https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1041 ... 91648.html
Julian Assange Reveals: Holocaust Denier Is a Trusted ‘Friend’
Julian Assange barely even knows the far-right, Holocaust-denying Russian kook with six different names, the latest being “Israel Shamir.” That was the line in March 2011, per a statement from WikiLeaks, released amid what the head of the former transparency organization reportedly claimed was a Jewish-orchestrated campaign to smear him.Israel Shamir has never worked or volunteered for WikiLeaks, in any manner, whatsoever. He has never written for WikiLeaks or any associated organization, under any name and we have no plan that he do so. He is not an ‘agent’ of WikiLeaks. He has never been an employee of WikiLeaks and has never received monies from WikiLeaks or given monies to WikiLeaks or any related organization or individual. However, he has worked for the BBC, Haaretz, and many other reputable organizations.
It is false that Shamir is ‘an Assange intimate’.
Months before, Julian Assange himself disputed this. In a letter from November 2010, just obtained by the Associated Press, the WikiLeaks founder wrote:I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa, at the Russian Consulate, London.
A month later, Shamir would travel to Belarus, handing the pro-Russian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, U.S. diplomatic cables, obtained by WikiLeaks detailing America, interactions with Belarusian opposition figures, some of whom would end up arrested, or dead.
But we already knew Assange was intimately familiar with the odious Shamir; all one needed to do was read what those slandered as MSM smear-artists were reporting, credibly, at the time. For example, as former WikiLeaks staffer James Ball noted in a piece for The Guardian back in November 2011:Shamir has a years-long friendship with Assange, and was privy to the contents of tens of thousands of US diplomatic cables months before WikiLeaks made public the full cache. Such was Shamir’s controversial nature that Assange introduced him to WikiLeaks staffers under a false name. Known for views held by many to be antisemitic, Shamir aroused the suspicion of several WikiLeaks staffers – myself included – when he asked for access to all cable material concerning “the Jews”, a request which was refused.
When questions were asked about Shamir’s involvement with WikiLeaks, given his controversial background and unorthodox requests, we were told in no uncertain terms that Assange would not condone criticism of his friend.
Assange would subsequently accuse his former colleague of making “libelous” accusations about him. But, despite electing to reside in Britain, rather than defend himself in Sweden from allegations of sexual assault, Assange did not take advantage of the country’s liberal defamation laws.
Thanks to a leak, we have a better idea why — and further evidence that one should not blindly trust the public statements of political celebrities. The question now is not whether Assange is a serial liar prone to bouts of defamatory projection, but whether his friend, Israel Shamir, had an ulterior motive for providing U.S. cables to an ally of the Kremlin just weeks after the WikiLeaks founder had used him to request assistance from Russian officials.
American Dream » Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:14 pm wrote:Assange's Extremist Employees
Why is WikiLeaks employing a well-known Holocaust denier and his disgraced son?
Michael C. Moynihan | December 14, 2010
It is worrying enough when journalists, either by accident or design, consort with vulgar figures like Shamir. But it has now been revealed that Israel Shamir, when he is not accusing Assange’s accusers of setting CIA honey traps, works with WikiLeaks in an official capacity.
According to reports in the Swedish and Russian media, the broad strokes of which have been confirmed by a WikiLeaks spokesman, Shamir serves as the group’s content aggregator in Russia, the man who “selects and distributes” the cables to Russian news organizations, according to an investigation by Swedish public radio. In the newspaper Expressen, Magnus Ljunggren, an emeritus professor of Russian literature at Gothenburg University, outlined Shamir’s close ties to WikiLeaks and his position “spreading the documents in Russia.” (The article is illustrated with a picture of Assange and Shamir in an unidentified office.)
During an appearance on Echo Moskvy radio, Yulia Latynina, a reporter at the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, wondered “What does it mean that Assange is allowing himself to be represented by an extremist?” Latynina also found that the Kremlin-friendly paper working with Shamir to promote the WikiLeaks material had already published “outright lies” Shamir claimed were supported by leaks. According to Latynina, Shamir faked a cable related to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the United Nations, which supposedly showed collusion amongst those who walked out of the talk in protest. That he would invent such a cable is perhaps unsurprising, considering Shamir has previously written an encomium to the “brave and charismatic leader” of Iran.
So let us quickly recap the foulness of Shamir’s political views. As I noted last week, he has called the Auschwitz concentration camp “an internment facility, attended by the Red Cross (as opposed to the US internment centre in Guantanamo),” not a place of extermination. He told a Swedish journalist (and fellow Holocaust denier) that “it’s every Muslim and Christian’s duty to deny the Holocaust.” The Jews, he says, are a “virus in human form” and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is real.
But wait, there’s more!
The Swedish media has identified Shamir’s son, a disgraced journalist named Johannes Wahlström, himself accused of anti-Semitism and falsifying quotes, as a WikiLeaks spokesman in Sweden. Indeed, Wahlström has authored stories based on the WikiLeaks material for the newspaper Aftonbladet and is credited as a producer on a recent Swedish public television documentary about the group.
But while being the son of a famous Holocaust denier is perhaps only suggestive—Wahlström is surely not responsible for his father’s many sins—his celebrations of his father’s work in print and his contributions to Shamir’s website suggest ideological affinity.* Indeed, in 2005 Wahlström wrote a story for the leftist magazine Ordfront arguing that Swedish media, not known for being friendly to the Jewish state, was in fact being manipulated by Jewish interests on behalf of the Israeli government.
Three of the journalists interviewed for the story—Cecilia Uddén, Lotta Schüllerqvist, and Peter Löfgren—claimed that Wahlström falsified quotes, leading the magazine to withdraw the story and issue an apology. Heléne Lööw, a historian of fascism and European neo-Nazism, commented that the Wahlström story contained all the “elements that one would find in a classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.”
A member of Ordfront’s editorial board, writing in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, lamented that the piece was ever published, citing Wahlström’s “close working relationship with Israel Shamir,” without pointing out just how close the two were.
Wahlström and Shamir, father and son, are the WikiLeaks representatives for two rather large geographic areas. According to Swedish Radio’s investigation, Wahlström is the gatekeeper of the cables in Scandinavia, and “has the power to decide” which newspapers are provided access and what leaks they are allowed to see. (At the time of filing, Wahlström had yet to respond to an email request for comment.)
In Russia, the magazine Russian Reporter says that it has “privileged access” to the material through Shamir, who told a Moscow newspaper that he was “accredited” to work on behalf of WikiLeaks in Russia. But Shamir has a rather large credibility problem, so Swedish Radio put the question directly to WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson..Swedish Radio: Israel Shamir…Are you aware of him? Do you know him?
Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks spokesman: Yes. Yes, he is associated with us.
SR: So what is his role?
Hrafnsson: Well, I mean, we have a lot of journalists that are working with us all around the world. And they have different roles in working on this project. I won’t go into specifics into what each and everybody’s role is.
SR: Are you aware of how controversial Israel Shamir is in an international context?
Hrafnsson: There are a lot of controversial people around the world that are associated with us. I don’t really see the point of the question
SR: Are you aware of the allegations that he is an anti-Semite?
Hrafnsson: I have heard those allegations…yes, yes. [Pause] What is the question really there?
SR: The question is, do you that that would [sic] be a problem?
Hrafnsson: No, I’m not going to comment on that.
Strip away the caginess and the obfuscation—remember, no one is allowed secrets but WikiLeaks—and Hrafnsson, who took over spokesman duties when Assange was jailed last week, confirms that WikiLeaks chose Shamir to work with their Russian media partners. After its investigation, the Swedish Radio program Medierna concluded flatly that "Israel Shamir represents WikiLeaks in Russia."
More at: http://reason.com/archives/2010/12/14/t ... mployees/1
9 September 2014
Boris Kagarlitsky, a Kremlin's mole in the leftist movement (updated)
Deluded British leftists like to invite Russian allegedly left-wing publicist Boris Kagarlitsky of the Institute for Globalization Studies and Social Movements to take part in their events.
On 2 June this year, he joined, via Skype, the founding meeting of the "Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine" that was attended by Richard Brenner, Lindsey German (Counterfire), Andrew Murray (Communist Party of Great Britain), Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency) and Sergei Kirichuk (Borotba).
On 27 August, he spoke at the public meeting "How to stop the spread of War". Other speakers and participants included Tariq Ali, Lindsey German, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Owen Jones, Francesca Martinez, Stafford Scott, Kate Smurthwaite, and Christian Fuchs.
Boris Kagarlitsky speaking at the meeting "Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine", 27 August 2014, London
In Russia, however, Kagarlitsky prefers a different company. I have already mentioned that Kagarlitsky took part in a meeting of the Russian far right "Florian Geyer" club headed by Russian right-wing Islamist Geydar Dzhemal and frequented by Russian fascists such as Aleksandr Dugin, Maksim Kalashnikov and Mikhail Leontyev, Swedish anti-Semite Israel Shamir and Italian Nazi-Maoist Claudio Mutti among others.
Kagarlitsky (and Richard Brenner) also took part in the conference "The world crisis and the conflict in Ukraine" held in annexed Yalta on 6-7 July 2014 and co-organised by his Institute for Globalization Studies and Social Movements. Other co-organisers of this conference - the ultranationalist "Novaya Rus" (New Russia) headed by Aleksey Anpilogov - held a second conference titled "Russia, Ukraine, New Russia: global problems and challenges", to which they invited international fascists such as Frank Creyelman (Vlaams Belang), Luc Michel (Parti Communautaire National-Européen), Márton Gyöngyösi (Jobbik), Roberto Fiore (Forza Nuova), Mateusz Piskorski (Samooborona) and Nick Griffin (British National Party). (Only Piskorski and Fiore, however, were able to come.)
And here is a photograph that features Kagarlitsky in a company of Russian fascists: Aleksey Belyaev-Gintovt (prominent member of Aleksandr Dugin's International Eurasian Movement), Yevgeniy Zhilin (militant extreme right Oplot group), Konstantin Krylov (far right "Russian Social Movement - Russia") and Yegor Kholmogorov.
Boris Kagarlitsky in a company of Russian fascists, September 2014, Moscow (?)
Next time, British leftists may want to invite Kagarlitsky's fascist friends to some left-wing meeting in London too.
Russian investigative journalists have established that Kagarlitsky has been cooperating with the Kremlin at least since 2005. His task has been to help control the Russian left-wing movement outside the sphere of influence of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). In 2006, he published a report titled "Gale Warning" that aimed at exploring the levels of corruption within Russian political parties. According to Kagarlitsky, the CPRF was the most corrupt party in Russia. While I have no doubts that the CPRF is a corrupt organisation, the most interesting and revealing aspect of Kagarlitsky's report is that he completely ignored two major Russian parties: pro-Putin United Russia and Vladimir Zhirinovsky's far right, misleadingly named Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia. Kagarlitsky's report has nothing on them - a quite telling omission. (The CPRF's leader Gennadiy Zyuganov successfully sued Kagarlitsky for libel, and the latter made an apology.)
Internationally, Kagarlitsky holds himself as a critic and opponent of Putin's regime, but in fact he is a tool of this very regime, a tool that is used to tamp down the genuinely left-wing anti-Putin movement in Russia. It is, therefore, not surprising that Kagarlitsky's Institute for Globalization Studies and Social Movements became one of the organisations that have recently received grants from the Kremlin. Kagarlitsky is doing a good job throwing dust in the eyes of the international left, so Putin knows that he is worth financial support.
Trump’s ties to the Russian mafia go back 3 decades
I’ll ask you straightforwardly: Do you believe the Russian government successfully targeted and compromised Trump?
Yes, absolutely. But let’s go back in time, because I think all of this began as a money-laundering operation with the Russian mafia. It’s well known that Trump likes doing business with gangsters, in part because they pay top dollar and loan money when traditional banks won’t, so it was a win-win for both sides.
The key point I want to get across in the book is that the Russian mafia is different than the American mafia, and I think a lot of Americans don’t understand this. In Russia, the mafia is essentially a state actor. When I interviewed Gen. Oleg Kalugin, who is a former head of counterintelligence in the KGB and had been Vladimir Putin’s boss at one point, I asked him about the mafia. He said, “Oh, it’s part of the KGB. It’s part of the Russian government.”
And that’s essential to the whole premise of the book. Trump was working with the Russian mafia for more than 30 years. He was profiting from them. They rescued him. They bailed him out. They took him from being $4 billion in debt to becoming a multibillionaire again, and they fueled his political ambitions, starting more than 30 years ago. This means Trump was in bed with the Kremlin as well, whether he knew it or not.
Let’s dig into this a bit. You claimed just now, as you do in the book, that the Russian mafia has been using Trump-branded real estate to launder money for over three decades. What evidence do you have to back this up?
You really have to go back 20 or 30 years to understand who the key Russians were, what role they played in the Russian mafia, and how they related to Trump.
The very first episode that’s been documented, to my knowledge, was in 1984 when David Bogatin — who is a Russian mobster, convicted gasoline bootlegger, and close ally of Semion Mogilevich, a major Russian mob boss — met with Trump in Trump Tower right after it opened. Bogatin came to that meeting prepared to spend $6 million, which is equivalent to about $15 million today.
Bogatin bought five condos from Trump at that meeting. Those condos were later seized by the government, which claimed they were used to launder money for the Russian mob.“ONE THING VLADIMIR PUTIN GOT RIGHT WAS HIS INSISTENCE THAT AMERICAN DEMOCRACY IS ALSO CORRUPT, AND I THINK HE’S SHOWING US EXACTLY HOW CORRUPT IT IS”
Okay, to play devil’s advocate, can we say definitively that Trump knew who he was dealing with or what he was getting into? Or did he just naively have his hands out?
