Tag Archives: election campaign violations

“Anti-Devil”: “Performance Art” as a Weapon of the Kleptocratic Police State



At 8:00 p.m. on December 4, the action “Anti-Devil,” an art house-style theatrical performance based on F.M. Dostoevsky’s novel “The Devils,” will begin on Saint Isaac’s Square. A phrase by the great writer — “The finest people must unite!” — is the action’s leitmotif. We call on people to unite against turmoil and social upheaval, and for the legitimacy of the authorities, as confirmed during the elections.

The stage will be erected on the Blue Bridge, right in front of the Mariinsky Palace [home of the Petersburg Legislative Assembly]. Petersburg actors, artists, dancers and musicians will perform key dialogues from the novel, as well as original numbers and performances dealing with the deeds of devils in Russia. Artist Daniil Tikhonov will present a new, relevant drawing from his acclaimed series “Dostoevsky FM.”

The Russian folk proverb “Stomp your feet, devils, but not in our forest!” will serve as the main slogan of this massive ritual.

The action, produced and directed by Yana Bogdanova, has been initiated by the Angry Artists art community.

The Arts Faculty of Saint Petersburg State University (Valery Gergiev, dean), the New Man Institute (Sergei Bugaev Afrika), and the Saint Petersburg Arts Support Center (Alexei Sergienko) have already expressed their support for the creation of [this] original performance.

Andrei Tatarinov, member, Russian Federation Public Chamber:
“Devils are temptations and the people who succumb to them. It was thus in the Russian Empire, and so it is [today] in the Russian Federation. Greed, the consumerist itch, and unbelief generate provocateurs, traitors and criminals of all stripes. Just like Dostoevsky’s ‘The Devils,” our theatrical performance is about those who for their own benefit or out of confusion fervently desire the collapse of society and state.”

Admission is free for viewers.
The event has been authorized by the Saint Petersburg Municipal Administration.

UPDATE. Not that it should surprise us, but only activists from The Other Russia party had the moxy to challenge this little bit of police-state “artistic” demonism, endorsed by world-famous Petersburg cultural maestros Sergei Bugaev Afrika and Valery Gergiev.

04-12-2011, 22:11:40 // Saint Petersburg
The Protest Action Near Gostiny Dvor Ended Outside the Electoral Commission

At 8:00 p.m. in Saint Petersburg, when voting had officially ended, activists from The Other Russia who had not been detained near Gostiny Dvor metro station appeared outside the Mariinsky Palace, where the city’s electoral commission is headquartered. There, on the Blue Bridge, a pro-Kremlin action sponsored by the Young Guards, entitled “Anti-Devil,” was getting under way.

Two Other Russia activists, Oleg Bespalov and Yevgeny Pavlenko, climbed onto the stage that had been set up by the Young Guards. The activists set off flares and being chanting, “Your elections are a farce!” The protesters were fairly roughly detained by the security hired by the pro-Kremlin youth and turned over to police. Oleg Bespalov was beaten up. After the arrests, police officers summoned one of the organizers of the pro-Kremlin happening and demanded that she file a written criminal complaint [against the arrested activists].

Yevgeny Pavlenko and Oleg Bespalov have been taken to police precinct No. 2. Both were badly beaten and there are fears that they have suffered concussions, but Center “E” officers [anti-“extremism police] who arrived [at the station] are refusing to let doctors take them to hospital.


Photo by Vladimir Telegin.

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Filed under contemporary art, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, racism, nationalism, fascism, Russian society

Vote Rigging in Russia: Reports from the Field

A journalist friend of ours just called and told us the following story. He had just got a call from a local musician, a member of an extremely popular local band with a national and international following. This musician had gone today to his polling station in Saint Petersburg to vote, only to be told that he had already voted! When polling station officials showed him the ballot he’d allegedly submitted, he tried to take a photograph of it. Polling station officials tried to have police detain him for this impudent civic act, but in the end let him go.

Meanwhile, his friend and band mate also tried to vote today, at another polling station in Russia’s “Northern Capital.” He was also informed by polling station officials that he, too, had “already voted.” What are the odds of an “irregularity” of this sort happening to two members of the same band at two different polling stations in a city of five million people?

So if and when, later today or tomorrow, Vladimir Churov (the chair of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission and a flagrant clown obviously appointed expressly for the purpose of totally discrediting the idea of free and fair elections in the minds of Russian voters) announces yet another “decisive” victory for United Russia, you, dear readers, should have no illusions: the fix was in from top to bottom, from Vladivostok to Smolensk, from the very beginning to the dismal, criminal end of this so-called election campaign.

If this isn’t the case, then it’s hard to imagine why the campaign to discredit the Golos Association, the only independent election monitoring organization in Russia, or today’s cyber attacks on the web sites of Golos, Echo of Moscow, and other media outlets were necessary.

Or consider this: a Nashi activist in Veliky Novgorod, caught red-handed the other day offering cash for absentee ballots:

And here, some nice old ladies at polling station no. 1484/1485 in Yekaterinburg are shown diligently engaged in filling out ballots ahead of time:

If you think these are “isolated” incidents (as Churov and his band of statistical pirates will no doubt claim), think again.

Finally, there’s such a thing as “soft” coercion, as witnessed by a Facebook friend of ours in Peterhof, a glorious imperial suburb of Petersburg:

I just got back from the polling station, where a friend and I unanimously voted for Yabloko [a democratic opposition party]. In the foyer of the school [where the polling station is located] there’s an exhibition of children’s drawings entitled “Our Strength Lies in Unity.” They think they’re so clever. But no, they’ve proven once again that they’re crooks.

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The United Russia Guide to Winning Hearts and Minds. Strategy 5: Turn Reality Upside Down, Accuse Voters of Being “Hysterical” Wives. If That Doesn’t Work, Kidnap Their Kids and Threaten to Cripple Them

And now a special treat for all our readers struggling to master the “great and mighty” Russian tongue:

Here’s what we learned from watching this campaign advert:

  • “Everything will be okay” (in Russia).
  • According to polls, between forty and sixty percent of voters “plan” to vote for United Russia on December 4.
  • The disembodied voice narrating the clip has “personally talked to thousands of people over the past week.”
  • Something about Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, and other gadgets: they were (apparently) invented by United Russia.
  • When it asked her “what has changed for the better during the past five years,” one young lady in Ivanovo told the disembodied voice that she now can go to a “3D movie theater” with her girlfriend.
  • Another person likes the fact that now “fat ducks” float in the river rather than “rusty refrigerators.”
  • Hence: everything is already okay (in Russia).
  • Everything sucks everywhere else: financial crisis, people (especially “darkies”) demonstrating in the streets, etc., etc.
  • The state is the husband, society is the wife.
  • The “wife” (society) can “divorce” the “husband” (the state) if “she” likes and run off with Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky or Navalny, but then when things go sour, don’t come running back to me.
  • Part of the reason that the “wife” (society) has these funny thoughts of running away from the “husband” (the state) is that she spends a lot of time surfing “social networks.” These cause her to “lose her mind.”
  • “People are smiling, the future exists, problems are being solved one after another.”
  • “The brain is used to live better and richer, not to ‘go into hysterics’ at the drop of a hat.”
  • It would be “unfair” to Medvedev if on December 4, 5, and 6, the only people on the streets of Moscow were those people who think they live in an “awful country.”
  • The disembodied voice will “personally” mobilize and transport “15,000 people” to Moscow on December 4.
  • If the disembodied voice and the 15,000 people it has assembled and transported to Moscow encounter anyone in the streets of Moscow who is “dissatisfied,” the disembodied voice will tell these inexplicably disgruntled people, “Smile! Everything will be okay!”


Meanwhile, back in the dark land of the inexplicably disgruntled…

December 1, 2011

On December 1, Yana Bannikova, a minor and the daughter of Olga Bannikova, secretary of the Bratsk CPRF municipal committee, was abducted in the vicinity of the Bratsk Music College, on Komsomolskaya Street. The 16-year-old was forcibly put into a car without license plates. Three masked men were involved in the abduction. After badly frightening the girl, they demanded that she tell her mother to stop campaigning for the CPRF. Otherwise, they promised to cripple the girl.

A kidnapping report has been filed with the Investigative Committee.

