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How did the Red Square appear in Moscow? HISTORY MAY 24 2019 GEORGY MANAEV 


Pixabay; Archive Photo

It was once called “the market” and “the conflagration”; it hosted a wild lion pit and a tram line; it has a historical shopping mall standing opposite a cemetery for the Soviet elite. It’s all about the Red Square in Moscow.

Do you still think the Red Square is called so because its buildings are red? Well, sorry to disappoint you! Even the theory about it being called “red” (‘krasnaya’ in Russian) because it supposedly was a derivative of “beautiful” (‘krasivaya’) in old Russian is wrong.

How did the place emerge?



"The Red Square during Ivan the Terrible's reign" by Appolinary Vasnetsov. The St. Basil's Cathedral is under construction.

Appolinary Vasnetsov

Moscow’s fortress, later named the Kremlin, was founded on Borovitsky hill. To the East of it, where the Red Square is situated now, there was a huge meadow. As the fortress and the town became more prominent and rich, a posad - or settlement - formed near the fortress walls.

People of the posad lived here because, in case of war, they could hide behind the fortress walls. But the posad needed a market square. Close to the Kremlin and to the Moskva river (which made the transportation of goods easier), the would-be Red Square first began as a market and was accordingly called: torg, or ‘market’ in Russian.

The square has existed since at least 1434. Historians debate whether it was at some point “created” or it just naturally became a market and forum spot. There are grounds, however, to believe that it was the latter case, and here’s why:

Pozhar, ‘the conflagration’, was another common name for the place. Why? It wasn’t because the square often burned. Before the 16th-17th  centuries,  it contained mostly benches and tents for sellers and no large buildings that could ‘burn’. Pozhar meant not only fire but also a vacant lot that’s usually left after a fire; also, it could have meant the constant buzzing and hustle of the busy market square.


​​Alevizov moat and Nikolskaya tower.

Fyodor Alekseev

By the beginning of the 16th century, the square had become the main place for news, gossip, and politics in Moscow. If anyone wanted to know what was going on in town, they went here. In 1508, a major innovation was introduced to the Red Square – the Alevizov Moat, created by Aloisio the New, an Italian architect commissioned by Ivan the Third to do work in Moscow. It was over 30 meters wide, 206 meters long and 12-13 meters deep. The moat turned the Kremlin into an island, with Neglinnaya and Moskva rivers defending the remaining sides of the triangle the Kremlin fortress forms. 



"The Red Square in the second half of the 17th century" by Appolinary Vasnetsov.

Appolinary Vasnetsov

A part of the moat (near the Voskresensky gate) later became an animal pit. Here, the Tsar kept tigers and lions presented to him as gifts from Eastern kings. Near the moat, an enclosure for the Tsar’s elephant also existed!

READ MORE: The elephants that entertained Russian Tsars

In 1561, St. Basil’s Cathedral was erected on the Red Square to commemorate the victory of Moscow over the Kazan Khanate. The cathedral has since then dominated the architectural composition of the square and became its main symbol.

When did the “Red Square” name appear?



The Palace of Facets with the Red Porch


The name “Red Square” appears in the middle of the 17th century in civil documents during the reign of Tsar Alexis of Russia, Peter the Great’s father. In 1658, he had ordered some Moscow streets and squares to be named differently. But in 1659, the square was still referred to as pozhar in official documents. Only in 1661, did “Red Square” start prevailing.

It’s believed that this name comes from the Red Porch, a staircase that leads to the Palace of Facets, the main reception and banquet hall of the Muscovite Tsars. Red was the traditional color of the tsar’s power, red walls were in his chambers, and the Red Porch was the place where the tsar’s orders were announced to the people. The Tsar would emerge from the Red Porch at major public and religious events. So the square this porch was facing also became to be known as “Red.”


Voskresensky gate before the Revolution

Public domain

Meanwhile, the square was still a giant marketplace, divided into many retail rows: everything from pies, honey, clothes, metalware, crockery, meat was sold there! But the trouble was that with a growing amount of shops and tents, fires became more frequent - and more violent. In the 1640s, the first stone Gostinyi Dvor (Merchants’ Court) was erected. Less prone to fire, it became a place for storing goods and selling them. By the end of the 17th century, there were no more wooden buildings left on the Red Square. The square also received a beautiful entrance from the North – the Voskresensky Gates. In 1698, Peter the Great finally banned all stationary trade from the square.

Red Square becomes rectangular



Tram line on the Red Square

Public domain


The Red Square remained the center of Moscow’s political life. Lobnoe mesto, a stone postament near St. Basil’s Cathedral, was the place where the government's most important orders were announced. Executions of the most notorious criminals were also performed around this spot on Red Square. Not much changed until the beginning of the 19th century, when the Alevizov moat was filled, the square was paved with cobblestones and new wooden trading stalls were built. 



The State Historical Museum is seen in the background

Legion Media

In 1875, the obsolete buildings near the Voskresensky gate were demolished to build a new State Historical Museum (1875-1883). The imposing red building in pseudo-Russian architectural style matched well with the Kremlin walls and St. Basil’s Cathedral and served as the “fourth wall” for the Red Square, finally making it a rectangle.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the Red Square had electric lighting, a new GUM department store and a tram line going across it. When the Bolsheviks came to power, they demolished the Voskresensky gate in order to make way for tanks during military parades, built Lenin’s Mausoleum and organized a cemetery for the Soviet elite - right where the Alevizov moat once was.

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UN: Poverty is a consequence of the ten-year austerity policy in Britain

Austerity has led millions of Britons to poverty, according to a UN report released today, which denounces a government that acts "on the basis of ideology" and in violation of its obligations under human rights.

According to this report, drafted following a 12-day mission by Britain 's UN Secretary- General for Human Rights and Extreme Poverty Philip Alston , one-fifth of the country's population, ie 14 million people, lives in a state of poverty .

And despite the "tragic social consequences," the "retroactive" austerity measures adopted since 2010 by the Conservatives in power "are continuing at a steady pace", "a flagrant violation of the human rights obligations of the British Government " .

"Nearly 40% of children will be forced to live in poverty by 2021. Food banks are spreading, homelessness has risen dramatically (...) life expectancy has declined for some groups of people and the legal aid system has been decimated" , the report said, "the government remains determined to deny it . "

For Alston, "neither the growth of the economy, nor the rise in jobs nor the budget surplus has reversed austerity, a policy most followed by ideology rather than an economic agenda" .

The UK Department of Labor and Pensions reacted by complaining of a "totally inaccurate" and "hardly convincing" report.

However, it is not the only report that finds this. Last week, a report by the independent British Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that after ten years of austerity in Britain, the largest income inequality among the rich countries, with the exception of the United States, was recorded . These economic differences are as great as ever in British society, to such an extent that they pose a threat to democracy and the cohesion of the country.

UN: Poverty is a consequence of the ten-year austerity policy in Britain

Austerity has led millions of Britons to poverty, according to a UN report released today, which denounces a government that acts "on the basis of ideology" and in violation of its obligations under human rights.

According to this report, drafted following a 12-day mission by Britain 's UN Secretary- General for Human Rights and Extreme Poverty Philip Alston , one-fifth of the country's population, ie 14 million people, lives in a state of poverty .

And despite the "tragic social consequences," the "retroactive" austerity measures adopted since 2010 by the Conservatives in power "are continuing at a steady pace", "a flagrant violation of the human rights obligations of the British Government " .

"Nearly 40% of children will be forced to live in poverty by 2021. Food banks are spreading, homelessness has risen dramatically (...) life expectancy has declined for some groups of people and the legal aid system has been decimated" , the report said, "the government remains determined to deny it . "

For Alston, "neither the growth of the economy, nor the rise in jobs nor the budget surplus has reversed austerity, a policy most followed by ideology rather than an economic agenda" .

