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  2. Participants of the Zemstvo Congress demand putting an end to political repressions

Participants of the Zemstvo Congress demand putting an end to political repressions

Yulia Polushina
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The official community of the All-Russian Congress of Municipal Deputies has published a statement, in which the delegates spoke out against political repressions. It is dedicated to a large-scale practice of prosecuting the opposition, violation of the people’s right to gather peacefully, violence by the security forces, and denial of independent candidates’ admission to the elections. The statement’s authors demanded stopping the escalation of violence and persecution of civilians and their electees.

The statement says that the practice of persecuting people "whose only real fault is the desire to participate in the government of their state, to deal with the issues of local governance, or to express their opinion" is becoming widespread in Russia. According to the statement’s authors, the practice of political repressions is becoming systematic in Russia in recent months.

"Framing up political cases, which serve as a basis for repressions, arrests and detentions, is being serialized. Prosecution for political and public activism does not at the core differ from the methods used by the Stalinist repressive apparatus to crank out trumped-up sentences. The current practice of repression has not come up to what was in the 1930s yet. But what can prevent the Kremlin authorities if they decide to come up to the lawless Stalinist purges, too, since they have already perfected the very technology of framing up political cases?" the post says.

The authors of the statement believe that Russia's authorities are trying to equate the exercise of the right to assemble peacefully, which is enshrined in the Russian Constitution, the Declaration of Human Rights, and international conventions, with a criminal offense by opening a fake case on "mass riots" (meaning Article 212 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

"The use of Article 212.1 (Repeated Violation of the Procedure for Arranging or Conducting a Rally) — the so-called Dadin’s article, which interprets the exercise of the citizens’ legitimate constitutional rights as a criminal offense, as well as of Article 318 (Use of Violence Against a Representative of the Power) serves the same purpose."

The statement’s authors called using this article against demonstrators, who gather peacefully and without weapons in accordance with the right guaranteed to them by the Constitution, "immoral" and "cynical", because "the protesters themselves are systematically coming under unprovoked, inadequate violence by well-equipped and trained fighters of the Federal National Guard Troops Service."

The statement also says that the authorities prevent people engaged in legal opposition activism from participating in elections. And representatives of the opposition, who were supported by voters in the elections and elected as deputies, come under various forms of pressure.

The statement’s authors demanded stopping the escalation of violence and persecution of civilians and their electees.

Municipal deputies from different regions of Russia opened the first Zemstvo Congress in modern history in Novgorod on May 22. And the police actually closed it half an hour after the opening. About 20 police officers came to the Zemstvo Congress, which was held in one of the hotels in Veliky Novgorod. Sergei Maksimov, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Town Department,  said that the congress was held contrary to the coronavirus restrictions imposed by the governor and demanded that the event be canceled.

The police detained Yulia Galyamina, deputy from St. Petersburg Vitaly Bovar, deputy of the Town Duma of Noyabrsk (YNAO) Alexander Bondarchuk, and member of the Yabloko Party Viktor Shalyakin. The administrative reports for violating coronavirus restrictions, which will be considered by the court in Novgorod, were drawn up against remaining delegates and volunteers.


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