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Posts Tagged ‘Russia

Russian pro-Navalny Protests, Conspiracist ‘anti-imperialists’ react.

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St Petersburg rally

St Petersburg: Crowd Shouts ‘Down the Tsar!. 

Alexei Navalny protests: Moscow in lockdown as police detain thousands

Riot police and national guard troops close central metro stations and block off streets

 

Moscow police have paralysed the centre of the Russian capital as protests in support of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny continue for a second consecutive weekend.

At least 3,000 people including Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, were detained at rallies across the country as supporters of the Kremlin critic took to the streets to protest against his jailing, despite biting cold and the threat of arrest.

 

Already the ‘anti-imperialist’ friends of  Vladimir Putin are responding:

George Galloway Retweeted:

The Notorious site The Grayzone of Max Blumenthal.

“Despite facing repression, Alexei Navalny is no hero. Russian writer Katya Kazbek reveals the Western-backed opposition figure’s real history.”

 

 

Eva Bartlett, a Canadian activist and blogger who is known for promoting conspiracy theories about Syria She writes opinion editorials  for the television network RT, aka Putin Telly.

“Western mass media and hypocritically-indignant Western representatives are again busily claiming Russian peaceful protesters have been brutalized by police in demonstrations across Russia on January 23.

The sloganeers demand the release of the unpopular petty criminal and Western flunkey, Alexei Navalny, arrested upon returning to Russia for having broken Russian law.”

A contrasting left wing analysis of the background:

Ilya Budraitskis

Russia: Mass protests calling for Navalny’s release on 23 January, set to continue

On 23 January, large-scale protests were held in Russia, the main unifying demand of which was the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who had been arrested a week earlier just after his return from Berlin (where he was being rehabilitated after being poisoned).

On the eve of the rally, after his arrest, Navalny’s campaign team presented a video about Vladimir Putin’s secret palace, which cost about 100 billion roubles (about $13 million) and was astonishingly opulent and senseless. Against a backdrop of economic stagnation, rising inflation, and unemployment, the story of this palace resonated enormously (over 90 million views on Youtube at the moment) not only as an example of corruption, but also as a demonstration of colossal social inequality in modern Russia.

Unlike the previous Navalny investigations in which high-ranking bureaucrats and oligarchs close to power have been the heroes, this time it is the authoritarian leader himself whose sustained popularity has until recently provided the legitimacy of the regime. Not surprisingly, the publication of the film and the call to go out into the streets provoked a panicked reaction from the authorities: “preventive” talks were held at every school and university, informing students that their participation in the protests would lead to “problems”, and all TV channels explained that the palace did not really belong to Putin, who preferred an ascetic way of life.

Read more view link (Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières)

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Written by Andrew Coates

January 31, 2021 at 5:20 pm

Russian Protests Supporting Gaoled Alexei Navalny: Where Does the Left Stand?

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Demonstrators clashing with the police on Saturday in Moscow.

The BBC reports.

Hundreds of people have been detained as police try to stop nationwide protests in Russia in support of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Mr Navalny’s wife, Yulia, said she had been detained at a protest in Moscow, where tens of thousands have gathered.

They were met by large numbers of riot police in the capital’s Pushkin Square, and beaten back with batons.

Mr Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most high-profile critic, called for protests after his arrest last weekend.

He was detained on 17 January after he flew back to Moscow from Berlin, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal nerve agent attack in Russia last August.

On his return, he was immediately taken into custody and found guilty of violating parole conditions. He says it is a trumped-up case designed to silence him, and has called on his supporters to protest.

Prior to the rallies, Russian authorities had promised a tough crackdown, with police saying any unauthorised demonstrations and provocations would be “immediately suppressed”. Several of Mr Navalny’s close aides, including his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, were arrested.

 

OVD Info, an independent NGO that monitors rallies, said that more than 1,600 people had been detained during protests across the country on Saturday.

Here is another report:

Internationalists would first of all see the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny., his poisoning, and the arrests of protestors in human rights terms.

As in this:

If this had happened in the USA or in Europe the left would be up in arms.

