Relentless Repression In Russia

Due to technical problems TPQ missed out on this piece from People And Nature. Too late to publish in time for the March it is nevertheless a relevant piece that our readers might find worthwhile reading.

Relentless repression in Russia: why we will demonstrate on Saturday 19 January

On Saturday 19 January we will demonstrate in London, in solidarity with Russian anti-fascists. Eleven of them, who have been arrested, tortured and accused of fabricated “terrorism” charges, are awaiting trial. Many others have faced a relentless campaign of persecution by officers of the federal security services (FSB) and the police – which is reviewed in this article.

Please join us on Saturday, to support the Russian anti-fascists and strengthen international solidarity against fascism, xenophobia and state terror. Please re-post and share this article.

Details of our London event here.

2018 summary

By Misha Shubin, 31 December 2018 (Original Russian text here)

I’ve also decided to sum up the year’s results. Not the results for me, but rather to remember what happened to anarchists and leftists in Russia in 2018. This post will be long and many of you know about, or heard something about, the events that I recount here.

Protest in Russia about the “network case”, summer 2018. 
The poster reads: “electric shocker: confessions 100% guaranteed”

But I think it is very important not to forget about all this. [Note. Links from the original article to Russian-language sources are included. Links to English translations or relevant articles in English added where available. Translator.]

The “Network Case”

Eleven anarchists and anti-fascists have been arrested. They are accused of setting up a terrorist group and preparing terrorist actions. According to the Federal Security Service (FSB), they wanted to organise an armed uprising in Russia.

Almost all the evidence has been gathered with the help of torture. The detainees were beaten up. Some of them were tortured with the help of shocks from a stationary electric dynamo, others with hand-held electric shockers [similar to cattle prods]. At least one of the accused, Dmitry Pchelintsev, was hung upside down.

The accused are: Yegor Zorin, Ilya Shakursky, Vasilii Kuksov, Dmitry Pchelintsev, Arman Sagynbaev, Andrei Chernov, Viktor Filinkov, Igor Shishkin, Yulian Boyarshinov, Mikhail Kulkov, Maksim Ivankin.

What to read:

“How the FSB is manufacturing a terrorist case against antifascists in Russia”

What else you need to know about this case:

“A witness in the ‘network’ case, Ilya Kapustin, was tortured with a hand-held electric shocker.” After that, he emigrated to Finland.

Viktoria Frolova, Ilya Shakursky’s girlfriend, was detained on Russia’s border with Ukraine. (Link in Russian.) Shakursky was threatened that “it would be bad” for his girlfriend if he did not make a confession.

The case of anarchist Evgeny Karakashev

In early February 2018, anarchist Evgeny Karakashev was arrested in Crimea [the peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014]. They brought him to the police station with a bag over his head. There were fresh bruises on his temples and his knees. On the basis of two video-clips that he had uploaded to various chat forums, he was accused of making public calls for terrorist activity. 

Evgenii Karakashev. Photo from V Kontakte

What to read:

“A rifle stock to the heart, a fist to the gut: how left-wing activists are persecuted in Crimea”

(And more in Russian.) [And a report of Karakashev’s subsequent court appearance is here.]

What else you need to know about this case:

The main prosecution witness is a former comrade of Karakashev’s.

In the autumn, 16 people from various Russian regions were called to the Investigative Committee for interview. Many of them have expressed left-wing views. Some of them did not even know Karakashev.

Torture of anarchists in Chelyabinsk

Anarchists in Chelyabinsk staged an event on the night of 14-15 February, in solidarity with the “Network Case” defendants. They displayed a banner outside the FSB headquarters and threw a flare over a fence. The banner said: “The FSB is the chief terrorist.”

Three days later, five people were arrested: Dmitry Semenov, Dmitry Tsibukovsky, Anastasia Safonova, Maksim Anfalov and their friend Maksim. Tsibukovsky and Anfalov were beaten up and tortured with electric shockers.

Over the summer, the criminal case against these Chelyabinsk anarchists was dropped.

What to read:

“The main thing at that moment, in that situation, was to come out alive”

What else you need to know about this case:

In November, a new criminal case was opened against the anarchists Tsibukovsky, Safonova, Grigory Potanin, Mikhail Perkov and Dmitry Dubovoi. This time, they were charged with vandalism in connection with their protests organised against the pension reform.

The broken window in United Russia’s office and torture of Svyatoslav Rechkalov

On 31 January, persons unknown broke a window at the office of United Russia [the largest party in Russian parliament, supporting president Putin] and threw a smoke bomb. A criminal case for vandalism was open. Sixteen days later, Yelena Gorban and Aleksei Kobaidze were arrested. After questioning, they were released, having given a written pledge not to leave the country.

On 14 March, searches were conducted of the homes of anarchists from the People’s Self-Defence organisation, in connection with this case. After that Svyatoslav Rechkalov and Andrei were detained; the latter, most likely, was released. 

Svyatoslav Rechkalov. Photo: Project 117

Rechkalov was driven around the city for several hours, blindfolded. Then they began to beat him and torture him with electric shocks. They threatened him that if he did not make the necessary confession, he would end up as a defendant in the “Network Case”. After beingtortured, Rechkalov was released. He emigrated to France.

