RUSSIA Kirill Ukraintsev appeal hearing

An activist involved in the campaign for the release of trade unionist Kirill Ukraintsev tells us about the appeal hearing he attended in a Moscow court on 23 May.

The lawyers of the head of the Kurier trade union (kurier means “deliveryman” – translator’s note) and left-wing activist Kirill Ukraintsev had appealed against the court’s decision to remand him in custody. His lawyers had appealed against the pre-trial prison sentence, requesting that he be placed under house arrest pending trial. 

Currently in pre-trial detention until 25 June, Kirill risks being sentenced to five years’ imprisonment under Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code, an ultra-repressive and arbitrary article that punishes alleged « repeated violations of the legislation on public gatherings« . 

But we know that the real reason for the criminal prosecution is quite different: the only « crime » of our comrade Kirill is that he helped found the delivery workers’ union and organised the victorious struggle of these workers for their rights. 

Itistobenotedthaton25 April (the day of his birthday!), he was arrested at his home, in the small flat which he rents as a tenant, and, by decision of the Savelovsky court, sent to prison for two months, until 25 June. 

At the hearing, the lawyers argued in a rational manner: they demonstrated that Ukraintsev is a respectable citizen who poses absolutely no threat to others and has an impeccable reputation, that he is committed to a socially useful cause: the protection of workers’ rights, and that he will not run away anywhere (originally from Novosibirsk, he moved to Moscow in 2019). All these arguments had no effect on either Judge Martynova nor on the prosecutor. Nothing moved them, not even the fact that Kirill has to care for his mother, who is seriously ill with cancer and needs her son’s attention. The character testimonies that had been submitted in Kirill’s favour by Boris Kravchenko, President of the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR), and Oleg Shein, VicePresident of the KTR and member of the Astrakhan Regional Duma, were received by the court, but not taken into consideration. 

The court even ignored the fact that the representative of the Centre for Combating Extremism (i.e., the political police) had estimated that there was no risk that Kirill would engage in « actions of an extremist nature » in case he was placed under house arrest. 

About thirty activists came to the court to support our comrade, including human rights activist Elena Rokhlina (daughter of the famous Soviet general Lev Rokhline), the Communist Party MP in the Moscow City Duma, Yevgeny Stupin (one of the few elected members of the CP to have protested against the war – Ed. Note) Mikhail Lobanov, head of the University Solidarity trade union at Moscow State University, Kirill’s colleagues, the correspondent of the Stalingrad channel, Alexander Evdokimov, activists from the Working Russia movement and the Marxist organisation Novye Krasnye. 

It is important to note that Kirill, who spoke at the trial via video conference from his detention centre, was very confident and defended his positions in a well-argued and articulate manner. However, Judge Martynova was uncompromising: Kirill Ukraintsev will remain in pretrial detention until 25 June. 

But the fight goes on: Freedom for Kirill Ukraintsev! Trade unionism is not a crime!