International Committee “Free the activists convicted in the “Network” case (Russia)!”

On 10 February, in the city of Penza (Russia), the Volga Military District Court sentenced seven young anarchists in the so called “Network” case.
In Russia, premeditated murder is punishable by a sentence of six to 15 years. But the defendants, who did not fire a single shot or carry out the slightest attack, received the following sentences:

– Dmitry Pchelintsev (aged 27): 18 years in a maximum-security penal colony; – Ilya Shakursky (aged 23): 16 years in a maximum-security penal colony;
– Andrei Chernov (aged 30): 14 years in a maximum-security penal colony;
– Maksim Ivankin (aged 25): 13 years in a maximum-security penal colony;

– Mikhail Kulkov (aged 25): 10 years in a maximum-security penal colony; – Vasily Kuksov (aged 31): 9 years in prison; and
– Arman Sangynbaev (aged 27): 6 years in prison.

The young people involved in the so-called “Network” case were arrested in 2017. They were accused of having formed a terrorist organisation to plan attacks during the presidential election and the 2018 World Football Cup. The charges referred to an intention to “overturn the constitutional order”.

What were these charges based on?

– The defendants were pressured, as were some witnesses. They were tortured (subjected to beatings and torture with electricity). The acts of torture were recorded by members of the Public Monitoring Commission (1). However, no legal action has been taken against the perpetrators of the torture.
– Most of the testimony was provided by so-called “anonymous witnesses”.

This is why we fully share the position expressed (15 February 2020) by the Council of the Russian teachers’ union “Uchitel” (2): “We believe that this case was fabricated: the court is being used to intimidate its own people. (…) We demand an immediate investigation into the circumstances of this case, a review of the conviction of the accused and a criminal investigation against those who tortured them”.

Moreover, the authorities, which had initially tried to charge the young people under the article of the Criminal Code on “the organisation of terrorist acts”, were unable to present any proof of this, and had to refer to the article on the “constitution of a terrorist organisation”. There was not the slightest evidence of “organisation of a terrorist act”, but on the other hand, the court said that “evidence of the crime” included the fact that copies of Karl Marx’s Capital were found in the defendants’ possession.

In line with the traditions of international worker solidarity, we demand the immediate release of Dmitry Pchelintsev, Ilya Shakursky, Andrei Chernov, Maksim Ivankin, Mikhail Kulkov, Vasily Kuksov and Arman Sangynbaev.

Free the 7 political detainees in the Penza trial!
The fight for their release must be taken up by the international labour movement.

(1) A human rights organisation able to visit detainees in prison.
(2) A member union of the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR), affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation.

The undersigned hereby form an International Committee for the release of the 7 activists convicted

Constantin CRETAN, miner and trade unionist, formerly convicted and imprisoned for his trade union activities, released after an international solidarity campaign (Romania)

Sadi OZANSÜ, former political prisoner under the dictatorship of General Evren in the 1980s (Turkey)

Jan TESAR, activist in the Prague Spring (1968), former political prisoner (Czechoslovakia)

Valentin URUSOV, formerly convicted and imprisoned for his trade union activities, released after an international solidarity campaign (Russia)

Felipe ZORITA, former political prisoner under Franco, member of an association of victims of Francoism (Spanish State)

Eric AUNOBLE, historian, trade unionist (France)

Cécile BRANDELY, lawyer, Committee member of the SAF national lawyers’ union – pers. cap. (France)

Sabin CODARCEA, National Union of Labour, Jiu Valley (Romania)

Jane DOOLAN, Secretary, Islington UNISON, member of UNISON’s National Executive Committee – pers. cap. (Britain)

Jean-Numa DUCANGE, historian (France)

Dominique FERRE, columnist, La Tribune des Travailleurs (France)

Yuri GLUCHAKOV, former activist of the Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists (KAS), member of the “Vmeste” social movement (Belarus)

Daniel GLUCKSTEIN, co-ordinator of the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, for a Workers’ International (IWC) (France)

Ian HODSON, National President, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) – pers. cap. (Britain)

Dimitry KOZHNEV, trade unionist, member of the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR) (Russia)

Jim LAFFERTY, former executive manager, National Lawyers Guild – Los Angeles (United States)

Pauna LULU-IULIAN, President, LIGNITUL miners’ union, Rovinari (Romania)

Jean-Jacques MARIE, historian (France)

Grigorio MIHAI-TIBERIU, Executive President, National Labour Federation (FNM) (Romania)

Alberto PIAN, writer, film director, CGIL trade unionist – pers. cap. (Italy)

Andrei RUDOI, co-chair, “Uchitel” teachers’ union; member of the National Council of the Union of Marxists (Russia)

Klaus SCHULLER, rail worker, EVG trade unionist, member of the National Committee of the SPD’s Workers Commission (Germany)

Mark VASSILEV, historian (Russia)

Nambiath VASUDEVAN, co-ordinator of the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, for a Workers’ International (IWC) (India)

Andrei ZAVODSKOI, trade union activist (Russia)

Join the International Committee : svobodu7@gmail.com

The Russian version of this document is here.