#India -Zio-Podolsk Scandal – Save Our Souls – Part -4 #nuclear

Zio-Podolsk and India Connection


[1] February 9, 2011
“ZIO-Podolsk” and IR “ZIOMAR” a delegation of Indian firms WALCHANDNAGAR INDUSTRIES LTD (WIL)

The President of the Technology Centre of the company WALCHANDNAGAR INDUSTRIES LTD (WIL) Mr. N.M. Nadaf  led the Indian delegation, February 8 – 9, 2012 paid a visit to the machine-building plant “ZIO-Podolsk” and visited the EC “ZIOMAR.” The purpose of the visit – negotiations to establish a joint venture for the localization of equipment manufacturing plant in India. The talks brought together representatives of WALCHANDNAGAR, plant management and engineering company “ZIOMAR.” Company WALCHANDNAGAR, which consists of 3 factories of all kinds of equipment – from nuclear energy and space to boilers for the sugar industry, is actively developing its management plans – building a new plant for the production of heavy equipment. This reactor vessel, steam generators, etc.

During the two-day visit of Indian delegation guests visited the factory museum, learned about the history, achievements, quality system of our businesses. As experienced production workers, they are very closely acquainted with the activities of the factory, and they were interested in our products, and tools, and mechanisms that are used in workshops, and technology. Thoroughly acquainted in the shops of the main production with the manufacture of equipment for the nuclear power industry, continued to meet in the meeting room. There were many questions about the manufacture of products plant nomenclature ZIO from which to conclude that the Indian IT firms have come to us on a tour, and with the clear intention to learn from and to establish close contacts for long-term cooperation.

[2] February 17, 2011

“ZIO-Podolsk” and WIL can be established in India co-production of equipment for nuclear power plants

Machine-Building Plant “ZIO-Podolsk” and “Walchandnagar Industries Ltd.” (WIL) may set up a joint venture in India for the production of equipment for nuclear power stations. February 9-10, the Indian delegation led by President of Technology’s Center WIL NM Nadaf visited “ZIO-Podolsk” and the engineering company “ZIOMAR” in Podolsk, near Moscow. As reported by the JSC “ZIO-Podolsk” during the visit, the negotiations on the establishment of a joint venture in India in the framework of local production of equipment for nuclear power plant construction projects of the future of Russian technology.

The structure consists of three WIL plant equipment for a range of industries, including nuclear power. The company plans – building a new plant for the production of heavy equipment for nuclear power plants – reactor vessels, steam generators, etc. During his visit to Podolsk Indian delegation familiarized with the activity “ZIO-Podolsk”, paying special attention to the range of products, technologies, machines and equipment, which are used in plants for the production of equipment for nuclear power. According to the report, “ZIO-Podolsk” WIL representatives arrived at the factory “with the clear intention to learn from and to establish close contacts for long-term cooperation.”    http://www.atomic-energy.ru/news/2011/02/17/18801

[3] July 18, 2012

The delegation of the Departme of Atomic Energy of the Government of India visits of “ZIO-Podolsk” (Another news item from the Russian Embassy in India about the visit)

A delegation of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of the Government of India as part of a special department of the Secretary A. Joshi, Deputy Secretary of the DAE N. Kumar, manager of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission P. Dzhogesha.Accompanied the delegates head of JSC “ASE” / JSC “NIAEP” J. Kucher. The purpose of the visit – familiarity with the company and discuss issues related to preparations for the construction of the block number 3 and number 4 NPP “Kudankulam“.

Met the guests executive director, chief engineer of the plant Davydov and chief technology officer – Deputy Chief Engineer Terekhov. A small digression on the history of the company has been illustrated exhibits of the exhibition hall, and the film presentation helped to get an idea of ​​the current state and strategic plans “ZIO-Podolsk.” The most fully functioning members of the DAE presented at the factory Quality Management System (QMS) Quality Director T. Lizunova revealed the overall structure of the QMS, and the head of the Central Laboratory of non-destructive testing N. Zlobin responded to questions regarding used at different stages of the monitoring equipment.

The delegates were then conducted on the block production facilities engaged in the manufacture of equipment for nuclear power plants, including those offered to examine the site of a clean build of welding and assembly shop, where is an extremely important operation: filling the steam generator tube bundle.

Of particular interest aroused by the possibility of an Indian company in welding and drilling is thick, and the obvious signs of modernization of the plant: the production processes involved in the machinery of world famous brands and the vacated space for the installation of new CNC machines.

