Sisters Have to Do It for Themselves

37045808_10209682377334711_3615467989047967744_nIrina Kovalenko and Ksenia Mikhaylichenko, outside of Murmansk Regional Court. Photo courtesy of Ms. Mikhaylichenko’s Facebook page

Ksenia Mikhaylichenko
Facebook
July 11, 2018

It’s great to talk about cases in which you walloped the opposing counsel, the judges gave you a standing applause, and you galloped off on your steed to deliver more justice and do more good. Today, though, I would like to tell a different sory, a story in which you and your client are obviously in the right, but the system tells you, “Hang on, guys. We have our own way of doing things here. Goodbye.”

[…]

Irina graduated from the mechanics and mathematics department at the Peoples’ Friendship University (RUDN) and worked for a major company in Moscow. Then, for family reasons, she moved to Murmansk, where she faced a problem. No one wanted to hire her, explaining she was too well educated, had done internships abroad, and had experience working at a major company, which was way too cool for the folks in Murmansk.

Ultimately, Irina got a job at the Murmansk Regional Information Technology Center, a government-funded agency. Everything would have been great if the head of the place had not hit on Irina big time. When she rejected his advances, she faced harassment in the literal sense of the word: humiliation, insults, daily rants, and charges of incompetence. At the same time, this guy held drinking bouts at work. (Here is the proof.) I would remind you all this took place in a government-funded agency, paid for by our taxes.

Finally, the boss fired Irina. She filed complaints with the State Labor Inspectorate, the prosecutor’s office, and the Murmansk Regional Committee for Information Technology and Communications, which had founded the agency. They promised they would get to the bottom of the matter and get her her job back. Seven months went by, seven months during which Irina received medical treatment in Moscow for terrible headaches and panic attacks. She was prescribed heavy antidepressants.

Seven months later, her ex-boss was fired after five millions rubles went missing from the agency’s books. No one faced criminal charges, of course. On the contrary, the agency’s wonderful head was given severance pay.

Irina had been forgotten, however. She was told to take her case to court and seek justice there. Irina did go to court. At the preliminary hearing, the judge refused to hear the case, citing the statute of limitations.

I came on board during the appeal, but the case file from the hearing in the lower court immediately amazed me. Irina had filed for an adjournment, since the clinic in Moscow where she had been treated was slow in putting together the papers she needed, and so she had to fly to Moscow to retrieve the originals, meaning she needed at least a couple of days. But the judge would not have any of it.

At the appeals hearing, we tried to get all these papers admitted into evidence while thoroughly explaining all the circumstances of the case and Irina’s terrible state of health over the past seven months. Irina was still suffering from pneumonia and pyelonephritis, which we had also documented medically. The stone-faced judges rejected our motion, however.

The prosecutor at the appeals hearing made the biggest impression on me. Foaming at the mouth and raising her voice, she argued Irina had made everything up about the harassment and her health.

“She wasn’t a disabled person, so she could have gone to court.”

This is a direct quotation.

We lost our appeal. It has made me feel terrible. Our system could not care less what happens to women who suffer harassment at work. It is simply impossible to prove either that harassment took place or that it had something to do with a woman being fired.

There are only prosecutors screaming, “You’re pretending to be the victim in this case” so loudly everyone in the courtroom can hear it.

I feel terrible when female friends tell me how their bosses molest them at work more or less arrogantly. Complete strangers write to me with enviable regularity, asking me to advise them what to do if their boss asks them to go to his office after everyone leaves, or they will have to tender their resignations. I don’t know how to reply to them, because it would be a blatant lie to tell them that there are effective legal defenses and the Russian state will defend them.

Thanks to Alena Popova, who introduced me to Irina and had also been helping her all she can. Together we will definitely think of a way to win the case.

Everything is definitely going to be fine for Irina. It cannot be otherwise for fighters for justice like her[.]

Thanks to Elena Konte for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

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Getting Out the Vote in Arkhangelsk

Archangel LifePhoto published March 10, 2018, on the Archangelsk Life community page on the VK social network. “Photo of the Day. ‘We’re Going to Vote.’ *The common law wife of regional MP Alexander Dyatlov, chair of the regional committee of United Russia Party supporters, is in the middle.”

