Plan of action for 8 September

August 23, 2019

8 September will be a very important day for us all. On this day it will be clear whether society will stand up for those who were not scared to come to its defence.

The protests in Moscow started with the demand to let independent candidates register [for the city duma election]. But they only became so substantial once the authorities began using illegal force and repressive methods against protesters.

It was the authorities’ actions that radically changed the situation surrounding the elections. A month and a half ago, it was possible to discuss political tools for voting strategies and tactical voting. But now this approach is no longer relevant.

The Moscow elections on 8 September are no longer about the elections. They can no longer be addressed using political tools. This is a choice of ethics and morals. The key choice lies in your attitude towards repression and the events led that gave rise to repression.

On 8 September, it will become clear whether we will be able to maintain our main advantage over the Putin regime – our moral righteousness.

To vote for candidates who have not clearly outlined their position against repression and the use of criminal persecution for political gain is a betrayal, irrespective of the potential advantages for the election strategy.

It is a betrayal of those under investigation on falsified charges;

A betrayal of those who may find themselves in that situation tomorrow;

A betrayal of those who had faith in us all and took to the streets not only in Moscow, but in cities across Russia.

In the future, we want to be sure that we feel no shame when looking into the eyes of all those people, their family, and their friends, who fell victim to repression. This is our plan and it is the only thing worth considering now.

From that we can determine that our immediate goals are:

  • To get the regime to reject unlawful use of the Articles on mass riots and on use of force against police officers;
  • To secure the freedom of political prisoners;
  • To ensure that the security force agents who assaulted people are punished;
  • To reject the legitimacy of a Moscow City Duma elected during a complete breakdown of law and order and to secure a new date for elections.

To achieve these goals, we need to tell authorities:

Make no concessions and, on 8 September, you’ll have some serious issues – both on the streets and at the polling stations – to face instead of a submissive city.

To ease the pressure on authorities now means to lose. Not to lose the elections, but the future.

The question that Putin and his entourage are dealing with is whether or not it is possible at the current moment to crush society’s demand for change with force. Their answer depends on how we act.

The need to use legal means to pressure authorities was eloquently expressed by Yegor Zhukov, who has already become a symbol of the Moscow protests: “The mobilisation of the opposition has antagonised to the maximum both the opposition and the regime … I no longer respect anyone who draws the conclusion from this that they should allow themselves to be walked over … So much pain, so much suffering awaits us, if we stop now. Russia will inevitably be free, but we may never live to see that day if we allow ourselves to stop out of fear.

I am not asking anyone to put their names on a list that could help the Federal Security Service to ruin their life. I am not asking anyone to vote on my command. I will release evidence about the candidates who came out in support of political prisoners and the cowards who kept silent or even supported the bandits in uniforms. And you, knowing the facts, can act as your conscience tells you.

If your conscience allows you to vote for a coward or, perhaps, a sadist, then do so and live with it on your conscience.

If it doesn’t, then remember that this lawless government considers inaction to be a submission. Spoiling your ballot is not inaction. Writing a call to action and putting up a poster are not inaction. And publicly announcing our demands in the face of unscrupulous authorities is a courageous act.

I urge people to go to polling stations on 8 September and, if you see no candidates on the ballot paper who are ready to express solidarity with our demands, to write on the ballot paper “Freedom to political prisoners!” or “Down with autocracy!”. And then to put them in the ballot boxes or leave them in the polling booths. And also to put up posters and stickers in public places demanding an end to repression and the return of fair elections.

And for those brave enough, to express these demands out on the streets.

Russia will be free!

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