Look, I can’t prove what was in Trump’s head, or what he knew or when he knew it. But I document something like 1,300 transactions of this kind with Russian mobsters. By that, I mean real estate transactions that were all cash purchases made by anonymous shell companies that were quite obviously fronts for criminal money-laundering operations. And this represents a huge chunk of Trump’s real estate activity in the United States, so it’s quite hard to argue that he had no idea what was going on.
How did Trump first become a “person of interest” to the Russians? Why would they target this fringe celebrity character 30 years ago, long before his ascent to the presidency was even fathomable?
First of all, the Russians have always wanted to align with certain powerful businessmen, and they have a history going back to the American businessman Armand Hammer in the 1970s and ’80s, whom the Russians allegedly turned into an asset. But it’s not as though they zeroed in on Trump 30 years ago, and only Trump.
Russia had hundreds of agents and assets in the US, and Gen. Kalugin, the former head of KGB operations in Russia, told me that America was a paradise for Russian spies and that they had recruited roughly 300 assets and agents in the United States, and Trump was one of them.
But it’s not just the money laundering. There was a parallel effort to seduce Trump. Sometime in 1986, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Yuri Dubinin, visited Trump in Trump Tower and told him that his building was “fabulous” and that he should build one in Moscow, and they arranged for a trip to Moscow.
According to Gen. Kalugin, that was likely the first step in the process to recruit and compromise Trump. Kalugin told me he would not be surprised in the least if the Russians have compromising materials on Trump’s activities in Moscow, something they were quite good at acquiring.
Disinformation and the Decay of Nations
Posted on 19th December 2017
To deal with the rising Nationalist Internationale, we are first going to have to reimagine how we engage with each other.
Discord is a niche social media platform used by the video gaming community to organize strategies for competing in massive multiplayer online worlds. It has also been used by the extreme Right to plan international revolution. Extremist discussions on Discord are hard to penetrate. During September’s German election, for example, anyone wanting to join the Infokrieg or Reconquista Germanica groups was vetted through several layers of interviews and social media background checks to weed out spies from true believers. Researchers from the counter-extremism NGO Institute for Strategic Dialogue managed to infiltrate the sites however, and, as their report (which is to be released next week) details, they discovered an impressive, international psy-ops operation aimed at helping the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) make it into the Bundestag for the first time.
The 5,000 members of Reconquista Germanica, for example, were split into military-style groups, with dedicated chat-rooms managing the “radar station”, “daily orders” and “meme workshops.” There is even a chat-room to prepare for “Day X”, the full breakdown of public order. Tactics were swapped between European and U.S. actors, with lessons passed on from every election in the United States, France, and Holland. Members use special bots to spam the feeds of centrist or leftist politicians. They are given instructions on how to create fake accounts and tweet from multiple places simultaneously to hijack hashtags, and how to create parody accounts to confuse their opponents. Daily briefings used sophisticated Twitter analytics to measure success and instruct how to attack mainstream parties. Ultimately groups like Reconquista Germanica helped the AfD dominate social media discussion. On September 9, for example, seven of the hashtags defined by Reconquista reached the top 20 trending hashtags in Germany. The party eventually made it into Bundestag with an unprecedented 13% of the vote.
What is so striking about this, and other far-right operations, argue the ISD authors, is how social media has rebooted the far Right by allowing previously atomized groups to come together across borders. A significant player in this new Nationalist Internationale is Russia. As a monitoring project at the London School of Economics, Arena Programme, showed, German-language Kremlin media house Sputnik was strongly biased towards the AfD in the run-up to the election. In July and August, Sputnik featured the AfD more than any other party, the only German political group to be treated positively. This material was then retweeted by scores of pro-AfD accounts.
Meanwhile, on alternative social media platforms like Gab.ai, far-right memes, conspiracy theories and Kremlin sources form a (mis)information ecology cut off from the rest of society. The significance of the relationship is less about how big the Kremlin media audience is (compared to mainstream media it is tiny), but how deeply it is embedded in a mutually beneficial relationship with the new Right. This symbiosis in turn allows the Kremlin to push its own agendas in this increasingly influential community. In the process of reporting on and unmasking a bot network based in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod spreading the sort of supposedly amusing AfD memes developed in groups like Reconquista Germanica, Buzfeed interviewed its owner; he said that the AfD did not need to pay for his network’s services, as it was for “mutual benefit.”
Rather than a game of puppeteers and marionettes, the relationship between the Russian regime and the far Right is closer to a dance—what Anton Shekhovtsov calls a “Tango Noir” in his impressive and important recent book-length study of the subject. Shekhovtsov traces the relationship back to the 1930s, when the Kremlin cooperated with the more socialist end of the National Socialists. There were contacts during the Cold War too, with the Soviets aiding and abetting neo-Nazi groups in West Germany so it could point and accuse the country of being the inheritors of Hitler’s Germany. The dance quickened after the end of the Cold War, when a whole range of Russian actors competed to bring the far Right into its networks. Shekhovtsov elegantly lays out the modus operandi of the relationship. The far Right offers the Kremlin its services as “election monitors” whenever Moscow needs an illegal referendum to legitimize its imperial adventures; in return the far Right get the occasional bit of funding and a regular supply of Kremlin media support.
What’s clear from Shekhovtsov’s study is that for the Kremlin, this relationship is less about ideological closeness and more about usefulness. At the same time as it works with the far Right, it also builds relationships with the far Left and international financial elites—the far Right’s sworn enemies. Moscow’s domestic politics, which stress the multi-ethnic, multi-religious nature of Russia, and where Islamist politicians are among Putin’s closest allies, would be an anathema to the Western far Right. Russian media regularly boast of defeating fascism in Ukraine in order to gin up support for their invasion with a domestic audience—all while supporting actual fascists in the West.
This multi-faced policy is enhanced by the fractured nature of digital and social media: the Kremlin can target different audiences with different messages. On a smaller scale, the leaders of the new Nationalist Internationale are doing the same to unite their own fractured movement. Think of a set of kaleidoscopic fractals opening up into another set of fractals as you approach it. When the ISD authors took a microscope to the planning behind the recent “Unite the Right” riots in Charlottesville, they found the organizers used different messages to reach out to different groups, a disparate bunch which included, inter alia, anti-Marxists, anti-Islamic bigots, ethnic nationalists, and disgruntled cranky culture warriors.
As one thinks about strategies to counter this threat, it’s important to keep these cleavages in mind. There are many divisions to explore. U.S. alt-right activists indulge in anti-Semitism, which Austrian identitarians are still worried to touch; the misogyny of the younger alt-right is unpopular among the older extreme Right; cultural racists disagree with biological racists; and nationalist libertarians are unlikely to agree with national socialists for long.
The Kremlin, as we have noted, is ideologically pantheistic. And therein lies its weakness. In order to exploit it, policy-makers, media and civil society will have to work across borders. In Germany, for instance, countering the AfD will mean not merely thinking about the local context which enabled them, but also understanding and undermining the emerging Nationalist Internationale which supports them. Extreme nationalists have thus far used the transnational potential of online networks more effectively than the “global elites” they attack.
