Team 29: Bad Habits

posted 1 Jul 2019, 02:50 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 1 Jul 2019, 02:52 ]

28 June 2019


It’s Kolya Ovchinnikov.  I’ve been thinking a lot today about stability. Well, about how we’re all just not used to change.  No one wants to break their routine and do things differently, especially if you’re in a really comfortable situation.

What’s happening?

  • So, for example, since time immemorial, people at St Petersburg City Hall have been in the habit of concealing information about elections.  They make plans in secret, make decisions in secret, and they publish them – as the law requires, of course – in official gazettes which, for some reason, are nowhere to be found.  We’ve written a detailed piece about it.
  • Or let’s take Russian psychoneurological care homes.  They’re absolute hell on earth.  There are no words to describe what goes on in places like that (no nice ones, anyway).  People have been talking about reforming them for some time now, but nothing changes. People are tied to their beds, they’re barely treated, and they aren’t taken out for a walk. They are condemned to a terrible existence and a horrible death, and there are hundreds of thousands of them, all around the country.
  • But the Russian government still fears foreign journalists and experts.  The FSB has banned Johannes Rohr, a German expert on the indigenous people of the North, from entering Russia until 2069.  Allegedly, his work is a threat to national security, but they won’t say exactly how.  Our lawyers are representing Rohr in court.  Moscow City Court rejected his claim against the FSB.  So we’ll be contesting it.

What is there to listen to and read?

  • The scariest habit of all is resorting to violence as a means of getting information.  It was International Day in Support of Victims of Torture this week. In Russia, according to the latest survey by the Levada Centre, 10% of the country’s citizens have experienced torture at the hands of law enforcement.  Last year, we and the St Petersburg Public Monitoring Commission carried out two large projects about torture in the Federal Prison Service and FSB.
  • Today, in fact, Nastya Andreeva and Katya Arenina have recorded the latest podcast in the Little Terror series, about the case surrounding the terror attack on the St Petersburg Metro.  Eleven people ended up in the dock, and yet only one of them knew the person directly responsible for the attack.  Before being detained, three people were carted off the special ‘torture prisons’.  The podcast can be found on iTunes, Soundcloud, Android, VKontakte and Yandex.Music.

All these stories involve a habit, be it a lack of care, violence or hatred.  A habit like that is more harmful than smoking, and getting rid of it is very difficult to do, but one way is raising awareness.  We have said it lots and we’ll say it again: those who do dark deeds don’t like publicity.

You’ve read to the end – now send it to your friends!

Kolya and T29

Translated by Lindsay Munford