Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe: U.S. Helsinki Commission
“One Hour Eighteen”
The Event Was Held From 6:00 p.m. To 7:00 p.m. in 121 Cannon House Office
Building, Washington, D.C., Kyle Parker, CSCE, Moderating
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Federal News Service
KYLE PARKER: Well, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Chairman Chris Smith and
Co-Chair Ben Cardin, I would like to welcome you to tonight’s event hosted by
the Helsinki Commission.
I’ll be very brief because we’re going to have a discussion following the play
– (inaudible) – question and answer, and it will be transcribed for the record.
And I would – just a couple of housekeeping items: Because we have such small
space tonight – sort of recreating that coffeehouse theater, if you will, up on
here on Capitol Hill – we will try to keep the door closed, just to minimize
the disturbance, as well as ask anyone with cellphones to silence them, shut
One note about the clock: The clock has a habit of beeping irregularly, and
that has to do with votes happening on the floor of the House of
Representatives right now, so don’t mind the clock.
The play we’re going to – at the Helsinki Commission, we are mandated by
Congress to focus on the human dimension – (inaudible) – OSCE participating
states. States? Russia is a participating state, and the United States is a
participating state. And so we focus on the human dimension, the human face.
And the play tonight, “One Hour Eighteen,” is – the story of Sergei Magnitsky
is a very – it’s been called an emblematic example of the devastating human
cost of corruption and the lack of rule of law. Today is the second
anniversary of the death of Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow pre-trial detention
facility. There is a lot more information on the table about the case, and I
won’t take the time up now to go into that, but – (inaudible) – will have
opportunities. And the play we’re about to see is based on (documented ?)
evidence, diaries, prison diaries that Sergei Magnitsky kept and other public
So with that, we’ll start.
YURY URNOV: Kyle, so we’re coming back for a – we were talking, like, five,
now. Are we taking a short break?
MR. PARKER: Yeah. Yeah, why don’t we – you could change up and we’ll –
(inaudible) – just a little bit, and we’ll start in about – a couple of minutes.
MR. URNOV: Thank you.
MR. PARKER: I think we’ll leave the papers around here – (inaudible).
By the way, for anyone, the bathrooms are just around the corner, in case they
MARK MILOSCH: That was, of course – (inaudible) – incredibly powerful.
My name is Mark Milosch. I’m staff director of the Helsinki Commission.
(Inaudible) – in the room today. I want to, on behalf of our (Helsinki
Commission ?) chairman, Congressman Chris Smith, a very big thank-you to the
actors, Mr. Urnov, and Arnoult’s Center for International Theater Development.
We will now have a short discussion up here. Maybe we – I’d like to begin a
little bit with a statement or comments, and then we can go into questions up
here and from out there, and of course include the actors. You can direct your
direct questions to – (inaudible). It’s a small room – going to be very
I’d like to say, we’ve got Kyle Parker. This is – this is the commission
staffer, who has done tremendous work on the Magnitsky case for the commission,
for so – for so many people. He’s been a real leader on the issue. And I’ll
ask Kyle to sort of monitor (the speed ?) of discussion since he knows the
issue like few people.
MR. PARKER: Thank you, Mark.
You know, I thought – I thought we might begin – Yury, if you have a few words
to sort of set the context and then perhaps tell us a little bit about the
theater in which this comes out of. You’re a Fulbright, I believe, right?
MR. URNOV: I was, yeah.
MR. PARKER: Oh, you were? OK. I believe this play – and I also know that
this was performed today in London so – by Amnesty International in London and
MR. URNOV: On Sputnik Theatre.
MR. PARKER: – in the Sputnik Theatre – and continues, to my knowledge, to run
in Moscow, and has now for – almost a year?
MR. URNOV: More than that. I think a year, a year and a half. There are
actually people from – (inaudible).
MR. PARKER: Oh, there are? Well, welcome to you.
MR. URNOV: (Inaudible) – (maybe beginning of June ?) 2009, so it was probably
a year old.
MR. PARKER: Somewhere in there.
MR. URNOV: Half a year – so now it’s a year and half. They’re not – they’re
not playing it every night.