Demonstrating the process of plasma cutting, rolling and welding of metal shells in one of the machine shops, Andrei Davydov said: “We have made equipment for nuclear power plants in China, now produce equipment for the Bulgarian NPP” Belene “and we hope soon to begin work for new NPPs” Kudankulam. ”

His impressions shared by Mr. Joshi: “Excellent presentation and representation of the plant, everything was wonderful. We really liked what we saw. Striking that at the beginning of the way was a locomotive repair plant, and then, by the progressive introduction of new and more modern technology, has become one of the leading enterprises of nuclear engineering. ”


[4] July 19, 2012

A delegation of the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India visited ZIO-Podolsk

AtomEnergoMash, Posted 19.07.2012

From 15 to 18 July the delegation’s visit to Moscow, the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India. The delegation included Special Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy A. Joshi, Deputy Secretary of the DAE Ninian Kumar and manager of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission Dzhogesh paddy.

During the visit, talks, where he was considered a range of issues related to the preparation for the launch nuclear power N1 “Kudankulam” the progress of the power unit N2 and preparation for construction of the third and fourth units, as well as signed a number of contracts relating to the implementation of the current phase of cooperation nuclear power plant (NPP) “Kudankulam”.

During the visit, the parties signed a protocol to the Russian-Indian intergovernmental agreement on the conditions of the Russian state credit for the third and fourth reactors at NPP “Kudankulam”.

Another purpose of the visit of Indian delegation was visiting engineering plant “ZIO-Podolsk” (included in the engineering division of “Rosatom” – “Atomenergomash”).

Representatives of the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India acquainted with the company and discussed issues related to preparations for the construction of the block number 3 and number 4 NPP “Kudankulam”.

During the visit, a presentation of the Quality Management System (QMS) and non-destructive testing equipment, inspection of production facilities engaged in the manufacture of equipment for nuclear power plants, including the area clean build of welding and assembly plant, where the stuffing is the steam generator tube bundle.

Representatives of the Indian government delegation praised the production capacity of machine-building plant “ZIO-Podolsk” and expressed their satisfaction with the visit.

JSC “Machine-Building Plant” ZIO-Podolsk “(” ZIO-Podolsk “) – the largest producer of heat-exchange equipment for the fuel and energy complex: nuclear and thermal power plants, oil and gas industry. 40% of the installed generating capacity in Russia, CIS and Baltic countries are equipped with the brand “ZIO”, including 100% of nuclear power plants, starting with the world’s first nuclear power plant in Obninsk.

[5] July 20, 2012

A delegation of the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India visited ZIO-Podolsk

During the visit, talks , where he was considered the complex issues related to the preparation for the launch of power N1 NPP “Kudankulam” progress to the construction of the third and fourth units, as well as signed a number kontraktk Russian-Indian intergovernmental agreement and fourth units in engineering and discussed voprk construction blocks number 3 and number 4, and non-destructive testing equipment, inspection of manufacturing tsehv manufacture of equipment for nuclear power plants, including the area clean build of welding and assembly shop, where is filling the steam generator tube bundle. Representatives of the Indian government delegation praised the production capacity of machine-building plant “ZIO-Podolsk” and expressed their satisfactionvisit.

Source: http://www.atomic-energy.ru/news/2012/07/20/34953  





Letters from Pussy Riot’s Prison blog #womenrights #womensday

The thoughts of a prisoner

Anastasia Kirilenko 8 March 2013

Today is International Women’s Day, a holiday in Russia, though possibly with few celebrations in the penal colonies where the Pussy Riot women are being held. Open Democracy Russia is proud to publish two letters from the prison blog of one of them, Maria (Masha) Alyokhina, to Anastasia Kirilenko.

The thoughts of a prisoner – they’re not free either. They keep returning to the same things.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich

‘Unfortunately, by the time you get this letter my thoughts will probably have changed completely; perhaps even my problems will have radically changed. Most importantly, I could be sent to another penal colony before the parole hearing.  So I will limit myself to talking about the present, and there’s quite a lot to say about that. As to what happens later on, we’ll see.

‘I’m still in solitary, but this absolutely doesn’t stop me thinking about how to change the system. Indeed, it’s impossible not to think about that here. The word “system” is itself a cliché, but even the phrase “improve the efficiency of prisons” is wrong, mainly because efficiency is a result. A result can be achieved by a combination of methods: here the method is a statute.  It is, of course, a very tall order to change things (lots of them) at the level of legislation, but I increasingly realise that the method/result is not at all what’s so upsetting.

‘There is a kind of objective reality in Putin’s policies whereby one can go to prison for nothing. Inside the prison one can also be punished for nothing, and prison, like any institution, is usually a mirror of the way things are.

