(WEST BANK) FLD REPORT: University of Toronto & Citizen Lab: Devices of Palestinian Human Rights Defenders Hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Nov.08: FLD shared the data they collected with the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab for separate independent peer review of their initial findings. FLD’s analysisindicated that six devices belonging to six Palestinian human rights defenders were hacked with Pegasus, a spyware developed by the cyber-surveillance company NSO Group. Both the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab independently confirmed these findings.

#AceDailyNews says in October 2021, the human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) Front Line Defenders (FLD) began collecting data on the suspected hacking of the devices of several Palestinians working for civil society organizations based in the West Bank:

This document is a joint technical report by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab reviewing Front Line Defenders’ technical research.

Of the six individuals, three consented to be named. Of these three, two individuals are dual nationals: one French, the other American. Further, all three work at NGOs designated “terrorist organizations” by the Israeli government in October 2021. These designations have been widely condemned internationally, including by prominent international NGOs (including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch), governmental offices and representatives (such as Sweden’s Minister of International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security PolicyIreland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, and U.S. Congressional representatives), and UN experts (such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Association). The hacking described in this report took place prior to this designation.

Methodology

To establish whether or not the devices had been hacked, the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab each performed forensic analysis on the logs from each device. The results of our analysis are listed in Table 1.

Our analysis involved reviewing results shared with us by FLD, as well as analyzing logs extracted from the phones; these logs record names and other details about processes, apps, or code that have run on the phone. We were able to connect specific process names back to NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware on the basis of observing temporal correlations on other devices between the process names and communication with NSO Group servers.

NSO Group has implicitly acknowledged that this methodology establishes signs of bona fide Pegasus compromise. On the basis of the Citizen Lab’s technical analysis of the devices of Al Jazeera journalists, which is described here, NSO Group reportedly terminated its contract with Saudi Arabia. Additionally, NSO Group reportedly terminated its contract with the Emirate of Dubai because the customer abused the spyware to hack the Emir’s ex-wife, Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, and her lawyers. In May 2021, the High Court of England and Wales ruled that the phones had been hacked with Pegasus on the basis of this technical methodology.

Targets

The table below summarizes information regarding the targets’ identity and when the targeting occurred. Note that some dates of hacking may not be particularly significant, as zero-click hacking can sometimes be driven by availability of exploits rather than specific time frames of interest. Of interest is the fact that four hacked phones exclusively used SIMs issued by Israeli telecoms companies with Israeli (+972) phone numbers. NSO Group has said that exported versions of Pegasus cannot be used to hack Israeli phone numbers.TargetPositionApproximate Dates Phone Hacked with PegasusSIM(s)Ghassan HalaikaField researcher and human rights defender working for Alhaq(1) 2020-07-14 – 2020-07-18(1) MCC 425, MNC 07 (HOT Mobile – IL)Ubai AboudiExecutive Director at Bisan Center for Research and Development(1) 2021-02-12 – 2021-02-17(1) MCC 425, MNC 05 (Jawwal – PS)Salah HammouriLawyer and field researcher at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association based in Jerusalem(1) 2021-04-12 – 2021-04-30(1) MCC 425, MNC 02 (Cellcom ltd. – IL)T4Human rights defender(1) 2021-04-12(1) MCC 425, MNC 02 (Cellcom ltd. – IL)T5Human rights defender(1) 2021-02-10(2) 2021-04-03(3) 2021-04-12(1) MCC 425, MNC 01 (Orange/Partner – IL)T6Human rights defender(1) 2020-11-04(1) MCC 425, MNC 05 (Jawwal – PS)Table 1: Results of forensic analysis conducted on the phones of Palestinians targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

The phone logs of Ghassan Halaika record that a binary was stored at /private/var/db/com.apple.xpc.roleaccountd.staging/smmsgingd, and that a process with the name smmsgingd ran on the phone starting on 2020-07-14. There is no legitimate iOS process with the name smmsgingd, and both the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab have linked this process name to Pegasus.