But it’s this very small theater, very, very small theater in (very central ?)
Moscow, which became a very powerful – (inaudible) – the Russian culture and
the new writing which is really an important – (inaudible) – and most
importantly, to the Russian culture of the last 20 years – playwrights who were
formed – most of them were fully formed after 1990. Many of them don’t have
professional education. Many of them are using the language which –
(inaudible) – what’s useful – (inaudible) – writing for a long time. Many of
them are using the knowledge of – (inaudible).
And that was important for many reasons – (inaudible) – and pretty much changed
the landscape of contemporary – of playwriting – of the Russian – (inaudible).
It’s one of the – it’s one of the examples. It’s almost like – I believe 90
percent of it is other words that were pronounced by this – (inaudible) –
people, and some of them were introduced specifically for (this ?) performance
– (inaudible) – produced, so the words were from mass media. But we have,
like, 90 percent – (inaudible) – all these words are real. So that’s one of
the – that’s one of the (trends ?). That’s one of the – that’s one of the new
things happening in Russia. We are very – and certainly comparing to the
previous years, it’s something we are very – (inaudible). And it really, I
think – (inaudible) – we were very smart – (inaudible) – bigger stages, but –
MR. PARKER: Could you tell us just a little bit about Gremina and Ugarov?
MR. URNOV: OK.
MR. PARKER: – a husband and wife, right, who had written the play and directed
MR. URNOV: Well, again, when we brought in – (inaudible) – but I think they
worked together very much. They are kind of – I don’t know – (inaudible) –
grandmother and grandfather of the – of the – of the – (inaudible) – drama
movement or modern father of the drama movement. That’s a couple who basically
– there were (the three of them ?) who built this theater with their hands and
who created this – who brought together – I don’t know – I don’t know how many
– how many playwrights – a whole lot of playwrights, and they’re bringing more
and more every year. And – (inaudible) – and both of them – (inaudible) –
pretty well-known playwrights. And actually, at some point – (inaudible) – it
was her play after – (inaudible) – long period of time. She was very different
– (inaudible) – I think that’s – that’s also specific to – (inaudible). But I
think – (inaudible) – in real life for – (inaudible).
MR. PARKER: Well, thank you. You know, I would also just mention, it’s
interesting, of course, that the play, you know, featured people who are around
in Moscow, and – (inaudible) – come see themselves portrayed in it.
MR. URNOV: That’s the thing. That’s – (inaudible) –
MR. PARKER: (In Moscow ?) –
MR. URNOV: – which – (inaudible).
We are – (inaudible) – we say that we’re – we (encourage ?) people to come –
MR. PARKER: Right, right. And this, of course, is still a very dynamic story,
and it’s – you know, I can’t think of too many murders, cases like this that
remain in the news two years later. And it’s certainly – I think that there is
a – probably a daily story somewhere on a Russian wire. And here in the West,
the Magnitsky story – depending on activity and things that are going on, but
certainly every month a major story – sometimes many in the case of a week.
And so it’s really sort of seized the attention and become a global human
I – you know, Judge Stachen (ph), who was portrayed in the play, I see this
morning on (the ?) Russian wire has some protesters or people who came to the
courtroom this morning to make a statement. And, you know, the complaints you
see are actually real complaints. Magnitsky wrote I think 450 written
complaints during eleven-some months in pre-trial detention. And 20 of them
were specific requests for medical care. And if anyone has any particular
questions on the case itself, I certainly would think we can – we can address
those as well.
This is my second time seeing the play. I happened to catch it when it
premiered at the Kennedy Center. And you know, I guess my reaction initially
was, first, sort of the guilty laughter – you know, things that are – things
that are funny but really shouldn’t be funny, and then just, you know, the
powerful symbolism of the glass of water. You know, it’s sort of this –
something that really is biblical and also has a tradition in Russia as well –
like, you know, I – obviously, you know – (inaudible) – look at the New
Testament. You know, anyone who gives a glass of water to these, my little
ones, you know, in Matthew 25. You know, I was thirsty, and you gave me the
drink. I was a prisoner and you visited me.