The UK Department of Labor and Pensions reacted by complaining of a "totally inaccurate" and "hardly convincing" report.

However, it is not the only report that finds this. Last week, a report by the independent British Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that after ten years of austerity in Britain, the largest income inequality among the rich countries, with the exception of the United States, was recorded . These economic differences are as great as ever in British society, to such an extent that they pose a threat to democracy and the cohesion of the country.

Russian Investigators Determined Two Men Were Shot In The Head At Chechen 'Prison For Gays'

According to documents from Russia's Investigative Committee obtained by the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, two Chechen men who were killed in 2017 in a Chechen "prison for gays" were shot in the head at close range.
On December 24, the newspaper published a report saying that Shoto-Shamil Akayev and Ayub Ibragimov were shot on March 30, 2017, a few weeks after they went missing on February 6.

Chechen officials have said the two men were shot while trying to escape.

The Novaya Gazeta report cites documents from the Russian Investigative Committee's investigation into a complaint by Maksim Lapunov, who alleges he was abducted in Chechnya in October 2017 and held in a basement because he was homosexual. He said he was beaten in an effort to force him to name Chechens with whom he had sexual relations.
Lapunov's testimony reveals that "dozens" of other people were held in the same "prison for gays" when he was there. He said that he saw both Akayev and Ibragimov there.

The Investigative Committee's report concludes that the two men were killed but no criminal investigation was opened because "the circumstances laid out in Lapunov's complaint about his illegal detention were not objectively confirmed.
On December 20, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe heard a report about human rights violations of human rights between January 1, 2017, and January 31, 2018.
A large part of the report was devoted to the republic's campaign against gays, which reached a peak in February-March 2017. The report upbraids the Russian government for failing to investigate the reports or hold anyone accountable.

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta

Russian State-Owned Holding Giant Proposes to Apply DLT in All Gov’t Data Systems
By Helen Partz


Russian state-owned holding conglomerate Rostec proposed a roadmap on applying blockchain in all the governmental data systems, local financial newspaper Kommersantreports on May 24.

An institution under Rostec has reportedly developed a blockchain roadmap worth up to 85 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) that claims to provide an economic impact of up to 1.6 trillion rubles ($25.4 billion) in five years.

The project was presented by Rostec’s structural body, the Novosibirsk Institute of Programming Systems (NIPS), during a blockchain conference held in the Republic of Tatarstan on May 23.

According to Kommersant, the NIPS’ roadmap includes a blockchain implementation in the processes and data systems of industrial enterprises, municipal elections, the monitoring of the budgetary performance and other services.

The report notes that the absence of cryptocurrency and blockchain regulation is a major impediment to the adoption of the proposed roadmap. Yuri Pripachkin, the president of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain, considered the lack of regulation a “catastrophic obstacle on the path blockchain adoption.”

The expert argued that necessary legislation should be enforced as soon as in late 2019 in order to have better results, while the roadmap is based on a supposition that the regulation will come into force in 2021.

On the other hand, Russian prime minister and former president Dmitry Medvedev recently declared that crypto regulation is not a priority for the state of Russia since cryptocurrencies “have lost their popularity.”

On May 22, the central bank of Russia claimed that the draft bill on crypto regulation is prepared enough to be adopted in the spring of 2019, in accordance with the order of the country’s president, Vladimir Putin.

Russian Files Chechnya 'Gay Purge' Complaint With European Rights Court




Maksim Lapunov gives a press conference in Moscow in October 2017.

A gay Russian man who says he was abducted and tortured by police in Chechnya has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after Russian investigators refused to open a criminal case in the matter, according to his lawyers.
The complaint by Maksim Lapunov, the only person to publicly come forward with accusations that he was targeted in a purge of gay men in the southern Russian region, was filed with the Strasbourg court on May 24, lawyers with the Russia-based Committee for the Prevention of Torture said in a statement.
Lapunov says he was swept up in what rights groups call a brutal "purge" of gay men by authorities in Chechnya, whose Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, rules the mainly Muslim North Caucasus region unchallenged.
He says he was abducted in Chechnya's capital, Grozny, in March 2017 and subjected to beatings while being held captive in a local police facility for nearly two weeks.
Lapunov's lawyers said the complaint to the Strasbourg court alleged that Russia violated his right not to be tortured or subjected to "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," as well as his right to have his private life respected and not to face discrimination.

Lapunov's detailed account of his ordeal and other corroborating information "provides us grounds to assert that Maksim was specifically victimized because he is gay," his lawyer, Olga Sadovskaya, said in a statement.

Sadovskaya told RFE/RL that the complaint also alleged the violation of Lapunov's right to liberty and security, as well as the right to a fair trial.

Both the Russian government and Kadyrov's administration have dismissed Lapunov's allegations as groundless, even as President Vladimir Putin's own human rights ombudswoman has said there is "every reason to open a criminal case" based on his claims.

A special rapporteur for the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe said in December 2018 that he had interviewed Lapunov personally and "can confirm his credibility."

Lapunov, who has since fled Russia over fears for his safety, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from RFE/RL on May 24.

But he said in a video statement in November 2018 that he planned to seek redress at the ECHR after a Russian court backed investigators' decision not to open an investigation.

"This was my last chance to find justice in Russia," Lapunov said in the video.

Reports of a coordinated campaign of violence and intimidation by law enforcement authorities in Chechnya in early 2017 was first reported by the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta in April of that year.

While other gay men gave anonymous accounts of the abuses they faced in the crackdown in interviews to RFE/RL and other media outlets, Lapunov became the first to publicly detail his story when he spoke at a Moscow news conference in October 2017.

"Everyone accused me of being gay and said that people like me should be killed. They put a plastic bag on my head when they took me out of the cell. They wrapped my head with Scotch tape, leaving only a slot to breathe through. They beat my legs and arms," Lapunov said at the time.
He told reporters that when he was finally released from captivity at the end of March 2017, he could "barely crawl."
Rights activists say Lapunov, an ethnic Russian from Siberia who had moved to Grozny before his detention, was in a better position to tell his story than gay ethnic Chechens because of cultural taboos on homosexuality in Chechen culture.

Kadyrov, whom the Kremlin has largely allowed to rule the region as he sees fit, claimed after reports of the violent campaign that such a purge was impossible because "we don't have any gays" in Chechnya. "If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don't have them at home. To purify our blood," he told HBO in July 2017.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said this month that the authorities in Chechnya had resumed a campaign of abuse against gay and bisexual men.

HRW said it interviewed four men who said police in the region "interrogated them under torture, demanding, demanding that they identify other gay men in their social circles."
Russia has faced international criticism for its record on LGBT rights, including a 2013 law signed by Putin that banned disseminating "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors. Putin denies the law is discriminatory, saying it is aimed only at protecting children.



Iskra (RussianИ́скраIPA: [ˈiskrə]the Spark) was a political newspaper of Russian socialist emigrants established as the official organ of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). 

Iskra (RussianИ́скраIPA: [ˈiskrə]the Spark) was a political newspaper of Russian socialist emigrants established as the official organ of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). 

History of Iskra 

Due to political repression under Tsar Nicholas II, it was necessary to publish Iskra in exile and smuggle it into Russia.[1] Initially, it was managed by Vladimir Lenin, moving as he moved. The first edition was published in Leipzig,[2] Germany, on December 1, 1900 (other sources say Dec. 11). Other editions were published in Munich (1900–1902) and Geneva from 1903. When Lenin was in London (1902–1903) the newspaper was edited from a small office at 37a Clerkenwell Green, EC1,[3] with Henry Quelch arranging the necessary printworks.[4]

Iskra quickly became the most successful underground Russian newspaper in 50 years.[5]

In 1903, following the split of the RSDLP, Lenin left the staff (after his initial proposal to reduce the editorial board to three - himself, Julius Martov and Georgi Plekhanov - was vehemently opposed),[6] the newspaper fell under the control of the Mensheviks and was published by Plekhanov until 1905. The average circulation was 8,000.

