Back to School Daze: Non-Russian Surnames Spark Racist Social Media Panic

List of “Non-Russian” First Formers in Suburban Moscow Provokes Nationalist Brouhaha
Commentators Divided on Issue of Assimilating Migrant Workers
Moskovsky Komsomolets
September 1, 2016

Publication of a list of pupils in a first form class at Kotelniki Comprehensive School No. 3, in suburban Moscow, most of whom have “non-Russian” names and surnames, has set off a row on the web.

Screenshot of
The photo of the list, as reproduced on

The photograph quickly spread among top bloggers and various socio-political discussion groups, garnering a slew of nationalistic comments.

The children’s names, such as Habiba, Medina, Malak, Idris, Yufusjon, Muhammadyor, and Beghod (there are a total of twenty-eight children in the class) goaded users into making nationalist statements.

However, [the Twitter account] Decadent West, for example, which ironically passes off Russian realities as foreign, commented on the photograph as follows: “A school in the German city of Cologne. Thank you, Angela Merkel, for your excellent refugee policy. Cologne, Germany.”

Screenshot of "Decadent West" (Zagnivaiushchii Zapad) Twitter account entry
Screenshot of Twitter account entry on the topic by Zagnivayushchii Zapad (Decadent West)

Nor all user, however, supported the nationalist rhetoric. Thus, Mitya Aleshkovskiy, director of the website Takie Dela, wrote that “people who are outraged children of migrant workers go to school are animals and a real shame to our country and society.”

He reminded his readers that schooling the children of migrant workers was the best means of assimilating them and claimed that Russia was a country where fascism had emerged victorious.

This prompted users to deluge Aleshkovskiy with nationalist comments.

Commenting on the photograph as posted on blogger Rustem Adagamov’s Facebook page, other users noted that Adagamov himself did not sport a “Russian” surname.

In 2013, residents of Kotelniki wrote and distributed a letter, complaining to the president, prosecutor general, and governor of Moscow Region that their town had “turned into a ghetto of illegal migrant workers from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and other CIS countries, as well as Vietnam and China,” due to the fact it was close to the Sadovod Market.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Lev Rubinstein: “Rehabilitation” of Nazism

Lev Rubinstein
May 12, 2015

Criminal prosecution for “rehabilitation of Nazism,” you say?

Well, it’s a respectable cause. Especially in a normal country, where the main features and properties of Nazism itself have been clearly defined, articulated and, more importantly, grasped by public opinion.

In a country where, on the contrary, the president of another country is referred to as a “black monkey” quite openly and with impunity, in a country where state TV facilely reports that the people of a neighboring country are a historical misunderstanding, and their language a parody, in a country where a classified newspaper ad that reads, “Apartment available for rent to Slavs,” is considered quite normal and natural, this talk about “rehabilitation” is rather strange, because there is nothing in particular to rehabilitate. And if anyone is going to be tried for such a crime, there aren’t enough judges for the job.

The point, of course, is something else.

11182204_864970266884978_1670294015098677080_nVictoria Lomasko, In the Neighborhood. View at the exhibition Post-Soviet Cassandras, Berlin, April 2015

The fact is that their “Nazism” is not Nazism in the conventional sense of the word, but what they themselves define as such or have already defined.

“Everyone” knows that a Nazi regime is now blossoming, for example, in Ukraine. And denying or even questioning this “indisputable fact” amounts, apparently, to rehabilitating Nazism.

Or doubting the divine origins of the main antifascist of all time can easily be identified as Nazism.

And who knows what else. Why give them suggestions? Let them figure it out for themselves.

It’s a shit issue, as certain rude people would say.


That’s When We Reach for Our Revolvers

The trigger fingers at, a popular Petersburg news and commentary website, are getting itchy as Russia’s officials and wagging tongues publicly contemplate exiting the Council of Europe and jettisoning all the cumbersome obligations of membership, including a moratorium on the death penalty that has been in place since 1996.

Even today, January 30, 2015, the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service maintains lists of volunteers obliged, if necessary, to shoot those sentenced to death. The moratorium, after all, is a temporary understanding. State Duma deputy speaker Lebedev’s comment that if Russia exits the Council of Europe, it will have the right to restore capital punishment, is a good occasion to discuss how executions technically happen. The door to secret room 2/0 has not creaked for a long time in the depths of the Crosses Prison.


