This interview with the Russian anti-fascist Alexei Gaskarov, who was released from prison last month after a three-and-a-half year prison sentence, was published (in Russian) by Snob magazine on 1 November. This English translation is reproduced with permission from the Russian Reader. Gaskarov talks about the unjust trial at which he and others were jailed, for “incitement” and other political crimes, after the Bolotnaya Square protest movement of 2012. He also discusses life in the penal colony, the Russian anti-fascist and protest movements, and the war in Ukraine. For readers in the UK and western Europe – where some of the old “left” clings stubbornly to the fantasy that Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian government is something to do with “anti-fascism” – this assessment of Russia in 2016, by a real anti-fascist, is worth reading.
Olesya Gerasimenko (journalist who did the interview): Was your trial fair?
Alexei Gaskarov: I regret we agreed to be involved in it. Like Soviet political prisoners, we should have stood with our backs turned and kept our mouths shut, and not treated it as an attempt to get at the truth. I had illusions after Khimki. [In 2010, Gaskarov was arrested and charged with attacking the Khimki town hall during a protest in defense of Khimki Forest, but the court acquitted him. — Snob] Several videos showed clearly that the incidents involving me happened before the riot kicked off,
according to police investigators themselves. In the end, I ticked off the evidence, the judge nodded her head, but there was no reaction. The entire trial looked as if the decision had already been made, the sentence written out, and let’s get this over as quickly as possible.
So did you push a policeman and pull a soldier out of the police cordon?
I never denied it from the get-go. A year had passed since the rally on Bolotnaya Square. I was working on an important project. I had a week to Read the rest of this entry »