This in turn reveals another paradox: the cohesion of nations as we know them has thus far depended on a limited amount of media which contribute towards an often quarrelsome but at the end of the day mutual public space. The new digital ultra-nationalists, however, capitalize on the sprawl of new media echo chambers, which spread like digital pinmold across the decaying fruit of nations, decomposing the wholeness of the very national entities they claim to champion. In dealing with the Nationalist Internationale, therefore, we are going to have to reimagine how we engage with each other in a modern media space where concepts we have previously taken for granted, such as “truth” and “authority”, are increasingly difficult to agree upon. The fight against “disinformation” is also a fight to ensure that deliberative democracy can continue to thrive into the twenty-first century. The first step is to tap into the data tools which the extreme nationalists are using so effectively: given the knowledge data can give us about what drives and motivates publics, how can we use it to rebuild public space rather than inspire hatred?
The Ties That Bind
If there’s one common theme we hear from grifters narrative architects about Russian influence operations, it’s that the object is to “divide” American society in order to weaken it. The proof, we’re told, is in the fact that much of the material put out by Russian soft power organs like RT and Sputnik, as well as the social media content from the St. Petersburg “troll factory,” is aimed at both far-right and far-left audiences. This allegedly means the Russians want to divide society by promoting polarized narratives. I’m sorry to say, but this is bullshit.
This delusion lives on because it is pleasing to certain people among the political class. It speaks to their unrealistic vision of an America where people may disagree on a few core issues, but at heart share much in common. In other words it’s Obama’s “there’s no red or blue America” speech. In reality, America has been very divided for quite some time, and while it may seem like Russian propaganda is aimed at further polarizing society, I’d say it’s more about unifying certain elements more than anything.
Over the past few years, regular readers have noted my increasing concern over red-brown activity, i.e. the coordination, both witting and unwitting, between the far-left and far-right. Historically the far-right has always tried to appropriate concepts from the left and co-opt leftists movements, but since the end of the Cold War certain actors have strove to embrace and advance this convergence for a number of aims. Where Russia is concerned, the neo-fascist Alexander Dugin appears to have made red-brown organizing a conscious strategy, one that has become a pillar of Russian soft power.
In short, Russian influence operations do not, in fact, aim to divide society in other countries, but rather unify certain elements against others. Where it cannot create actual alliances, it aims to get disparate groups to agree on certain talking points even if they may espouse them for different reasons and with different intentions. The fact that the propaganda being put out has polarizing messages is beside the point; it is designed that way simply to find a loyal audience. The main goal, once people of certain political views are hooked, is to turn them toward the Kremlin’s position on certain foreign policy goals.
We see this constantly not only in America but in other countries as well, such as Germany. Whether far-right or far-left, even in those countries where such people are often involved in bloody streetfighting, we see curious uniformity when it comes to certain issues that are near and dear to the Kremlin. Supporting Ukraine is a “proxy war,” brought on by a NATO-inspired “coup.” It matters little whether the person receiving and hopefully regurgitating the message believes that Ukraine has been taken over by neo-Nazis or liberal crypto-Jews; all that matters is that the audience is hostile to Ukrainian independence, identity, and territorial integrity. Similarly, it is irrelevant whether the same person supports Russia’s claims on that country because they identify it with the Soviet Union or as a champion resisting the neoliberal hegemony or because they see it as the last hope for the “white race” and “Western civilization.” What is important to the Kremlin is unity- unity around that key point.
No doubt the best example of this unity is in the case of Syria, where many leftists have so easily bought into the Kremlin/Assadist narrative that they find themselves in bed with literal fascist parties and even neo-Nazi icons such as David Duke. Again, from the Kremlin point of view it is utterly unimportant whether the reason for backing Assad or at least opposing his removal is “anti-imperialism” or the belief that he fights against a “Zionist New World Order.” All that matters is that the talking points are repeated- Bashar al-Assad is the legitimate ruler of Syria. The rebels are either all al Qaeda-linked Salafist jihadists or at least such people would surely dominate any future Syria without Assad.
Of course when it comes to the extreme right and left in many countries, they will often come close to such positions on their own, typically due to reasons inherent in their respective ideologies. But without direction, these groups might not always find their way to positions that benefit the Kremlin’s foreign policy aims. For example, while Russia clearly won the battle for hearts and minds when it comes to neo-Nazis and Ukraine, easily wooing more far-rightists to fight for their pseudo-states in the Donbas than the Ukrainian far-right was able to win to their side, the latter did manage to get some recruits. Were it not for the Russian propaganda machine, the split might have been more even. The same goes for recruitment of the far-left, as many more open-minded leftists around the world were supportive of Maidan for its revolutionary, anti-corruption aspects. Russian propaganda aimed at both ends of the spectrum helps guide disparate, even diametrically opposed sides to the same conclusions on key issues, though they may take different paths.
So in the future let’s put aside the idea that the aim of Russian disinformation is to divide society- our societies are divided and in many cases for very good reasons. After all, we cannot have unity with political groupings or tendencies that seek to strip away the civil rights of others. The key to understanding Russian influence operations (and doubtless those of other countries), is to understand their unifying aim. What are they trying to get disparate political tendencies to agree on, one way or another?
Is Vanessa Beeley a reliable source?[One] of the most vocal sceptics of the UN’s investigation [into the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack of 2017] include the blogger Vanessa Beeley, the daughter of a former British diplomat who visited Syria for the first time in July 2016...
Separately, both Graphika and Menczer’s Hoaxy tool identify Beeley, the British blogger, as among the most influential disseminators of content about the White Helmets. Their findings also correlate with work done by Kate Starbird from the University of Washington in Seattle, who asserts that Beeley and the alternative news site 21st Century Wire have dominated the Twitter conversation about White Helmets over the last few months, along with Sputnik and RT.com.
Beeley frequently criticises the White Helmets in her role as editor of the website 21st Century Wire, set up by Patrick Henningsen, who is also a former editor at Infowars.com. In 2016, Beeley had a two-hour meeting with Assad in Damascus as part of a US Peace Council delegation, which she described on Facebook as her “proudest moment”. She was also invited to Moscow to report on the “dirty war in Syria”; there, she met senior Russian officials including the deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, and Maria Zakharova, director of information and press at Russia’s foreign ministry.Arguably the most prominent figure in [the campaign to smear the White Helmets] is Vanessa Beeley, another propagandist operating within the Assad sphere of influence. Beeley, a regular contributor to the conspiracy portal "21st Century Wire", is now one of the best-known "critics" of the White Helmets. As she recently opined once again, bomb attacks on the aid workers are legitimate because these people are "terrorists". She regularly accuses journalists and established media outlets of spreading "regime-change propaganda".
Anyone reading Beeley’s words might almost think that all those Syrians who have been maltreated and tortured in recent years are actually Assad’s most enthusiastic supporters. Instead, all the blame for the conflict lies squarely with the Gulf states, Turkey, Israel and western nations. Assad’s death squads, militias funded by Tehran, Russian bombs – in the confused heads of figures like Beeley, this all appears to be nothing more than a fairy tale consistently lied about, or not spoken about at all.
