Thursday, June 19, 2008

In Vienna!

Dear Friends

IStori is now visiting Vienna. If you'd like to spot me on TV, bear in mind that I'll be in the audience of the Hrvatska (Croatia) – Turkey game on Friday the 20th.

On Sat we will celebrate several birthday anniversaries! The "we" equals 10 people from Finland in two flats of quite handsome sizes with several bedrooms. Rented them year ago. Needless to say, Miss Funnybunny and Mr HP are here, too.

Updates coming up, but in the meantime: if you wish to see very good photos on Midnight Sun Film Festival (the best film festival on earth), please see the recent posts of Sedis!!!!!

Talk to you soon!


The Prater amusement park can be very exciting.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"It was not at all like we were told by the officials."

As my memory card reader does not work, I had to put some photos taken with my telephone. Not good, but that'll do for now.

Ella Kesayeva and Oleg Kozlovsky. Kesayeva's stories on what really happened in Beslan were mind-blowing. I have wondered how these women who were there, who lost a child or children there, how do they cope? And I still do wonder that. (In 2004, in the Beslan school attack 365 people died, half of them children.)

Svetlana Gavrilina
and Valentin Gefter. Soldiers' Mothers Committee and Memorial. Among other posts.

Hard talk is hard to listen to. But so so very interesting.

Andrey Babitsky´s
(2nd from the right) team getting ready.

From Beslan to Helsinki, Groznyi to Paris. Finrosforum 2008

Bob Amsterdam. Again.

Andrei Babitsky.

Anzor Maskhadov, son of the late President of Itchkeria, Aslan Maskhadov.

Ella Kesayeva, from Mothers of Beslan.

Yuri Schmidt, the lawyer of Nikitin and Pasko. (Who were here last year, by the way.)

Whoa –– what a team!

They are here now.

* * * * *

FINROSFORUM 2008 | Speaker Bios

ROBERT AMSTERDAM (Роберт Амстердам) is Partner at Amsterdam & Peroff, a law firm based in Toronto and London, representing the jailed businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former major shareholder of the YUKOS oil company. Mr Amsterdam is a vocal critic of the policies of the present Russian government, and comments regularly on events in Russia on his blog at

VALENTINA ANUFRIEVA (Валентина Ануфриева) is Vice-Chair of Izvatas, an inter-regional association of the indigenous people of the northern part of Russia's Komi Republic. She has been an active campaigner for the rights of the local people to determine their own future amid growing pressure from the oil and gas industry and the local administration. More information at

ANDREY BABITSKY (Андрей Бабицкий) is a long-time correspondent for Radio Liberty's Russian service, Radio Svoboda, now based in Prague. He has extensive experience in reporting on the ongoing crisis in the North Caucasus, especially Chechnya, both during and after major combat operations. More on Mr Babitsky's kidnapping and subsequent release in 2000 at

RUSLAN BADALOV (Руслан Бадалов) is Chair of the Chechen Committee of National Salvation (CCNS), based in the capital of the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetiya, Nazran. Mr Badalov and his organisation has been targeted by the authorities under the draconian legislation against "extremist" activities, and there have been several attempts to close down the organisation. More information at CCNS's website at

OKSANA CHELYSHEVA (Оксана Челышева) is Deputy Executive Director of the Nizhny Novgorod-based Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, which was refused registration in Russia. The society has since been registered in Helsinki. The organisation is active in protecting the rights of Russia's Chechen minority and promoting interethnic dialogue. Ms Chelysheva's activities span across the wide spectrum of human rights work in today's Russia.

ANDREY DMITRIEV (Андрей Дмитриев) is the Co-coordinator of the opposition's Other Russia coalition ( in St Petersburg. He is the former leader of the now banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in St Petersburg. Mr Dmitriev has been active in organising the Marches of Dissent in St Petersburg. He is Editor-in-Chief of the St Petersburg-based news agency, APN Severo-Zapad (

NIKOLAY DONSKOV (Николай Донсков) is head of the North-West Russian bureau of the independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, in St Petersburg. Prior to this, he served as Editor-in-Chief of Novaya Gazeta's St Petersburg edition. The newspaper has written extensively on government corruption, the war in Chechnya, the curtailment of civic freedoms, and other major issues facing Russia today. More information at

