I support it. And most importantly: no one in uniform and flashing a badge gets to decide what hangs in my window.

— What was the first criminal case brought against you for?

— They think that I posted anti-war leaflets in Ivanovo. I refused to give evidence by citing Article 51 of the Constitution.

— Were you not intimidated when they launched a criminal case and searched your flat?

— All this was to be expected. And no, it didn’t intimidate me. I continued going to anti-war pickets and rallies in support of those who have been persecuted for making anti-war statements, and I talked to people on the streets. A second criminal case was soon launched against me under the so-called Dadin article (i.e., Article 212.1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code: “repeated violation of the established procedure for organizing or holding a meeting, rally, demonstration, march, or picket”). In October, Center “E” officers and the investigator who was running the first criminal case against me came again to search my flat. They were accompanied by several people in black masks and bulletproof vests. It’s hot in our flat, and I saw sweat on their faces, probably from overexertion. I even felt sorry for them. The search was superficial; they didn’t see anything new, apparently. They again seized our phones and a couple of posters. Once they got into the flat, they immediately rushed to the balcony and again pulled down the Ukrainian flag. I told them that I hadn’t violated the law when I hung up the flag, since I wasn’t infringing on the building’s communal property. The Center “E” guys replied that I should understand how turbulent the situation was now. They asked me why I was hanging the flag up. I said that it reflected my position and my aesthetic tastes.

— Do you like the colors yellow and blue?

— Yes, they are my favorite colors: the sky and the sun. The next day I sewed another Ukrainian flag and hung it out.

— Do you usually sew Ukrainian flags on a sewing machine?

— Yes. There are many shops in Ivanovo where you can buy fabric. I found a good one and bought three sets at once. It will last for a long time.

— Why do you think that it is the neighbors who filed complaints against over the flag?

— Only residents of the house located opposite mine can see the flag all the time. The denunciations are probably written by neighbors and residents of the neighboring house. I saw one complaint. The poor lady wrote: “I see the Ukrainian flag every morning and I consider it unacceptable in such a situation as we have now.” I even felt sorry for her. After I hung out the Ukrainian flag, the neighbors living in the apartments below and above mine hung out Russian flags. After the search, a “Z” was again written on my apartment’s mailbox and a note was tossed in it that said, “Ukraine is no more. Take down your rag and dry yourself with it.”

– How did the medical school react to the criminal cases against you?

– The management suspended me on the grounds that the articles of the Criminal Code brought against me hinder my work as a lecturer. My colleagues were upset. We have worked together for many years. Besides, now they have to do my duties. My colleagues do not talk about politics. Most of my colleagues are apolitical. But they have voiced their support to me and hope that everything will be resolved somehow. I studied at the medical school for six years, and after graduation I stayed on there to work. That is, my entire adult life, almost thirty years, has been connected with the medical school.

— Have you been able to get another job?

— Due to the criminal cases, I cannot tell an employer how long I would be able to work for them. So, I will look for something temporary, and then my professional career will depend on the court’s decision.

— How many pickets did you hold in the autumn?

— In September and October, I held four or five pickets. Since the second criminal case was launched, I have not yet gone out to protest, but I’m going to continue to voice my civic stance.

— Why are you going to continue to hold anti-war pickets, despite the serious risks of ending up in a Russian prison?

– I have beliefs, and I will act in keeping with them. As long as I can talk, I’ll keep doing it. What is the point of having principles if you don’t act on them, regardless of the risks?

— Do you have the support of friends, family, and associates?

— I have moral support from friends, and there are also simple acquaintances who support me and help me raise the money for fines. I am being defended by attorney Oskar Cherdzhiyev.

Aren’t you annoyed by like-minded people who emigrated instead of getting involved in anti-war protests with you?

— If the question is about ordinary Russian citizens, and not about protest leaders, then I’m not annoyed. I understand that nothing will change in the near future. People in difficult circumstances choose the best option for themselves. We have one life, and everyone has the right to live it as they please. Besides, emigration is now a rational, appropriate solution. Many of those who have gone abroad continue their protest activities: they go to anti-war protests at Russian embassies, help refugees from Ukraine and Russia, and work on publicity.

— But why is it the best option for you to stay in Russia and go to anti-war pickets, rather than worry about your own safety?

