Torture of prisoners in Russia not only did not stop, but also took on new horrible forms, incompatible with the concept of “civilized country”.

October  30 is established in Russia as the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression. The date was not chosen by chance, as it is connected with the beginning of the hunger strike of political prisoners in the camps, which began on this day in 1974 in Mordovia. The political prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest the repression in the USSR and the inhuman treatment of prisoners in prisons and camps.

Regarding the latter – the topic of a separate conversation. Moreover, Russia today gives many reasons not to doubt that the torture of prisoners has not only not stopped, but has acquired new horrible colors, incompatible with the concept of “civilized country”.

Now – about the background on which this date is celebrated in Russia. It is frankly cynical.

On October 30, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the opening ceremony of the Memorial to the Victims of Political Repression, The Wall of Sorrows: “Political repression has become a tragedy for all our people, for the whole society, a cruel blow to its roots, culture, self-consciousness. We are still feeling the consequences. “

4 years have passed since then. Apparently, these are not consequences, but the usual, everyday present of Russia. Political repression in Russia is now understood only as (less and less) Stalinist, which is increasingly covered in dust and is considered part of history, which should be remembered, but should not be mentioned aloud.

There is no talk of modern political repression at the official level at all. Because they do not exist in Russia (again, according to the official version). Everyone who tries to express their opinion – at best, is expelled from the country, at worst – poisoned with polonium. The rest are in prison: from the historian, researcher of the burial places of victims of political repressions Yuri Dmitriev, who found “Sandarmokh”, to the strange Yakut shaman Alexander Gabyshev, who was sent to compulsory psychiatric treatment.

People receive up to 24 years of imprisonment for peaceful conversations

Russia’s Memorial Human Rights Center (engaged in historical and educational activities, including political prisoners, has been recognized as a “foreign agent” with all the economic and legal consequences) has released updated lists of political prisoners on the eve of the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression. Today there are 420 surnames in this list. A year ago, there were 362. But the actual number of political prisoners in Russia, according to Memorial, is significantly higher.

Of those recently included into list, 20 have been imprisoned on charges related to Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organization deemed terrorist and banned in Russia. As before, a significant part of them is in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian Crimea. The Memorial believes that these accusations are used to suppress civic activism and solidarity of the Crimean Tatar people.

Serhiy Davydis, head of Memorial’s Political Prisoners Support, explains that “this is done on the basis of a decision that some religious groups are extremist or terrorist.” Thus, in 2003, the Supreme Court declared Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organization. There is no evidence in the text that they are terrorists, but its members were persecuted first as extremists and then for participating in terrorist activities (Article 205.5) and much more severe punishments were imposed. They are often accompanied by preparations for the forcible overthrow of the constitutional order on the basis of a very biased understanding of the doctrine of this organization. People are imprisoned for this reason, although they do not say or do even what is written in the doctrine.

As a result of the 2003 decision, it turned out to be fateful for many citizens, and we have several hundred people who are in prisons and receive sentences of up to 24 years in prison for peaceful conversations, tea parties, meetings where violence was not discussed and no one practiced it».

The official website of Hizb ut-Tahrir notes that Russia is the only country in the world where this organization is recognized as a terrorist. Russia is also the only country in the world where the law provides for life imprisonment only for recognizing oneself as a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The party describes its own doctrine as follows: “Hizb does not seek physical pressure or the destruction of peoples who do not share Islamic concepts and religions, on the contrary – it seeks to benefit them by providing more decent laws for life … Hizb ut-Tahrir method does not change with the changing political situation, so events in the world and in Ukraine have no effect on the Hizb ut-Tahrir method. Our activities are based on the texts of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad and therefore are not affected by political events, as well as repression and torture against our members by tyrannical regimes.

But repression and torture of Crimean Tatars on the occupied peninsula continue.

Apparently as a mockery,  on the eve of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression, on October 29, the Southern District Military Court of Rostov-on-Don sentenced the residents of Crimea – participants in the so-called “Bakhchisaray case Hizb ut-Tahrir.” Seitumer Seitumerov received 17 years in a maximum security colony, Osman Seitumerov – 14, Amet Suleymanov – 12, Rustem Seitmemetov – 13. “Memorial” recognized them all as political prisoners.

The Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Lyudmila Denisova, voiced a different number of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russian prisons: from 113 to 115, of whom more than 80 were Crimean Tatars. The Crimean Tatar Resource Center lists 86 Crimean political prisoners. The Crimean human rights group has the same figures. Human rights activists call these criminal cases persecution on political, national or religious grounds.

