Grigory Pasko: In Our KGB State, Don’t Bother Sealing the Envelope

fsb_mail072009.jpgAs some of you have probably read in the news, this week my fellow citizens and I woke up to a new Russia, under even greater control by the inheritants of the KGB.  As initially reported by, “beginning on the 21st of July, law-enforcement organs will have unrestricted access to the postal dispatches of citizens – letters, parcels, remittances and so forth. Employees of eight siloviki structures of the RF – organs of internal affairs, of the FSB, of the Federal Protection Service (FSO) and foreign intelligence, as well as customs officers, workers of the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments (FSIN) and Gosnarkokontrol – will be able to open mail for inspection.”  The report goes on to provide links to the corresponding order from the Ministry of Communication and Mass Communications, signed by Minister Igor Shchegolev, and to a list of requirements to networks and postal communications media for the carrying out of operative-and-search measures [detective work–Trans.] printed in Rossiyskaya gazeta [the official organ of the Government of the Russian Federation–Trans.].

One can already imagine the chekists hastily equipping offices for themselves at post offices on perfectly legal grounds (of course they have been reading mail all along); the outraged human rights advocates; and the bleating – that is, the silence – of the majority of the citizens of our KGB state.

In some ways, I can understand why our society reacts with boredom rather than outrage to this news. We’ve been there, we’ve done that all many a time already. No need to even go as far back as Catherine the Great with her “black cabinets.”  Shouldn’t we all stop feigning surprise that yet another basic freedom has been wrenched from our hands?  But not everyone seems to get it yet.  The Newsru article makes reference to a story from “Echo Peterburga“, which explains how “in the management of the city’s main post office they were surprised by the very wording of this order and refused to believe that such a thing is even possible.

sovietmail072009.jpgI don’t believe it! I don’t believe their amazement. The fact is, theMoscow main post office has been opening up letters and dispatches fora long time already: I was told about this by telephone a year ago,when I attempted to clarify the reason for the regular, no less thanmaniacal, opening of ALL incoming mail to my name from abroad for theduration of the already MANY YEARS of my residence in Moscow  (see above image). 

Moreover, I was told that this was being done absolutely legally, on the basis ofsome kind of instruction from the Ministry of Communication.

But the point here is not in that we will again and again be amazedby the things our chekists think up. The point is that 1) when it comesto underhandedness and keeping an eye on their fellow citizens, theircreativity knows no bounds; 2) it was we ourselves who chose such apower to hang on our necks and are now silently observing all of itsartistry in action; and 3) that we, apparently, actually like such an attitudetowards us by the powers.

True, I just can’t understand: if we’re soquiet and timid, beaten down and readily agreeing to everything,cowardly and quiescent, then why – pardon my French – the hell does thepower dislike us and mistrust us so?

My good older comrade, whom I endlessly respect, – Yuri Vdovin from theSt. Petersburg «Civilian control», connects the appearance of such anorder on the opening and inspection of mail with the fear of the powerswith respect to mass protest actions by dissatisfied citizens: “so that atany moment one could adopt some kind of preventive measures, so as todeprive people of the opportunity to say what they think.

My dear Yuri Nikolayevich! Our power has already long ago adopted ALLthe preventive measures to deprive people of the opportunity to saywhat they think. Our power didn’t even forget about the mass entry ofchekists into the ranks of judges of all levels. And about theopportunity to say… Remember Schwartz’s «To kill a dragon»: Why do youneed a word, what are you going to do with it anyway? Give people thisopportunity tomorrow and just see who will speak first and what he willsay. No doubt this will be the call to «beat the yids, save Russia».

But seriously, of course, we do need to go to the Supreme Court of theRF (remembering that a certain mister Lebedev is still sitting there);we need to write about this where we can, and speak about this wherethey let us. But it seems to me that the order could only be revoked in one scenario: with a change of power in the country. But this is obviouslynot within sight for the next decade.

Well, what can I say? Congratulations on your new order, my dearcompatriots!  Russian citizens now save the time, money, and effort, as we no longer need to bother with sealing our envelopes, nor waste our precious saliva on the illusion of privacy. This way we can save ourselves for the next task – to moisten, carefully chew, and swallow all the crap our beloved stateforce-feeds us.

Upper image: A postal envelope to my name that has been opened [labelreads “Received damaged by MMPO”–Trans.] (photo by Grigory Pasko)

Lower image: The rhyming text on this Soviet-era poster reads: “Don’t blabon the phone! A blabber is a real find for a spy!” (the implication, ofcourse, is that we’re talking about foreign spies in this case…)