‘When we try to change the state of affairs, be it at the micro (prison) or macro (politics) level, we become involved in a process. This is what gives me no peace: that process is enacted by live people, who are zealous, while at the same time hating their work (not quite the right word, it’s probably more that they’re sick of it and don’t really like it – we have to keep an eye on the censor!), but they nevertheless carry on meticulously contributing to that process.  It’s not days or months, but years and years…and what do they get for it? What are they doing it for? True, they have families and children, but the children carry on their work, they are the heirs, who have automatically absorbed it all. Time goes by and we see those children working zealously, sometimes wilful, at other times giving the commands.  Giving orders is the real thing, which is perhaps why our people are so unwilling to work.

‘When I arrived here and started to write to human rights campaigners, and then to complain, it was of course not because I had failed to understand the system and was relying on their honesty, but because I simply couldn’t do anything else. To behave differently would have meant contributing to something that no one actually likes. To this life of simply doing time. I think that it’s here, in the area of action (decision) that human will is the key.  An action carried out acquires a life of its own; it is the basis of an identity, perhaps not even the basis but something absolutely vital, the essence of what is right, a completely intuitive thing.

‘We women prisoners will get hold of shawls, we’ll work for 200 roubles a month and say nothing, we’ll wash in a dirty barn, 50 of us together hosing ourselves down from an old mayonnaise bucket (a very necessary commodity!), duck and weave, inform on people and play double games.  The same things go on in the world outside, but they’re called by different names there. Do you remember what Mandelstam wrote “We were decent people and have become scum”?  Though now I wonder if there were ever any decent people.’

Maria Alyokhina, one of the members of the controversial Pussy Riot group, is serving a two-year term of imprisonment. Photo: (cc) Demotix/ Anton Belitskiy

Kirilenko:  ‘Is Mandelstam your favourite poet?  What about his poem about Stalin, the one for which he was exiled? Did that poem mean anything to you?  Did it have any bearing on your part in the protests?’


‘Of course his poem has a resonance for me.  Once you have become acquainted with the life described in it, it couldn’t be any other way.

‘I am amazed by the people who put up barriers: this is art and that is modern art. Real art is always contemporary, because it’s on that astonishing boundary with time or outside it, while at the same time (☺) breaking down the barrier.  It’s a gesture from Freedom to eternity. An artist understands this, but a person looking at it from an ordinary, everyday point of view sees only the form.

‘One has the impression that 20th century philosophy in its entirety has passed us by, because people seem to have forgotten the values of things, despite the many years of work on conceptualisation put in by the existentialists.  Any action or assistance rendered in everyday life has to be regarded first and foremost as an attempt to come just a little nearer to each other to try and find an opportunity for dialogue.

‘The gloom inspired by the presidential representative [mechanical engineering assembly shop manager] Kholmanskikh or the ‘comrade deputies’ who languish inside the Duma is the result pure and simple of the failure of communication between people in Russia. It seems to me that we, as a society, or, if you like, a nation, have allowed this to happen and we are thus responsible.

‘[The philosopher Merab] Marmardashvili had the wonderful idea that all concepts –“freedom”, “honour” or, for instance, “democracy” – only have any meaning because for centuries people have given them substance with their blood and their bodies, but what are we doing?  One has only to listen to the words on the wind to understand.

‘Putin can spend a thousand hours on the air droning on about “sport-patriotism”.  Everyone will understand – or perhaps not everyone, just us?  In the Moscow pre-trial detention centre I actually went to talk to a priest, not at a service, just in an attempt to establish some kind of a dialogue.  It became apparent that for him there was no difference between the president and the tsar (seriously!) and that our society is held together by resignation (for resignation, read ignorance).  He then suggested I should kiss his hand! It’s both terrible and strange, but this kind of truth is very close to us.

‘I’m all right: I’m not taking tranquillisers any more – I only took them for a week, mainly for insomnia.

‘Everyone has seen our (mine, Katya’s and Nadya’s) faces, but I don’t want us to be just faces. It’s not just that I don’t want it, but that would be worse than anything else. I can only hope that with time the image of the revolutionary woman will be backed up by a serious narrative, rather than just emptiness.’


Today the Pussy Riot women in prison are being isolated from society to prevent them stirring up the Russian electorate with their political ideas. But even in Stalinist times the prisoner was entitled to correspondence. And progress doesn’t let the grass grow under its feet: the combination of internet technology and the postal service now means that the prisoner doesn’t need to disappear completely from the public eye.

Masha was a student of journalism at the Institute of Journalism and Creative Writing [former Maxim Gorky Institute, Moscow].  She wrote prose and verse, so I hope she will find writing a blog interesting too.  Since she’s been inside, she’s been trying to defend the rights of all the prisoners in the penal colony, which resulted in the ‘bitches’ (habitual criminals) being sent along to sort her out.

So now she’s in solitary confinement. Perhaps no bad thing. ‘In prison one cannot avoid thoughts about how to change the system.’ She continues to write poetry, but she regards herself as still a student, so her poetry is just for her close friends.