And then thinking – recently, some of the commissions involved in – around the
commemoration of Katyn, it was interesting how the Polish prisoners of war, I
would note – (inaudible) – the boiling water, the cup of water. That was a –
that was a staple and a ration, which was – which was always provided. And
another example, more recent, I think, of – in Russia around sort of the
symbolism of the water – the Beslan terrorist attack and tragedy. Many of you,
I’m sure, are familiar, but – what was it? 2004?
MR.: Four, maybe.
MR. PARKER: Yeah.
MR. PARKER: Well, in any case, these children who were taken hostage on the
first day of school were held in a gymnasium for about – I think it was about
three days, and were prohibited from drinking water. There were awful stories
of, you know, people with severe dehydration and in some cases having to resort
to drinking urine – just incredible barbarism.
And it was – it was really moving to see the memorial on the first anniversary
of that attack. There were just a lot of water bottles sitting there at the
school. So it’s something to me that really seems to be, you know, a very
powerful symbol in the Russian context and in the human context.
And another thing I would sort of, again, be interested in other reactions
today: As much as this play sort of – and the story of Magnitsky – has
humanized a victim, in a sense, it also humanizes the so-called bad guys who –
for the lack of a better – for lack of a better word. I think that’s quite
interesting (to ?) sort of really – and really very powerfully raises the
question first raised by Cain in the fourth chapter of Genesis – am I my
brother’s keeper? You know, is this really my problem? Is it OK for me to
simply turn the music up? And what is going on behind the walls of Matrosskaya
Tishina or Butyrka, as, you know, the ambulance driver talks about, well, you
drive by these things every day.
And pre-trial detention in Russia remains a very current issue. There have
been a number of deaths following Magnitsky’s case. And a number of reforms
that President Medvedev appeared to put into place either don’t seem to be in
place or don’t seem to be working. And it’s interesting how (corruption ?) has
very directly has exacerbated an overcrowding problem in Russian prisons. It’s
directly related to how many particularly white-collar criminals – or I
shouldn’t say “criminals” – white-collar suspects – are in juvenile detention
on very dubious pretexts.
But my – and I don’t want to monopolize the discussion, so please – (inaudible)
– open it up – (inaudible) –
Q: I have a question.
MR. PARKER: Sure, OK.
Q: My name is Natali Entina (ph). I’m a Fulbright visiting scholar here from
Moscow, Russia. I work in Cana (ph) Institute for – (inaudible) – center. So
I’m not in theater, but I’m – (inaudible) – political science.
I have a question to Yury. Could you please tell us about the moment when you
make – when you made this decision to make this play, how you felt, and what
was your message. Which effect to you expect to have on this play in Moscow –
(inaudible)? And do you – do you believe that theater can change society? And
do you – (inaudible) – some government officials who attended this play?
MR. URNOV: (Inaudible.) I mean, I can go – we’ll do things – like, we –
people do different things. Some people – (inaudible) – some people –
(inaudible). So we knew – we knew what we should do.
But I think that was a very – actually (it was ?) not my idea. It was
Stephen’s idea – he’s sitting here. He read the play before I read the play.
(Inaudible) – we did – (inaudible) – translations – (inaudible) – performances
And then Stephen brought this play here. And I was really afraid of this play
because this – it’s not a play, basically. It doesn’t have this dramatic
development. And I never – (inaudible).
But there is something really very, very specific about this particular –
(inaudible). There are so many questions there. (Inaudible) – starting from
there? And – (inaudible) – because the – (inaudible) – is this old, right?
There is a way to find one person, or, you know, even two people – (inaudible).
I think – (inaudible) – investigating, is who – (inaudible) – how do you – how
do you – how do – how do we kill people and how can we – well, what is – what
is the measure of guilt in each of us, in a sense? Because – (inaudible) – is
very different measure of guilt as much as each of us has a measure of guilt in
this – (inaudible) – right?
So I think that’s what this play is trying to understand. And that was – that
was finally a reason for me to say, yeah, we should – we should probably do
As much as – as much as just this unbelievable fact that the death of the small
man, right – speaking in the terms of Russian culture, the small person –
suddenly became such a huge event – I’m very glad it did become a huge event,
but it’s very – but it’s very unusual. Many, many, many people die that way.