VALENTIN FERAPOSHKIN (Валентин Ферапошкин) is a journalist working for the newspaper, The Caucasian Knot ("Кавказский узел"), and a member of the Committee of Anti-War Action ( and the Memorial Foundation ( in Moscow. Mr Feraposhkin is one of the founders of a new organisation, Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. More information at

SVETLANA GAVRILINA (Светлана Гаврилина) is Press Secretary of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers ( in St Petersburg. She is an active member of the St Petersburg-based regionalist movement, Ingria (, which campaigns for regional autonomy and promotes interethnic dialogue. Ms Gavrilina is a former journalist at the local newspaper, Nevskoe Vremya, apparently ousted for her reporting on the Orange Revolution in Kiev.

VALENTIN GEFTER (Валентин Гефтер) is Director General of the Institute of Human Rights in Moscow. The institute's President is Sergey Kovalev, veteran anti-war and human rights activist. In addition, Mr Gefter is a member of the supervisory council of the human rights centre, Memorial. More information at

YELENA GRISHINA (Елена Гришина) is Director of the human rights information centre, Centre of Public Information (CPI), and Editor of the monthly Chronicle of the Moscow Helsinki Group ( She is now head of a joint project of the CPI and the Russian Union of Journalists ( to promote cooperation between journalists and NGOs.

ARTO HALONEN (Арто Халонен) is a documentary film director based in Helsinki. His latest works include "Shadow of the Holy Book", a harsh look at the collusion of corporate capitalism with the government of Turkmenistan, one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. The film sparked an important debate about the relationship between business and democracy. More information at

HEIDI HAUTALA (Хейди Хаутала) is Chair of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum. She is a Member of the Finnish Parliament, representing the Greens, and a former Member of the European Parliament. Ms Hautala is Chair of the Committee of Legal Affairs of the Finnish Parliament. She was the Greens' candidate in the Finnish presidential elections in 2000 and 2006. More information at

ANDRES HEINAPUU (Андрес Хейнапуу) is Coordinator for Estonia of the Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples. He was founder and director of the Informationi Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples, based in Tallinn, Estonia. He is an expert on the situation of the Finno-Ugric minorities in the Russian Federation. More information at

YURI IGNATYEV (Юрий Игнатьев) is Vice-Chair and Board Member of the Mari national organisation, Mari Ushem, based in Yoshkar-Ola, capital of Russia's Republic of Mari El. Mari Ushem, the largest NGO of ethnic Maris, was established in 1917. The organisation has faced severe harassment by the local authorities since the election of Leonid Markelov as the republic's President.

TARJA KANTOLA (Тарья Кантола) is head of international affairs at the Finnish service sector union, Service Union United (, Chair of the International Solidarity Foundation (, and Chair of the Finnish Refugee Council ( In addition, Ms Kantola serves as a deputy of the Helsinki Cty Council. More information at

ELLA KESAEVA (Элла Кесаева) is Co-Chair of the Voice of Beslan, which represents the relatives of the victims of the school hostage crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia, in 2004. The organisation has criticised the authorities for their failure to properly investigate the facts surrounding the events in Beslan. Ms Kesaeva and her colleagues have faced continuous intimidation and several court cases have been brought against them. More information at

PÄIVI KESKITALO (Пэйви Кескитало) is lawyer at the Refugee Advice Centre in Helsinki. The Centre is a non-governmental organisation founded in 1988 by other Finnish NGOs. The Centre provides legal aid and advice to asylum seekers, refugees, and other foreigners in Finland. More information at

TIMO KIRAVUO (Тимо Киравуо) teaches Information Security and Data Communication at the Helsinki University of Technology. He has experience in building data security systems, including those used to block free access to information. More information at

ANDREY KOLOMOISKY (Андрей Коломойский) is a journalist at the Vyborg-based daily, Vyborgskie Vedomosti (, specialising in political and cultural affairs, civic rights, and freedom of speech. In 2005, Mr Kolomoisky received the Danish Cultural Institute's prize, "Free Press in Russia". In Soviet times, he took an active part in St Petersburg's underground press ("samizdat").

