Don’t Protest Here

miting
Petersburg historic preservationists gathering for a “sanctioned” protest near the Sports and Concert Complex (SKK), a late-Soviet era landmark in southern Petersburg that recently collapsed while being illegally dismantled, killing one worker. Photo by Sergei Yermokhin. Courtesy of Delovoi Peterburg

Don’t Rally Here: It Will Be More Difficult for Petersburg’s Historic Preservationists to Protest
Svyatoslav Afonkin
Delovoi Peterburg
March 11, 2020

The Petersburg Legislative Assembly is amending the city’s law on protest rallies. The rules for holding protests have become more complicated, especially for historic preservationists.

The city parliament passed in the second reading a new redaction of the law on protest rallies. Thanks to amendments introduced by the parliamentary majority, the minimum number of “Hyde Parks” [locations where it is legal to have public protests] has been reduced from eight, as stipulated in the first redaction of the draft law, to four. Moreover, the parliament’s legislative committee added another restriction: a ban on public events outside dilapidated buildings in danger of collapsing.

Several sites designated as “dangerous” have inflamed the passions of historic preservationists in recent months. The roof on the Petersburg Sport and Concert Complex (SKK) was deemed dangerous. The Basevich tenement building on the Petrograd Side, which has been threatened with demolition, is also considered dangerous. Protest rallies have recently taken place on more than one occasion at both sites. The resettled houses on Telezhnaya Street, which the Smolny [Petersburg city hall] wants to sell, have also been the focus of public attention once again.

Drone footage of the collapse of the Sport and Concert Complex (SKK) in Petersburg in January 2020. Courtesy of Fontanka.ru

Alexei Kovalyov, leader of the Just Russia faction in the legislative assembly and deputy chair of its commission on municipal facilities, urban planning, and land issues, argues that new language in the bill appeared for a reason.

“Of course this will be an obstacle for historic preservationists. Our faction opposed these cretinous amendments. There is no doubt that this is why the new norm was introduced. It was done deliberately,” Kovalyov told DP.

Anna Kapitonova, a member of the presidium of the Petersburg branch of VOOPIiK [Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Landmarks], noted that the amendments could make life more difficult for protest organizers: small protest rallies, such as a series of solo pickets, sometimes take place right on the sidewalks, after all. According to Kapitonova, the authorities were also able earlier to prevent even solo pickets on the pretext that scheduled maintenance or construction work was taking place nearby.

“Last year, I held a solo picket at the entrance to the Smolny. After a while, an official with the law enforcement committee came out of the building. Although the Smolny is hardly a dangerous site, scheduled maintenance of the facade was underway over fifty meters from my picket. But the official told me it was dangerous for me to be there, and asked me to move away,” Kapitonova said.

Denis Chetyrbok, head of the legislative assembly’s legislative committee, told DP that the amendments were introduced in connection with a Constitutional Court ruling, and parliamentarians had no other motives.

“If there is a dangerous building that might collapse located next to the place indicated in the [protest rally] application, then it will be difficult to secure approval for a public event,” Chetyrbok confirmed.

Translated by the Russian Reader

A “Political Hit Job” in Petersburg

vishnevskyBoris Vishnevsky. Photo courtesy of Deutsche Welle

Petersburg City Councilman Boris Vishnevsky Accuses Prigozhin Media of Slander
Deutsche Welle
November 14, 2019

On Friday, November 14, Boris Vishnevsky, a Yabloko Party deputy in the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, filed a complaint with the Primorsky District Internal Affairs Department, requesting it open a criminal slander investigation into articles published by Patriot media holding company, whose board of trustees is headed by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, as reported by Vishnevsky himself on his Facebook page.

Novaya Gazeta has reported that, beginning on November 7, Patriot’s media outlets have been running stories claiming that, in his capacity as a professor at the Herzen Russian State Pedagogical University (RGPU), Vishnevsky had sexually harassed first-year female students.

