Tuesday, July 4, 2006
Yevgeniy Roizman, 43, is more than just a Russian State Duma deputy. He is also the founder of Russia's only privately-owned religious icon museum (called Nevyanskaya Ikona, 600 works); has been collecting works of Ural painters (2,000 so far) and is building a museum in Yekaterinburg to house them; is co-founder and ex-president of the City Without Drugs Fund (Gorod Bez Narkotikov); was involved in creating a support network for the regional orphanages that didn't rely on the state money; co-founded a successful jewelry business. He is also an athlete, father of three daughters, and the author of two poetry books. He is rumored to have been involved in criminal activities in the past. He has a website, in Russian. And a blog, also in Russian.
Below are translations of several entries from Roizman's blog, picked almost at random, dealing with his current work as the elected representative of Yekaterinburg region.
A woman we'd helped (arranged pension for her grandson) came by . She brought us pancakes and a can of strawberry jam.
Spent half a day working in Artyomovskoye. A neglected town. A few situations have touched me pretty forcefully.
A letter with 34 signatures. Radio plant workers, mainly women, salary around 2,500 [rubles a month; roughly $90). Paid irregularly.
A [young woman] lived with her husband, bought an apartment. Two small children. Husband's mother moved in. Fights began. At some point, beating occurred. She escaped with children. All sides had their wounds certified. After a year, husband and his mother filed a lawsuit against her. Lawyers recommended and she filed one, too. All three were tried simultaneously. Were plaintiffs and defendants at once. All three are now with criminal record. The girl lives in a dorm with the children. Earns 1,700 [rubles a month; roughly $60). Spends 1,000 [rubles a month; roughly $35] for kindergarten. Husband hasn't been paying alimony for two and a half years. We'll definitely help.
Artemovskiy is a very difficult town in general. Most of the municipal property has been sold very cheaply. To a non-local Armenian. Law enforcement is a mess. [...] There's no money at all in the town, and at the same time, there're plenty of slot machines. People are [playing and] losing everything, including their apartments.
The morning started with trouble. An elderly woman came during the office hours. Got overexcited. Went to the bathroom. Locked the door and couldn't get out. We barely managed to set her free.
And her problem is very simple. Energetic young people wearing ties were walking down the streets of Uralmash [a neighborhood in Yekaterinburg], and they were like: "Hello! We represent a Russian-American company..." And they were talking elderly people into buying some massage equipment. And they [forced] the old woman to spend her whole pension on those devices. So we'll be looking for these guys now.
The next story is completely idiotic.
Two years ago, there was a fight near one restaurant here. One affluent guy had a beauty of a wife. Another affluent guy had friends from [the former Soviet Union] visiting. And one of these friends liked the other guy's [beautiful wife]. And so he got excited and went over to kiss her. And to keep her from escaping, he grabbed and held on to her breasts, butt and other parts. I don't know, maybe it's their tradition. The husband [was so shocked he] couldn't talk, but he turned out to have a gun. The guest from [the former Soviet Union] turned out to have bodyguards. Shooting began. All received their share. The guest got hurt more than others. But survived. The [beautiful wife] was untouched.
I was already a deputy then. At first, representatives of the guest from [the former Soviet Union] came to me. Asked to interfere. I told them the truth: if someone approached my woman like this, I've no idea how I would react. I refused [to interfere].
Then came representatives of the offended husband. I told them this joke:
- Sayeed, why did you kill my people?
- And why were they throwing sand at me?
And I refused [to interfere].
Then it all got sorted out. These ones didn't want to back up, those ones didn't want to give up. These ones carried money to the cops, those ones carried even more. It seemed as if everyone was content with the situation. And since my nerves aren't too strong, I stopped following this case.
And today I get a visit from the blond beauty. She's been crying.
- What happened?
- My husband got detained.
- What for? - I ask.
- We ran out of money, - she replies, - and the cops kept demanding more. He told them that there was no more money and they replied: "It's your problem." He began fighting with them: "You've sucked it all out of me!" And they locked him away. Created unbearable conditions in the preliminary detention center, got in touch with his parents. Began extorting money. Made his conditions even less bearable. Gave him a chance to call his wife, etc.
- Why have you come only now?
- Before we ran out of money, the cops were saying that everything would be okay...
This is the second case like this lately. The scheme is primitive. The cops involved are the same. Of course, we'll interfere, we're solving the first problem today: to not let them kill the guy in prison.
Many crying people today. A person sits down, tries to begin talking but cries instead. It's easier when it's a woman. But all kinds of things happen...
A whole delegation came regarding torture in prison camps. We sat and talked for an hour. Many facts. We can't agree on where to write to: prosecutor general or ministry of justice.
We were shocked to discover the commercial aspect of the torture. They [prison officials] get in touch with [the prisoners'] relatives. They set the rate: for a person not to be beaten [to death/near-death] in prison, they ask from 60,000 to 100,000 rubles (approximately $2,200-$3,700). Per year.
All this is taking place in the northern part of the region. Prison camp #62, prison camp #63 and prison camp #55. They are hiding the beaten and the maimed during inspections. Everyone's blaming the head of Ivdel department Sadykov. They think that he created this system absolutely consciously. In addition to ex-convicts and lawyers, there were representatives of a few NGOs. [...]