Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Acts of terror. Lyudmila Kharlamova.

Grigori Pasko already mentioned this when writing for Robert Amsterdam:
12 May: Kirill Ulchuk and Lyudmila Kharlamova are detained for posting leaflets; Ulchuk cuts open his veins.


A 20-year-old girl is in Russian jail because of her political work.

Separated from her family and friends, who, in turn, are detained when desperately trying to help her.

And she is being bad-mouthed by the biased Russian media.

Demonstrations for her sake are put out. By pressurizing the people in charge.

Once again I must feel sorry for anyone trying to fight for justice in that wretched, corrupt system in our huge neighbouring country.

But I have a lot of respect for all of those who do so.

Please read the story as a whole, written by Russian journalist.

Lyudmila Kharlamova

by Oksana Chelysheva, Nizhny Novgorod

Lyudmila Kharlamova lives in Orenburg. She became twenty on 25th September. No birthday party is being planned as Lyudmila’s birthday will come when she is in Orenburg investigatory prison.

Lyudmila graduated from a teaching college with all excellent marks. She can work as a teacher for deaf and dumb children. However, she can’t find any job in her native town. She gets sacked in one or two weeks, her mother tells me on phone. The reason is simple. Lyudmila is an activist of the Other Russia joint coalition and used to be the leader of a local branch of the banned Party of National Bolsheviks.

Kharlamova is a member of a steering committee of the primaries to select a candidate from the “Other Russia” coalition to run for the presidentship. She has been elected to become a candidate for the elections to the State Duma in December. Lyudmila has participated in several Marches of Dissent. She used to be the leader of National Bolsheviks in Orenburg, one of the parties recently banned in Russia under the law on Counteracting extremism.

On 13 September Lyudmila was stopped in a street by servicemen of the Department to Fight Organized Crime. It was around 9 pm. The UBOP searched her bag. Lyudmila managed to reach her family on phone and tell that one of the UBOP servicemen, Nikitin by surname, put a small bag into her pocket. Thus, they managed to organize a pretext for the girl's detention. Then they took her to the UBOP quarters and searched her there. When Lyudmila claimed that she had not seen or touched the packet with two grams of heroin, the police refused her from holding an expertize to establish signs of drugs. They didn't take the samples of substances from her hands or fingerprinted her.

The following day, September 14, the same police department searched Lyudmila's flat where she lives together with her mother, Irina Nikolaevna, and her younger sister Elena. Both of them claim that the bag had been planted by the UBOP people. The witnesses were brought by the police. They obediently signed all the papers.

Irina Nikolaevna, the mother of the detained girl, tells on phone that her daughter Elena and she were shocked to see another packet with some substance that the police took out of a bag. The policemen declared it to be some drug. Lyudmila’s mother claims that her daughter has never been a drug addict. The substance was found by the policemen in a bag that was not Lyudmila’s. That bag belongs to her younger daughter Elena but she has not used it for long.

Lyudmila was taken away. On September 15th Irina Nikolaevna was called to attend a court trial that was to set a preventive punishment for Lyudmila. Her mother had lodged complaints to the prosecutor’s office. To attend the trial, she came together with her other daughter. Three young friends of her daughters came with them to support their friends.

Irina Nikolaevna tells, “I have brought some documents to hand over to a lawyer”. What papers? She brought a reference letter from their neighbors to show what kind of person Lyudmila is as well as her diploma with excellent results.

Their small group was waiting for a lawyer outside the court building when a car drove up to them. Several policemen demanded to show their IDs. Then they told both Lyudmila’s relatives and friends to get into their car. Instead of being near her daughter, Irina found herself caged in the police station of Leninskiy district of Orenburg. No explanations… They were ordered to turn off cell phones. No connection with the outside world. No information about the fate of her other daughter. Then a policeman demanded that they write their explanations what the purpose of their staying at the court building was.