Pussy Riot verdict: live report

Pussy Riot Superheroes Freeze Flashmob

Pussy Riot Superheroes Freeze Flashmob (Photo credit: Eyes on Rights)

By Judith Evans (AFP) – 4 hours ago

1424 GMT: Human rights organisation Amnesty International, which has taken up Pussy Riot’s cause, tweets: “2 years prison for a 30 second protest song. Insanity.

“Bitter blow to freedom of expression in Russia.”

It earlier tweeted: “PussyRiot isn’t the only travesty of justice in Russia today, Moscow also banned (Gay) Pride for 100 years.”

1422 GMT: Reports are coming through that Russia’s top court has meanwhile upheld a ban on gay pride marches in Moscow for the next 100 years.

1421 GMT: “There is nothing more absurd than this trial and this sentence,” says opposition journalist and activist Olga Romanova.

1420 GMT: The two-year sentence is to include the five months that the three women have already served, the judge says.

1419 GMT: “It is simply idiocy,” says Russian writer Boris Akunin of the verdict, speaking to the Dozhd television channel from close to the court.

1415 GMT: The live broadcast of the final hearing in Pussy Riot’s trial was cut off just after the three women’s two-year jail sentence was pronounced.

About 400 Pussy Riot supporters are gathered outisde the court, chanting “Shame!” and calling the convinction “fascist”.

1400 GMT: The three young women committed a “serious crime” and “should be punished”, says judge Marina Syrova, sentencing them to two years’ jail at a corrective labour facility for “hooliganism” and “incitement to religious hatred”.

In the courtroom, the verdict was greeted by cries of “Shame!” and “Injustice!”

1357 GMT: The sentence is not quite as severe as requested by the prosecution, which had sought for the three women to be jailed for three years.

But of course it will not be welcome news to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, respectively 22 and 24 and both mothers of young children, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, who looked wan as they stood inside a glass cage to hear the outcome of their trial.


1342 GMT: It’s now been over two hours that the judge has been making her statement.

Lawyers in the court are looking at each other quizzically, shrugging and leaning against the walls.

The three members of Pussy Riot had been smiling and laughing earlier but seem to be struggling to appear upbeat now.

Even the judge seems out of breath and keeps sighing as she delivers the judgement, our Moscow bureau reports.

1333 GMT: Garry Kasparov‘s arrest is now confirmed — AFP has a picture of him being hustled into a police van.

1313 GMT: A poll published on the front page of the Vedomosti business daily today shows President Vladimir Putin‘s approval rating slipping to a post-election low of 48 percent — a notable slide from the 60 percent he enjoyed around his May inauguration.

1303 GMT: Forging ahead with her statement, the judge Marina Syrova quotes Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” — sung in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour — as evidence of their guilt.

“The patriarch, he believes in Putin, but he’d better believe in God,” she quotes.

The three accused women seem energised by this and start singing in their glass cage.

1256 GMT: “I knew it would be a guilty verdict. In Russia, if the accused are put in prison before trial, it means a guaranteed verdict of guilty,” human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva tells Dozhd television.

She laments that Russian authorities and leaders of the Orthodox church did not think about the “consequences of the verdict for their reputation”.

1250 GMT: “We condemn them. We must have no illusions. But no one is afraid,” tweets one of Pussy Riot’s lawyers, Mark Feiguine, from the courtroom as the judge’s statement continues.

1240 GMT: Protests in support of Pussy Riot are taking place close to Russian embassies in London, Paris, Berlin and Brussels.

Many of the demonstrators have opted for bright balaclavas but at least one, in Berlin, has a particularly lifelike Vladimir Putin mask.

They’re backed by rights organisations including Amnesty International, which has urged supporters to email Russia’s prosecutor general over the case, and freedom of expression group Article 19.

1235 GMT: After more than half an hour of detailed descriptions of the “hateful” and “indecent” acts committed in their February protest performance, the three women look tired and are starting to yawn.

They have complained before of being deprived of food and sleep in detention.

1230 GMT: There is something of a battle of slogans going on among the crowds of protesters outside the court, say AFP’s reporters.

The band’s supporters are yelling “Freedom for Pussy Riot” while the rival group of religious, anti-Pussy Riot protesters scream “Christ is risen”. They seem to be trying to outdo each other for sheer volume.

1221 GMT: The courtroom is absolutely packed with journalists and about another 50 are in the corridors and on the stairs.

An audio transmission of the hearing is now being played throughout the building — including the dining room and toilet — in a move that Russian news agencies say is “unprecedented”.

