International Women’s Day 2022: Honoring Yelena Osipova

yelena osipova with protest signs, being arrested

Debbie says:

Today is International Women’s Day. According to the linked website, This day has been observed “for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.”

Because of its dispersed nature, groups and individuals can choose to mark the day in their own way. I always feel inclined to grumble that that means that the other 364 days are men’s days, and that nonbinary people deserve (at the very least) a day. That being said, it’s a useful hook to celebrate something that women are, or are doing, or represent. The person who came to my mind today — for reasons I think are obvious — is Yelena Osipova (also transliterated equally correctly as Elena Osipova).

Right now, she’s all over the news, but it’s hard to find much about her that isn’t either about her infancy or linked directly to this week’s news. A 2014 profile by Ekaterina Danilova at Free Speech Radio News, which gave me some background and some images of her paintings.

Osipova is a survivor of the gruesome siege of Leningrad during World War II. She was born when people around her and her parents were dying of starvation. As an adult, she became an artist, painting both fine art and later political poster art (which of course can also be fine art).

More images of Osipova and her art can be found at the Free Speech Radio News link above.

According to FSRN, she began

her opposition actions in October 2002, in the wake of the Nord-Ost attack in which Chechen terrorists occupied a Moscow theater during a performance, taking hundreds of people hostage. Over 100 people died in a botched gas attack by security forces. Elena Andreyevna puts at least part of the blame for the tragedy on Putin.

After that, she became a well-known figure at anti-war and anti-Putin rallies. She has been arrested many times, and also harassed by pro-Putin demonstrators and provocateurs, including having (literal) shit thrown at her.

And last week, she was arrested by six Russian policeman for holding up her handwritten signs calling for Russian soldiers to lay down their arms and not fight Ukraine. She’s 77 years old, and diabetic, and none of that seems to matter to her as much as what she believes in.

She’s the kind of woman I want to appreciate on International Women’s Day — and the other 364 days of the year.


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