I love Facebook Memories, especially in this instance, because just yesterday I got some (more) flak for sharing posts by the Israeli military trainer and friend of Ukraine Yigal Levin.
This is what Mr. Levin posted exactly a year ago today. I reposted it the same day, but it elicited no reactions from anyone. (Forty-three people reacted to Mr. Levin’s original post, by the way.)
Here’s a rough translation:
‘President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said today that, according to the information available to him, Russia intends to work on a plan to capture three Ukrainian cities — Kiev, Odessa and Kharkiv– at the upcoming Zapad-2021 exercises. The President stressed that during the Zapad-2021 exercises, Russia may carry out a number of provocations in order to force Ukraine to react.
‘The Zapad-2021 exercises will be held from September 10 to 16 on the military training grounds of two states, Russia and Belarus. Preparations for the exercises are currently in the strategic planning phase, and a number of operational stages of preparation are expected by September. In total, more than 4,500 different tactical exercises and maneuvers will be conducted.
‘Let me remind you that this spring Russia deployed troops and equipment on the Ukrainian border in addition to those that have already been there since 2014. They were ostensibly there to conduct exercises. But even after [Russian military authorities] said they had been withdrawn, the troops and equipment were not withdrawn from the borders of Ukraine.’
Президент Украины Владимир Зеленский заявил сегодня, что, согласно имеющейся у него информации, на ближайших учениях “Запад-2021” Россия планирует отработать захват трех украинских городов: Киева, Одессы и Харькова. Президент подчеркнул, что во время учений “Запад-2021” Россия может провести ряд провокаций с целью вынудить Украину реагировать.
Учения “Запад-2021” пройдут с 10 по 16 сентября на военных полигонах двух государств – России и Беларуси. Сейчас подготовка к учениям находится на стратегической фазе планирования, и к сентябрю ожидается еще ряд оперативных стадий подготовки. В итоге будет совершенно более 4500 различных учений и маневров на тактическом уровне.
Напомню, что этой весной Россия стянула к украинским границам войска и технику в добавок к тем, которые уже находились там с 2014 года. Якобы для проведения учений. Но даже после заявлении об отводе, стянутые войска и техника от границ Украины так и не были отведены.
Mitya is infinitely right. All these years I have been constantly saying that all people of good will should leave the Russian Federation. How can one imagine a “theory of small deeds,” say, in the Third Reich? All conscientious Germans left Germany in the 30s, and to one degree or another joined various resistance forces. Such regimes are not destroyed from the inside, but only by blows from outside —military, economic, political and cultural.
Until recently, a segment of the Russian intelligentsia and the upper middle class had a favorite toy — the “theory of small deeds.” In practice, it meant that they said: yes, we cannot defeat the dictatorship, which means we need to do something useful in spite of that — save sick children, create foundations, hold cultural events, publish literature, defend human rights wherever possible. They had the hope that everyone would be able to influence the state and society as a whole doing what they do best, and these little drops would come together to make a sea, so to speak. Well, in the process, of course, they would have to cooperate with the state.
It all turned out to be baloney. Here is another historical lesson — do not collaborate with tyrants. Never. Under any circumstances. Don’t lend them legitimacy. Even for the sake of sick children.
Because you will never turn that debit into a debit. You will save 10 thousand children who have cancer only for the dictatorship to kill 100 thousand children sooner or later. It’s already killing them, and not only Ukrainian children. It’s killing Russian children, too, whom it will now be impossible to save without western drugs and equipment.
In a dictatorship, small deeds happen only in the toilet.
Actress and Activist Chulpan Khamatova Has Left Russia
She joins dozens of Russian cultural figures who have left the country. Moscow Times
March 21, 2022
The Russian stage and screen actress Chulpan Khamatova told Ekaterina Gordeyeva in an interview released on Monday that she would not be going back to Russia.
Khamatova, who heads the Gift of Life charity foundation, was abroad when Russia began its attack on Ukraine. “For the first few days I didn’t know what to do,” she said in the interview. At first I just wanted to stay some place and wait for it to end, but then I was led to believe that it might not be safe for me to return. I’m in Riga for now. I am certainly not a traitor. I love my homeland very much,” she said.
Khamatova is one of Russia’s most celebrated actresses who has acted in dozens of films and television series — most recently playing the lead role in the screen version of Guzel Yakhina’s novel “Zuleikha.” She also plays Raisa Gorbachev in the hit play “Gorbachev” at the Moscow Theater of Nations.
She is just one of dozens of Russian cultural figures who have left the country since the war began.
Earlier this month the music director of the Bolshoi Theater, Turgan Sokhiev, resigned his post in Moscow and in Toulouse, France. He wrote that he felt he was being forced “to choose between my beloved Russian and beloved French musicians” and so “decided to resign from my positions at both the Bolshoi in Moscow and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse.”
At the same time two foreign ballet dancers at the Bolshoi, Jacopo Tissi and David Motta Soares, put in their resignations.
This was followed by the announcement that Bolshoi prima ballerina Olga Smirnova left for the Dutch National ballet.
Russian television has also lost several of its best-known on-screen personalities: Channel One colleague Zhanna Agalakova quit her job as Europe correspondent for Channel One, and both Lilia Gildeyeva and Vadim Glusker quite NTV. Gildeyeva had worked at the channel since 2006, and Glusker had been there almost from the start, for 30 years.
Dmitry Linkin, the head designer for Channel One for 24 years, also quit. “I was taught that human life is invaluable,” he said.
In an interview with Ksenia Sobchak, broadcast on TV Rain in June 2012, Chulpan Khamatova said that she would rather live in “North Korea” than have her own country go through another revolution.
No Political Harmony Among Cultural Elite
Alexander Bratersky Moscow Times
February 19, 2012
As Prime Minister Vladimir Putin enters the home stretch of his campaign to return to the Kremlin, he is relying on the support not only of the blue-collar electorate, but also members of the cultural elite, who are helping to market his bid for the presidency.
Putin’s extended campaign team has about 500 participants, including famous musicians, actors and writers who appear in pro-Putin commercials and at rallies. But political analysts and experts said their participation has divided the cultural elite itself.
Several dozen prominent celebrities, among them world-famous piano player Denis Matsuyev, St. Petersburg Mariinsky conductor Valery Gergiev, jazz musician Igor Butman and opera star Anna Netrebko have thrown their lot in with Putin.
When contacted to explain the reasons behind their choice of candidate, most have declined to comment. The situation has even split families: in one case a well-known rock musician sided with Putin, while his brother, also a rock star, is for the opposition.
Supporting Putin, who is seen by his opponents as an authoritarian leader, might damage a performer’s reputation and can become a source of controversy. The liberal media has attacked prominent actress Chulpan Khamatova for appearing in a Putin commercial, in which she thanks the prime minister for supporting her charity that aids children with cancer. Although Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Khamatova appeared in the commercial voluntarily, sources at the charity said she was forced into the recording.
The public response against the video was so negative that even liberal Novaya Gazeta had to defend Khamatova in one of its latest articles. Khamatova has declined to discuss her endorsement for Putin. “Let everyone stick to his own vision,” she said, RIA Novosti reported.
Iosif Prigozhin, a prominent music producer and show business insider has also defended the actress.
“Khamatova is an absolutely sincere person. But imagine that I had helped you. Would you do the same for me?” he told The Moscow Times.
A picket in Russia against war with Ukraine was so tiny that I didn’t even notice it in the stream of incoming news. And it happened something like a week ago. Six (6) activists were involved in the protest. They unfurled posters calling on the Kremlin to stop the war against Ukraine and waved the Ukrainian and Russian flags.
This was how it was reported on the Voice of America website:
“The participants of the anti-war rally said that most passersby did not support the picket. Some spat at the picketers, while others made the cuckoo sign and called the picketers insulting or abusive names. Kirov residents, mostly people of the older generation, urged that ‘Ukraine be wiped off the face of the earth,’ and told the protesters ‘not to disgrace themselves.'”
Basically, it’s all quite clear and expected. Just remember a few things. First, when they tell you that Russians don’t want war with Ukraine, they are lying to you. Let me remind you that silence = consent. Secondly, when you are accused of Russophobia, spit in the face of the person who accuses you.
But the six people who attended this protest rally are heroes. I say that without the slightest trace of irony.
Translated by the Russian Reader
On 4 December, the Associated Press, citing information from the US intelligence services, reported that Russia was preparing to put 175,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. “[Deploying] Russian armed forces on Russian territory – that’s the legal right of a sovereign state”, responded Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, without denying the build-up of forces on the border.
Along with the migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, these actions are an episode in the cynical and dangerous geopolitical game of Russian and the west, in which millions of working people in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and other countries are being held hostage. This sabre-rattling is not only an attempt to push other states into retreat. Behind it also stands the aspirations of the elite to “rally the nation” once again around the Putin regime, as it did in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea.
The so-called “hybrid war with the west” is needed to distract the population’s attention from the poverty, inequality, political repression, falsification of elections and the collapse of the fight with the coronavirus. This “hybrid war” serves as a justification for round after round of attacks on the rights and freedoms of Russians, for the continuation of a social and economic policy directed against the majority of people – and for power becoming un-removable.
Militarism and nationalism are lethally dangerous drugs that are being injected into Russian society and, at the same time, are poisoning the consciousness of the ruling clique, which is becoming more and more removed from reality.
