Memorial Human Rights Centre, in line with the international guidelines defining the term ‘political prisoner,’ has recognised Yuly Boyarshinov and Viktor Filinkov as political prisoners. We demand their immediate release and that the criminal charges against them for alleged involvement in a terrorist group be dropped.
- Anti-fascist activists from St. Petersburg, Yuly Boyarshinov and Viktor Filinkov, have been charged with an offence under Article 205.4, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Participation in a terrorist group’, punishable by up to 10 years’ deprivation of liberty), on grounds they were allegedly members of Network, an organisation banned in Russia on 8 April 2019 and declared to be terrorist. According to the investigators, Network is an association of terrorists and anarchists. Boyarshinov has also been charged with committing a crime under Article 222.1, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Unlawful possession of explosive materials,’ punishable by up to five years’ deprivation of liberty ). Boyarshinov and Filinkov have been held in custody since 21 and 23 January 2018 respectively.
- From the very beginning, the prosecution of St. Petersburg anti-fascists took place against the background of continuous scandals and charges of torture, related to the activity of the FSB in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region. Members of the Public Oversight Commission, Yana Teplitskaya and Ekaterina Kosarevskaya, documented numerous facts of very gross violations of human rights by the FSB. One of those cited as a victim of torture in their report was Pavel Zlomnov who has been recognised by Memorial as a political prisoner. The torture of Viktor Filinkov, Yuly Boyarshinov and a third defendant in the criminal case, Igor Shishkin, were documented in detail in the report. Just as detailed was the description of those forms of pressure to which Boyarshinov and Filinkov were subjected after their detention in the Gorelovo Pre-Trial Facility No. 6, which has a reputation for torture. Furthermore, almost all the suspects in the Penza case concerning the banned Network organisation also reported brutal torture.
- Although the actions of the accused have been artificially forced to fit the definition ‘terrorism,’ it is possible to speak of the total absence of any danger to the public in the actions of Boyarshinov and Filinkov related to their participation in a goup that has been designated as terrorist. Admissions of the creation of such a group, and of participation in it, were, to judge by all known evidence, obtained by means of torture, which makes them inadmissible in a court of law.
- The defendants have not, in fact, been charged with any violent or terrorist acts or with attempts to commit such acts. Offences the participants in the ‘terrorist’ group allegedly intended to commit (as listed in the formal indictment) do not include offences provided for by Article 205 of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Act of terrorism’). Filinkov’s defence lawyer has in particular pointed out that after his client’s detention the FSB asserted that participants in Network had prepared acts of terror to take place at the FIFA World Cup in the summer of 2018. However, all reference to such acts has been removed from the formal indictment.
- Yuly Boyarshinov, who has pleaded guilty, emphasises that the purpose of the training and association in the framework of Network was none other than self-defence in case of attack by radical nationalists during possible disorders, and not preparation to seize control of buildings or such like. The accusation that Boyarshinov possessed 403,9g of black powder has no relation to the charge of participating in an allegedly ‘terrorist’ group: the investigation, for all its lack of impartiality, did not seek to charge Boyarshinov with attempts to use this powder to carry out acts of terror. After all, Viktor Filinkov, to judge by materials of the case we have seen and the testimony of Boyarshinov in court, had only minimal connection with Network. He was prosecuted only because he communicated with some of the defendants and because his wife had taken part in a number of meetings at which he was not present.
- The political motive for prosecution of the St. Petersburg anti-fascists is clear. The prosecution is part of a series of continuous repressive measures against anarchists and anti-fascists that sharply increased in the years 2017-2018. The authorities have sought to create the image of anarchists as people who are a danger to the public, complicit in terrorism and attempting to destabilize society and the political system. The detained anarchists were routinely and virtually openly tortured. Simultaneously, the authorities are seeking to suppress all extra-systemic, informal self-organisation, especially of young people.
- Memorial Human Rights Centre cannot at the moment recognise a third defendant in the case, Igor Shishkin, as a political prisoner because he has made a full admission of guilt and it has not been possible to access the materials of the case. Nonetheless, it can be said with confidence that Shishkin is either fully or partly innocent and that he was subjected to torture during the preliminary investigation. We believe Shishkin’s case must be reviewed, and the cases of those charged with membership of Network in Penza must be impartially investigated. All law enforcement officers involved in torturing the defendants must be brought to justice.
More information about this case is available here.
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.
Donations to support the defendants can be made to ‘Anarchist Black Cross’ on PayPal via [email protected] (please indicate foreign currency in euros and add a note that the donation is ‘For the Network Case’).