Ibrahimjon Ermatov: “The FSB Let the Terrorist Slip, and a Terrible Tragedy Happened”

ermatovIbrahimjon Ermatov. Photo courtesy of The Insider

“The FSB Let the Terrorist Slip, and a Terrible Tragedy Happened”: Man Accused of Planning Terrorist Attack in Petersburg Subway Calls Case Frame-Up
Yevgenia Tamarchenko
The Insider
November 2, 2019

Ibrahimjon Ermatov, accused of planning a terrorist attack in the St. Petersburg subway, declared his innocence and called the case a frame-up in a letter that has been made available to The Insider.

“Unfortunately, our case is a frame-up. The FSB let the terrorist slip, and a terrible tragedy happened. To vindicate themselves somehow, they ‘exposed a gang of terrorists,” that is, us,” Ermatov writes.

“We are ordinary people, just like you. And we did not come here […] for the fun of it. There is no work at home, no way to feed our families. We are hardworking, we don’t drink or smoke, we don’t break the laws, we only work and work,” he writes. “I’m now twenty-six. I could be sentenced to ten years, at least, for something I didn’t do. That is, I will spend half my life in prison.”

“We simply have no rights here and can be easily manipulated. The FSB has taken advantage of this,” Ermatov notes.

letter-1

letter-2Ibrahimjon Ermatov’s letter. Courtesy of The Insider. “Hello, Yevgenia! Thanks, guys, that you have not forgotten me. I am very touched. Unfortunately, our case is a frame-up. The FSB let the terrorist slip, and a terrible tragedy happened. To vindicate themselves somehow, they ‘exposed a gang of terrorists,’ that is, us. We are ordinary people, just like you. And we did not come here to the big common motherland of the USSR for the fun of it. There is no work at home, no way to feed our families. We are hardworking, we don’t drink or smoke, we don’t break the laws, we only work and work. I’m now twenty-six. I could be sentenced to ten years, at least, for something I didn’t do. That is, I will spend half my life in prison. Unfortunately, there is the opinion in Russia that we immigrants from Central Asias are like the characters Ravshan and Jamshut in [the Russian TV comedy show] Our Russia. This is wrong, and ordinary Russians understand this. We simply have no rights here and can be easily manipulated. The FSB has taken advantage of this. [They think] Who would believe them (that is, us)? I would again like to thank you and all the people who care about our situation. I would have perished with you. May Allah be with you.”

On April 17, 2017, an explosion occurred on a subway train traveling between the stations Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologichesky Institut. Sixteen people were killed, and over a hundred people were injured. According to investigators, the bomb was detonated by a suicide bomber, 22-year-old Akbarjon Jalilov. Eleven people were arrested and charged with planning the attack. The FSB abducted three of the defendants before formally arresting them. They tortured the men in an attempt to force them to confess. One of these men was Ermatov’s brother Muhamadusup. None of the defendants pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors have claimed the terrorist group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad was behind the attack. However, there is no corraborated evidence that the group claimed responsibility for the blast or made demands.

You can read more about the case in the following articles [in Russian]:

“‘I Could Hear My Brother’s Screams from the Next Cell’: Torture, Secret FSB Prisons, and Falsified Evidence in the Case of the Terrorist Attack in the Petersburg Subway”

“Copy Pasters Are Running the Investigation: Thirteen Glaring Inconsistencies in the Official Charges in the Case of the Terrorist Attack in the Petersburg Subway

You can also find more information on the website created by a pressure group that has been publicizing the case.

Thanks to Yana Teplitskaya for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader. Please read my previous posts on the terrorist attack, the case against its alleged planners, its roots in the Islamophobia that has infected Russia under Putin, and the shocking lack of international solidarity with Ermatov and the other twelve defendants in the case:

“Binoculars,” a sketch featuring the fictional Central Asian migrant workers Ravshan and Jamshut on the Russian TV comedy show Our Russia

Station to Station

otto 1OVD Info @OvdInfo • 18h ago Petersburg artist Max Otto has designed a map of the city’s subway on which the name of each station is a police station. Translated by the Russian Reader

otto 2Otto has dubbed his rereading of the city’s subway “The Saint Petersburg Cops Maps.” The actual names of the stations have been replaced with the name of the nearest police station. Thus, the three subway stations on Sennaya Ploshchad (Haymarket Square) have all been designated as “Police Precinct No. 2.” Police Precinct No. 2, located at Sadovaya Street, 58, is indeed the closest police station to Sennaya, Spasskaya, and Sennaya Ploshchad subway stations. {TRR}

 

op 2Screenshot of Police Precinct No. 2’s info page on the website Aktualnyi Peterburg

Thanks to the fabulous Lika Frenkel for the heads-up.