Nobody – (inaudible). So I think that’s a small door into this – into this
culture, into – (inaudible) – judicial culture that is working there now.
And this was kind of – (inaudible) – that this (worked ?) at all, you know.
Well, (never mind ?). That’s my personal – (inaudible).
Q: Thank you, and thank you for being so honest. (Laughter.)
MR. PARKER: I’m sorry. Anna Stasia (ph)?
MR. PARKER: Yes.
Q: What has been happening to – with the girl who presents – (inaudible) – to
the judge – to the medical doctor? Has anyone lost their job?
MR. URNOV: (Inaudible) On the contrary – on the contrary. They are – most of
them are – (inaudible).
Q: That’s a funny question.
Q: (It’s the ?) Russian system.
MR. PARKER: It’s an interesting question also because Dr. Alexander Gous (ph),
who was in the play, was in – this summer, President Medvedev’s special
commission – (inaudible) – human rights commission presented their findings in
a report to the president of Russia. And Gous (ph) was one who was really
quite singled out for a lot of culpability here.
And I also would – I mean, again, remind people that what we’re looking at in
the Magnitsky case is not simply a case of prison abuse and neglect –
withdrawing – you know, withholding the medical treatment. It is that indeed.
But there’s also, again, the question of how Magnitsky ended up in that
situation, and what exactly – and the role of the investigators.
And of course, this surrounds a tax fraud rebate of $230 million. And one of –
one of, I think, the shocking things for many in the United States or wherever,
is – you know, is the realization that, you know, it’s actually a mid-level
fraud. This is really – I mean, $230 million is significant; it needs to be
investigated. But it’s – you know, when you – when you look at just the level
of some of the – some of the frauds – (inaudible) – this is – this is really
very much at the mid-level. And of course, the people we’re talking about it
are also sort of the rank and file.
And there was – I will say – shortly after there was – there was a great sort
of uproar in the Russian press shortly after Magnitsky’s death. And then there
was at least the impression that President Medvedev had relieved 20 prison
officials. In reality, I think all but one or two of those officials had –
couldn’t possibly have had any involvement in the case, and was part of a
planned shuffle of prison officials. And so currently there are two doctors
who, I believe, have been indicted on charges –
MR. URNOV: Not the ones mentioned in the play.
MR. PARKER: No, not the ones mentioned in the play. And the charges
themselves are very strange, because they’re charges of failure to diagnose
illnesses that by all accounts were never present. And it’s hard to wonder
what strategy is going on there, if it’s not just the step up for them to walk.
MR. MILOSCH: But Yury, when the play is performed in Moscow, do the
performers, the producers, the director hear from the people who call them,
contact them – (inaudible) – and say, by the way, I am – these are people who
are out there today, who you see on the streets. (Inaudible) – people who say,
one of my relatives, one of my friends – you know, I know people who were
involved in this? It’s –
MR. URNOV: I never heard about this. Did you – did you ever hear about these
kind of reactions from real people involved with this case to the departments
in Moscow – (inaudible)?
Q: No. No reaction. Just total silence, nothing.
Q: Let me just say one?
Q: My name is Gregory Petai (ph). I’m a film director for Moscow –
(inaudible). I was invited also so make a stage play in the – (inaudible).
I’m not attached to the theater, probably not very well, but – (inaudible).
And I just wanted to say that, of course, the case is that for the American
audience, you should understand that it’s just the – (inaudible) – of many
cases of that kind, not so well known, because the Magnitsky case – it just so
happened that it started to be – it happened to be very well known all over in
Russia and in the world.
But (sticking that pole?) over Russia, you have to remember that it’s not the –
all the people of Russia – just those people who are going on the Internet or
to the radio station – (inaudible) – station, or the – (inaudible) – station,
because you actually can find nothing about this case in the official – in the
official press, just except the news that it’s – (inaudible) – for some –
(inaudible) – just two – one or two or, in this case, nothing. Not a word
about this on the official TV channels – nothing, just ignored it – silence.
