Last week, the Russian authorities carried out searches at the offices of the student magazine DOXA and the flats of its four editors. The four editors: Armen Aramyan, Natasha Tyshkevich, Volodya Metelkin and Alla Gutnikova were subsequently charged and placed under house arrest.
DOXA is a popular student-run online magazine. It is known for its critique of the modern university and texts popularising radical philosophy: especially that of feminist, marxist and anarchist leaning. It also features columns on the complex system of higher education in Russia and student protests. Additionally, DOXA is known for organising solidarity actions with students persecuted for free speech.
On 22nd January, DOXA published a video titled “They can’t beat the youth”. The video urges students to protest without fear and explains that it is illegal to expel them from school for political reasons. A few days later, the video was taken down on the request from the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), which claimed that the video allegedly violates Article 20.2 of the Russian Administrative Code because of “calls to participate in unauthorized public events.”
On early morning of 14th April, the authorities conducted searches as the flats of Aramyan, Tyshkevich, Metelkin and Gutnikova, confiscating electronic equipment and detaining all four editors. Later that day, the four were brought to court and, amid about 200 people strong protest forming a solidarity chain around the court building, charged with a crime under Article 151.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: “Involvement of youth in activities that can be harmful to them”. The editors are currently under house arrest and are not allowed to use the Internet. They are also being forced to wear an electronic tag to monitor their movements. On 16th April, in the obvious attempt of intimidation and harassment, the editors were informed that they will be interrogated each working day until the end of May.
In the editorial statement published at DOXA website, the magazine states:
“The pressure that the journalistic community has faced lately is unprecedented, but we will not stop our activities. We will continue to highlight what is important to young people and continue to advocate for their rights.”
In an act of solidarity, over 1000 academics from around the world, including Nika Dubrovsky and Judith Butler, signed a letter of support with the persecuted editors. The letter reads:
“The charges against the editors are preposterous. DOXA had posted a rather innocent video urging others to protest without fear and that expelling students for political reasons was unlawful. In response, the Russian communications authority Roskomnadzor demanded they remove the video. DOXA complied and removed the video. Even then, the editors were charged under Article 151.2 of Russian law (“involvement of youth in activities that can be harmful to them”).
Perhaps there is some honor to being charged with the same crime as Socrates? Yet it is remarkable to suggest that university students need protection from DOXA. Only one who uses education to manufacture obedience outlaws critical thinking as self-harm. And it is no coincidence that laws like these are also used against social critics, queers, and migrants.”
More information in English can be found here.
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