Open Russia Activists join Demonstrations Against FSB Torturing and Atrocious Air Pollution

October 29, 2018

This weekend Open Russia activists took to the streets in a variety of peaceful demonstrations. The demonstrations took place in seven cities and resulted in multiple arrests, despite the peaceful nature of the demonstrations.

The first set of rallies were in support of victims of the so-called “Set’” and “New Greatness” cases. Set’ and New Greatness were the names of two left-wing political groups that existed by and large in the online sphere. The majority of the groups’ members were young people who enjoyed discussing alternative, left-wing political ideas that run contrary to the authoritarianism that defines Putin’s regime.

Picket reads: The Set’ and New Greatness Cases: The guilty are imprisoning the innocent

Authorities used the dubious charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ to detain members of the Set’ and New Greatness groups. These charges bring significant sentences of five to ten years in prison. In the city of Penza, central European Russia 11 young people from Set’ were arrested on such charges back in November 2017, as well as on drug charges. Those arrested have since detailed practices of torture (beatings and electrocution) from law enforcement officials who wanted to draw out the identities of other ‘Antifa’ members.

Picket reads: Yes, our electrocutions caused them pain, but this wasn’t torture. It was a Federal Necessity.

The case of New Greatness was much the same. However, in this instance the Telegram Chat group was infiltrated by an FSB agent who tried to get members to meet and take action against the Putin regime. This is otherwise known as entrapment. 10 members of the group (most of whom were under 20) were arrested and the authorities used extreme physical violence during the arrests and apartment raids.

Picket reads: Today they are imprisoning our children. Tomorrow, they’ll be coming for yours. Speak out!

For this reason, the demonstrations took the name of ‘for your children, and ours’. Open Russia Movement activists, including the chairman Andrey Pivovarov and Open Russia press-secretary Natalia Gryaznevich, stood in solidarity with the parents in Penza, Rostov, St. Petersburg and Moscow. In St. Petersburg three Open Russia activists were detained, as well as TV Rain journalists. One Open Russia activist was also detained in Rostov.

Open Russia Chairman Andrey Pivovarov explains to demonstrators that they are not alone and that people all across Russia and demonstrating in solidarity

In addition to these demonstrations, Open Russia activists were supporting rallies in Tyumen’, Yekaterinburg, Kazan’, Moscow and Rostov, where citizens were rallying in opposition of air pollution in many of Russia’s largest cities. These demonstrations were organised by Greenpeace, who stated that, according to article 42 of the Russian Constitution Russian citizens are guaranteed pleasant [environmental] living conditions and information on the state of local ecology. At the moment Russians are deprived of both.

Left picket reads: Don’t let them pollute your life: Stop polluting manufacturers. Right picket reads: 27th October is the Greenpeace Day of Unified Action!

These demonstrations take place in light of mass demonstrations in Ossetia, where a fire at a power station has led to serious problems with air quality. Similarly, in Moscow there have been widespread reports of heavily polluted air in the Novokosino region, where a waste incineration plant is pumping fumes into residential areas in spite of government regulations. The violations of ecological laws is unsurprising, in that the lead shareholder of plant is son of Russian Chief Attorney Yuri Chaika – Igor Chaika.

Picket reads: We want to know what we are breathing.

The Open Russia movement stands in solidarity with and actively supports Russian citizens who stand up against infringements of their constitutional rights. The right to freedom of thought and expression, as well as the right to clean, safe air are two examples of basic rights, which Russian citizens are prevented from exercising by the Putin regime.