Misha Verbitsky (born June 20, 1969 in Moscow) is a Russian mathematician. He is currently working at the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada, Rio de Janeiro. However, he is primarily known to the general public as a controversial critic, political activist and independent music publisher.
Verbitsky's webzine :LENIN:, started around 1997, is one of the oldest Russian online projects and has been hugely influential in the shaping of Russian counter-culture. It was the first website in Russian to openly discuss topics considered taboo at the time, such as pornography and Right-wing extremism, and to create a milieu for the emerging counter-culture aesthetic. The site also contains the largest single collection of rare underground music from the ex-USSR and contemporary Russia.
While studying Mathematics at Harvard University in the early 90s, Verbitsky was heavily influenced by Western counter-culture, especially Thelema and industrial music, and was the first to introduce these concepts to post-Soviet Russia via his webzine. At the same time, Verbitsky developed his political views which can be described as a mixture of Social Darwinism, National Bolshevism and Anarchism. He is also a prominent supporter of the anti-copyright movement, and has given lectures on the subject at various locations, including Oxford University. His work Anticopyright: The Book is the only Russian publication placing concepts such as Open Source and copyleft into historical and cultural context.
After graduating from Harvard with a PhD, Verbitsky moved to Russia and became a close associate (though not a member) of Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party. His articles were published in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including Russkij Zhurnal, Zhurnal.Ru, Zavtra and Limonka. When the National Bolsheviks split in 1998, he joined the Eurasia Party of Alexandr Dugin. Verbitsky has given numerous talks at the Novyi Universitet, Dugin's educational vehicle, and contributed to a variety of his publications such as Elementy and Vtorzhenie.
Verbitsky's provocative writing style can be described as both aggressive and ironic, a mixture of gonzo journalism, profanity and surreal exaggeration which instantly captures the reader's attention. The critical response to his writings ranges from anger and disgust to fascination and widespread imitation (for example, his catchphrases "So it goes, Misha" and "Kill, Kill, Kill" have been plagiarised all over the Russian web).
In 1998, Verbitsky founded the independent label UR-Realist Records to publish experimental and controversial underground music. Since then, over 40 albums have been released, including those of punk legend Grazhdanskaya Oborona and the neofolk band Rada i Ternovnik.
Verbitsky currently lives in Rio de Janeiro and teaches at IMPA.
In December 2009, Yuri Kuklachev, the founder of the Moscow Cat Theatre, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Verbitsky. Kuklachev is seeking to recover alleged damages caused by Verbitsky quoting previously published allegations of Kuklachev's animal cruelty in one of his blog posts; moreover, Kuklachev holds Verbitsky responsible for the expletive-ridden content of anonymous comments to the post in question.
In 2012, Verbitsky was convicted without his knowledge of copyright infringement. He had posted a photograph of a Russian politician who claims that his beard is trademarked. The case has been appealed.
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- Anticopyright: The Book (2002) (also available here)
- :LENIN: an offering to Gods Unknown webzine
- Against Culture + Pt. 2
- Chaos and Underground Culture
- "Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll": Verbitsky's Interview with A. Dugin in Zhurnal.Ru (1997)
- "Сold grain, shower of sleet and sickness of serpents" with A. Sherman in Zhurnal.ru (1998)
- "Transforming the world with fire, sword and science" with P. Zarifullin (1999)
- "Inter-acti-view" in Russ.ru (2000)
- "Meeting the Stars" in Teneta-Rinet + Pt. 2 and 3 (2000)
- "UR-Realism" in Stigmata On-line (2000)
- "Patriotic Interview" in Megalit.ru (2001)
- "The Knight Templar of Counter-culture" with Y. Noyabr' (2002)
- "The Beauty of Mathematical Abstractions" at Radio Svoboda (2005) (featured guest)
- "Revive the Universe!" in Zavtra (2005)
- "So it goes" is a phrase from Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five.
- The ugly story of the Moscow Cat Theatre (Time For Change Magazine, Israel)
- Theater of Horrors by Alexei Tsvetkov; English translation by Marina Shuba
- Official website
- Official blog
- List of publications in Russ.ru
- Verbitsky at FRI, the Russian rating of popular Internet users (in Russian)
- Biography at Marat Guelman's art page (in Russian)