“Kill me, militiaman!”

Original by Artem Kamardin
Translated, from the Russian, by Neon Mashurov

Kill me, militiaman!
Cops will buy you a gun with money from the budget.
Kill me, militiaman!
Become the whipping hand.
After all, I’m not a person! Shit runs in my blood!
Kill me, militiaman!
Become the scourge of God!
After all, I’m not a patriot…or maybe I’m just not good enough.
Why do you need a reason? Fuck it! You don’t need one!
Kill me, militiaman!
Come on!
Kill me, militiaman!
You’ve already tasted blood!
You’ve seen how battle-ready brothers
Dig mass graves for the brotherly masses.
You’ll turn on the television—you’ll lose it,
Self-control has never been your strong suit.
At least you have plenty of other strong suits.
Kill me, volunteer!
Shoot the white ravens.
Avenge the crucified boy!
Save the Motherland from me!
Become a hero!
Kill me, volunteer!
Your president will be very happy with you.
Tear me to shreds!
Stomp me into the dirt!
The buds of the Russian Spring have bloomed!
Hurry up! Kill me, scum!
After all, you want it so badly…
See, while you were fighting for Donbas,
I fucked your daughters,
I sold spice to your three-year old son.

Artem Kamardin Reciting the Poem in September of 2022

Artem Kamardin is a 32-year-old poet from Moscow and a frequent participant in the public Mayakovsky readings.
More of his work can be found here.

Neon Mashurov (NM Esc) is a writer & translator from Brooklyn and the post-Soviet diaspora, currently living in San Diego as an MFA candidate at UCSD. Their most recent chapbooks are SERVICE (Bottlecap Press, 2022), & Last Week’s Weather Forecast Made Me Nervous (Ghost City Press / Secret Riso Club, 2018), and their poetry appears in publications including We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics, Black Warrior Review, Hot Pink Magazine, The Recluse, The Felt, & Peach Magazine. They are currently working on a project concerned with collective organizing & its discontents and post-Soviet political depression. Find them at neon-hq.com & @neonsigh.

32-year old poet Artem Kamardin was arrested and assaulted by police in Moscow on September 26, 2022, for performing the poem “Kill me, militiaman!” at a public reading the day before. The event, part of the Mayakovsky Readings (after the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky), was held in Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square in protest of the government’s mobilization of citizens for the war in Ukraine, announced earlier that week. In retaliation, riot police with submachine guns raided the apartment Kamardin shared with his girlfriend and friend, beat and threatened all three residents, sexually assaulted Kamardin, and arrested the poet on charges of extremism after making him apologize for the reading and promise to refrain from any further political activity. Two other participants in the reading, Yegor Shtovba and Nikolai Daineko, were arrested as well—all three are being formally charged with inciting hatred with the threat of violence. Since his arrest, Kamardin has been subjected to a 30-day psychiatric examination—a common form of repression during Soviet times. The Moscow court has also denied Kamardin’s motion against unlawful use of force during his arrest, stating that all means applied were within the framework of the law.

The Russian state’s intervention in and censorship of creative expression during a free, public reading, is a direct attack on artistic autonomy, as part of a broader effort to suppress public disagreement with the war.

“Kill me, militiaman!” was first published in 2015 on the website stihi.ru.