Data research carried out by British newspaper The Guardian in late 2017 clearly showed that almost all Internet propaganda against the White Helmets can be traced back to Beeley and Bartlett. In this context, observers are talking about "hybrid warfare" being systematically waged by Russian state media against the aid workers. The fact that the White Helmets, who are persistently accused of being "western agents", have also uncovered war crimes perpetrated by the U.S. military, is deliberately ignored.
CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ABOUT THE ACCUSED
In February 2018, a campaign was launched in Russia to support those accused in the Network case. Among the main goals of the campaign were fundraising for legal costs, organizing humanitarian support for the arrested and offering support to their relatives. The resources gathered have so far been distributed according to the financial circumstances of the respective families and the needs of the arrested. Further financial support is being distributed according to the choices made by those the arrested throughout the investigation.
Currently two of the accused, Igor Shishkin, and Yegor Zorin, are firmly siding with the investigation.
Igor Shishkin has not filed a torture complaint, although traces of torture were reported on his body by the independent Public Oversight Committee (ONK). He has signed agreement prior to being present in court, which means that he has fully admitted his guilt. He is actively cooperating in the investigation of the criminal case, and also giving testimony against other suspects. If the case by the prosecution is substantiated with the testimony given by Shishkin, his sentence will be reduced (as defined in the chapter 5 of the statute 317.7 of Russian Codex of Criminal Prosecution, UPK RF). Igor is the only accused to have been visited by official Russian Ombudsman for human rights Tatyana Moskalkova, but he did not report any torture during the visit. Since then he has sided with the prosecution during a cross-interrogation with another defendant. This position is detrimental to co-defendants, and results in additional pressure for everyone struggling for themselves and for justice.
Yegor Zorin, in the autumn of 2017, after being tortured, admitted his guilt and has cooperated with the investigation ever since. He never filed a torture complaint.
American Dream » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:28 am wrote:Support anarchist and antifa prisoners in St.Petersburg and Penza!
We are currently fundraising to pay the lawyers working on several cases related to the police raids and arrests of anarchists and antifascists in St. Petersburg and Penza, Russia.
As of now, two people in St. Petersburg and five in Penza are under arrest, while many others have been connected to their cases as witnesses. The raids and repressions are likely to continue.
The arrestees are charged with part 2 of article 205.4 of the Russian Criminal Code, participation in a Terrorist Organisation, and the entire process has been started at the request of the court in Penza.
On January 23rd, on his way to Pulkovo Airport, Victor Filinkov was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB). In order to force a testimony out of him he was beaten, and tortured with electric shocks in the woods. Signs of torture have been confirmed by the Filinkov's lawyer and members of the Public Monitoring Commission (ONK) who have visited him in the pre-trial detention center. Filinkov is currently in pre-trial detention/remand for the next two months.
On January 25th the FSB raided Igor Shishkin's apartment. After the raid neither his lawyer, nor members of Public Monitoring Commission were able to find Igor for more than a day. On January 27th Igor was brought to a session in court with clear signs of beating. He is currently in pre-trial detention/remand for the next two months. Journalists were not allowed to attend the hearing and furthermore two of them were arrested.
Several witnesses were also tortured: Ilya Kapustin was beaten up and tortured with electric shocks while police demanded he give testimony that some of his acquantances are up to "something dangerous." Medical services later recorded numerous traces of stun gun usage.
More at: https://avtonom.org/en/news/support-ana ... petersburg
Russia Is Exploiting American White Supremacy Over and Over Again
Russia’s troll army was not interested in stirring up generic ‘chaos’ in America. The Kremlin is strategically tapping into the inexhaustible fuel source of white grievance.
The cynical brilliance of Vladimir Putin’s propaganda campaign is that it exploited America’s foundational commitment to white supremacy. The term itself is so raw and so hideous that it inspires an allergy to its usage within mainstream political discourse. But no other term—racism, white privilege, etc.—better captures the dynamic at issue. White supremacy is exactly what it says on the label: a social structure by which whites, a pseudoscientific grouping with a definition that changes over time as is convenient, dominate America’s complex and often informal hierarchies of power.“Our schools teach children that racism is about hatred, and hatred is disreputable—not that racism is about power.”
American history is many things, but among them is a catalog recording the mutating shape of a white power structure and how that structure responds to various challenges to its existence. Amongst white supremacy’s greatest contemporary triumphs is its portrayal of racism as individual prejudice rather than maintenance of the social order. Our schools teach children that racism is about hatred, and hatred is disreputable—not that racism is about power, with hatred merely one downstream effect amongst many. And so, nearly every day, the public discourse shows another white person objecting that the definitions have changed on them in a dizzying way. Those objections predictably run a gamut from left to right, since white supremacy’s roots sink deeper in America than any mere political persuasion. Putin's trolls wisely selected a fuel source that white Americans of all political stripes, consciously or not, ensure is inexhaustible.
With every tweet, Facebook post, YouTube video and Tumblr page, Russia showed that it understands America with a depth that prompts much of white America to avert its eyes. Russian propaganda expertly grasped that even the most meager challenges to white supremacy prompt a politically powerful and useful white resistance, and that this dynamic is a persistent feature of American life. All Russia—or any foreign power, or no foreign power at all—needs to do is breathe on the embers until they ignite. White supremacy murders millions of people, steals their wealth to distribute it up the social ladder, and denies untold millions their true human potential. America does this to itself, and left undisturbed, will continue doing it. Russia’s only unique contribution in 2016, and beyond, was to underscore the threat white supremacy poses to U.S. national security.
The reactionary Russian political theorist Alexander Dugin has written explicitly on the benefits of operationalizing American white supremacy for Russian benefit. While Dugin’s true influence on Putin remains a subject of debate, his 1997 tome The Foundations of Geopolitics presaged the Russian active-measures campaign of the past three years.
“It is especially important to introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements—extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S.,” Dugin wrote. His clarity might have benefitted the 2017 CIA-FBI-NSA intelligence assessment.“All Russia—or any foreign power, or no foreign power at all—needs to do is breathe on the embers until they ignite.”
To credibly put that into practice 20 years later, Russians merely needed to be ready online. They observed the idioms adopted by left and right online political subcultures and repurposed them, using “cultural, linguistic and identity markers in their Twitter profiles to align themselves with the shared values and norms of either the left- or right-leaning clusters,” write University of Washington researchers Ahmer Arif, Leo G. Stewart and Kate Starbird in a paper to be presented at an academic conference in November.
IRA stereotypes were crude, speaking to how Russians understood the social currency of their marks. One fake profile, hilariously titled @USA_Gunslinger, read: “They won’t deny us our defense! Whether you’re agree [sic] with me or not, you’re welcome here! If you don’t want to be welcomed, go f*ck yourself.” Another, anticipating Atlantic writer Adam Serwer’s thesis that contemporary white supremacy portrays itself as disgusted by racism, included “Anti Racism” in its profile alongside “Southern. Conservative. Pro God.” IRA Tumblrs attempting to portray themselves as black were titled such things as Hustle In A Trap and Ghetta Blasta. But the accounts, whether left or right, showed more sophistication—at least on a level analogous to what a machine could spit out, given enough data—in their appropriation of how authentic accounts within the targeted groups spoke to one another.