So for many people who saw this show – (inaudible) – in Moscow and here, it
just is our way to understand – (inaudible). And it’s the – (inaudible) – of
many, many cases which we don’t even know about, but we heard about them, and
the people who are in charge of and engaged in this situation, and the
journalist and their relatives who are – (inaudible) – so we should quickly
know of many cases with this kind of threatening in Russia. That they – the –
(inaudible) – they charge for water, for anything. So this is not the case,
and I just – (inaudible) – about – (inaudible).
I want to congratulate you with – as a – as a director. I want to thank you
for this – for this – for this excellent, spectacular play. I like it very
much. The actors are wonderful, thank you so much, and the director’s – the
gesture that you made into this – (inaudible) – this meeting – (inaudible) – of
these people. That’s, I think – that’s the most important thing. That brought
– I didn’t have enough, though I liked it very much and they are my friends –
(inaudible) – but I didn’t get this much for this – (inaudible) – in Theater
Gluck (ph) in Moscow.
They wanted it to be more like a social gesture, not like a theater spectacle.
But of course, it’s a theater. And the only way to get to the heart of the
spectators is like the needle that does inside the heart, to be very, very –
oh, I’m sorry for my English – to be very confident and profound in the
characters that you show. Then the – you – the demands you make – then all the
explanations of these people, only in this case, they start being very obvious,
that each of them has the explanation why he didn’t do this or that.
So only when you show the character so brightly is – so artistically, and so –
and so – and so truthfully, then I understand the – (inaudible) – the awfulness
of the situation, because it’s not even the question of Putin or the Russian
regime. It’s the question about internal – the spiritual, psychological –
Q: -- understanding of the – of the comprehension of those people – the judge,
the medic – paramedic, the doctor, the girl in – right, exactly – in –
(inaudible). It’s – for me as a director, very crucial that I saw in Europe –
in your spectacular – when you understand the reason – (inaudible) – you
understand the character. And then – (inaudible) – and he talking –
(inaudible) – and of course he will sit and – (inaudible). So –
Q: Thank you very much – (inaudible).
MR. URNOV: But I think this is – this is very important to say that this be
part of – that this – (inaudible) – area here are being – (inaudible). So when
you think about me coming to the Moscow – doing the performance in Moscow where
we already did – (inaudible). We hope that not just for – (inaudible) – but
also some kind of recognition of the types who are – (inaudible) – like this –
all the – all the architects of the – you know, of the – like, when Russians
say investigate –
(Cross talk, laughter.)
MR. URNOV: I think there is – there is – there is an awful lot of –
(inaudible) – associations in the – (inaudible). That’s not right, that’s not
exactly that, I hope. (Laughter.)
MR. MILOSCH: Well, I don’t know.
Q: On the – (inaudible) – correct, that you take as a director to represent –
MR. URNOV: (Inaudible) – different. You know – sorry, I hate to – (inaudible)
– as we’re going just overseas. Sorry, we’re going to – we’re trying to
understand these people from, I think – (inaudible) – from a very – (inaudible).
MR. MILOSCH: Picking up on some of the things they were saying – (inaudible) –
and their efforts to – (inaudible) – I came here really not knowing about –
(inaudible) – I intended to sort of tell the story and – (inaudible) – Slavic
Theater (sp) and – (inaudible) – modern art.
And, you know – (inaudible) – true story – (inaudible) – a play – (inaudible) –
true story and – so that you’re – you’re asked to play a role unlike –
(inaudible) – Shakespeare or Beckett or whoever else you’re playing. And this
probably feeds into a lot of – (inaudible) – training, a lot of things –
(inaudible) – Washington theater, right at – (inaudible) – method acting –
built into the character – (inaudible).
So anybody – (inaudible) – different or interesting or challenging you want to
share about playing in a real story? And please introduce yourselves.
MR. URNOV: We can – (inaudible).
MR. PARKER: Oh, sorry, sure
STEPHEN NUNNS: Stephen Nunns – (inaudible) – programs out there – (inaudible).
