POLITZEKI

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Two Russian anti-Putin activists jailed over clashes

A Moscow court has sentenced two protest leaders to four-and-a-half years in jail for inciting “mass riots” against President Vladimir Putin.

Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhayev were found guilty of co-ordinating protests which turned violent on the eve of Mr Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term in May 2012.

Prosecutors had sought eight years.

The pair deny the charges and say Russian police provoked the clashes at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square.

Razvozzhayev was also ordered to pay a 150,000-rouble fine (£2,520; $4,286).

Lawyers for both activists - who denied the charges - said they would appeal against the sentences, including to the European Court of Human Rights.

Udaltsov, a radical leftist, also announced he would go on a hunger strike. He and his supporters shouted “Freedom!” in court on Thursday.

Controversial TV footage

Leonid Razvozzhayev alleges that Russian agents kidnapped him in Ukraine

"Udaltsov, Razvozzhayev… agreed between themselves repeatedly on the organisation of mass disorder," the judge said.

Before his arrest in October 2012 Razvozzhayev was an aide to opposition MP Ilya Ponomarev.

Razvozzhayev said he was abducted in Ukraine, smuggled into Russia and forced into signing a confession, which he later disavowed.

The case against them was based on a documentary broadcast by the pro-Kremlin television channel NTV, which purported to show them discussing efforts to topple the Russian government with an official from neighbouring Georgia - Givi Targamadze - and seeking financial support.

Udaltsov said the footage was a sham and the documentary “dirt and lies”.

Anti-government protests erupted in December 2011 amid allegations that the parliamentary elections that month were rigged.

In the Bolotnaya Square investigation seven other protesters have been jailed and 11 acquitted. Eight others are still held on remand or under investigation. An arrest warrant has been issued in Russia for Givi Targamadze.

(Source: BBC News)

Bolshevik Aijo Beness ordered locked up

The Riga Central District Court on May 16 ordered National Bolshevik activist Beness Aijo taken into custody, who the Security Police have started a criminal process against for incitement to violently overthrow the government of Latvia and change the political system, as well as liquidate Latvia’s national independence, reports LETA.

Aijo was initially detained by the Security Police at Riga Airport on May 14.

The Security Police said in a statement to the press that Aijo was expelled from Ukraine after he, despite banned from entering the country for three years, nevertheless tried to cross into Ukraine together with another two activists, and was detained by the Ukrainian Border Guard. State Border Guard spokeswoman Kristine Petersone confirmed to LETA that Aijo was detained at Riga Airport after arriving on a flight from Ukraine.

This is the second case started against Aijo for inciting people to violently overthrow the government and alter the political system.

The Security Police opened initially opened a criminal case against the National Bolsheviks in December 2004, after evaluating a letter received at the newspaper Diena from Aijo on Oct. 17, 2004, that, the Security Police said, included incitement to overthrow the government.

In the above mentioned letter, Aijo expressed hostile views against Latvian law enforcement institutions, the Latvian president, the government and the Riga City Council. The letter was not printed in Diena.

Aijo was initially handed down a nine-month prison sentence for his crime; however, this decision was appealed in 2005. He was later handed down a 9,600 lats (13,700 euros) fine by the Supreme Court.

(Source: The Baltic Times)

Putin’s Alphabet

Pussy Riot suffer burns and head injuries after being attacked at McDonalds

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Two members of Russian protest group Pussy Riot have been left with chemical burns and head injuries after they were attacked by a group of men wearing patriotic symbols.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were in the city of Nizhny Novgorod in the west of Russia to visit a local jail with members of their prisoners right group.

They were set upon while eating breakfast in a McDonalds restaurant.

The men, who were wearing St George ribbons which commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, used pepper spray and poured rubbish and green antiseptic over them.

The women have blamed local police for being involved in the attack. Police said they were investigating the case and refused to comment on the allegations.

Pussy Riot became known around the world after they were jailed for performing a protest song against President Putin in a Moscow cathedral. They were freed in December 2013 as part of a government amnesty.

(Source: Euronews)

Pussy Riot vows no let-up in Russia human rights fight at Asia awards

Members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) and Maria Alyokhina (L) arrive at a preview of the nominees for the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore on January 17, 2014. Photography: Sorlan Rahman

Two Pussy Riot members on Friday vowed no let-up in their campaign against human rights abuses inside Vladimir Putin's Russia as they made their first overseas trip since being released from jail.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who were freed from prison last month, are in Singapore for a video awards ceremony where they said they would keep using creative art to promote their cause.

A video of the group’s controversial protest stunt inside Moscow’s top church, the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, has been shortlisted for an award in the digital/video category of the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards in the city-state.

The stunt, which the band described as a denunciation of political ties between Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, led to three members being convicted on hooliganism charges.

"Right now we are mostly concentrated on human rights work which involves a huge amount of legal work," band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said through an interpreter at a media event Friday.