The loss of social support, the absence of any vision of the future and the determination to stay in charge by any means have pushed Russia’s rulers towards this terrible step: an attempt to cut the Gordian knot of their problems by dragging Russia into a major war.
In this situation it is essential that the progressive forces in Russian society, including the left, are united in opposition to war. Whatever our attitude to the political situation in Ukraine, or to the policy of the USA or the EU in the region, another military adventure will lead to nothing but a humanitarian catastrophe and the reinforcement of authoritarianism on both sides of the border.
We must not allow a repeat of 2014, when a section of the Russian opposition, gripped by illusions in the supposedly progressive character of the so-called “Russian spring”, in practice supported the Kremlin and its imperial expansion.
It must be axiomatic that a regime of record-breaking social inequality, of lies, repression and obscurantism, can not bring “freedom” to anyone, including the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine.
Source: Russian Socialist Movement (RSD) • Facebook • December 7, 2021 • Translated by Simon Pirani and published on People and Nature on December 29, 2021
Solo pickets by Russians against the Russian government’s aggression in Ukraine. December 12, 15, 22, 27 and 28, Moscow. My deepest gratitude to these brave people. [There are several more photos at the link — TRR.]
This is a continuation of my post “Do Russians Want War?” You can find a link to it in the comments.
When I wrote that there were virtually no people in Russia who did not want war with Ukraine, I was told that no one wanted to risk their lives and health, and therefore people did not go to pickets and protest rallies. Plus, these protest actions were pointless since the authorities didn’t listen to people.
Let’s omit the fact that a sanctioned protest rally in Kirov, a city of half a million, drew six people. After all, this is only a small part of the Russian resistance to Russian aggression in Ukraine.
And I would say that protest rallies are not what counts the most. What counts the most are screenings of underground film, sabotage in factories, underground circles providing aid and solidarity to Ukraine, boycotts of military enlistment offices, data leaks, anonymous leaflets in universities and schools, and support for Ukraine from the opposition diaspora. And much much more.
And yes, I know that there is an underground in Russia. I know people who screen banned films about the Russian-Ukrainian war. I know those who work with young people and tell the truth. I know those who sabotage factories and more. They’re all heroes.
But they are few and far between, droplets in the vast, indifferent ocean of the Russian citizenry. If this movement were broader and bigger, we would know about it. We monitor its every peep and sigh. If there were a huge outcry in Russia against the Kremlin’s military machine, we would know about it. But there isn’t one.
Lone individuals and tiny groups do not cancel the rule. If, in a village of five hundred, only a couple of dozen people opposed the burning (by the village leadership) of a Jewish shtetl, this does not cancel the rule in any way. A pogrom was committed with the tacit consent and passive inaction of the local populace.
As I write these lines, Russia has shut down Memorial, and OVD Info has been blocked. Young people are brought up in patriotic ecstasy, the opposition has been trampled, and Putin and his pack are bubbling over in a militaristic frenzy, openly threatening Ukraine with a major war.
Yes, there is fascism in Russia. In fact, there is a fascist system.
Even in countries with fascist regimes there were mass movements of resistance, disobedience, and boycotts, and the diaspora joined the armed forces that fought against those fascist regimes. The exceptions were those fascist regimes where the people either gleefully adored the leader, or where they obediently kept silent, approvingly ignoring all his crimes.
Unfortunately, we see the latter in Russia, not the former. We see what is in the picture below. And there were only two big protest actions against the aggression in Ukraine. After Nemtsov was murdered, they stopped altogether. Anti-war and pro-Ukrainian agitation has been the preserve of lone individuals—it has been the exception, not the rule.
Instead of an ending. If you’ve ended up here by chance, or you don’t understand why I write about Russia while not living in the country itself, there is a link to an answer to this question in the comments.
The majority in Russia simply does not believe in this war: no one talks much about it, nor is it part of the agenda that matters to most people. Rather, more attention is paid to it in the West and in Ukraine than in Russia itself.
And yet there is plenty of information in Russian. The fact that people are indifferent and “do not believe” clearly defines them.
There was plenty of information, last time, too. Many in the West and Ukraine talked about the inevitability of war, but it didn’t start then, and I don’t think it will start now. Despite the fact that I am by no means a fan of Putin’s policy, I don’t believe that war will begin either.
I have also written on more than one occasion that no one wants a major war and that its probability is relatively low, but wars very often happen through a chain of events. Russian nationals could be blown up by their own land mine in ORDLO, and everything would kick off like a chain reaction. Russians may not believe it, but there has been a war underway between Ukraine and Russia for almost eight years. Fourteen thousand people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been physically and mentally crippled, there have been millions of displaced refugees, the societies have been militarized and impoverished, and on and on and on. Apparently, these numbers are not large enough to shock Slavs. 🤷
Russians who want to help the Ukrainian army send money to buy equipment and ammunition. Faith without deeds is dead. Details are easy to find on the internet. If you’re interested, ask, and I will help.