All the five of them were kept in the police station for some two hours. Then they were released. Again no explanations. Some chief officer came out to them. “I don’t know what their ranks are and he didn’t introduce himself either”, Irina tells. But she heard other policemen calling them by his surname Nyrov. He announced, “You were kept in custody on suspicion of being involved into preparing an act of terror”.

The court trial on Lyudmila turned out to be closed for public due to such vigilance of the police in preventing acts of terror. There was nobody there to observe it. When Lyudmila’s mother was let to leave the police station, she learnt that the court had ruled to take Lyudmila into preventive custody for three months.

It was just the beginning of another story of punitive “democracy” established by Putin.

On 21 September Lyudmila's relatives lodged a complaint to the prosecutor's office of Orenburg Region demanding to initiate a criminal case against the police and journalists they publicized the information form the criminal case which is prohibited by the law.

A defamation campaign has also been launched. On 19 September the local Orenburg TV channel aired video footage of the search in Kharlamova's flat. Journalists developed it in an absolutely biased way as the opinion of the side of the defense was completely ignored.

On 21 September (2006) Lyudmila Kharlamova's relatives lodged a complaint to the prosecutor's office of Orenburg Region demanding to initiate a criminal case against the police and journalists they publicized the information form the criminal case which is prohibited by the law.

A group of people tried to get authorization to hold a rally in Lyudmila's support on 24 September. The plans have been destroyed as organizers, the League Communist Youths (SKM) and the Communist Party of Russia (KPRF) had received threats, according to the press-service of the Other Russia.

(by Oksana Chelysheva)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Love and Anarchy. Paprika. About being a Rock God.

The annual Love and anarchy film festivals, or Helsinki International Film festivals, as the other name goes, are starting tomorrow. Mr HP and Miss Funnybunny are going to go to check out the datcha premises in western Finland, so I get to see some films!!!!!!!!

Well, there are some articles on the urgency list I have to write. But. Not a big deal, I have started them long ago.

I have to confess something weird: After wondering for so long, I have started to run every day, Monday–Friday. Five times a week. That has taught me some discipline and planning. You see, I run in the middle of the day. (Not much, only 30 min. But I run! Never would I have thought...)

Back to Love and Anarchy. I have chosen to see this one (and the only reason why I dare to reveal my plans here in IStori is that I already have the ticket!!!!):


With its brainy scientist heroine, and surreal, super-kitsch imagery, above-average Japanese anime sci-fi pic Paprika has a better chance than most Nipponese toons of breaking out of the specialty ghetto by appealing to femme auds as well as the genre's core constituency of fanboys.
– Leslie Felperin, Variety

Director Satoshi Kon – – makes an art of Japanese anime in this tale of technology as an invader of dreams. Fiercely provocative, Paprika shames Hollywood's use of animation as a kiddie pacifier.
– Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

And then I was thinking about this one (as the whole world knows, and knows well, the Air Guitar World Championships of take place in Oulu. Annually.):

Air Guitar Nation

"You’re Jimi Hendrix, you’re Yngwie Malmsten, you’re anyone you wanna be. You just feel like a rock God!"
– David ”C-Diddy” Jung

With equal measures of showmanship, patriotism and irony, hundreds vie at NYC's Pussycat Lounge for the East Coast Division of the first-ever nationwide air guitar championship for the right to eventually represent the U.S. at the world championship. Meanwhile, back in Finland, the current world champ frets that the influx of Americans could corrupt the form's purity. Alexandra Lipsitz's often hilarious documentary won the audience award at SXSW and is spawning a cult following that could snowball in release.
– Ronnie Scheib / Variety


Tomorrow evening, after the festival press conference, and loooong after Miss Funnybunny has left for her grandparents' (when I have already started to long for her) I will get the G&T sent to my Facebook page by VK. Thanks!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Violation of the Helsinki Principles. Shame, shame, shame!

(Oksana Chelysheva and Zahar Prilepin in Helsinki in July. Photo: Alex Mnatsakanyan.)

Yesterday I heard from Oksana Chelysheva that the delegation of the USA at OSCE meeting in Vienna had walked out, as a protest against Russian-Chechen Friendship society not allowed to join.

That's cool, USA. Way to go!

(See the label on Istori; "Finnish-Russian Civic Forum". Lots of stuff on Oksana there.)

But what is going on in Nizhny Novgorod, how the NGO's are treated in all over Russia, that's far from anything positive or exciting. That is just brutal and destructive, for the whole civil society. If it excists. I'm not sure about that.

Oops, I'm quite sure the Kremlin does not want to encourage anyone to even think that free and equal civil society would be any goal for those in power in the modern Russia.


The OSCE press release:

Exclusion of Nongovernmental Organizations a Violation of the Helsinki Principles

– Russian delegation insists on excluding an independent group

(Aaron Rhodes in Helsinki, July 2007.)

Vienna, 13 September 2007. The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society was excluded from a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concerning “Victims of Terrorism” on 13 September 2007, at the behest of the Russian Federation.

According to information received by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), the exclusion was made possible by a decision of the current Spanish Chairmanship of the OSCE, despite an earlier agreement that NGO participation would follow the organization’s 1992 rules. The United Stated Delegation to the OSCE left the meeting in protest, and several others expressed their opposition to the decision.

“The IHF strongly objects to this departure from the OSCE's well-established practice of allowing diverse views - even unpopular ones - to be heard,” stated Aaron Rhodes, Executive Director of the IHF. “Civil society participation is what allows the OSCE to be a vivid platform for dialogue about upholding standards and implementing commitments. Some OSCE participating States apparently seek to shield themselves from scrutiny; others acquiesce.”

The IHF urges the OSCE participating States to ensure that future meetings, especially the upcoming annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, are organized in accordance with the provisions of the 1992 Helsinki Document. At that time, the participating States committed themselves to opening conferences and seminars to NGOs. Only those advocating violence are to be excluded.

The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) is among the most persecuted civil society organizations in the Russian Federation. Critical of Russian policies in Chechnya while delivering vital humanitarian assistance to victims of the violence there, the organization was closed down in January 2007. The decision was an application of the new NGO law, and based on the “failure” of its chair, Stas Dmitrievsky, to resign from his positions within the RCFS after his conviction for an “extremist” crime and the failure of the RCFS to publicly denounce Dmitrievsky after his politically motivated conviction. The charges against him were brought after the RCFS published appeals by the late Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov and his envoy, Akhmed Zakayev, for a peaceful resolution of the Chechen conflict. Many other media have published such statements.

Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director
Joachim Frank, IHF Project Coordinator


Chelysheva, and Stas Dmitrievsky in Helsinki, May 2007.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tallinn. From Narva Mnt to Kadriorg, and then to Kopli, Sepa, and Sadam...

We were 21 people. Devoted, spirited and active travellers who wanted to peel the grey, hard covers of the glowing and exciting Tallinn. We ere editors, book sellers, hang-aroundsloversandspouses, and everything in between.

Who wanted to boldly go were only the Most Heroic Travellers have gone before. But where the largest crowds have still not found their way – it's a bliss.

And of course, we made it. (Again.)


This is one of my must places. Kohvik Narva, on Narva Mnt. (But I did not know it has a back room.) Here you get the feeling that the Soviet Union is alive and kicking, but a positive feeling, if you know what I mean. You'd like pelmenis, piroshki or borsh? Salads with loads of sour cream or mayonnaise? This is your place.


The Art Museum of Estonia, KUMU, is hiding behind the trees. This is the lower entrance in the Kadriorg Park. Guys living in that little cottage know how to chop wood, they always have neat piles in the yard.

At KUMU I lectured for an hour about... guess the topics? The Soviet Union, Russia, the latest developments in politics concerning Russo-Estonian relations and Alyosha, the Bronze Soldier... (Yeah, sounds scary. As an organiser of this trip I can lecture on anything.

KUMU is my favourite art museum in the world, I like the atmosphere and its architecture a lot. Last autumn I went to see the exhibitions and spent quite long time there.


Baar Sepa. On the Cape Kopli. But just before this place, in the Baar Helienna, we managed to meet with Otso Kantokorpi, the Master of Tallinn Adventures.

See the impressive looking fish: they are "Peipsijärven kuivattuja kuoreita", dry fish, kuore from the lake Peipus. EDIT: in English 'smelt', in Latin Osmerus Eperlanus. Thanks, TN. (But I strongly suspect that instead of being smelt they are roaches.)

Fish fish fish. Estonians eat much more fish than us Finns, I think.


LK taking a photo of a cat in Sepa. With an analogical camera!!!!!


Tram. The very method of transport we use.


1. One "talongiraamat" containing ten tickets costs 10 times 8,50 kr, so it is about 60 cents / ticket.
2. You can buy tickets in every kiosk. And there is a kiosk near every tram stop. (Really. It is that easy.) But when you have a ten ticket booklet, you don't need to buy them all the time, of course.
3. The map of tram lines is X-shaped. The junction of the four lines is at Hobujaama, near the Viru Center (but there's absolutely no need to go to Viru. Skip it. Start now.). If you don't know where to go, go anywhere.


Guys are learning to use the ticket machine which engraves the marks through the ticket. And they learned it so well that soon all the little pieces of paper they had were marked with the tiny round holes.


Soon we must go! Behind the smaller ones, back there somewhere, our ship Tallink Star is waiting and soon ready to leave. The last members of our efficient group are running some kilometers behind us...

But joyfully we have time to check out the interesting fishing situation.


The little stick with lights is the TV Tower. Maybe that would be something for the next tour? It really is a Soviet classic for heroic travellers. I was there last summer and it certainly made a big impression. Nägemiseni!


Kiitos kaikille vielä kerran! Oli huisin hauskaa.

Ja jos haluatte katsoa mun aikaisempia Viro-aiheisia juttuja, ne on täällä.

Kapteeninne IStori

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

No films in 2009?

"Strike action, often simply called a strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal by employees to perform work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances." Thus spoke Wikipedia.

The Finnish producers have stated today that if they will not get more governmental funding – since the financial support has remained the same for a decade or so but production costs have expanded – they will refuse to finish the newest films, due to be released in 2008–2009.

According to the producers they have been promised the increase, while Minister of Culture, Stefan Wallin is denying this.

Very brave but risky tactics. And there is a good reason behind it.

But it's risky. See. If a cleaning ladies, or people who collect the trash, stopped working, the whole society would break down.

If the elderly ladies who take care of both the museums and toilets stopped working in Russia, the Kremlin would collapse in days. All the artefacts would be stolen and Moscow would drown in pee.

But when the Finnish film producers stop, the results are not to be seen in 2009!

Still, I do wish them luck!

Film producers attack the funding of the Finnish National Opera. One opera ticket is supported with much bigger amounts of money compared to the film tickets. (20 times more, an opera ticket is supported with 160 euros, the producers say.) And I am not that much into opera. I mean, I like opera music, I really do, but why does that overrated institution have to be so heavy and expensive? Is some kind of a smaller scale opera an impossibility?

Please don't give me that "the money to the opera is not film industry's loss". Yes, the money is tax payers' money. ANY money spent ANYWHERE is someone else's loss. Different goals where to use money can and should be at times put to the same line for closer look.

Opera is not that Finnish or anything as an institution that I'd say it definitely must be supported, no matter what. (We have some great singers, sure.)

And the Opera building is ugly. Never skip that. (I liked the old, little place much better. But I have heard, in several occasions, that it was a nightmare for the artists who Worked there.)

Keep remembering it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

BTW. Did you know that it is also illegal for an employee of the United States Federal Government to strike. Interesting. So the Federal Government must be a trustworthy employer then?