The Russian Reader
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News and views from the other Russias. Write to: avvakum@pm.me
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https://therussianreader.com/2020/08/14/acab-dispatch-from-minsk/

A 17-year-old boy was detained the day before yesterday under the pretext of “What you doing here?” He was taken to a police station, where he was beaten in the assembly hall. Moreover, although it was regular cops who had brought him in, it was the OMON (riot police) who did the beating. Then they laid him face down on the floor, like so many other [detainees in recent days].

They telephoned his guardians. His guardian came to the police station, and they started beating the fuck out of him, too.

He asked what for.

They asked him why the fuck he had come.
This novel, Chekists, was published yesterday (August 19, 2020) by the major Russian publisher Eksmo, a fact made known to me by LitRes, Russia’s leading e-book service. The burgeoning genre of neo-Stalinist revisionist pulp fiction and the equally flourishing genre of neo-Stalinist revisionist “historiography” that nourishes it are two big parts of the relentless culture war waged by the “Chekists” in the Kremlin to make their flagrant, brutal misrule of the world’s largest country seem natural, inevitable, and historically predetermined. As part of their overall campaign to hold on to power in perpetuity, while bleeding the country dry, it only makes sense that they would turn governance into an endless, gigantic “special op,” in which poisoning “the Motherland’s enemies,” like Alexei Navalny, is all in a day’s work.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/08/20/the-special-op-in-omsk-the-poisoning-of-alexei-navalny/
Joan Brooks:

'In many ways, Ekaterina Zakharkiv is my favorite contemporary Russophone poet. While her verse is manifestly avant-garde, there is something about the way she combines different lexical and stylistic registers into a seamless and, one could say, “collectivist” idiom that always reminds me of Alexander Pushkin and the revolution he led in Russian poetic discourse. Born in Magadan, Zakharkiv graduated from the Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow and is currently a graduate student at the Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. She is an editor at F-Writing, Dream, and the new Almanac Fire, which focuses on the intersection of writing and music.'

https://therussianreader.com/2020/08/21/ekaterina-zakharkiv-a-sharpened-grammar/
Joan Brooks:

The Belarusian artist Hanna Zubkova recently produced this heart-wrenching poetization of the list of injuries sustained by protestors during the first days of the revolution, when riot police inflicted incredible violence on the Belarusian people.

#stoptheviolence #ACAB

https://therussianreader.com/2020/08/23/hanna-zubkova-including/

"including
gunshot wounds
to the head
and various
body parts
and limbs
including"
Alexei Polikhovich:

Socrates is in trouble

Alexei “Socrates” Sutuga is in intensive care. He has suffered a severe brain contusion, fractures of the parietal and temporal bones, and a cerebral edema, and the right half of the body is paralyzed. Alexei was operated on and his skull was trepanated. He’s in a coma now.

Alexei is an antifascist, civic activist, and former political prisoner who has been involved in campaigns supporting other political prisoners. We met at Butyrka prison. I always tell everyone this story and laugh, since I hinted to him about his nickname in the presence of the cops: “Ancient Greek philosopher, fifth century BC?” Afterwards, we corresponded, exchanged books, and discussed politics. After we got out, we were both in a play about torture at Theater.Doc. Alexei enriched the production with personal account of being tortured in a Kiev police station.

Socrates is a big, brave man who has seen a lot and gives the impression of a rock. But now the rock must be saved.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/08/26/alexei-sutuga-solidarity-appeal/
Artemy Troitsky argues that Belarusian-style political unrest and large-scale nationwide popular protests are unlikely to kick off in Russia this autumn. He hopes that he's wrong, but I think he's right, although I too hope that he's wrong.

In any case, you can't go wrong by reading Troitsky's cynical but plausible reflections: they were inspired by a song by his friend the late great Mike Naumenko, which you can listen to in this latest episode of The Russian Reader, the last one for the Russian summer, which ends today.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/08/31/artemy-troitsky-putin-last-autumn/
Alexei Sutuga, a former political prisoner and one of the most distinguished activists of the antifa movement, better known in Moscow by the pseudonym Socrates, died on the morning of September 1, 2020, at the Sklifosovsky Institute of Emergency Medicine in Moscow.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/01/alexei-socrates-sutuga-1986-2020/
The amazing Yan Shenkman, reporting from the appeals hearing in the Penza Network Case:

'There are so many problems with the verdict that it is impossible even to state all of them in one or two appeals hearings. There is little hope that the court will heed the arguments of the defense. There is an aura of hopelessness about the case. But it has to be brought to a close because a lot of things hang in its balance. After all, the verdict is based mainly on suspicion—on the fact that, hypothetically, the defendants could have “organized a terrorist community.” In theory, any of us could organize one. We are all under suspicion.

'The lawyers in this case are not only defending Pchelintsev, Shakursky, Chernov, Kulkov, Ivankin, Kuksov, and Sagynbayev. They are also defending society, the right of each of us to be protected from the FSB. When they lose their appeal, they will keep going—to the European Court of Human Rights, to the Court of Cassation, to the Russian Supreme Court. Everyone involved in engineering this verdict should realize that they will inevitably have to account for their actions, and at the highest level. I don’t know about criminal responsibility, but universal disgrace is inevitable. They must answer for what they have done, and sooner or later they will answer for it.'