“Combating Terrorism” in Petersburg

Metal detectors in the vestibule of a Petersburg subway station. Photo courtesy of Fontanka.ru
Passengers walking through metal dectors in the lobby of a Petersburg subway station. Photo courtesy of Fontanka.ru

“The pair discussed combating terrorism[.]”
Christi Parsons and Tracy Wilkinson, “Trump and Putin have first official phone conversation amid European anxiety about future relations,” Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2017

From April You’ll Need a Doctor’s Certificate to Get through Metal Detectors in Petersburg Subway
Fontanka.ru
January 25, 2017

Starting March 30, the Petersburg subway will be equipped with special barriers to stop people, including those whose medical conditions prevent them from walking through metal detectors.

The Petersburg subway’s press service told Fontanka.ru the special barriers had begun to be installed last year as part of the Federal Law on Transportation Security. They were tested at the Tekhnologichesky Institut station, and during the entire time they were in service, no conflicts with passengers arose, subway management insists.

Since the new year, the barriers have been installed at several more stations. Passengers with pacemakers and metal implants should proceed as follows at these stations: they should press a special button on the barrier to summon a trained staff member. The staff member is obliged to check the relevant doctor’s certificate and, if there are any more questions for the passenger, send him to have his personal belongings inspected. Passengers without doctor’s certificates will not be allowed to enter the subway, warns subway management.

Not all passengers are aware of the changes, and they have had trouble getting through the turnstiles. A Fontanka.ru reader has told us that, on the morning of January 25, he had been unable to bypass the metal detector at the Grazhdansky Prospekt subway station, as he had been able to do on previously. The man, who had metal implants installed in his head during an operation, claims he waited ten minutes for a subway staffer to personally inspect his belongings. When the subway employee arrived, he told the man that, according to regulations, he would not let him into the subway without a doctor’s certificate.

“No warnings had been posted in advance,” writes the reader, angry at having wasted so much time.

Subway management could not confirm additional efforts would be made to inform passengers, noting the necessary signage had already been posted in station lobbies.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Petersburg: How Low Can You Go?

Elections to the State Duma and regional legislative assemblies throughout the country are scheduled for September 18, and the campaign, such that it is, is in full swing. Journalist and Yabloko Party member Boris Vishnevsky has behaved the way a real city councillor should during his first four years representing part of Petersburg’s giant Central District. So it is no wonder the ruling party, United Russia, has taken aim at him by running a loyalist like Maria Shcherbakova, longtime head of the Central District, against him in the city’s second single-mandate electoral district. And her campaign, it would seem, is pulling out all the dirty stops, confident it will never ever have to pay for its crimes. TRR

"Opposition candidate Boris Vishnevky.

“Opposition candidate Boris Vishnevsky. Residents of the Central District! I must become a deputy in the [St. Petersburg] Legislative Assembly. To make this happen, transfer 1,000 rubles to my special election campaign account. Account no. 40810810956049000026.” The fine print in this counterfeit campaign poster creates the impression the poster was ordered by Vishnevsky himself and lists other fake details, such as the print run and the name of the print planting where the poster was, allegedly, printed, along with its address.

_________

Boris Vishnevsky
Facebook
August 26, 2016

WARNING: FAKE!

Friends and colleagues, especially those of you from the Central District:

The district has been pasted with fake ads, allegedly endorsed by me, suggesting that people transfer money to my election campaign account.

I think this is a reaction to my complaints against illegal campaigning on behalf of Maria Shcherbakova, United Russia’s candidate [for the seat in the Legislative Assembly currently held by Vishnevsky] and head of the Central District. Likely as not, the fake were posted early in the morning by employees of the housing and maintenance service. By the way, the number of the election campaign account is fake too, of course.

