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Political prisoners are Russia’s real elite

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.



Russian film director Andrey Nekrasov has written a passionate appeal for the liberation of the Russian people from the yoke of the repressive Kremlin oligarchy. The appeal was published on Kasparov.ru, the official website of Garry Kasparov, leader of the Russian democratic opposition party, United Civic Front.



In the privacy of the internet, we can still unburden our hearts with variations on the theme of the bad, ineffective, and cynical government in power in Russia, and do it with eloquence, erudition, and esprit.

Today, however, I would like to use simple words to express the anger that is boiling my heart, to put it mildly. I will call a spade a spade and scoundrels scoundrels. I will call crimes against one’s own people treason.

I am talking about political repression and political violence.

Aleksei Sokolov was sent to jail. He turned our attention to the crimes committed by sadists in uniform and the abominable pornography of the state’s pathological violence. He was jailed, most likely, so that the sadists can mete out their revenge on him.

Dozens of well-known political prisoners remain behind bars, and new names are constantly being added to the list.

What is a political prisoner? In a country where the concept of society itself is like a precious plant that refuses to take root, political prisoners represent the best part of society, its foundation. In the project of building a genuine society in Russia, political prisoners are the real elite.

The defining factor of a real elite is not its ability to steal a train full of natural resources, but its will to demand justice and defend the weak even at the risk of their own safety.

Albert Einstein was a member of the elite not because he was the author of the theory of relativity, but because of his stated principle that “only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

In Russia, such a life comes with sacrifice. Many honourable people make sacrifices in their unselfish work in the field of human rights and in the fight for democracy. Those who sacrifice their lives, health, personal freedom, and domestic harmony are in the forefront of this fight.

Even in stable democratic societies, it is often not the best people who end up in power, especially in executive positions. Nevertheless, free elections, an open culture, and cultivation of universal solidarity do make it possible for the moral authority to come closer to the political authority.

It is no exaggeration to say that in Russia today, the people in power are the worst. The worst people are tormenting the best amongst us.

Looking at what our “law enforcement officials” and punitive courts are doing, one can only draw one conclusion: those in power are enemies of the people.

Even a person who does not trust revolutions, finds inspiration in the image of the people breaking the locks of the modern Bastille. You just wait, today’s Bourbons! Like those with no arguments in a dispute, all you do is threaten your own people with violence.

Political violence and the threat thereof go hand in hand with the lack of genuine freedom of speech. Yet, unlike political theories, one can never forget violence. The people will recall the Putin era as a time of state terror throughout Russia, not just in the Caucasus.

The prospect of violence in Russia is hanging in the air, unseen, and has not yet freed the citizens of their slavishness. When that happens, riot police will appear not as a police force breaking up demonstrations like in the West, but as an army of occupation.

The army speaks a foreign language, saying: “You, sucker, have no business here; just one word, and we will kick you into pulp!”

In Russia, justice and logic — i.e., plain language — solves nothing; police truncheons, and sometimes bullets and poison, are the only language that counts.

We are sick and tired of living like this! Enough! Stop tormenting our people!

Yet we should not reserve our rebukes to those in power alone. We should blame ourselves for having gotten used to injustice. We have grown accustomed to the fact that Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev are languishing in jail.

Their case is quite well-known, and so is the length of their endless sentence. Their case is like a permanent landmark in the modern Russian landscape. The fact that the case involves real living people seems to be of no concern to anyone.

Have they not suffered enough? Just let them go! Killers serve shorter sentences than them.

Even those who hate oligarchs should see that Khodorkovsky, who had the courage to say no to the system of oligarchy — even though he was once an oligarch himself,– has earned his right to call himself one of the representatives of the Russian people.

The heartless tormentors, the real oligarchs in power, and the sinister corrupt officials on all levels of government have long since lost their right to represent the people.

Stop abusing your own people! Freedom to political prisoners! Freedom to Russia!

Andrey Nekrasov, 18.05.2010

[Translation: Kerkko Paananen, 26.05.2010]



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