Darya Goloschapova
Facebook
March 11, 2018

A good illustration. Society has left women without pants and, apparently, taken the shirts off their backs. It has reduced them to sexualized objects whose sexual function is emphaized even in the civic act of voting, as remote from the bedrom as could be. But it’s cool: they are going to vote. Why are they naked? Are they going straight from the shower to vote? Then where did those ridiculous high heels come from? Did they just come down from the pole in a strip club? Why is this generally routine and uninteresting act decked out in Russia like a wedding in an archaic society? Men show off their power (see the campaign ads of “rich and successful” men supporting Putin), while women show off their naked bodies, sexual desire, submissiveness, and vulnerability.

Thanks to Bella Rappoport for the heads up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Fleecing Foreigners Makes Us Happy, but Gays Make Us Sad

happiness
Image on the website of the Happiness pastry shop chain. The text reads, “OUR PRINCIPLES: Love, Quality, Care, Interest, Communication.”

Happiness Coffee and Pastry Shop Chain Introduces Surcharge for Foreigners
Paperpaper.ru
August 23, 2016

There is an additional fee for groups of foreigners at the Happiness (Schastie) coffee and pastry shop on St. Isaac’s Square in Petersburg. A Paperpaper.ru editor discovered this while visiting the establishment. A surcharge of ten percent is added to the final bill.

The reasons for the surcharge are not spelled out either in the menu or on the bill. As the establishment’s manager explained to Paperpaper.ru, the surcharged was introduced at the “director’s personal orders.” Besides, the manager assured us that a line explaining the practice would soon appear in the menu.

The surcharge was confirmed by phone calls to the Happiness outlets on St. Isaac’s Square and Rubinstein Street.

The chain’s management informed Paperpaper.ru that the surcharge was indeed enforced in all of its outlets, but only vis-a-vis groups consisting wholly of foreigners. The rule has been in effect since November 2015. According to the chain’s rules, waiters warn customers that a ten-percent service charge will appear on their bill. Management also confirmed to Paperpaper.ru that the rule would be spelled out in the menu.

Article 62.3 of the Russian Federal Constitution states, “Foreign nationals and stateless persons shall enjoy in the Russian Federation the rights and bear the obligations of citizens of the Russian Federation, except for cases envisaged by federal law or international agreement of the Russian Federation.”

In addition, Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees “equality of rights and freedoms of human and citizen, regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, property and official status, place of residence, religion, convictions, membership of public associations, and also of other circumstances.”

_________

central

Message on the home page of the Central Barbershop website: “The services in our barbershops are provided in strict keeping with in-house standards of service [sic], operating procedures, and service [sic]. You can be refused a service if it does not according with the company in-house standards. It is prohibited in the barbershop to bring or imbibe alcoholic beverages, for the female sex to be present, [and] for member of a non-traditional orientation [sic[ to be on the premises.” Curiously, all this discrimination is absent from the English-language version of the same page, which only blandly states, “Men’s barber services are performed in accordance with European and American requirements.”

Petersburg Barbershop Refuses to Serve Homosexuals
Paperpaper.ru
September 6, 2016

The Petersburg barbershop chain Central Barbershop has refused to serve homosexuals, according to its website. Women are also forbidden from being in its barbershops.

“The issue concerns me, since there are lots of gays and lesbians around. I had a bad experience of interacting with this group of people, and I would not like to see them in my salons. It is terrible they are everywere. But this is not homophobia, because homosexualists [sic] have their own places, and they can go there,” said Mikhail Korets, founder of the barbershop chain.

According to Korets, his employees will politely refuse to serve gays, citing a lack of time or available barbers. He compared this kind of refusal with the work of security guards at nightclubs, which do not let people into their establishments by saying there is no room.

According to Yuri Gavrikov, head of local LGBT organization Equality (Ravnopravie), the Petersburg barbershop chain is involved in discriminating against people. He compared the chain’s decision with racial discrimination in the US during the 20th century.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade VZ for the heads-up on the English-language website of the fascist barbers.