— My choice is based on the fact that I can do more in terms of working with people in Russia than I could in emigration. I’m rubbish at information technology. It’s easier for me to talk to passersby at street protests in the hope of getting my message to them. Russia is my country, and I won’t let them kick me out. I have the right to my own country and I don’t want to leave Russia for anywhere else. I will stay here and do what I think is necessary, voice my position. If I left, I would feel bad because I got scared and ran away.

— Do you think your long-term street activism has produced any results?

— If we’re talking about changing people’s minds, I don’t see any particular results. The war is so propagandized that a few people who publicly voice a different viewpoint cannot shift the minds of the majority in the other direction. My protests are meant to have an effect on the people who are having doubts. I have succeeded in making such people think. But the main purpose of my protests is to support like-minded people among Russians and Ukrainians. Thanks to my actions, among other things, friends in Ukraine know that not everyone in Russia is an “orc.”

— How has the reaction of passersby to your pickets changed since the war with Ukraine began?

— I’ve observed that people have become more guarded and scared. They usually dash past me quickly, averting their eyes. The reactions of those who do not hide them have become quite polarized. Either passersby are emotionally grateful, or they almost pounce on me, fists flying, and call me a Banderite. At the last picket, a man grabbed my placard and tore it up. There have been more negative reactions to my pickets than friendly ones, but this is not surprising. It is amazing how, with such propaganda, one hundred percent of people don’t react negatively to anti-war protests.

— How do you manage to be so tolerant towards people whose views differ from yours?

— I would not call my attitude towards them tolerant. I just understand what motivates their behavior: a lack of critical thinking skills, plus the fear and the reverence for the authorities that is inscribed in their subcortex. Powerful state propaganda combines with excessive loyalty to those in power. Thus, Russian citizens support all decisions by high-ranking officials.

Olga Nazarenko in the lobby of the Ivanovo Regional Office of the Interior Ministry. Photo by Oskar Cherdzhiyev. Courtesy of Radio Svoboda

Are you able to understand why the parents of conscripts did not come out in droves to protests after the mobilization was announced?

— It’s beyond my comprehension. The maternal instinct is a powerful biological mechanism. As conceived by nature, it should be stronger than any propaganda. Apparently, there has been a real degradation in our society over the past twenty years. Total state propaganda, which includes not only the media, but also the education system, has aimed to completely distort values. Fear and reverence for power, submission to it, which never disappeared in many Russians, have now resurfaced especially strongly. Unfortunately, learned helplessness has overcome the maternal instinct. I do not know if such people can change anything.

— This is not the first year that you have been constantly going out to protest. Perhaps you have a hope that Russia will become a free country?

— It’s hard to say. Historically, Russia has been going in circles all the time, rather than developing in a spiral. But I still want to hope that Russia will become a developed and free country. However, this won’t happen soon, perhaps in one hundred years.

Source: Daria Yegorova, ‘Why have principles if you don’t act?’: A fight over the Ukrainian flag in Ivanovo,” Radio Svoboda, 29 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Mobilization Dragnet Blues

Maxim Sokolov, but not the one the “housing authority” is looking for.

I’ve now had two visits “from the housing authority.” Both times it was middle-aged dames who visited me. The first one was wearing a headscarf, while the one today had a short haircut. The most amazing thing is that they were looking for an apartment with the same number as mine, but in the building next door. But they couldn’t find it, so they came to my apartment.

This is a rough recreation of today’s conversation:

— I need Maxim Sokolov . . .

— Meep! Someone came here asking for him two days ago. Like I said then, you have the wrong building.

— Yes, I know . . . But just in case . . .

— “Just in case” what?

— Well, just in case you’re hiding him under the sofa.

— He lives in another building! I don’t even know him.

— But I can’t find the apartment.

— You do realize that even if you come here ten times, the building number won’t change, and he won’t be here.

— But they send me looking for him so I can serve him a [mobilization] summons.

— Then tell them to buzz off!

She hesitates at the door.

— But there’s another one I can’t find.

And she shows me another summons.

— But there’s a different building number written here, too!

— Yes! But I can’t find it. In the building next door, the numbering starts with apartment no. 23, but here it says apartment no. 1 and apartment no. 3.

— What can I do? Should I write to you that he is not at this address because it’s a different address?

She sighs bitterly and stalks off.

Maxim Sokolov and Comrade Branov (whoever you are) — run, hide under the sofa, don’t live at your official addresses, save yourselves!