Well-known Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov stated that “in many cases, not court but political decisions are made. But we must fight, and we do and will do it. Now it seems that we are hitting our heads against the wall and there are no results, but in fact they are, little by little the walls are moving. These results are not on paper, because in the verdicts of the same “Hizb ut-Tahrir cases” terms are set at 15-20 years. The results are that none of the more than a hundred defendants in these cases has slandered themselves or their people, that people do not leave political prisoners without help, that lawyers are no longer two or three people, as in the beginning, but 20-25 persons. Every sentence with fabricated accusations is a loss of the secret services and the Russian authorities, which persecute the whole nation… ».

The campaign of the Russian Federation against Ukraine needs continuous feeding by criminal affairs

In early September, Crimean Tatar political activist and journalist Nariman Jelal was arrested and faces up to 20 years in prison in a so-called “case of sabotage on a gas pipeline in the village of Perevalne. His statement appeared on October 13.

“When you read the lines of accusation made by some FSB officer, you want to laugh and get angry at the same time. To laugh at the meager fantasy, the stated formulations with which the authors of my arrest cover up their illegal actions, the purpose of which is undoubtedly to accuse right this  movement, which has always professed non-violent methods of fighting for the rights of Crimean Tatars, of violating the own principles.

Try to convince the world community, which has always supported the desire of the indigenous people of Crimea to live peacefully and develop in their homeland, that hundreds of activists, members of the national self-government of the Crimean Tatars are ready for violence.

The attempt, in my opinion, is doomed to failure. To be angry at that abominable lie, a kind of medieval obscurantism, in which I am accused, writing the intentions that are missing in my head, the false testimony of hidden witnesses. To be angry at the inability of your opponents to at least to some extent honestly oppose your convictions, which I and others did not hide, speaking out against Russia’s actions in Crimea, in defense of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, in defense of human rights and against repression. After all, all our “guilt” is that we have the courage to have beliefs and share them openly and publicly. “

Serhiy Davydis from Memorial, who has already been mentioned, says that “another variant of the political motive is cases aimed at supporting some propaganda theses with conditional terms. Cases of this nature are against many citizens of Ukraine: when a completely random person is accused of sabotage, espionage. Moreover, the person himself is not of interest to the state and is not engaged in activities that would threaten it. But the campaign to justify aggressive actions against Ukraine needs to be constantly fueled by criminal cases. The decision to annex Crimea led to the arrest of many people. These are residents of Crimea, and we, like any other people persecuted by the Russian authorities, consider them Russian political prisoners. These are former Ukrainian military, Crimean Tatars, and those who do not agree with the annexation and occupation. Dozens of criminal cases have been opened because such a decision was made… “.

By the way, there are about as many political prisoners in Russia now as there were in the late Soviet Union until Gorbachev released them. Members of the religious organization Jehovah’s Witnesses, which the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation recognized as extremist in 2017 and banned its activities in Russia, also were in prison in the USSR. Hundreds of political prisoners also appeared after the ban, and their terms are getting longer. Today’s record is eight years.

Millions of Russians know about political prisoners, but are silent

Arthur Fredekind, who now lives in Germany, was convicted under Article 187 of the USSR Code of “spreading defamatory fabrications that disgrace the Soviet system.” In an exclusive comment, he noted the following.

“On the Day of the Political Prisoner, I would like to remember the biologist Anatoliy Dyky (Jehovah’s Witness), who was with me in the Bilychi penal colony near Kyiv. He wrote letters to Mikhail Gorbachev with advice and reminders of political prisoners. In  1986 he tried to send them officially through the operational part. Naturally, the authorities were agitated, called him, and the major began to growl, “You are here in re-education and cannot write to the Secretary-General.” To which the Wild, as always, benevolently but firmly asked: “And what would you do in my place, if as a communist were in a Nazi concentration camp? Would you really obey and deny your faith?”

Of course, the major was furious by the comparison, Anatoly was deprived of another appointment, but was not placed in a pre-trial detention center. Moreover, Anatoly warned that if the letter is not sent officially, he will find an opportunity to send it secretly. They were afraid of him, hated him, but the letter was sent.

Almost 50 years have passed since then, and so the repression in Russia personally does not just strike me with its savagery and cruelty, I do not just wait day by day for reports of an explosion of despair of prisoners or their relatives, I just can not believe that millions of people know about political prisoners, waiting for new arrests – and continue to go to work, keep quiet, watch TV and wait for the unknown …

This silence and indifference strikes many in the 21st century, the century of information, openness, the century when everything is easily and simply discussed in neighboring Ukraine. I do not know what could happen in Russia next. I’m afraid only more devastation, social degradation and gloomy joy that “there are enough cucumbers and potatoes, nothing more needed to be happy.”

I have already heard such conversations in 1987 in the village of Chornorichensk, Kirov region, where I had been serving my term in a colony-settlement and waiting for amnesty in connection with the demand of the West and Andrei Sakharov, who was also a political prisoner and contributed greatly to the fact that the USSR eventually disappeared. Modern Russia has only to find and wait for its Sakharov… “.