Protest demands Freedom for Russian Socialist Igor Kuznitsov
On 15th of December, and important protest was held at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Kyiv calling for the release of the political prisoners in Russia Igor Kuznitsov and Darya Polyudova. Both are socialists who have actively opposed the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine.
The protest was initiated by the leading Ukrainian socialist and historian Andriy Zdorov, and supported by activists from the the Marxist group “Against the Current”, the on-line journal Nihilist, and the socialist organisation Sotsialnyy rukh (Social Movement). The protest declared: “Putin is war! Putin is the Gulag!“, “Freedom for all political prisoners“, “Freedom to Igor Kuznetsov“, “Freedom for Daria Polyudova“.
The 57 year old journalist Igor Kuznetsov was arrested in Tomsk in September 2021. On the basis of fabricated evidence, he was accused of inciting mass riots and later of creating an extremist group. The real reason for the repression is the peaceful expression of his views.
The organisation Sotsialnyy rukh declared ‘it is extremely important to support Russian figures who oppose the imperialist plans of the Russian government.’ A joint appeal was issued by ‘A group of comrades from the Russian Federation and Ukraine’
Dear comrades from the International Union of Workers, Independent Workers Party of France and other left organizations!
Appeal to left organisations
Our comrade Igor Kuznetsov, a trade union leader and journalist, was arrested on September 16, 2021 in his Siberian city of Tomsk, taken to Moscow, and now investigators are concocting two criminal cases against him, in which he faces up to 10 years in prison. 15 more people from 7 cities of Russia are accused in these cases.
The reason for initiating these and other cases against the opposition is as follows. In Russia, the gap between the richest and the poorest is rapidly increasing, between the capital-metropolis Moscow and the rest of the country, the ruling bourgeoisie is enriching itself, at the expense of low wages, pensions and siphoning off natural resources.
In order to continue this robbery of the people and in fear of the impending social explosion, the Russian bourgeoisie has curtailed freedom of speech and assembly in recent years: bloggers have been heavily fined for posts on social networks criticizing the actions of corrupt officials, Police officers are beating them with truncheons, stun guns, and arresting participants in peaceful demonstrations. Rallies, even single picketers, and environmentalists are detained, many critical publications, public organizations and dissenting citizens are declared “foreign agents”, independent trade unions of workers, doctors and teachers are constantly faced with obstruction of their legal activities. Especially strong pressure is being placed on people able to understand and explain to others the class nature of events and organise the struggle of workers for their rights
Who is Igor Kuznetsov? He is 57 years old, before his arrest he worked as a mechanic at the Tomsk Medical College. He is:
– a trade union leader and organiser of the labour movement, in the 1990s he became the secretary of the Siberian Confederation of Labour, travelled around the country, met with emerging workers and strike committees, as well as members of the labour movement in Kazakhstan, established communication and solidarity actions between them. Participated in the third wave of the “rail war” of miners in Kuzbass. Organized cells of the independent workers’ trade union “Zashchita” in Anzhero-Sudzhensk, in Samara at the Rossiya chocolate factory and in Syzran;
– a human rights activist since the 1980s, and even now, in the Tomsk pre-trial detention centre, he stood up for a cellmate who was beaten during interrogation. And in letters from the pre-trial detention centre in Moscow, he came up with an idea and a plan for the creation of the Union of Political Prisoners of Russia;
– Marxist and anti-Stalinist, spread the ideas of the scientific socialism of Marx, Engels and Lenin and showed how the Stalinist regime destroyed the Leninist party and the true Soviets of October 1917;
– an anti-imperialist, a fighter for the rights of the regions and peoples of Russia, opposes the colonial policy of Moscow in relation to Siberia and other regions, for Russia to become a real federation, for the termination of the expansive policy in relation to other countries, for the end of the aggressive war against Ukraine, which the Kremlin began in 2014;
– a fierce critic of the current regime and pseudo-leftists, social chauvinists, who, allegedly out of patriotism, agree to compromise with the Russian bourgeoisie;
– a strong Marxist analyst who studied the processes taking place in the world, the prospects and ways of participation of Russian workers and the left in the international labour movement, wrote on this on his pages on the Internet;
– a talented journalist who covered acute social problems and protest actions of workers in his blogs and in the RusNews publication;
– a civic activist, Igor regularly went to pickets of solidarity: with protesters in Khabarovsk, participant in Belarusian demonstrations, with the striking doctors of Anzhero-Sudzhensk, with environmentalists, in defence of each new political prisoner. Now he himself has fallen into the millstones of the repressive machine and needs our protection.