OLGA KONSKAYA (Ольга Конская) is a film actress, producer, and playwright at Dreamscanner Productions in St Petersburg. Together with Andrey Nekrasov, she authored the prize-winning documentary, "Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case", which recounts the fate of the former KGB officer, Alexander Litvinenko, who was murdered in London in 2006. More information at

ALEXEY KOZLOV (Алексей Козлов), PhD, is Co-Chair of GROZA (Green Alternative) and member of the Expert Council to the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation. His expertees covers problems related to racism and xenophobia, freedom of assembly and association. Mr Kozlov is co-editor of His blog:

OLEG KOZLOVSKY (Олег Козловский) is the Moscow Coordinator of the opposition youth movement, Oborona (, in Moscow. Oborona is an active participant and organiser of the united opposition's Marches of Dissent. In late 2007, Mr Kozlovsky was illegally drafted into the Russian Army. Following an international campaign in his support, he was finally released after 75 days in captivity. More information at

HENRIK LAX (Генрик Лакс) is a Finnish Member of the European Parliament, representing the Swedish People's Party ( He is a member of the European Parliament's delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice, and Home Affairs. More information at

JUKKA MALLINEN (Юкка Маллинен) is Chair of the Finnish PEN society ( and Deputy Chair of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum. He was Chair of the Finnish Institute in St Petersburg in the 1990s. Mr Mallinen studied literature at Moscow State University. He has translated several works of Russian prose and poetry. His most recent work is "Varastettua ilmaa - Vapaamuotoisia ja -mielisiä esseitä Venäjästä" ("Stolen Air - Essays on Russia Free in Form and Mind").

ANZOR MASKHADOV (Анзор Масхадов) is Chair of the Chechen Diaspora in Norway. He is the son of the late President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Aslan Maskhadov. Anzor Maskhadov enjoys the respect and reverence of the entire Chechen diaspora, and has first-hand knowledge of the plight of Chechen refugees forced to leave their homeland. More information at

ANDREY NEKRASOV (Андрей Некрасов) is a Russian film-maker and playwright from St Petersburg, most famous for his two films, "Disbelief" and "Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case". The latter, on the fate of the former KGB officer, Alexander Litvinenko, was screened at the 60th Film Festival in Cannes in May 2007. More information at

PEKKA NISKANEN (Пекка Нисканен) is a contemporary artist who has worked many years in visual arts, producing various works with texts, film, and video. At present, Mr Niskanen is directing a documentary, "Virtual War", which sets out to describe the way wars and conflicts spill into the internet. The film documents the establishment of a "Virtual Chechnya" within the Second Life community. More information at

BURAK ÖZTAŞ (Бурак Озташ) is a member of the sizable Chechen minority in Turkey. His interest in the Chechen culture and the plight of his people has led him to work as a volunteer at the refugee centre in Bialystok, Eastern Poland, temporary residence to several hundred Chechen refugees. Mr Öztaş studies International Law at Istanbul University. More information at

KERKKO PAANANEN (Керкко Паананен) is Board Member and Secretary of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum. He works as an Information Analyst at Esmerk Oy (, where he is the trade union representative of the Finnish Media Union ( In addition, Mr Paananen is a personnel representative at Finnish media group Sanoma's European Works Council. His blog:

OLEG PANFILOV (Олег Панфилов) is Director of the Centre of Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES) in Moscow. He has worked as a journalist since 1974. Until 2004, Mr Panfilov presented the weekly radio programme, "Power and the Press", on Radio Liberty's Russian service. More information at Oleg Panfilov's blog:

ILYA PERESEDOV (Илья Переседов) is a teacher, journalist, internet commentator. Mr Peresedov graduated from the St Petersburg Institute of Theology and Philosophy in 2003. At present, he is writing his Ph.D dissertation on the social-philosophical analysis of the internet at the Russian State University for the Humanities ( Ilya Peresedov's blog:

ARVI PERTTU (Арви Пертту) is a writer and translator born in Petrozavodsk, capital of Russia's Republic of Karelia. For the past five years, he has lived and worked in Lappeenranta, Finland. Mr Perttu has worked in several periodicals in Karelia and translated various works of literature to and from Russian. Arvi Perttu's blog:

ANDYU PETRYAN (Андю Петрянь) is a St Petersburg-based activist working to preserve the language and culture of the Erzya people in Russia's Republic of Mordovia. He has administered several internet sites dedicated to the Erzyan culture, including Erzyan Zhurnal ( He is member of the Russian Association of Finno-Ugric Journalists (RAFUZh) and the Russian Union of Journalists. Mr Petryan's blog:

ANDREY PIVOVAROV (Андрей Пивоваров) is Chair of the St Petersburg branch of the Popular Democratic Union of Russia (, led by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Mr Pivovarov characterises himself as a conservative democrat. His party has some 2,200 members in St Petersburg.

