FREE DARYA POLYUDOVA

RUSSIAN SOCIALIST IMPRISONED FOR SIX YEARS FOR OPPOSING PUTIN AND THE WAR ON UKRAINE

Darya Polyudova a Russian socialist activist and leader of the organisation ‘Left Resistance’ has been sentenced to six years  in a prison colony by the Western District Military Court in Moscow.

The Military Court No. 235 convicted Polyudova on trumped up charges of ‘justifying terrorism’ over a reposted photo and text on the social network VKontakte and for ‘public calls to extremism’ over another social media post.  Alongside the six-year sentence the  Moscow judges added a four year ban from working in the media; organizing mass events or posting information on the Internet.

Human rights organisations including the authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre have declared Polyudova as a political prisoner. 

The Russian state has a history of persecuting Polyudova for her activities ever since the war with Ukraine began in 2014.  Polyudova and her comrades of Left Resistance have taken a genuine internationalist stand against the Kremlin, showing immense courage in their protests. 

Left Resistance declares that “Crimea is not ours!” and that “We are against the so-called “people’s republics”, meaning the Kremlin’s proxy states in Donetsk and Luhansk.   “We consider Putin’s capitalism to be the culprit of all the ills that are happening in the country.”  Left Resistance stands “for workers power, against the war with Ukraine and with Syria, which is led by our imperialist state.”

Polyudova wrote that for the Russian people:

“Ukrainian Maidan showed us the experience of the fraternal people. ….Of course, imperfect rulers also came to power in Ukraine. On the one hand, the situation in Ukraine is now unfavourable due to Russia’s military aggression..….Nevertheless, Ukraine has shown us the experience that if we are not afraid, if all dissatisfied citizens go out, we can achieve change in the country. … We just need to put the Ukrainian experience into practice and not be afraid to take to the streets to protest.”

Polyudova and Left Resistance have consistently opposed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and shown solidarity with the Tatars and other Ukrainian political prisoners held in occupied Crimea and Russia.

On 29 August 2014 Polyudova was arrested for posting photos of herself on the Russian social network VKontakte the equivalent of Facebook – she was carrying political banners such as ‘No war with Ukraine but revolution in Russia’. She blamed Putin for ‘acts of terror and catastrophes in Russia’, writing that:

‘On the Maidan [protests in Ukraine] people were able to remove [then Ukrainian President] Yanukovich, why are we not able to remove Putin and then have a socialist revolution in Russia?’

Polyudova and her comrades had planned a march in August 2014 in favour of greater autonomy for the Kuban region.  She was arrested and imprisoned, while other two of her  comrades fled the country fearing that they would be next.

The authorities claimed Polyudova’s social media posts amounted to ‘calls to commit extremist activities’ and ‘calls to commit actions threatening the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation’.   In fact the self-determination she called to be exercised are, on paper, a legal right in the Russian Federation. 

For peacefully expressing her views Polyudova was held in pre-trial detention until February 2015, when she was released under travel restrictions. She was then sentenced to two years in prison on 21 December 2015.  Amnesty International recognised her as a “prisoner of conscience.”

This did not silence Polyudova who on her release continued to protest and expose the hypocrisy of the Kremlin.  

On January 2019, Polyudova held a picket in Moscow under a banner reading: “Kuril Islanders: Stop feeding Moscow! Long live the Far Eastern Republic!”.  As the Kremlin has held “referendums” in Crimea and Donbas to justify annexations – Polyudova has sought to expose this hypocrisy and demanded other regions in the Russian Federation should also be allowed a referendums. 

Following her latest arrest Polyudova was charged over a reposted photo and publication which she did not add any comments.  On 14 February 2019, she reposted  on her VKontakte page, a photo of the Chechen militant Shamil Basayev with the words: “When we demanded a referendum, the Russians came and killed all those who didn’t manage to run and hide”.  This was a post from political émigré Andrei Romanov in which the latter expressed the following opinion: “The Urals and other republics which in future secede from Russia need such individuals as Dzhokhar Dudayev; Shamil Basayev; and Aslan Maskhadov. Great sons of the Chechen people”.  

The prosecution had claimed that, merely by reposting this, Polyudova was justifying terrorism and saying that it should be emulated.

In fact Polyudova has expressed views that have been expressed and shared by many other public figures? As regards the alleged “terrorism” – she did not prepare and was not going to prepare any terrorist attacks and during the search of her room by the Russian authorities they found nothing but posters, laptop and phone. All normal for an activist.

Following the old Russian saying that ‘He Lies Like an Witness’ – the testimony of prosecution witnesses in the trial lacked any credibility. The VKontakte page in question had been blocked – as such prosecution witnesses could not see or read the material on the page at the time the witnesses themselves claimed in their testimony.

Polyudova in her social media posts has peacefully expressed her views, something many do on Facebook and Twitter every day.  But clearly to oppose Russian imperialism and stand in solidarity with victims of the Kremlin, to oppose Putin and the regime of oligarchic capitalism, to stand for the principles of socialist internationalism is as much a crime in Russia today as it was in the time of the Tsars. 

Polyudova deserves the support of the global labour and socialist movement.   

Christopher Ford

Darya Polyudova

Send letters of solidarity to Darya Polyudova:

The letters need to be in Russian and on ‘safe’ subjects, as they will pass a prison censor.   If Russian is a problem, the following (copied by hand) would be fine.

Sample letter

Привет,

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение. Простите, что мало пишу – мне трудно писать по-русски, но мы все о Вас помним.

[Hi.  I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  I’m sorry that this letter is short – it’s hard for me to write in Russian., but you are not forgotten. ] 

The address (until the appeal)

109383, г. Москва, ул. Шоссейная, д. 92, ФКУ СИЗО-6 УФСИН России по г. Москве,

Полюдовой Дарье Владимировне, 1989 г. р.

Or in English

109383 Russian Federation, Moscow, Shosseinaya St, No. 92, SIZO-6,

Polyudova, Darya Vladimirovna, b.1989

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