The phone logs of Ubai Aboudi record that three processes ran on the phone, MobileSMSdCommsCenterRootH…, and otpgrefd. There are no legitimate iOS processes with these names. The process name otpgrefdwas also seen on one of the phones of a journalist at Al Jazeera, whose phone was communicating with Pegasus spyware servers, as well as the phone of Ala’a Al-Siddiq, whose phone was communicating with Pegasus spyware servers. Amnesty International’s Security Lab linked MobileSMSd and CommsCenterRootH… to Pegasus.

The phone logs of Salah Hammouri record that two processes ran on the phone, ctrlfs and xpccfd. There are no legitimate iOS processes with these names. Both the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab have linked these process names to Pegasus.

The phone logs of T4 record that one process ran on the phone, bundpwrd. There is no legitimate iOS process with this name. Both the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab have linked this process name to NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

The phone logs of T5 record that eight processes ran on the phone, gssdplaunchafdcom.apple.MappitcfprefssdlibtouchregdABSCarryLogcontextstoremgrd, and launchrexd. There are no legitimate iOS processes with these names. The Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab have linked these process names to Pegasus. The process names launchafdlibtouchregd, and launchrexd were also seen on the phone of journalist Khadija Ismayilova, whose phone communicated with Pegasus spyware servers.

The phone logs of T6 record that two binaries were stored at /private/var/db/com.apple.xpc.roleaccountd.staging/accountpfd and /private/var/db/com.apple.xpc.roleaccountd.staging/logseld, and that a process named accountpfd ran on the phone starting on 2020-11-04. There are no legitimate iOS processes with these names. The Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab have linked both accountpdfand logseld to Pegasus.

Conclusion

This report confirms that the devices of six Palestinian human rights defenders were hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware in 2020 and 2021, as published by Front Line Defenders. The hacking took place prior to the Israeli government’s decision to designate a number of organizations working in the West Bank as terrorist organizations, a decision that governments and civil society organizations worldwide have strongly condemned.

The use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware against Palestinian human rights defenders illustrates yet another failure of the company’s Human Rights Policy, which professes an “unequivocal respect for human rights,” as well as the company’s claim that the Israeli regulatory system imposes sufficient human rights controls on the sale of NSO Group’s technology. NSO Group’s headquarters in Herzliya, Israel, are less than a hundred kilometres from where the hacked Palestinian organizations work: not only has this technology been exported to countries where it has facilitated human rights abuse like Saudi Arabia and Mexico, but it is also being deployed locally and in some cases against Israeli numbers—something which NSO Group previously claimed was not possible.

In the face of such contradictions, it perhaps should come as no surprise that the company was recently added to the United States Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)’s Entity List, with the United States Commerce Department expressly noting that NSO Group was added because the company’s technology was used to “maliciously target” activists.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Nov.08: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#amnesty, #fld, #ngo, #palestine, #toronto, #west-bank

(WEST AFRICA) JUST IN: Nine people have died in an attack on a village in the Lake Chad area that is plagued by violence led by jihadist groups, a local governor and an NGO said on Tuesday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.01: The region borders Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon and fighters from Boko #Haram and a rival splinter group, the #IslamicState in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have used it for years as a haven from which to attack troops and civilians.

#AceDailyNews says that according to reports militants have attacked a village, murdered nine people & set fire to Chad Villagers in Jihadist Assault,” AFP, September 22, 2021:

“Elements from Boko Haram attacked Kadjigoroum and killed nine people and set fire to the village” on Sunday night, regional governor Mahamat Fadoul Mackaye told AFP by telephone.

Chadian authorities use the Boko Haram label to refer to both militant groups.

The head of a local NGO confirmed the attack and death toll at the village, asking not to be identified….

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Oct.01: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#africa, #cameroon, #chad, #islamic-state, #iswap, #jihadist, #ngo, #niger

(BOLIVIA) Friends of Nature Foundation Report: An NGO has raised alarm about the impact of destructive wildfires, saying they tore through 749,000 hectares of the country’s woodland between January and July earlier this year, in a new report released on Thursday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Aug.14: Two regions of Bolivia – Santa Cruz and Beni – have been particularly impacted by the fires, suffering 94% of the burnt woodland. By the end of July, Santa Cruz had lost 137,000 hectares, while Beni lost 564,000 hectares due to the blazes….

