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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: March 16, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Editor of 'Immortal Barracks' Removed from Train, Cell Phone Wiped
6 years
Russian Orthodox Extremist Arrested for Rampage at Manezh Sculpture Exhibit Deemed 'Sacrilegious'
Andrei Shalayev, editor-in-chief of the "Immortal Barracks" project to commemorate victims of the GULAG, was forcibly taken off the train from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod by police, reports, citing his VKontakte page.

Immortal Barracks is modeled after Immortal Regiment, a project begun by an independent TV station in Tomsk to remember World War II veterans which was later coopted by the Kremlin as part of its patriotic propaganda around the May 9 Victory Day celebrations.

"Immortal Barracks" took the concept a step further by recalling those who died in Stalin's mass labor camp system who have no formal state holiday, although groups such as Memorial Society have kept the names of victims alive.

According to OVDInfo, the police monitoring group, Shalayev was stopped at the Kovrov train stop in the Vladimir Region, searched. His cell phone was seized when he tried to photograph police, and he was kicked off the train at 4:00 am. Shalayev tried to file a protest at the precinct but the door was slammed in his face. Later his phone was found in the train toilet, wiped of data.

He said the files from his page, where hundreds of haunting Soviet police photos of those executed are posted, are safe, however and the group is still functioning on VK and also has a mirror on Facebook.

It is not known what prompted the search; not long after its founding, Immortal Barracks was blocked on VKontakte, but later restored.

But a possible motivation may have been an unsigned post made yesterday, March 15 on Immortal Barracks' Facebook page, critical of President Vladimir Putin.

Putin made a statement yesterday saying that there was "popular support" for repressive police measures (translation by The Interpreter):

"Even when officers of the Interior Ministry apply, let's be blunt, repressive state measures to those who violate the law, people see that this is done in the interests of the whole society, this elicits support on the part of the people."

Putin added that when police behave badly --  by which he meant being rude and disrespectful to ordinary people, not beating opposition  -- "this is perceived as treachery by ordinary people because law-enforcers are given special powers by the state and are abusing them in these instances." 

Immortal Barracks commented on the news story as follows:

"We propose remembering these words. The word "repression" is officially pronounced on behalf of the government. It is precisely with popular consent that the Red Terror was organized, and it was precisely silence that gave the henchmen the right to execution millions of sentences without a trial or investigation. Will we repeat this?"

The State Duma intends to pass a law enabling police to shoot at demonstrators, including women.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick