In the days leading up to the New Year, as everyone was preparing for celebration and anticipating a welcome break from Twitter, RuNet was hit with a bizarre scandal. At another time it would have perhaps attracted more attention — as it stands, it soon lost momentum and was replaced with other controversies, leaving behind unanswered questions.
In a nutshell, Tatyana Delsal, ex-wife of top blogger and Coordinating Council member Rustem Adagamov (a.k.a. drugoi [ru]), has accused him of statutory rape. The first accusation came in a December 27th post on Delsal's blog, autre_nouvelle, where she wrote [ru]:
Адагамов преступник. Против несовершеннолетних детей. Статья УГ 132, пункт 3,в [...] Upd. да, в новой редакции закона п 4б. Беру полную ответственность по поводу заявленного на себя и готова подтверждать ее под присягой в суде.
Adagamov is a criminal. Crimes against minors. Article 132 of the Criminal Code, part 3,c [...] Update. yes, in the new version of the law it's part 4b. I take full responsibility for my statements and I am ready to testify to them in court and under oath.
Article 132, Part 4 (b) refers [ru] to “sexual assault, when perpetrated against persons who have not reached 14 years of age.”
Delsal's accusation was picked up and disseminated by ntv (no relation to the TV channel), a blogger known for scandalous posts and kompromat. In his post [ru], ntv stated as a fait accompli that Adagamov, who has recently been speaking out against Russia's anti-adoption law, is a pedophile. He also stated that he contacted Delsal to confirm her identity as the author of the original post.
Readers were divided in their opinions. Some were ready to believe the worst about Adagamov, who, while popular, is not well loved. Many, though, took a different view [ru]:
Не секрет что бывшие жены имеют привычку сочинять самую невероятную хуйню во имя священной войны с бывшим мужем.
It's no secret that ex-wives have the tendency to make up the most unbelievable sh*t in the name of holy war with the ex-husband.
The day after ntv broke the story, another accusation from Delsal appeared, this time as a YouTube video. Delsal, who lives in Norway and has recently recovered from cancer, added several details to her accusation: the victim was twelve at the time of the assault which took place several years ago, and she had only found out about it within the last year. Delsal also alleged that she is in possession of factual proof. Because of the green grass and bushes in the background of the video, and taking into account Norwegian winters, the video appears to have been recorded some months prior to its publication.
Adagamov responded to the accusations with a series of tweets, alleging [ru] that:
Меня, кстати, об этой съемке предупреждали ребята в Москве еще осенью. Говорили, что к Татьяне выехала «Анатомия протеста».
By the way, I was warned of this video in Moscow back in Fall. They said that “The Anatomy of Protests” has gone to see Tatyana.
He was referring to a series of documentary films smearing opposition leaders produced for Russian television over the past year. Adagamov seems to say that he is being set up, and his wife is in on it. Nevertheless, he noted [ru] that:
[...] она мне до сих пор родной человек, хоть и не может простить мне измену
[...] she is still dear to me, even though she can't forgive me for infidelity
И последнее. Ребята, вы поймите, я мужик, я не могу говорить плохо о своей бывшей жене. Я с ней 20 лет прожил. Поэтому, я буду молчать.
Lastly. Guys, please understand, I am a man, I can't speak badly about my ex-wife. I've lived 20 years with her. So, I will remain silent.
Pro-Kremlin bloggers gleefully ran with the story. Unabashedly anti-opposition blogger Politrash has leaked [ru] what purports to be a series of emails between Adagamov and Delsal, provided by Delsal to the source of the YouTube video. In these emails Delsal levels accusations at Adagamov, who does not dispute them, responding mainly by begging her not to destroy his life. The melodramatic contents hint at fabrication. Furthermore, as some Politrash's readers have pointed out [ru], the email time stamps are suspect.
For example, the following is a series of consecutive time stamps:
On Jun 24, 2012, at 8:32 PM, Татьяна wrote:
On Jun 24, 2012, at 6:38 PM, Drugoi wrote:
On Jun 24, 2012, at 8:53 PM, Татьяна wrote:
On Jun 24, 2012, at 7:03 PM, Drugoi wrote:
At first glance it appears that the confusion is due to a two hour time difference between the correspondents. However, since Norway is UTC +2:00 during the summer, and Moscow is permanently UTC +4:00, this would mean that Delsal (who lives in Norway) was in Moscow and Adagamov (who mainly lives in Moscow) was in Norway, when the emails were written. Otherwise, assuming Delsal was in Norway during the exchange, Adagamov would have to be writing from Iceland (UTC +0 year round). Or, perhaps, whoever composed this string of emails was confused by time zones.