“What really struck me in studying the activities of these accounts up close, was the level of knowledge they demonstrated of American culture,” Arif told The Daily Beast. “They talked about the movies, they talked about specific holidays and things like that, so it speaks to an organized, kind of a digital marketing operation, almost, knowing your audience really thoroughly … [For] a country that is already divided in some ways by things like race and politics, this is a case of someone coming along and giving us just a little nudge.”
Arif and his colleagues didn’t set out to study the IRA. As academics examining human-computer interaction, they wanted to examine the online discourse around Black Lives Matter. But last year, after Twitter and Facebook began shuttering accounts associated with the IRA, they noticed Russian accounts popping up with sufficient frequency in Black Lives Matter discussions that they studied that phenomenon on its own. Their preliminary work has already attracted coverage in Mother Jones, The Atlantic and Mashable, but their final product has more information about, among other things, “what content they were propagating,” Arif said.“All this genuine white American outrage looked, to Moscow, like an opportunity.”
What they found matched a series of 2017 exclusives from The Daily Beast that showed white supremacy was never far from the surface of surreptitious Russian propaganda. The fake group SecuredBorders urged a real-life rally in Idaho in August 2016 under the cry, “We must stop taking in Muslim refugees!” The IRA Twitter account Being Patriotic called on followers to actually kill Black Lives Matter activists: “Arrest and shoot every sh*thead taking part in burning our flag! #BLM vs #USA.”
It’s true that the Russians also impersonated what they saw as left-wing and nonwhite American audiences. Arif and his colleagues have documented the IRA pretending to be both #BlackLivesMatter and its white-backlash antagonist #AllLivesMatter. But a look at the substance of the messaging the Russians geared to an ostensibly non-white audience looks distinctly congruent with the prejudices reflected by its white right-wing one. When the IRA pretended to be non-white, it portrayed its fabricated in-group as threatening, provocative or anti-American.
A Facebook page impersonating the United Muslims of America pushed memes falsely claiming the U.S., and particularly the Russian adversaries Hillary Clinton and John McCain, created ISIS—before claiming that Clinton was the guardian of Muslim interests. Arif’s paper notes that the IRA impostor group BlackMatters pushed a series of inflammatory gifs purporting to show police officers sexually assaulting a black teenage girl—which participants in the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag subsequently debunked. “[T]he video incident functioned both to further stoke anti-police sentiments on the left and, once it was debunked, increase anti-BlackLivesMatter sentiments on the right,” Arif, Stewart and Starbird write.
The Russians posturing as Black Lives Matter “favored an uncompromising and adversarial stance towards law enforcement,” they found. “This activity feeds directly into attempts to frame #BlackLivesMatter as an anti-police hate group. From prior research we know that such framings were actively resisted and addressed by #BlackLivesMatter activists… [T]hese accounts did not just speak to the communities that they were pretending to be a part of, but also aimed to communicate an antagonistic representation of those communities to others.”“'You strengthen the grievances, and then exploit' them, the official told The Daily Beast.”
That strategy is on display in Europe as well as America. According to a knowledgeable European Union official who was not cleared to talk to a journalist, social media accounts strongly suspected of being Russian cutouts are waving digital red flags to ideologically contrary audiences. In the run-up to the September 9 election in Sweden, the EU official noticed pro-refugee messaging emanating from suspected Russia-controlled accounts, aimed this time at audiences expected to feel anxious about immigration. “You strengthen the grievances, and then exploit” them, the official told The Daily Beast.
While each surreptitious Russian influence campaign is distinctly tailored to its particular audience, continuities amongst them point to the particular sort of chaos in the West that the Kremlin considers beneficial. It inflames a sense of grievance amongst a white overclass which fears the collapse of its social, political and economic supremacy. It inflates even the most modest challenge to that supremacy as an attack on its fundamental way of life, essentializing entire national histories to nothing more than white prerogatives. This is how immigration becomes perceived as an invasion, Black Lives Matter becomes a “domestic terror outfit,” and the poor white masses feel besieged into silence before crying out for a champion to make them feel great again.
Politics of Hate
By Samuel Huneke
Not until the Soviet Union neared collapse, as President Mikhail Gorbachev advanced reforms of Soviet government and society at a staggering pace, would gay people begin to organize politically. Media started to discuss sex more openly in the mid-1980s. The first gay and lesbian magazine in Russia began publication in December 1989.
Stalin’s sodomy law eventually fell in 1993 as part of reforms championed by Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first democratically elected president. According to Healey, the repeal had very little to do with gay activism or any repudiation of Russian homophobia. Rather, democratic reformers were interested in bringing Russian codes into line with Council of Europe standards as part of Russia’s Westernization.
While nascent activism in the 1990s and early 2000s created new opportunities for gay people, Healey contends, it also helped spark a backlash among conservatives and within the Russian Orthodox Church. Conservative politicians passed a law raising the age of consent in 2003, promulgated municipal ordinances banning “propaganda for homosexualism among minors” (in 2009 protestors carrying a sign stating “Homosexuality is normal” near a school were arrested under such a statute), and even tried unsuccessfully to recriminalize sodomy in 2002.
Not until the 2010s did the Russian regime — now over a decade into Vladimir Putin’s rule — embrace the grassroots homophobia that had become an increasingly prominent part of Russian political discourse. Putin was running for reelection in 2012 with a weakened economy and a frustrated populace. His United Russia Party began fanning the flames of homophobia in 2011, Healey argues, in order “to revitalize Putin’s popularity before the election.”
Though Putin easily won the May 2012 election, his campaign’s homophobia continued to gain momentum, “aiming to remasculinize the presidency after the limp incumbency” of Dmitry Medvedev. It crested the following year when the Duma passed, virtually unanimously, a law criminalizing gay propaganda nationwide. Around the same time, grassroots vigilante groups with names like “Occupy Pedophilia” sprang up around the country, entrapping and torturing gay men. In one particularly horrific incident, described by both Healey and Gessen, 23-year-old Vladislav Tornovoi was murdered in May 2013 by two of his friends because he was gay. The killers crushed his head beneath a paving stone, shoved multiple beer bottles into his anus, and maimed his genitals.
Since Putin’s 2012 electoral campaign, Healey contends, homophobia has become a convenient lever by which the Russian leader generates support among his base of voters, distinguishing a morally righteous Russia from a supposedly degenerate West. As the country seeks to craft its own mythical past to suit the needs of present politics, hatred toward queer people has proven an expedient means to bridge the chasm separating the two and to cement support for Russia’s leaders. Healey’s point is that the regime’s policies did not come from nowhere: they tapped into a reservoir of homophobia that stemmed from the Stalinist era.
