Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Russian Berets #5: The Luhansk 'People's Republic' Forbids Women to Enter Bars

The wise men of the "Luhansk People's Republic" shown at a public meeting where the concerns of mothers (and women in general) drinking in bars and other establishments was brought up.

Their answer to this question was simple: mothers need to stay home and take care of their children and not go out drinking!

This harsh stance was also taken up with harsh punishments including arresting any woman found on site of a bar. Harsh words too: "rape them all to hell."

Monday, May 30, 2022

Russian Berets #4: Women of St. Petersburg

As the women protest Putin's invasion of Ukraine, reactions are varied from passersby: some stop to whisper their gratitude, others castigate them as traitors. St Petersburg’s anti-war protesters want to send a message to those ‘who are still silent’.

A prominent role in this video is for boinera Yelena Osipova (see previous posts here and here). 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Vytautas Landsbergis

Vytautas Landsbergis (1932) is a Lithuanian politician and former Member of the European Parliament. He was the first Head of Parliament of Lithuania after its independence declaration from the Soviet Union.

He has written 20 books on a variety of topics, including a biography of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, as well as works on politics and music. He is a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, and a member of the international advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

In January 2005, Landsbergis, backed by Member of the European Parliament from Hungary Jozsef Szajer, urged that Communist symbols be banned in the European Union, in addition to Nazi symbols.

The First Vicespeaker of the Russian State Duma called the proposal "abnormal", a Russian Communist MP commented that "somebody in Europe became insolent and forgot who saved them from the fascists".

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Russian Berets #3: Kadyrovtsy

Some of the worst thugs fighting for Russia in Ukraine are the Chechens who form the ‘Kadyrovites’ or ‘Kadyrovtsy’, a paramilitary organization in Chechnya, that serves as the private army of “president” Ramzan Kadyrov (not to be confused with the pro-Ukraine Chechen fighters of the Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion and the Sheikh Mansur Battalion).

The Kadyrovites have been accused of committing widespread human rights abuses such as kidnapping, forced disappearances, torture and murder. Kadyrovites use extrajudicial punishment to cement Kadyrov's autocratic rule, and now surpass jihadist insurgents as the most feared organization among Chechnya's civilian population.

Under Kadyrov's orders, the Kadyrovites commited the Anti-gay purges in Chechnya, including operating concentration camps for gay men. The Kadyrovites have also been involved in the Syrian Civil War in 2017.

Kadyrov’s troops have been used as barrier troops, to address low morale by executing Russian deserters. There are reports that Chechen troops were executing Russian troops who were too injured in field hospitals.

Chechen troops were also accused of perpetrating the Bucha massacre by intentionally targeting civilians.

Kadyrov was widely mocked online as a "TikTok warrior" after a picture meant to show him traveling in Ukraine showed him praying at a gas station whose brand only exists in Russia.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Russian Berets #2: The Sparta Battalion

The Sparta Battalion is a Russian separatist military unit of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine. It has been fighting against the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbas War and the 2022 Russian invasion.

Vladimir Zhoga

Formed in 2014, it was initially led by the Russian-born Arsen Pavlov (nicknamed “Motorola”) until his death in October 2016, and then by Vladimir Zhoga from Sloviansk, until his death in March 2022.

Arsen Pavlov (“Motorola”)

The Sparta Battalion has "a reputation for ruthlessness". It has been accused of war crimes in Donbas. In February 2015, Ukrainian SSU started an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed in January 2015 by the Battalion and its leader Arsen Pavlov, with charges including murder, bullying, torture and forcing people into slave labor.

The battalion flies the black-yellow-white flag of the Russian Empire and, according to the European Eye on Radicalization, the unit "uses a combination of symbols of the Spartan military culture, well-known drivers of the far-right, and from the Tsarist era".

Its flag includes a letter M. According to a fighter interviewed by The Independent, this is "because it is dedicated to Motorola, our commander... a DPR hero".

Putin and Zhoga on 9 May 2022

Some observers had noted how the stylized red "M" looks identical to the logo of the Sparta Rangers, a fictional faction of elite soldiers from the Metro franchise, a series of books by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky and videogames by Ukrainian developer 4A Games.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Russian Berets #1: Russian National Unity

The "denazification" campaign / "Special Military Operation" / Invasion of Ukraine by Russia is much supported by neonazi and other fascist organizations and militia in Russia. The mysterious ways of Putin's thinking...

