Russia: “network” case lawyers prepare for court battle

March 25, 2019

Lawyers for Viktor Filinkov and Yuly Boyarshinov, two of the defendants in the “network case”, are now preparing for their trial. The defendants in the case are Russian anti-fascists who were arrested – and tortured by security services officers – in St Petersburg and Penza last year. They are accused of a so-called terrorist plot – a prosecution denounced by Russian human rights organisations as a frame-up.

Anti-fascists across Europe, as well as in Russia itself, have been campaigning for the charges to be dropped, and for those responsible for torturing the defendants to be brought to justice.

This is a report of an update on the case provided by Vitaly Cherkasov, lawyer for Viktor Filinkov. It was published on the Russian news web site OVD-info.

On 19 January, Vitaly Cherkasov, legal counsel for Viktor Filinkov, held a press conference on his client’s case in St Petersburg. After being under investigation for 13 months,

Yuly Boyarshinov, in conversation with his lawyer, at a court hearing. Photo:

Filinkov’s case has now been sent to court, and Cherkasov is free to discuss the evidence. According to Cherkasov, there is no substantial evidence in the case file against his client.

“We are concerned that the court will follow the prosecution’s lead and hold the trial in camera,” said Cherkasov. “Having studied the case file, we didn’t find a single document that would count as a state secret or other secret. We want the trial to be monitored by the public. We believe that with the help of the public and the press, we can convince the court in an open hearing to examine the case objectively.”

Viktor Filinkov was detained at Petersburg Pulkovo airport on 23 January 2018, but he was arrested only on 25 January. Later Filinkov recounted how he was tortured by FSB officers throughout the intervening two days.

“The case file contains my client’s testimony, which were given to the state-appointed lawyer,” Cherkasov stated. “This lawyer did not pay attention to the bodily injuries sustained by Filinkov.”

Initially, Filinkov gave statements that were advantageous to the investigators, but after he appointed Cherkasov as his legal counsel, he stated that he had made false confessions Read the rest of this entry »


Argentina: Theatre Against Dictatorship

March 21, 2019

On Sunday (24 March), Argentina will mark the 43rd anniversary of the 1976 coup d’état with demonstrations and meetings. To mark the occasion, People & Nature is publishing Argentina 1976-1981: Theatre Against Dictatorship – the story of the Workshop of Theatrical Investigation (TiT), a clandestine political theatre group that fought against the military junta that took power that day, as told by Marta Cocco, one of the group’s founders.

The Argentine junta, which overthrew the government of Isabel Peron, was one of the most violent in Latin American history. More than 30,000 people, mostly young opponents of the bloodthirsty regime, were killed in the security forces’ rampage that followed the coup. The resistance to the dictatorship, of which the TiT and many other groups were part, was a link in the chain of humanity’s striving for a world free of exploitation, hierarchy and war, that continues today.

Please read and share this story of resistance.

Members of the TiT, who defied the Argentine junta with theatrical performance


Russia normalises torture in case against anti-fascists

February 10, 2019

Re-posted from Red Pepper.

Evidence that anti-fascist activists were tortured by Russian federal security officers is “really disturbing”, president Vladimir Putin told the Kremlin’s own human rights council in December. He promised to “look into it”.

But ten of the young activists in question remain in detention awaiting trial in the “Network” case, charged with organising a terrorist group and illegal possession of weapons. The prosecution’s main evidence comprises statements taken after the accused were tortured with electric shockers, hung upside down, throttled and beaten up for hours on end.

The FSB, Russia’s main security service, claims members of the “Network” were planning to organise bombings during Russia’s March 2018 presidential elections and the football

A demonstration in St Petersburg on 19 January, remembering the murdered anti-fascists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova. Photo by Elena Lukyanova, Novaya Gazeta

World Cup, that they planned an armed uprising and were “stirring up the masses for further destabilisation of the political situation in the country”. It says that defendants had assigned roles (leaders, communications personnel, sappers and ideological officers), discussed their plans on social media and held minuted meetings about them.

The FSB case includes the fact that all the defendants played airsoft (a team shooting sport with no live ammunition) and that some of them did physical training together.

The ten, mostly supporters of anti-fascist and anarchist groups, were detained in late 2017 and early 2018. In January 2018, one of them, Viktor Filinkov, made a detailed public statement about being tortured; two other defendants, Ilya Shakurskiy and Dmitriy Read the rest of this entry »

Leeds women workers’ story retold

February 7, 2019

I am very pleased to publish today an article about the Leeds clothing workers’ strike of 1970: “You’re not a worker, you’re a pair of hands.” How Leeds women workers struck back, by Liz Leicester. It describes an unofficial strike by almost 30,000 clothing workers who demanded an increase in the hourly pay rate of one shilling (5 pence, worth about 75 pence today, taking into account). The action snowballed as the strikers, mostly women, marched around the city calling on others to join them. They were angry at an agreement signed between their union and the employers’ federation which discriminated against women workers. The article is based on a talk Liz gave in December 2018 in London.

Strikers on the march, 1970. From the Secret Library Leeds blog / Yorkshire Evening Post

New Russian torture case provokes student anger

February 5, 2019

Hundreds of Moscow students have joined a protest campaign over the arrest and torture in detention of Azat Miftakhov, a graduate student at Moscow State University.

Miftakhov was rounded up together with ten other anarchist activists, and charged with

Azat Miftakhov. Photo from Autonomous Action / The Russian Reader

preparing explosions. (See reports in English here and here.)

Miftakhov, and Daniil Galkin, were denied access to lawyers, brutally tortured and paraded on state TV. At least ten other people were arrested.

Many people in Russia feared a new case, similar to the “Network” case, in which a group of anti-fascist activists were tortured in detention and are now awaiting trial on terror-related charges.

When Miftakhov disappeared in to the security service’s dungeons, his fellow students put together a protest letter demanding “the immediate cessation of torture”. It was signed by more than 250 teaching staff, more than 500 students in the mathematics faculty where Miftakhov is studying, and more than 800 others from other faculties and outside the university.

Here is the text of the letter. You can read – and sign – the original here.

An open letter in support of mathematician Azat Miftakhov

Multiple sources confirm that on February 1, 2019 Azat Miftakhov, a graduate student of the Moscow State University Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics, was detained on suspicion of manufacturing explosives. He was tortured by the police and the Federal Read the rest of this entry »

Russian security services may have used agent provocateur to frame up anti-fascists

January 31, 2019

Anti-fascists have launched an international campaign to defend Russian activists who have been arrested, tortured in detention, and charged with terrorism-related offences in the “Network” case.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) claims that 11 people arrested in St Petersburg and Penza were part of an underground terrorist group seeking to sow disorder ahead of the 2018 Russian Presidential elections and the football World Cup.

Several of the detainees have described in detail how they were tortured by the FSB. For example, Viktor Filinkov described how he was tortured with an electric shocker after being

Demonstrators in London on 19 January, showing solidarity with the “Network” case defendants

detained at St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport in January 2018. Filinkov stated that FSB officers put him in a minivan, and then drove him around the city while torturing him into learning a forced confession.

The quasi-official Public Monitoring Commission has compiled evidence of torture, and the issue was raised on the Kremlin’s own Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. Nevertheless, preparations for what the defendants and their families describe as a show trial continue.

On 19 January, demonstrations in solidarity with the defendants were held in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kyiv, London and other European and American cities. (Information on the London event here and here.)

On 17 January, defendant Igor Shishkin received three and a half years for participation in a terrorist organisation. Shishkin admitted his guilt and came to a pre-trial agreement with the investigation. Most other defendants have renounced their confessions, referring to the fact that they were tortured by FSB officers.

The following text, by TATYANA LIKHANOVA of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, describes the use of what appears to be an agent provocateur in the “Network” case. This agent, who attended the same sports club as one of the case’s investigators in Penza, previously gave information to Ilya Shakursky, one of the defendants, and appears to have encouraged Shakursky to take radical action. We translated it with the author’s permission.


Following the conviction of Igor Shishkin, his lawyer Dmitry Dinze published several extracts from the case materials in a Facebook post. According to this post, a certain “V.I. Kabanov Read the rest of this entry »

“Russia’s ‘anti-fascist’ fascism is not a far-away, exotic reality.” It’s here

January 20, 2019

What they said at the 19 January demonstration in London to support Russian anti-fascists

More than 150 people marched through the east end of London on Saturday, to voice solidarity with anti-fascists in Russia.

The march was held on 19 January, the tenth anniversary of the killing in Moscow of two prominent Russian anti-fascists – Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer, and Anastasia Baburova, a journalist. The date was marked by demonstrations in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kyiv and other cities in Russia and Ukraine.

The event expressed solidarity with 11 Russian anti-fascists who have been arrested and tortured in detention in the so-called “network” case. These young people have been

The London demonstration on Saturday

beaten up, struck repeatedly with electric shockers (like cattle prods), hung upside down and suffocated by security services officers.

The London event started at the Cable Street mural, which commemorates the “battle of Cable Street” in 1936, when the fascists were driven out of the east end. It ended at Altab Ali Park, named after a young Bangladeshi textile worker killed by fascists in 1978.

Right-wing radicalism grows from social injustice, M from Russia said to the marchers in a speech before they set out. “As long as we have rich and poor, people will be angry”, he Read the rest of this entry »