Source: Friends-only post on Facebook by a trusted source and occasional contributor to this website, identified here as “VA” for future reference. Photo of the odious Russian nationalist journalist Maxim Sokolov (who is the first Maxim Sokolov who pops up when you Google the name in Russian) courtesy of the equally odious RT. Translated by the Russian Reader

Timur Saifulmulyukov: “When You Start Doing Something, There Is No Fear Anymore”

On September 24, the day Putin announced a military mobilization, Timur Saifulmulyukov walked into traffic on Tomsk’s main street, maneuvering between the streams of moving cars and waving an anti-war poster. A couple of minutes later he was detained. The police confiscated the poster and drew up an arrest report, charging him with violating traffic rules and discrediting the Russian army. He talked about what prompted him to take the action, his attitude to the mobilization, and how he sees his future in Russia in an interview with Siber.Realii.

Timur Saifulmulyukov is thirty-five years old, married, with one child, and works as a fire safety and video surveillance systems installer. He had not been involved in protests before September 24.

Timur Saifulmulyukov, shouting “No war!” in downtown Tomsk on 24 September 2022

– What were you doing February 24 and how did you feel when you learned that war had broken out?

– On February 24, I didn’t know that the war had started. I overlooked it. I found out only the next day. There was nothing devious about it. I had followed the news before the war, and I saw that Russia was amassing troops. Other countries asked what was going on, and our officials dismissed their concerns. It’s always like this in Russia: you file any complaint and it gets dismissed everywhere. And just as Russia spat on the rights of its own citizens, so it spat on the rights of the citizens of Ukraine.

It wasn’t a depression that afflicted me, but a kind of apathy. A feeling of hopelessness. You feel incapable of doing anything, you don’t feel what your role is in all of this. I knew about those who disagreed with the Putin regime, I knew that criminal cases were being launched against them and that they were being imprisoned. It was an ambivalent, you know, feeling. On the one hand, you think that nothing can be done, and on the other, that something has to be done.

– And that’s why you decided to go protest using the slogans “No war!” and “Give our children a free and peaceful life”?

– I had never been involved in political protests before. But I now realized that something had to be done to support people who were more proactive than me and the people around me. I made myself a poster and chose an anti-war slogan to attract attention, but at the same time there were as few reasons [for the police] to find fault as possible. Of course I want a peaceful life to children and people in general.

– And what did you do next?

– I went to Novosobornaya Square, but I saw that the police weren’t even letting the people (who had came out to protest against the mobilization — SR) just stand there. The point of the protest was to voice our stance, but we couldn’t even stand there for two minutes. There was no effect, but there was punishment. I started looking for protesters — I thought that journalists would definitely be photographing and filming some of them. The police stopped me immediately and checked my documents. I decided that I would definitely not do anything in such circumstances. I thought about what to do and shook a little: I felt completely vulnerable.

I thought that I had to take a little break, to gather my wits about me. I walked around and looked at what was happening. It was clear that some people had already been detained. I thought it was time for me to go home, but also that I had to do something, ultimately. To overcome my fear, I went to a store to buy water and chocolates — in case I was detained. And cigarettes: I don’t smoke myself, but I thought they would come in handy in a paddy wagon or a jail cell. And then the idea occurred to me to block traffic. I wrote to my wife that I’d made up my mind and off I went.

– So your wife supported your action?

– No, she’s afraid. It’s psychologically difficult for her. We used to talk about personal responsibility for what was happening in our country. And we came to different positions: that I felt responsible, and she, maybe, felt a little responsible, but thought that nothing could be done. That she had no levers of influence, and didn’t want to risk her life. I don’t want to either, but I’ve read and watched so much about people who do things, and then are railroaded for the rest of their lives. Pressure is put on them, but they still go out and protest.

– And how do the people around you generally feel about the war?

– I think they mostly passively support it. It’s not that they hated anyone very much or believed the propaganda. But it is convenient for them to adopt the position taken by the “strongman”: it seems to them that our state now has a strong position. And whoever is stronger is right. If it occurred to them that this was abnormal, they would have to explain these contradictions to themselves. And they don’t want to take risks. If [protesters] hadn’t been at obvious risk now, more people would have come out. Many people think this way: that the effect [of protests] is zilch, but the risks are numerous.