#AceDailyNews says that Bolivian wildfires destroyed 749,000 hectares of land in 2021, NGO says, as border region declares ‘red alert’ over blazes acording to the report by the Friends of Nature Foundation (FAN) examined the extent of the damage caused by wildfires in the region, finding that there had been a 62% increase in the scale of the burned area during June and July compared with 2020 and a 48% rise versus the same period in 2019 RT News

13 Aug, 2021 17:28  / Updated 13 minutes ago

Bolivian wildfires destroyed 749,000 hectares of land in 2021, NGO says, as border region declares ‘red alert’ over blazes

Using satellite imagery collected by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 to track the spread of the fires, the NGO highlighted how widespread deforestation to expand farming and pastureland had aggravated the blazes in a similar situation to what’s happened in Brazil.

On Thursday, Santa Cruz declared a “red alert” over the “progressive increase in heat sources”, citing “climatic conditions” as a driving factor behind the spread of ongoing fires in the area.

Earlier, Bolivia’s vice-minister of civil defense, Juan Carlos Calvimontes, blamed a significant portion of this year’s fires in the country on humans, claiming that about 90% of them “are being set,” rather than “starting by themselves.” Authorities have pledged to hold those responsible accountable, stating that they will push to recoup the cost of extinguishing them.

The concerns raised by FAN follow similar findings from the organization saying that in 2020, an estimated 2.3 million hectares of forests and prairies were ruined by fire throughout the year, and in 2019, 6.4 million hectares were lost.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: Aug.14: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#bolivia, #fan, #ngo, #wildfires

(ZURICH) JUST IN: A bomb ready to explode was found Thursday in the mailbox of the headquarters of the Swiss Turkish Society (ITT), which serves as the umbrella group of Turkish nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the Rumlang region #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.01: ITT Chairperson Şeref Yıldız, who has been exposed to attacks by PKK supporters many times and had to leave the house where he lived for years because of the terrorist threat, spoke to the Anadolu Agency (AA) regarding the incident:

Suspected PKK attempt to bomb Turkish NGO in Switzerland thwarted: “They put a bomb in the ITT mailbox between the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. yesterday. I noticed the situation because the lid of the box was open. I immediately called the police,” he said.

by DAILY SABAH WITH AA

Government vehicles near are parked near where a bomb that was ready to explode was found in the mailbox of the headquarters of the Swiss Turkish Society (ITT), Rumlang, Switzerland, April 30, 2021. (AA)
Daily Sabah

Yıldız said that the police told him that the bomb was real.

“The police took the incident very seriously. Immediately, the area was cordoned off and the evacuation started. Even the entrance and exit to the town were closed. They also took us out of the building,” he added.

Yıldız stated that he gave a detailed statement to the police about the four hours prior the incident and said, “I call on the Swiss authorities to find those responsible as soon as possible and to give an account before the law. I had to leave my house in Basel where I have lived for years due to the threats. Now I have to keep my residence a secret,” he continued.

Underlining that they will continue to work without compromising on the truth for the benefit of the Turkish community in Switzerland, Yıldız said: “We live here in peace and tranquility as the Turkish community. We are pioneering the integration of the Turks into Switzerland. Such threats will not turn us away from our struggle.”

Stating that the destructive power of the bomb has yet to be determined, Yıldız added that it has been examined by the Swiss police and the investigation continues.

PKK supporters of the terrorist group have been behind attacks on Turkish businesses and organizations in Switzerland in recent months.

Yıldız’s house was attacked for the fifth time in the last two years by the supporters of the terrorist group PKK on March 17th.

Yıldız had to stay away from his house where his office was also located for 18 years because his children were worried about the increasing number of attacks.

Yıldız emphasized that he believes the bomb found in the mailbox of the ITT headquarters was planted by PKK supporters.

In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women and children.

Europol’s annual terrorism report “European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2020” suggests the PKK is actively engaged in propaganda activities as well as collecting money in European countries such as Belgium, Germany and Romania.

“Members and sympathizers of the PKK continued to be involved in legal and illegal activities to raise funds to support the group and its affiliates,” the report said.

