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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Update: May 12, 2015

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Activists Who Picketed in Defense of Savchenko Sentenced to 5-15 Days in Jail

Yesterday on the birthday of imprisoned Ukrainian pilot Nadiya (Nadezhda) Savchenko, 12 Russian activists were arrested for staging a picket with signs in her support and wishing her a happy birthday. In addition, three journalists were detained and released as we reported.

The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow sentenced Olga Terekhina to 15 days of jail, Novaya Gazeta reported. Judge Alesya Orekhova rejected an appeal from Terekhina's lawyer to postpone the proceeding until Terekhina could gather the birth certificates of all her children to make the case for leniency, Kasparaov.ru reported.

Terekhina also pointed out that she had not held a poster or sparkler in her hand during the picket but had just shouted "Happy Birthday".

Five other activists were sentenced to 10 days for "repeated violation of the procedure for conducting public events."

Vera Lavreshina also was fined 15,000 rubles ($300).

Serge Shavshukov, a disabled man, was also ordered to pay a fine of 16,000 rubles ($320) for the action.

Other activists are still awaiting trial in Preobrazhensky District Court for the arrests yesterday as their hearing was postponed.

Philipp Kireev, a photocorrespondent who was among those detained, published photos from the event on his LiveJournal blog.

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Photos by Philipp Kireev


Kireev also asked that the record be corrected on a number of points:

1. Despite a number of media and social media reports that he was beaten, he was not beaten during detention. He noted that police grabbed a camera from another journalist, Andrei Novichkov of Grani.ru, and apparently stepped on his foot.

2. He is a freelance journalist and not a photocorrespondent for Open Russia, which is only one of the outlets for which he has worked. (We have corrected this point in our earlier report which was taken from Slon.ru.)

3. Police erased all the memory cards on the cameras but he managed to keep some copies.

4. He does not wish to be ascribed as supporting any figure or action that he is just reporting on.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Deputies in Russian Parliament Propose Ban on Transgender Marriages

Deputies of the State Duma or parliament of Russia have proposed to ban marriages between people of the same gender as defined at birth in order to exclude transgendered persons, RBC.ru reported.

Anatoly Zhuravlev of United Russia, and Dmitry Gorovtsov and Anatoly Greshevnikov of Just Russia submitted the draft amendments to the Family Code under Art. 114, "circumstances that prevent the contracting of marriage."

The deputies also said that if transgendered persons were allowed to marry, this could have negative consequences "including the acquiring of the right to adopt a child."

The draft law appears to be driven by a high-profile case in St. Petersburg where on November 7, 2014, a woman and a transgender male in the process of changing his gender to female were able to register their marriage. Authorities found no legal grounds to prevent the marriage.

Irina Shumilova and Alyona Fursova were registered at the Palace of Weddings No. 4, say LGBT activists in St. Petersburg. Irina is a biological male in the process of changing her gender, they said. As an activist told Interfax:

"They were registered because Irina came to the ZAGS [marriage bureau] with a male passport. She also had a notice that Irina is transgender, and that this is an illness under which a person requires a medical change of their gender."


Currently the conditions that exclude marriage in Russia under Art. 14 are: if one of the parties is already married; between close relative; between an adopter and adoptee; or if the prospective parties are pronounced unfit due to psychiatric illness. Art. 12 of the law already specifies that marriage is between a man and a woman.

In an explanatory memo to the draft, the deputies say they want to add a fifth article to the law "connected with the indefensibility of marital relations from a situation emerging in connection with the change of gender of a person as defined at birth."

The deputies also explain that the law on civil acts allows Russians the right to register civil acts and to change their passport and birth certificate in the event their gender is changed. In this way, a transgendered person could get around laws against same-sex marriage, say the deputies.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Fourteen Printing Presses Refused to Publish Nemtsov Report


According to a report by RBC.ru, colleagues of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov spent a month going to 14 printing presses in Moscow trying to find a publisher of a report on Russia's military presence in Ukraine titled Putin.War released today in Moscow.

Only one printer agreed to perform the job on condition of anonymity, which is why no publisher is indicated on the document.

