My Colleagues Rally to my Aid
Someone not familiar with Russian law might think that the solitary picketer shown at above, holding a sign that reads “FREE OLEG KOZLOVSKY” and standing in front of the office of the prosecutor that interned me on May 7th (see further information in the posts below), indicates that not many people support me.
In fact, that’s not the case. Under Russian law, if more than one person wants to carry out a picket protest, then the state must issue a permit in advance or all are subject to instant arrest. As you can well imagine, a Kremlin that wouldn’t hesitate to have me arrested on baseless charges wouldn’t hesitate to deny such a permit, or claim it had been violated once issued. However, the law does not apply to a single protester. Therefore, Oborona is often forced to place lone members in harm’s way if we want to carry out a protest action over any length of time.
Of course, you can well imagine what sort of harassment a single protester might face, and if you can’t imagine then you can watch what happened next in this YouTube video.
Oborona reports that the pickets began on May 14 and the picketer, Sergei Eroshkin, was confronted by OMON stormtroopers with in ten minutes. Sergei explained his right to be present and cited the appropriate legal provision, but as you can see the OMON ignored this information and pursued the cameraman who was filming the protest as well. In a new twist, Oborona reports that when Sergei refused to submit to the OMON’s orders, there soon appeared a police plant agent holding a sign that also called for my freedom, and he attempted to take up a position near Sergei. Realizing that the police were attempting to create artificial means to justify his arrest as an illegal “mass protester,” Sergei left the scene.
Soon after Sergei left a second Oborona activist, Suren Edigarov, appeared waving an Oborona flag, but the OMON pounced on him almost immediately, shoving him to the ground and then throwing him into a police bus. He was charged with mass picketing.
Oborona plans to continue the picketing effort until I am released. I am being denied legal representation (read my lawyer’s statement here) and visitation and being held in solitary confinement.
By the way, if you are wondering how I’m able to speak to you while being held in a Russian prison on illegal charges . . . you can bet the Kremlin is also wondering. So let’s let them continue to wonder, shall we?