We demand their immediate release.
Ten opposition-minded residents of Moscow and Moscow region have been charged with creating an extremist group, ‘New Greatness,’ (Novoe Velichie) in December 2017, allegedly for the purposes of the violent overthrow of the government and constitutional order of Russia (Article 282.1 of the Russian Criminal Code).
Having attentively studied the materials of the case, we have concluded that the New Greatness association was, essentially, set up by Russian security services. It was they who strove to give the organisation an extremist character.
One of the founders and leaders of New Greatness, known to members of the group as ‘Ruslan D,’ is evidently an agent of the law enforcement agencies (probably the FSB). When he was questioned as a witness, the official record named him as Aleksandr Konstantinov (no other personal information about him was made public). He was a member of the board of the organisation, head of its financial department, and its secretary.
With the help of Ruslan D., the security services themselves drew up the charter and programme of New Greatness in such a way that it appeared to be an extremist organisation. They also hired an office for the group that was bugged. When Anya Pavlikova, a minor, left the group because of a quarrel, the agent persuaded her to return. However, one month later she was arrested. Pavlikova has since spent six months in pre-trial detention, with serious injury to her health.
Apart from Ruslan D., two other police officers were infiltrated into New Greatness and, evidently, there were one or two informers.
However, despite the efforts of the provocateurs, the political programme, charter and leaflets of New Greatness contain no specific statements or provisions indicating that its members intend to overthrow the government by violent means or change the constitutional order of Russia by violence. Texts published on the organisation’s website contain no direct calls to violence.
«The so-called New Greatness case is a symbol of the brutality and unjust nature of the struggle against ‘extremism’ in contemporary Russia," said Sergei Davidis, head of the programme of support for political prisoners at Memorial Human Rights Centre. «The group of opposition-minded young people became a victim of a provocation by the authorities. They did not commit any acts of violence, nor did they plan any acts of terror or attacks. They have been charged exclusively in connection with conversations and actions that did not violate the law, and that have been declared criminal only because they allegedly took place in the framework of an ‘extremist organisation’ founded by a security service officer who had infiltrated their community.
The suspects maintain their innocence. They do not deny taking part in New Greatness, but assert they were engaged in lawful activities and had no intention of overthrowing the government and constitutional order by violent means.
A petition to the leadership of Russia drawn up by the Novaya gazeta newspaper, which is open for signing on the Change.org website, states: «Almost one third of the group, which consisted of 13 persons, were representatives of various law enforcement agencies who, evidently, competed with one another in creating and supporting this organisation, not for the purpose of some mythical ‘overthrow of the constitutional order,’ but in order to open a criminal investigation against the members. Compliance with the law in the New Greatness case would mean dropping all charges against the persons concerned. Whether this happens, we consider to be a question of political will. The failure of the provocation initiated by Ruslan D. is obvious, and it is in the best interests of the security services themselves that practices of this kind by those in their ranks are ended. We consider the actions of law enforcement agents in this case constitute a ‘political provocation,’ banned under Article 5 of the law ‘On Investigative Actions’: ‘bodies conducting investigative actions are banned from inciting, persuading, or instigating either directly or indirectly the commission of unlawful acts (provocation).»
Memorial considers Anna Pavlikova, Mariya Dubovik, Ruslan Kostylenkov, Maksim Roshchin, Petr Karamzin, Pavel Rebrovsky, Dmitry Poletaev, Sergei Gavrilov, Vyacheslav Kriukov and Rustam Rustamov to be political prisoners and demands their immediate release and the punishment of those guilty of their criminal prosecution.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.
We invite you to join the support group for the defendants.
For more information about this case, see here.
PayPal — an e-wallet for giving help to all Russian political prisoners [email protected]