by Sarah Hurst
Alexei Navalny’s campaign headquarters in Kaliningrad has published a video with a recording of a conversation between a 14-year-old volunteer, Alina, and the school’s head teacher, Valentina Gulidova, in the presence of her class teacher and her mother, who also participate. On his blog Navalny describes this as “organised degradation”. Gulidova invoked Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler, Ukraine and Catalan separatism in an effort to persuade Alina that she should stay out of politics. This is a translation of the recording.
Alina: Um, a picket.
Gulidova: A picket for the revolution holiday in support of Navalny. And he goes, he campaigns via children from 12 –
Gulidova: To 18 years old.
Gulidova: Let me talk to your mother? I already talked to you, I understood everything. It’s you who didn’t understand anything. So now too they go around the schools and count them up. Yesterday an FSB person was there. Today they go to institutes. Your daughter takes part in these events. She says she knows what’s going on. You know about it.
Mother: Yes, I know, but it wasn’t only I who talked to her, her dad also tried to.
Gulidova: These are illegal actions by Navalny, pulling minors into politics. I’ve tried talking to her. Perhaps she needs to see a psychologist. She is stubborn and aggressive. Such [inaudible] don’t get in anywhere. The fact is that I am obliged to inform the authorities about her. And all the schools. She was in court, you know, yes? Defending those who were taken there, some students. Yours was present in court.
Mother: In court, yes.
Gulidova: Don’t you know?
Mother: No, I heard. She said something.
Gulidova: You understand what this is. A serious matter. As a senior pupil told me, this organisation aims to change the structure of our state.
Gulidova: I said, did you ask me? She said, what do you have to do with it? Did you ask me if I want to change the structure? I’m 66 years old. I’m an adult. I vote. You’re 17. Do you ask us if we want it? I go to the election, and if I want to, I vote for Navalny, or if I want to I vote for Sobchak. I vote for the person I want. But to attract [inaudible]. What the FSB person said, today I’ll talk to parents and we’ll chat at the parents’ meeting. They’re just messed up at the moment. This is what they do, they pull in mainly schools with children near the military, the FSB, where there are weapons at home. Their fathers have guns and some of them have hunting rifles. And as a result, in one of the schools in central Russia a pupil came in and shot some of his classmates. I’m not talking about her, but to mutiny, to refuse to obey the administration of schools, colleges, institutes and all that. For now, at first, their conversations are all blah-blah-blah. But then a 19-year-old guy leads them. And yours is 14.
Mother: I even went there and had a look.
Mother: Where? At the hotel Kaliningrad.
Gulidova: She told me that. That doesn’t tell me anything. Here’s the hotel Kaliningrad, on the left.
Mother: You go through the arch, and it’s there, right in that building. On the right side you can see what they’ve written.
Gulidova: Navalny’s headquarters?
Gulidova: So tell me, please, why did you go there?
Mother: To see what they were doing there and what it was like there.
Gulidova: There’s nothing to do there.
Mother: No, so I could find out where she was, where she was going, what she was doing, what goes on.
Gulidova: And they work for money?!
Gulidova: He gives it.
Mother: I explained it to her.
Gulidova: Alik, oh. That Yegor. Navalny pays him. Navalny gets money from somewhere. Have you given Navalny money?
Gulidova: Nor have I. Yelena Anatolievna, perhaps you sent some to him? I’m not even looking at her now, because she’s… I’m an experienced person, I know how to talk to children, but she didn’t listen to me and won’t listen.
Mother: We’ve tried too.
Gulidova: You know, there’s listening, and there’s hearing.
Alina: I know.
Gulidova: You listen, but you don’t hear me. You don’t pay attention to a single one of my words.
Alina: I hear you.
Gulidova: You get into trouble. Do you understand that if the FSB put you on their list, you won’t get into any university? For example, I told a boy that something would happen to him now for this. He won’t be able to get into any military academy, he won’t be able to work as a lorry driver. He won’t be able to work as a taxi driver, or a bus driver, or at the airport. He won’t be able to do anything. But at 14 years old your job is to “fight corruption”, as you told me. It’s not your business.
Gulidova: Because. You don’t understand any of this! We have three social organisations at the school. Join them, please, go there. We have a patriotic club in the evenings. They go to competitions, they go on trips, they just went with Yelena Anatolievna to an environmental camp. Next Saturday they’re going to have the RSM, the Russian Schoolchildren’s Movement – instead of teachers’ lessons at school. Start some kind of social organisation for animal protection. Maria Sergeyevna started an animal protection organisation. She gets food, she feeds the animals, she takes them to shelters. But it’s not worth getting into political things at 14. This would be a mutiny. This would be murders. And you could get hurt. It will all be with sticks and metal and so on… And Molotov cocktails.
Alina: What are you talking about?
Alina: What are you talking about?
Gulidova: About the fact that whenever [inaudible] lead young people, it’s done for what I just told you. Do you agree with me, mother?
