Honor the Holidays by Helping the White Helmets

Make an end of year donation to support the White Helmets’ work saving lives and serving communities in Syria: whitehelmets.org

As 2022 ends, I want to pass on my deep gratitude for your support for the White Helmets and the communities we serve. It is as important today as it has ever been. It pains me to see the images coming out of Ukraine – of fleeing civilians, bombed-out ambulances, and paramedics running towards burning buildings. These horrors are so familiar to us Syrians and I firmly believe that the failure of accountability for atrocities in Syria paved the way for Putin’s crimes in Ukraine.

As first responders, we are primary witnesses to violations of international humanitarian law. This year our volunteers saved more than 300 people from under the rubble of attacks, including over 100 children. Since 2015, the White Helmets have responded to 5,700 Russian attacks that killed more than 4,000 people. That Russia has not been held accountable gives dictators anywhere in the world the impression that they can act with impunity.

We will not stop demanding justice and this year we formally launched our own Justice and Accountability Program, which organises evidence of every attack we respond to into a war crimes archive. We are now supporting international investigations, including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN’s Commission of Inquiry, and we are still documenting new atrocities every day.

Last month we rushed in to save lives after the regime and Russia launched a series of attacks on camps for internally displaced people. Our volunteer Hassan Bakir, himself displaced, lost his baby son Azzam in the ambush. More than half of the 4.5 million people in northwest Syria live in vulnerable tent camps and on top of responding to bombing and removing unexploded ordnances, our White Helmets volunteers do all we can to make their lives easier.

With another freezing winter well underway we are hard at work maintaining access to camps, levelling roads and digging drainage channels. Our women’s health centres are managing a deadly outbreak of cholera, and we haven’t stopped our covid-19 response. The level of humanitarian need in Syria is growing but in January, in the middle of winter, families face the threat of reduced humanitarian aid when the UN Security Council votes on whether to continue the cross-border UN aid operation. The threat of Russia politicising this lifeline is a looming crisis.

Since our formation we have lost 297 volunteers, many of whom killed in “double-tap” attacks that aim to kill the first responders that rush to the scene of initial bombings to rescue civilians. Your donations support their bereaved families, and cover medical expenses for volunteers who are injured. I recently met with families who benefit from this support, and I saw how important it is and the dignity it gives them. Our volunteers have saved 125,000 lives since the beginning of the conflict and we are forever grateful to them for their sacrifices.

My wish for 2023 is that real progress is made on justice and accountability. Despite Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the world has become numb to atrocities waged against Syrians. The solidarity of people like you around the world reminds the volunteers that they are not forgotten and it gives them strength to do their dangerous work. Please continue to stand with The White Helmets and to demand justice and accountability in Syria. We all need this to achieve peace.

Your brother,
Raed al-Saleh
Head of the White Helmets

If you can, please make an end of year contribution to the White Helmets to support their efforts in rescuing civilians, pushing for justice and accountability, and providing essential services to communities. Chip in here: whitehelmets.org

Source: The Syria Campaign, email newsletter, 24 December 2022. Photo courtesy of the White Helmets

Giving Tuesday: Solidarity Zone & The White Helmets

Solidarity Zone is a new initiative, established by anti-authoritarian activists. Anarchist Black Cross Moscow is cooperating with the new initiative, and we encourage everyone to support it.

Solidarity Zone is a horizontal initiative supporting those persecuted for anti-war actions. We came together in the spring of 2022 to help those left without attention by human rights organizations.

Everyone is worthy of defense and solidarity. And we stand in solidarity with people who have spoken out in word and deed against state violence. We are against the existence of prisons, states and war — for self-organization, equality and the abolition of oppression.

We are ready to support those who speak out against war and resist militarism, with the exception of people who practice discrimination on national, gender, social and other grounds. At the same time, our project team consists of only a few people, and we do not have enough resources, so we are currently working on a small number of cases.

Right now we are providing support to:

Anton Zhuchkov
Vladimir Sergeev
Vladimir Zolotarev
Igor Paskar
Ruslan Zinin
Kirill Butylin
Vladlen Menshikov

We would like to point out that we don’t pay any fines or compensation for damages caused to the state. We also do not help people who voluntarily testify against others. Pleading or not pleading guilty is not a limiting factor.