She said they will continue to use “video and other creative forms” to get their message across.

"We’ll definitely continue our political activities and right now we are concentrated on a project which helps prisoners’ rights because any such work in Russia is a political activity," said Tolokonnikova, clad in a black dress and dark tights.

Asked what the band would do with any prize money if they win, she said: “We will use our resources… including money to put (towards) this human rights project to defend prisoners’ rights.”

Their video has been nominated alongside works of China’s Yang Yong Liang and Baden Pailthorpe and Daniel Crooks, both from Australia. The award ceremony will take place on Saturday.

Under the awards, which are sponsored by the Prudential insurance giant, the winner of each category will receive a $20,000 prize. The overall winner receives a further $30,000 and a chance to exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London later this year.

Pussy Riot’s church protest came just ahead of Putin’s re-election to the Kremlin in March 2012 and video footage of the stunt uploaded online was later banned in Russia.

Tolokonnikova on Friday credited the Russian government for the international attention the band has received, and sarcastically suggested that a state representative should be invited to share the award if they won.

But the duo said they would pursue their cause under their own names rather than as Pussy Riot members.

"We have to speak for ourselves", - Tolokonnikova said.

By Stefanus Ian

(Source: AFP)

Greenpeace says Russia still holding Arctic protest ship

Russia is still holding a Greenpeace ship despite an international court order demanding its release, the environment lobby group said Thursday.

The Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise ship was seized in September over Greenpeace’s protest against oil drilling by Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Thirty activists, including four Russians were detained in the process, before being bailed and then benefitting from a Kremlin-backed amnesty.

The ship, however, remains under Russian control, Greenpeace said.

"Arctic Sunrise is still at the Murmansk port. Nothing has changed since last year," said Greenpeace Russia spokeswoman Tatyana Vasilyeva.

"Our lawyers are working on lifting the arrest," she said, adding that Russian officials have not set any conditions for releasing the ship.

"We don’t know anything about when the ship will be freed."

The Germany-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled in November that Russia must release the ship upon the posting of a 3.6 million euro bond.

The Netherlands then proceeded to issue a bank guarantee constituting the bond but Russia ignored the court’s ruling.

The dispute recently made headlines again after Senegal seized a Russian vessel called the Oleg Naidenov for allegedly fishing illegally.

Russia then accused Senegal of acting under pressure from Greenpeace in detaining the Oleg Naidenov, whose home port is Murmansk.

Greenpeace campaigns against illegal fishing in Senegal, and has in the past used the Arctic Sunrise ship to catch vessels in the act.

(Source: AFP)

Russia denies visa to U.S. journalist critical of Putin

Russia has barred a U.S. journalist critical of President Vladimir Putin from the country for five years, in a move that could upset relations with the United States and has echoes of the Cold War.

Moscow’s treatment of David Satter could fuel concern about freedom of speech before the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month, although Putin has tried to appease critics by freeing former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the Pussy Riot protest group in the run-up to the Games.

"I was expelled from the country," Satter wrote on his personal website. "This is an ominous precedent for all journalists and for freedom of speech in Russia."

The Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Satter, author of three books on Russia and the Soviet Union, had been prevented from returning to Russia last month after grossly violating visa regulations.

In a website entry, he dismissed the official version of events, saying he had followed all instructions, and he blamed the foreign ministry, which handles foreign journalists’ media accreditation, for causing delays that led to his expulsion.

In Washington, the State Department said it was disappointed that Russia had denied Satter a visa and had raised the issue with the authorities in Moscow.

"The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has raised our concerns on this case and the treatment of journalists and media organizations in general with Russian authorities," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a daily briefing. "We’ll continue to monitor the case."

Satter said that he had flown to Kiev to receive a new letter of invitation but instead received only a statement read to him by a Russian diplomat there declaring him persona non grata.

"The competent organs have decided that your presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is undesirable. Your application for entry into Russia is denied," the statement said.

Such expulsions have been rare since the end of the Cold War and collapse of the communist Soviet Union in 1991. But the ministry dismissed suggestions by Western media that the move against Satter was politically motivated as “tendentious”.

A former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times, Satter was back in the Russian capital last year and advising Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a broadcaster funded by the U.S. government.

BOOK ON BOMBINGS

In one of his books, “Darkness at Dawn”, Satter accused the Federal Security Service (FSB), a successor of the Soviet-era KGB, of being responsible for bombings of Russian apartment buildings in 1999 which killed more than 300 people.

The FSB, which was headed by Putin before he became prime minister and then president, has denied the charge. Russian authorities blamed the attacks on separatists from Chechnya in the volatile North Caucasus. The crimes were never solved.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said Satter had failed to report to the federal migration service as required when he last arrived in Russia on November 21.