In the second cross at the Crosses there is a wing that previously held prisoners sentenced to death. Now those sentenced to life imprisonment wait there to be transferred.

The wing is known as 2/1. It is harder to access than the other sections of the prison. The corridor is shorter than in the others, containing not thirty cells, but something like twenty-five. One “cell” there is exceptional. Its door looks like the other doors, but it leads into a secret basement codenamed 2/0.

I have no idea what governs departmental orders in early 2015, but under the Soviet regime the guidelines for selecting executioners had an ideological tinge. Only volunteers could execute prisoners. The guidelines stressed that volunteers would receive no perks or, God forbid, any monetary remuneration.

The takers were few, of course. Age and length of service also had to be taken into account. You could not send a young officer to do the job. Thus, when drawing up the annual lists, the warden at the Crosses would summon veterans and tell them someone had to do it.

People at the prison would guess who was on the list, but it was bad form to gab about it. The incognitos [sic] themselves signed nondisclosure agreements.

When the time came, the officer had the right to examine the case file, to peruse photo records of dismembered bodies or strangled children. It mattered that hand and heart did not tremble in doubt.

At the right time in the evening, the condemned man was visited in solitary confinement by the prison warden, the responsible prosecutor, a doctor, two attending officers and himself [sic]. The prosecutor would briefly read out the Supreme Court’s final decision and denial of clemency. The guards quickly snapped handcuffs on the criminal. Hands behind the back.

At this moment the condemned man’s behavior would become clear. Some would go into a trance and become wobbly, while others would go berserk. It was then that a towel would be thrown over their heads and tied at the back so their screams and curses would be inaudible.

“What kind of towel?” I asked, somewhat surprised, in my conversation with a prison officer.

“A white honeycomb towel, the kind issued to all the prisoners,” he replied.

And the man would be dragged to where he no longer existed [sic], to the door of “cell” 2/0.

It is [sic] already open, the steps leading down. He [?] didn’t count how many. The march ends. A dimly lit basement space with a container in it, something like a trough. The head is bent down, the command is given, a shot from a Makarov pistol, the doctor’s diagnosis.

They say that it would happen that the first bullet didn’t kill. Then it would happen again: command, shot, diagnosis.

The body would be wrapped and, accompanied by a document reading “This transport not subject to checks,” would be taken in a prison vehicle to a cemetery. In Soviet times, this would have been [Petersburg’s] Northern Cemetery. A pit had already been dug in advance, whose significance only the cemetery director knew. The body would be buried and forgotten.

In the archives, this place will forever be designated by a three-digit secret number.

It’s all humdrum. None of the myths about drawing lots or firing squads in which only man’s gun is loaded with live rounds [is true.]

“I come home once after this, and my wife is partying with guests in the kitchen. They’re listening to ABBA on a tape recorder. I take off my coat, sit down, and peck at a salad. My wife starts in on me: ‘Why are you spoiling our mood?’ What could I say to her?” an executioner recalled to me twenty-five years ago or so.

That’s right: if you destroy a dozen unknown boys in battle you’re a hero, but if you kill a maniac you’re a hangman.

That door—to cell 2/0—has not opened since the moratorium was announced in 1996.

The state is sturdily organized: the moratorium is not a dogma, but a timeout.  The formal lists of firing squad members are constantly drawn up and amended depending on personnel changes at the Federal Penitentiary Service for Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Region.

So if push comes to shove, they could be ready today, January 30, by nightfall.



Since I’m not a very good translator, it is hard for me to convey the hard-boiled relish with which journalist Yevgeny Vyshenkov, an ex-cop, contemplates the return of capital punishment in Russia. Maybe this will do the trick instead:

Here, Alexei Didenko, deputy leader of the LDPR faction in the Russian State Duma, excitedly reports that within “24 hours” of exiting the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly all the legal mechanisms would be in place for executing “millions and millions of perverts, rapists, and pedophiles.”

Since the prison population in Russia was reported as 671,700 inmates as of December 1, 2014, one wonders where Didenko is going to find all those “millions and millions of perverts.”