The basis of the charges is, allegedly, an email from a young woman named Kristina, who identified herself as an RGPU alumna and claimed Vishensky harassed her and other female first-year students in 2014.

On November 12, the national TV channel Rossiya 24 told viewers there had been “widespread complaints” against Vishnevsky, and students had been holding solo pickets against him outside the Legislative Assembly.

Meanwhile, RGPU has issued a press release. It stated there were no first-year students named Kristina enrolled at the university in 2014, Vishnevsky had never taught courses to first-year students there, and no allegations of sexual harassment had ever been made against him.

Vishnevsky has called the scandal an obvious “political hit job.”

“This is the regime’s revenge for my political activities and political stance, for exposing fraud involving the city budget and utilities rates, for fighting to save the city, for defending political prisoners, and for Yabloko’s victories in the municipal district council elections in the Central District,” he wrote.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Makarov: Russia Is God’s Last Hope on Earth

6fbb0ff7-d5dd-4ac5-b7d1-568717fb0d7e
Religious procession in Petersburg, September 12, 2017. Photo courtesy of Alexander Demyanchuk/TASS

Legislative Assembly Speaker Vyacheslav Makarov Calls Russia God’s Last Hope on Earth 
Delovoi Peterburg
September 12, 2017

As reported on Fontanka.ru on Tuesday, September 12, Vyacheslav Makarov, speaker of the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly, called Russia God’s last hope while addressing participants of a religious procession that had marched down Nevsky Prospect.

“Russia has its own special mission in the world. The meaning of Russia’s existence is to solve problems that no other country can solve. Russia is a world power, God’s last hope on earth! That is why the Lord invisibly protects Russia from enemies and safeguards its little world for a salvational outcome in order to protect our country in its heavenly and earthly dimensions,” Vyacheslav Makarov said.

banners
Religious procession in Petersburg, September 12, 2017. Photo courtesy of Alexander Demyanchuk/TASS

He noted the adversities that have ravaged Russia are bound up, among other things, with the murder of the tsar and his family.

“Exactly one hundred years separate us from events that radically changed our Fatherland, a great, multi-ethnic country, events that plunged it into the madness of civil war, in which children rebelled against their parents, and brother fought against brother. And the subsequent losses and sorrows, trials and tragedies through which the people passed were predestined by the destruction of the state, the murder of the tsar and his children, and militant atheism,” said Makarov.

cossacks
Religious procession in Petersburg, September 12, 2017. Photo courtesy of Alexander Demyanchuk/TASS

In turn, Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko noted that Alexander Nevsky had chosen the right way for building the state, had repelled outside aggressors, and had helped the Russian people maintain its identity through Orthodoxy.

Today, Petersburg held a citywide religious procession in honor of the Day of the Translation of the Relics of Alexander Nevsky. The sacred procession went down Nevsky Prospect from Kazan Cathedral to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. According to the regional directorate of the Interior Minister, over 100,000 people took part in the event.

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

The Joseph Brodsky Law

Let’s call it the Joseph Brodsky Law, especially since it was drafted in that incubator of shamelessness and obscurantism known as the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, in Brodsky’s hometown.

I have an acquaintance who was laid off seven months ago from his job of many years in the marketing department at a reputable, Soviet-era instruments manufacturing company. He has been diligently looking for a comparable job (or any good job) since then, but has found nothing.

Part of the reason his company tanked was that the wise guys (pun intended?) who now own it, diversified into real estate development and construction during the “boom” times a few year ago, and lost tons of money building luxury high-rises somewhere in the middle of Leningrad Region which no one wanted to move into.

