Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Selling Freedomites as Doukhobors
     is False Advertising

Two events promoted in Nelson, British Columbia, have been fraudulently selling Freedomites (Svobodninki, Sons of Freedom) as Doukhobors — a movie and museum exhibit. Both events were promoted in the Nelson Star newspaper.

Canada has laws against consumer fraud, false advertising, counterfeit goods, bait-and-switch, identity theft, mislabeling, adulterated food, etc. Consumers want to be protected against deception, counterfeit products to be confiscated, defective products repaired or exchanged, businesses licensed and inspected, and perpetrators arrested.

If 'Doukhobor' was a trademarked commercial product, it would be a crime to promote the 'Doukhobor' label to the public, collect money but deliver something else. After more than half a century of public awareness education, this fraud is still happening in Canada because the word falsely lingers as a profitable commodity of sensationalized abuse, arson, bombings, nudity and terrorism.

Movie: The Change Agents (2012)

In mid-April 2014, Alex Atamanenko (Member of Parliament) gave Tarasoff a DVD copy of a movie to review which was produced by staff and students of L.V. Rogers Secondary School in Nelson, BC. Atamanenko saw it and wanted Tarasoff to comment. The movie shocked us. It’s been in the Kootenay news since October 2010. Why did no one tell us about it? Why was it not mentioned in the USCC Doukhobor monthly magazine Iskra? *

The opening minutes show 6 photos of Freedomites taken in the 1950s, 2 with nudity and fire, while the narration falsely states they are Doukhobors, pacifist spirit-wrestlers. Next, student actors joke about nude protests, arson and bombing; while their teacher discusses the Son of Freedom nude protests as examples of social activism.

While the movie promotes cleaning the environment, it pollutes the public perception of Doukhobors. The words ‘Doukhobor’ and ‘spirit-wrestler’ must be deleted from the movie and never be used to describe extremist actions of Freedomites (Russian: Svobodniki: also: Sons of Freedom).

Tarasoff complained to the movie owner/producers and writer about correcting this fraud. So far some have acknowledged the errors, but the current movie owner has not made the corrections. (See: Ottawa Screening of 'The Change Agents')

Photo Exhibit: Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History (2014)

On June 10, 2014, the Nelson Star website posted ‘Examining the Sons of Freedom’ about an exhibit of photos from the 1950s and 1960s at the Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History, promoted with a photo of the current Doukhobor choir “Friends.” Tarasoff responded with an open letter to the paper and museum to correct two errors.

Your story implies that “Sons of Freedom” are “Doukhobors”. They are not the same! The story stated that ‘the photographs in this exhibit document a compelling chapter in the history of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors, as well as our community.’ To avoid stereotyping and discrimination, the word “Doukhobor” should not appear in this story, nor should it be used as a synonym.’ The exhibit title should be: ‘Sons of Freedom: Photographs from the Stevens Studio,

The original Russian term used by these separatists was Svobodniki (English: Freedomites). Later journalists called them "Sons of Freedom" (Russian: Syny svobody).

Photos of Freedomites in the movie were obtained from the museum collection, online at Touchstones Nelson, flickr. Neither the newspaper nor the museum have responded.

Go to Court

Though the movie and photos don't directly refer to the USCC Doukhobors, the Council of Doukhobors in Canada (CDC), the Canadian Doukhobors Society (CDS), or the Doukhobor Society of Saskatoon (DSS); the intention to deceive the public about Doukhobors for profit and gain is obvious.

With no remorse, the paper promotes organizations which stigmatize Doukhobors with a powerfully negative label that changes their self-concept and social identity.

The only possible legal defense for such fraud is claiming that no entity owns the generic 'Doukhobor' label, therefore anyone is free to use it, abuse it, and misuse it as they wish, to fool the public for profit and personal gain. Though this is unethical, wrong, and dishonest; it's probably not illegal until someone takes the issue to court, or public protests bring shame to the perpetrators.

"[U.S.A.] trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that 'may disparage' individuals or groups or 'bring them into contempt or disrepute.'..." (Washington Redskins' Federal Trademarks Cancelled, the two-way, National Public Radio, June 18, 2014.)

For now, buyer and reader beware — caveat emptor.

Short link to this page: goo.gl/7xdrmi
* A search of the USCC Doukhobor web site found the movie was mentioned in USCC News twice with no comments or further information. A query to the Iskra editor revealed that the USCC board voted to be mute, a vow of silence, regarding Freedomites, a topic too sensitive for public discussion.
— By Koozma J. Tarasoff and Andrei Conovaloff.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Ottawa Screening of 'The Change Agents'

On June 3rd, 80 people attended a screening of the movie The Change Agents (2012) in Ottawa, Ontario.