Our objectives are: 

  • Establish and maintain contact with detainees and their loved ones; 
  • Find lawyers whom we trust; 
  • Arrange parcels or packages for prisoners;
  • Share information about the cases and addresses for letters with the consent of those who are persecuted.

You can share information about prisoners who need support by writing to us. You can also direct your questions about current cases that our initiative is already working on. E-mail: solidarity_zone@riseup.net

You can follow our work on social media: 
Telegram
Facebook
Instagram

DONATIONS REQUIRED
We have no permanent source of funding and do not get paid, so the support is being provided thanks to your donations. We encourage you to support our project financially, if you are in a position to do so.

Requisites for transfers:

PayPal: solidarity_zone@riseup.net

Bank account to donate outside of Russia:
Account: UGMR
IBAN: DE57 4306 0967 1216 4248 00
BIC: GENODEM1GLS
GLS GEMEINSCHAFTSBANK EG
Subject: Solidarity Zone

Cryptocurrency:
bitcoin: bc1qfzhfkd27ckz76dqf67t0jwm4gvrcug49e7fhry
monero: 86565hecMGW7n2T1ap7wdo4wQ7kefaqXVPS8h2k2wQVhDHyYbADmDWZTuxpUMZPjZhSLpLp2SZZ8cLKdJkRchVWJBppbgBK
ethereum: 0xD89Cf5e0B04b1a546e869500Fe96463E9986ADA3
other altcoins:
https://nowpayments.io/donation/solidarityzone

Source: “Solidarity Zone – a new initiative to support anti-war prisoners in Russia,” Anarchist Black Cross Dresden, 27 November 2022


This is a message from Obada Zekra, the team leader of the White Helmets center in Maret Mesrin in northwest Syria.

With winter fast approaching, my team in northwest Syria is working around the clock to tackle an outbreak of cholera that has already claimed 12 lives here and threatens tens of thousands of displaced families living in tent camps in dire conditions.

We are repairing camp water infrastructure and digging hundreds of drainage channels to prevent torrential winter floods mixing with sewage and spreading the deadly virus. White Helmets ambulances are transferring suspected cases to hospitals and women volunteers are making daily tours of tents to provide primary health care.

In the middle of the cholera outbreak, early on November 6, Russia and the regime bombed sleeping civilians in six overcrowded camps, including with internationally banned cluster munitions, turning their last refuge into a hell. Ten people were killed, including four children. Our team rushed to rescue the injured, but we felt totally helpless when our colleague, the White Helmets volunteer Hassan Bakir, lost his baby son Azzam in an attack on Maram camp where he has lived since he was displaced.

Today on Giving Tuesday 2022, the global day of generosity, will you support The White Helmets’ urgent work responding to aerial attacks, protecting displaced people in camps from cholera, and preparing for a freezing winter?

After the attack the White Helmets evacuated families to other camps as the area was littered with unexploded ordnance which our specialized UXO teams had to clear. But even on days when there are no Russian planes in the skies we are in a constant race against time to prepare for winter: building roads, making health visits to elderly residents, and conducting hundreds of public health information sessions as we predict a fresh wave of both COVID and cholera over winter.

Each of our 19 White Helmets centers responding to the cholera emergency needs $1100 worth of water chlorination equipment to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

• A $20 donation will contribute towards setting up field clinics in tents

• $100 would pay for a 100 liter plastic tank to store clean water

• $300 would buy a new water pump

Donations of any amount are urgently needed as our COVID response taught us how fast infectious diseases spread.

Nearly 1.8 million civilians, the majority of them women and children, have been displaced from their homes by years of attacks by Russia and the regime and now live in camps in northwestern Syria in desperate, cramped conditions where they continue to be targeted by bombs and missiles in violation of international law. The international community continues to fail them and every six months the UN even requires Russia’s approval to renew vital cross-border aid deliveries, which many rely on to survive. People here dream of the day they can return to their homes and towns. Instead, residents of Maram camp suffered a massacre this month that stole the lives of their children.

