Hello! It's Sunday, July 10, and we carry on with our podcast, Trends of Order and Chaos. This is episode 62. Here are the top stories on last week's agenda.
1. Seven years in prison for anti-war speech
Yes, that is exactly the sentence Alexei Gorinov (a Moscow municipal deputy) received. His crime is that he "wrongly spoke out" at his district council about the "special operation." Gorinov is one of the first people convicted under the new articles of the Criminal Code on so-called "discrediting the army". There are many other defendants, the most well-known example being Alexandra Skochilenko, a St. Petersburg artist. She is in pre-trial detention because of a few price tags in a store that were replaced with tiny anti-war leaflets.
When fighting the antiwar protest, Russian law enforcement bodies act according to the canons of terror: they don't aim to put everyone in jail. There are dozens of people prosecuted under the criminal code, and administrative charges are brought against hundreds of other people for essentially the same thing (posts in social media, graffiti or statements). They are also being prosecuted for "discrediting the military," but with tens of thousands of rubles in fines, not imprisonment.
The goal of the law enforcement is to maintain an atmosphere of fear among the population and prevent public anti-war actions.
Since the beginning of the war and up to now there have been many reports about burnt cars with Z-symbols, arsons in military registration and enlistment offices, and damage to the railroad tracks in places where the army trains pass. Some acts have been committed on behalf of anarchists. So far all this is not happening to the extent that it would seriously destabilize the army, cops and special services. So far it is more like acts of existential despair on the part of individuals or small groups.
But when a person who protests against the war will receive approximately the same punishment for their public speech as for setting fire to a military conscription office... It can be assumed that any culture of political polemics is unlikely to develop in the Russian Federation.
And yes, we again promote our anti-war page (we're blocked in Russia, use VPN) - there are layouts of anti-war leaflets and stickers. Print, distribute and send us photos! We do not know how to stop the war, but it is impossible not to protest against it.
2. Welcome to Russian research institutes
Top government officials constantly say that Russia - under the conditions in which the country found itself - urgently needs a mass of IT engineers, aircraft engineers and other specialists with a good technical education, working for the state and/or at least within the country.
There are promised deferments from the army, mortgage privileges, simplified procedure for obtaining citizenship, and so on. The other day the FSB did not stay out of this trend and held a rousing PR action for Russian science.
Novosibirsk scientist Dmitry Kolker was prosecuted for treason for lectures he gave to strategic friends of the Russian Federation, the Chinese, in 2018. Kolker coordinated the materials of the lectures with the FSB, but recently the special service and the military changed their minds and saw it as the disclosure of state secrets.
But by 2022, the scientist had developed not only legal problems, but also a severe cancerous tumor. Kolker was arrested at the hospital. Relatives told the security service that Kolker should be under constant medical supervision. They answered: it's okay, the conditions in "Lefortovo" prison are good, there are even refrigerators in the cells.
Kolker was transported to Moscow, where he was for a day - it is not clear, the Lefortovo detention center with all its refrigerators has not yet acknowledged that it accepted the Novosibirsk detainee. What happened then? Surprise: Kolker is urgently hospitalized in Moscow in a hospital within walking distance of Lefortovo, and dies there.
In Novosibirsk, the police are now breaking down people's memorials to Dmitry Kolker, spontaneously created by citizens.
For IT people who are wondering whether to work for the Russian Federation, another vivid example of this week is now before their eyes: the story of the athletes of the Continental Hockey League.
Russian hockey players, who signed contracts with the far more prestigious and moneyed North American National Hockey League this year... suddenly had problems with their military passports (a document given to every male citizen reaching 18 years old by military conscription office). Instead of a sports career in the U.S., they will now go to serve in the Russian Army. As if the dozens of other big twenty-five-year-old guys who cleave the ice at Russian professional hockey games were okay with their military IDs. May be, all of them are unfit for military service for health reasons?
3. Denazification of the Murmansk region
Kovdor is a small town in Murmansk region. It is one of such places where most young men are recruited to "denazify" Ukraine. The other day, a mass brawl broke out in the town over a drunken conflict in a local bar owned by Azeris.
A criminal case was opened. Novaya Gazeta says that tensions are running high in the city, and not just xenophobic but also Nazi slogans against Caucasians are appearing on the walls. It's impossible not to note the great progress that Russian society has made in terms of inter-ethnic relations, compared with the 1990s. There has been much less nationalist violence, and in general people are getting used to living in a multinational environment. But the problem of xenophobia and nationalism has been rather stocked up in a dark closet than solved: at a time of crisis there is every chance that it will reveal itself forcefully.
And the Russian Federation state behaves in a typical way: the law enforcement agencies have learned how to arrest people for xenophobic posts on VKontakte social media. But, for example, there is still no state-funded program for adapting students whose native language is not Russian in schools.
4. In search of logic
It's been over one hundred and thirty days of the war. There is no end in sight. There is no answer to the question: what was the reason for all this? Destroyed cities, tens of thousands of dead, if not hundreds of thousands.