Thanks (so to speak) to Comrades M. and D. for the heads-up.

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The United Russia Guide to Winning Hearts and Minds. Strategy 4: Arrest “Unruly” Students at Russia’s Premier University


Vodpod videos no longer available.


Students planning to protest UR campaign propaganda arrested near Moscow State University

Moscow, November 19. Fifteen students, grad students and alumni were arrested on the campus of Moscow State University this afternoon after the protest action “Students against the Use of Moscow State in the United Russian Election Campaign.” Uniformed police and plainclothes officers, who refused to identify themselves, made the arrests in a quite brutal manner: eyewitnesses told Rosbalt that they grabbed the students, dragged them across the ground and beat them.

From one p.m. to two p.m. today, during ceremonies marking the 300th anniversary of Mikhail Lomonosov’s birth, Moscow State students and teachers had planned to hold a picket outside the Universitet metro station to express their disagreeme3nt with the use of  the university’s name by members of the university administration in pre-election campaigning for United Russia. However, despite established practice, in this case at the last minute it transpired that the prefecture of the Western Administrative District had not authorized the protest, MSU employees noted. Despite assurances by telephone that everything was in order, when protest organizers received a written response [from the prefecture] on Friday, they learned that [the authorities] proposed moving the picketing site to the Taras Shevchenko Embankment [a “ghetto” that Moscow authorities often send protesters to keep away from public view].

Disagreeing with the prefecture’s decision, students decided to gather outside Universitet metro station to discuss the situation and hold a series of one-person pickets, which by law do not require prior approval by the authorities. The behavior of the police officers [at the metro station] and conversation with commanding officers made it clear that they had been ordered to repress any action on the part of activists, including one-person pickets. In particular, the police warned that if the [protesters] moved off together in the same direction, this would be regarded as a demonstration and arrests would begin.

The protesters decided not to give the police reason to arrest them and went off to have an informal discussion of the situation, without posters and slogans, in the park at the Eternal Flame, which is located opposite Academic Building No. 1.

During their discussion of self-government at the university, police officers, who did not identify themselves, began forcibly pulling students and graduate students from the group and arresting them for [holding] an “unsanctioned rally.” According to our sources, police colonel Kostin supervised the arrests. The students were then taken to Ramenki police station in police cars U7120, U7160, and U7134.


MGU Is No Place for Discussion
The Moscow Times
24 October 2011
By Victor Davidoff

The dramatic events that took place on Thursday in Libya will ensure that this date will be remembered in history. An important event took place in Russia on that day, too, and while although it was far less dramatic than the death of Moammar Gadhafi, it was rich with symbolism.

On Thursday, President Medvedev met with students and representatives of youth organization at the journalism department of Moscow State University.

The choice of venue and conditions of the meeting were a vivid indicator of the current status of freedom of speech in the country at present and what it is likely to be under a continuation of the ruling tandem.

First, the event wasn’t announced anywhere and was planned in absolute secrecy. The students at the journalism department didn’t know about it, and even the dean, Yelena Vartanova, was informed about the president’s visit only the day before. She was just asked to make sure that two auditoriums were free — one for the meeting and the other for a buffet.

On the morning of the meeting, hungry students drooled over a huge amount of food and drink that was brought in for the buffet — hungry in the literal sense because the Federal Guard Service, which provides security for the president, closed the departmental cafeteria as a security precaution.

The security detail closed off the entire building and carried out its own special face control, not letting in students whose names were on their blacklist. Some faculty members were barred from the building, too.

But that was a minor inconvenience, as one student, D-lindele, wrote on his LiveJournal blog, : “That was nothing compared with what happened next. The journalism students were shocked to learn that the ‘students’ at the meeting with the president would really be dozens of activists from Nashi and other similar organizations.”

But the author was mistaken. In fact, there were about 30 students from the journalism department — about one-tenth of the audience. Only the most trustworthy students were invited, including the attractive girls whose half-nude photographs graced a calendar made for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s birthday last year. Other less-trusted journalism students were only allowed to greet the president when he entered the hall and went up the stairs.

In a video on YouTube showing the meet-and-greet episode, you can see an unidentified student about a meter from Medvedev holding up a hand-made sign the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Then security guards close in on him, and he disappears behind their backs.