There is nothing surprising about this, friends. They don’t know how to campaign any other way and they won’t do it.

Complaints have been filed with the police, the prosecutor’s office, and the Municipal Electoral Commission.

First, don’t believe fakes.

Second, this is proof I have real support from people, and city hall is scared of me.

Third, when you see something like this, call my campaign headquarters immediately at +7 967 596 5021.

Maximum repost. People should be aware of dirty campaign tricks.

Translated by the Russian Reader

_________

But that is definitely not how low the regime can go. That was just a party trick, so to speak.

Meanwhile, some more productive Petersburgers have produced this nifty map of the city’s subway system. Unlike all other maps of the system, and there have been plenty since it went online in 1955, this one shows the depths, in meters, of all the stations in the subway.

The deepest, at 86 meters, is Admiralteiskaya, a relatively new station, opened in 2011, and located near Palace Square and the Hermitage, as well as, naturally, the Admiralty.

What do Petersburgers do as they ascend and descend the long escalators that take them down into and up out of the underground, rides that can take over five minutes in the most profound cases? Well, they do lots of things, including reading, chatting, meditating, listening to music, etc. One thing they are not doing a lot of, I am afraid, is thinking about the upcoming elections. But that is no accident, just as it was no accident all those fake Vishnevsky campaign posters were plastered all over downtown. TRR

spb-metro depths

Source: VKontakte; thanks to Comrade DE and others for the heads-up

#quietpicket

 "#quietpicket Am I promoting heterosexuality when I hug my guy in the subway? Russian Federal Misdemeanors Code Article 6.21 (Promoting Non-Traditional Sexual Relations among Minors). Why not?"
“#quietpicket Am I promoting heterosexuality when I hug my guy in the subway? Russian Federal Misdemeanors Code Article 6.21 [Promoting Non-Traditional Sexual Relations among Minors]. Why not?” Placard, Petersburg Subway, July 24, 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

This past May, I published a translation of Marina Simakova’s fascinating interview with Darja Serenko, a Moscow artist who had launched a long-term silent protest action and research project in the subway that she had dubbed Quiet Picket.

While riding the subway earlier today in Russia’s Northern Capital, I was glad to see a young woman sit down opposite me with a shoulder bag pasted over with a tiny placard hash-tagged #quietpicket.

Since she seemed a bit tense, as did the passengers around her, I went up and asked her whether it would be alright to photograph her placard. She smiled and said it would be. After that, the mood in the car seemed to lighten up a bit.

59°54’32″N 30°29’49″E (Okkervil River)

The Okkervil River

Wikimapia euphemistically refers to the bridge, pictured above, as a “new bridge over the Okkervil River” and claims that “construction is underway at present.”

When, the other day, some friends and I strolled from the Dybenko Street subway station to the now-thriving former village of Kudrovo, just across the city lines in neighboring Lenoblast (Leningrad Region), we took a short cut through this semi-wild scrub land, transversed by the Okkervil River. The maps identify this place, just as euphemistically, as Ingria Technopark.

One of our companions was a local. He recalled when Ingria Technopark was a forest, and he went there with his school class to do orienteering, map and compass in hand.

okkervil map
Ingria Technopark (left) and the western edge of the village Kudrovo (right), with the Okkervil River running across their northern reaches

He claimed, perhaps facetiously, that the village of Kudrovo was all that remained of the ancient Kudrian civilization. The Kudrians had been defeated by the more aggressive Petersburgians from the west, but had not entirely succumbed to their dominion. The strange semi-circular pattern you see in the lower left corner of the map, above, was imprinted there by a giant Kudrian megalith, he ventured. Bits and shards of this now-vanished sacred complex were scattered all over the barren urban wilderness we were crossing.

It seemed as if the developers now lazily developing (or no longer developing, probably) Ingria Technopark had tried to lay out a road on the template left by the megalith.

Megalith-inspired road in Ingria Technopark

Finally, after an hour or so of ditch jumping and bushwhacking, and with the help of some timely advice given to us by a young couple with a feisty pit bull grilling shashliki in the woods, we emerged from the outer darkness into the village of Kudrovo. In the last few years, the once-sleepy village has been transformed into a series of eye-poppingly bright new housing estates.