Gulidova: You agree that it’s like that everywhere. That’s what happened in Germany. That’s how Hitler came to power in Germany, that way. From 12 to 16 years old they brought him to power. That’s what will happen to you now. They’ll chase you with truncheons. Your actions are illegal. Against the state.
Alina: No. I don’t think so.
Gulidova: You don’t think much, but I think so. Fine, I’ve warned you. I’m telling her as I’m supposed to. I didn’t know yesterday, but we’ll invite you again. We’ll see what happens. This is serious. Your leader will be brought to justice. Your mother could sue him. She can sue for moral harm. Your mother.
Alina: Where’s the moral harm here?
Gulidova: For bringing you up wrong.
Alina: I’m fine.
Gulidova: No, everything’s wrong with you. Everything’s wrong with you. And it was wrong with Vera Zasulich. Do you know Vera Zasulich?
Gulidova: She shot Lenin, no, it was Kaplan who shot Lenin. Kaplan. Who shot Lenin. You’ve done all this history. Did you see the film about Trotsky?
Alina: Which film?
Alina: Is that what it’s called?
Gulidova: Today’s the last episode. You should have watched it. What happens and what happened 100 years ago. In St. Petersburg. In the richest and most beautiful country in Europe. Russia. Then Trotsky.
Alina: But not now.
Alina: Not now.
Gulidova: Not now. Materially we don’t live better than everyone.
Gulidova: That’s why… Trotsky and Lenin got young people together.
Alina: That’s why I’m for Navalny.
Gulidova: With truncheons to the Winter Palace and they made a revolution. They drowned the state in blood, in blood. Brother against brother. That’s what’s happening now. And they killed, and they shot the prime minister. Because he did the right reforms. Your mother knows, I know, you don’t know.
Mother: They don’t care that you’re 14.
Gulidova: Perhaps she –
Mother: They won’t write that you’re 14, Alin.
Gulidova: When they thrash you with truncheons.
Mother: Right. They won’t care.
Gulidova: Now they’ve taken pupils from School 49.
Alina: Do you think that’s good?
Gulidova: What’s good?
Alina: That they do that.
Alina: You were talking about truncheons.
Gulidova: No one has beaten you yet, but they will. What else, if you don’t listen?
Alina: But it’s the state…
Gulidova: You didn’t understand. I don’t want a coup. I don’t want a coup! Why are you young people going to overthrow the state in which I live by force for me? I like it. Did you ask me? Did you ask Yelena Anatolievna, did you ask your mother if we want it? Why is it only you who’s right, not us? Why don’t you ask us? Why do you plan on making our life the way you want it? We raise you until you’re 18. When you turn 18 you answer for yourself. Your mother no longer commands you. But for now I’m talking to you. You’re 14, and these guys who are fooling you are 19 and older.
Gulidova: What do you mean no? That one is how old? That Yegor is 19.
Alina: There are completely different ages.
Gulidova: You’re not listening to me. We’re talking at cross purposes. You’re not listening to me at all. Good, bad, that’s not what I’m talking about. What’s good in Ukraine? Brats like you destroyed the state. They didn’t ask the Russians, who left. We have so many migrants now from Donbass left without homes, renting flats here. They have nothing to eat, we help them feed their children, we give them textbooks, we collect clothes for them. You don’t know, but I know. I’m the head teacher of the school. I know what kinds of people came from Donbass, about their nervous breakdowns, the children. You want to wave little flags and shout for Navalny. Do you know Navalny? You don’t. How do you know that these guys are telling the truth about him?
Alina: I don’t listen to it from them.
Gulidova: Who do you listen to?
Alina: I read a lot on the internet, I look everywhere.
Gulidova: That rubbish! The internet is a rubbish heap. I don’t read anything there. Ask your mother. Ask your mother! Ask Yelena Anatolievna, ask your teachers.
Class teacher: Not one document on the internet has any meaning, for one thing.
Gulidova: You have a big problem.
Mother: I’ve talked to her about this a lot at home. It’s hard to get through to her.
Gulidova: I read a German book. It’s called… it really shocked me. When our people write, the Communists, or I don’t know, about how Hitler came to power, that’s one thing, but I read a book by an author, a German who later went to Finland. He had two brothers. One brother and one cousin. And the book was written by someone who wasn’t German, he was Jewish. And he describes how Hitler came to power. What the kids did when they broke into flats and pulled people out by their hair. They killed them, they kicked them. They were all under 16.
Gulidova: It was called the Beer Hall Putsch. That’s how Hitler came to power, no one even thought about voting for him, the burghers didn’t plan to. And no one thought that he would become a member of the Reichstag.
Mother: Note, this was all done by force.
Gulidova: Absolutely right!
Alina: But we’re not doing anything like that.
Gulidova: For now.
Alina: And we’re not going to.
Gulidova: You will.
Gulidova: You will. Because we will resist. The police will take you. You’ll shout. You’ll kick.
Alina: We won’t. We don’t kick.
Gulidova: You’ll shout, “You don’t have the right!” “I’m a free person!”
Alina: Well, yes.
Alina: Yes. So what?
Gulidova: That’s what I’m telling you. And you’ll kick. You’ll thump.
Alina: I won’t kick.
Gulidova: They’ll drag you into the police van by both your arms. You’ll push and try not to go into that cage. You’ll shout, “I’m a free person!” We know all this and we’ve been through it, Alina. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last. If you don’t listen to me you’ll have problems. You’ll ruin your life. You’ve already ruined your career. Because you’ll now be noticed by the FSB. They can already refuse to give you a visa. And so on. You’re on the black list. [Inaudible.] Then they started asking the guys, and they told me who had bracelets and who had badges.
Class teacher: Do you know about the bracelets?
Mother: Yes, yes.
Gulidova: Badges to identify them. This is all secret. They are invading our school. Little by little. I told one senior pupil, and he immediately says, “I only know about this on the internet.” At least he listened to me a bit, but yours doesn’t at all. Don’t you talk to her? They have no right to bring your daughter into these games without your permission. They have no right.
Mother: I think they understand this, but she goes into it herself.
Mother: See, I can’t do anything with her.
Alina: No one forced me.
Gulidova: A statement for the police. You have to write it. If she were 18 she would have the right, but as she’s 14, you have the right.
Gulidova: They don’t have the right. To pull children into protests and pickets.
Mother: Do you understand, Alin?
Gulidova: Did she really ask permission for the pickets?
Gulidova: Did you have permission for the pickets? No.
Alina: We agreed them.
Gulidova: No, no. They wouldn’t have taken them. You didn’t have permission. You’re not listening. Your leaders are drawing you into illegal actions.
Mother: That’s why they take them.
Alina: No one forces us to do anything.
Gulidova: They organised it, and Navalny organised an illegal picket in Moscow. And they put him in jail. Then they released him.
Alina: If I were 18 I could do it myself.
Gulidova: When you’re 18 do whatever you want.
Alina: I could organise it myself.
Gulidova: Right, but you’re 14.
Alina: So I can’t, that’s why I go there.
Gulidova: You’re not listening to me, hello! They don’t have the right to bring you, minors, into these actions. Let Navalny bring in people who are 18 and older. Let him bring me in, or your mother, but not you. He has no right. These are illegal actions! Bringing in minors is the same as sexual abuse, and this is called moral abuse of minors. Fooling them, cheating them and so on. I see you feel strongly about this, but why didn’t you alert us at the school before?
Mother: No, I knew about this thing of hers, but I was never in this kind of situation, not this.
Gulidova: That’s why the school exists.
Mother: I didn’t even know what to do.
Mother: Just talk – I talked.
Gulidova: If you don’t convince her, it will be bad for you, and her.
Mother: We talk a lot, we talk constantly.
Alina: But I have my point of view. I defend it.
Gulidova: Defend it.
Alina: I do.
Gulidova: You don’t have the right to participate in any pickets. Do you hear me? And no campaigning.
Alina: Where is that written?
Gulidova: You’re a minor.
Class teacher: Alin, I’m listening to everything you’re saying. You talk like a member of some kind of sect.
Class teacher: Whose brains have already been eroded, and nothing reasonable can get in there any more, only rubbish. Real values have been wiped out, that’s it. Your mother is no one and nothing to you. You will… You jump into this situation and your mother will answer for it until you’re 18. Do you understand?
Gulidova: For your illegal actions. Look, are you really going to vote?
Gulidova: When will you vote?
Alina: When I’m 18.
Gulidova: And from 18 you can campaign. From 18.
Alina: Tell me, where is that written?
Gulidova: In the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Alina: I haven’t seen such a thing.
Gulidova: Why? Your legal rights start at 18. I don’t understand how else to explain this to you. A picket is what, a legal action?
Gulidova: Who said this stupid thing?
Alina: We get agreement.
Gulidova: You didn’t agree it. You didn’t get permission, but you went.
Alina: They’ll never give us permission.
Gulidova: Right. But you go.
Alina: We have the right.
Gulidova: You don’t.
Alina: It’s in the Constitution.
Gulidova: You don’t have the right. I’ll give you an example. A smart person like you, no, a smart person like Yegor in Catalonia led the people in a battle for separatism. For freedom and independence. Deluded people and young people came out to pickets with flags, they waved them, they shouted. They voted for separatism. And he left them, he fled to another country and asked for political asylum. That was now? That was three days ago. They handed him over in chains, returned him to his state, put him in prison, and everyone was left hanging out to dry. Now everyone who participated has been fired and so on. He campaigned among them and then he fled. And it will be the same with you. And he won’t answer for that, for you idiots. So I have no time. I don’t know. Let other people talk to her, but you have problems.
Categories: Campaign diary