Russia: two anarchists facing six years in prison for a banner drop

Two young anarchists, Dmitry Tsibukovsky and Anastasia Safonova, are facing six years in prison for (allegedely) hanging a banner in solidarity with the defendants in the “Network” case.  

According to the Russian authorities and noone else, The “Network” was a terrorist anarchist organization active in Russia between 2015 and 2017. Its alleged members were sentenced on bogus charges in February 2020 by the Russian military court in the city of Penza to prison terms ranging from 6 to 18 years. Prior to their convictions, the detained anarchists were subjected to torture and mistreatment in order to extract confessions from them. Freedom has reported extensively on this case in the past.

In a lesser-known happening relating to the “Network” case, on the night of 14/15 February 2018, a banner reading “FSB is the main terrorist” was hung, in solidarity with the “Network” defendants, on the fence of the Federal Security Service (FSB) building in the city of Chelyabinsk (west-central Russia). Several days later, the FSB arrested four anarchists suspected of this act, including Dmitry Tsibukovsky and Anastasia Safonova, who are a couple.

According to Tsibukovsky, his arrest was brutal: “They pushed me to the ground, pushed my hands painfully behind my back and handcuffed me, though I didn’t resist. After this, the uniformed officers punched me no less than ten times in the torso, head and neck. They beat me with the base of their hand against the soft parts of my body, neck, and clipped me round the back of the head.”

Follwoing his arrest, Tsibukovsky was tortured by the FSB and subsequently forced to sign a confession. Safonova, while not subjected to torture, was forced to listen to the treatment inflicted on her partner.

Safonova and Tsibukovsky were charged with politically motivated vandalism and hooliganism (part 2 of article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code and part 2 of article 214 of the Russian Criminal Code) and released. Then, the case against the couple was twice shelved due to lack of evidence. However, in April 2020, they were re-arrested, by riot police who broke into their flat, and sent to a pre-trial denention facility. In July of that year, this measure was changed to a house arrest.

On August 30 2021, at the Central District Court of Chelyabinsk the prosecutor demanded 6 years imprisonement for Dmitry Tsibukovsky and Anastasia Safonova, for the alleged act of banner hanging. Their case will be heard at a later date anf Freedom will update on it accordingly.

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Image: the action outside FSB headquarters, February 2018, Chelyabinsk. Source: Popular Self-Defence Group.