What are Igor Kuznetsov and his comrades accused of?
Of “incitement to mass riots” under Article 212 h. 1.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Together with Igor, several young people were arrested in this case in different cities on 16 September 16: Dmitry Chebanov, Zhanna Chernova, Nikita Kreshchuk, Alexey Kurlov, Maria Platonova, Vyacheslav Abramov, Alexey Yanochkin, Dmitry Lamanov.
What are Igor Kuznetsov and his comrades accused of? In the “incline to mass riots” under Article 212 h. 1.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Together with Oni we discussed in the telegram chat “What to do!” during the upcoming elections to the State Duma from 17 to 19 September 2021 and possible peaceful protests in the event of falsification of the results by the ruling United Russia party. In these elections, many violations of the electoral rights of citizens were recorded, it became known exactly how the ruling party stole the votes of many citizens. But there were no riots.
Igor Kuznetsov, while still in the pre-trial detention centre of the city of Tomsk, made a statement:
“I acted exclusively as a journalist within the framework of the editorial assignment of RusNews, the purpose of which was to obtain exclusive information on the coverage of protest events. I did not carry out any organisational activities, I did not publish any appeals. I consider everyone who was arrested along with me in this case throughout the country to be extremely decent people who do not accept violence in any form. They are distinguished by a tolerant attitude towards other people’s opinions. I deny the idea of the existence of a provocateur in this closed community. I call on the public to recognise all those arrested as prisoners of conscience. “
We assume that due to this firm position of Igor, a second criminal case was opened against him, which was started by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) under Article 282.1. Part 2 for participation in the allegedly extremist organisation “Left Resistance”. Sergey Kirsanov, Kirill Kotov, Alena Krylova and Andrey Romanov were also accused of this. And against the young activist Darya Polyudova, already convicted in 2021 under another article, a case was initiated on the creation of an extremist organisation (part 1 of article 282.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Darya was founder of the organisation “Left Resistance” back in 2017 as an alternative to the opportunist Communist Party of the Russian Federation, and the activists called their goal “defending real communist ideas.”
Igor Kuznetsov emphasized in his speeches: “Together with my friends, I represent the peaceful protest movement. We use exclusively peaceful means of promoting our views. This is the propaganda of our views, the record and analysis about what is happening in the world. “
In 2019, he and his comrades went to single pickets permitted by law with inscriptions on posters expressing their position on the social and political troubles from which the people suffer, but the Police illegally detained them using force, and the courts, also contrary to the law, fined Igor Kuznetsov and his comrades. And now, when a criminal case was initiated, those events were turned upside down: the pickets were declared aimed at discrediting the authorities and provoking clashes with Police officers. In such an absurd way, the allegedly extremist nature of the “Left Resistance” is justified in order to initiate a second criminal case against Igor Kuznetsov and other activists, who are in fact innocent.
Why is it important to speak in defence of Igor Kuznetsov and his comrades quickly and together?
The current Russian regime – is the heir to the Stalinist totalitarian system and operates by its methods. In pre-trial detention centres and colonies throughout Russia, there is a conveyor system of torture, recently exposed by human rights activists from Gulagu-net.ru, who published and, with the help of journalists from different countries, showed to the world video recordings of monstrous torture, recorded by the employees of Russian prisons themselves. But this conveyor is still far from breaking. From the publications of Gulagu-net it is known that in the remand prison No. 5 of Moscow, where Igor Kuznetsov is now, there were unofficial torture chambers, where some defendants beat other defendants and forced them to give evidence required by the investigation, and extorted money.
Given the almost complete dependence of the Russian courts and the prosecutor’s office on the authorities, our comrades can only be protected from torture during the investigation by the widest possible publicity in the press, primarily in the foreign press, and by demands to release them.
Now is a watershed moment for the opposition movement in Russia. The criminal case against the “Left Resistance” marks a new round of repression – with the aim of crushing left organizations that were created as an alternative to the opportunist Communist Party of the Russian Federation, headed by Zyuganov and which is actually part of the current regime. Therefore, the defence of Igor Kuznetsov and his comrades is the defence of the present and future socialist movement of working people in Russia.
We ask you to launch an international campaign in their support, to cover this case in the press, to hold solidarity actions and to send appeals to the Russian embassies demanding the release of Igor Kuznetsov and his comrades.
Group of comrades of the Russian Federation and Ukraine
December 9, 2021