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Moscow rally in support of “Prisoners of 6 May”. reports.

8 April 2013 

Vera Vasilieva 

On 6 April 2013 in New Pushkin Square in Moscow a rally was held as part of the International Day of United Action to Free Russian Political Prisoners, dedicated to those facing charges resulting from the 6 May demonstration on Bolotnaya Square.

The demands of the rally were: release from detention of all those held in connection with the Bolotnaya Square demonstration and the conducting of a thorough and impartial investigation into the actions of the police during the breakup of the rally for which official approval had been obtained from the authorities.

There were also calls for the dismissal of Aleksandr Bastrykin from his position as chair of the Investigative Committee.

Taking part in the rally were representatives of the Committee of 6 May, the Party of 5 December, Left Front, the Solidarity Movement and other opposition groupings, and also human rights defenders, cultural figures, relatives of those detained as a result of the Bolotnaya Square investigation and concerned members of the public.

Many held up portraits of those held in pre-trial detention, white ribbons and flowers.

The first speaker at the rally was Sergei Davidis, a member of the federal political council of Solidarity, who reminded his listeners how the investigation into the Bolotnaya Square investigation had developed, and the names of 27 accused. 

‘It’s as though the authorities have taken special care to seize the widest spectrum of Russian society. This is demonstrative terror. Their only goal is to frighten us,’ the writer and satirist Viktor Shenderovich said from the tribune, and called for everyone to unite efforts to defend those in prison, whom he called hostages. In his view, today in Russia there are already ‘hundreds of political prisoners, and it will depend on each of us whether that number goes up to the thousands.’

The poet, translator, participant in the demonstration in Red Square against the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet forces in 1968 Natalya Gorbanevskaya admitted that in the early 1990s she had thought that human rights defenders in Russia ‘could retire’. But today it is once again necessary to go out into the squares.

The singer and guitarist Vladimir Aler performed the well-known song by Aleksandr Galich ‘St. Petersburg Romance’ which contains the same sentiment.

‘And in just the same way, no easier now,
Our century tests us: 
Can you go out onto the square? 
Do you dare go onto the square? 
Can you go out onto the square? 
Do you dare go onto the square? 
At the appointed hour?!' 

Natalya Kavkazskaya, mother of Nikolai Kavkazsky, a lawyer with the Committee for Civil Rights, who is one of the accused, read from the tribune a letter from son from prison.

Tamara Lezhnina, co-chair of the Moscow division of the Republican Party of Russia/Party of People’s Freedom and a member of the working party for the independent investigation of the events at Bolotnaya Square, said that her colleagues had collected about 600 witness statements that showed how a peaceful demonstration had changed into a clash with riot police. Soon this evidence will be presented to the public.

The Moscow documentary theatre company theatre.doc put on their performance ‘Come, spring!’ about the falsification of the investigation into the events at Bolotnaya Square and the unfair court hearings in the case.

Other speakers at the rally included the actor Aleksandr Filippenko, the poet Ars-Pegas, and Violetta Volkova, the lawyer acting for the Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov.

Those present at the rally and identified by the correspondent included the politicians Boris Nemtsov and Evgeniya Chirikova, and the human rights defender Lev Ponomarev.

At the same time as the rally on New Pushkin Square, an exhibition of works by photographers taken at the demonstration of 6 May 2012 was held, entitled ‘9 Views on 6 May’. Well-wishers could sign postcards to be sent to those in detention and donate money to support them. Altogether the public donated 65,604 roubles to pay for legal and material support for the prisoners and their families.

Those currently held in detention in connection with the Bolotnaya Square case are Leonid Razvozzhaev, Denis Lutskevich, Vladimir Akimenkov, Yaroslav Belousov, Mikhail Kosenko, Artem Savelov, Andrei Barabanov, Stepan Zimin, Nikolai Kavkazsky, Aleksei Polikhovich, Leonid Kovyazin, Sergei Krivov, Ilya Gushchin, Aleksandr Margolin, and Dmitry Rukavishnikov.

Three individuals are under house arrest: Sergei Udaltsov, Konstantin Lebedev, and Aleksandra Dukhanina.

On bail and under travel restrictions are Mariya Baronova, Rikhard Sobolev, Fedor Bakhov, Oleg Arkhpenkov and Elena Kokhtareva.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Anastasiya Rybachenko.

Maksim Luzyanin has already been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison, despite his agreement to a plea bargain.

On 6 May, the first anniversary of the events on Bolotnaya Square, the Coordinating Council of the opposition intends to hold a large-scale protest.