Russia: Free the “Network” Prisoners
Viktor Filinkov has arrived in Petersburg. He’s now in Remand Prison No. 4 on Lebedev Street, but apparently he will be transferred from there to Remand Prison No. 3 on Shpalernaya Street. Yana Teplitskaya and I chatted with him for two hours until lights out.
And yesterday Roma and I chatted with Yuli Boyarshinov.
Viktor’s in a very sad state, healthwise.
He took ill at every stop along the way during his convoy without having recovered from the previous stop. In Yaroslavl on Friday, before the last leg of his journey, Viktor was suddenly unable to walk. He doesn’t understand what it could have been, and he has never had anything like it before. His cellmates summoned the doctor. Viktor was taken to the dispensary. He was brought to his senses with smelling salts, given an injection of something, and left there until it was time to go.
It took three days for Viktor to get to Petersburg. They were on the road from Saturday to Tuesday, traveling only at night. During the day, the train car in which he was convoyed stood unheated and idle on the tracks.
He says he was really glad to go to Penza and hang out with [all the other prisoners in the Network case], although he did not enjoy the trip itself. The Penza Remand Prison was at such pains to show that none of the suspects in the Network case were being tortured anymore that every evening all ten suspects were inspected. They were forced to strip and undergo a full look-over, after which they were told to sign their names in a notebook. Viktor got tired of signing his name, so he took to drawing smileys, but no one followed his lead.
I wonder what it will mean when the wardens stop keeping this notebook.
Opinion// How Vicious anti-Semitism Quietly Aids Moscow’s Covert Influence Campaign in the U.S
Fash the Nation, Russia style: How a pro-Kremlin website's sudden 'conversion' to hardcore anti-Semitism provided fuel for an alliance with America's far right, part of Moscow's strategy to provoke further polarisation in the U.S.
Jan 29, 2018 8:33 PM
Nationalist demonstrators carry their flags and, some of them, raise their hands in a Nazi salute during a march to mark National Unity Day, in Moscow, Russia. Nov. 4, 2013
On the 15th of January, the previously little known website, Russia Insider, published a 5000-word long manifesto authored by the website’s editor Charles Bausman, in which he demanded the world in general, and Russia in particular, "Drop the Jew taboo," stating that it was high time to start assertively addressing the "pernicious influence" of the "Jewish elites."
The manifesto alleged "Jewish pressure groups" were in no small degree responsible for various sins, ranging from current sex scandals to most of the deadly turmoil in the world over the last 30 years. And, since Russia Insider’s contents mostly concern Russia, Bausman claimed that "the unreasonable hostility towards Putin’s Russia [was] very much a Jewish phenomenon."
He also invited potential authors to submit (unpaid) articles dealing with the "Jewish problem" and even introduced a new category on the website, 'The Jewish Question', echoing the Nazi, and contemporary neo-Nazi, language of genocide: the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question."
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017.
The manifesto was a surprise for two reasons.
The first reason is technical: Charles Bausman has never authored lengthy pieces such as this, therefore – with his "It’s Time to Drop the Jew Taboo" – he really put in a lot of effort. Russia Insider itself is hardly known for its original journalism, as most of its contents is copy-pasted or translated from other websites. The overwhelming majority of Bausman’s own contributions to the website are usually blog-like entries rather than proper op-eds. This means that the manifesto was quite important for Bausman.
The second reason is that Bausman’s piece was a radical departure from the previous articles published by the website.
Not that Russia Insider, which was launched in September 2014, did not publish anti-Semitic texts before – it did, and they were retroactively added to the new category "The Jewish Question" – but none of the pieces demonstrated such straightforward and "unreformed" anti-Semitism.
It is no secret that modern anti-Semites – if they are not blatantly neo-Nazis – prefer to use terms like "New World Order," "international finance" or "global elites" to attack the Jews, but Bausman’s manifesto rejected these euphemisms directly and was written in blunt tones about the "Jewish problem."
Doubtlessly, by publishing his anti-Semitic manifesto, Bausman has presented a challenge to his own operation. According to the website, the means of its sustenance come from crowdfunding, and Bausman has been actively campaigning since 2014 to raise funds for The Russian Insider. (The website itself claims that it has been donated around US $ 300,000 since 2014.) And Bausman himself admitted that, since the website depended on reader contributions, the anti-Semitic publication might repel the audience and "curtail donations from some."
Moreover, RT, which used to quote Bausman and invite him to their shows, and which was one of the main sources of Russia Insider’s copy-pasting technique, has now distanced itself from him by saying that it "categorically and unequivocally [condemned] the disgusting hate speech promoted by the recent Russia Insider article."
Why, then, did Bausman start his crusade against the "Jewish elites"? A possible explanation is that Bausman is a very recent convert to flagrant anti-Semitism.
Data research carried out by British newspaper The Guardian in late 2017 clearly showed that almost all Internet propaganda against the White Helmets can be traced back to Beeley and Bartlett.
Russian anti-fascist reveals violence, humiliation and threats in pre-trial detention
MEDIA ZONA 14 November 2018
In Russia, the security services have arrested 11 anarchists and anti-fascists on terrorism charges. Yuly Boyarshinov, a defendant, describes the conditions in pre-trial detention – where prisoners beat, bully and humiliate others in league with investigators.
Detainees in Gorelovo Detention Centre are subject to systematic physical violence and humiliations by other prisoners, who carry out the orders of the prison administration. Those prisoners call themselves “elders” or “seniors”, but other prisoners call them “reds” or “activists”.
These same people extract money from detainees for individual places to sleep, places next to the television, the right to sleep during the day and other “privileges”. For example, in Cell 3/14, I had to sleep in a twin-bed with four more prisoners. And in Cell 1/2, where I was from 1 March 2018 until 20 July 2018, I had to sleep either on the floor or the top bunk of a double bed with two, three, four more people.
More than a half of all prisoners in the cell do not have their own sleeping place, but this is not only due to overcrowding. In Cell 1/2, which has room for 116 people to sleep, there usually were 120-140 people, sometimes even 150. But, regardless of the overcrowding, there were always free beds in the “Kremlin”.
The “Kremlin” is a large space, separated by a curtain, where the “activists” live. In Cell 1/2, three or four people occupied 12 sleeping places in the “Kremlin”, while at the other end of the same cell regular prisoners had to share a twin bed between five people.More than a half of all prisoners in the cell do not have their own sleeping place, but this is not only due to overcrowding
A new arrival into the cell is met by “orderlies”, usually sporty young men. They shout at the newbie to run to the other side of the cell, then tell him to stand there and wait until he is called. The prisoner acting as a clerk writes down the new prisoner’s personal details: his name and surname, date of birth, charge/conviction and prison term (if he already has one). In Cell 1/2, as in many others, both convicted prisoners and those under investigation are detained together. People who are first-time prisoners and “second-timers”, as well as people who are facing charges of different severity, are all mixed together. When I was in Cell 1/2, there were detainees investigated under Articles 105, 111, 126, 127, 131, 132, 134, 135, 158, 159, 161, 162, 163, 205, 222, 228, 264, 210 and others.
