If you follow the news about Russia, then you probably know what’s happening right now with opposition and political activists. Putin’s dictatorship focuses on torture and imprisonment of everyone who disagrees with authoritarian anti-social politics. If somebody is struggling against total poverty and unfairness, then they will face repression from government structures such as FSB (the modern incarnation of the KGB), the Centre for Combating Extremism (so-called Центр «Э», most of the torture is organized by them), the police, and contempt from conservative people. The only way to stay in power is terror. Putin is trying to save the state capitalist system, which makes him and his oligarch friends stronger. Anarchists have become one of the main targets of the repression machine, because they seem to be the most dangerous for the state. There are several noteworthy cases that I would like to review.
In October 2017, the FSB fabricated a large-scale criminal case against anarchists and anti-fascists, whom they declared members of the terrorist organisation called “The Network.” The FSB claims that the detainees planned to arrange explosions during the presidential elections and the World Cup. The defendants claim that they were subjected to torture, during which they were forced to memorize testimony that they were members of the terrorist network “The Network.” Some of them got abducted by FSB, like Viktor Filinkov. Viktor is a computer programmer and anti-fascist, he was arrested on 23 January 2018 at Petersburg Pulkovo airport. FSB beat Filinkov up in a dark-blue minivan, shocked him through his handcuffs, on the back of his head, on his back, and on his groin. After all troubles and torments, there are ten antifascists behind the bars. Those arrested face from five years up to a life sentence in prison. They still experience repressions inside the jail.
“People’s Self-Defense” Anarchists
“People’s Self-Defense” is a socio-political organization whose ideology is libertarian communism, which is a combination of socially oriented anarchism and non-authoritarian marxism.
February 2018, Crimean FSB arrested anarchist Yevgeny Karakashev. He is accused of “inciting hatred” and “justification of terrorism,” or in other words, posting a video on Russian social media page VKontakte. Karakashev is currently under arrest.
November 2018, anarchist and animal rights activist Vyacheslav Lukichev was detained in Kaliningrad. For 36 hours, he was deprived of sleep and food and tortured. The FSB demanded that he confess to administering the “Prometheus” telegram channel and publishing a post in support of Mikhail Zhlobitsky (a 17-year-old anarchist who blew himself up in the Arkhangelsk FSB building). On March 14, Vyacheslav Lukichev was fined 300,000 rubles ($4,600). He was found guilty of justifying terrorism.
February 2019, in Moscow, the FSB and spetsnaz conducted mass searches and detentions of anarchists. As a result of searches, at least 11 people were detained. Federal TV channels have reported the detention of “anarchist terrorists” from the People’s Self-Defense movement. Among the detainees, Azat Miftakhov, while being tortured by the FSB, was instructed to confess to the manufacture of explosives. Azat was beaten and tortured with an electric screwdriver, but he refuses to testify against himself. Another detainee, Daniel Galkin, was tortured by a taser. He was told to testify against Miftahov, agree to cooperate with the special services, and also to give a compromising anarchist interview to Channel One (Первый Канал). By evening, all the detainees were released, except for Azat Miftakhov. Azat was abducted inside a police station right in front of his lawyer. For almost two days, no one could find Miftakhov. Investigators refused to provide information on his whereabouts to lawyers. Finally, on the evening of February 2, he was found in a detention facility in the city of Balashikha.
Being an anarchist, I personally fear that the political police may kidnap me at any time, start torturing me soullessly, and the real criminals and terrorists will never answer for this. What we have today in Russia is a reflection of the Franco regime in Spain in an even worse form. The FSB will always gloat on anarchists, using them to sow fear and horror among the people. Putin’s regime has always rested on a society of spectacle and repressions against the opposition, but people’s hate is getting stronger and stronger. Anarchists around the world should enhance solidarity with Russian activists, and only mutual-aid strengthens people. The next wave of torture and batons will be worse, it can happen any day.