Around 20,000 people gathered last Sunday in central Moscow to demand freedom for political prisoners.
The participants, chanting “Let them go”, demanded an end to repression against anti-government activists after some received jail sentences of up to four years. The activists were prosecuted for taking part in “illegal protests” during the Summer with trumped-up charges such as violence against the police.
Moscow anarchists joined the event with the banner “Freedom for Political Prisoners-Anarchists”. The text of the flyer distributed by the participants of the anarchist block read:
We, anarchists and libertarian socialists, join the demand to stop criminal and administrative cases against protesters and release political prisoners!
We believe that the very existence of such a concept as a “political prisoner” most clearly reflects the imperfection and injustice of the system in which our society is now wrapped: in it even the most progressive authorities strive to maintain their position, eventually coming to conservatism and repression. Being supporters of not representative, but direct democracy, we believe that important decisions regarding social organization should be made directly by citizens at the grassroots level (at general off-line or online meetings), where everyone has an equal right to vote. To solve more global issues, historical practice has developed a form of advice in which representatives of grassroots groups participate, limited by an imperative mandate that determines their voice on certain issues (such councils acted during the Russian, Spanish and many other revolutions).
Already, there are many grassroots initiatives and protest movements (not necessarily declaring anarchism) that make important decisions at general meetings. With enough effort, this principle can be extended to all spheres of public life, making centralized authoritarian structures unnecessary, including the state, which outrages us with police and power arbitrariness towards participants in mass protests.
The current wave of anti-government protests in Russia, triggered by the refusal by the authorities to allow some opposition politicians to participate in the local Moscow elections, begun over Summer, and since then they gain more popular support and numbers. So far, thousands of people were arrested. There were no arrests during the Sunday rally.