The artist collective “The Obfuscated Dreams of Scheherazade” (TODS) has compiled more than 5,000 telephone numbers of Russian military personnel, secret service agents and politicians in their own database since the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. The numbers come from several leaks.
In order to take a non-violent stand against the war, the activists set up telephone conferences between two randomly selected numbers from the collection. If a connection is established, the caller can listen to the involuntary interlocutors trying to explain to each other what is going on.
It’s their form of civil resistance to the war: “Imagine it’s war and everyone is stuck on the phone”. Because if you’re on the phone, you can’t throw bombs, coordinate soldiers and make invasion plans, the collective writes on its website.
wasterussiantime.today has been online since Wednesday, and the idea for the phone pranks came to the artists on the second day of the war. A button on the website makes it easy to call Russia.
The callers then connected do not find out anything about the identity of the caller, and there is no way of speaking to the Russians. That way you can’t put yourself in danger, unintentionally or carelessly reveal details.
Actually, their action is illegal, but the art activists consider their “interactive performance installation” to be legitimate in view of the war of aggression. “We are militant pacifists. We choose nonviolent methods to fight against this war. That’s why we decided on this civil, peaceful intervention,” says a TODS representative in the press statement.
The aim is to sow uncertainty and paranoia among those who helped organize the war, another activist told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Despite the fact that the campaign is intended to “provide some beauty even in the darkest of times”, the art collective communicates with great caution. Fictitious stories and pseudonyms protect their identities.
Exactly how long the civilian attack will hold out is uncertain. However, the collective is sure that sooner or later the affected Russian authorities will find a way to block the calls.