Political Viewpoint

Iskra'motto was "Из искры возгорится пламя" ("From a spark a fire will flare up") — a line from the reply Alexander Odoevsky wrote to the poem by Alexander Pushkin addressed to the anti-tsar Decembrists imprisoned in Siberia. The editorial line championed the battle for political freedom as well as the cause of socialist revolution.[1] The paper also ran a number of notable polemics against "economists", who argued against political struggle in favour of pure trade-union activity for the worker's economic interests, as well as the Socialist Revolutionaries, who advocated terror tactics.[7]

As outlined by Lenin in What Is To Be Done?Iskra took the place of a central project to cohere the RSDLP nationally.[1]


Initial staff members:


Some of the staff were later involved in the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917.

Blumenfeld did the printing. Leo Deutsch was the administrator of Iskra, but did not share in the editorial work.[8]

One of the people who financed the paper was Savva Morozov. 


Draft of a Declaration of the Editorial Board of Iskra[2] and Zarya[3] 

 Written: Written in the spring of 1900 

Published: First published in 1925 in Lenin Miscellany IV. Published according to a manuscript copied by an unknown hand. 
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 4, pages 320-330
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters 
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source. •

In undertaking the publication of two Social-Democratic organs—a scientific and political magazine and an all-Russian working-class newspaper—we consider it necessary to say a few words concerning our programme, the objects for which we are striving, and the understanding we have of our tasks.
We are passing through an extremely important period in the history of the Russian working-class movement and Russian Social-Democracy. All evidence goes to show that our movement has reached a critical stage. It has spread so widely and has brought forth so many strong shoots in the most diverse parts of Russia that it is now striving with unrestrained vigour to consolidate itself, assume a higher form, and develop a definite shape and organisation. Indeed, the past few years have been marked by an astonishingly rapid spread of Social-Democratic ideas among our intelligentsia; and meeting this trend in social ideas is the spontaneous, completely independent movement of the industrial proletariat, which is beginning to unite and struggle against its oppressors and is manifesting an eager striving for socialism. Study circles of workers and Social-Democratic intellectuals are springing up everywhere, local agitation leaflets are beginning to appear, the demand for Social- Democratic literature is increasing and is far outstripping the supply, and intensified government persecution is powerless to restrain the movement.
The principal feature of our movement, which has be come particularly marked in recent times, is its state of disunity and its amateur character, if one may so express it. Local study circles spring up and function in almost complete isolation from circles in other districts and—what is particularly important—from circles that have functioned and now function simultaneously in the same districts. Traditions are not established and continuity is not maintained; local publications fully reflect this disunity and the lack of contact with what Russian Social-Democracy has already achieved. The present period, therefore, seems to us to be critical precisely for the reason that the movement is outgrowing this amateur stage and this disunity, is insistently demanding a transition to a higher, more united, better and more organised form, which we consider it our duty to promote. It goes without saying that at a certain stage of the movement, at its inception, this disunity is entirely inevitable; the absence of continuity is natural in view of the astonishingly rapid and universal growth of the movement after a long period of revolutionary calm. Undoubtedly, too, there will always be diversity in local conditions; there will always be differences in the conditions of the working class in one district as compared with those in another; and, lastly, there will always be the particular aspect in the points of view among the active local workers; this very diversity is evidence of the virility of the movement and of its sound growth. All this is true; yet disunity and lack of organisation are not a necessary consequence of this diversity. The maintenance of continuity and the unity of the movement do not by any means exclude diversity, but,   on the contrary, create for it a much broader arena and a freer field of action. In the present period of the movement, however, disunity is beginning to show a definitely harmful effect and is threatening to divert the movement to a false path: narrow practicalism, detached from the theoretical clarification of the movement as a whole, may destroy the contact between socialism and the revolutionary movement in Russia, on the one hand, and the spontaneous working-class movement, on the other. That this danger is not merely imaginary is proved by such literary productions as the Credo—which has already called forth legitimate protest and condemnation—and the Separate Supplement to “Rabochaya Mysl” (September 1899). That supplement has brought out most markedly, the trend that permeates the whole of Rabochaya Mysl; in it a particular trend in Russian Social-Democracy has begun to manifest itself, a trend that may cause real harm and that must be combated. And the Russian legal publications, with their parody of Marxism capable only of corrupting public consciousness, still further intensify the confusion and anarchy which have enabled the celebrated Bernstein (celebrated for his bankruptcy) to publish before the whole world the untruth that the majority of the Social-Democrats active in Russia support him.
It is still premature to judge how deep the cleavage is, and how far the formation of a special trend is probable (at the moment we are not in the least inclined to answer these questions in the affirmative and we have not yet lost hope of our being able to work together), but it would be more harmful to close our eyes to the gravity of the situation than to exaggerate the cleavage, and we heartily welcome the resumption of literary activity on the part of the Emancipation of Labour group, and the struggle it has begun against the attempts to distort and vulgarise Social-Democracy.[4]
The following practical conclusion is to be drawn from the foregoing: we Russian Social-Democrats must unite and direct all our efforts towards the formation of a single, strong party, which must struggle under the banner of a revolutionary Social-Democratic programme, which must maintain the continuity of the movement and systematically support its organisation. This conclusion is not   a new one. The Russian Social-Democrats reached it two years ago when the representatives of the largest Social-Democratic organisations in Russia gathered at a congress in the spring of 1898, formed the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, published the Manifesto of the Party, and recognised Rabochaya Gazeta as the official Party organ. Regarding ourselves as members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, we agree entirely with the fundamental ideas contained in the Manifesto and attach extreme importance to it as the open and public declaration of the aims towards which our Party should strive. Consequently, we, as members of the Party, present the question of our immediate and direct tasks as follows: What plan of activity must we adopt to revive the Party on the firmest possible basis? Some comrades (even some groups and organisations) are of the opinion that in order to achieve this we must resume the practice of electing the central Party body and instruct it to resume the publication of the Party organ.[5] We consider such a plan to be a false one or, at all events, a hazardous one. To establish and consolidate the Party means to establish and consolidate unity among all Russian Social-Democrats; such unity cannot be decreed, it cannot be brought about by a decision, say, of a meeting of representatives; it must be worked for. In the first place, it is necessary to develop a common Party literature—common, not only in the sense that it must serve the whole of the Russian movement rather than separate districts, that it must discuss the questions of the movement as a whole and assist the class-conscious proletarians in their struggle instead of dealing merely with local questions, but common also in the sense that it must unite all the available literary forces, that it must express all shades of opinion and views prevailing among Russian Social-Democrats, not as isolated workers, but as comrades united in the ranks of a single organisation by a common programme and a common struggle. Secondly, we must work to achieve an organisation especially for the purpose of establishing and maintaining contact among all the centres of the movement, of supplying complete and timely information about the movement, and of delivering our newspapers and periodicals regularly to all parts of Russia. Only when such an organisation has been founded,   only when a Russian socialist post has been established, will the Party possess a sound foundation, only then will it be come a real fact and, therefore, a mighty political force. We intend to devote our efforts to the first half of this task, i.e., to creating a common literature, since we regard this as the pressing demand of the movement today, and a necessary preliminary measure towards the resumption of Party activity.
The character of our task naturally determines the programme for conducting our publications. They must devote considerable space to theoretical questions, i.e., to the general theory of Social-Democracy and its application to Russian conditions. The urgent need to promote a wide discussion of these questions at the present time in particular is beyond all doubt and requires no further explanation after what has been said above. It goes without saying that questions of general theory are inseparably connected with the need to supply information about the history and the present state of the working-class movement in the West. Furthermore, we propose systematically to discuss all political questions—the Social-Democratic Labour Party must respond to all questions that arise in all spheres of our daily life, to all questions of home and foreign politics, and we must see to it that every Social-Democrat and every class-conscious worker has definite views on all important questions. Unless this condition is fulfilled, it will be impossible to carry on wide and systematic propaganda and agitation. The discussion of questions of theory and policy will be connected with the drafting of a Party programme, the necessity for which was recognised at the congress in 1898. In the near future we intend to publish a draft programme; a comprehensive discussion of it should provide sufficient material for the forthcoming congress that will have to adopt a programme.[6] A further vital task, in our opinion, is the discussion of questions of organisation and practical methods of conducting our work. The lack of continuity and the disunity, to which reference has been made above, have a particularly harmful effect upon the present state of Party discipline, organisation, and the technique of secrecy. It must be publicly and frankly owned that in this respect we Social-Democrats   lag behind the old workers in the Russian revolutionary movement and behind other organisations functioning in Russia, and we must exert all our efforts to come abreast of the tasks. The attraction of large numbers of working-class and intellectual young people to the movement, the increasing failures and the cunningness of governmental persecution make the propaganda of the principles and methods of Party organisation, discipline, and the technique of secrecy an urgent necessity.