The PKK and its sympathizers carried out many violent attacks and rallies targeting the Turkish community in Europe. Last year, sympathizers of the terrorist group vandalized mosques and shops belonging to the Turkish community in Germany. Such incidents were also reported in Belgium and Switzerland.

Turkey has long criticized European authorities for tolerating PKK activities in their countries and has pressured them to take stricter measures against the propaganda, recruitment and fundraising activities of the group. Despite its status as a designated international terrorist organization, the PKK has enjoyed relative freedom in European cities and has a particularly strong presence in Germany. PKK supporters have been allowed to hold rallies, recruit militants and collect funds in Germany, which is home to some 5 million people of Turkish origin, including Kurds.

Last Update: Apr 30, 2021 4:35 pm

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.01: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#itt, #ngo, #pkk, #switzerland

‘ THIRTY FIVE MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE TRAPPED IN MODERN FORM OF SLAVERY ‘

#AceNewsServices – Nov.18 – More than 35 million people around the world are trapped in a modern form of slavery, the Guardian said, citing a report from the Walk Free Foundation (WFF).

The study by the Australia-based NGO that publishes the annual global slavery index, highlighted the prevalence of forced labour, human trafficking, forced marriages, debt bondage and commercial sexual exploitation.

Due to better data and improved methodology, WFF said it had increased its estimate by 23 percent in the past year.

Source: Download PDF:Here:  

#ANS2014 

#bondage, #commercial-sexual-exploitation, #debt-bondage, #forced-labour, #forced-marriage, #human-trafficking, #ngo, #slavery

` Israeli Police Challenge Washington’s Inclusion of Jewish Extremists Attacks on Palestinians in Global Terror Report ‘

AceNewsServices – JERUSALEM – May 01 – Israeli police on Thursday challenged Washington’s inclusion of Jewish extremist attacks on Palestinians in a global terror report, saying such incidents could not be likened to militant attacks.

For the first time, the State Department’s 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism, published Wednesday, included a reference to a growing wave of racist anti-Palestinian vandalism, euphemistically known as “price tag” attacks.

“Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property, and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely not prosecuted,” the report said, citing UN and NGO data.

But Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incidents were far from the global terror threats outlined in the report.

“There’s no comparison whatsoever between criminal incidents with nationalistic motives and terrorist-related incidents,” Rosenfeld told AFP.

AFP – AL-ARABIYA – UN – NGO’s

#ANS2014

#acenewsservices, #israeli, #jerusalem, #ngo, #palestinian, #un, #washington

` European NGO's Train Agents for Intrastate Conflicts Around the World CIS Anti-Terrorism Committee '

#AceNewsServices – April 12 – (RT) – European NGOs train agents for participation in intrastate conflicts around the world, the CIS Antiterrorism Committee has revealed. There are over 2,000 schools across Europe preparing experts for conducting psychological and subversive operations.

Those institutions, affiliated with private military companies and security agencies, help enlist and train a broad range of saboteurs, according to the chief of CIS Antiterrorism Committee, Andrey Novikov. He was speaking at the conference of chiefs of security services and law enforcement agencies in Sochi attended by 79 delegations from 55 states and three international organizations.

“We noted the activity of NGOs ahead of well-known events in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine,” Interfax reported Novikov as saying. Novikov referred to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 and the “Tulip Revolution” which ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev in 2005.

Most often, future information warfare agents are people enlisted by relevant structures and who received special training. Enlisting can be hidden in quite innocent contexts.

“We are seeing the departure of CIS citizens from home countries or Europe, where they reside as refugees, or their parents were refugees in the 1990s, to study in different educational centres – mostly under the declared purpose of religious education,” Novikov said.

Read More: http://on.rt.com/bjjeya

#ANS2014

#european, #kyrgzstan, #ngo, #orange-revolution, #tulip-revolution, #ukraine

` New Ukrainian Government are `Violating Human Rights ‘ and ` Oppressing National Minorities ‘ Poland-Based NGO ‘

#AceWorldNews The new government in Ukraine is violating human-rights and oppressing national minorities, a Poland-based NGO said, adding that the actions of the Maidan leaders would be considered illegal in most EU states.