Sadly many of these nationalist groups have adopted the (French!) beret as their headgear of choice, spiced up with badges that carry a strong resemblance to Nazi symbols like the swastika and SS symbols.

Once such group is 'Russian National Unity' or 'All-Russian Civic Patriotic Movement', an unregistered neo-Nazi and irredentist group. 

The movement advocated the expulsion of non-Russians and an increased role for the Russian Orthodox Church. It collaborated on a limited basis with the Federal Security Service. The group was banned in Moscow in 1999 after which the group gradually split up in smaller groups and their webpage became defunct in 2006.

More on their beret-wearing offspring to follow...

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

David Teniers the Younger

David Teniers the Younger or David Teniers II (1610 – 1690) was a Flemish Baroque painter, printmaker, draughtsman, miniaturist painter, staffage painter, copyist, and art curator.

He was an extremely versatile artist known for his prolific output. He was an innovator in a wide range of genres such as history painting, genre painting, landscape painting, portrait and still life. He is now best remembered as the leading Flemish genre painter of his day.

Teniers is particularly known for developing the peasant genre, the tavern scene, pictures of collections and scenes with alchemists and physicians.

He was court painter and the curator of the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, the art-loving Governor General of the Habsburg Netherlands. He was the founder of the Antwerp Academy, where young artists were trained to draw and sculpt in the hope of reviving Flemish art after its decline following the death of the leading Flemish artists Rubens and Anthony van Dyck in the early 1640s.

And most interesting, his paintings show how prominent the beret featured in 17th century Flanders.

Thank you, Miriam

Tuesday, May 24, 2022


This photo of unknown date shows a boinero from Kiselyovka, a deserted village in the Gorodok district of the Vitebsk region of Belarus.

It was located 3 versts northeast of the modern village of Gurkion on the Dubovka River.

The village is marked on a map of the mid-19th century; in the list of populated places of the Vitebsk province of 1906, on the maps of the Red Army of the 1930s and a topographic map of the early 1980s. Other than that, no information found.

The Accordeonist

A Xmas present that finally saw it's completion (thank you, Megan). There are many, many small pieces of wood in this accordeonist. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Curtis Sliwa (1954) is an American activist, radio talk show host and founder and chief executive officer of the Guardian Angels, a nonprofit organization for unarmed crime prevention.

Sliwa was the Republican nominee for the 2021 New York City mayoral election, which he lost to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

In May 1977, Sliwa created the "Magnificent 13", a group dedicated to combating violence and crime on the New York City Subway, when NYC was experiencing a crime wave. The Magnificent 13 grew and was renamed the Guardian Angels in 1979.

In December 2019, Sliwa declared in an interview that he hated then Republican President of the United States Donald Trump, calling him a "screwball and a crackpot".

Sunday, May 22, 2022

(Limited) SPECIAL of the Week: CROWS!

(Limited) SPECIAL of the week: The Billy Childish Crow Berets!

The Billy Childish Crow berets are among the Best of the Best; berets that have come to life in a collaboration between Billy Childish, the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop, Flamingo Berets from Japan and Boneteria Aotearoa.

All Crow berets are handmade of the finest and softest Australian Merino wool, offering superb insulation and comfort.
The berets are naturally dyed with the blessed groundwater of Mount Aso; slow dried in sunlight and the whole manufacturing process integrated in one company, overlooking Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan.

Every Crow beret comes with a heavy weight autographed 15 x 21cm card of a Billy Childish Crow woodcut print.
This week only in a limited number at a $32.50 discount!

Ragıp Zarakolu

Ragıp Zarakolu (1948) is a Turkish human rights activist and publisher who has long faced legal harassment for publishing books on controversial subjects in Turkey, especially on minority and human rights in Turkey.

Under the military junta Ragıp Zarakolu was tried on charges of secret relations to Amnesty International and spent five months in prison, before the charges were dropped. In 1972 Ragıp Zarakolu was sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment for his article in the journal Ant (Pledge) on Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnam War. On his release Zarakolu refused to abandon his campaign for freedom of thought, striving for an "attitude of respect for different thoughts and cultures to become widespread in Turkey".