Translated by the Russian Reader. As (bad) luck would have it, this is the 2,000th post on this blog, which I started in October 2007 because I wanted to give a platform to views and news from “other Russias” (especially ones that never or almost never make it into the Anglophone media) by doing what I do best — reading, translating, and editing. If you want to support my work, consider making a donation to me through PayPal or Ko-Fi. Sharing my posts on social media is another great way to support this project. The more views I get, the more I’m persuaded that I have to go on doing this work. Thanks! ||| TRR
You, of course, have already seen this photo, which can even now be inserted into a history textbook to illustrate Russia’s foreign policy at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
The military attache of the Russian Federation in Latvia, Ruslan Ushakov, flipped off neighbors who complained about him for having a feast during the plague, that is, a party during the covid pandemic. Everything about the photo is lovely, including the fact that the attache hid from the police, but then ran back out into the yard. And the fact that he was rude from behind a fence, confident that no one could get at him here, and even that he favored the spiritless western fuck-you over the traditional Russian kukish (“fig”).
No director could have produced a better metaphor for the Russian authorities. When it comes to their thoughts, their families, and their wallets, they live in the West. They are terribly afraid of retribution, so the Magnitsky Law cuts them like a knife. They are rude to everyone around them when they know that they will not be able to get to them. Because in front of them, instead of a fence, we stand, unwitting or voluntary hostages.
And one more thing. Would you make indecent gestures to your neighbors, and so enthusiastically? I wouldn’t. Would you steal bicycles in a city? Deal drugs? What other exploits have Russian diplomats been up to recently?
Russian diplomats are the face of our country, and so this is how our country looks to the world. And in this case you cannot even say that there is no need to blame the mirror. I see myself in the mirror, not Ushakov and his fuck-yous. And you, too, are unlikely to recognize yourself in it. This is scum from the bottom of the pond that has floated to the surface. And while some people catch their fish in this muddy water, we are suffocating.
No, this is not what I was taught at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry in the early noughties.
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been growing for weeks following the breakdown of a ceasefire in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which Russia invaded in 2014, and a massing of Russian forces nearby. Yesterday Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, admitted that Russia had built up two armies and three airborne units on its western borders for “combat-training exercises”. Russian amphibious vessels have also moved from the Caspian to the Black Sea. Ukraine claims that there are 40,000 Russian troops on its eastern border and 40,000 more in Crimea. Tod Wolters, the commander of America’s European Command, said the build-up “mirrors the size and scope and scale” of that which preceded Russia’s previous invasion. But war might not be Russia’s ultimate goal. It may just be to intimidate Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, into offering concessions over Donbas—such as greater autonomy for pro-Russian separatists—and to test just how far America and Europe will go in supporting Ukraine. -The Economist Espresso, 14 April 2021
Russia has deployed a field hospital on the border with Ukraine – German media (photos, videos) Fokus
April 14, 2021
Russian military camp south of Voronezh Photo: Tagesschau
To the south of Voronezh, the Russian military has built an entire tent city, equipped with a field kitchen and guarded by military police
The Russian army has deployed a huge field military camp near the Ukrainian border, south of Voronezh, which includes a field hospital, as reported by the German news program Tagesschau.
“The entire field is filled with military equipment. You can’t walk there, let alone drive. With their chains and wheels, they plowed up the whole field,” a local resident told the program.
Israel Defense Forces officer and military analyst Yigal Levin noted in a column for Fokus that the deployment of field hospitals is a grave sign of preparations for full-scale military operations.
According to Tagesschau, eyewitnesses told them that the military has built a whole town out of tents. Flags are flying everywhere, smoke is coming from smoke vents, military trucks with water tanks are constantly passing by, and a field kitchen is up and running.
The field camp is patrolled by military police.
All evidence suggests, Tagesschau notes, that the Russian servicemen have settled in this area for the long haul and are not going to leave quickly.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday, April 13, that all “verification activities” currently taking place near the borders of Ukraine and involving the participation of Russian servicemen, were scheduled to be completed “within two weeks.”
Also, an interactive map tracing the movements of Russian troops toward the borders of Ukraine has appeared on the internet. It records all instances of the transfer of Russian army equipment, weapons and personnel to the borders of Ukraine and to occupied Crimea.
Iskander operational-tactical missile system units from the Western Military District have been delivered to Voronezh, ostensibly to participate in a parade.
In turn, at a meeting with the French Ambassador to Ukraine, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran said that Russia is capable of preparing the “Georgia 2008” scenario.
Thanks to Yigal Levin for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader