In recent months, the Russian security agency, the FSB, has been abducting and torturing antifascists and anarchists. The FSB has then used forced confessions to fabricate a terrorist organisation called “The Network”. On Sunday 20 May 2018, 400 people attended a solidarity demonstration in St. Petersburg. Reports translated and abridged from rupression.com by Nick Evans.
Placards with two of the antifascists arrested in Penza: Yulii Boyarshinov – Industrial Climber and Andrei Chernov – Programmer, Musician and Sportsman. Photo: rupression.comThere has been a lot of noise in the western media about the activities of the Russian security services abroad, but much less about the recent wave of repression directed at antifascists and anarchists living within Russia.
In October 2017, the FSB (the successor organisation to the KGB) began abducting antifascists in the city of Penza, southeast of Moscow. It appears that a student named Egor Zorin was forced under torture to confess to membership of a terrorist organisation called “The Network”. Arrests of his classmate Ilya Shakursky, and Vasilii Kuksov, Dmitrii Pchelintsev, and Andrei Chernov, followed. At the same time, Arman Sagynbaev was arrested in St Petersburg.
The FSB accused the activists of planning to detonate bombs during the presidential elections (March 2018) and the FIFA World Cup. All except Kuksov pled guilty, following torture.
In January 2018, the FSB then moved on to other St Petersburg activists, accusing left-wing activist computer programmer Viktor Filinkov and Igor Shishkin of belonging to “The Network”. The FSB briefly also detained industrial climber Ilya Kapustin and threatened to break his legs, but then released him. The other eight defendants are still held in detention.
You can read Filinkov’s prison diaries (translated into English) here. Filinkov’s reports of his torture led Ilya Shakurskii and Dmitrii Pchelintsev to speak out as well.
On Sunday 20 May 2018, 400 people attended a solidarity demonstration in St Petersburg. The main banner referred to the forthcoming World Cup, with the slogan: “World Championship in Torture. Russia 2018.”
Other placards had slogans such as “Antifacism isn’t a crime”, “Taser. 100% guarantee of confessions”, “The FSB tortures people because you’re not here today”, and “Torture loves silence”.
The meeting opened with a speech by Yana Teplitskaia of the Public Oversight Commission – an NGO mandated under a 2008 federal law to monitor human rights. When they had referred complaints about torture to the Investigative Committee (the official body responsible for inspecting the police and security agencies), instead of investigating the complaints, the authorities investigated her organisation and journalists reporting the cases.
Next time we know that somebody is being tortured, it would be great, if outside the building – whether it’s an FSB facility or a police station or the offices of the Centre for Combatting Extremism – there were more people, so the relatives and their lawyers are not alone.
Oleg, an anarchist and antifascist, said:
On 26 January 2018 I witnessed crimes against my friend and neighbour Ilya Kapustina. The Investigative Committee replied that the multiple traces from a taser, which I saw immediately after the FSB agents left our flat, were not burns but bites from bed bugs. I saw the bed bugs: they burst in to search our flat and turned the whole place upside down. We have received a lot of support from many people throughout this time. Thank you for spreading information, for continuing the struggle against this mayhem. I am sure that our enemy is very powerful. We have very little leverage on this structure, which has at its disposal all the resources of the media, and all of the security structures. But for the fact that you haven’t given up, that you’ve come here and that you have courage – thank you. I think that one day we will win. Down with torture! Down with the FSB!
Other speakers included the father of Yulii Boyarshinov, one of those arrested in Penza, as well as Nikolai Oleynikov from the band Arkadii Kots:
I want to underline one important detail, apart from the torture and horrific injustice, that unites these young people. It is their antifascist views. We understand perfectly well that after 2012, and especially after 2014 and [the annexation of] Crimea, antifascism has unexpectedly become once again an ideological doctrine, part of the propaganda machine of the state, while in reality [the state] works against antifascism.
He then sang a Russian translation of Woody Guthrie’s antifascist song, “Miss Pavlichenko”:
A human rights activist from the Crimea mentioned the repression of Crimean Tatars and activists, including the case of the filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. Valeria Kovalishina, a feminist and member of the Russian Socialist Movement, emphasised the importance of solidarity with political activists, regardless of ideological disagreements, while Natalia Rybalko from the “LeftFem” group concluded the meeting by pointing out that her son was a determined antifascist and that everyone who fears for their own children must take a stand.