Nemtsov's colleagues also placed the report on line on the same page where all of the reports by Nemtsov and his associates have been published in the past, but this is still down now due to a DDoS attack.

Vsevolod Chagayev, an activist involved in the logistics of the report told RBC.ru that 10 printers in Moscow and suburbs said they would not take the job due to "the situation in the country." Another four at first agreed to print the job and even took money in advance, but then decided to back out. These included some presses that in the past had agreed to publish the works of Nemtsov and other opposition figures such as Alexey Navalny.

Agata Chachko, head of Mayak, a Moscow printing firm said that she went to five printers about the Nemtsov report and all five said that they would agree to the deadline and the payment, but did not like the content. "That's the first time in my memory," said Chachko.

Tatyana Rud, manager of Buki Vedi, another Moscow printing press declined to say if they had been approached to publish the report, although Chagayev said they had, but said some jobs are turned down "for technical reasons."

Another printer who declined to supply a name said the job was turned down after seeing the contents. "Several years ago, when we printed a report by Nemtsov, there a different situation in the country, and views, but even then there was pressure on us on the part of the authorities," she said. First tax inspectors came to the office then police came to search the premises after the last printing. "My phone was even bugged," said the manager, who asked that neither her name or the name of the press be mentioned.

The job was finally done in a small run of 2,000 on conditions of anonymity. Supporters are raising funds to publish more copies.

The fear of getting involved in such publications show the continuing impact of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov on the intelligentsia in Russia. Generally it has been the case since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 that even controversial works can be printed. Even in the years of Putin's rule, while it has been harder to get opposition books published, there have been smaller presses willing to take on the job. Now that time may be coming to an end.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Teenage Girl under Criminal Investigation for Pro-Nazi Comment on Social Media

The Investigative Committee announced a case today of a criminal investigation into a teenager's pro-Nazi comment on social media (translation by The Interpreter):

A criminal case has been opened in Astrakhan Region regarding a juvenile local resident who posted commentary on a social network which allegedly approved the invasion by German forces of the territory of Poland on September 1, 1939, which became the start of World War II.


The name of the 16-year-old minor is not given under Russian law. The notice says the suspect is a girl who used her personal computer at home to place a picture of German soldiers during WWII on her personal page and appeared to place positive commentary under the picture despite the fact that "the invasion of German forces on the territory of Poland is recognized by the International War Tribunal [Nuremberg] as a crime."

The case is being investigated under a Russian anti-Nazi law, Art. 354-1, part 1 of the Criminal Code, "approval of crimes established by the sentence of the International War Tribunal for the trial and publishment of main war criminals of the European countries of the Axis, committed publicly."

The case is interesting because it acknowledges the Western view of the start of World War II as the invasion of Poland. Traditionally, the Soviet government and now Russian government have officially acknowledge the start of the war in June 1941 with the Nazi invasion of Russia.

It also indicatives the efforts of Russian officials to make an object lesson about what is and isn't to be condemned about the war, and to discourage neo-Nazism among youth even as adults in the Kremlin make common cause with Europe's far-right.

In August 1939, the Soviet Union concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, named for the Soviet and German foreign ministers of that era, which enabled both the Nazi and Soviet invasions of Poland and later the Baltic occupations and the division of Eastern Europe. Putin recently expressed support for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which has always been condemned in the West, with the claim that it was the only option for the Soviets at the time. This is a disturbing justification, as Paul Goble points out today in a post about a call by a Russian commentator for "preventive occupation" of the Baltic states.

As the blogger Andrei Malgin quipped about the case:

Why isn't a criminal case opened against Putin who recently approved the parallel invasion of Poland by Soviet forces, which also started World War II?


Obviously that won't happen, and in part it's because there was never an analogue to the Nuremberg Tribunal to try the Soviet Union's mass crimes against humanity under communism.

 -- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Putin Joins Lavrov And Kerry Talks

President Vladimir Putin has now joined Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry for talks in Sochi.


Translation: Putin engages in negotiations with Kerry in his Sochi residence, Bocharov Ruchei. Thanks to Maria Zakharova for the photo.

-- Pierre Vaux

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