That wasn’t the only protest that the president chose to ignore. Student Igor_malinin wrote on his LiveJournal blog: “Just then a group of enterprising guys held up oppositional signs, like ‘Press isn’t from the word oppress’ and ‘Why do you tweet while Khodorkovsky rots in jail?’ Right now they’ve been detained by the Federal Guard Service and are being held in the auditorium.’

Three female students were detained for protesting by the entrance to the building and spent several hours in a police precinct. Altogether, seven journalism students were detained. Typically, the detention of protesters was not mentioned in any of the television news reports.

Budur, a blogger from the journalism department, wrote: “Citizen Medvedev humiliated and insulted the dignity of seven members of our community. The seven did not organize a rally or do anything against the law or against university bylaws. They were just doing their civic duty. This is the first time since the 1930s that people were arrested right on the campus of the university.”

After the meeting, one of the journalists managed to ask Medvedev what happened to the students who had been detained. “Is someone being detained some place?” Medvedev asked. Apparently he was the only one who didn’t know.

And that evening, Medvedev sent out a cheery tweet on Twitter: “The meeting at the journalism department was good. I see that everyone had a good time. Thanks for the comments. Sweet dreams.”

Perhaps Medvedev actually thinks that a staged event with a paramilitary security operation during which protesters were arrested in his presence was a “good meeting.” And perhaps he thinks that it was held with full respect for the law and everyone’s civil rights. Or perhaps he thinks that the most important aspect of the event was that everyone had a good time.

If so, it shows how little he understands the country that he is ruling, where an increasing number of people have a completely different notion of civil rights than Medvedev and his security advisers. And eventually they will find a way to make the authorities play by their rules in politics.

In the meantime, sweet dreams, Mr. President.


Olga Kuzmenko and Vera Kichanova, two of the Moscow State University students detained before President Medvedev’s speech in October, talk about the experience with MK-TV:

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The United Russia Guide to Winning Hearts and Minds. Strategy 1: Threaten Schoolchildren


In the hallway of Krasnoyarsk High School No. 3, United Russia posters depicting the leaders of the party’s list [for the upcoming parliamentary elections] have been hung up.

One student decided this violated the law and wrote something that wasn’t nice on the posters, for which he was called into the principal’s office. Despite direct threats to turn him over to the police, an appeal to his religious sensibilities, a reminder that Vladimir Ilyich Lenin had been expelled from university and so on, the high-school student stood his ground. He attempted to cite federal law and even secretly shot [this] video:

Judging by his profile on VKontakte [a Russian social web site], Matvei [Tsivinyuk] is fifteen years old. Although young, he is a brave and intelligent citizen, and far ahead of many indifferent, spooked adults.


A partial transcript of Matvei’s conversation with his high school principal, courtesy of RFE/RL:

Aleksandra Pronina: If there is something you disagree with then go to a demonstration. But not in school.

Matvei Tsivinyuk: According to Article 9, Point 5 of the law of the Russian Federation….

Aleksandra Pronina: Enough, Matvei! I don’t care about any article. Article 9, Article 10, or whatever…. Does your family have a lot of money? Your parents may have to pay a fine for your hooliganism.

Matvei Tsivinyuk: A fine over a piece of paper?

Aleksandra Pronina: For hooliganism! Do you understand!? It’s not just paper! It’s a political placard!

Matvei Tsivinyuk: It should not be in the school because political parties are forbidden from agitating in educational institutions, including spreading propaganda.

Aleksandra Pronina: It’s not propaganda.

Matvei Tsivinyuk: What is it, then?

Aleksandra Pronina: It’s not propaganda. It is there so you can read the biographies of these people. I am telling you now, categorically, that if you deface any more placards I will turn you over to the police.

Matvei Tsivinyuk: And what will they do?

Aleksandra Pronina: I don’t know. It’s another sphere. My sphere is education. But I have warned you. If you read the biography of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin….

Matvei Tsivinyuk: I don’t respect him….

Aleksandra Pronina: I’m just telling you that he was expelled from gymnasium and he was expelled from Kazan University when he studied there. I don’t know if you want the same fate.


Thanks to Comrade S. for the heads-up.

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