I can’t – I can’t speak anybody else, but I don’t think that – I don’t think
it’s much different from doing anything else. I think it’s just a question of
you – I mean, I’m a little connected to this because I worked with Yury on the
script, so it – so I’m in a sort of different position – (inaudible) – than
they are. But – and I was a little deeper into it as a result of that, because
– (inaudible) – literal translation, and then I basically turned it into
American language. (Laughter.)
And so I think – I think it’s – I probably think from a very different place,
but I don’t think it’s much different. I think it’s just a character and you
just sort of make decisions about who the person is. And I didn’t do any
investigation about these people, and I don’t – I mean, I don’t think Temple
did either. I mean, we just – we just – we took some cues from the director,
and we went with that, basically, you know.
TEMPLE CROCKER: I think, also, in some ways, we didn’t want to say we know who
these people are and that we wanted to be clear that this is – this could be
who they are – (inaudible) – representing – (inaudible) – their thinking and
their hearts and minds, but we don’t really know.
And especially as – I know one of the challenges that we talked about a lot
with Yury was, to Yury, some of these characters seemed like Russian archetypes
in some way – like, you see people like this; you are in contact with people
like this on a regular basis. And I didn’t feel like I was in my own life in
the States. And so that was also very challenging because these characters
have so many veils or so many masks and you’re kind of trying to portray all
those different masks. And there’s a lot of fear there as well that’s driving
them. And so that’s challenging as well, you know. So it’s like the
characters have these veils; we have these veils in us too that we’re trying to
move away – move out of the way to understand something about these (people ?).
MR. URNOV: Yeah, I think fear, actually, is kind of a key word – key word to
understand – (inaudible) – different kinds of fear – (inaudible). Each of
these characters are afraid of – (inaudible) – but they – (inaudible) – some
kind of very specific fear. So I think that fear is very much the reason for
what they are doing. So – (inaudible) – fear.
Q: Mmm hmm. (Affirmative.) Actually –
MR. URNOV: I think there was –
MR. PARKER: Someone on this side – (inaudible)?
Q: One of the things that struck me – (inaudible) – performance was wonderful.
The – (inaudible) – really came along so well. And as you’re saying, true
that – (inaudible) – exactly what those particular people are feeling or
thinking or if they were at the time.
But what really I have been thinking about in the last few minutes is how
universal the situation really is. I mean, I thought the whole – (inaudible) –
to some extent, and are they – are these people not – (inaudible)? It’s really
quite fascinating. And it’s much more universal – we’ve been talking about it
in particular horrible case – (inaudible) – representative of many other cases
that are unknown. And yeah, I think it’s a lot more universal – (inaudible).
MR. PARKER: Sure. It’s really – (inaudible) – again striking at something
very human. And I think, again, that’s something – (inaudible) – you know, at
once, sort of Magnitsky is a symbol, and at the same time, he’s also a real
person. And it’s interesting because –
And it’s also – in this case in particular, it sort of seems so accidental,
right? I mean, who would have thought that a 36-year-old sort of – I mean,
what could be a more sort of a banal profession than a tax attorney, right?
You know, a tax attorney comes to the cubicle in the morning and with a cup of
coffee, and then ends up being the person who’s unbroken by the Russian penal
system, you know.
I mean – and just the name – and I think you should read the documents – I’m
always struck by the repression, yes, and brutal honesty of the name of the
Russian Federal Service for the Execution of Punishment. No, I – you know,
it’s – and it’s – and it’s – and it’s, again, something that – who would have
thought and how many will – (inaudible) – documented that way.
And, you know, I remember watching Mrs. Magnitsky talk about her son and how
sort of this was really his way to – (inaudible) – withdrawing – (inaudible) –
himself and documenting this, and in a sense, there’s a sort of homeless – you
know, I – the word is a nerd, but there’s a certain bookish quality. I mean,
you know, where you’re throwing at – what the hell does he think this is,
right? You know, you’re in a Russia pre-trial detention cell, and you expect
there’d be window panes on your cell wall? And you expect this? And, of
course, those are all conditions that, probably together, faced by many. In
Magnitsky’s case, there were certain very specific pressure – (inaudible) –
applied to break him in this case.