1215 GMT: The three stare at the ceiling, looking bored, while the judge speaks of a security guard at the cathedral who says he is no longer able to work there because it is “too hard for him” after having been “deeply insulted” by the Pussy Riot performance.

The judge is running through an account of what happened on February 21.

1210 GMT: The judge is summarising the different arguments made in the trial — it sounds as though she could be a while…

1200 GMT: The three accused have “expressed clearly and explicitly their hatred of Christianity,” says the judge.

Meanwhile, a police bus is driving off outside, full of protesters shouting: “Putin will die in prison.”

1155 GMT: Here are the words in which the judge found the three women guilty:

“Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism — in other words, a grave violation of public order,” she said.

“The court finds them guilty. The court reached this decision based on testimony of the defendants themselves and other evidence.”

They displayed a “clear disrespect toward society”, she said.

1149 GMT: The judge is expected to sentence the three Pussy Riot members — two of whom have small children — later today. The prosecution is seeking three years of corrective labour.

1145 GMT: The crowd outside has swelled to about 400 Pussy Riot supporters, with police trying to divide demonstrators into two groups.

1143 GMT: About 20 people have been arrested outside the court since the start of the judgement, according to AFP reporters at the scene.

They include former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, now an opposition political figure, reports the Interfax news agency.

1141 GMT: The three accused, who were already smiling, start to laugh as they listen to the judge’s statement.

1135 GMT: Pussy Riot “carefully planned” their February 21 action, the judge adds.

1130 GMT: The trio “expressed no repentance” and “offended the feelings of believers”, says the judge.

1125 GMT: Judge Marina Syrova reads out the judgement, stating that Pussy Riot “committed a serious breach of public order, motivated by religious hatred” and engaged in ” provocative and insulting acts in a religious building”.

The three defendants listen, smiling inside their glass cage.

1123 GMT: All three have been found guilty of hooliganism, motivated by religious hatred.


1115 GMT: The judge has started delivering the judgement, according to our reporter.

1114 GMT: From the courthouse, our reporters say the judge is late in starting the session while a growing number of Pussy Riot supporters are gathering outside.

About 100 people are now chanting “Freedom for Pussy Riot” outside the court.

1112 GMT: In Ukraine, a topless activist from feminist group Femen used a chainsaw to cut down an Orthodox cross in Kiev’s central square this morning in support of Pussy Riot.

1059 GMT: More on those balaclava-clad statues: the coloured headgear has been spotted on the monument to 18th-century scientist and writer Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov, a few hundred metres from the Kremlin.

A statue of 19th-century poet and dramatist Alexander Pushkin on the Stary Arbat pedestrian street in central Moscow was also wearing a balaclava earlier this morning.

According to Russian news agencies, some passers-by felt this was a desecration of the memory of these great Russians — but others just responded with a smile.

1055 GMT: A reminder of the act which sparked all this: the three put on balaclavas and performed a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral in February, imploring the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”.

Worshippers present in the cathedral have spoken of their shock at the unexpected performance.

The context: mass protests against the government following legislative elections in 2011 and ahead of Putin’s return to the presidency, following a stint as prime minister, in March.

The Orthodox church made plain its support for Putin but his opponents accused his party of electoral fraud and repression.

1050 GMT: There has been a shift in public opinion in the singers’ favour, according to a poll conducted by the respected private Levada Centre.

The public initially backed a full seven-year sentence applicable to the crime but have since moved towards thinking the state’s treatment of the trio has been too harsh.

In July, 33 percent of respondents said a seven-year jail term was “adequate” — down from 47 percent in April — with many others thinking a shorter sentence was called for.

But only 5 percent believed in July that Pussy Riot should not be punished at all.

1044 GMT: The three accused have made it clear they won’t be asking President Vladimir Putin for a pardon.

“Let him ask you and me for forgiveness instead,” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta in an interview published to coincide with the verdict.

1038 GMT: Not everyone supports Pussy Riot, however — their opponents have also turned out for the verdict.

A group of Orthodox believers are singing a religious song outside the court, and one of them says: “I want Pussy Riot and all who support them to burn in the fire.”

Members of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) are here to express their solidarity with the church and denounce Pussy Riot.

“Lower your hands before the Russian Orthodox Church,” reads a placard held by one of them.

1034 GMT: Leftist politician Sergei Udaltsov, a key opposition figure who came to show support for Pussy Riot, and two demonstrators — one hooded, the other holding a placard calling for the women’s release — have been arrested near the court.

A group of about ten young women is meanwhile demonstrating outside, with “We are all Pussy Riot — August 17” on the T-shirt of one supporter.

1033 GMT: Dozens of police have been deployed around the court building and metal barricades placed on both sides of the street, preventing any large-scale gathering, says our reporter at the scene.