Igor will be thrilled to learn his country has plans to label him a “social parasite” and assign him to a life of slave labor because he, a hard-working, pleasant, smart, decent guy, had the bad fortune to be born in a country where, in reality, “labor” and hard work have always been vilified and criminalized, whether by the serf-owning noblemen of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the vanguard of the proletariat during the twentieth century or the new overlords, the Ozero dacha co-op and their minions from the worlds of organized crime and petty officialdom.

rus_lit_60_05Joseph Brodsky, convicted social parasite and Nobel Prize winner

By the way, this is yet another reason the abomination known as the Joseph Brodsky Memorial Apartment Museum, which seems closer than ever to becoming a reality, now that the Friends of Brodsky have finally made a deal with the nasty old neighbor lady from the Brodsky family’s communal flat in the Muruzi House who was holding out on the Friends of Brodsky and asking for too much for her portion of the flat, should never be opened, much less have been contemplated in the first place.

The nasty old neighbor lady has been the only (albeit inadvertent) heroine in this tedious, drawn-out saga, because she has been the only one of the players trying to prevent the building of a needless, unwieldy monument to a man who, whatever his other extreme personal and political quirks, would hardly have wanted to return—whether in the flesh, in the spirit, as a bronze suitcase with his severed head propped on top, as yet another salon of old knickknacks and furniture (aka the Russian writer’s museum), etc.—to a city which is not only run by a, so to speak, legitimately elected ex-KGB officer and where homophobia is not merely legalized but almost functions like a quasi-state ideology, but where the law that was used to put Brodsky away when he was just a punk poetry slammer is now being revived, if only, so far, on the “exploratory” and “thought experiment” level.

BrodskySimunKonstantin Simun, Memorial to Joseph Brodsky, Philological Faculty, Saint Petersburg State University

The Brodsky Museum should not be opened if for no other reason than that all these creeps from the Mariinsky Palace and the Smolny (you can fill in their names), so keen on grinding gays into the dirt and stigmatizing the jobless, among their other hobbies, will show up for the grand opening. And the Friends of Brodsky will have invited them there. God knows that is exactly how Brodsky would have wanted to be remembered—as a door mat for thieves and crooks to wipe their feet on while accumulating cultural capital. (They already have a lock on the real capital, the shiny stuff you can buy swanky digs in London with.)

Finally, note that the only person who talks any sense, in the article, quoted below, is the guy from the Communist Party. Go figure.

_________

In a move reminiscent of the Soviet era, Russian lawmakers have proposed introducing a penalty for being unemployed, and called for amending the Constitution to make labor the duty of each citizen, Russian media reported Monday.

The bill, drafted in the municipal legislature of St. Petersburg and soon to be introduced before the State Duma, would make “employment dodging” an offense punishable by community service, Izvestia reported. The daily claimed to have obtained a copy of the draft bill.

The move would echo the practice of the Soviet Union, whose Constitution enshrined labor as the “right” and also the “duty” of each citizen. It would also echo a law that the former Soviet republic of Belarus adopted recently, making “social parasitism” — a Soviet-era term for unemployment — punishable by a fine, in a bid to crack down on tax evaders.

Joseph Brodsky, one of Russia’s most prominent poets and its last Nobel prize winner in literature, was convicted of social parasitism during a 1964 trial, over the course of which the judge famously wondered who had recognized him as a poet.

Izvestia reported that under the new bill, adult and able-bodied Russians who have been out of a job for more than six months “when there is appropriate work available,” could be sentenced to up to one year of community service.

St. Petersburg lawmaker Andrei Anokhin was quoted by Interfax as saying that jobless Russians should apply to state-run employment agencies, and the “state should provide everyone with work.”

“Then it would be much easier to track down those who avoid working,” Anokhin was quoted by Izvestia as saying.

A lawmaker on the State Duma’s labor and social policy committee, Valery Trapeznikov, said that his panel would review the proposal, adding that Russians who do not work are costing the state income tax losses, the report said.

Communist State Duma deputy Vadim Solovyev referred to the proposal as “unconstitutional” in comments carried by Interfax.