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/03/network-case-appeal-penza-shenkman/
The Dialogue of Civilizations (DOC) Research Institute, a front used by the Putin regime to co-opt the oddly named international community’s brahmins and bigwigs, is a twenty-minute walk from the Bundestag, and it is surrounded by German ministry buildings. What better way for the German government to express its distress with the Russian government’s poisoning of Alexei Navalny than by shutting the DOC down?

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/06/one-easy-way-merkel-could-punish-putin-for-poisoning-navalny/
The horrific famine of 1921 confronted the Soviet government with an inevitable decision: to recognize the disaster and accept foreign aid. Within a short time, more than twenty agreements were signed with international organizations that had expressed a desire to help Soviet Russia. Third on the list was an agreement between the People’s Commissariat and the Quakers. The Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, is a Protestant Christian church whose history of interactions with Russia dates the seventeenth century. From 1916 to 1931, the Quakers were able to cooperate quite peacefully and fruitfully with all the authorities: with officials of Tsarist Russia, with the Czechoslovak Legionnaires, and with the Bolsheviks. This cooperation helped save hundreds of thousands of people, people who survived thanks to Quaker rations, doctors, tractors, and horses. In Russia, almost nothing is known about this assistance: the names of the saviors have been forgotten, and their good deeds have been consigned to oblivion. Sergei Nikitin, a long-time representative of Amnesty International in Russia and a researcher of Quaker history, is committed to restoring historical justice with his book. The book features an introduction by Vladislav Aksyonov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Russian History (RAS) and a member of the Free Historical Society, which situates the Quakers’ efforts in the socio-political context of the era.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/11/quakers-russia-sergei-nikitin/
Why would the suggestion that a section on Yandex's wildly popular Kinopoisk movie website should be called "rossiiskoe" rather than "russkoe" lead to an online hate campaign against the Petersburg woman who made the suggestion?

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/14/guzel-leman-online-hate/
By my count, Petersburg resident Alexander Merkulov is the sixteenth person in Russia to be charged with "condoning terrorism" for mentioning online the 2018 suicide bombing at the FSB's Arkhangelsk offices. In this Facebook post, grassroots Petersburg activist Alexei Sergeyev explains why it is triply important to stand in solidarity with Merkulov, who is neither famous nor well-connected, and who could be sent to prison for seven years without it making a ripple either in Russia or abroad.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/14/alexander-merkulov/
Russian writer Viktor Yerofeyev's apology to Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich is as symptomatic of the post-Soviet Russian liberal intelligentsia he denounces in this article as it is accurate. Nevertheless, it is worth reading if you're trying too understand the obvious lack of enthusiasm and support in Russia for the Belarusian protests.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/15/yerofeyev-belarus-russian-intelligentsia/
Russian National Guardsmen have come to the Flacon Design Factory in Moscow and stopped a screening of the [2014 documentary] film Vulva 3.0, an event planned in support of the activist Yulia Tsvetkova. The screening’s curator, Andrei Parshikov, reported the incident to MBKh Media.

According to Parshikov, Petrovka 38 [Moscow police headquarters] had received an anonymous call that so-called propaganda of homosexualism [sic] would take place during the event.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/15/flacon-natsgvardia-tsvetkova/
If you're Russian or know lots of Russians, there is a good chance you know someone who thinks that a summer holiday in occupied Crimea is just the ticket. Since the Kremlin has unleashed a campaign of terror against the indigenous Crimean Tatars, you should try and persuade such friends that the least they can by way of solidarity is refusing to travel to Crimea. If they're willing to do that, they also might be willing to send letters to the terror campaign's latest victims, seven Crimean Tatar civic activists sentenced to up to 19 years in prison for no reason whatsoever and in defiance of international law.

https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/17/crimean-tatars-2/
Yulya Tsimafeyeva: "Some photos from the 6th Sunday march. I don’t know how to describe what it is to those who have never attended our marches. I started writing about what it is like, but I really don’t know. :) Unreal strange feelings: starting from making your way to at least some kind of gathering place with the subway closed, traffic blocked, and the internet turned off, and ending with looking for a safe way (crossed out: of retreating) of getting back… (And these puzzles are solved every Sunday by thousands of adults.) But the core is love, definitely. :)" https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/20/minsk-march-of-justice/
https://therussianreader.com/2020/09/21/ufa-twenty/

What does the Putinist police state like even better than tossing Jehovah's Witnesses into prison for no reason at all?

Tossing alleged members of Hizb ut-Tahrir into prison for even longer, based on "evidence" that is even flimsier and violating all known judicial procedures in the process.

Alexandra Kalistratova was at the Russian Supreme Court today as a panel of judges upheld a military court's sentencing of the so-called Ufa Twenty to a total of 329 years in maximum-security penal colonies for no apparent reason. Writing on the website of Ekho Moskvy radio, a month ago, as the appeals hearing that ended today was starting, the renowned Russian human rights lawyer Karinna Moskalenko enumerates everything foul and fishy about the case.