IGOR SAZHIN (Игорь Сажин) is Chair of the human rights commission, Memorial, in Russia's Komi Republic and member of the international human rights organisation, Memorial. The mission of Komi Memorial is to protect human rights and promote the establishment of institutions capable of supervising the actions of the state. More information at

YURI SHMIDT (Юрий Шмидт) is Founder and Chair of the Russian Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in St Petersburg. He is one of Russia's most eminent lawyers and a long-time advocate of human rights. At present, he is member of the legal team defending Mikhail Khodorkovsky, jailed former shareholder of the YUKOS oil company. Mr Shmidt's biography at Lentapedia:

ALEXEY SOCHNEV (Алексей Сочнев) is Editor of, the website of Garry Kasparov, leader of the United Civic Front. In addition, he is a moderator of the LiveJournal community of the March of Dissent, one of the main channels of information on opposition activities. Many opposition websites in Russia have come under increasing pressure in recent years. Mr Sochnev has witnessed first-hand many of these attacks. His blog:

MIKAEL STORSJÖ (Мкиаэль Стуршё) is a Finnish entrepreneur, journalist, and civic activist. He is Board Member of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum and Electronic Frontier Finland ( Mr Storsjö is a vocal advocate of the right of the Chechen people to decide their own fate and an ardent critic of the ruling regime in Russia.

TAUNO TIUSANEN (Тауно Тиусанен) is Professor of International Operations and Transition Economies at Lappeenranta University of Technology ( His research areas include foreign direct investments in transitional economies, investment climate in transitional economies, and the eastern enlargement of the European Union. Prof. Tiusanen is one of the foremost experts on the Russian economy in Finland.

MAYRBEK VACHAGAEV (Майрбек Вачагаев) is former chief of staff and press secretary of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and former general representative of Chechnya in Russia. He is now working for a doctorate at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, France. Mr Vachagaev is author of the book, “Chechnya in the 19th Century Caucasian Wars.”

MAGOMED YEVLOEV (Магомед Евлоев) is owner of the main opposition website in the North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia, The site has come under constant attack by the republican authorities. In the latest move, a court in Moscow ordered the closure of the website under legislation intended to counter "extremism". Mr Yevloev has vowed to keep the website running. The security situation in Ingushetia has severely deteriorated during the presidency of Kremlin appointee Murat Zyazikov.

KONSTANTIN ZAMYATIN (Константин Замятин), originally from the Republic of Udmurtia, is a long-time expert on the situation of the Finno-Ugric minorities of the Russian Federation. He has served as Coordinator of the Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples ( in Estonia and has worked at the Fenno-Ugria Foundation in Tallinn. Mr Zamyatin has studied extensively linguistic and minority rights. His paper on state nationality policy and human rights:

Oslo Report. Part II

Rosie Whitehouse (left) had a successful career at the BBC World Service until she became a mum. She then spent five years as a housewife in the war-torn Balkans married to the correspondent of The Economist. Back in London she continued developing her ironing skills as she built a new career as a freelance journalist. Rosie has written on parenting and family issues for a wide range of newspapers and magazines and is the author of Are We There Yet? Travels With My Frontline Family. Rosie lives in England with her husband the frontline reporter Tim Judah and their five children.

Firstly, I'm sorry my friends, for the delay, as I have not been able to update my blog. Secondly, I'm even more sorry for the fact that I have not been able to include the photo report II, since I have been too busy to replace my broken memory card reader. So I do not have new photos here.

The meeting I participated in Oslo was all in all the best happening in the field of non-fiction literature I have ever experienced. I came home full of ideas, thanks to both the excellent program with many encouraging speakers, and the wonderful international team of guests.

Dear Oslo guys, I will send you lots of photos! And let's have those reunions we discussed, the first one taking place in Frankfurt, and the second in Calcutta, India. And to New York, right after that.

Iris from Munich, Germany, with the brochure of the Nobel museum.