– What were the minutes before you were detained, during which you walked in traffic, like? How did others react?

– I didn’t see any negative reactions. People were looking at me, and some of them tried to film or take pictures of me on their phone. But I was trying not to get hit by a car and attract as much attention to myself as possible.

Timur Saifulmulyukov, standing in front of a wall painted with a “No war!” slogan. Courtesy of RFE/RL

– How did the police treat you?

– I was lucky that I was detained by a traffic police patrol. That’s why I didn’t sit in a paddy wagon for several hours like the other detainees. They didn’t put my hands behind my back. They put me in a car and took me to the police department. As we were driving, they were honking at everyone [to get out of the way], so I took advantage of this and showed my poster through the window. When we arrived, they confiscated my phone and started writing me up. They charged me with traffic violations, and I thought they would let me go. But then they took me to the fifth floor and made me give a statement. One person interrogated me, but two others were constantly in the room. None of them introduced themselves. When I asked for their names, they said we’d meet again and I’d find out then. They never did introduce themselves. And they constantly interrupted me.

– What they did ask you about?

– Did I make the poster myself? What time did I leave the house? Did I know about the Vesna Movement and the [local Tomsk opposition] Telegram channel Velvet Street? I had recently changed my [internal] passport, so I was also asked why I had a new passport. They asked me if I knew where the troops were, and what my attitude to the war was. I replied that this was my personal opinion, and I would not say it out loud. It’s clear what they wanted, but I tried not to talk about it.

Then I was taken to another office and given a charge sheet, this time for “discrediting.” I looked at it, but I overlooked one paragraph, which I noticed later. In this paragraph, written by a third person, it stated that I had violated Article 20.3.3 of the Administrative Offenses Code (“discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”) and that I agreed with the charge.

– Were you scared?

– When I stepped into traffic holding the poster, it was no longer scary. When you start doing something, there is no fear anymore — there is a confidence, a willingness to do whatever it takes. It’s like they’re torturing you and torturing you, and then it doesn’t matter anymore what they do.

– You have no desire to leave Russia?

– I don’t want to go anywhere. My wife and I have already discussed this. War or no war, we’re not going anywhere.

– And if you get a [mobilization] summons?

– I’m not going to the war. I don’t want to be involved in this massacre, I don’t see the point in it. And it doesn’t matter to me if I just pushed papers instead of being directly involved in combat. Nor do I think that the majority supports the mobilization. It’s just that people don’t want to go to jail. They think that maybe it will pass. Or they hope for the best. Or a friend or a brother has been killed [in combat], so they think, What, am I going to try and dodge the draft? I’ll go get killed too.

– Wars end sooner or later. What do you think will happen then between Ukraine and Russia?

– I think that the relationship will be very difficult, because relations between countries are based on some kind of background, and the background is terrible. Something like 150 years will have to pass for a semblance of tolerance to emerge. Such things don’t fade away just like that.

– And how do you see your own future?

– I think that after holding the referendums and annexing [the occupied Ukrainian territories], they will introduce martial law. Otherwise, why all this fuss? Ukraine will not retreat and will win back its territories. And a complete mess will ensue. But I am relatively prepared for it.

Source: “‘When you start doing something, there is no fear anymore’: stepping into traffic in the name of peace,” Sibir.Realii (Radio Svoboda), 4 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader.


This is my 3,000th dispatch on this beat, as filed on this website, which I launched fifteen years ago, in October 2007, and its shorter-lived sister blog, Chtodelat News, which was my main venue for broadcasting news and views from the other Russias and other Russians between 2008 and 2013.

Timur Saifulmulyukov’s story, above, is a perfect example of the kind of stories about Russia and Russians that definitely weren’t getting told anywhere else in English fifteen years ago. They are told only marginally better nowadays, despite everything (mostly bad, but occasionally good) that has happened in and around Russia since then.

In one measurable way, this project has been a success. As of today, I’ve had a combined total of 1,115,195 views since October 2007, including over 180,000 this year alone so far! Would that I had a penny or two for each of those views.

If you find these stories valuable, you can support my work by sharing them on social media with friends and colleagues. You can also donate money via PayPal or Ko-Fi to help me pay overhead costs (such as internet fees, hosting charges, and online magazine subscriptions) and somehow compensate me and my guest translators for our considerable work.