"In fact, from November 22 to November 26 this U.S. citizen stayed on Russian territory illegally," the ministry said, and a Moscow court had ruled on November 29 that he should be expelled. A court spokeswoman confirmed the ruling.

Satter said the ministry had delayed giving him an invitation, causing him to go to court and pay a fine before flying to Kiev to start the visa process again.

The ministry said Satter had left Russia on December 4 and was refused a visa when he wanted to return. He was just one of about 500,000 foreigners barred from Russia for periods of three to 10 years for breaking the law, the ministry added.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said the U.S. embassy in Moscow had sought an explanation from the Russian authorities, without success.

Relations between Moscow and Washington improved during U.S. President Barack Obama’s first-term push to “reset” ties.

But they have deteriorated again amid disputes on Iran, Syria, human rights and Russia’s decision to give temporary asylum to American fugitive spy contractor Edward Snowden.

Russia expelled a U.S. diplomat in Moscow last year, accusing him of working as a spy and trying to recruit a Russian agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Public announcements of such expulsions have become rare since the end of the Cold War.

Satter is currently in London.

By Timothy Heritage and Gabriela Baczynska

(Source: Reuter)

Nailed testicles, giant phalluses: The shock tactics of Russian protest art

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Piotr Pavlensky on Moscow’s Red Square, November 10. Screenshot from a video uploaded to YouTube.
 
Muscovites were treated to a surreal sight on Sunday: a naked man who had nailed his testicles to the cobblestones in Red Square, in protest at what he sees as apathy in contemporary Russian society. 
 
Piotr Pavlensky wanted to condemn the apathy towards what he calls the Russian “police state”. “Often, people just look at something that strips them of their freedoms, and they do nothing”, the artist explained in an interview to “Metro”, a Russian newspaper. So he hammered a nail through his scrotum into the wet cobblestones of the Kremlin in broad daylight and stayed there for several minutes, contemplating his testicles, before policemen covered him with a sheet and took him away.
 
Pavlensky is no stranger to extreme performance art. Last May, he draped his naked body with barbed wire in front of the parliament in St Petersburg to protest against the city’s legislative system, which he deemed to be oppressive. And in July 2012, he literally sewed his mouth shut in solidarity with Pussy Riot.
 

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Screenshot from a video uploaded to YouTube.
 
Piotr Pavlensky is one of the only artists—if not the only artist—who goes to such extremes. But many other Russian artists have taken up the idea of using provocative art to spread their message, including the Voina collective (“war” in Russian). In 2010, Voina activists drew an enormous phallus on a drawbridge that rose up in front of the FSB headquarters (the former KGB). The Russian Ministry of Culture rewarded the artists with a prize for artistic innovation of 400,000 roubles (10,000 euros). But the Pussy Riot singers were not so lucky. Their February 2012 “punk prayer” on the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, which called for Vladimir Putin’s departure, resulted in a two-year prison camp sentence for Maria Aliokhina, Nadejda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samoutsevitch. The latter was released on appeal, but the sentences of the first two women were upheld.
Contributors
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Artem Loskoutov

“If Pavlenksy had just written something on his blog, only his friends would have read it”

Artem Koskoutov, 27, is a Russian artist originally from Novossibirsk. He came up with the idea of “Monstrations”, protests where participants dress up in costumes and yell absurd slogans—an original approach that quickly caught the interest of the Russian media.
 
In Russia, political activists have a hard time getting their message across. Posters, petitions, and protests have very little effect. When protests occur in places other than the capital, the Moscow media outlets don’t pay any attention. So artists have been thinking about other types of performances that could get attention, like Pavlensky, or our ‘Monstrations’.
 

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Monstration on May 1, 2013, in Novossibirsk. The placard says: “Astérix, where are you?”. Photo by Anton Unitsyn.
 
If Pavlenksy had just written something on his blog, only his friends would have read it, and his message would not have been heard. But now, with this action, he’s managed to be in the news for more than just a day, it’s incredible!
 
“Most artists are afraid that the authorities will react unpredictably”
 
Russian modern art is not politicised. It is mostly an industry, a way of making money. There isn’t any space for political action or speech. I think that most artists are afraid that the authorities will react unpredictably. We don’t know exactly what we’re risking, it’s like a lottery. Pussy Riot did several performances in Red Square without punishment, but then the last time, they were sentenced to prison. Also, this type of action is not in the least lucrative. There is no market for this. It’s very thankless.
 
However, Russia really needs protest art, because there are many contradictions and social problems in this country. And ever since the Russian protest movement received global attention in 2011, there is genuine interest in those artists that produce commentary on social issues. They generate attention and create a dialogue.
 
Pavlensky’s performance has stirred up lots of reaction, especially on social networks where commenters are split between respect and mockery. The artist appeared before a judge on November 11 and was subsequently released.
 
