4 participants in the annual “anti-fascist march” in Moscow were arrested today, including leading member of “Socialist Alternativa”, the Russian section of the CWI Igor Yashin. They will be held in police detention until Monday, when they are due to appear in court on charges of disobeying the police. They could be imprisoned for 15 days.
The Anti-fascist march is held every year to commemorate the brutal assassination by shooting of the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburoba ten years ago by fascists. Stanislav had been an active member of Youth against Racism in Europe.
The march had been passing noisily but without any problems through central Moscow. Of particular significance on the march, apart from the usual political groups including a very lively CWI contingent, there was a contingent from the independent trade unions led by the Union of Journalists of which Igor is Co-Chair. Igor had played a big role in organizing this contingent. Apparently the police objected to chants which demanded an end to the arrest, torture and murder of LGBT persons in Chechnya (where reports indicate another widespread purge has started).
It seems that the police picked Igor out for some reason. When the policeman tried to detain him other marchers surrounded him and refused to allow him to be taken. It took a good 5 minutes before eventually riot police intervened to assist in dragging Igor and the three others away.
The Director of the Russian section of Amnesty International has already issued a statement – “the detention of participants in a peaceful act for just expressing their opinions is unacceptable. The task of the police at such an event is to guarantee safety, and not to censor participants.
Of course the conduct of the police on this march upset other participants. We demand the immediate release of all participants”. He is currently being held in the Police Station on Moscow’s Arbat. The police have resisted allowing a lawyer to meet with the four and are not following normal procedure by releasing them after three hours.
We ask urgently that protests are sent demanding that charges are dropped and the four - Igor Yashin, Nikolai Kretov, Dmitrii Borisenko and Mikhail Komrakov – are released.
Any Russian speakers can phone directly to the police station to demand information on number +7 4992410945 or +7 499 2412814
Or please phone or send urgently emails to the Russian embassy in your country.