Such propaganda, if supported by all the various groups and by all the more experienced comrades, can and must result in the training of young socialists and workers as able leaders of the revolutionary movement, capable of over coming all obstacles placed in the way of our work by the tyranny of the autocratic police state and capable of serving all the requirements of the working masses, who are spontaneously striving towards socialism and political struggle. Finally, one of the principal tasks arising out of the above-mentioned issues must be the analysis of this spontaneous movement (among the working masses, as well as among our intelligentsia). We must try to understand the social movement of the intelligentsia which marked the late nineties in Russia and combined various, and sometimes conflicting, tendencies. We must carefully study the conditions of the working class in all spheres of economic life, study the forms and conditions of the workers’ awakening, and of the struggles now setting in, in order that we may unite the Russian working-class movement and Marxist socialism, which has already begun to take root in Russian soil, into one integral whole, in order that we may combine the Russian revolutionary movement with the spontaneous upsurge of the masses of the people. Only when this contact has been established can a Social-Democratic working-class party be formed in Russia; for Social-Democracy does not exist merely to serve the spontaneous working-class movement (as some of our present-day “practical workers” are sometimes inclined to think), but to combine socialism with the working-class movement. And it is only this combination that will enable the Russian proletariat to fulfil its immediate political task—to liberate Russia from the tyranny of the autocracy.
The distribution of these themes and questions between the magazine and the newspaper will be determined exclusively by differences in the size and character of the two publications—the magazine should serve mainly for propaganda, the newspaper mainly for agitation. But all aspects of the movement should be reflected in both the magazine and the newspaper, and we wish particularly to emphasise our opposition to the view that a workers’ newspaper should devote its pages exclusively to matters that immediately and directly concern the spontaneous working-class movement, and leave everything pertaining to the theory of socialism, science, politics, questions of Party organisation, etc., to a periodical for the intelligentsia. On the contrary, it is necessary to combine all the concrete facts and manifestations of the working-class movement with the indicated questions; the light of theory must be cast upon every separate fact; propaganda on questions of politics and Party organisation must be carried on among the broad masses of the working class; and these questions must be dealt with in the work of agitation. The type of agitation which has hitherto prevailed almost without exception—agitation by means of locally published leaflets—is now inadequate; it is narrow, it deals only with local and mainly economic questions. We must try to create a higher form of agitation by means of the newspaper, which must contain a regular record of workers’ grievances, workers’ strikes, and other forms of proletarian struggle, as well as all manifestations of political tyranny in the whole of Russia; which must draw definite conclusions from each of these manifestations in accordance with the ultimate aim of socialism and the political tasks of the Russian proletariat. “Extend the bounds and broaden the content of our propagandist, agitational, and organisational activity”—this statement by P. B. Axelrod must serve as a slogan defining the activities of Russian Social-Democrats in the immediate future, and we adopt this slogan in the programme of our publications.
Here the question naturally arises: if the proposed publications are to serve the purpose of uniting all Russian Social-Democrats and mustering them into a single party, they must reflect all shades of opinion, all local specific features, and all the various practical methods. How can   we combine the varying points of view with the maintenance of a uniform editorial policy for these publications? Should these publications be merely a jumble of various views, or should they have an independent and quite definite tendency?
We hold to the second view and hope that an organ having a definite tendency will prove quite suitable (as we shall show below), both for the purpose of expressing various viewpoints; and for comradely polemics between contributors. Our views are in complete accord with the fundamental ideas of Marxism (as expressed in the Communist Manifesto, and in the programmes of Social-Democrats in Western Europe); we stand for the consistent development of these ideas in the spirit of Marx and Engels and emphatically reject the equivocating and opportunist corrections à la Bernstein which have now become so fashionable. As we see it, the task of Social-Democracy is to organise the class struggle of the proletariat, to promote that struggle, to point out its essential ultimate aim, and to analyse the conditions that determine the methods by which this struggle should be conduct ed. “The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves.”[7] But while we do not separate Social-Democracy from the working-class movement, we must not forget that the task of the former is to represent the interests of this movement in all countries as a whole, that it must not blindly worship any particular phase of the movement at any particular time or place. We think that it is the duty of Social-Democracy to support every revolutionary movement against the existing political and social system, and we regard its aim to be the conquest of political power by the working class, the expropriation of the expropriators, and the establishment of a socialist society. We strongly repudiate every attempt to weaken or tone down the revolutionary character of Social Democracy, which is the party of social revolution, ruthlessly hostile to all classes standing for the present social system. We believe the historical task of Russian Social Democracy is, in particular, to overthrow the autocracy: Russian Social-Democracy is destined to become the vanguard fighter in the ranks of Russian democracy; it is destined to achieve the aim which the whole social development   of Russia sets before it and which it has inherited from the glorious fighters in the Russian revolutionary movement. Only by inseparably connecting the economic and political struggles, only by spreading political propaganda and agitation among wider and wider strata of the working class, can Social-Democracy fulfil its mission.
From this point of view (outlined here only in its general features, since it has been dealt with in greater detail and more thoroughly substantiated on many occasions by the Emancipation of Labour group, in the Manifesto of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and in the “commentary” to the latter—the pamphlet, The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats[1] –and in The Working-Class Cause in Russia [a basis of the programme of Russian Social Democracy]), we shall deal with all theoretical and practical questions; and we shall try to connect all manifestations of the working-class movement and of democratic protest in Russia with these ideas.
Although we carry out our literary work from the stand point of a definite tendency, we do not in the least intend to present all our views on partial questions as those of all Russian Social-Democrats; we do not deny that differences exist, nor shall we attempt to conceal or obliterate them. On the contrary, we desire our publications to become organs for the discussion of all questions by all Russian Social-Democrats of the most diverse shades of opinion. We do not reject polemics between comrades, but, on the contrary, are prepared to give them considerable space in our columns. Open polemics, conducted in full view of all Russian Social-Democrats and class-conscious workers, are necessary and desirable in order to clarify the depth of existing differences, in order to afford discussion of disputed questions from all angles, in order to combat the extremes into which representatives of various views, various localities, or various “specialities” of the revolutionary movement inevitably fall. Indeed, we regard one of the drawbacks of the present-day movement to be the absence of open polemics between avowedly differing views, the effort to conceal differences on fundamental questions.
Moreover, while recognising the Russian working class and Russian Social-Democracy as the vanguard in the struggle for democracy and for political liberty, we think it necessary to strive to make our publications general-democratic organs, not in the sense that we would for a single moment agree to forget the class antagonism between the proletariat and other classes, nor in the sense that we would consent to the slightest toning-down of the class struggle, but in the sense that we would bring forward and discuss all democratic questions, not confining ourselves merely to narrowly proletarian questions; in the sense that we would bring forward and discuss all instances and manifestations of political oppression, show the connection between the working-class movement and the political struggle in all its forms, attract all honest fighters against the autocracy, regardless of their views or the class they belong to, and induce them to support the working class as the only revolutionary force irrevocably hostile to absolutism. Consequently, although we appeal primarily to the Russian socialists and class-conscious workers, we do not appeal to them alone. We also call upon all who are oppressed by the present political system in Russia, on all who strive for the emancipation of the Russian people from their political slavery to support the publications which will be devoted to organising the working-class movement into a revolutionary political party; we place the columns of our publications at their disposal in order that they may expose all the abominations and crimes of the Russian autocracy. We make this appeal in the conviction that the banner of the political struggle raised by Russian Social-Democracy can and will become the banner of the whole people.
The tasks we set ourselves are extremely broad and all-embracing, and we would not have dared to take them up, were we not absolutely convinced from the whole of our past experience that these are the most urgent tasks of the whole movement, were we not assured of the sympathy and of promises of generous and constant support on the part of: 1. several organisations of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and of separate groups of Russian Social-Democrats working in various towns; 2. the Emancipation of Labour group, which founded Russian Social-Democracy   and has always been in the lead of its theoreticians and literary representatives; 3. a number of persons who are unaffiliated with any organisation, but who sympathise with the Social-Democratic working-class movement, and have proved of no little service to it. We will exert every effort to carry out properly the part of the general revolutionary work which we have selected, and will do our best to bring every Russian comrade to regard our publications as his own, to which all groups would communicate every kind of information concerning the movement, in which they would express their views, indicate their needs for political literature, relate their experiences, and voice their opinions concerning Social-Democratic editions; in a word, the medium through which they would thereby share whatever contribution they make to the movement and whatever they draw from it. Only in this way will it be possible to establish a genuinely all-Russian Social-Democratic organ. Russian Social-Democracy is already finding itself constricted in the underground conditions in which the various groups and isolated study circles carry on their work. It is time to come out on the road of open advocacy of socialism, on the road of open political struggle. The establishment of an all-Russian organ of Social-Democracy must be the first step on this road.