Mateush Piskorski, a Polish MP and head of the European Centre for Geopolitical Analysis, said: “The dominant political forces who participated in the so-called Euromaidan” are calling “for major violations of human-rights, mainly to violations of the rights of national minorities.”

Piskorski told Itar-Tass that his organization sent several groups of experts to Ukraine during the unrest.

#ANS2014

#euromaidan, #european-centre-for-geopolitical-analysis, #human-rights, #itar-tass, #maidan, #mp, #ngo, #poland, #polish, #ukraine

#AceWorldNews says Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan intelligence…

#AceWorldNews says Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and many others, including journalists, academics, business leaders and NGO representatives, have been wire-tapped for years by the police as part of different probes, the Hurriyet daily reported.

The classified files on the wire-tapping’s were found in the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office by the new prosecutors who were assigned following mass purges in the judiciary, according to pro-government dailies, the Star and Yeni Safak.

Up to 3,064 people have been reportedly wire-tapped according to the first documents found by the newly appointed prosecutors, and sources say the real number is likely close to 7,000.

#hurriyet-daily, #ngo, #prime-minister-tayyip-erdogan, #wire-tapped

Russia: Ayshat’s Story: “One Woman’s Fight to Help Other’s to Fight Abuse”

#AceNewsServices says this story is about one woman who was kidnapped and forced into an abusive relationship, forced into marriage and is now trying to help others with their problems, even though she has had a brain tumour! 

This story really moved me when it was sent to my news desk and l first read it!  

Ingush (Ingushetia, Eastern part of Prigorodny...

Ingush (Ingushetia, Eastern part of Prigorodny District, Chechnya and Turkey) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon after the fall of communism, Ayshat (not her real name) was kidnapped by a stranger who wanted to marry her. Such kidnaps are not unusual in ultra-conservative Ingushetia, or in any of the North Caucasus republics. What is rare is Ayshat’s courage in speaking out. She tells the story of her violent marriage, breaking silence in the hope of persuading other women to resist abuse.

Ayshat sits in the small basement office of a women’s NGO in Ingushetia. Pale, determined, articulate, she looks older than her 40 years. With no relatives to support her, she is raising her son alone, on her small income, which is extremely unusual in Ingushetia. Her thick hair is cut fashionably short – also a rarity in Ingushetia, where women pride themselves on their long locks. It had to be cut when she was first treated for a brain tumour. Now she has learned at the hospital that the cancer has returned, and she needs an operation in Moscow which she cannot afford. When she broke down, a kind nurse referred her to this NGO. Ayshat is clear that her tumour is the result of her ex-husband’s violence.

 I’d better start with how I met my – now ex – husband. I was a nurse, working in the resuscitation department. One day a colleague said to me ‘this man’s just back from Barnaul. He’s a great guy, I’d like to introduce you’. I agreed. Next day he turned up, when I was on my shift. We talked. I didn’t like him at all, didn’t like the way he talked or behaved.  I was quite clear – this was not my kind of man. I refused him, politely.  I was about to take my entrance exam for medical school and I had a lot of revising to do. I wanted to study gynaecology.  We only had that one conversation. He seemed to have got the point.

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Next morning, I was on my way home after the night shift when he came up and asked if he could walk with me. I said I’d rather he did not, I thought I’d made my position clear – I was not looking for a husband. Suddenly this car drives up, two men leap out, drag me in, drive me off to Nazran and lock me into this fifth floor flat!

I resisted, of course. Said I’d never agree to marry him. But he took no notice. I did try to escape. I found there was a balcony – the adjoining apartment had one too. I asked my kidnappers, who were keeping guard in the next room, if I could close the door for five minutes. Then I climbed onto the neighbour’s balcony. I thought ‘I’ve done it, got away!’ Imagine – you realise you’re going to have to live with a man you don’t even like! I was in such a state, shaking from head to foot. I banged on the neighbours’ window. But there was no one there.

That was when I understood – no one was going to rescue me. I was going to have to go back. For a moment, standing on that fifth floor balcony, I thought ‘why not just throw myself off?’ I was distraught. I lay down again quickly in case they came to check up on me. When they did, I pretended I was alright. I lay there thinking how to escape. I’d got to, somehow. But I never managed it.