This labor of love takes as much time as my paying jobs, which have become less dependable recently. I would rather continue filing dispatches on the Russian Reader as frequently as I have in the past fifteen years, but for that to happen I need much more serious financial support than I’ve enjoyed in the past. If you have solid tips about where I could seek such support, I would appreciate hearing them as well. ||| Thomas Campbell, publisher, editor, writer, researcher, and lead translator of the Russian Reader since October 23, 2007

Alexander Zamyatin: Emigration Is Reactionary, Not Revolutionary

At first glance, massive emigration reduces the potential for political change, because it mechanically subtracts from society the part of society that is critical of the authorities. To a large extent, of course, this is true, but we shouldn’t overestimate this factor.

My subjective observations tell me that one of the leading motives for emigration (let’s put the existential threat of mobilization aside for now) has been the loss of hope for a “normal” life. People have been fleeing because they felt things would only get worse, and that their former relatively prosperous (and sometimes quite lovely and promising) lives were collapsing, along with all their plans.

If you think about it, there is no potential for political change in this worldview. You can’t be a gravedigger of the old regime at the same time as you grieve for the opportunities lost in it.

Let’s take a hypothetical employee of the progressive wing of the Moscow Department of Transport (or any other corporation, bank, etc.) with liberal views, who remembers what a cool project he worked on in 2018 (or even in 2022), but now is leaving the country, because such projects will definitely not happen in the future. He went to protest rallies, voted for the opposition, watched [Maxim] Katz’s YouTube channel, and donated to OVD Info, so his departure is a loss for the opposition. But it’s not a loss for the revolution, because “I want everything to be the way it was before, only with no war and crackdowns, but with fair courts and honest elections” is essentially a reactionary demand. It’s about preserving things, not changing them..

It would be a mistake to think that revolution leaves us along with the emigration: resentment over the supposedly lost prospect of a prosperous Russia, which was stolen from us, is unsuitable fuel for revolution. The political emigration has no political program, because there is no bridge to the “normality” that supposedly existed before 2022 (or 2020, 2018, 2014, 2011, etc.). The emigration’s picture of the world completely excludes the social, economic and political contradictions that have brought us to the present moment and are leading us further, so now it contains nothing but shock, fear, and individual salvation.

Revolution cannot emerge from the failure of an evolutionary project. It will emerge as an alternative to the brutal dictatorship at a fatal crossroads in the country’s history, prompted by the need to radically solve the pressing issues of our coexistence. But the remnants of failed evolutionary trends will surely still play their own reactionary role.

Source: Alexander Zamyatin, Facebook, 29 September 2022. Mr. Zamyatin is a popularly elected member of the Zyuzino Municipal District Council in Moscow and the editor-in-chief of the website Zerkalo. Translated by the Russian Reader

Go to Kazakhstan!

A bird’s eye view of Astana (aka Nursultan), the capital of Kazakhstan. Photo courtesy of Travel Triangle

Observing the discussions about visas [for Russians wishing to escape to the EU], I want to note how detached they are, in a way, from real life. It sometimes seems to me that this discussion is more about how Russians imagine “the West” than it is about helping actual people.

For many reasons it is more advantageous and convenient for certain people to leave, for example, for good old Kazakhstan. Why?

First, [Russia’s] longest land border is with Kazakhstan. There are numerous border crossings, and planes fly to and from there. This is one of the fastest and cheapest ways for many people to leave Russia.

Second, [Russians] don’t need visas to cross the border [with Kazakstan]. You don’t need a large packet of papers proving you have the right to a long-term stay, and you don’t need to go to a [Kazakhstan] consulate [before leaving Russia]. You can get a work patent and some kind of registration on the spot and remain in the country for a long time.

Third, it is easier to transfer your business there, to register it without losing previous business projects and connections. It is relatively easier to find a new job there or start your own business from scratch. There are still many tools for transferring money from Russia to Kazakhstan and back.

Fourth, it is a relatively cheap country: the prices are comparable to Russian ones.

Fifth, [Kazakstan] is still a culturally congenial country. The Russian language is widespread, and many of the bureaucratic rules and habits of everyday behavior in general are similar.