I myself was displaced by attacks, and I have lost many of my fellow volunteers since I joined the White Helmets in 2013. I overcome these tragedies when I witness day by day how the work of the White Helmets is improving people’s lives. With your support this Giving Tuesday, we can continue to protect displaced people in northwest Syria’s camps with life-saving humanitarian and rescue services.

With thanks,

Obada Zekra

Source: The Syria Campaign email newsletter, 29 November 2022

Father Death Comes to Berlin

Father Death Comes to Berlin — Silence Russian War Propaganda on Our Streets!

On November 29, the “Russian House” Berlin invites to a “festive lighting of the candles” at the Christmas tree in front of the building in Friedrichstraße. In a kitschy video, this event is also advertised by the Russian Embassy.

However, we do not feel “festive” at all! On the contrary. We are angry that such a propaganda action can take place without problems in Berlin. Because while in front of the Russian House “peaceful Christmas” are staged, Russia leads a brutal attack and conquest war in Ukraine, in which whole cities are bombed. The main target is the civilian population, which is exposed to permanent terror by Russian attacks.

The Putin regime is thus continuing a tactic that it has already been testing since 2015 in Syria, where even refugee camps are being attacked by Russian bombers. In Syria, Russian attacks have killed more than 2,000 children in the last eight years, and in Ukraine, nearly 1,000 children have been killed or injured so far as a result of the Russian war. There is no “peaceful Christmas” for these children!

The Russian House has so far refused to take a clear stand against the wars of the Putin regime. It gives itself the outward appearance of a non-political “cultural institute”. In fact, however, it is part of the regime’s propaganda machine and is supposed to convey the image of a peaceful and friendly Russia.

Russian House, Friedrichstrasse, Berlin, Germany. Photo courtesy of taz

The right-wing Alternative for Germany is also occasionally given the opportunity to hold events in the Russian House. Thus, the Russian House also fulfills a function in the Putin regime’s strategy of promoting right-wing and far-right parties and organizations worldwide.

According to research by Tagesspiegel, the Russian House is “run by the Rossotrudnichestvo organization, whose head, Yevgenii Primakov, is a Putin confidant.” The organization is directly under the jurisdiction of the Russian Foreign Ministry and has been subject to European Union sanctions since July.

We ask ourselves: Why is the Russian House in Berlin allowed to continue to act unchallenged and to spread the “soft propaganda” of the Putin regime?

Join us on 29.11.2022 at the Russian House in Friedrichstraße and show your protest against the unspeakably hypocritical event “Father Frost comes to Berlin”!

We demand the immediate closure of the Russian House! Against the propaganda of the Putin regime in Berlin and everywhere!

Source: Facebook. Thanks to Harald Etzbach for the heads-up. I took the liberty of inserting the YouTube video and the photo, above, as well as incorporating the links to articles in the German press into the text. God knows that if I were still living in Berlin, I would be attending this protest. ||| TRR

Lynchpin

Holding it all together

While its war rages in Ukraine, Russia is struggling to stabilise its conflict-battered satellite in the Middle East, the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is meeting his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mekdad, in Moscow on Tuesday. Syria wants assurances that Russia will not divert more forces away from Mr Assad’s civil war to the front in Ukraine. The Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian-backed private security contractor in Syria, has already scaled back its operations. Syria’s cash-poor government also desperately needs grain.

But Russia has demands, too. Turkey’s membership of NATO and location on the Black Sea makes its co-operation critical for Russia’s war in Ukraine. So Russia wants Mr Assad to make peace with his foe, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president. That would require Mr Assad to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees from Turkey and start reconciling with the Turkish-backed rebels in Syria’s north. But so far Russian efforts to push Mr Assad to accept a political settlement have come to nothing.

Source: The Economist, “The World in Brief” email newsletter, 23 August 2022. Photo credit: somewhere in central Petersburg, 22 August 2018, © The Russian Reader


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Calcium Carbonate

Two women are talking on a bus. One is going to Kyiv, the other to Riga.

— Why are you going back?

— Oh that. I have to bury the husband, at last. He’s been lying in the crematorium for four months. They’ve finally cleared the cemetery of mines.