[1] See present edition, Vol. 2, p. 323.—Ed.
[2] Iskra (The Spark) was the first all-Russian Illegal Marxist newspaper; it was founded by Lenin in 1900 and it played an important role in building the Marxist revolutionary party of the working class in Russia.
It was impossible to publish the revolutionary newspaper in Russia on account of police persecution, and, while still in exile in Siberia, Lenin evolved a plan for its publication abroad. When his exile ended (January 1900) Lenin immediately set about putting his plan into effect. In February, in St. Petersburg, he negotiated with Vera Zasulich (who had come from abroad illegally) on the participation of the Emancipation of Labour group in the publication of the newspaper. At the end of March and the beginning of April a conference was held—known as the Pskov Conference—with V. I. Lenin, L. Martov (Y. 0. Zederbaum), A. N. Potresov, S. I. Radchenko, and the ’legal Marxists” P. B. Struve and M. I. Tugan-Baranovsky participating, which discussed the draft declaration, drawn up by Lenin, of the Editorial Board of the all-Russian newspaper (Iskra) and the scientific and political   magazine (Zarya) on the programme and the aims of these publications. During the first half of 1900 Lenin travelled in a number of Russian cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga, Smolensk, Nizhni Novgorod, Ufa, Samara, Syzran) and established contact with Social-Democratic groups and individual Social-Democrats, obtaining their support for Iskra. In August 1900, when Lenin arrived in Switzerland, be and Potresov conferred with the Emancipation of Labour group on the programme and the aims of the newspaper and the magazine, on possible contributors, and on the editorial board and its location. The conference almost ended in failure (see pp. 333-49 of this volume), but an agreement was finally reached on all disputed questions.
The first issue of Lenin’s Iskra was published in Leipzig in December 1900; the ensuing issues were published in Munich; from July 1902 the paper was published in London, and from the spring of 1903 in Geneva. Considerable help in getting the newspaper going (the organisation of secret printing-presses, the acquisition of Russian type, etc.) was afforded by the German Social-Democrats Clara Zetkin, Adolf Braun, and others; by Julian Marchlewski, a Polish revolutionary residing in Munich at that time; and by Harry Quelch, one of the leaders of the English Social-Democratic Federation.
The Editorial Board of Iskra consisted of: V. I. Lenin, G. V. Plekhanov, L. Martov, P. B. Axelrod, A. N. Potresov, and V. I. Zasulich. The first secretary of the board was I. G. Smidovich-Leman; the post was then taken over, from the spring of 1901 by N.K. Krupskaya, who also conducted the correspondence between Iskra and the Russian Social-Democratic organisations. Lenin was in actuality editor-in-chief and the leading figure in Iskra, in which he published his articles on all basic questions of Party organisation and the class struggle of the proletariat in Russia, as well as on the most important events in world affairs.
Iskra became the centre for the unification of Party forces, for the gathering and training of Party workers. In a number of Russian cities (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Samara, and others) groups and committees of the R.S.D.L.P. were organised on Leninist Iskra lines and a conference of Iskra supporters held in Samara in January 1902 founded the Russian Iskra organisation. Iskra organisations grew up and worked under the direct leadership of Lenin’s disciples and comrades-in-arms: N. E. Bauman, I. V. Babushkin, S. I. Gusev, M. I. Kalinin, P. A. Krasikov, G. M. Krzhizhanovsky, F. V. Lengnik, P. N. Lepeshinsky, I. I. Radchenko, and others.
On the initiative and with the direct participation of Lenin, the Iskra Editorial Board drew up a draft programme of the Party (published in No. 21 of Iskra) and prepared the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., held in July and August 1903. By the time the Congress was convened the majority of the local Social-Democratic organisations in Russia had adopted the Iskra position, approved its programme, organisational plan, and tactical line, and recognised the newspaper as their leading organ. A special   resolution of the Congress noted Iskra’s exceptional role in the struggle to build the Party and adopted the newspaper as the central organ of the R.S.D.L.P. The Congress approved an editorial board consisting of Lenin, Plekhanov, and Martov. Despite the Congress decision, Martov refused to participate, and Nos. 46-51 of Iskra were edited by Lenin and Plekhanov. Later Plekhanov went over to the Menshevik position and demanded that all the old Menshevik editors be included in the Editorial Board of Iskra, although they had been rejected by the Congress. Lenin could not agree to this and on October 19 (November 1), 1903, he resigned from the Iskra Editorial Board. He was co-opted to the Central Committee, from where he conducted a struggle against the Menshevik opportunists. Issue No. 52 of Iskra was edited by Plekhanov alone. On November 13 (26), 1903, Plekhanov, on his own initiative and in violation of the will of the Congress, co-opted all the old Menshevik editors to the Editorial Board. Beginning with issue No. 52, the Mensheviks turned Iskra into their own organ.
[3] Zarya (Dawn)—a Marxist scientific and political magazine published legally in Stuttgart in 1901-02 by the Iskra Editorial Board. Altogether four numbers (in three issues) appeared: No. 1—April 1901 (it actually appeared on March 23, New Style); No. 2-3—December 1901; and No. 4—August 1902.
[4] Lenin refers to the “Announcement on the Renewal of Publications of the Emancipation of Labour Group” published at the beginning of 1900 in Geneva, after the appearance of Lenin’s “A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats.” In their “Announcement” the Emancipation of Labour group supported Lenin’s appeal in the “Protest” for decisive struggle against opportunism in the ranks of Russian and international Social-Democracy.
[5] By groups and organisations Lenin means the Social-Democrats grouped round the newspaper Yashny Rabochy (Southern Worker), the Bond, and the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, the leadership of which had been transferred from the Emancipation of Labour group to the “young” supporters of “economism.” These organisations planned to call the Second Congress of the Party in Smolensk in the spring of 1900. The circumstances surrounding the preparation for the Congress are discussed in Chapter 5 of Lenin’s What Is to Be Done? (see present edition, Vol. 5).
[6] Lenin refers to “A Draft Programme of Our Party” which he wrote at the end of 1899 for No. 3 of Rabochaya Gazeta that never came to be published (see present volume, pp. 227-54). A draft programme of the Party was elaborated for the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., on Lenin’s suggestion, by the Editorial Board of Iskra and Zarya and was printed in Iskra, No 21, on June 1, 1902; it was adopted by the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in August 1903.
[7] Lenin quotes the basic postulate of the “General Rules of the International Working Men’s Association” (First International) drawn up by Karl Marx (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1956, p. 386.