Just sort of offhand – (inaudible) – my views, and when we talk about the
Russian press, here’s a document. I don’t know how well you see it, but
there’s November 2009, there’s May of 2011, and it’s more than 3,500 articles
written by the Russia media repeating this story.
So – and it’s also an interesting story because – (inaudible) – again, you
know, to me – I cover Russia for the commission, and I sort of – again –
(inaudible) – work on some other countries – (inaudible) – inherently, but
Russia, by comparison, in many senses, is a – (inaudible) – society and –
(inaudible). And yes – (inaudible) – of course, the national TV is highly
controlled. But the things that are being said and done and going into Moscow
is, it’s interesting to see it happening in an authoritarian state, to be sure,
but not a totalitarian state, and a very sort of mixed set of issues.
And also, in this case, again, it’ s – you know, this is something that, as
much as it outrages many of us, outrages many Russians, and probably many
Russian officials. (Inaudible) – I say – (inaudible) – for some time.
And it’s also a case, I might say, that sort of really has, at least for me
personally, changed my sort of approach in looking at how we sort of – at least
how I do my job – (inaudible) – and getting my coffee and sitting in my cubicle
and sort of covering Russia – (inaudible) – human rights.
I knew about this case when Magnitsky was alive, and I was, of course, shocked
by it, but I’m shocked by so many, right? I mean, so many people come –
(inaudible) – office – (inaudible) – United States. I’ll never forget Natalia
Estemoriva who meets with us and then, shortly after, I see it in a headline
that her – (inaudible) – body sat on a roadside in the North Caucasus. It’s
sort of, you almost want to pinch yourself – is this real? Is this really –
sort of – you know, because of the one hand, you know, for me, I – (inaudible)
– ride on the metro to work, I live in suburban Maryland and, wow.
And on – (inaudible) – case, I go, well, this is really outrageous, we should
do something. And so we featured it at a hearing. And then, after that, I
thought we had served our duty, right? I mean, there’s a lot of cases, and you
can’t deal with everything. You can’t – (inaudible). And then, the next thing
I know, I walk in, November 16th, 2009, turn my computer on. What? This guy’s
And, you know, again, not to say – I mean, you can only do what you can do; you
can’t do everything about everything. But sort of, like, an interesting way of
approaching this – and I’ve often thought, you know, you see the poor on the
street. And, you know, if you had $100 to feed the poor, how do you do the
best good? Do you – do you give a dollar to a hundred beggars? Or do you give
$100 to one beggar?
And sort of this case really sort of having some interesting lessons in it
about the dangers of proportionalism, about the notion that it’s one case and
it’s not just one case, but it is one case. And that one case is enough and
that one case is important – and the value, infinite value of one person, and,
again, the sort of danger of collapsing something into an issue – (inaudible).
And then what? You know – (inaudible) – you hear – you hear about the
statistics about awful corruption and awful human rights situation and you sort
of walk away and say, well, it sucks to be you. (Chuckles.) I’m glad it’s not
my problem. But, again, the human face just – (inaudible) – so powerful, and
never being a distraction from the issue – (inaudible) – the issue itself.
And, again, it’s sort of so magnificent that it comes across in this play and
in such a beautiful as it does also for those in the other side, for those who
caused the suffering, who are human as well.
And of course, on the prison – (inaudible) – right? You know, it’s not just
those who are, you know, wrongly imprisoned. I mean, it’s – (inaudible). In
some sense, in Russia, it’s almost a rite a passage, right, to have been
imprisoned. It conveys a certain literary coolness, right, you know.
MR. URNOV: (Inaudible.)
MR. PARKER: But, of course, for those who are rightly imprisoned, that their
rights and their sort of purchase on our humanity is just as strong, maybe
stronger. And I think this is something that really is very rich – (inaudible).
MR. URNOV: Let’s take a couple more.
MR. PARKER: OK, yeah. We should wind up – (inaudible) – please.
MR. PARKER: (Inaudible.)
