"The authorities are again driving dissent back into the kitchen". Performance by Amnesty International

posted 5 Jun 2014, 15:38 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Jun 2014, 15:50 ]
3 June 2014

Маria Sereda 

Source: HRO.org
The space for discussion in Russia is rapidly narrowing. That is the conclusion of the authors of a report by Amnesty International, published on Tuesday 3 June, about how the authorities violate the right of citizens to freedom of assembly. Maria Sereda of Amnesty International tells of an unusual event that took place today in the centre of the Russian capital.

Very soon we’ll be able to talk freely about politics, religion, art – whatever we want – only in our own kitchens. Russians, absorbed in their day-to-day problems, do not notice how they are being deprived of the freedom to express their own opinions.

Supporters of Amnesty International in Russia decided to remind people that freedom should not be restricted to the kitchen, and for this reason they took the kitchen into the street. On 3 June in the centre of Moscow next to Kropotkinskaya metro station Amnesty held a ‘kitchen’ picket in defence of the right to freedom of expression. On the kitchen table, next to the teapot, cups, a sugar bowl and indoor flowers was a copy of GULAG Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenistyn as a reminder of our not so distant past that could turn into being our near future.

Passers-by, many of whom expressed support for the idea of the protest, stopped to drink tea with the activists.

Despite the fact that the protest event had the permission of the authorities, a representative of the central administrative district in practice acted as a censor: she demanded that one of the photographers who was taking pictures of the protest show his press ID (‘I have a trained eye, I see that you are not here as a private individual’), and she also asserted that during the protest printed leaflets were being distributed, and this had not been agreed with the authorities (I got into a discussion with one of the passers-by amd gave him a copy of our latest report).

I’d like to point out that the protest was timed to coincide with the publication on this day of the report by Amnesty International "A right, not a crime, violations of the right to freedom of assembly in Russia".