What to read:

“The horror continues”, and “They put a bag on my head, cuffed my hands behind my back and tortured me with a taser”.

What else you need to know about this case:

In November, Rechkalov started getting threats from the FSB. (Link in Russian.)

Torture of Left Bloc activist Maksim Shulgin

At the end of April, Left Bloc activist Maksim Shulgin was detained in Tomsk. On the way to his interrogation, security service officers beat him up in their vehicle and held his face against a heater. To protect his face from burns, Shulgin put his hands against the heater and received first- and second-degree burns. Shulgin was accused of inciting hatred towards the police, after posting songs on “V Kontakte” [a social network, similar to Facebook]. 

Maksim Shulgin

Shulgin wrote a statement about the torture. At the end of December he was again detained. This time they tried to choke him, in order to force him to withdraw the accusations he had made against FSB officers.

What to read:

Arrest in April. “Is Maxim Shulgin An Extremist?” and “Tomsk resident tortured for posting songs about police on VK.”

Torture in December. (Link in Russian.)

What else you need to know about this case:

Another nine Left Bloc activists were detained together with Shulgin. They were forced to make confessions, under threat of torture. (Link in Russian.)

Explosion at Arkhangelsk, interrogation of anarchists and left activists, and torture of Vyacheslav Lukichev

On 31 October there was an explosion at the FSB headquarters in Arkhangelsk, set off by Mikhail Zhlobitsky [who died at the scene]. As a result, all over Russia the police has started bringing in for “discussions” anarchists, left-wingers and those who hold other political views. (Link in Russian.)

At the beginning of November the anarchist Vyacheslav Lukichev was arrested in Kaliningrad. He was accused of justifying the explosion set off by Zhlobitsky. It was later established that after Lukichev’s arrest he was beaten by six people. He was questioned for 36 hours.

What to read:

“Vyacheslav Lukichev: interrogated for 36 hours and beaten”

What else you need to know about this case:

After the explosion a 14-year old, who allegedly had had contact with Zhlobitsky, was detained in Moscow, on suspicion of preparing bombings. (Link in Russian.)

What else happened this year?

■ In March the police checked the documents of participants in a football tournament organised by anti-fascists. (Link in Russian.)

■ In July, the police and FSB officers went to the “Priamukhino Readings” conference [an event held annually to discuss the ideas and legacy of Mikhail Bakunin, at his birthplace in Tver’s region]. The conference theme was “Revolution and Culture”. The security service officers checked participants’ passports, and then detained Artem Markin, an anarchist from Belarus. He was detained for three days, for allegedly using psychotropic substances. See: “A Funny Thing Happened in Pryamukhino”.

■ In August officers from Centre “E” [also named the General Administration for Combating Extremism] turned up at the “Icebreaker” [Ledokol] punk festival. They arrested two people, tried to persuade them to turn informer, and asked about the People’s Self-Defence group. (Link in Russian.)

■ In October the anarchist Ilya Romanov was sentenced to five-and-a-half years on charges of incitement to terrorism. He allegedly published on facebook a video recording of jihadists, and of an occult ritual featuring a puppet named Vladimir. All the indications are that the criminal case was fabricated. See: “Meet Russian anarchist Ilya Romanov. He’s spent nearly twenty years in prison”.

■ At the end of December, the anarchist Aleksandr Kolchenko [from Crimea, who since 2015 has been serving a ten year sentence in Russia on trumped-up charges] was transferred, on a formal pretext, to a punitive isolation cell – where he saw in the new year. (Link in Russian.)

Moloko plus siloviki

[Moloko is Russian for “milk”. Siloviki, literally “people of force”, or “tough guys”, is a widely used colloquial term for FSB officers, used as English speakers might call policemen “cops”.]

In mid June there was a gathering in Krasnodar of members of the collective that publishes the counter-cultural almanac moloko plus. Sofiko Arifdzhanova and Pavel Nikulin had planned to make a presentation on the latest issue of the almanac, on the theme of revolution. On the day before the meeting, the police arrested Sofiko, and a volunteer [who helped with printing], Anastasia Kkhukhurenko. The police would not release them, and demanded a meeting with Pavel. And then they compelled Sofiko and Anastasia to sign an undertaking not to organise non-sanctioned mass gatherings and warned them about the punishments for extremist activity. Then they let them go.

The next day, persons unknown attacked Sofiko and Pavel, using pepper spray. A few hours later, at the presentation, the police arrived and confiscated the print run of the almanac.

In September, there was another presentation, in St Petersburg, and FSB officers turned up. There, everything wound up relatively peacefully. They just got up and left.

After another two weeks there was a presentation here in Nizhny Novgorod. A few minutes after it began, officers from Centre “E” burst in, with armed back-up. Sofiko, Pavel and I were arrested and taken to the police station. Ninety copies of the almanac were confiscated, along with some gas cylinders. Pavel was detained for two days on charges of insubordination to a police officer. The issue of moloko plus is now being checked for any indications of extremism. There is a big text about our adventures in Russian here.

I am sure I have forgotten something, and so not included it. But, generally speaking, that’s what sort of year we had.

More on defending Russian political prisoners:

The Rupression site

“Convoyed”, on The Russian Reader

⏩Keep up with People And Nature.

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