Tag Archives: Russia

Satan Behind Bars in Russia and Libya


Last week, Polish metal band Behemoth was scheduled to play a show in Yekaterinburg, Russia, when they were detained and told they had the wrong visas. After being held by law enforcement overnight, a judge ordered them deported. Although Russian officials haven’t said anything along these lines, many have wondered whether the band’s — and particular frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski’s — affiliations with Satanism could have played a role. After all, Russia adopted blasphemy laws in 2013. And the band, Darski in particular, has run afoul of similar laws in their native country.

After Behemoth returned to Poland, Darski spoke with the Guardian about the experience, as well as his recovery from leukemia and his perspective on Satanic faith. The result is a remarkably warm and moving interview, which can be read in full here.

He said:

“For me personally, I’ve always related to antiheroes,” he says. “In most cases they were scapegoats, martyrs and negative archetypes, tools that were used in order to make other people into slaves. To me, Satan stands for everything that is dear to me. I’ve always been very fond of independence and autonomy and freethinking and freedom and intelligence. Satan has always been a very strong symbol of all those values, so for me it’s very natural to take his side.”

Many things happen under the threat of Satanism and “black magic.” Earlier this month, Ahmed Ghanem, a United Nations official who was acting as an observer at the trial of two of Muammar Gaddafi’s sons, in Tripoli, Libya, was imprisoned for the latter. His captors only explained vaguely:

A source at the prison said Ghanem, an Egyptian, was detained upon arrival to monitor the case on Sunday after written material was found indicating possible “sorcery” or improper communications, and was later released by judicial police. It is unclear if such an offence is recognised under Libyan law.

In many places, holding someone on suspicion of Satanism is often an excuse and a ruse — a way to mess with them for some totally other reason. It’s also a way to make law-enforcement or political officials look like they’re keeping the moral code in order, keeping the people safe from evildoers in the most basic sense. In Behemoth’s case, the situation could have easily turned into Pussy Riot II. Nothing has been reported of Ghanem since his detention, which is worrisome.

As long as Satanism, “black magic,” the occult and other paths remain in relative darkness — and largely misunderstood — some places will continue to be able to get away with these kind of phony detentions. But even in this country, where religious freedom is coded into our Constitution, backlash against Satanism remains a problem. Conversations like Darski’s with the Guardian are happening more often, and will help, but we have a very, very long way to go.

Russia talks “Manhunt” crackdown after shootings

This image of alleged Russian mass shooter Dmitry Vinogradov may look like it’s from a video game, but that doesn’t mean games were involved in the crime.

It hasn’t taken long for Russian politicians to come out against violent video games in the days after a Russian man went on a shooting spree, killing six people in the pharmaeceutical company where he worked.

Specifically, they’re going after Manhunt, because some say the alleged shooter in last week’s Moscow rampage, 30-year-old Dmitry Vinogradov, was a fan of the ultraviolent video game. They can’t agree on what to do, exactly, but no matter:

Sergei Zheleznyak, a deputy of United Russia, said that one needed to submit an adequate inquiry to Roskomnadzor (the Federal Surveillance Service for Mass Media and Communications) to ban the game in Russia. The software was designed for adult audiences, but it is available on the Internet to all, including children, which is against the law, New Politics magazine wrote.

United Russia deputy Franz Klintsevich supported Zheleznyak’s initiative and expressed a more radical solution. According to him, access to bloody games in general should be restricted in the country, NTV reports.

First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Education Vladimir Burmatov put forward an idea to set up an interdepartmental commission to supervise the sales of computer games. According to Burmatov, playing violent games pushed the Moscow shooter towards the crime, wrote MK.ru.

How, exactly, Burmatov knows that these games had anything to do with Vinogradov’s mindstate is anyone’s guess. Is he close with the alleged shooter? Is he an expert in psychology?

According to many of the news reports, Vinogradov apparently brought a gun to work after he was dumped by a girlfriend. He also may or may not have been on a drinking binge in the days before the attack — which in itself isn’t to blame, but may be an indication of a more serious underlying psychological issue. There’s a chance that he played violent video games, or even the most notoriously gory ones, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the crimes he’s connected with.

At least Russian news outlet is already calling Vinogradov “Russia’s Breivik,” after Norwegian mass shooter Anders Breivik, a misnomer for a number of reasons. For one, Breivik killed more than 70 people. For another, Vinogradov’s violent mission seems motivated by a personal passion — lost love — and not some misguided political aim.

The main thing these men may have in common is that, even if they were fans of violent video games, those games didn’t make them kill. There was plenty else on their minds that was much more likely to kickstart their violence, and there’s no reason to take a form of entertainment away from millions of other nonviolent gamers simply because of the actions of one.

Goth culture blackened by Russian newspaper

In general, goths adore cemeteries — they don’t vandalize them. But three Russians are going to jail for doing just that. Photo by Flickr user R.I.Pienaar.

Three so-called goths have been arrested in the Russian City of Rostov-on-Don for allegedly destroying 40 tombs in the Severnoye Cemetery, one of the largest in Europe.

According to press reports, the suspects were participating in an event called “Night Walks in the Cemetery” on April 18 and damaged many graves, including those of soldiers. The trio is being charged with desecrating the dead, for which they can be held for up to three months.

While it’s true goths and cemeteries tend to go hand in hand, it’s highly unusual for someone who’s part of this movement to harm such a place. As the author of Ultimate Goth Guide put it:

I just can’t understand why members of a subculture who, on the whole, find cemeteries a beautiful, welcoming and peaceful would choose to damage about 40 — yes, 40 — gravestones, including those of soldiers.

A sarcastic well done to these three idiots, who have not only brought further shame and suspicion on Goth culture in a country where legislation to outlaw Goth music had already been considered, but have now put those of us who do enjoy spending quiet, peaceful time in cemeteries, doing harm to nothing and no one, also under suspicion.

As you can tell from the many, many comments on that post, goths all over the world are shocked by this behavior. Goth culture has suffered some serious setbacks over the years — most notably after the Columbine shooters were mistakenly labeled as goth by the press.

The fact that these specific perpetrators are goths had nothing to do with the alleged crime. They destroyed graves because they’re vandals, not because they’re goths, and playing up the goth angle in a newspaper article only makes readers think goths = vandals.

What that does is paint the millions of peaceful, cemetery-loving goths with the same brush. These people, who would probably make up the bulk of cemetery-preservation societies someday, could find themselves ousted from places they love and protect. Worse, the public once again gets the idea that goths are criminals, an association that can have dangerous consequences.

Take Alexandria Boring, who was convicted in 2006 of murdering her mother. Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned her conviction, saying character smears contributed to the jury’s erroneous decision to convict her of murder:

State attorneys used as evidence photos of the teen with dyed black hair and dark makeup, a document with the word “curse” that was to be read over a black candle, handwritten quotes on her bedroom walls and inscriptions that a prosecutor claimed were quotations from the founder of the Satanic Church. The evidence was “clearly integral to the state’s strategy of portraying appellant as a deviant capable of murdering her mother, in the absence of any other evidence suggesting she had a violent or angry nature,” said the opinion, written by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein.

When goth = criminal in jurors’ minds, and when jurors are presented with a “goth” accused of a crime, it’s all too easy to find that person guilty — even if they aren’t.

When you’re reading a news article about criminal activity, how much do you want to know about the alleged suspect? Do you want to know how they dress, the music they listen to, or what faith they hold? If so, why?