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Quick Reads + RuNet Echo

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Latest stories from Quick Reads + RuNet Echo

#askPussyRiot Wants Your Questions

The masks come off this Friday, as two of the newly freed Pussy Riot members hold their first post-prison presser.

After almost two years in federal custody, Pussy Riot's two most famous members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, will hold their first post-prison press conference [ru]. The event will be hosted by the online TV station Dozhd and take place on Friday, December 27, 2013, beginning at 2:00 PM Moscow time (5:00 AM US Eastern Time). Those interested in watching can tune in at [ru] and Twitter users are encouraged to submit their own questions using the hashtag “#askPussyRiot“. Though the discussion will be in Russian, questions can be submitted in English or other languages.

Pussy Riot Free to Tweet at Last!

While the pardoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky [Global Voices report] doesn't appear in any hurry to set up Twitter or Facebook accounts and join Russia's chattering classes, the recently amnestied Pussy Riot band members [Global Voices report], Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, are already micro-blogging up a storm. Of course, unlike the former head of Yukos, they didn't spend the last 10 years in prison — as Khodorkovsky noted in his press conference [ru], both Facebook and Twitter didn't even exist when he was arrested.

Tolokonnikova and Alekhina reunited in Krasnoyarsk.

Alekhina opened a Twitter account, @malehina [ru], and has already tweeted 82 times. A sizable portion of these tweets, however, are a seemingly random collection of pithy sayings, like:

Always choose the most difficult path — there you won't face competition!  

Tolokonnikova, on the other hand, resumed tweeting from her old account @tolokno [ru]. Her tweets are also eclectic. For instance, a few hours ago Tolokonnikova wondered [ru] why Russian prisons ban eyebrow tweezers — one can go to solitary confinement if found with a pair. (I am no expert on Russian prisons, but the reason is likely the same as why they are banned on airplanes.) At the same time, she appears to have mixed feelings about her early release during the holiday season:

I've been released – but otherwise tomorrow we would be celebrating Christmas with my Protestant convicts.

Update: Alekhina's Twitter account turns out to be fake and was suspended by Twitter. The counterfeit was good enough that Tolokonnikova herself was fooled, although she later deleted her tweet welcoming Alekhina to the service.
Update 2: According to BuzzFeed's Foreign Editor, Miriam Elder, Alekhina has now officially joined Twitter using the handle @MashaAlekhina, though Alekhina has yet to tweet anything as of December 26, 2013.

LGBT-Friendly Coloring Books for Russians

Activists from the LGBT equality T-shirt company are planning to send 10,000 copies of a pro-gay coloring book titled “Misha and His Two Mothers” to families with children in Moscow and Sochi, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics. The book's core message, captured by the catchphrase “Gay Is Okay!” (Гей – окей!), is to let children know that being gay is not criminal. Writing in the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Angelina Galanina condemned [ru] the coloring book as “propaganda.” RuNet reactions have ranged from the vitriolic to the measured [ru]. LiveJournal user kolyaka [ru] quipped: 

Так примерно во времена железного занавеса к нам проникала запретная литература, тлетворная музыка и даже библии в СССР забрасывали. Как относиться к подобной раскраске? Не знаю.

This is roughly how banned literature, dangerous music, and even the Bible reached us in the days of the Iron Curtain and flooded the USSR. What to make of such a coloring book? I don't know.'s new Russian-English coloring book. T-shirt reads, “Gay is okay!”

Pussy Riot's Tolokonnikova Transferred to Krasnoyarsk

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's exact whereabouts were unknown for the past three weeks, after prison authorities announced that the Pussy Riot icon would be transferred from a prison in the Republic of Mordovia to an unknown location. On November 12, 2103, authorities finally revealed some information about Tolokonnikova's new home. The federal human rights ombudsman had this to say [ru] about Tolokonnikova's “re-integration”:

Руководству ФСИН России было рекомендовано перевести Толоконникову Н.А. для дальнейшего отбывания наказания в исправительную колонию [...]. [...] По сообщению руководства ФСИН России такое решение обусловлено тем, что Толоконникова Н.А. является уроженкой Красноярского края, постоянно зарегистрирована в г. Норильске и отбывание ею наказания в этом регионе будет способствовать её ресоциализации.