The remnants of the old village of Kudrovo are visible against the new estates rising to the east and south.
New Kudrovo
New Kudrovo

According to the Real Estate Bulletin, New Kudrovo was originally conceived as a new administrative center for Lenoblast. Somewhere along the way, that scheme was scrapped, and in 2009, developers Setl City announced they would transform Kudrovo into a series of “European”-inspired housing blocks collectively dubbed Seven Capitals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Entrance to the former Seven Capitals estates, New Kudrovo

In the event, Setl City managed to build the first of the Seven Capitals, Vienna, and is scheduled to complete the second block in the project, London, in the third quarter of 2017. But it has ceded development of the rest of New Kudrovo to eight other developers, who are in the midst of building eleven other estates, with names as varied as New Okkervil, Austrian Quarter, Progress, Capital, Spring, and Kudrov House.

All of these estates should be completed between 2016 and 2017. Prices for flats in the blocks (including resold units) range from 62,000 rubles to 125,00 rubles per square meter (i.e., between 880 and 1,770 euros, approximately).

There are many advantages to living in New Kudrovo. The new estates are literally a stone’s throw from MEGA Dybenko, an IKEA-centered shopping mall that opened in 2006. (The mall used to look quite out of place next to the then-distinctly rural-looking village of Kudrovo.)

New Kudrovo is also a brisk fifteen minutes’ walk or a very short marshrutka ride from the Dybenko Street subway station, whence you can get to central Petrograd in something like fifteen or twenty minutes. And it literally abuts on the KAD, the Saint Petersburg Ring Road, which opened in 2011.

But the place is still lacking in some essential infrastructure, given its ever-burgeoning population. According to the Real Estate Bulletin, the New Okkervil estate has a commercial kindergarten, with capacity for 230 children, and a municipal school and kindergarten with room for 1,600 pupils are set to open soon. In New Kudrovo’s southern blocks, there is only one kindergarten, with capacity for 110 children, but by the end of the year there should be two more kindergartens and a school in the Vienna estate.

More seriously, it appears that the New Kudrians will not be getting a subway station of their own until 2026, although our local companion claimed that the tunnel from Dybenko Street to the new station, tentatively dubbed Narodnaya, had more or less been dug already and the station platform itself had been built. All that was lacking was an aboveground pavilion or lobby and the shaft for the escalators down to the station. But since Kudrovo is outside the city limits, in Lenoblast, it is, apparently, not a priority for the city, which runs the subway system, to open a new station there. Although Deyvatkino station, the northern terminus of the First Line, which has been happily operating since 1978, is also located across the city lines in Lenoblast.

In any case, as we made our way to the Okkervil River, Ingria, and Kudrovo, we passed this sign, indicating that some kind of subway construction was underway in the neighborhood. The sign promised a 2017 completion date.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whatever else it might lack, New Kudrovo has three things in spades. The first is splashy façades, something utterly untypical in the Northern Venice and environs.

A resident purchases fresh artesian well water amidst a splashy block in New Kudrovo.
A resident purchases fresh artesian well water from an automatic, state-subsidized dispenser amidst splashy apartment blocks in New Kudrovo.
A colorfully finished block of flats in the Vienna estate
A colorfully finished block of flats in the Vienna estate

The second thing that meets the eye are the slightly over-the-top Viennese-themed murals in the Vienna estate.

Johan Strauss, The Viennese Waltz
Johan Strauss, Jr., The Viennese Waltz (?)
Gustav Klimt, The Kiss
Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss towers over yet another fresh water dispenser

The third thing in no short supply in New Kudrovo, oddly enough, is pleasant hipsterish drinking establishments, all of them manned by extremely friendly bartenders, serving top-shelf Belgian beer.

The Beer Store (European Boulevard, 11) has a large selection of draft and bottled beers.
The Beer Store (European Boulevard, 11) has a large selection of draft and bottled beers.
La Bière Bar & Shop, New Kudrovo
La Bière Bar & Shop, New Kudrovo

Since our little band of amateur urbanists was neither looking to get drunk nor go broke, we asked the bartenders to split half-liters of their finest brews four ways, a request they were all perfectly happily to oblige. We were thus able to sample Mort Subite, which was on the menu in all three bars we visited, and Duchesse de Bourgogne, which some of us found a bit too sour. (I thought it was fabulous.)