1030 GMT: The prominent Putin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny has arrived outside the courthouse, causing a stir among the crowds waiting outside.

1026 GMT: International support for the three Pussy Riot members has been building this week, with rallies from Sydney to New York joining Madonna and Paul McCartney in calling for their release.

More protests are due today, while journalists in Moscow have spotted downtown statues wearing brightly coloured balaclavas, a Pussy Riot trademark.

WELCOME TO AFP’S LIVE REPORT on the verdict in the trial of three members of Pussy Riot — the Russian protest band whose ridicule of President Vladimir Putin through a “punk prayer” in a church could be punished by three years in a labour camp.

The bandmates, two of them mothers and none older than 30, have been held in pre-trial detention for five months.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich are charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after their performance sparked fury from both Putin supporters and the Russian Orthodox church.

The trio have already asked the faithful to forgive them for causing insult but vigorously defended their view that Russia has made little progress in the 12 years of Putin’s domination from the worst of its totalitarian days.

Judge Marina Syrova is due to begin reading her verdict in the Moscow court at 1100 GMT, under tight security, before taking what could be hours to read through case material ahead of sentencing.

In Defense of Pussy Riot and the Russian Punk Movement


AUGUST 09, 2012

Taking Heroic Stands Against Bigotry, Censorship and the Abuse of Power


Yesterday CounterPunch printed an ignorant defense of the pending imprisonment of Russian female punk band Pussy Riot by economic columnist Mike Whitney.  I choose the word “ignorant” carefully; Whitney seems genuinely uninformed about the decades-old Russian punk movement and the Russian social conditions they navigate.

Once upon the time the Left was in favor of free speech, feminism, and confrontational protest, and simultaneously suspicious of authoritarian predatory privatizers, misogynist clerics and prudish censors.  From the many articles and comments like Whitney’s in the (putatively) left of center blogosphere, we learn that the American Left is now quite alright with misogynist religion, censorship, rigged trials and the like just as long as the oppressing government is a foreign policy foil of the United States.  This turns so-called progressives into just another group of intellectually dishonest bigots.

The first logically erroneous and morally indefensible position of the Pussy Riot-bashers is the notion that because Vladimir Putin sometimes has decent (and self-interested) foreign policy positions, it should not nor could not be possible to criticize him for any other reason.  Potable water is a resource of which our planet has shortages; wrongness unfortunately is in abundant renewable supply.  It’s entirely possible to be critical of American foreign policy and Russian internal repression at the same time, and none of the champions of the Pussy Riot prosecution have even attempted to explain their impossible and ridiculous implication that the two are mutually exclusive.  It becomes intellectually dishonest on the part of Whitney and others not even to attempt to make any such case.

Putin and the very rich thugs who run Russia – the new 1% of that country – came to power in the climate of privatization pushed by American economic hatchet men such as the vile Larry Summers.  They have been stripping Russia of natural resources through former state-held utilities and other newly private companies and the economic growth this has spurred has been very poorly distributed, by design ending up in the pockets of well-connected oligarchs.  In the first ten years of an independent Russia, a small number of people became rich while the average life expectancy for a male dropped a shocking three years.  This led to the new sardonic Russian aphorism that “Everything they told us about communism was a lie and everything they told us about capitalism was true.”

Just a few months ago Putin backed a harsh austerity regime titled Strategy 2020 for Russia’s poor, indistinguishable in its detail from the sort being imposed in Greece, Spain or here in the United States.  Putin is raising the male retirement pension age by five years for men and eight for women, which, given Russian life expectancy, will effectively rob many poor Russians of any retirement at all.  Putin is also shifting the burden of funding pension funds, which had been 100% the employer’s responsibility, to workers themselves, now planning to get workers to fund up to 15% of those funds from their already meager salaries.

Strategy 2020 also calls for renegotiating the salaries of public workers downward, and for cutting social spending across the board.  While the Pussy Riot critics in the US like to paint Putin as the second coming of Fidel Castro, he is in fact more accurately compared to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Against this backdrop of unfettered crony capitalism, the Russian state has maintained a repressive attitude toward the right to speak and protest, most viciously launching repeated brutal police attacks upon gays and lesbians attempting to hold peaceful marches for basic civil rights.  These marches too have also upset the patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, a hypocritical church – if this is not a redundant phrase – which has managed to make peace with any human rights-denying power structure in the country for several decades somehow without noting any evident sin.

It was my understanding that the Left was fine with upsetting vicious old men who lie about a special relationship with God in order to oppress women.  Pussy Riot detractors have a responsibility to tell us how and why this has changed.  I don’t believe they will because I don’t believe they can.

