Workers have sealed the entrance of the Lyubanka, the building that has housed Russia’s secret police for nearly a century, following an act of protest staged by artist Pyotr Pavlensky.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
–The Non-Hybrid War
–Kashin Explains His âLetter to Leadersâ on âFontanka Officeâ
–TV Rain Interviews Volunteer Fighter Back from Donbass
–âI Was on Active Dutyâ: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov
Yesterday as we reported, the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) issued a report that found Russian athletes to systematically be using performance-enhancement drugs, and intelligence officers were even alleged to infiltrate medical institutions to fix the test results.
LifeNews reported that Mutko had further responded to the WADA report (translation by The Interpreter):
“The WADA Commission proposed that a disciplinary commission be established and an accelerated re-accreditation. The very same procedure took place before the Olympics in Sochi. I don’t see the problem here. This work will be done. I addressed this issue today and I must say that Rodchenkov, an experienced person, took the decision to resign in order to take away all the negativity with him. Before this, he prepared a report for WADA on the work the laboratory has done over the last year.”
Earlier, WADA recommended a life-time ban on 5 Russian middle-distance runners and five Russian trainers for violation of anti-doping rules. Furthermore, WADA said Rodchenkov had destroyed 1,417 doping samples three days before a WADA inspection. WADA specialists maintain that the samples were removed on Mutko’s orders.
Mutko denied the charges, saying there was no evidence for them, and said he was confident the Moscow lab would be re-certified.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick and Pierre Vaux
Translation: Judge Orlov is in the court room. Pavlensky is introduced.
Nadya Tolokonnikova, the Pussy Riot activist who herself spent more than 2 years in a labor colony for her protest action in a church on Red Square, was present for the hearing.
Translation: “According to the state’s logic, I should be suspected not of vandalism, but of terrorism, for after all I did what Sentsov is accused of,” Pavlensky.
Oleg Sentsov is a Ukrainian film director who was recently sentenced to 20 years of prison on charges of “terrorism” which are widely protested as fabricated.
Translation: Pavlensky is speaking about the Sentsov case and the ABTO: a burning door then was characterized as terrorism.
The ABTO is the acronym of the “Autonomous Battle Terrorist Organization,” a group that authorities claimed the defendants were part of.
Translation: Pyotr is describing how “guys with red mugs” dragged him, Beroyev and Romensky into the FSB building and began shouting — particularly at the journalists.
The reporters were briefly detained then released.
Translation: Lawyer: in order to review the issue of placing the artist in custody, I must take you through the problem of Aktsionism.
Translation: Modern art demonstrates many forms unknown to classical art — Aksionism, objectivism.
Translation: Words about the Dadaists and the Surrealists resound in the court room. Perhaps the best that this court room has ever heard.
Translation: At the Gates of Hell. Marat Gelman on why the Pavlensky action is still not over.
Gelman is a prominent gallery owner who was assaulted in an attack believed to be related to his alternative art shows.
Translation: In the materials of the case, it is indicated that Pavlensky was moved by ideological hatred, but against whom it was directed is not indicated in the materials!
Under Russia law, a vandalism or trespassing case could be shown to have aggravating circumstances if the defendant is found to be motivated by ethnic or social enmity, which can be vaguely defined.
Translation: !!! The FSB has estimated that damage to the troop unit at Lubyanka has been made by Pavlensky in the form of the burnt door, in the amount of 55,000 rubles ($852).
Translation: !!!! A spetsnaz in a mask to another, in a whisper: “Well, pretty f**king amazing, what the lawyer laid out on all that Aksionism, I even paid attention myself.
The spetsnaz officers were in the courtroom.
Translation: Hahaha — for those who still remember LiveJournal.
The reference is to the image of a goat that was shown on pages of LiveJournal that no longer loaded, sometimes because they had been censored by authorities.
The trial is in recess while the judge makes a decision about the case.
Pavlensky announced that he is taking a vow of silence until the charges against him are converted from “vandalism” to “terrorism,” Gazeta.ru reported.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Translation: the leader of the Parnas youth section has been detained.
Translation: Mikhail Konev, leader of the Parnas youth section, has been detained at home by criminal investigation officers. They have taken his ID and have driven him somewhere.
Translation: In sum, they are trying to send Konev off to the army. They are handing him a draft summons. This is being done by criminal investigation and E [Extremism] Center. It’s a kind of “prevention of extremism.”
Parnas member Andrei Pivovarov told Media Zone that police had come searching for Konev several times before to issue him the draft summons, and had even looked for him at his mother’s home in Smolensk.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Workers have sealed the entrance of the Lyubanka, the building that has housed Russia’s secret police for nearly a century, following an act of protest staged by artist Pyotr Pavlensky, Znak reported.
Translation: Iron curtain. #Pavlensky .
Pavelensky was taken to the Meshchansky police precinct on suspicion of “petty vandalism” but the charges may escalate.
Pavlensky’s lawyer Olga Chavdar told Russian News Service yesterday that nothing has been decided about his case yet, and it is not clear whether there will be criminal or administrative charges. If criminal, it could be arson or “arson for motivations of hooliganism,” which would be two or five years, respectively. In the past, Pavlensky has been briefly detained and put briefly in a psychiatric hospital but has not faced serious charges.
Chavdar stressed that while her client had posed in front of a fire at the Lubyanka, he had not actually set it on fire. Journalists who covered the protest said there was only smoke damage on the building.
At this hour Pavlensky is in court, the artists’ collective gruppa voiny (war group) tweeted.
The artist’s staged action photographed by Ilya Varlamov, one of social media’s best known photographers who was himself detained briefly yesterday, has been shared widely on the Internet.
Translation: The government is destroying old Moscow, but Pavlensky is trying to destroy the authoritarian regime…
The reference is to decisions by city authorities to raze historic buildings.
The protest has sparked a conservative backlash:
Translation: Ahhhhh. Izvestiya: Pavlensky’s action justifies the murders of people at the Odessa Trade Union Building and calls for new ones.
The pictures of the burning Lubyanka door was similar to that of the burning Trade Union Building, in which 46 people were killed during clashes between pro-Kiev and pro-Russian groups in Odessa last May.
But not even all those critical of the government were happy with Pavlensky’s action.
Prominent blogger Oleg Kashin asked pointed questions about his fellow blogger:
Translation: Was that his idea, a commission, he rehearsed it? Varlamov is the organizer of the burning of the FSB? What was this chaser after sensations thinking?
Veteran human rights leader Ludmila Alexeyeva condemned the incident, Interfax reported (translation by The Interpreter):
I categorically condemn this action. I believe that we have to act by word and not by violence. Why set fire to doors? That’s not serious. If it is a performance, then it’s an idiotic performance. Imagine if a fire had broken out, and inside are people, and they couldn’t get out, they have families and children. What if people had burned? First take him to doctors, even so. A normal person would not think to put on such a performance.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick