Freedom News

Russia: protest against prison torture

St Petersburg: about 400 people took part in the rally against torture of prisoners in Russia: an impressive turn out for a country where brutal political repression is a norm. The event was organized by the St. Petersburg solidarity group with anarchists and anti-fascists arrested and tortured by the Russian state.

The main banner of the rally reffered to the upcoming Football World Cup to be held in Russia next month. The banner read: ‘World Championship of torture. Russia 2018’ and depicted the official logo of Russian World Cup with crossed police batons. Many came to the rally with their own banners and signs, among them: ‘Antifascism is not a crime’, ‘Electroshocker. 100% guarantee of confessions’, ‘Torture loves silence’,  ‘The Federal Service of Bugs of the Russian Federation’, as well as quotes from the testimonies of the arrested antifascists.

On one of the garden benches, an infopoint was organized, where people could sign postcards to the prisoners, donate money for their legal costs, or get leaflets, T-shirts and other materials. During the protest,  56 cards were signed and 20.685 Russian rubles were collected.

The rally opened with a speech by member of the Public Monitoring Commission [the NGO monotoring Russian prisons] Yana Teplitskaya, who stressed that over the last 18 months, the organisation received several dozen complaints of torture. She said that ‘For all of these, we filed a complaint, but nobody was brought to account. To the contrary, lawsuits were filed against our members and journalists who disseminate information on torture in Russian prisons.

‘When we next know that someone is tortured, it will be great if in front of the building – be it the FSB [ Russian Federal Security Service] or the police department or the Center for Combating Extremism – there will be more people, so the  relatives and lawyers are not alone.’, Yana concluded.

The anarchist and anti-fascist who is a friend of one of the activist arrestees from St. Petersburg, said:  ‘I witnessed a crime against my friend and neighbor Ilya Kapustin. The Investigative Committee claims that the evidence of the electric shock that I saw right after the FSB left his apartment, that these are not traces of burns, but they are just bites of bedbugs. I saw these bedbugs, they searched the apartment and turned the whole house over.

‘All this time we receive very much support from many people. Thank you for spreading the information and continuing the fight against this lawlessness. I’m sure that our enemy is very powerful. We have very few instruments of pressure on this system, which has subordinated to itself all media resources, all power structures. But the fact that you do not despair and have the courage to come here – thank you very much, and I think one day we will win. Down with torture, down with the FSB!’, he added.

The last to speak at the rally was the activist of the group “LeftFem” Natalia Rybalko. She greeted her son, who was among the assembled. ‘Personally, this concerns me, because I am a parent, the mother of a child who is also a convinced anti-fascist who openly expresses his views, goes to the actions. And I’m wildly afraid, guys. We are all afraid for our children and therefore we must go out and say: Enough, stop these crimes! We must be clear that these people who commit this crimes know that we are watching them and know about what is happening. We will not leave this just like that. And that’s why I hope that the fact that we are now gathered will somehow help – and to us all, and our children, and first of all, of course, the arrestees. Therefore – publicity, support and solidarity!’

After the rally, a large group of participants went to the special detention center on St Petersburg’s Zakharevskaya Street, to greet the activist from the Detainees Assistance Group Alexei Belozerov, who is currently serving a 15-day administrative arrest sentence there.

via Avtonom, edited by Freedom News

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