Here are some of the few initial left reactions:

Ken Livingstone’s team, now lined up behind the Chinese capitalist dictatorship:

Overt Pro-Putin ‘Anti-Imperialists’ tekn apart by Paul Canning:

 

Background:

 

Navalny’s Return and Left Strategy by lefteast

(Extracts: follow link for full article)

Russia has had an eventful week and it’s not even finished. First, Alexey Navalny flew back to Moscow, then he was immediately arrested upon crossing the border, and the next day his team published a video illustrating Vladimir Putin’s own corruption and calling upon all citizens to come out to the streets against the government on January 23. What is the Russian left to think of all this? Navalny is certainly not its own, but should it stay away from the protests and the brewing political crisis? We asked Ilya Budraitskis, Ilya Matveev, and Kirill Medvedev, for their opinion.

Ilya Budraitskis, Moscow-based historian, political writer, and co-author of the Political Diary podcast

 

Navalny’s bold and precise populist strategy is in fact aimed at creating a protest coalition, with an important place reserved for the representatives of the system parties (above all, the Communists), who will refuse to play by the Kremlin’s rules and are able to conduct lively and offensive electoral campaigns.  A key element of this strategy is Navalny’s rhetoric, in which the issues of poverty and social inequality have taken the place of liberal-democratic values. The high-profile anti-corruption investigations that have earned him popularity have an emotional impact on a huge audience (for example, his latest film about Putin’s palace, costing 100 billion roubles, was viewed over 50 million times by Friday), since they directly indicate the extreme stratification of Russian society. In an environment of openly falsified elections and unprecedented police pressure, electoral protest can only have an effect if it is supported by a mass non-parliamentary street movement. And only such a movement can determine Navalny’s personal fate today — if hundreds of thousands across the country do not stand up for his immediate release in the coming weeks, he will surely face a long prison term.

In my view, participating in such a movement — with our own programme and demands — is today the only chance for the Russian left. Moreover, it is the left that can most coherently express the sentiments that are increasingly pushing people to active protest: social inequality, the degradation of the social sphere (especially health care, which became dramatically apparent during the pandemic), police violence, and the absence of basic democratic (especially labour) rights.

Kirill Medvedev, activist of the Russian Socialist Movement, musician from the Arkady Kots Band, editor of Zanovo-media

But the more convincingly Navalny works with the theme of corruption and the ostentatious consumption of top officials, the more the limits of this rhetoric are exposed in a country like Russia, exhausted by inequality and permeated by class contradictions. Now the situation looks like this: Navalny is showing us the palaces of the rulers, playing with the fire of class resentment, while at the same time (together with his comrades-in-arms) promising businesses complete freedom in the Beautiful Russia of the Future. They say that the problem is not the palaces and gigantic fortunes per se, but where they come from. But of course, with the further development of this populist line, it will no longer be easy to separate the corrupt “friends of Putin” from those whom Navalny calls “honest businessmen,” but whose fortunes are just as huge, and similarly generated by illegal schemes from the 1990s and 2000s and, of course, by over-exploitation of workers. All of this opens up great opportunities for leftist politics, which, with an equally skillful combination of valor and rationality, could produce a far more powerful wave of discontent and a far more coherent program of change than Navalny’s eclectic populism.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 23, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Russian Anti-Fascists Imprisoned. Defend our Comrades!

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You can support the “network” case defendants by sending them solidarity messages, donating to the support campaign, and spreading the word about the case.

See the Rupression site for details

Russia jails members of ‘non-existent’ terror group Set

BBC.

Seven Russian anarchists and anti-fascist activists have been handed lengthy jail terms on terror charges.

A court in the city of Penza sentenced the men – said to be part of a group known as Set, meaning Network – to between six and 18 years in penal colonies.

Russian authorities say they were plotting to overthrow the government.

But rights groups and lawyers say the charges were fabricated, and the men were tortured into confessing.

Prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny described the sentences as “horrific” in a tweet, and called the Set group a “fictitious terrorist organisation”.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly said he was aware of the case and had ordered authorities “to make sure everything is in line with the law”, but would not intervene.

The Guardian says,

Rights activists criticise trial, saying members of the Network were tortured.

A Russian court has issued harsh sentences to seven antifascist and anarchist activists in a controversial domestic terrorism case marred by claims that investigators tortured the defendants to elicit confessions.

The court in Penza, a city about 390 miles (630km) south-east of Moscow, sentenced the men to terms of six to 18 years in penal colonies for allegedly forming an organisation called Set, which translates as the Network, which prosecutors said planned to carry out future attacks inside Russia to overthrow the government. The men were also charged with an assortment of weapons and drugs charges.

Influential human rights groups have called the case fabricated and said the men may have been targeted for their political activism. Four of the men on trial said they had been tortured with beatings and electrocution during the investigation. In December, Memorial human rights centre, one of Russia’s oldest civil rights organisations, had called for the charges to be dropped.