The less said about the alleged popularity of Putin the better.  In 1984 Ronald Reagan scored a crushing victory over Walter Mondale among that portion of the population who bothered voting.  I have no recollection of the American Left at that time declaring that criticism of Reagan, his policies, or the religious charlatans who supported his administration therefore became inappropriate or somehow invalid.  We have regressed several decades, if not centuries, if it becomes necessary for anyone to defend the act of criticizing a politician who wins an electoral victory.

The United States badly needs an angry group of young women charging the altar at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and denouncing the many crimes of Barack Obama.  Shame on us as a society for not yet producing the same.

Whitney and others commit lazy, craven and inaccurate libel against Pussy Riot and their millions of supporters within Russia with the claim that they are “useful idiots.”  These critics place themselves in general agreement not only with elders of the church but with Russia’s neo-Nazi skinhead movement, both of whom have denounced Pussy Riot for being misbehaved little girls.

Punk has been a major influence in Russian (and Soviet) counterculture since the early 1980s.  It is not as if these ladies have taken up something new nor something that’s just landed in Moscow last week, courtesy of American intelligence.  This isn’t NSC or CIA money; these people are real artists steeped in Russian counterculture and they want better lives for themselves and their fellow citizens.  The band members have been pulling stunts like this since their teens, their most infamous previous stunts include filming themselves kissing subway police and a media-invitation public orgy.

It would be refreshing if for once Americans, even and especially ones labelled progressives, could imagine that non-Americans have some agency in their own lives and societies.  It would be refreshing if not every action of foreign residents were assumed to be for the benefit of Americans.

I became aware of Russian punk in the late 1980s through issue #59 of the essential American hardcore punk zine MaximumRocknRoll, which focused upon the brave bands of the former Soviet Union, people who faced prison time and police beatings for their songs and haircuts.  By that time the controversial Yegor Letov and his band Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defense) were major figures and influences in underground arts and politics in Russia, and had been for several years.  I still have a cassette the band sent me me for the princely sum of US$3 when writing to their listed address.

Whitney and others would do well to use the internet to delve into the 30 year indigenous history of Russian punk, not only Grazhdanskaya Oborona but classic bands such as Va-Bank and Naive, the latter having met by chance in the same Soviet tank corps.  Through old guard communism, perestroika and now the oligarchy, Russian bands have taken heroic stands against bigotry, censorship, and abuse of power.  The bravery and intelligence of these groups can not be overstated; Pussy Riot is their rightful heir.

There is one vital question the American cavalier Pussy Riot critic needs to answer.  If they are “useful idiots,” what variety of idiot are you?

Chris Randolph lives in Philly and can be reached through his blog.


Pussy Riot trial: Defendants claim ‘torture,’ accuse judge of bias #FOE

Pussy Riot’s lawyers accuse the trial‘s judge of “torturing” the three defendants, who they say have barely had any sleep or food since Monday. As the trial resumes, prosecution witnesses claim severe moral wounds and reluctance to forgive the girls.

The hot July day in a Moscow court started with a short but desperate fight among journalists as the proceedings over the three members of punk band Pussy Riot were relocated to a much smaller room than the one used Monday. Only ten places in the room were left for reporters; the most persistent ones continued their reports via Twitter, since pictures and videography were banned.

The session kicked off with the defense almost immediately attempting to file a motion to change the judge. The court shrugged the request off, as it had “ruled on a similar motion on Monday evening.” Still, three hours later, the defense succeeded.

The core reason behind the motion, Pussy Riot’s lawyers said, was that their clients were being subjected to “torture” because of the way the court proceedings were organized.

The lawyers maintained that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich went to bed late after the previous day’s trial ended at ten in the evening, and were woken up early and hadn’t been fed since. Correspondents tweeting from the courtroom said that by the end of the day, the girls were literally falling asleep in their tiny bullet proof booth.

In response, the defendants were accused of purposely drawing out the trial.

The defendants only prolonged the investigation, claiming that they were held in custody for too long and contesting the terms of their arrest,” said prosecutor Larisa Pavlova, adding that the defense’s appeal was nothing but “playing to the gallery.

The motion failed with the judge, who added that there would be breaks for lunch and the opportunity to have a nap during the trial.

Apologies not accepted

Many in the courtroom rustled through their Bibles, and Tuesday generally went under the refrain “Do you accept our apology?

Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich are accused of “hooliganism, motivated by religious hatred and hostility” for performing a mock prayer “Virgin Mary, banish Putin” in Moscow’s main cathedral in February.

On Monday, the three girls said in a statement that they did not mean to insult any religious feelings and that their motives were purely political. They expressed regret for their “ethical mistake” and said they were sorry for taking their action to the cathedral.

But as the court listened to the nine “victims” – people aggrieved by Pussy Riot’s performance – it appeared none of them really believed the apology was sincere.