Post written with Polina Myakinchenko, journalist, and FRANCE 24 journalist François-Damien Bourgery (@FDBourgery).

Source: France24
29-year-old artist Petr Pavlensky nails his balls to cobblestone pavement of Red Square in Moscow on Sunday, 10/11/2013, Day of Police in Russia.


"Human body is something that the power mechanisms, the state and the society try to discipline by putting into jail and causing injuries. Working with my body I show what the state does with the society. These processes reflect and are a metaphor for what is happening with the social body. Working in public space I manage to involve the actual power mechanisms into my actions."

Video by Dmitri Zykov/Grani.ru

Petr Pawlenskijs Erklärung zur Kundgebung auf dem Roten Platz:

Am 10. November um 13.00 Uhr nahm die Polizei in Moskau den Künstler Petr Pawlenkij bei einer Kunst-Aktion mit dem Titel “Freeze” fest. Ein nackter Mann sitzt auf dem Roten Platz und schaut auf seinen in das Kreml- Pflaster genagelten Hodensack.

Die Aktion kann als Metapher der Apathie, der Gleichgültigkeit gegenüber Politik und Fatalismus der modernen russischen Gesellschaft angesehen werden. Nicht das bürokratische Chaos beraubt die Gesellschaft ihrer Handlungsfähigkeit. Angesichts aller Niederlagen und Verluste und eines starken Nagels im Kremls Pflaster wartet eine Armee von Menschen apathisch und geduldig auf ihr Schicksal .

Jetzt, wenn sich die Macht in Russland großflächig verwandelt und offen Menschen ausraubt, indem sie die Finanzströme für das Wachstum und Bereicherung der Polizeiapparat und anderen Strafverfolgungsbehörden umleitet, duldet die Gesellschaft die Tyrannei und vergisst ihre zahlenmäßige Überlegenheit durch Untätigkeit — und dadurch verhilft sie dem Polizeistaat zum Triumph.

Заявление Петра Павленского в связи с акцией на Красной площади

10 ноября в День сотрудника органов внутренних дел в 13.00 в Москве прошла художественная акция, которая получила название “Фиксация”. Обнаженный человек сидел на Красной площади и смотрел на свои прибитые гвоздем к кремлевской брусчатке яйца.

Акцию можно рассматривать как метафору апатии, политической индифферентности и фатализма современного российского общества. Не чиновничий беспредел лишает общество возможности действовать, а фиксация на своих поражениях и потерях все крепче прибивает нас к кремлевской брусчатке, создавая из людей армию апатичных истуканов, терпеливо ждущих своей участи.

Сейчас, когда власть превращает страну в одну большую зону, открыто грабя население и переправляя финансовые потоки на рост и обогащение полицейского аппарата и прочих силовых структур, общество допускает произвол и, забыв про свое численное преимущество, своим бездействием приближает триумф полицейского государства.

Russian opposition activists in Moscow threw tomatoes at visiting Dutch King Willem-Alexander on Saturday to protest the January suicide of one of their members turned down for asylum in the Netherlands.
None of the tomatoes hit the king, the Ria Novosti news agency reported.
Sergei Aksenov, one of the leaders of The Other Russia opposition party, said on Twitter two activists were arrested for the fruit-throwing.
He said the protest was to highlight the death of Alexandre Dolmatov, a party member who took part in a May 2012 demonstration on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s re-election investiture.
Dolmatov was arrested then released, but fearing re-arrest on serious charges levelled at others, fled to the Netherlands to seek asylum.
He committed suicide in January after the request was rejected and he was placed in a holding centre.
The Dutch king on Friday met Putin to discuss bilateral issues.
Dutch-Russian ties have become strained in recent weeks because of the Russian coastguard arresting the crew of a Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship used to stage a protest on a Gazprom oil platform in the Arctic, and a number of diplomatic incidents in both countries.Source: AFP

Russian opposition activists in Moscow threw tomatoes at visiting Dutch King Willem-Alexander on Saturday to protest the January suicide of one of their members turned down for asylum in the Netherlands.

None of the tomatoes hit the king, the Ria Novosti news agency reported.

Sergei Aksenov, one of the leaders of The Other Russia opposition party, said on Twitter two activists were arrested for the fruit-throwing.

He said the protest was to highlight the death of Alexandre Dolmatov, a party member who took part in a May 2012 demonstration on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s re-election investiture.

Dolmatov was arrested then released, but fearing re-arrest on serious charges levelled at others, fled to the Netherlands to seek asylum.

He committed suicide in January after the request was rejected and he was placed in a holding centre.

The Dutch king on Friday met Putin to discuss bilateral issues.

Dutch-Russian ties have become strained in recent weeks because of the Russian coastguard arresting the crew of a Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship used to stage a protest on a Gazprom oil platform in the Arctic, and a number of diplomatic incidents in both countries.

Source: AFP