Q: I have one quick question. I was just wondering, right now since is
seeking membership in the WTO, whether or not you think this will be a factor
in that and if this could affect – (inaudible) – how they’re dealing with the
MR. PARKER: Well – (laughter) – well, yeah – I mean, it’s – you know, these
things are covered quite widely in the press and in – you know, on the one
hand, I would say that they’re sort of unrelated, and on the other hand, you
know – I guess I would – I would assume you’re looking at perhaps some of the
U.S. sort of say about it. At this point, it looks like Russia is going to
join the WTO, at least as far as the news I’ve read, in December.
And what that will mean in the broader context and why that should have any
human rights meaning, I think one of the reasons that it does is, of course,
the historic and successful Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974,
which was sort of, in a sense, to paraphrase it, it was, no free movement of
goods without the free movement of people. It was linking two seemingly
unrelated issues. And, of course, of the big issues of the day was Jewish
emigration and – (inaudible) – Jewish – (inaudible).
So I do expect that it will all be talked about. What it all means and where
this all ends is a very good question. I certainly don’t know. It’s still a
very dynamic story.
Q: Can I – can I ask the people who are here from Russia, who are Russians –
because when we hear about dissent within Russia, about (this kind of case ?),
we hear about journalists. We might hear about some opposition political
person. This play strikes me very much in the line – and I don’t want to
over-intellectualize it because I was really touched, but in the line of
avant-garde or Russian theater from early in the 20th century, and is – you
know, the – and it was the intellectuals who were encouraging opposition to
injustice. Is that going on among – I mean, is there – are there intellectuals
in Russia who are attending this play, who are thinking about these things? I
was struck that you said that people who are in this theater have not had
training or, you know –
MR. URNOV: Yeah – (inaudible).
Q: So is there a current going on that we should know about?
Q: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
You know, in my view, the real problem, the real – (inaudible) – described by
this play is that these are quite hundred percent ordinary people behaving
according everyday culture. They – (inaudible) – a code of (culture ?) and –
(inaudible) – by their position, they help to go against one ordinary person,
preferring to violate this prescription of everyday culture, because of some
moral (code ?).
So what we see here, just – (inaudible) – the matrix of – (inaudible) – the
matrix of Russian everyday culture poisoned by – (inaudible) –. And this is –
(inaudible) – undermining any efforts to modernize the country, just –
(inaudible) – to renew it – (inaudible) – the moral basis. This is –
(inaudible) – it’s not an exception. It’s not a Shakespearian – (inaudible).
Ordinary – (inaudible) – ordinary person.
And of course, when you explain why they do so, why you paint them as the
criminals, no. We – (inaudible). This is – (inaudible). They’re not just
devils. (Inaudible) – but I – (inaudible) – that the majority of the people at
their position who replicate such – (inaudible) – behavior – (inaudible) – this
devil – (inaudible). This is my – (inaudible). This is my – (inaudible). And
this – that’s why I thank you so much to propose at this stage this inner part
of everyday life – maybe one of the most important elements.
This is the international – (inaudible). (Laughter.)
MR. MILOSCH: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
Q: Just want to agree with Mark – (inaudible) – I can feel that society is
infected by – (inaudible) – national character, that’s how the system hurts
people, and they have to cope, they have to adapt. And – (inaudible) –
self-defense mechanisms, they work, and they try to protect themselves just not
to be bothered. This is – (inaudible) – irrational for them – (inaudible) –
going on. That’s how they can survive in today’s society.
MR. URNOV: That’s – (inaudible) – if I could – (inaudible) – one more thing,
that’s something that I think we – (inaudible) – this play, that Magnitsky is
the only person who is – who, in this story, behaves against this logic.
Everybody else follows one logic and he’s following (it ?). And then again,
you bring – (inaudible). From the point of view not just of most characters –
(inaudible) – but I’m afraid, from the point of view of very many – (inaudible)
– that he’s weird – (inaudible). So that’s – and that’s, again, exactly to the
beginning of – (inaudible) – that was – that was – (inaudible) – for me what –
you don’t do that. You don’t do that. He did. Go figure.
MR. MILOSCH: Seems to be the moment that – (inaudible). Thank you, Yury.
Thank you – (inaudible). (Applause.)