Two imprisoned Russian antifascist started a hunger strike at the end of last week, protesting their imprisonment and treatment during the investigation they are subjected to, and attempts to force confessions out of them. The hunger strike started when one of the antifascists, Dmitry Pchelintsev, was placed in a “punishment cell” and forced to admit that he has breached prison rules, namely he conversed with fellow prisoners during a walk. He refused to confess to any guilt and started a hunger strike. He was joined by Andrey Chernov, one of his fellow prisoners, shortly after.
DmitryPchelintsev and Andrey Chernov are two antifascist currently imprisoned by Russian state in relation to so-called “Penza Case” which saw 11 people put behind bars so far, and many others connected as witnesses in a fabricated terrorist case.
The wave of repressions against antifascists begun on the eve of Russian presidential elections and FIFA World Cup in 2017, seeing activists arrested, tortured, forced to sign statements and incriminated in apparently imaginary terrorist organisation “The Network”. The activists are currently awaiting trial and are facing prison sentences of up to 20 years.
Signs of torture were confirmed on the defendants by lawyers and Public Monitoring Commission (ONK): a body controlling observance of human rights in detention facilities. ONK recorded numerous traces of burns from teaser, as well as signs of beatings.
According to the imprisoned antifascists, they were subjected to savage beatings in order to extract confessions from them.
Some witnesses were also tortured. In September 2018, one of the accused, Arman Sagynbaev, refused guilty plea in court and described to the judge the torture he was subjected to after his arrest in order to extract his original confession during the police investigation process.
As reported by Parents Network (an association of parents of the accused activists), after the hunger strike declaration on 29th November, the remaining Penza defendants were immediately placed in “punishment cells”, handcuffed and threatened with violence.
There will be solidarity action and a fundraiser for Russian antifascists in London on 19th January 2019. More details to follow shortly.