The new arrival is forced to wait standing from anywhere between 20 minutes to one and a half hours, without talking to anyone. Then he is called to the “kitchen”, which is a small room at the far end of the cell, where no one is normally allowed in. This is where the “activists” eat, and a designated person cooks food for them on a stove throughout the day. Fresh meat and eggs are brought to them in a soup tureen.
Two or three “activists” talk to the newcomer in the kitchen, explain to him that one has to pay 5,000-10,000 roubles [roughly £60-£110] a month for a separate bunk, sometimes they extract a one-off payment for “moving in” – tens of thousands of roubles [up to £500]. If he refuses [to pay], they shout, hit him in the stomach or the back of the head. They threaten to beat his buttocks or heels with a stick, but this they do rarely in order to avoid leaving traces.
They also force the newcomer to clean the floor, sometimes non-stop, four or five times per hour from lunch until dinner, and then from dinner until lights-off. They threaten that if a prisoner cleans the floor, this will affect his social status and later he will be forced to do that permanently in the correction colony. In other words, cleaning is turned into a humiliating punishment.
Those who face charges under Articles 131-135 of the Russian Criminal Code [crimes related to sexual violence] are forced to clean the latrines, wash clothes for the “seniors” and pay much higher sums of money.
Sometimes, as an alternative to monthly payments, the “activists” propose these detainees become a “helper” – that is, to serve one of the “activists”, wash their clothes, bring food to the “Kremlin”, put up the curtain that separates the “Kremlin” from the rest of the cell and take it down when it’s likely that prison guards may visit, although they don’t remove it in the presence of the regular guards responsible for the block.
When one of the “activists” goes to the toilet, the helpers kick out everyone from there in advance, roughly 10 minutes or so before. The same happens if one of the “activists” takes a shower. There is no hot water in the first and third blocks. The water for “activists” is warmed up with an immersion heater in a big barrel – a designated person has to look after it the whole day. Only “activists” can wash with hot water.
Regular prisoners are only allowed to use one lavatory out of three in the toilet, two others are reserved for the “elders”. Because of that and the fact that they close the toilet so often, there was always a queue of four-five people there.
There are two “clerks” in Cell 1/2. These are the prisoners who read both in- and outgoing letters of other prisoners and check that nobody complains to their relatives about violations in the cell. They can block a letter or order you to cross out particular sentences. You are not allowed to put letters in the letterbox yourself. The clerks also sign to receive letters, sometimes also for food parcels and shopping for other detainees. They also pass statements and requests to detention centre officials. Almost all interactions with the guards, including during the morning inspection, are mediated by the clerks and elders, and you are prohibited from addressing [the guards] directly, which creates isolation and a sense of doom.
Yuli Boyarshinov and defense attorney Olga Krivonos at a custody extension hearing, 19 February 2018.
I was beaten up several times: on the day I moved in to Cell 3/14, on the first day in Cell 1/2, and on the second day there too, and on the several more occasions from time to time when I was called in for a “conversation” in the kitchen. These “conversations” usually happened after my lawyer applied to transfer me to another cell or complained about the conditions of my detention and so on.
From the first day, I was told that “this can’t be solved with money” and that there was a special request on me from Ivan Prozarevsky, an agent, to create especially difficult conditions for me.
The first few months I was forced to clean the floor non-stop, then slightly rarer after that. During my whole time in Gorelovo I was barely allowed out to exercise, only a couple of times per month.
After I applied to be transferred to a non-smoking cell, I was called in to the kitchen. Two “activists”, Roman and Konstantin Makarov (“Makar”), were there. They said that they would not allow me to be transferred to another cell and that I now had to have a photo taken while holding a cigarette. I didn’t want to do it, Roman tried to persuade me and then threatened me with violence. From time to time, Denis Rymov, a “senior”, entered the kitchen. He shouted at me, threatened me and hit me several times on the face with an open hand and then left. This “conversation” lasted for about an hour and a half, then Denis entered again and said that if I didn’t take the photo with a cigarette he would rape me , record it on video and send it to the [prison] colonies. Kostya stood beside me and held me down, while Denis put his hand on my crotch and asked “Are you ready?” – after which I agreed to take the photo.
In Cell 1/2, I was forced to write a statement confirming that I was not subject to any pressure on at least three occasions. The first note was dictated to me by Konstantin Makarov, who was told to do so by agent Prozarevsky. The second note I wrote in Prozarevsky’s office after the detention centre received a collective letter from citizens concerned with conditions of detention in the prison. Prozarevsky didn’t show me the letter itself, he only gave me a list of approximately 180 names and instructed me to copy them into my note, and confirm that I did not know any of them and that I was not under any pressure in my cell.
This was not true at all. One of the “seniors”, Dmitry Smirnov, was in the room with us. Prozarevsky and Smirnov threatened that if I did not write this statement, they would create unbearable conditions not only for me, but also for my cellmates – for example, they would take away all mobile phones and shoelaces, thus aiming to provoke violence against me from other detainees. I had to write the third note when Prozarevsky entered the cell, sat down in the “Kremlin” and called me in there. The prisoners who sleep near the “Kremlin” were forced to move to the other end of the cell, so that they could not see us. After me, a few more prisoners were called in to write explanatory notes.
The “activists” in Pre-Trial Detention Centre No.6 carry out the orders of prison officers who, in turn, can follow the orders of agents investigating detainees. They may instruct the “activists” to “burn” certain detainees: beatings, threats, endless cleaning – in general, they create unbearable conditions. They say openly that to stop all of this, you have to give the required testimony in your case, “to solve the issue with your agents” – as it was in my case.
One evening, around eight or nine pm, I was called by agent Evgeny Vladimirovich and asked whether I would talk to the agents who were going to visit the detention centre the next day. I replied that I would, but only in the presence of my lawyer, after which I was sent to my cell and one of the “seniors” was called out. When he returned, he started shouting at me and forced me to do 1,000 squats. This punishment is used quite often, but usually only 500 times. After so many squats, one barely can move one’s legs for a week and it’s difficult to walk.
The basic conditions in Gorelovo are truly nightmarish: not enough space, around two square metres per person, overcrowded cells, a necessity to share the bed with many people, the lack of hot water, constant queues for the toilet and sink, one 12-seater table is used for 130-140 people, broken windows (prisoners break the glass during summer when it is too hot), so there is a cold draft for people sleeping on the top bunks during winter months. In winter, prisoners often sleep in coats.
But the hardest thing is surviving the atmosphere of isolation, systematic violence and the sense of doom. Often, “seniors” or “orderlies” are shouting at someone near you, threatening someone, administering beatings. It was routine to hear cries and pleas to stop from the “kitchen”, where somebody was being beaten on the buttocks or heels. It’s hard to avoid your fear of winding up in their place.
It was obvious that this didn’t happen on the initiative of individual “activists”, but an order from prison officers. Prisoners who try to complain or ask to be transferred to another cell are subjected to even more violence.
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