Archive for the ‘Oborona’ Category
My interview for International Center on Nonviolent Conflict about Oborona and the Russian democratic movement in general.
I’ve given an interview to Oleg Dusayev of the New Times internet portal. Watch it and read the Russian transcript here. Here is a rough translation, corrections welcome.
OLEG DUSAYEV: Greetings. You are watching the New Times portal, I’m Oleg Dusayev. A criminal investigation has been opened against Dmitry Solovyev, an activist with the Oborona organization. He’s threatened with prison. I’m here with Oborona coordinator Oleg Kozlovsky to discuss the matter. Hello, Oleg.
OLEG KOZLOVSKY: Hello.
The Moscow Times writes about Dmitry Soloviev’s case today. They quote Anton Nosik, a well-known Russian blogger and head of SUP company, which owns LiveJournal, who comments on the case: “It would be frightful if a court didn’t realize that there is no crime here”.
Dmitry Soloviev, Oborona Coordinator in Kemerovo region, is accused of “inciting hatred, hostility and degrading” the police and FSB by posting several entries in his LiveJournal blog. The criminal case based on an FSB report was opened on August 11th by the regional prosecutor office. Police and FSB have already conducted a search at Dmitry’s home and work, confiscated his computer, disks and Oborona’s printed materials, and questioned him. Dmitry may face up to 2 years imprisonment according to the anti-extremist legislation.
The entries that FSB considered “extremist” in fact contain no incitement to violence or even strong words. Here they are (in Russian):
This is not the first such case. Several weeks ago, another blogger Savva Terentyev was sentenced to a 1 year of suspended imprisonment also for “inciting hatred” against the police in a LiveJournal comment. Russian Internet community seems alarmed by these cases because it makes millions of Russian bloggers potential “extremists”. Police is one of the most unpopular insitution in the country, despised by many for human rights abuses, inefficiency and corruption. Until recently, Internet and blogs remained the last media where Russian citizens could discuss these problems. Looks like the FSB have decided to put an end to this “unnecessary” freedom.
See more on this on Oborona’s Web site (in Russian).
The following account, my essay about my surveillance by the Russian KGB, was originally published by Grigori Pasko on Robert Amsterdam’s blog a few months ago:
On 24 November 2007 in Moscow, there took place “March of Those Who Disagree” – the largest action of the democratic opposition. I was one of its official organizers, and during the time of this March was detained by employees of the police upon the instructions of an UBOP [Administration for the Struggle with Organized Crime] operative. The court, which tried me in express mode without a lawyer and witnesses, issued a verdict – 5 days of arrest. Soon after leaving the special intake centre of the GUVD [City Administration for Internal Affairs] of Moscow, I noticed that outdoor surveillance of me had been established. The first time I uncovered it in the metro on the next day after release and two days before the elections – on 30 November. A tall man in a coat and with a bag on the shoulder was following me along the road from my home to the home of Garry Kasparov, with whom I was supposed to meet then.
On the next day, 1 December, a meeting of activists was taking place in the headquarters of «Oborona», dedicated to observing at the elections and to the actions planned for the next few days. Yulia Malysheva noticed a VAZ-2111 automobile of dark-green color with tinted windows (license plate P548PB97), in which two men were sitting. The car stood the entire evening adjacent to the entrance to the building where the headquarters of Oborona was found, while the men observed everyone entering and exiting from the door. After the close of the meeting, we decided to discuss certain questions in another place, inasmuch as the space of the headquarters, perhaps, is being bugged. Part of the people went there on foot, while I, Yulia, and another three of our activists rode there in Yulia’s car. A suspicious «Lada» drove off after us. In order to check if this was indeed surveillance, we did several circles and loops, in so doing the car did not stop following us. Any last doubts dissipated when we and they were standing at a traffic light, the light turned green, and Yulia decided to slow down. All the surrounding cars drove off ahead, while the car suspected by us stayed to wait for our maneuver.
As reported on Oborona‘s website, on May 31, Oborona activists took part in a demonstration in support of political prisoners, timed to the third anniversary of the sentencing of ex-Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky. I’m shown above speaking to reporters at the event. The banner reads: “FREEDOM FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS!”