Letter to Iskra

Published: First published in November 25, 1903 in Iskra, No. 53. Published according to the Iskra text. 
Source: Lenin Collected Works, publisher??, pubdate??, Moscow, Volume 7, pages 115-118
Translated: Fineberg Abraham 
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters 
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive ( © 2002 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Other Formats:    

The article “What Should Not Be Done” raises issues in our Party life tbat are so important, and at this partic ular juncture so urgent, that it is difficult to repress the desire to respond immediately to the editorial board’s kind and hospitable offer to throw open the columns of their paper; and it is all the more difficult for one who has been a constant contributor to Iskra, especially at a time when to delay voicing one’s opinion for a week may mean forfeiting the opportunity altogether.

And I would like to contribute my opinion in order to prevent certain possible, if not inevitable, misunderstand ings.

Let me say, first of all, that I think the author of the article is a thousand times right when he insists that it is essential to safeguard the unity of the Party and avoid new splits—especially over differences which cannot be con sidered important. To appeal for peaceableness, mildness, and readiness to make concessions is highly praiseworthy in a leader at all times, and at the present moment in par ticular. To anathemise or expel from the Party, not only former Economists,[2] but even little groups of Social-Democrats who suffer from “a certain inconsistency” would certainly be unreasonable, so unreasonable that we quite understand the irritable tone of the author of the article towards those whom he considers arbitrary, stiff-necked and stupid Sobakeviches[3] capable of advocating expul sion. We even go further: when we have a Party programme and a Party organisation, we must not only hospitably throw open the columns of the Party organ for exchanges of opinion, but must afford those groups—or grouplets, as the author calls them—which from inconsistency support some of the dogmas of revisionism, or for one reason or   another insist upon their separate and individual existence as groups, the opportunity of systematically setting forth their differences, however slight these may be. Precisely in order to avoid being too harsh and stiff-necked d la Sobakevich towards “anarchistic individualism”, it is necessary, in our opinion, to do the utmost—even if it involves a certain departure from tidy patterns of centralism and from absolute obedience to discipline—to enable these grouplets to speak out and give the whole Party the opportunity to weigh the importance or unimportance of these differences and determine just where, how and on whose part inconsistency is shown.

Indeed, it is high time to make a clean sweep of the tra ditions of circle sectarianism and—in a party which rests on the masses—resolutely advance the slogan: More light/—let the Party know everything, let it have all, abso lutely all the material required for a judgement of all and sundry differences, reversions to revisionism, departures from discipline, etc. More confidence in the independent judgement of the whole body of Party workers!—they, and they alone, will be able to curb the excessive hothead edness of grouplets inclined to splits, will be able, by their slow, imperceptible but persistent influence, to imbue them with the “good will” to observe Party discipline, will be able to cool the ardour of anarchistic individualism and, by the very fact of their indifference, document, prove and demonstrate the triviality of differences exaggerated Thy the elements tending towards a split.

To the question—"what should not be done?" (what should not be done in general, and what, in particular, should not be done so as to avoid a split), my reply is, first of all: do not conceal from the Party the appearance and growth of potential causes of a split, do not conceal any of the circumstances and events that constitute such causes; and, what is more, do not conceal them not only from the Party, but, as far as possible, from the outside public either. I say “as far as possible” having in mind the things that, in a secret organisation, must necessarily be concealed— hut in our splits things of this kind play next to no part. Broad publicity—that is the surest, the only reliable means of avoiding such splits as can be avoided, and of   reducing to a minimum the harm of splits that are no longer avoidable.

For indeed, just reflect on the obligations devolving on the Party from the fact that it is dealing now with the masses, not with mere circles. To be a party of the masses not only in name, wg must get ever wider masses to share in all Party affairs, steadily elevating them from political indifference to protest and struggle, from a general spirit of protest to the conscious adoption of Social-Democratic views, from the adoption of these views to support of the movement, from support to organised membership in the Party. Can we achieve this result without giving the widest publicity to matters on whose decision the nature of our influence on the masses will depend? The workers will cease to understand us and will desert us, as a general staff without an army, if splits take place in our ranks over trivial differences, says the author; and it is quite true. And in order that the workers may not cease to understand us, in order that their fighting experience and proletarian instinct may teach us“leaders” something too, the organised workers must learn to keep an eye on any potential causes of splits (in any mass party such causes have always arisen and will always recur), to properly evaluate these causes, to appraise what happens in some “backwater”, in Russia or abroad, from the standpoint of the interests of the entire Party, of the entire movement.

The author is thrice justified when he stresses that much will be given to our central bodies and much will be asked of them. Just so. And for that very reason the whole Party must constantly, steadily and systematically train suitable persons for the central bodies, must see clearly, as in the palm of its hand, all the activities of every candidate for these high posts, must come to know even their personal characteristics, their strong and weak points, their victo ries and “defeats”. The author makes some remarkably acute observations, evidently based on extensive experience, about some of the causes of such defeats. And just because these observations are so acute, it is necessary that the whole Party should benefit by them, that it should always see every “defeat”, even if partial, of one or other of its “leaders”. No political leader has a career that is without its   defeats, and if we are serious vhen we talk about influencing the masses, about winning their “good will”, we must strive with all our might not to let these defeats be hushed up in the musty atmosphere of circles and grouplets, but to have them submitted to the judgement of all. That may appear embarrassing at first sight, it may seem “offensive” sometimes to individual leaders—but we must overcome this false feeling of embarrassment, it is our duty to the Party and to the working class. In this way, and in this way alone, shall we enable the whole body of influential Party workers (and not the chance assortment of persons in a circle or grouplet) to know their leaders and to put each of them in his proper category. Only broad publicity will correct all bigoted, one-sided, capricious deviations, it alone will convert the at times absurd and ridiculous “squalls” between “grouplets” into useful and essential material for the self-education of the Party.

Light, more light! We need a vast orchestra; and we must acquire experience in order correctly to distribute the parts, in order to know to whom to assign the sentimen tal violin, to whom the gruff double-bass, to whom the con ductor’s haton. Let the columns of the Party organ and of all Party publications indeed be thrown open hospitably to all opinions, in keeping with the author’s admirable appeal; let all and sundry judge our “janglings and wran glings” over any “note” sounded too sharp, in the opinion of some, too flat, in the opinion of others, too raggedly, in the opinion of others still. Only through a series of such open discussions can we get a really harmonious ensemble of leaders; only given this condition will it he impossible for the workers to cease to understand us; only then will our “general staff” really be backed by the goodand con scious will of an army that follows and at the same time directs its general staff!



[1] This Letter to “Iskra” was written by Lenin in reply to Plekhanov’s article “What Should Not Be Done” in Iskra, No. 52 (November 7, 1903).