Thus, Tatyana Anosova, who collects donations and gives out candles in the cathedral, said: “They did not merely insult me, they spat into my face, spat into the face of my God.

One of them was bowing with her back turned onto the altar – she was showing her bottom to the altar, and it is God who’s there! My soul was torn to pieces.”

The defense posed provocative questions, pressing onto witnesses that forgiveness is a Christian value, and trying to figure out what exactly would constitute a sincere apology. This was transformed into a fierce battle, with the judge occasionally banning questions before they were even fully uttered.

To make a credible apology, the witnesses nevertheless said, “you should not smile,” “you should not deliver it through a statement,” “you should get baptized.” One of them even advised the girls to go to the convent, take vows and beat themselves with shatters.

Many of the witnesses told the court that Pussy Riot’s “diabolic dances in a sacred place” had affected them so much they had to skip work. Still, none of them wanted financial compensation, leaving the punishment “to the court and God.

If the court supports the prosecutors’ charges, Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich will face up to seven years in prison, according to Russia’s Criminal Code.

Claims of forged evidence

The session wrapped up with an unexpected dispute over whether prosecutors had made mistakes with the evidence. One of the books used in the case proved to be 100 pages longer than it was expected to be.

Moreover, the prosecution witnesses’ evidence was suspected of being copy-and-pasted from one and the same document. The defense pointed to paragraphs copied word for word – with the same spelling mistakes.

But the judge said the books often get recompiled and, as for the evidence, if the witnesses do not mind this, then this is not a case for an appeal. Witnesses did not mind.

Still the defense is going to lodge a complaint.

The trial will resume on Wednesday, with interviews of the witnesses for the defense, who include the father of Ekaterina Samutsevich.

Stephen Fry joins Pussy Riot’s supporters

Meanwhile, outside the courtroom Pussy Riot’s supporters brandished balloons with “Free Pussy Riot” emblazoned on them. However, during the course of the day their protests lost momentum and they resorted to lying on the grass waiting for the session to finish.

From the international perspective, British actor and comedian Stephen Fry has appealed to his Twitter followers, calling them to “do everything they could to help Pussy Riot.”

Fry’s message comes on top of similar calls from musicians like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sting urging for the release of the punk rockers.

Russia : Don’t Go There. We Will Not Be Silenced

Lawmakers in Russia just passed a draconian censorship law that would impose stiff fines for anything construed as “the promotion of homosexuality” in Saint Petersburg, Russia‘s second largest city. Reading, writing, speaking or reporting on anything related to gay, lesbian bi or trans (LGBT) people would become a criminal act. This ban on “promotion” would also target Pride parades, literature, theater, or NGOs that openly serve LGBT people.

All Out, a community of almost a million people around the world fighting for full equality, made a little video to send the Governor a message. Pass this law – We Won’t Go There.

WHO adopts India’s resolution on mental health


World Mental Health week celebrated at Kilpauk Mental Hospital in Chennai, to mark the "World Mental Health Day". A file photo: K.V. Srinivasan

World Mental Health week celebrated at Kilpauk Mental Hospital in Chennai, to mark the "World Mental Health Day". A file photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Aarti Dhar, Jan 23, 2012

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has adopted a resolution moved by India that focuses on the global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level.

The just-concluded 130th executive board meeting of the WHO adopted the resolution, moved by India and supported by the United States of America and Switzerland. This marks the first time in over a decade that WHO has, at its highest levels, taken note of this very major public health concern.

Mental disorders account for 13 per cent of the global burden of the diseases and, in keeping with latest thinking, the resolution recognizes the importance of early identification, care and recovery, the problems of stigma, poverty and homelessness and the need for community based intervention including de-institutionalised care. It is clearly recognized that all countries must take steps to promote mental health and empower persons with mental disorders to lead a full and productive life in the community.

India had played a key role in getting mental disorders included in the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) list at the first Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-communicable Disease Control in Moscow last year. Pleading for its case, India had argued that “like all non-communicable diseases, mental disorders required long term treatment and affected the quality of life.”

The principal non-communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases, which are the leading causes of preventable morbidity and disability, and currently cause over 60 per cent of global deaths, 80 per cent of which occur in developing countries. By 2030, the NCDs are estimated to contribute to 75 per cent of global deaths.

India is already working towards framing a mental health policy based on internationally-accepted guidelines. It will also keep in mind the specific context of mental illness in the country and take into account the draft Mental Health Care Bill, 2010.

A 12-member policy group entrusted to frame the National Mental Health Care Policy and Plan will prepare a situational analysis of the need for mental health care in the country, taking into account the issues of human resources, essential drug procurement and distribution, advocacy, prevention, and rehabilitation of mental health patients.


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