It was attended by about one hundred people — twice the limit of the permit. Police threatened to arrest all those in excess of the allowed number of 50 participants. We notified the police that this is not a proper basis for arrest as there is no such provision in the criminal code. They maintained the threat but took no action.
Joining in the demonstration were the leader of the movement “For Human Rights” Lev Ponomarev and journalist and poet Marietta Chudakova. Various opposition groups joined Oborona in calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners.
The organizers believe the sentencing of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev constitutes a “link in the chain of attacks on Russian freedom, democracy, and on the principle of independent justice.” The participants expressed support for “all who are persecuted because of their beliefs, and for the right to be a free people in a free country.”
On May 1 in St. Petersburg Oborona activists, along with other opponents of the status quo in Russia, held a “march for freedom and justice.” The participants paraded along Nevsky Prospect, the main street of the city and other principal streets of the “Northern Capital”, carrying a banner that boldly called for “CHANGE!” (see photo above) and then held a rally at Pioneer Square. The dissenters chanted slogans such as: “We need another Russia!” and “Putin, go skiing in Magadan!”and “The Plan of Putin is Russia poverty!”and “This is our city!”
The event ended with a concert hosted by actor Alexei Devotchenko, a member of the United Civil Front (FSI). He invited opposition leaders express themselves in the language of music, calling Putin’s regime “illegitimate” and condemning the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the activities of state. He followed Garry Kasparov, who said that United Russia was “looting” the country. Andrei Illarionov also spoke, asking those assembled to remember those who could not be present because they had been incarcerated, and calling for freedom for all political prisoners of the Putin regime.
To watch video of the protest march, click here.
They say one picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are six thousand words about our recent activities (click an image to see it full size):
I speak to the press . . .
In St. Petersburg, in the early morning hours of April 1st (April Fool’s Day, and the day on which the spring call-up of Russian youth for military service was ironically to begin), persons unknown surrounded the local draft board office with construction ribbons, as shown above, blocking access by military officials who arrived in the morning to commence the draft proceedings.
The area was also leafleted heavily, all long the streets leading to the nearest subway station, as shown above. The leaflets announced “the beginning of hunting season on people” and stated that “young people are wanted for transfer into slavery.”
We believe that this anonymous action was intended to express a protest against the start of the spring conscription cycle in particular, and against the concept of an involuntary military in general.
In anticipation of the March the authorities took aggressive action to prevent it and intimidate those who participated. We were banned from deploying any banners. But we did so anyway. There were over two hundred participants, including members of such groups as Memorial and For Human Rights, as well as ordinary citizens concerned with the rights of Russia’s conscripts. We marched shoulder-to-shoulder to the Ostakino TV Tower proclaiming: “We need a new army! End military slavery now!”
The March culminated with a concert at the TV tower, and then dispersed. On the way ot the subway station, a gang of thugs attacked several members, but did not succeed in provoking us to violence as was undoubtedly their aim.
We, citizens of Russia, believe that service in the army should be voluntary, and that the institution of draft-slavery is an unacceptable anachronism in a modern society. Those who are not inclined to military service can serve their country in other ways. Universal military conscription must end now!
We believe that a strong army can only be made up of volunteers, not conscripts consisting of poorly trained and equipped slaves who are often subjected to torture and murder, always victimized by officers looking for free labor. We, the citizens of Russia, demand a strong army. A volunteer army is a strong army!
We demand immediate changes in the legislation of the Russian Federation on Military Duty and Military Service, deleting all provisions relating to forced conscription, the repeal of the articles of the Penal Code applicable to draft evasion, the cessation of all criminal cases under this heading, and full amnesty for all convicted this article. We demand the immediate cessation of the so-called “raids on fugitives from the call,” especially given the fact that many victims of these raids have legitimate deferment or exemption from conscription. In fact, we strongly demand the cessation of criminal mass kidnappings for recruitment by illegal means.
We can change the situation in the Russian army. We can say “NO” state arbitrariness. All that we have to do is . . . say it loud and clear as one.