The Belge Publishing House, established in Istanbul in 1977 by Zarakolu and his wife Ayşenur, has been a focus for Turkish censorship laws ever since. Charges brought against the couple resulted in imprisonment for both Ayşenur and Ragıp Zarakolu, the wholesale confiscation and destruction of books and the imposition of heavy fines.

In 1995 the Belge Publishing House offices were firebombed by a far right group, forcing it to be housed in a cellar.

In May 2017 the Belge Publishing House was raided by police who said they had orders to seize all copies of the book Stateless Kurds and Decisions Tougher than Death. Police also seized hundreds of books published in the 1980s and 1990s, despite having no orders to do so.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Burgundy vs Blue in Ukraine

In 2015 Ukrainian soldiers of the airborne troops criticized the change of their blue beret to burgundy. 

Their barracks had no heating, leaky windows and leaking roofs and soldiers scratched their heads wondering why the change of colour was the most important issue for the MoD.

Fact is that blue berets had been the standard for airborne forces during the Soviet times, but that is not a reason to "dekommunizirovat" (de-communistisize) the tradition and character of the troops — said one participant of the survey. 

The decision to change the colour was made by the MoD of Ukraine as blue is used by only 9 countries' airborne forces and burgundy by 59...

Friday, May 20, 2022

Adalet Ağaoğlu

Adalet Ağaoğlu (née Sümer; 1929 –2020) was a Turkish novelist and playwright, considered one of the foremost novelists of 20th-century Turkish literature. She also wrote essays, memoirs, and short stories.

As an author, playwright, and human rights activist, she became one of the most famous novelists of Turkey. Once considered to be one of the most important living authors in Turkey and a revered intellectual, her tightly constructed prose is a balance between a realistic milieu of Turkey, which she knows first-hand, and the broader, more humanistic elements of social pressure and gender prejudice.

In an unfamiliar urban world, her fictional newcomers to modernity struggle with age-old issues complicated by perplexing political, religious, economic and social forces.

For her perception of subtle and overt changes in modern Turkish society and her writing entitled "Modernism and Social Change", Ağaoğlu received the "Turkish Presidency Merit Award" in 1995. In 1998, Ağaoğlu received a "Honorary Ph.D." from Anadolu University and a "Ph.D. of Humane Letters" from the Ohio State University.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Jan Josef Kohl

Jan Josef Kohl was born in 1928 on a farm in Suchý Důl (Czechoslovakia) as the fourth out of eight children. After the war, he studied at a trade academy. At that time, he also took part in spiritual training, which was a decisive experience for his later life. 

After graduation, he asked the abbot of the Břevnov Monastery, to be accepted into the Benedictine order. In September 1949, he witnessed the abbot's arrest. In April 1950, he was interned in the Hejnice Monastery during Action K, aimed at the elimination of male monastic orders. In the following three and a half years, he was sent to the Auxiliary Technical Battalions to work on construction sites and mines. After his return, he had trouble finding employment. He worked mainly as an assistant labourer and metal machinist. In 1968, he began studying in the faculty of theology and in 1973, he was ordained a priest. Due to his affiliation with the order, however, he was not given the state approval necessary for performing the priest's vocation. Thanks to fortunate circumstances, he received the permission two years later and he continued working as a chaplain. In 1990, he returned to the Břevnov Monastery.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Simone Weil

Simone Adolphine Weil (1909 –1943) was a French philosopher, mystic, and political activist. Albert Camus described her as "the only great spirit of our times".

After her graduation from formal education, Weil became a teacher. She taught intermittently throughout the 1930s, taking several breaks due to poor health and to devote herself to political activism. Such work saw her assisting in the trade union movement, taking the side of the anarchists known as the Durruti Column in the Spanish Civil War, and spending more than a year working as a labourer, mostly in car factories, so she could better understand the working class.

Resistance Identity Card

Taking a path that was unusual among 20th-century left-leaning intellectuals, she became more religious and inclined towards mysticism as her life progressed. Weil wrote throughout her life, although most of her writings did not attract much attention until after her death. 

Simone Weil in Marseilles

In the 1950s and 1960s, her work became famous in continental Europe and throughout the English-speaking world. Her thought has continued to be the subject of extensive scholarship across a wide range of fields.