This full length movie (~90 minutes) produced by the secondary school in Nelson, B.C., uses 6 archival news photos of Freedomites to introduce fictional characters who protest against environmental pollution. Nudity and burning is shown, and bombing is joked about.

L to R: Elizabeth May (MP leader of the Green Party), Robyn
Sheppard (Writer/Director), Cathy Orlando (National Manager,
Canada's Citizen Climate Lobby), Sarah Miller Hayward (Producer),
and Alex Atamanenko (MP for BC Southern Interior)

The event was supported by Canada's Citizen Climate Lobby (CCCL) and coordinated by MP Alex Atamanenko and his office, to lobby Parliament during Environment Week. Most of the audience, including myself, were climate activists from Ontario, 8 were Parliamentarians (17 had RSVP'd), and 4 who made the movie (2 actors, a producer, and the writer/director) came from Nelson, B.C.

Atamanenko represents the riding (electoral district) were the movie was made. In October 2011, he visited the school during production and announced it to Parliament.

From about 70 volunteer amateur actors recruited from the Nelson area to make the movie, 2 attended.

English actors for Deda and Ruby.
Mike Coons (who played grandfather, deda) told me that he served briefly in the military before becoming a carpenter and plumber in Nelson; and he worked closely with local Doukhobor workers on the Kootenay River dam projects. Lucy Carver Brennan (Ruby) was in Grade 6 in Nelson when she auditioned.

Though the production notes showed 4 actors with Russian surnames, 3 appeared in the movie and only one had a speaking role. Ryan Hayward (played by Dylan Zaitsoff) is the main antagonist who verbally abuses and harasses the star character, Carly Dutoff, a fictional descendant of Freedomites (played by Susannah Rebar). The notes also show 4 characters with Russian surnames, all played by English actors.

The movie opened in Nelson on February 2nd, 2013, was shown at the USCC Doukhobor Brilliant Cultural Center (Feb 16th, 2013) and a few places in North America and Europe. The film has been translated into several languages and is online in Spanish.

A co-producer and now owner of the movie, Sarah Miller Hayward told me that she had film experience in Hollywood and Toronto before coming to Nelson, BC. Next, she and Jo Ann Lowell (Executive Producer) are going to Toronto to seek support to promote the film to a larger audience. Many participants hope the movie will boost their careers.

Prior to the screening, I presented my comments (excerpt):
BUT, as a Doukhobor historian, the movie immediately troubled and shocked me. The opening scene shows sensational archival news footage of nudity and burnings by a small group of Freedomites, which is a breakaway faction from the Doukhobors. Their actions are not the same as the Doukhobors, resulting in confusion and discrimination.
Freedomites terrorized Canadian society expressing their displeasure with government. Doukhobors have never supported their extremist actions, and have greatly suffered whenever they were and are falsely presented as Freedomites.
Robyn Sheppard, writer/director
I presented a copy of Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living to Robyn Sheppard, writer/director, who did not know that the small number of sensationalized Freedomites were not Doukhobors. She apologized for any misconceptions due to her script. She said her main intent was to highlight the urgency and importance of the environmental issues to world health.

She grew up in the Toronto area, but 18 years ago moved to the West Kootenays where she taught drama at the Mount Sentinnel High School in the Slocan Valley near Nelson, British Columbia, and met many local Doukhobor students.

When asked if she will correct the mistakes, Producer Hayward said that she would 'have a look at it.'


Koozma J. Tarasoff. 'The Sons of Freedom — a Flashback to 1956: Origins, problems, misconceptions, and relationship to Doukhobors.' — Updated reprint of "The 'Sons of Freedom'," The Inquirer (Vol. 3, No. 5, June 1956: 9-13).

Canada's Citizens Climate Lobby. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy group that trains and supports volunteers to engage elected officials and the media for generating the political will to find solutions for climate change. There are 170 CCL chapters in North America covering over 40 ridings in Canada and more than half the congressional districts in the USA.

Spirit-Wrestlers Blog: Selling Freedomites as Doukhobors is False Advertising

Error in the 'Change Agents' movie end credits — "An Angel Flew at Midnight", United in Song (2009 album), Performed by: The Victoria Doukhobor Group, should say "Performed by: The Victoria Island Doukhobor Community Association (VIDCA), with the Vision of Peace Youth Choir, Castlegar, B.C."

Monday, 9 June 2014

Avoiding Another Cold War

Image sent by Alex  Wishlow. Source: www.commondreams.org

For weeks I have been thinking about a peaceful solution for the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine. This is the territory of my Doukhobor roots.

How can another Cold War be avoided?

This week a peace scholar who I highly respect, Johan Galtung, gave 2 answers in an interview about this issue which got me thinking. I agree with his 2 answers, to which I add my thoughts below.

