On February 10th, seven Russian anarchists accused of participation in “the Network” group were sentenced for terrorist offences to a total of 86 years imprisonment. Freedom News covered the details of the case and the accusations here.
The sentences were harsh. Dmitry Pchelintsev received 18 years, Ilya Shakursky 16 years, Arman Sagynbaev 6 years, Andrei Chernov 14 years, Vasily Kuksov 9 years, Mikhail Kulkov 10 years, and Maxim Ivankin 13 years.
Since the sentencing, a new wave of protest and solidarity has emerged. Around the world, people have expressed suspicions that the group were framed, evidence was fabricated, and testimonies were collected under conditions of torture. Others have protested the verdict and the severity of their sentences.
An open letter published on Scientific.RU on the 12th of February has now been signed by over 3500 academics, professionals, students, and others, and the number is steadily increasing. The letter states:
“Everything that we know about the “Network” case suggests that it is entirely fabricated. This frankly unjust sentence testifies to the complete paralysis of the independent judiciary in our country. Unlike the fictitious “terrorist attacks” that the convicts allegedly “planned” to carry out, the decision on the “Network” case is a real act of terror that inflicts a severe blow to the foundations of Russian statehood.
We demand an immediate reversal of the sentence in the “Network” case, which, with senseless cruelty, damages the fates of our fellow citizens. We demand an investigation into the circumstances of the fabrication of this case, to punish the officials involved, and to ensure strict observance of the law by all law enforcement and security agencies. Terror against their own citizens is incompatible with the desired development of our country and is detrimental to its science, culture, and education.” [own translation]
Internationally, publicity and solidarity have been gaining momentum. Human Rights Watch have called the verdict “deeply flawed”, Amnesty International deemed the sentencing “absurd”, and the Memorial Human Rights Centre listed the defendants as political prisoners.
Within the Russian Federation, the Network case has attracted attention which has been unprecedented in recent times. Novaya Gazeta have reported on a subsequent shift in public discourse (translated here) whereby, firstly, this case has been unique in attracting widespread discussion in the public realm. The case has not only been reported on in a wide range of publications in Russia, but it has been heavily criticised. Celebrities and politicians alike have been discussing the case in depth. At protests and gatherings, people openly discuss the fabrication of evidence, torture by Russian authorities, and the harsh penalties issued.
The growing response to the Scientific.RU open letter shows this in black and white. The majority of responses are from within Russia, with people’s details proudly on display. Comments have poured in with criticism, outrage, emotion, and messages for the conviced.
What can you do to support the Russian antifascists and anarchists who have been tortured and imprisoned?
- Sign the letter published on Scientific.RU.
- Donate money to the Anarchist Black Cross via PayPal ([email protected]). Make sure to specify your donation is earmarked for “Rupression.”
- Spread the word about the Network Case aka the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case. You can find more information about the case and in-depth articles translated into English on this website.
- Organize solidarity events where you live to raise money and publicize the plight of the tortured Penza and Petersburg antifascists.
- If you have the time and means to design, produce, and sell solidarity merchandise, please write to [email protected].
- Design a solidarity postcard that can be printed and used by others to send messages of support to the prisoners. Send your ideas to [email protected].
- Write letters of support to the prisoners and their loved ones via [email protected].