The Grief Factory: How Regime Supporters Are Choreographed to Mourn on Demand

April 6, 2017
Anti-Maidan activist Anton Demidov places flowers in memory of those killed in the St. Petersburg metro blast. Screen grab from video by 60sec

The Grief Factory: How Regime Supporters Are Choreographed to Mourn on Demand

The following is a translation by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick of an essay by Aleksandr Plyushchev, a journalist for Ekho Moskvy on his own blog and was reprinted on the Ekho Moskvy site. The appearance of pro-regime actors again and again in various settings is reminiscent of the actress in Ukraine who would variously play the roles of a mother outraged by Right Sector in Odessa; the widow of a Ukrainian soldier in Kiev; the owner of a roadside cafe in Stanitsa Luganskaya, etc.

The comments in brackets are translator’s notes. 

Yesterday I suggested that a reader would recognize that the young people who were the first to lay flowers on camera at the Leningrad obelisk would be members of some organization close to the Kremlin.
And right on cue, not a few hours passed before I received a letter:
“My name is Aleksandr Kukin, I’m a graduate of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University. Yesterday in Meduza, a notice was published. “Action in Memory of those Killed in St. Petersburg Begins in Alexandrovsky Garden,” in which an organized group of people representing students from the Bauman Moscow State Technical Institute were referenced. According to my information, nobody at the Baumanka [nickname for the university] organized such a group of people (neither the Student Union, nor the Trade Union, nor the Student Government — I asked an acquaintance in the administration).”

So next, there was an analysis of the videos where you can see these very people. Here’s a video of that very laying of flowers [in memory of those killed in the St. Petersburg metro attack], only from another angle, not as the television crews filmed them, but as the participants filmed themselves.

So here at 0:41, we see a man who bears an exceptional resemblance to Anton Demidov, the former leader of Rumol [a government-organized youth organization], who is now an activist of Anti-Maidan. Of course, he could have seen the action announced on TV, grabbed some identical single carnations and immediately come to Alexander Garden to mourn.

Set as default press image
2017-04-06 13:15:17

The faces of the participants are almost not visible but note the young man encircled, we will see him again.

Set as default press image
2017-04-06 13:17:08

And indeed, here they are grieving for Amb. [Andrei] Karlov [the Russian envoy to Turkey who was assassinated in Ankara].

Demidov is here in the first rows.

Set as default press image
2017-04-06 13:20:44

And here they are again, paying their respects to the memory of Amb. [Vitaly] Churkin [who died suddenly in New York].

Oh, who is this in the center of the frame?

Set as default press image
2017-04-06 13:22:48

Meet Arkady Grichishkin. He is the one who provoked the fight with the teenagers on April 2 on Manezh Square. He was detained by the police, and carefully preserved a little photo on his VKontakte page.

Set as default press image
2017-04-06 13:27:18

It is clear that the police were indulgent of him, or at any rate, they did not give him 7 days in jail since it is he who turns up in the line of those wishing to place flowers at the Leningrad obelisk; remember I told you not to forget that young man? The Russia soul is expansive — he can get in a fight and mourn with equal skill, good for him.
Grichishkin is quite active, Navalny must remember his face, since he is the same man who heckled him on at least two occasions: in Kirov and in Yekaterinburg.

A grieving Grichishkin was noted at the memorial service for Doctor Liza as well [who died in the Tu-154 plane crash en route to Syria].

And here’s Anti-Maidan activist Yekaterina Fedonkina [on the site of the pro-government All-Russian Civic Organization of Veterans] who could not help but post a video of herself on VKontakte with the TV report in which she was captured. You couldn’t help but brag.Nice, huh?

Set as default press image
2017-04-06 14:31:46

Here’s another one, this looks like the Anti-Maidan activist Nikita Zarya

Set as default press image
2017-04-06 13:39:47

But he has the brains not to brag on Vkontakte.

Thus, Aleksandr Kukin sums up:

“YouTube has a channel 60 sec, which positions itself as a small media company, but in reality it is the mouthpiece for Anti-Maidan, it periodically covers actions of mourning by activists of the Anti-Maidan as “Muscovite lay flowers somewhere” (or the Anti-Maidan activists are used as the “mourners on demand” for producing videos on that channel). This channel periodically publishes videos on actions related to the opposition (Navalny and [former prime minister Mikhail] Kasyanov in other cities of Russia although almost all the other content is exclusively in Moscow.

You can recognize the very same people at the actions; aside from Arkady Grichishkin, there are names and references to profiles on VKontakte of anti-Maidan activists who have consistently been present at actions in various cities against Navalny and Kasyanov. Especially vile, of course, is this melange of mourning actions. And the fact that these are former Rumol members, now Anti-Maidan members who are represented to journalists as organized students of Bauman compelled me to write to you.”

Enormous thanks to him for his keen observation and his letter.

We must suppose that they are furious in the Kremlin at such cheap vaudeville, when virtually the same gopniks go to these memorial services.

Aren’t they sick of constructing all this hybrid reality themselves? Something tells me that we will see all this same gopnik crowd at the rally tonight, organized in an emergency and approved in what can only be described as miraculous fashion. And not only today, and not only there. As I was writing this post, news came in that the manager of the patriotic platform at United Russia will be one more founder of Anti-Maidan, Dmitry Sablin. There clearly won’t be a shortage of mourning provocateurs in the near future.

Note: The Interpreter has lost its funding!

Donate to this author to keep news and translations coming.