Then the men took me off into the depths of Chechnya, as my relations were all saying ‘Give us back our girl’. They told the elders I was fine with it. The elders said ‘Bring her here, so we can ask her ourselves’. So they thought up this wheeze. They took some other girl – none of my close relations were there, and our clan elders are so distantly connected to me that they wouldn’t have known what I looked like. The elders asked the girl ‘Have you agreed to this?’ She said yes.  And the elders gave their blessing. So they – well, they married me off in my absence.

But the old men suspected something wasn’t right. They demanded the men produce the real bride. My kidnappers were very cunning. They decided to keep me overnight, in the hope they’d be able to win me round. That night they piled on the pressure; stood over me, going on and on in this monotone: ‘Come on, come on. It’ll be fine. He’s a great fellow..’

align=right

In the end, next morning, I gave in. I guess I was just worn out. I felt I was offering myself as a sacrifice. I do that. I’ve been like that since I was a child. It’s done me so much harm. This wanting to please everyone, whatever it costs me.

So that’s how it started, my married life, if that’s what you can call it.

Right away I knew he had problems. For a start, he drank a lot. After they stole me they sat in the next room and drank. The next day there they were again, getting drunk, and the day after. I hated it. But I thought maybe it would pass, that he was drinking because he was so happy.

We were married a week later. This woman from Barnaul came to the wedding. They said she and my husband were old friends. I never suspected a thing. I was very trusting. I believed, still believe, that men and women can be friends. So I welcomed her. I was so young, so inexperienced! But the way she talked, the things she said, breathed jealousy. She hated me. She’d say to my husband, sarcastically: ’Look what a beauty you’ve chosen!’ She even tried undressing me! ‘Let me see your breasts, your legs – my, what a girl!’ If I’d been more experienced I’d have realised she was his lover. I was surprised. But I didn’t suspect a thing. …

A few days later we all went to Barnaul, this lover, my husband. Me. That’s where my married life began. Awful it was. His lover wouldn’t leave him alone. She was always picking fights – even when I was there. I was so naive – even then I didn’t realise they were lovers. And because she was always on at him, he’d lash out at me.

She’d be there every day, asking me these questions, about how things were in bed. I was so naive I’d tell her. She was forever bringing me presents, cakes. When I ate them I’d feel terrible. Yes, it sounds weird, but it’s true. After eating anything she brought me I’d feel bad. I couldn’t understand it. Nor could he – I was so healthy. Maybe it was something to do with her jealousy. I lost 10 kilos in three months. I got so weak, though usually I was full of energy, racing round the house, cooking, never sitting down, trying to please my husband. That’s how I was brought up. I wanted to be a perfect wife.

Today, I wonder how I could have behaved like that.  It goes back to my childhood, I suppose. I grew up in a very conservative family. Our father was very strict. Maybe – even despotic. Sometimes he was nice, of course, but he was always criticising us. Never praised us, however much we tried to please him. So my sisters and I grew up believing we had to please everyone.

My husband soon clocked that, and made use of it. I was afraid of him right from the start. He’d get this terrible look in his eyes, start shouting, throwing things at me. For no reason! Saucepans, ashtrays, watches, anything that was around. Once he threw a pan of hot fat. He’d grab these big knives.  I’d burst into tears, I could see he was sick. I was scared. When the rage had died down he’d be sorry: ‘I’m a fool, I don’t know why I do these things. I love you more than anything in the world.’ Then I’d forgive him. I pitied him – poor man, what must they have done to you to make you like this!

Pity. My capacity for pity – it’s a bad joke. It’s played a fatal role in my life. I should have looked after myself better.

I was a long way away from my parents. If they been there, maybe I’d just have run away when he started beating me up. But I didn’t know how to. For a start, he never gave me money. Maybe he was afraid I’d… It wasn’t that he was mean. But he never left money at home. And considering how he lived – the lovers, the restaurants – he must have felt he needed it, just in case. He’d never let slip an opportunity. After spending the whole evening with one woman, on the way home he’d manage one more bit of skirt. By the time he got home at two o’clock in the morning I’d be worn out. Then he’d start on me. That’s what he was like.  Relentless. A compulsive womanizer.  