Cannibal Corpse Fans Confront the Russian Orthodox Police State

Fans Confronted by Riot Police at Canceled Concert
Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014_10_15_00_04_1833_02_corpseOMON police standing outside the Kosmonavt club, the venue of the canceled concert by Cannibal Corpse, on Sunday night. Photo by Sergey Chernov for The St. Petersburg Times

Eighteen music fans were detained Sunday as hundreds protested against the last-minute cancellation of a Cannibal Corpse show outside the Kosmonavt music club in St. Petersburg. The organizer, the Moscow-based agency Motley Concerts, claimed the cancellation was caused by unspecified “technical reasons,” but the fans believed it was done under pressure from the authorities.

The American death metal band’s St. Petersburg concert was set to be the last in their eight-date Russian tour in support of their 13th studio album, “A Skeletal Domain.”

Although the band’s five previous Russian tours went ahead without any problems, this year’s tour was marred by controversy caused by a massive campaign of formal complaints from Orthodox activists about alleged “Satanism” and “extremism” in Cannibal Corpse’s lyrics. Out of the eight planned concerts, the band managed to play only four.

On Oct. 11, the band’s concert in Moscow was canceled when people were already in the venue. Before that, a concert in Ufa scheduled for Oct. 5 was canceled when the venue abruptly closed “for technical reasons.” On Oct. 10, Cannibal Corpse’s concert in Nizhny Novgorod was shut down by armed masked police officers 30 minutes after it had started. A number of fans were detained and taken for compulsory drug tests. In a petition to the head of administration of Nizhny Novgorod, fans wrote that the true reason for the anti-drug operation was to stop the concert, which they believe was an act of censorship, which is prohibited by the Russian constitution.

Neither the organizer nor the venues in the four cities admitted any pressure from authorities and the band did not make any statement about the cancellations.

On Sunday, fans were not let into the venue even though it was supposed to open at least an hour before the concert’s scheduled 8 p.m. start. When asked, the guard at the doors said both the public and guests would be allowed to enter “later.”

When several hundred stood around Kosmonavt 25 minutes before the scheduled start, a young man brought a notice from the organizers and read it aloud. It said the concert had been canceled for technical reasons but ticket holders were welcome to a signing session with the band and to spend an evening in the venue.

The notice then went from one person to another until a fan set it on fire to cheers from the crowd.

Despite the invitation, the doors were still closed, leading disappointed fans to crowd around near the entrance. Soon they were chanting the band’s name as well as profane insults toward Moscow Orthodox activist Dmitry Tsorionov, also known as Enteo, and Legislative Assembly deputy Vitaly Milonov, whom they saw as responsible for the cancellation. The fans criticized the Kremlin’s current policies of isolation from the West and promotion of traditionalism.

One fan shouted an offensive anti-President Vladimir Putin slogan while another commented sarcastically about the official line of Russia “rising from its knees.”

“I would not love the Russian Orthodox Church more for this,” one fan said.

People discussed how they had been waiting for months for the concert and bought expensive tickets, while others had come from other cities and had to take days off from their jobs and find a place to stay in St. Petersburg.

Although there had only been one police vehicle parked near the venue initially, OMON riot police started to arrive at the site at 8:15 p.m. Bottles flew at the officers while people expressed their disappointment and outrage at the treatment. Cannibal Corpse’s music played loudly from one of the cars parked near the venue.

The OMON police retreated into their truck to put on helmets and take batons but did not immediately intervene, instead maneuvering in the street near the venue, blocking and unblocking it, as bottles kept coming and various fans protested in different ways. People flooded the street and passing cars had their tires pierced by broken glass.

The first arrests occurred at around 8:30 p.m., when a dozen officers rushed at two fans standing at a distance from Kosmonavt, beat them with batons and dragged them to the police vehicle. A video posted by a fan showed them apparently being beaten with a baton inside the vehicle as well. An hour later there were much fewer people in the street, with some heading home and others lining up for the signing session in the venue, which eventually started to let people enter, although very slowly after multiple checks.

According to the police, the 18 detained fans were charged either with “disorderly conduct” or with “being drunk in public,” offenses that are punishable by fines or up to 15 days in prison.


Andrei Malgin: A Mere Four Words

Today, October 11, is celebrated as National Coming Out Day in many countries around the world. Unfortunately, as respected Russian journalist and blogger Andrei Malgin reminded readers of his LiveJournal blog a few days ago, the Russian State Duma will, allegedly, soon be considering a bill that would make “non-traditional sexual relations” grounds for stripping Russian gays and lesbians of their parental rights.



A Mere Four Words

The State Duma has given the green light to Draft Bill No. 338740-6, “On Amending Article 69 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation (On Expanding the List of Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights).” A single line will be added to the list—a mere four words, but what weighty words they are.

Article 69 of the Family Code now reads as follows:

Parents (one of them) may be deprived of parental rights, if they:

 shirk the discharge of parental duties, including the willful refusal to pay child support;

refuse without good reason to take their child home from a maternity hospital (department) or other medical facility, educational establishment or social welfare institution, or other similar institutions;

abuse their parental rights;

treat their children cruelly, including exercising physical or mental violence against them, and infringing on their sexual inviolability;

suffer from chronic alcoholism or drug addiction;

have committed a premeditated crime against the life or the health of their children, or against the life or the health of their spouse.*

It all began with this. The draft bill itself looks like this. The draft bill was reviewed by the State Duma’s legal department, which issued a positive opinion. The relevant committee reviewed and approved it. All that remains is to schedule the date of the vote.

Full documentation of the bill is on the State Duma’s web site.

Thus, after the bill is passed into law, the Family Code of the Russian Federation will contain the following provision:

Parents (one of them) may be deprived of parental rights, if they:

have non-traditional sexual relations.

So, one divorced spouse wants to deprive the other of parental rights. She or he just has to inform the court that their ex-spouse once had non-traditional sexual relations. To make the charge stick, they can produce “witnesses” or get an affidavit from the neighborhood police inspector.

Or even better. Police raid a gay club and check people’s internal passports. Do any of them have children listed in their passports? That’s that: we’ll deprive them of their parental and send the children to an orphanage, where things will be better for them.

And so on.

And what scope for grassroots activism, for endless denunciations on the part of vigilant neighbors, disgruntled relatives, veterans committees, and so on.

Especially because, unless I’m mistaken, there is still no definition anywhere of what is considered traditional and what isn’t. If spouses have had oral sex, what is that? Traditional?

In an “Explanatory Note to the Bill,” the State Duma Committee on Families, Women and Children justifies the need to amend the Family Code thus:

In accordance with Article 63, Part 1 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation (hereinafter, “the Code”), parents are responsible for the upbringing and development of their children. They are obliged to take care of the health and the physical, mental, spiritual and moral development of their children […] Through life lessons and sometimes by their own example [they are obliged] to instill in the child traditional family values, loyalty to the Fatherland, respect for the older generation, and many other universal values.**


Unfortunately, experience shows that parents often do not completely fulfill their responsibilities for raising children, thus depriving them of a moral compass. […] In the final analysis, this is the cause of poor development, the degradation of a child’s personality and deviant behavior. Timely government assistance to such a child makes it possible to adjust their upbringing by transferring them to a foster family or putting them in the care of relatives or relevant institution. Implementing this assistance is only possible after the termination of parental rights, thus insulating the child from the immoral lifestyle of the parents or one of the parents.

On this basis, it appears that when one of a child’s parents has sexual contacts with persons of the same sex, the harm that may be caused to the psyche of this child is huge and cannot be measured by the Administrative Offenses Code, as the mother or father is a role model for their child. […] According to experts, the number of people in Russia with a non-traditional sexual orientation is around 5-7% (for large cities, the percentage is slightly higher), of which at least a third have children.

Based on this fact and the above-mentioned reasons, this bill proposes supplementing Article 69 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation with a new paragraph, according to which the grounds for terminating parental rights would be non-traditional sexual orientation on the part of one or both parents.

The adult population of Russia is 119 million people. Five percent (we’ll use the lower figure) is six million people. One third of them have a child, meaning there are two million such children. And what if they have two or more children? This is difficult to take into account, so let’s stick to the one-child minimum as the basis of our calculations. What do we end up with? It turns out that the State Duma is planning, in the spring of 2014, to add two million children to the ranks of the country’s orphans.



* In his original post, Mr. Malgin does not quote the current wording of Article 69 in full. We have cited it here for convenience’s sake. The translation is our own.

** Actually, Article 63 of the Family Code does not stipulate that parents are obliged to inculcate “traditional family values, loyalty to the Fatherland, respect for the older generation,” etc., in their children.


UPDATE. The draft bill has, reportedly, been withdrawn by its author, MP Alexei Zhuravlyov, but a spokesperson for him said that it would be revised and resubmitted to the State Duma. The news prompted journalist Masha Gessen to write this comment.