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Russian Facebook of Horrors: From Tragedy to Humor

Humor is sometimes the only way to deal with a tragedy like the one that struck Russian Facebook over the weekend [GV], when it turned out that Alexey Kabanov, chef and father of three, had allegedly strangled and dismembered his wife, Irina Cherska. Kabanov led a vocal Facebook campaign in search of Irina for several days after her disappearance on January 3, and so the news of her death came as a shock for many members of Russia's tightly knit online community.

Alexey Kabanov being interviewed about the search for his wife Irina on January 9, just days prior to his arrest. YouTube screenshot. January 15, 2013.

After all, Irina was an active blogger [ru] since 2003, while her husband was in the late 90s a co-founder of the Project O.G.I, a hybrid cafe/literary club/music venue/book-store [ru] that was popular with Moscow's internet hipsters before there were hipsters. Recently both were active participants in the protest movement, regularly attending rallies and marches.

The shock comes as no surprise, but some of the online responses to the tragic events are jarring. I have attempted to curate some examples, with the caveat that sometimes it is hard to tell the people who are using comedy as catharsis from ones who are simply “trolling.” Take for example Maksim Kononenko, who knew the other founders of Kabanov's cafe, although he does not remember Kabanov himself. Kononenko posted [ru] the following joke on his Facebook:

Каждое утро в ужасе просыпаюсь. Не убил ли жену? Не переебал ли детей? Кошку не съел ли?! И только потом успокаиваюсь.

Every morning I wake up in horror. Could I have killed my wife? Could I have f*cked all the kids? Maybe I've eaten the cat? And only then I can relax.

Kononenko was drawing a parallel between Kabanov's case and recent allegations of child abuse [GV] against top Russian blogger Rustem Adagamov. A joke in poor taste, or a way to deal with macabre news coming one after the other? Kononenko later tweeted [ru], parodying theories of political motivation for both cases:

Навальный убил жену Кабанова чтобы отвлечь внимание от Адагамова. Потому что Адагамов член КС, а Кабанов хуй знает кто.

Navalny killed Kabanov's wife to divert attention from Adagamov. Because Adagamov is a member of the C[oordinating] C[ouncil of the Opposition], and who the f*ck knows who Kabanov is.

Popular blogger Vitaly Volodin joked [ru] in a LiveJournal comment:

увы, как-то пока очень узко на эту историю смотрят уважаемые обозреватели. можно шире. например, неплохо было бы обсудить, почему человек, называющий себя предпринимателем, не умеет спрятать расчленённого трупа. собственно, в одном этом уже заключается вся трагедия малого бизнеса в россии.

sadly, so far the pundits are looking at this case very narrowly. there can be a wider discussion. for one, we should be asking why a man who calls himself an entrepreneur is incapable of hiding a dismembered body. in fact, just this in and of itself encapsulates the tragedy of small and medium enterprise in russia.

LiveJournal user zarade was on the same page. In fact, he liked his own joke so much they posted it as comments to at least [ru] two [ru] LiveJournal posts, and as a comment [ru] on one of Kabanov's Facebook status updates.

[...] Только вот расчлененное тело я бы прятал не в машину, а в место по-надежней. Вы, жалкие людишки не поймете исскуство убивать, пока сами его не постигните.

[...] Only I wouldn't hide the dismembered body in the car, but a safer place. You, puny humans, won't understand the art of murder until you comprehend it on your own.

A stylized troll or an unhinged psychopath? You decide.

The same applies to my last pick. In the comments to Kabanov's last Facebook post, one Sergey Shutiev posted what is either the gibbering of a madman, or one of the best parodies of petty nationalism I've seen in a while. Referencing the fact that Kabanov was born in Azerbaijan and Irina Cherska in Ukraine, both lacking Moscow registration, Shutiev wrote:

Почему, вообще все в Москву приехали? Езжайте к себе, откуда вы там. Заебали уже тут беспредельничать. У себя беспредельничайте.

Anyway, why has everyone come to Moscow? Go back to where you came from. I'm f*cking tired of you causing mayhem here. Cause mayhem at home.

Watch this space, we'll be taking an in-depth look with more stories on the “Russian Facebook of Horrors” in the next few days.

Part I: Russian Facebook of Horrors: The Murder Trail

Part II: Russian Facebook of Horrors: From Tragedy to Humor

Part III. Russian Facebook of Horrors: It's a Conspiracy!

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