That is, generally speaking, from an “average Joe” point of view, good old Kazakhstan looks at the moment to be a more preferable place to go for very many people than good old Europe does. What follows from this? It implies the need, if we are talking about helping those who have left, to come up with a strategy for interacting with the conditions in Kazakhstan by establishing a dialogue with local politicians and officials, with society and its leaders, with the local media. In the end, this strategy should involve acquiring a basic knowledge of the language, culture and history of Kazakhstan, cultivating an attentive attitude to our own stereotypes and language, and getting rid of imperial habits. Europe and the West in general should be invited to cooperate with Kazakhstan in providing this assistance.

Еuropean visas, in fact, are hardly the main problem.

Source: Sergey Abashin, Facebook, 29 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader. I have featured Professor Abashin’s always invaluable and well-grounded reflections and observations on such topics as immigration policy in Russia and Russian attitudes to Central Asian migrant workers on many occasions on this website.

The Fire in Uryupinsk and Elsewhere

Guryanov Sergei @Segozavr
A man backed his car up to the building housing the draft board [conscription office] and began tossing Molotov cocktails. 100 square meters were destroyed by fire. Uryupinsk, Volgograd Region, Russia, 26.09.2022
.

Source: Twitter. Translated by the Russian Reader. “The name of this town is known to many Russian people as a synonym for ‘backwater town.’ This usage became widespread after the popular Soviet film Destiny of a Man. The film was based on a short story by Mikhail Sholokhov, and Uryupinsk was the place of the action, shown as an inconspicuous provincial town.”


A screenshot of the visuals in Mr. Stupin’s original post

In Moscow’s Kosino-Ukhtomsky district, housing authority employees and police officers, without showing their IDs, have been breaking open front doors in the staircases of residential buildings in order to serve residents with summonses to the military enlistment office! Some residents have already been issued threats that the electrical wires to their apartments will be cut if the men do not open the door to receive a summons!

Source: Yevgeny Stupin, Facebook, 26 September 2022. Thanks to Alexander Kynev for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader


A telephone call I got yesterday from a female acquaintance has made me think about the economic consequences of the “mogilization” [literally, “grave-ization,” a play on the word “mobilization”]. I confirmed her fears that her son would be among the first to be mobilized. And that they would come looking for him first at his registered address, then at his workplace. Consequently, the solution to his problem would be to quit his job and go live somewhere in the boondocks for a year, even if there was no work there.

And now look — not only those who are called up will vanish from workplaces, but also those who dodge the draft. To get the three hundred thousand men declared [by Putin as the goal of his “partial mobilization”], they have to slap the asses of at least a million men with draft notices and dragnets. I’m not an economist and I cannot even estimate numerically what kind of blow to the country’s GDP will be caused by the withdrawal of at least half a million employees.

By the way, the mobilized must be fired [by law]. It is not very clear whether their jobs will be kept for them in any way. But [officially] they will not be listed as on leave, but as having been called up from the reserves to military training camps. They will simply be dismissed from their jobs, and they will have to be paid in full.

Really simple vacancies can be filled by migrants from Central Asia, but it is another matter whether they will go and fill them. Currently, the exchange rate has been maintained at a level that is favorable to migrant workers, but as soon as the volume of imports grows (and it will grow: there will be other sources, gray market goods/parallel imports, and so on), this rate will inevitably begin to sink. Consequently, the economy will take a simultaneous triple hit around December:

1) On December 5, a complete ban on the delivery of Russian crude oil to the EU will come into effect;
2) hundreds of thousands of people will be laid off in October, November, and December;
3) and the exchange rate will go crazy.

By the way, state-funded and quasi-state-funded organizations will face the biggest problems. Petersburgers are no stranger to it, but the snow will definitely not be removed this year, either.

That’s my economic forecast for you. It’s going to be a clusterfuck, my fellow Russians.

Source: Vladimir Volokhonsky, Facebook, 22 September 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


Yesterday, Vladimir Putin announced a “partial” mobilization, which is actually a total mobilization. His decree sets no restrictions on age, qualifications, regions, and the number of people mobilized. Already today, we see that everyone is being called up.

Source: Navalny LIVE, YouTube, 22 September 2022. Annotation translated by the Russian Reader. The video has already been viewed over 2.6 million times since it was posted. It has no subtitles in English, but the message from the lawyer in the video is clear and simple: there is no such thing as a “partial” mobilization, so all draft-age men must avoid being called up and serving at all costs, especially since Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine is illegal and criminal.