When he beat me I would not say a word. Then he’d beat me because I did not say anything. He didn’t know why he was doing it. He just beat me. Then he’d be sorry. At other times he’d yell: ‘You’re a nobody!’ He didn’t mean it – he’d say anything to make sure I didn’t leave. He wanted me to feel dependent, vulnerable. As time when on, I got bolder – I’d yell at him, try to stand up for myself. We’d have huge rows. I had a temper too.

After five or six years I got pregnant. Then he left. Made some excuse about having to earn money. Was gone for months, with his lover.  I didn’t hear a word from him. Then he turned up, when I was eight months gone. That same day he beat me up so badly I had to escape. I scrambled out of the window, barefoot. It was August. We were living in Alma-Ata [ed: now Almaty] then. It’s a very big city. I kept walking and walking. I had no idea where I was going. Then I reached this wood. I never wanted to see that man again. I wanted to die. I’d come to this wood to put an end to my life.  I was furious. How could he beat me up, knowing that I was with child?

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I didn’t do it, obviously.  I sat there for twenty minutes or so, thinking it through. And realised I was wrong – I didn’t have the right to kill another life. I pulled myself together and set off in the direction of home. Barefoot. Finally a car stopped and gave me a lift. I had this neighbour, Aunt Katya. Russian. A very good woman. I went to her. She knew about my life. She was always telling me to leave. She put me to bed, prayed over me and went to bawl out my husband. He was all smiles, denied we’d had a row, though it was obvious he’d been really worried – I’d been gone all day, it  was dark. I refused to talk to him. I was hurting all over.

A month later, when I was about to give birth, he left again. He had this very young lover in Barnaul. He went to her, left me without a ruble. Throughout my pregnancy I hadn’t had enough money to feed myself properly, to buy nappies, pay the doctor. I’d had to turn to his brothers for help.

After the birth I came home. I had no milk. I spent these sleepless nights alone with the crying baby, who was very weak. I cried too. I was afraid for the baby. He was having convulsions – we were always calling the ambulance. The brothers would bring food. But then they’d expect me to cook for them. They’d be there every day with their friends and I’d be cooking with one hand, holding the baby with the other. Round midnight Aunt Katya’d come and take the child. And I’d run out to the bathhouse and wash the nappies.  The child was having diarrhoea. So I had to keep changing him. I was like a robot. I will forever be grateful to that woman.

My husband turned up again when the child was two months old. To be honest I was very happy to see him. I took him into the child’s room ‘Here he is – our son!’  He’d told me more than once that if I gave him a son he’d cover me in gold. But now he took one look and said: ‘He’s not very like me!’ I was hurt. That he could say that, after everything I’d been through during the pregnancy and after, when he was away! How ashamed I’d been to have to leave the maternity ward without paying the doctors. Of course, I could not pay them back later, as I had no money for a long time.

Something broke in me at that moment – this man could not even share our joy at having a child. It was as if he was saying the child wasn’t his. Had his lover put the idea into his head? I don’t know. Well, he spent two months at home and in all that time, though he could see how much the baby was suffering, from pain, from illness, how wretched I was, he never once came and helped.

English: This is the logo of CONCORD, the Euro...

English: This is the logo of CONCORD, the European NGO confederation of Relief and Development NGO’s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In common with their Chechen neighbours, the Ingush population was accused by Stalin of colluding with the Nazi enemy during the Second World and deported to Kazazhstan. Although many returned under Khruschev, the links between Ingushetia and Kazakhstan remain strong to this day. 

When the child was four months old he got convulsions so badly we went to the hospital. He was at death’s door. I rang my husband and asked him to talk to the doctor and pay him. I lost 7 kilos that night. The doctor managed to save him. But my husband went to his lover. Just ran away, leaving us to handle the crisis on our own. He didn’t even leave me any money. I didn’t see him again ‘til the child was 10 months old. We’d travelled home to Ingushetia for my husband’s brother’s wedding. The baby was more grown up – he stroked him, played with him. Then left again for Barnaul.