“The introduction of a criminal penalty for being unemployed would mean violating the Constitution and international agreements,” Solovyev said Monday, noting that Russia is bound by its ratification of the International Labor Organization’s convention prohibiting forced labor.

Mikhail Yemelyanov, a Duma deputy from the A Just Russia party, said that he is confident the proposal will not survive a parliamentary vote. “This initiative cannot be approved because it is meaningless,” Yemelyanov told Interfax on Monday.

Meanwhile, Federation Council member Alexander Ryazantsky offered an alternative to the proposed penalty in comments to Interfax, suggesting that the unemployed should lose their rights to certain social benefits, such as advanced medical coverage and pensions.

source: Moscow Times

P.S. Kommersant reports a bill has been introduced in the State Duma that, if passed, would ban the use of hunger strikes “by way of resolving collective and individual labor disputes.”

You cannot make this stuff up, but they can. Have a gander at yesterday’s post, about the work-to-rule strike in Moscow medical clinics, where recent and current hunger strikes by Ufa health workers are also mentioned.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

1

Christmas has come and my pocket is empty.
My novel’s finished, but the publisher’s iffy.
The Koran has made the calendar itchy.
There’s no one to visit, no one to worry.
Not my pal, whose kiddies just bawl.
Not my folks nor the broad down the hall.
Everywhere money’s the end and be all.
I sit on a chair, trembling with fury.

2

Ah! the poet’s accursed craft.
The telephone is dumb, a diet’s at hand.
I could borrow at the local, but that’s
like borrowing from a dame.
Losing one’s independence is much worse
than losing one’s innocence. I suppose
it’s a vicarious pleasure to dream of a spouse,
to say to oneself, “It’s high time.”

3

Knowing my status, my betrothed
hasn’t changed hers five years in a row.
Where she is nowadays, I do not know:
The devil himself couldn’t make her spill.
She says, “It’s useless to grieve.
Feelings are what’s important! Agreed?”
And from where she sits, that’s keen.
But she, it seems, is more fond of the swill.

4

I’m altogether skeptical of kith and kin.
My extra stomach offends the kitchen.
To top it off, my personal opinion
of man’s role in life makes them bristle.
They consider me a bandit
and make a mockery of my diet.
With them I enjoy no credit.
“Cut him a piece of gristle!”

5

I see my unmarried self in the windowpane.
One simple fact I’ll never explain
is how I’ve survived until Christmas Day,
Nineteen Hundred Sixty-seven A.D.
Twenty-six years of jolts and bumps,
scrounging for money, the judge’s thumps,
learning to play the deaf-mute, to primp
for the Law like a lady.

6

Around me life flows like molasses.
(I have in mind, of course, the masses.)
Marx is vindicated. But, following Marx’s
theory, long ago I should’ve been slaughtered.
Whose balance this favors is anyone’s guess.
My existence is a philosopher’s mess.
I somersault from this age without a net.
Please forgive me my hauteur.

7

Meaning, there’s every reason to rest assured.
The cry “Mount your horses!” is no longer heard.
The nobles have been squashed to the last earl.
Pugachev and Stepan Razin are long gone, honey.
The palace is taken, if you believe the rumors.
Dzhugashvili lies, a pickled cucumber.
On the forecastle all the cannons slumber.
The only thing on my mind is money.

8

Money is hiding in safes and in banks,
in stockings, in ceilings, in toilet bowl tanks,
in fireproof tins, in money order blanks.
Nature is drowning in money’s mere!
Packs of the newest notes make a commotion
like the distant crowns of birches, acacias.
I’m overwhelmed by hallucinations.
Give me some air!

9

Night. The rustle of falling snow.
A shovel gently scrapes the pavement below.
In the window opposite, an icon lamp glows.
I loll on the sofa’s steel springs.
I see only the icon lamp. But the icon is
out of sight. I draw closer to the balcony.
The snow covers the roof with a blanket,
and the houses stand like someone else’s.

[…]

source