Senior officials in the Federal Penitentiary Service were encouraged to transfer Tolokonnikova for the remainder of her incarceration [...]. [...] According to FSIN heads, the decision was due to the fact that Tolokonnikova is a native of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, permanently registered in the city of Norilsk, and serving out her remaining sentence in this region will facilitate her reintegration into society.


Moscow Soccer Fans Clash with Police

Following Saturday's scoreless soccer game that catapulted Moscow's CSKA club to its fourth Russian Premier League title, the team's fans clashed with riot troops in downtown Moscow. Police detained 140 people [ru], later releasing all but two. Bloggers posted photos to LiveJournal here, here, and here [ru], alleging police brutality.

Police “detain” a soccer fan, Moscow, 18 May 2013, photo by Sergey Danilov, posted to his LJ.

Police Raid Navalny's HQ in Kirov

At this very moment, Kirov police are searching [ru] Alexey Navalny's local headquarters, established to coordinate the blogger's public outreach in the city where he currently stands trial for embezzling roughly half a million dollars. The case has attracted international attention as the latest in a long series of politicized Russian judicial proceedings, including the trials of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, three members of Pussy Riot, and others. More »

Hating on Russia's Protester Chess Master

Dissidents have fled Russia for as long as there has been a Russia from which to flee. Earlier this week, April 7, 2013, activist Ilya Yashin startled many when he announced [ru] on Twitter that protest figure and former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov had abandoned his leadership position in the oppositionist group “Solidarity,” and likely decided to emigrate. More »

Russian Censors Partially Acquiesce to Wikipedia

Russian Internet censors at Roskomnadzor have reversed a decision to ban Wikipedia's entry for “cannabis smoking,” following a reexamination of the article after a new round of edits by Wikipedian volunteers. In a statement [ru] on its website today, April 10, 2013, Roskomnadzor announced the unbanning, though at least nine [ru] other Wikipedia articles apparently remain on the RuNet blacklist.

The RuNet's Leaky War

As RuNet Echo previously reported [GV], Alexey Navalny has appealed to his readers to make up their own minds about his innocence or guilt in an upcoming embezzling trial by releasing for download the financial documents of the firms involved. Now, his opponents appear to have taken a page out of his book, creating a website which is a direct copy [ru] of Navalny's original [ru]. Unlike Navalny's “Why is Navalny Not Guilty?”, this one is titled “Why is Navalny Guilty?” and makes available for download allegedly relevant excerpts from Navalny's previously hacked email correspondence [GV]. Since the emails have been publicly available for quite some time, the page is likely created in the spirit of “trolling” rather than any real attempt at an exposé.

Chechen Leader's Tone-deaf Instagram Post

On April 1, 2013, the 20 year anniversary of Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper critical of the government and known for its investigative reporting, Head of the Chechen Republic (formerly President) Ramzan Kadyrov took to his Instagram [ru], as he often does these days, to publicly express respect for the publication and its journalists, even thought he “sometimes disagrees with them.” Some bloggers [ru] were flabbergasted [ru] – after all, it is a widely held belief on RuNet that Kadyrov (then Chechen Prime Minister) is at least partially responsible for the assassination of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya in 2006.

Сегодня исполнилось 20 лет "Новой газете", которая по сей день является одним из немногих островков настоящей журналистики. И хотя я часто не согласен с мнением некоторых журналистов, тем не менее я высоко ценю Ваше желание докопаться до истины и дать возможность Вашим читателям узнать ее. Надеюсь, что и я смогу Вам помочь в этом нелегком деле. Всегда готов ответить на Ваши вопросы и донести до Ваших читателей максимально объективную точку зрения о Чечне.

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