Question 6: … Russia and Ukraine … what … can … ensure a peaceful resolution …?
  • Focus more on the USA, please, and the Bush 2004 idea of enrolling Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, going even further in breaking the promises to the Soviet Union/Russia.
  • Look also at the clumsy Georgian invasion of South Ossetia to provoke war in 2008, and
  • above all at Khruschev’s gift, Crimea, to Ukraine in 1954 under conditions that no longer apply after the fall of the Soviet empire, and you get a more nuanced picture.
  • Ukraine means, at the border, one state; two nations cry for a federal solution: to elect a president from one of the nations will never work.
  • Look for Swiss-type solution. Putin took Crimea back under these circumstances and now works for a federation; the step-by-step withdrawal is de-escalation inviting reciprocation from Kiev.
  • But Putin should have given the Tatars the autonomy he wants for the Russians.
Question 9: … advice … to young scholars … in peace and conflict resolution studies?
  • Stop studying international relations, a misnomer for inter-state studies, by using Anglo-American texts, given their track record of colonialism-imperialism and continued warfare.
  • Travel all over, talk with people, ask them what is the best and the worst thing that happened to their nation and state, what are the conflicts, what are the solutions.
  • Study history for creative solutions. Try to understand their deep cultures hidden in the collective subconscious.
  • Pay much attention to culture and nation, less to threats/bribes and states.
  • Be solution-, not victory-, oriented – also in your daily life.
Koozma adds:
  • Drop all sanctions against the Russian Federation.
  • Cease demonizing Putin and begin working together for a common solution.
  • Pulling NATO out of eastern Europe would be a good beginning.
  • Drop participation inRapid Trident military exercises in the Ukraine and eastern Europe. Be statesmen, not warrior propagandists. Search for nonkilling alternatives.
  • 'Regime change' is not an option in today's world. USA ought to close down its 1000 bases in 150 countries (including Hawaii), and divert the military budget to improving conditions at home.
  • Work towards international recognition of Crimea's decision to join the Russian Federation. Russia wants the oil and gas, and naval ports.
  • Use United Nations diplomacy to mediate a settlement between Kiev and the break-away provinces.
  • Recognize the Russian Federation as a nation with legitimate interests in the world community that has much to contribute to world civilization.
  • Acknowledge the fact that the former Soviet Union (composed of Russians, Ukrainians and others) lost 27 million people (including 7 million soldiers) fighting to stop Hitler's regime.Without this huge support, the West would no doubt have been invaded.
  1. Al McKay. Interview – Johan Galtung, E-International Relations, Transcend Media Service, June 2, 2014.
  2. Dr. Andrey Fursov, Battleground Ukraine: A Comprehensive Summary (From a Russian Perspective) : Oligarchy Typology of Ukraine. Published April 26, 2014. (70 minute video in Russian with English subtitles and transcript). — Fursov, historian and sociologist, explains 4 business syndicates in Ukraine competing among themselves and against Western tycoons who targeted Russia for 200 years.
  3. Michel Chossudovsky, Ukraine Crisis Today: Bandersctadt. Global Research News, May 30, 2014. (87 minute video). — Atrocities by the Kiev regime not shown in Western media.
  4. Robert Parry, 'New York Time's One-Sided Ukraine Narrative'. Consortium News, in Transcend Media Service, June 2, 2014. — The biased U.S. press, especially the NYT, blames Putin.
  5. Jan Oberg, 'Why Obama's Speech Should Make You Think' Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research, in Transcend Media Service, June 2, 2014. — Hope is replaced by fear.
  6. Robert Parry, 'The Only Standards Are Double Standards 'Consortium News, June 4, 2014. — Obama intervention provoked a civil war.
  7. Jim Albertini, 'Beacon of Freedom and American Exceptionalism'. Transcend Media Service, June 2, 2014. — If the U.S. wants to be a 'beacon of freedom', then its addiction to militarism must end.
  8. Mairead Maguire, 'Peace Movement's Common Vision: The Abolition of Militarism'. Nobel Peace Laureate, Transcend Media Service. Keynote address at Sarajevo Peace Event – 6 June, 2014.
  9. Alberto Portugheis, 'My Thoughts on Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire's Speech on 6th June, 2014 in Sarajevo'. Transcend Media Service – 7 July 2014. 
  10. Video: 'Cold War: Crash Course US History #37.' 14 minutes.
  11. Video: 'All Wars Are Bankers' Wars', written and spoken by Michael Rivero,  4 Feb. 1913. 44 minutes. A written version is also available.
  12. Update: Roger Annis, The Propaganda War Over Crimea's Break From Ukraine. Truthout, December 10, 1014,