Some members of the nationalist opposition, who have a bone to pick with anti-nationalist Adagamov, also couldn't pass up the chance to take a swing [ru]:
[...] ненависть к националистам – первый симптом начинающейся педофилии. Сегодня ты ругаешь Русское Национальное Государство, а завтра – трахаешь детей.
[...] hating nationalists is the first symptom of a developing pedophilia. Today you curse the Russian National State, tomorrow – you f*ck children.
The situation is obfuscated by the fact that people attacking Adagamov are the usual suspects — pro-government and anti-opposition. On the other hand, people who speak for him are fellow members of the opposition, who assume that Kremlin is behind everything. This has led Vladimir Golishev, a fiercely anti-government blogger, to state [ru]:
Универсальное правило “наш человек непогрешим по определению” одинаково работает везде – в Кремле, в Священном Синоде, в “КС оппозиции”.
The universal rule “our man is innocent by definition” works the same everywhere – in the Kremlin, in the Holy Synod, in the “Coordinating Council of the Opposition”.
Even Adagamov's silence can be interpreted in different ways. To some it's paramount proof of his guilt. To others [ru], it only speaks to his superior character:
Давайте снимем шляпы перед мужеством Адагамова, который с таким невозмутимым спокойствием, молча и без истерик, выжидает паузу.
Lets take our hats off to the bravery of Adagamov, who silently and without hysterics, and with unperturbed calm, is waiting this out.
Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule. Artemy Lebedev, another of RuNet's most popular bloggers, who generally steers clear of politics and scandals that don't involve himself, decided to weigh in [ru] this time, saying that:
Я знал про эту историю полгода назад.
I knew about this story half a year ago.
Internet guru Anton Nosik also couldn't keep silent. Although he appears to think that the accusations are likely false, he couldn't help damning Adagamov with his “praise”:
[...] я помню, как он страшно переживал, когда у его жены нашли рак. [...] её организм спасли. Но, как сам Рустем мне рассказывал в 2007 году, после операции его жена сошла с ума. [...] Готов в любом суде выступить свидетелем в его защиту. По-человечески по-прежнему считаю его говном.
[...] I remember how he was worried when they found his wife's cancer. [...] her body was saved. But, as Rustem himself told me in 2007, after the surgery his wife went insane. [...] I am ready to testify for him in any court. But as a human being, I still think he is a piece of sh*t.
Nosik later made his post private, but not before many people took screenshots [ru].
Nosik's testimony about Adagamov's character did not go unnoticed. DemVybor's Kirill Shulika wrote [ru]:
Не знаю травля это или нет, похоже, что травля, но чувак-то он мерзкий, вся эта красота легла на благодатную почву. [...] К слову, даже Носег пишет, что Адагамов говно, но свое, оно не пахнет и типа он будет его защищать.
I don't know if it's persecution or not, seems like persecution, but he's a vile dude, and all this fell on fertile ground. [...] By the way, even Nosik writes that Adagamov is a sh*t, but he's our sh*t, and it don't stink, and he will defend him or something.
After going silent for several days, Delsal spoke out again on January 3rd, in a comment [ru] to Oleg Lurie, who wondered if after the much ado there would be any legal action:
Следствие будет и я его добьюсь. Надеюсь на экспертизу переписки и другие доказательства. Ни кремль, ни деньги, ни политика в принципе здесь не имеют никакого отношения.
There will be a criminal investigation, I will make sure of it. I count on examination of the letters and other proof. Neither Kremlin, nor money, nor politics have anything to do with this, in principle.
Interest in the scandal seems to be running low, at least judging by the dearth of recent tweets about it. In the end, if the accusations are true, Adagamov will serve time. And if they are indeed part of a Kremlin defamation campaign, one can only laugh at the heavy weaponry brought to bear on a simple blogger. One hopes, at least, that this tweet [ru] by Adagamov was meant as a joke:
Мне тут мексиканская разведка озвучила за сколько меня заказали. Заказ до летального исхода.
By the way, Mexican intelligence told me how much this hit job on me apparently cost. It's a fatal outcome type of job.