As of May 20, the Russian Federation is reporting the second highest number of coronavirus infections in the world at 299,941, however, authorities are reporting just 2,837 Covid-19 deaths, all out of proportion with any other country’s ration between infections and deaths. Vladimir Putin’s government claims their figures are accurate, but media outlets have raised the prospect of thousands death being attributed to non-civid-19 causes. One thing is certain, the Russian Federation has landed in the eye of the storm. Meanwhile, the government continues its regular harassment of opposition activists on a number of fronts. Below is an appeal from the Russian Socialist Movement, warning of threats being made against environmentalists and socialists in Izcevsk, especially Dmitriy Tsarenko (aka Morozov). First published in English by Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières and republished here by No Borders News.
Defend Socialists and Environmental Activists in Izhevsk!
Demand the politically motivated charges against Dmitriy Tsarenko be dropped!
Since late April, Dmitriy Tsarenko (aka Morozov), one of the leaders of the Russian Socialist Movement’s branch in Izhevsk, Udmurtia, has been under increasing pressure from the state apparatus—in particular, from the Interior Ministry’s “Center for Combating Extremism,” often wielded by the authorities against political opponents. On May 15, the police attempted to charge him with an arson attack on the office of Russia’s ruling United Russia party, and on May 18, Dmitriy was officially charged with the ridiculous offense of “justifying terrorism” in connection with a speech he gave at a protest in March. There, Morozov demanded that antifascists jailed as part of the Network Case, which was fabricated by the secret police, be freed. Breaking this article of the Russian Criminal Code can carry a sentence of up to three years.
Any conviction of Morozov will be more than just another appalling instance of the Russian government cracking down on its opposition—it will set a highly dangerous precedent, allowing practically any supporter of the solidarity campaign defending these political prisoners to be charged with the same crime. Russia’s oldest human rights organization, Memorial, lists the accused in the Network Case as political prisoners.
We believe the criminal charges against Dmitriy to be politically motivated and linked to his active role in organizing protests of several hundred against the construction of a hazardous waste treatment plant in a nearby town bordered by bodies of water, his outspoken criticism of Udmurt Republic Governor Alexander Brenchalov, and his plans to run for local office this year. This crackdown on Morozov is right in line with the trend of growing repression we’ve seen this last month, as Russians’ levels of trust in a government incapable of stemming the spread of the epidemic or providing them with direct financial support plummet.
We are calling on you to help launch an international campaign in solidarity with Dmitriy Tsarenko (Morozov). Reach out to your allies on the left, in environmental activism, and in human rights work and publicize his case using the hashtag #HandsOffMorozov #SolidarityIsNotaCrime, and send letters demanding the charges be dropped to Russian Federation embassies in your countries, as well as to the Udmurt Investigative Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Government of the Udmurt Republic (email@example.com). (Make sure to use Dmitriy’s legal last name, Tsarenko and you may include the spelling in Russian as a reference for clarity: Дмитрия Морозова (Царенко).
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org (please, send the copies of your protest separately)
[For international coronavirus coverage and analysis from working-class and socialist points of view, read No Borders News.]