[2] Economism was the opportunist trend in Russian Social-Democracy at the turn of the century, a Russian variety of international oppor tunism; its organs were the newspaper Rabochaya Mysl (Worker’s Thought; 1897-1902), published in Russia, and the journal Ra bocheye Dyelo (Workers’ Cause; 1899-1902), published abroad.

The Economists restricted the tasks of the working-class move ment to the economic struggle for higher wages, better working conditions, etc., asserting that the political struggle was the busi ness of the liberal bourgeoisie, and denied the leading role of the workers’ party, which, they considered, should merely observe the spontaneous development of the movement and follow in its wake. In their glorifying of “spontaneity” they belittled the importance of revolutionary theory and consciousness, declaring that the social ist ideology could grow out of the spontaneous movement; and by thus denying the need to imbue the workers’ movement with socialist consciousness, they cleared the way for bourgeois ideology. They championed the scattered, isolated circles, with their parochi al amateurish approach, fostering disunity, confusion, and wavering in the Social-Democratic ranks and opposing the creation of a centralised working-class party. Economism threatened to divert the working class from the revolutionary, class path and re duce it to a political appendage of the bourgeoisie.

The Economists’ programme was set forth in the Credo, a mani festo drawn up in 1899 by Y. D. Kuskova. When this Credo reached Lenin, then in exile in Siberia, he replied with A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats—a trenchant criticism of the Economist ideas. This protest was discussed and unanimously adopted by a meeting of 17 Marxists serviiig terms of political exile, held in the village of Yermakovskoye, Minusinsk Region.

A major part in the fight against Economism was played by Lenin’s Iskra; and by his book What Is To Be Done?, published in March 1902, Lenin completed its ideological defeat.

[3] Sobakevich—the reference is to the notorious character in Gogol’s Dead Souls.

Reports Of New Antigay Purge In Chechnya Prompt Renewed Calls For Moscow's Accountability

LGBT activists allege that a new antigay purge in Chechnya has led to at least two deaths by torture and the detention of around 40 people.
The purge began in late December, according to the Russian LGBT Network, and appears to be the second wave of a sweeping crackdown that provoked international condemnation but little action within Russia when reports of it first surfaced in April 2017.
News of a renewed antigay campaign was first reported on January 11. The newspaper cited posts on Chechen-based social-media accounts warning of a renewed crackdown and urging members of the LGBT community to leave the southern Russian republic.

Russian LGBT Network head Igor Kochetkov said in a statement that men and women accused of homosexual acts are being detained by local law enforcement and held in Argun, north of the regional capital, Grozny. The police seize personal documents and threaten to press fabricated charges and prosecute those who attempt to flee, he said.

"The persecution of men and women suspected of homosexual relations in [Chechnya] has never stopped. What has changed is only its scale," Kochetkov said.

In comments to the RBK daily on January 11, a spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov called the claims by Novaya gazeta that day "falsehood and disinformation" and denied allegations that Chechnya hosts secret prisons for gays. Like other officials in the conservative Muslim-majority republic, Alvi Karimov has repeatedly claimed that no persecution of gays could have occurred in Chechnya because there are no gays there.

"You can't detain and oppress those who don't exist in the republic," Karimov told the Russian news agency Interfax in April 2017. "If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.

WATCH: Russian officials have shrugged off allegations of a purge targeting LGBT people in Chechnya, including those of Maksim Lapunov, the only gay man to publicly claim he was victimized in the crackdown. Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office official Valery Maksimenko in July claimed before a UN committee in Geneva that investigators found no evidence supporting Lapunov’s accusations, while Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov, speaking in May to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said officials couldn’t find any gay people in Chechnya. 

"We don't have any gays," the Chechen strongman told the U.S. television network in July 2017. "If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don't have them at home. To purify our blood."

Sasha Mironov, a friend of one man reported to have gone missing in the alleged recent roundup, told Current Time on January 14 that the man, identified only as Magomed, had traveled to his native Chechnya in early December and told friends he would return on December 15. None of them have seen Magomed since, Mironov said, adding that relatives in Chechnya confirmed that he had been detained.

Mironov said he suspects that Magomed's abductors used the man's phone to communicate with contacts in order to lure them to Chechnya, since the messages sent by Mironov after December 15 appeared odd.

"One person can be used to find several, and where there are several there are many more," Mironov said.

Natalia Prilutskaya of the rights group Amnesty International told Current Time -- the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA -- that Chechen authorities feel a sense of impunity since the previous crackdown in April 2017 never provoked condemnation from Moscow, which either tried to play down the rumors or obfuscate their nature.

It wasn't until May 5, 2017, that Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed reports of an antigay purge in Chechnya, telling the Kremlin’s human rights council that he would look into them. But reports of disappearances and extrajudicial killings continued; in September 2018, the Russian LGBT Network said that it helped evacuate 130 people from Chechnya, and all but 18 of them had left Russia, too.

"Until there's an adequate investigation into this situation," Prilutskaya said, "the persecution will continue."



Matthew Luxmoore
Matthew Luxmoore is a Moscow-based correspondent for RFE/RL.

Wikipedia Exposed Media - WEM


Paul Whelan: Ex-US marine alleges abuse in Russia spy case
24 May 2019
Sarah Rainsford@sarahrainsford
Paul Whelan statement in court - he calls this spy case a political kidnap, punishment for sanctions vs Russia


Paul Whelan

 A former US marine imprisoned in Russia on suspicion of spying has complained of "abuses and harassment" and says he is a "victim of political kidnap".
Mr Whelan - a citizen of the US, UK, Canada and Ireland - was arrested in late December, accused of espionage.
The 48-year-old denies the charges and told a court on Friday that he had been subjected to threats and abuse by a security service investigator.
The comments came as his pre-trial custody was extended until 29 August.
Mr Whelan told the court that there was "absolutely no legitimacy" to the case against him, describing it as retaliation for US sanctions.
If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Paul Whelan - innocent wedding guest or spy?

US man held in Russia is not spy, say family

He said he had not showered in two weeks, was unable to access medical or dental treatment and had been denied access to books and letters sent to him months ago.
The court hearing on Friday was held behind closed doors but visitors were permitted to attend the opening and the reading of the ruling.
An official at the US embassy in Moscow said Washington was extremely concerned by Mr Whelan's claims.
The comments marked a shift in tone from previous statements by the former marine, who told the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in February that he was "holding up well" after two months in custody but could not talk publicly about the charge against him for fear of making his situation worse.

In the courtroom
Sarah Rainsford, BBC News, Moscow

Paul Whelan is angry and he's no longer hiding it. Standing inside a metal cage in court the former US marine declared that his detention in Moscow and the charge of espionage was a political kidnap, with nothing legitimate about it.
Moments later he told the judge he wanted to complain about his interrogator from Russia's FSB security service, saying "his actions, abuse, harassment and the threats on my life are unprofessional and should not be tolerated". The judge ignored him.
These are by far the strongest comments Mr Whelan has ever made in his case. He's been held now for five months in an FSB prison, accused of receiving Russian state secrets on a flash drive from a friend. He denies the charge, saying he thought the drive contained photographs from a tourist trip.
Earlier he had said he wanted to make a statement to Donald Trump and to the US Congress, but his masked FSB guards told him he was forbidden to speak.
The US ambassador in Moscow has said no evidence has been presented in this case in five months and called on Russia to 'quit playing games'
The hearing itself is closed - as an espionage case - and labelled top secret.

Why was Paul Whelan arrested?

Mr Whelan arrived in Russia on 22 December to attend a wedding and had planned to visit St Petersburg in addition to Moscow before flying home on 6 January, his brother told the BBC.
He was arrested in Moscow on 28 December after taking a group of wedding guests on a tour of the Kremlin museums.
Russia's FSB state security agency said he was detained "during an act of espionage".
Mr Whelan's Russian lawyer has said the arrest was made after he was unwittingly handed a memory stick containing state secrets.
"I've been threatened. My personal safety has been threatened. There are abuses and harassment that I am constantly subjected to," he said.

Who is Paul Whelan?

Mr Whelan was born in Canada to British parents but moved to the US as a child. He is currently director of global security for Michigan-based automotive components supplier BorgWarner.
His brother has said Mr Whelan had been visiting Russia for business and pleasure since 2007.
Mr Whelan joined the Marine Reserves in 1994 and rose to the rank of staff sergeant in 2004. He served in Iraq for several months in 2004 and 2006.
Paul Whelan was convicted in a 2008 court martial on charges related to larceny and received a bad-conduct discharge. Details of the charges are not public.

David Whelan comments on his brother's arrest by Russian authorities

The UK: A country in cloud cuckoo land

Opinion » Columnists  

The Brexit vortex has seen a once-proud country tear itself apart pitting nation against nation, region against region and class against class

Most Members of Parliament, including Theresa May, backed the Remain campaign in 2016. Why did they not stick to their guns?

On the surface, according to the government of soon-not-to-be Prime Minister Theresa May, the United Kingdom has everything going for it - good employment figures (inside the European Union), a stable economy (inside the European Union), good Universities, a strong technological sector, an inventive workforce, competence, reliability. A collection of three countries (England, Scotland and Northern Ireland) a principate (Wales), and three Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey), brimming with good music, a healthy cultural scene, great ideas, a large internal population (66.5 million). Peoples with an admirable focus on the community and voluntary work, nations of animal lovers which gave the world cricket, fish and chips, James Bond and the British Gentleman.

Wow! So what went wrong? Islands are great places for myths to hide behind and for national stereotypes to be formed. The problem is when the myths are found out for what they are. The word Cricket in fact comes from the Dutch krick, meaning stick and fish and chips comes from the Portuguese pataniscas de bacalhau, meaning codfish patties fried in batter. Where is Britain without cricket and fish n' chips?

As for James Bond and the British Gentleman, let us try and find them in a crowd of soccer hooligans or among the uncivilized yobs having a burping contest sitting outside a pub downing pints of luke warm beer before the thing degenerates into a massive fight with glasses thrown, girls swearing, bags of excrement and plastic cups of urine being hurled. And if you want to see practically the same antics in a different venue, visit the House of Commons. Regarding the Prime Minister's view of booming Britain, speak to a few people outside the South-East and you will find a different story and a sorry picture.

Most Members of Parliament, including Theresa May, backed the Remain campaign in 2016. Why did they not stick to their guns?

Visit the United Kingdom during the daytime and you will find a civilized, pleasant country with an agreeable atmosphere, well-kept gardens with a flair for preserving the past in stately homes and castles. Visit the UK after six o'clock p.m. and the scene will degenerate into a real life version of a medieval Armageddon painting.

So in this Jekyll and Hyde scenario, for every Gentleman there is an antithesis, for every hero, a Nemesis. Hardly surprising when you start to go deeper and examine what is British society. A collection of peoples from Western Europe, basically, some of whom came from across the sea after others had walked across the land bridge which existed between East Anglia and Holland. They came from Belgium, they came from northern France, they came from Denmark, they came from Sweden, they came from Norway, they came from Germany. They came from Rome, they came from Normandy.

Most Members of Parliament, including Theresa May, backed the Remain campaign in 2016. Why did they not stick to their guns?

This is the British people, a mish-mash of peoples from the Continent (gasp) of Europe. Read the Venerable Bede and you will find confusing descriptions of the English (Germans) fighting the British (Britons), fighting the Scots from Ireland (where they originally came from) and attacks from Mona (the Isle of Man). You will find references to appeals forn Rome to send a legion to defeat these savages...and Europe, at the time, corresponded in kind. And this is exactly what we see today with Brexit. We see nation against nation (Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to Remain), we see region against region (Greater London, for instance, voted to Remain), we see socio-economic class against socio-economic class (the lying toffs leading the easily led poorer educated against those with knowledge and brains). And we see the British economic well-being being bailed out every year and sustained every year by the EU.

Given the current situation, the conclusion is shocking: nobody in the media and in the two main political parties in England (Conservative and Labour) and neither of the leaders (Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn) have been able, in this melee, to read the British people. They continue to say that the result of that fateful and ludicrous referendum in 2016 must be respected, when it is clear that most British people do not want to leave the European Union and when the original referendum was run on a campaign of sheer lies by the Leave movement.

Most Members of Parliament, including Theresa May, backed the Remain campaign in 2016. Why did they not stick to their guns?

What is worse is the fact that however bad Theresa May might have been as Prime Minister (a person who perhaps tried her best but who did not have the personal skills to do the job and who did not have the courage to own up and take the flak for the Windrush Scandal, allowing someone else to fall on their sword for her), something even worse can appear in the Tory Party's leadership contest.

Now is not the time to attack Theresa May because there is no joy in kicking someone when they are down and cannot defend themselves and seeing her in tears twice in public in the last days makes one question the ethics of the tabloid newspapers which were quick to gloat and jeer and the journalists who stuck the knife in with cruel headlines such as "Tearesa". Whatever her personal characteristics (more suited to the position of junior minister and probably excelling at this level), it is clear that she loves her country and that she did what she could in a difficult situation. Common decency would dictate that if a person is crying, whoever they are, it is time to leave them alone.

Most Members of Parliament, including Theresa May, backed the Remain campaign in 2016. Why did they not stick to their guns?

With Jeremy Corbyn unable to understand that the will of the British people is in Europe, where they came from originally, and that the Leave movement has run out of steam, belonging to the elderly and those who cannot understand simple economic principles, and with the Tory Party possibly getting ready to elect a hardline Brexiteer, the United Kingdom is in a very dark place, between the wall and a sword and frankly, in could cuckoo land. The solution is the Lib-Dems and the Greens, preferably the latter.

In the 1980s, the United Kingdom seemed to have been able to reinvent itself arising from the ashes of its imperial and colonial past, no longer deporting whole populations in secret and giving their islands to the bedmaster, the USA and seemingly happy to go with the rest of Europe and form an economic community. Half a century later, we are back to square one.

Most Members of Parliament, including Theresa May, backed the Remain campaign in 2016. Why did they not stick to their guns?

Today the United Kingdom needs to pull together, hold a second referendum this time based on the reality that leaving the EU would spell utter and total disaster by hemorrhaging jobs, destroying the fabric of employment for decades to come and destroying the future of the country's youth. A societal castrophe would follow an economic collapse. These are the facts and these are the reasons why most Members of Parliament, including Theresa May, backed the Remain campaign in 2016. Why did they not stick to their guns?

The definition of going against common sense is what? Living in cloud cuckoo land.


Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey- The author in 2018

Twitter: @TimothyBHinchey

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey works in the area of teaching, consultancy, coaching, translation, revision of texts, copy-writing and journalism. Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru since 2002, and now Co-Editor of the English version, he contributes regularly to several other publications in Portuguese and English. He has worked in the printed and online media, in daily, weekly, monthly and yearly magazines and newspapers. A firm believer in multilateralism as a political approach and multiculturalism as a means to bring people and peoples together, he is Official Media Partner of UN Women, fighting for gender equality and Media Partner with Humane Society International, promoting animal rights. His hobbies include sports, in which he takes a keen interest, traveling, networking to protect the rights of LGBTQI communities and victims of gender violence, and cataloging disappearing languages, cultures and traditions around the world. A keen cook, he enjoys trying out different cuisines and regards cooking and sharing as a means to understand cultures and bring people together.

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