The French Communist daily l’Humanité, runs the story,

RUSSIE LOURDES PEINES DE PRISON POUR DES ANTIFASCISTES

The left blog People and Nature reports,

Russia: “network” case anti-fascists jailed for 6 to 18 years

A military court yesterday convicted seven Russian anti-fascists of trumped-up charges in the “network” case, and sentenced them to between six and 18 years imprisonment. The trial of two more defendants continues in St Petersburg.

The frame-up of the “network” case defendants by security services (FSB) officers – and the repeated use of torture to obtain bogus confessions – has been denounced by human rights organisations. The jailed anti-fascists have been supported by an international solidarity campaign.

Here is a report from court yesterday, translated by the Russian Reader from Bumaga newspaper:

The Volga District Military Court, [sitting in Penza], has [convicted and] sentenced seven defendants in the Network Case.

Dmitry Pchelintsev was sentenced to 18 years in a maximum-security penal colony. Ilya Shakursky was sentenced to 16 years in a penal colony and fined 50,000 rubles.

Investigators claimed they were organizers of a “terrorist community.” Both men alleged that FSB officers had electrocuted them in order to obtain confessions.

Maxim Ivankin was given 13 years in a maximum-security penal colony, while Andrei Chernov was sentenced to 14 years, and Mikhail Kulkov, to 10 years. They were found guilty of involvement in a “terrorist community” and attempting to sell drugs.

Vasily Kuksov was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. He was accused of involvement in a “terrorist community” and illegal possession of a weapon. Another defendant, Arman Sagynbayev, received 6 years in prison.

The verdict handed down by the court in Penza suggests that the acquittal of the Petersburg defendants in the case is less likely, Viktor Cherkasov, the lawyer for Viktor Filinkov, a defendant in the Network Case, told Bumaga. “It sends a message,” said Cherkasov. “It is difficult to hope [for a positive outcome], but we are still determined to protect Filinkov’s interests.”

Cherkasov said that he planned in court to point to the faked evidence in the case. He also that he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if Filinkov were found guilty. The next hearing in the Network Case in Petersburg should take place between February 25 and February 28.

[In October 2017 and January 2018], antifascists and anarchists were detained in Penza and Petersburg. They were accused of organizing a “terrorist community,” allegedly called “the network”.

……

At the end of the court hearing, Mediazona, the human rights defenders’ web site, reported:

The session is over. The sentence was read out in complete silence. Now, behind the court’s closed doors it is very noisy. Those who came to support the defendants are shouting: “Free political prisoners!”

“Stay strong, we are with you”, one of the support group shouted out.

“No, it’s we who are with you!” answered Dmitry Pchelintsev, one of the defendants. […]

People shouted “shame!” and “freedom!” […]

Outside court, a crowd gathered. Some people played drums, others sang, waiting for those convicted to be taken away in prison vans. Alongside stood security services officers in masks.

Vehicles left [the court] in a convoy. According to Mediazona’s correspondent, OMON [riot police] officers threw their coats over the convicts, so as to pass the crowds unseen. The supporters then began to go their separate ways.

 

More information:

ABOUT THE CASE

In autumn 2017 6 people were arrested in Penza – to some of them weapons and explosives were thrown up. Then FSB tortured antifascists right in the pretrial detention center: connected electrodes to different parts of body and put the electricity on, beaten, hanged upside down. While torturing security chiefs forced activists to learn by heart the testimony which FSB wants, that they had founded and participate terrorist community “Network”. At the end of January 2018, three more antifascists were arrested in St. Petersburg. They were also beaten, electrocuted and forced to incriminate themselves – to confirm that they are members of the “Network”. And in July 2018 there was a last arrest of two persons in Moscow.

By forging the evidence and tortures, the FSB fabricates a case about terrorism against antifascists. The FSB claims that the detainees planned to arrange explosions during the presidential elections and the World Cup. All this – allegedly in order to “shake the masses to further destabilize the political situation in the country” and raise an armed rebellion. Now there are ten antifascists behind the bars. Arrested face from five years up to life sentence in prison.

After the case against antifascists and tortures became widely known- actions of solidarity took place in Russia and abroad. However, this led to new repressions. The participants of the actions from Moscow were detained and criminal proceedings were opened against them. Antifascists from Chelyabinsk were detained, electrocuted and a criminal case was also opened against them.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2020 at 12:59 pm