So if Will Sheff & Co. ever do decide to visit their spiritual homeland, here is what I would suggest. First, a big, open-air concert, amplifiers blaring, in Ingria Technopark, with the unfinished bridge serving as the bandstand. Then, the next day, an acoustic set in one of Kudrovo’s fine Belgian beer halls.

It has to happen someday.

All photos by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrades AS, MR, and DV for the company, and Comrade RF for suggesting that we trek to Kudrovo.

Artists Say No to War with Posters in Petersburg Subway

Anonymous Poster Artists Talk about Their Fatherland Defenders Day Protest in the Subway 
Andrei Sobol
paperpaper.ru
February 24, 2015

Yesterday, February 23, anti-war posters appeared in ad slots in subway cars. Anonymous activists hung three series of posters: quotations by famous authors about war; pastiches of children’s drawings; and avant-garde posters.

Organizers told Paper why they did it, how patriotism can be a bad thing, and where to look for the fruits of this anonymous partisan protest.

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The first series of posters featured anti-war quotations by Erich Maria Remarque, Jaroslav Hašek, and Ernest Hemingway. The unknown artists pasted them over municipal government posters.

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The second series of work, pastiches of children’s drawings, deal with the impact of war propaganda on children. The artists have tried to convey children’s vision of war.

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(left panel) “My brother was killed in the army during peacetime. When I grow up is that also where I’ll end up?” (right panel) “My dad is very strong. He killed enemies, and now he beats me and Mom. Katya, 8 years old.”

Yp0ZG4-Z06I

“They told me I have to grow up to be a real man. When I grow up I’ll go to war, and I’ll rape and kill! Artyom, 7 years old.”

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“My dad is a hero, but he doesn’t have arms anymore. God, let him grow new arms!!!”

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“My dad came back from the war without legs. Now he says he’d be better off dead.”

In the third series of works, the anonymous artists decided to shift the focus from the celebration of Fatherland Defenders Day by recalling what else we commemorate on February 23rd: for example, the birthday of the Russian and Soviet avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich.


7K23NoOxluM“K. Malevich was born on February 23. Happy otherness day!”

According to the protesters, who claimed responsibility for all three series, the posters were posted near the subways stations Lesnaya, Ploshchad Muzhestva, and Vyborgskaya. A total of twenty-six works were produced and put up.

Anonymous artist, organizer of the anti-war protest in the Petersburg subway: “Our government has greatly increased spending on militarization, which leads to the allocation of ever smaller sums for the social needs of Russian citizens. Hospitals and schools are being closed, and the educational sector as a whole is suffering. The idea of doing one series of posters as pastiches of children’s drawings was borne out of this. Poverty and unemployment are growing, while aggressive, conservative patriotism is becoming more and more noticeable with every passing day. Incidents of xenophobia and sexism have become more frequent, women are not allowed to control their own bodies, and attempts are being made to ban abortions. The government has apparently forgotten about its own citizens as it thinks only about war and external enemies.

__________

0TGhhhrWVcM“The army kills. Happy Fatherland Defenders Day!”

SzS8U7CfvosMy dad is a soldier. He kills and rapes. Happy February 23rd! Misha, 6 years old.”

Txk0FImHFHIAn anti-war quotation by Hemingway pasted over a municipal government ad that reads, “On the 70th anniversary of the Victory during Literature Year. […] Together we are reading [sic] Petersburg!”

Additional images courtesy of Left News

Welcome Aboard!

To my pleasant surprise, I discovered, a couple hours ago, that on the web site of TriMet, the public transport authority for the Portland, Oregon, region, there’s a whole big page in Russian, where speakers of that fabulous tongue can find out everything they might think to ask about using the area’s terrific and ever-expanding public transport system. The TriMet web site also has special pages for speakers of Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese.

траймет

Out of curiosity, I then checked whether there were foreign-language pages, for example, on the website of the Petersburg subway system.

metro

I don’t know why I’m still asking myself such silly questions.