Still, what did the Russian army tried to save Ukrainians from on February 24? In search of an answer, the author of this issue of our podcast has been reading Margarita Simonyan, Ramzan Kadyrov, Igor Strelkov and others since late February.
Let's try to parse their arguments.
"Ukraine is a corrupt state."
This is true. But isn't the Russian Federation corrupt as well?
"Before the war, the average standard of living in Russia was higher than in Ukraine. When the Russian Federation takes over Ukraine, it will be the same there."
Obviously it will no longer be the same as it was before the war. Besides, even integrating Crimea (which was seized without military action) into the Russian economy ate up huge amounts of money from the state budget. There is the example of the destroyed and rebuilt Chechnya. For his suppression of separatism in Chechnya and the entire North Caucasus, Kadyrov is held in special esteem by Putin. But Kadyrov admits that Chechnya's economy is totally subsidized. Only those who are close to Ramzan bathe in luxury, and the average standard of living in Chechnya is certainly no higher than that of Russia as a whole. The more Ukrainian territories - obviously with huge destruction of infrastructure - Russia gets as a result of the war, the heavier will be the burden on the Russian economy.
"In its partnership with the European Union, Ukraine is assigned the role of a peripheral region."
It's true, you can look at the Baltic states. In the USSR, they were a showcase; in the EU, they are backbenches, with no opportunity to lobby their economic interests at the European level. There is a huge migration from Lithuania and Latvia (although situation is better in Estonia). But for some reason, Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians still do not want to go back to the Russian empire. Instead, they help the Ukrainian Armed Forces in any way they can.
"The Russian army protects Russian culture in Ukraine."
Everything the Russian Federation has done since 2014, and especially since February 24, 2022, is a tragedy for Russian culture. Tens of millions of people who used to speak Russian are gradually learning Ukrainian. And even if Putin suddenly takes over all of Ukraine, most of the Russian-speaking population will flee from the brave new "Russian world".
"The Russian Federation is a country of family values."
Yeah, right. They even made a holiday on July 8, "the day of love, family and loyalty." The most popular video on that day was that of the prime minister Dmitry Medvedev with his wife, with whom he hasn't lived for a long time. Family values are ignored above all by top officials. Among them, if you haven't left your "old wife" at the age of 50 and haven't had children with your 20-year-old mistress, you are a sucker. The main alpha-male, Putin, has children from at least three women. And these are only Putin's children that the investigative journalists found.
Despite the cries of Russian propagandists about "decayed West", there is plenty of conservative agenda there. So far, the builders of the "Russian World" are only pushing the issue of the abortion ban in Russia. And in Poland (one of Ukraine's main allies), conservatives are in power and abortions are already banned. And even the U.S. managed to repeal the constitutional right to abortion at the end of June, which made it possible for a number of states to ban them: anarchists, of course, are now protesting against this on the streets of American cities.
"The European Union is Sodom and Gomorrah, they're all homosexuals."
This already sounds more like an explanation, and that is why homosexuals in the Russian Federation are being persecuted more and more severely. Okay, let's imagine the Russian army "saves Ukrainians from homosexual practices". But when a shell hits an apartment building and its inhabitants are torn to pieces, people of all sexual orientations are among them. The dead can have no more sex, and even in terms of heterosexual "traditional staples" for the continuation of the human species.
Chikatilo (infamous Soviet maniac) experienced erotic excitement at the sight of mutilated bodies and human suffering, almost regardless of the gender and age of his victims. Does Putin experience something similar? Let's leave the discussion of whether Putin and Chikatilo have much in common for future podcast episodes.
Continuing the theme of the fight against homosexuality in the holy Russian Federation, it must be said that not everything is so unambiguous. Russian Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin - who thanked Putin the other day for the special operation in Ukraine, "which saved the lives of tens of thousands of people" - is rumored to be a bit unconventional with this "sexuality issue". Recently in our podcast we addressed the prophetic dystopia - "The Oprichnik Day" by Vladimir Sorokin. Re-read the "oprichnik caterpillar" scene from it. If pretty much everything else in that book has come true, why can't this ritual actually exist?
5. Victor Filinkov's victories
There are some little good news on the field of political repression. The court stopped one of the trials against the anarchist Viktor Filinkov, prisoner in the "Network" case. The administration of the penal colony itself applied for this, since "at present there are no grounds for the transfer", which they wanted to arrange in order to move Viktor to a prison with more strict regime. Having dismissed the case, the court clarified to the colony that it had the right to reapply for Victor's transfer to prison.
"The repressive machine bogged down. But it didn't stop. The wheel fell off, but now they'll screw it back on quickly," commented on the decision Viktor himself.
That's all for today! In the "Trends of Order and Chaos" podcast, participants of Autonomous Action discuss anarchist views on current events. Listen to us on Youtube, SoundCloud and other platforms, and visit our website at avtonom.org!