By Hook or by Crook

0C302673-B7CF-4406-A4DA-E3052D4D5125_cx0_cy4_cw0_w1023_r1_stThe courtyard of the Communist Party Regional Committee headquarters in Novosibirsk, where the monument to Stalin will be erected. Photo courtesy of Anton Barsukov and RFE/RL

Monument to Stalin to Be Unveiled in Novosibirsk by May 9
Anton Barsukov
sibreal.org
March 13, 2019

Novosibirsk’s Artistic Expertise Board [Khudsovet] has finally approved installation of a monument to Stalin in the city’s downtown. Our correspondent reports that eleven of the sixteen experts present at the board meeting where the issue was decided voted in favor of the proposal.

The monument is slated for erection on the premises of the regional Communist Party headquarters on the eve of May 9 [Victory Day] of this year. According to the board’s chair, architect Alexander Lozhkin, the board’s decision was a compromise that would satisfy people who wanted to lay flowers at the monument while not insulting people who considered Stalin a tyrant.

Lozhkin implored his fellow board members not to engage in political debates, but to evaluate only the bust’s artistic merits. According to Lozhkin, there was no archival evidence that Stalin was involved in any crimes, and this was the official stance of the Russian government.

“We chose the least of two evils, but that doesn’t mean any good came of it. We are proud of the fact that we will not be putting it in a public place, but just now we voted for a tyrant,” Konstantin Golodyayev, a board member and local historian, told our correspondent.

8E9E67FA-8D62-415D-BDDD-A87E2960C812_cx0_cy1_cw91_w1023_n_r1_stThe Novosibirsk Artistic Expertise Board in session. Photo courtesy of Anton Barsukov and RFE/RL

The bust of Stalin has already been produced: an action committee raised 500,000 rubles to pay for its manufacture. The city will pay for readying and beautifying the site where the bust is supposed to be installed. Novosibirsk Mayor Anatoly Lokot, who heads the regional committee of the Communist Party, said around one million rubles would be needed for this purpose.

In November of last year, the Artistic Expertise Board turned down the action committee’s request to install the monument in a public place, arguing it could cause distress to people who blamed Joseph Stalin for large-scale crackdowns and the deaths of millions of people.

Earlier, Novosibirsk city hall held a discussion on its official website of the best place for the monument. There were 155 positive reactions to the proposal to erect a bust of Stalin in the city, and 97 of them were worded completely identically. The proposal received a total of 243 reactions. Aside from the positive reactions, there were 85 negative reactions and three blank comments. Over 11,000 people signed a petition on Change.org opposing the monument.*

*When checked at 10:34 a.m. Central European Standard Time on March 14, 2019, the anti-Stalinist petition could not be accessed.

Translated by the Russian Reader

“Expressive Eyebrows”: Azat Miftakhov Jailed After Secret Witness Testifies

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Anatrr Ra
Facebook
February 12, 2019

Azat Miftakhov, a mathematics and mechanics graduate student at Moscow State University,  has been remanded in custody until March 7, 2019

Golovina District Court Judge Sergei Bazarov has remanded Azat Miftakhov in custody for a month, until March 7, at the request of police investigators. The police suspect Miftakhov of involvement in a January 13, 2018, incident in which a window in the Khovrino office of the United Russia party was broken and a smoke bomb was thrown inside.

The only evidence in the case is the testimony of a secret “witness” who emerged three days ago. Allegedly, the witness was near the United Russia office the night of the incident. He saw six young people. Three of the young people smashed the window and threw a smoke bomb in it, while the other three stood off to the side. The so-called witness supposedly recalled Miftakhov as being among the group who stood and watched, yet he was unable to describe neither what Miftakhov was wearing or his facial features, only his “expressive eyebrows.” The witness, however, did not contact the police for an entire year since, he explained, his phone had gone dead at the time and, subsequently, he had been busy with his own affairs.

Miftakhov was detained by law enforcement officers on the morning of February 1 on suspicion of making explosives, a criminal offense as defined by Article 223 Part 1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code. He was held for twenty-four hours at the Balashikha police station, where law enforcement officers tortured him, demanding he make a full confession. Only on the evening of February 2 was Miftakhov officially detained and sent to the Balashikha Temporary Detention Facility.

On February 4, however, a court refused to remand him in custody due to a lack of evidence. Over the next three days, police investigators were unable to muster any evidence against Miftakhov, and so, on February 6, he was released from the temporary detention facility without charge.

As Miftakhov was leaving the detention facility, he was detained by men in plain clothes and taken to the Interior Ministry’s headquarters for Moscow’s Northern Administrative Division, where he was told he had been detained in another case, an investigation of alleged disorderly conduct outside the United Russia office in Khovrino on January 13, 2018. An investigation into vandalism (Criminal Code Article 214 Part 1) had been opened in January 2018, but Russian law does not stipulate remanding vandalism suspects in custody during investigations.

In an amazing coincidence, just as Miftakhov was detained a second time, the case was reclassified as an investigation of disorderly conduct, as defined by Criminal Code Article 213 Part 2. People suspected of disorderly conduct can be remanded in custody, and Miftakhov suddenly had become the main suspect in the case. On February 10, the Golovina District Court in Moscow refused to remand Miftakhov in custody, postponing the hearing until February 12.

Miftakhov denies the charges against him. He believes he has been framed because of his anarchist views.

Over a thousand lecturers, professors, researchers, and students from leading Russian and international universities have signed a petition in Miftakhov’s defense, include MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and Viktor Vasilyev, president of the Moscow Mathematics Society. Mikhail Finkelberg, professor at the Higher School of Economics and Skoltech, Boris Kravchenko, president of the Confederation of Labor of Russia (KTR) and member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, and Russian MP Oleg Shein have agreed to stand surety for Miftakhov.

Translation and photo by the Russian Reader. Please read my earlier posts on the Khovrino vandalism case and the Russian police state’s senseless, relentless persecution of Azat Miftakhov.

Fighting the Package, Wrapping It Tighter

Muscovites rally against the Yarovaya package on August 9, 2016, in Sokolniki Park. Photo courtesy of Oleg Yakovlev/RBC
Muscovites rallying against the Yarovaya package on August 9, 2016, in Sokolniki Park. Photo courtesy of Oleg Yakovlev/RBC

Petition to Repeal “Yarovaya Amendments” Musters Necessary Number of Votes
Maria Bondarenko
RBC
August 14, 2016

A petition calling for the repeal of the so-called Yarovaya anti-terrorism amendments has garnered over 100,000 signatures on the Russian Public Initiative website. It has now been sent to a federal expert working group for consideration.

As of ten minutes past midnight on Sunday, 100,098 people had voted in support of the initiative, while [1,439] people had voted against it. Voting has now been completed, and the initiative has been forwarded for further consideration.

According to the website, the deadline for deciding on the initiative is no more than two months from the date it was submitted for consideration.

According to the petition’s authors, the law “contradicts the Russian Federal Constitution and is absolutely useless from a technical point of view.”

“We ask Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev to repeal the law, since it requires enormous amounts of money, which could lead many Internet companies to bankruptcy and reduce the revenue the state receives from their taxes,” states the petition.

Tabled by MP Irina Yarovaya and Federation Council member Viktor Ozerov, the amendments to anti-terrorism laws were approved by the State Duma on June 24, and signed into law by the Russian president [sic] on July 7. The original law bill contained provisions for stripping people convicted of terrorism and extremism of their Russian citizenship, as well as those who had gone to work in foreign law enforcement agencies and courts or enlisted in [foreign] armies.

Many of the headline-making provisions concerning the IT sector were left in the legislation that was adopted, including those requiring telecom operators and Internet companies to save the text messages and conversations of users. Internet companies complained that the law [sic] would force a rise in prices for telecommunication services and requested that it be redrafted or postponed.

Rallies against the so-called Yarovaya package were held in Moscow and other Russian cities this past week.

Translated by the Russian Reader

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Proposed Russian Law Could “End Online Anonymity”
Moscow Times
August 12, 2016

New Russian legislation could force messaging service providers to identify their users and delete messages containing illegal content, Vedomosti newspaper reported Friday.

Such a law would effectively end the rights of users to online anonymity.

The legislation has been draftedd by Russia’s Media Communications Union (MKS), which represents Russia’s biggest service providers, three of which confirmed to Vedomosti that the project is currently under discussion.

Messaging services will have to “rapidly block messages or publications which contain information banned by Russian law,” Vedomosti reported. If they do not comply, Russia’s media watchdog maintains the right to limit access to the service.

The law bill may be presented in the fall to a parliamentary group headed by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, a MKS source told Vedomosti.

A spokesperson for Rostelecom, a mobile operator working on the legislation, told Vedomosti that the precise details are still being discussed and that mobile operators previously had no such legal obligation to monitor the content of users’ messages.

Users will no longer be able to write anonymously online, which is an infringement of their constitutional rights, according to a spokesman at Russian Internet giant Yandex. He also said the law could force Internet companies to leave the Russian market and could lead to a drop-off in competition and an overall weakening of the sector.

Some believe the new legislation is unnecessary as all provisions for regulating messenger services are contained in anti-terrorism legislation approved this summer by President Vladimir Putin.

The anti-terrorism laws, authored by ultra-conservative Duma Deputy Irina Yarovaya, require messaging companies to monitor the content of phone calls and messages and store them for six months. All messaging apps that use encryption will also be required to add additional code and allow access to Russia’s security services.

NB. The preceding article was lightly edited to make it sound less like a hasty translation or summary of the article that originally appeared in Vedomosti.