— …

Source: Anastasia Magazova, Facebook, 10 August 2022. In the original, the dialogue between the two women is in Russian, while the two introductory sentences are in Ukrainian. Translated by the Russian Reader


The grille of the railing on Singers Bridge (Pevcheskii most) in central Petersburg. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

We were cruising the Moika by boat and came upon three military men standing on the hump of Singers Bridge — an infantry officer, a naval officer, and an aviator in the Syrian Army. They smiled at us and waved. At the last moment the sailor also shouted, nearly without an accent, “Glory to Russia!” FML

Source: Nikolay Konashenok, Facebook, 11 August 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


A Russian National Guard special rapid deployment force unit in Petersburg. Photo courtesy of Militaryimages.net

while I was feeding the baby, the culture channel showed the culture news. a priest said, but our parish’s residents (we heard “rapists”) defended Russia in Chechnya and other wars. images of icons featuring saints in military uniforms flashed on the screen. such are the culture news in the russian federation.

Source: Roman Osminkin, Twitter, 11 August 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


While waiting for a friend in Kuzminki, I overheard a conversation between two old men. (Chemists?)

— Do you mean to say, Mikhail Innokentyevich, that collective responsibility doesn’t exist?

— Why not? It does exist. But you can’t dissolve in it or engage in handwringing. You have to be firm whenever you can.

— But the proportion of such a solution is what matters to me. When should one dissolve, and when should one remain a solid substance with one’s own interests?

— Well, let’s suppose it’s CaCO3.

— And what do we use to dissolve it? Water? Or hydrochloric acid?

— Hmm, hydrochloric acid, probably. But what do we do now? Can’t we even precipitate?

Source: Zhanna Chernenko, Facebook, 12 August 2022. In Russian, the set phrase vypast’ v’ osadok, aside from its literal, “chemical,” meaning — “(to) precipitate (out of a solution)” — can also mean 1) (to) be very surprised; 2) (to) break with one’s circle; and 3) (to) get very drunk. Translated by the Russian Reader

UXO: Support the White Helmets!

My name is Nermin Al-Hassan and I’m one of the first women to join the White Helmets’ unexploded ordnance (UXO) removal team in northwest Syria. The White Helmets have responded to 247 military attacks this year, the majority by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally. Cluster bombs and rockets have turned our farms into minefields and river banks where children should be free to play into a no man’s land.

With your generous support, the White Helmets respond quickly to every attack to rescue the injured and save lives. Afterwards, our UXO awareness teams go into camps and schools near the bombing to teach people to stay away from the remnants of war that litter our land, which will later be destroyed by our teams. Having women volunteers is so important as we now reach more women in society, alongside their families and crucially children. We also help to survey land and cordon off dangerous areas.

UXO removal is one of the most dangerous jobs at The White Helmets, but knowing that I am part of a team that saves lives helps me overcome my fears. Despite all the risks we face, whether in unexploded ordnance removal or elsewhere, I am honored to be part of an organization that gives people new hope despite all our years of suffering and war.

White Helmets volunteers giving a UXO awareness presentation to a group of students

Northwest Syria lacks almost all of society’s basic services and the White Helmets are stepping up where international actors fail us time and again. During these hot summer months, the medical needs of elderly residents and children in displacement camps are rising and we’ve doubled our services to ease their suffering.

Thanks to your donations to the White Helmets, our volunteers have provided tens of thousands of ambulance services this year, conducted over 700 firefighting operations and we are working hard to repair infrastructure destroyed by bombing. The women volunteers have provided 55,000 consultations to families across 33 women’s centers – with first aid, immunization campaigns and medical advice.

Your generous support is helping the families of volunteers who tragically died doing this life-saving work. 296 families receive $600 each per quarter, and in 2021, donations from supporters like you helped 233 volunteers receive medical treatment for issues ranging from field injuries and urgent surgeries, to cancer treatment and prosthetics.

We all do this stressful work while worrying about our own families’ safety, but our mission to save lives and to keep hope alive for our neighbors who have been abandoned by everyone else sustains us. Knowing that we have the support of individuals like you around the world motivates us greatly even on our most difficult days.

With hope,

Nermin Al-Hassan

PS – If you can, please consider starting a monthly donation to help The White Helmets reach even more people in northwest Syria with life-saving services.

Donate to The White Helmets

Source: Email newsletter from The Syria Campaign, an independent advocacy group campaigning for a peaceful and democratic future for Syria. I just donated $25 to them via PayPal. It took me less than a minute to do this.

Our Wounds Are Bridges

The threads that bind us from Syria to Ukraine

Ukraine and Syria share histories of struggle; struggles for freedom in the face of terror, violence and authoritarianism.

Together, in the spirit of mutual curiosity and collaboration, we will explore common questions: What are the realities on the ground right now in Syria and Ukraine? What can we learn from each others’ struggles for freedom and justice? What possibilities are there for new international solidarities? What can we do together that we can’t do alone?

Together we heal, we make sense of the world, we build the power to change it. Our shared pain is a portal. Join leading Syrian and Ukrainian thinkers and activists, as we build bridges from our wounds.

Interpretation will be available in Ukrainian, Arabic, and Russian.

Speakers:

Yassin al-Haj Saleh – Syrian writer and former political prisoner. Yassin is the author of several books on Syria, prison, and contemporary Islam. He is the husband of Samira al-Khalil, who was abducted by an armed Islamist group in Douma in December 2013.

Wafa Mustafa – Syrian activist, journalist, and detention-survivor. Mustafa left Syria in 2013, after her father was forcibly disappeared by the regime, and now advocates for those impacted by detention – with a particular focus on young girls and women, and families.

Yuliya Yurchenko is a Senior Lecturer and researcher in Political Economy at the University of Greenwich. She is the author of ‘Ukraine and the Empire of Capital’, and researches the relationships between state, capital, and social relations with a particular focus on Europe and Ukraine.

Taras Bilous – Ukrainian historian and activist with the Social Movement Organisation. Taras is an editor for the Commons: Journal of social critique, covering war and nationalism.

Part of Post-Extractive Futures, organised by: War on Want, Tipping Point, and Junte Gente.

Register for this event here. Thanks to Taras Bilous and Harald Etzbach for the information. ||| TRR


[UPDATE: 5 May 2022]

Last Thursday, hundreds of us gathered online to hear the testimonies and reflections of Yassin, Wafa, Yuliya, and Taras. 

Together, they spoke about the current situations in Syria and Ukraine, the despairing patterns of colonial occupation that bind them together, and the importance of connecting and collaborating in order to bring about justice. 

If you were unable to make it in the end, or you want to watch it again, you can find a link to the recording of the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYqsOPEsuN0&t=1s

You can also find a transcription of the event here: https://antidotezine.com/2022/04/15/our-wounds-are-bridges/

Links to essays and interviews that the four speakers referenced during the event can be found here:

Yassin Al-Haj Saleh
‘The Ukranian-Russian-Syrian Triangle’: https://aljumhuriya.net/en/2022/03/25/the-ukrainian-syrian-russian-triangle-and-the-world/
‘The Impossible Revolution’ (book): https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-impossible-revolution/
‘Letters to Samira’: https://www.aljumhuriya.net/en/content/letters-samira-15

Yuliya Yurchenko
‘Ukraine and the Empire of Capital’(book): https://www.plutobooks.com/author/yuliya-yurchenko/
‘Ukraine and the Dis(integrating) Empire of Capital’ (essay): https://lefteast.org/ukraine-disintegrating-empire-of-capital/

Wafa Ali Mustafa
‘Gone but not forgotten: Syria’s missing persons’: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct3035
‘Wafa Mustafa: the woman fighting to find her father – and all of Syria’s disappeared’: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/14/wafa-mustafa-the-woman-fighting-to-find-her-father-and-all-of-syrias-disappeared

Taras Bilous
‘A Letter to the Western Left from Kyiv’: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/odr/a-letter-to-the-western-left-from-kyiv/
‘The Left in the West must Rethink’ (interview): https://commons.com.ua/en/left-west-must-rethink/

Source: Excerpts from an email from Post-Extractive Futures, 21 April 2022

A Message of Solidarity with Ukraine from the White Helmets in Syria

This is a message of solidarity with Ukraine from Raed Al Saleh, the head of The White Helmets humanitarian volunteers. Today, on the 11th anniversary of the Syrian revolution, it drives home why a democratic Syria – free from dictatorship and tyranny – is part of a global cause that must prevail.

[…]

As Ukrainians come under brutal attack by Putin, it is chilling to see Russia using the same strategy and playbook in Ukraine as they use in Syria – attacking fleeing civilians, controlling humanitarian corridors, bombing hospitals and spreading disinformation.

Our volunteer first responders have saved more than 125,000 civilian lives in Syria since 2014, many from direct Russian attacks, and it’s heartbreaking to witness the same tragedies being repeated over and over again. We know the scale of horror that Russian bombings can inflict: no one and nothing is off limits.

In Syria, a concerted Russian disinformation campaign spreads fabricated claims attacking White Helmets volunteers to cover up war crimes. Now Russia is using the same methods to legitimize its attack on the Ukrainian people – using social media to sow doubt about atrocities committed against civilians.

When I saw the aftermath of Russian airstrikes on the maternity hospital in Mariupol last week, including Russia’s immediate disinformation efforts online, it was as if history was repeating itself.

We have witnessed these same horrific scenes and lies during attacks on Syrian hospitals. It angers me to see companies such as Twitter continue to allow accounts to spread falsehoods – and I urge you to join me in calling on Twitter to shut down all accounts, including Russian government accounts, being used to spread harmful disinformation.

A few days ago I spoke to the Washington Post and shared what we have learnt from our experience in case it can be of any help to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. I told them that the GoPro camera is the best way to fight Russian disinformation and report the reality on the ground.

A White Helmets volunteer in Aleppo carries an injured child after an airstrike. Beha el Halebi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images/NPR

I also warned against sharing GPS locations of medical facilities with the United Nations. In Syria the Russians used that information to target hospitals. Ukrainians should also establish small medical and civil defense outposts in secret locations around the city to take the pressure off larger hospitals and mitigate the risk of targeting first responders.

There is no doubt Putin has been emboldened by the impunity he enjoyed in Syria. If Putin is not held accountable for his invasion of Ukraine the whole story will repeat itself again.

Today, we need actions not words from the international community. They must pursue justice relentlessly so no dictator can feel able to shamelessly commit such atrocities.

For the last seven years, the Syrian people have stood up to Russia and have yet to be defeated – so we believe Ukrainians can do so as well. At the end of the day, it is the will of the citizens that is the strongest weapon, even against the mightiest militaries in the world.

In solidarity,

Raed Al Saleh

Source: Email newsletter from The Syria Campaign, 15 March 2022. I inserted the Netflix documentary and the photo of the White Helmets volunteer in Aleppo, as well as the links to the articles by the Washington Post and the Intercept about the organization. ||| TRR

Bad Memories, Unpopular Opinions, Wacky Icons

September 8, 2018
I don’t care what they call themselves or what names they are called — liberals, intellectuals, anarchists, communists, socialists, plain old good people — but given the utter silencing of the topic of Syria in the provisionally anti-Putin grassroots and political discourse in Russia, it is difficult to see these various democratic and progressive forces as a force per se, and even more so as a force for good and renewal. The full picture of what is happening nowadays includes the bombing of Idlib, and not only the beloved “social agenda” vis-a-vis the unpopular pension reform, if only because the regime has had to find the money for the bombs, missiles and planes in people’s pockets. But everyone keeps their lips sealed, not realizing that cowardice on this occasion is read as cowardice on all occasions among “the common folk” that they are perpetually trying to save.

September 8, 2017
“However, his new position as head of the local police will not bring the main character the peace for whose sake he pursued it. After the opening of an oil refinery, the city is plunged into the chaos of crime. Attempts to deal with the oil company lead to disastrous consequences for his entire family. The tragedy forces the hero to compromise his principles and set out on the path of revenge.”

September 8, 2016
From the annals of Russian pollocracy, which I’ve decided to redub poleaxeocracy.

File this one under “aiding and comforting the enemy.”

Stalin was “quite popular,” too. God only knows how that ended up.

In any case, “being popular” and “good governance” are two entirely different things.

It’s strange how much capital of all kinds has been spent over the past 17 years to convince the Russian people and everyone else this isn’t the case.

So if US researchers really were wasting their time trying to figure out whether Putin is “in fact popular,” this only goes to show . . .

What? That either the researchers have fallen for this stupidity or they think Russians are degenerate morons.

There are no circumstances under which you can objectively determine whether Putin is “in fact popular,” because the question itself is irrelevant.

It’s like asking people whether they think Michael Corleone is “really handsome.”

Michael Corleone’s job is not “being handsome.” It’s running the Corleone mob.

Greg Yudin
September 8, 2016
A wonderful story. I have just been sent confirmation of my text yesterday about the Levada Center of a sort that I couldn’t have hoped for.

If you remember, the Justice Ministry has been hassling the Levada Center over a study conducted jointly with the University of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin is somehow supported by the Pentagon, and from this it follows that Pentagon money directly lands in the pocket of the Levadovites, who in return report secrets about Russian public opinion. We won’t bother discussing this paranoia, so let’s move on.

The joint project with Wisconsin most likely refers to the research that Scott Gelbach from Wisconsin did with the Levada Center’s involvement. A colleague sent me an article on this research that has just been published. Actually, the goal of Gelbach, Timothy Frye from Columbia University and their team was to find out “Is Putin’s popularity real?” (as their article is entitled). They needed the Levada Center as a partner for conducting an “experiment” as part of a public opinion poll. In this experiment, they wanted to rule out the “fear factor” on the part of the respondents. (I’ll be writing a separate post about the “experiment.”) As a result of the experiment, it transpired that “Putin is in fact quite popular.” Moreover, they claim that, in reality, Putin’s ratings, per their experiment, may even be somewhat underestimated due to “artificial deflation.”

Once again, read these lines: the authorities want to shut down the Levada Center because of a study that claims that Putin is “in fact” even more popular than people think!

And not just claims, but informs the whole world about it in perfect English. I wonder if the Anti-Maidan movement knows about this?

September 8, 2016
“So begins a yearlong series of plays chronicling Russian leaders.”

Enough already. I’d like to hear a play or program about the history of Portugal or Mali or Ecuador or Malaysia.

BBC Radio 4 and all the other high-tone media outlets in the so-called western world have so-called Russian history and culture coming out of their ears and noses.

This only works to the advantage of the Putinists, because, almost without exception, these various “serious” entertainments and furrowed-brow documentaries and exposés simply reinforce the tired home truths (i.e., lies) about Russia’s history and present that the regime itself is fond of shoving down everyone’s throats. Not to mention the fact that getting so much attention satisfies the vanity of the Russian powers that be.

But really, there is a big, big world out there we’d like to hear about more often. A world without Putin and “Russia.”

September 8, 2015
Over-the-top late-Soviet “ritual” lacquered panels, commissioned by the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism in Leningrad in the early nineteen-eighties, and brilliantly and flawlessly executed by a group of six “retooled” icon painters from the village of Mstyora, near Suzdal, a place famed for its distinctive school of icon and lacquered box painting.

Although the panels were officially commissioned, they have not been exhibited until now, apparently. Head to the revamped Museum of the History of Religion (nowadays, sans the atheism) in downtown Petersburg to check them out.

Photos by Comrade Koganzon. Translated, where necessary, by the Russian Reader

Solo Picket: At Home Edition (Darya Apahonchich)

I’m in self-isolation, but if I could . . .

. . . I would go out on a solo picket and make these demands.

Urgently take measures to stop domestic violence.

Release political prisoners immediately.

Give financial assistance to everyone who has lost their source of livelihood due to the virus.

Announce an amnesty for people convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Stop fighting wars and supporting dictatorial regimes.

Or buzz off.

Translated by the Russian Reader. See more by and about Darya Apahonchich here. And check out my coronavirus coverage while you’re at it.

darya