Did I already say that my husband was an addict, as well as alcoholic? At first he only smoked weed, then he got onto prescription drugs. One of his lovers was a nurse – she got them for him. Then they did this check at her hospital and found that a lot of medicines with these drugs were missing. They suspected her. It was going to court. Well – she hung herself. My husband showed no regret at all. He didn’t know what compassion was. It was the drugs, I suppose. I know addicts become cruel, and that gets worse with time.

At one point he’d overdosed badly.  A friend had brought heroin, they’d both shot up and gone out like lights. I was too embarrassed to call the neighbours – they respected us, I didn’t want them to know he was an addict. I was in such a panic I never thought of ringing his friends. At last his friend recovered and we dragged my husband onto the bed. He wouldn’t let me call an ambulance, it wasn’t the first time it had happened, he said. My husband lay there for days. I bought medicine – I’m a medic, I knew what to get. When he came round he couldn’t remember much. Forgot names. I nursed him through that.

After two years away, he came back to Ingushetia, where we were now living. For a couple of months he did not touch a drop – because of his parents. He’d become all quiet, quite unlike himself. I was worried about him – now he was ill I couldn’t just walk out him.

We went back to Barnaul and for a while we lived quietly, no quarrels, no fights. Then one day a friend came by with drink and that was it. Over night my quiet husband lost it, started having hallucinations, saying these unbelievable things. I went to the doctors. They said he was past helping, that after such a heavy overdose the damage was usually irreparable. I begged them, said that I couldn’t leave him in trouble, after 20 years together They looked at me as if I were mad. One of them took pity on me and prescribed some medicine. When I gave it to my husband he shouted at me, said it was me, not him, that was sick.

Still, he was getting worse all the time. He was having hallucinations. He’d tell his brothers -we were back in Ingushetia – that people had seen me sitting in a car late at night, that I was being unfaithful. His brothers laughed at him. But he was beating me up, tormenting me, mocking the child. It got so bad that his brothers had to take me to his parents. It got to the point where his brothers took my mobile, went to the police and went through all the calls and texts I’d made. I knew he was ill, that it was pointless arguing with him. If I hadn’t been a medic myself I’d have left, but I knew he needed help, so I tried to tell his relations. But no one would listen.

The last two months were a nightmare. I kept my phone in my pocket, my finger on the emergency button. His youngest brother and I agreed that I’d call if he attacked me. So when he started I’d press the button and in ten minutes the brother’d be there and take me to his parents’. After a few days, I’d go back. I don’t know why. I felt guilty, I couldn’t leave him in that state.

Once my husband outwitted me. I was asleep with the child late one night when he knocked at the door. He asked for my phone, said he had to make a call. Stupidly, I gave it to him. He looked at me with this mad smile and put the phone under the pillow. He took me out on the balcony and started hitting me, trying to make me confess – that I’d been with someone. I tried to reason with him, but he kept hitting me harder and harder. I became so afraid he was going to kill me that I admitted everything. I shouted for help, but he just hit me harder. At some point passers-by heard my shouts, saw me standing by the window in my nightdress, being hit. They started whistling, so he left off. When they’d gone he asked me where I’d hidden my wig. When I said I’d never had one, he punched me in the stomach. I doubled over from the pain and he started kicking my head. The first blow was so hard I thought he cracked my skull. I knew he’d done something serious. He kicked me like a ball, so I bounced against the balcony door. He must have realised he’d gone too far. He told me to go to sleep, that he’d kill me if I breathed a word.

Luckily, his brother rang in the morning. He took us to his relations. Then the elders decided we should get a divorce. They decided that I should stay in the flat with the child, and he would go to his parents. That’s how our marriage ended.

When I got back to the flat with the child, I found this huge kitchen knife wedged in the sofa when I was cleaning. My husband must have hidden it, in order to kill me. What if I’d gone back to him one more time!

After that, although the elders had agreed I should have the flat, his relations would not let me live there. I agreed to leave. I just wanted to forget it all. I’d been having these awful headaches. They found this tumour on my brain. Now I’m facing a very serious operation. That’s where the heedlessness of youth led me. Now I am the invalid, the one who needs help.

I’d like to make this appeal to all women. My dears! Don’t put up with it. Run away from men like that!

Least you will not end up like me. 

 

Illustrations Courtesy of and by Jess Wilson 


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