The end of the year is the time to look back at what has been done. As the year 2020 is approaching, the Memorial Human Rights Centre is publishing new lists of Russian political prisoners who will see the new year in behind bars.
Today these obviously incomplete lists (general, religious) which are only a reliable minimum estimate of the scale of political repression related to deprivation of liberty contain 314 names. Of them, 250 belong to individuals deprived of freedom in connection with the realisation of their right to freedom of religion, 64 belong to those imprisoned for other political reasons. Two months ago, when the previous edition of our lists came out, there were 305 names. The real number of political prisoners and other individuals deprived of their liberty for political reasons in today’s Russia is undoubtedly much higher.
Over the last two months, new names have appeared on our lists reflecting changes in the lives of the persecuted — new arrests, indictments, and judgements imposing prison sentences. New names have also been added to the lists, as we have analysed the materials of criminal cases of those who had been jailed earlier.
The names of the defendants in the Network case — Maksim Ivankin, Mikhail Kulkov, Vasily Kuksov, Dmitry Pchelintsev, Arman Sagynbayev, Andrei Chernov, Ilya Shakursky, and Igor Shishkin — have been added as we managed to gain access to its materials presented in court and see that all the charges related to their alleged involvement in an Anarchist terrorist organisation are absolutely groundless.
Among the new political prisoners are defendants of the Moscow case Andrei Barshai, Yegor Lesnykh, Maksim Martintsov, and blogger Vladislav Sinitsa convicted on false grounds for a tweet without appeals to violence. Oleksandr Marchenko charged with smuggling has been a victim of the ongoing anti-Ukraine campaign.
Opposition activist Mark Galperin who was convicted on groundless extremism-related charges in 2018 has been put behind bars as the court has ruled to replace his suspended sentence by a term in penal colony.
The names of people sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their connection to Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami which was groundlessly declared a terrorist organization have appeared on the list of those persecuted in connection with the realization of their right to freedom of religion. These are nine Muslims convicted in Moscow — Khamid Igamberdyev, Zafar Nodirov, Farkhod Nodirov, Otabek Isomadinov, Sardobek Siddikov, Aziz Khidirbayev, Alidzhon Odinayev, Sobirdzhon Burkhoddini, Muradzhon Sattorov — and two Muslims from Tatarstan — Niyaz Ziyattinov and Artur Valov.
Over the same two months, several people have been released. Ten people persecuted for their connection to the activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been released from custody or house arrest. The spiritual leader of the Church of Scientology in Saint Petersburg Ivan Matsitsky has been released after two and a half years in custody.
Some defendants in the Moscow case — Yegor Zhukov, Vladimir Yemelianov, and Aleksandr Mylnikov — have been unjustly and groundlessly convicted, yet a powerful solidarity campaign has prevented the court from imposing sentences of imprisonment on them. All charges have been dropped against Sergey Fomin who was accused of participation in mass riots in Moscow.
Nonetheless, the number of political prisoners has continued to grow making the need for our solidarity with the victims of politically motivated persecution even more compelling. You can make your contribution by taking part in solidarity campaigns, by spreading the word about the political prisoners, and by supporting them with money and kind words.
Freedom to all political prisoners!