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Russian artists detained and arrested in St. Petersburg / Solidarity Campaign

June 29, 2020

On June 22nd two longtime collaborators of Chto Delat?, Anna Tereshkina and Nadezhda Kalyamina were taken by the police while they were peacefully protesting the sentence against Viktor Filinkovand Yulian Boyarshinov (1), falsely accused of building a terrorist organization almost 3 years ago, tortured and imprisoned (study the case here

We also want to raise attention to the imprisonment of Yulia Tsvetkova (2) – a 27 years old artist accused of pornography and homosexual propaganda, facing up to 6 years in jail for publishing online her cartoons and drawing of female bodies. Tomorrow,  27th of June on the occasion of Youth Day, we are calling up for international solidarity as people in Russia will demonstrate their support for Yulia, defined ‘political prisoner’ by Amnesty International and recently granted The Index on Censorship of Freedom of Expression Award, the second Russian woman awarded after Anna Politkovskaya.

We write to share our anxiety for the current authoritarian regime and its ongoing strategy of criminalization of critical voices: censorship, threatens, preventive arrests of activists, artists and journalists, fabricated cases, and detention. All this is happening when Putin’s state throws their new amendments to the constitution which basically will allow him to stay in power endlessly (3). These amendments are designed to shut down any possibility of a competitive electoral campaign at the municipal level and block any possibility of legal political manifestation. These amendments encourage further criminalization of gender politics and mark an even more profound conservative religious turn. Thus we are alarmed by the total control of the State over the public sphere, the suppression of all forms of activism, the loss of autonomy in the critical arts, education and cultural spheres, and the dismantling of solidarity and mutual aid.Please disseminate this report, along with Anya and Nadya’s invitation to act in solidarity, raise consciousness, and put pressure through our international networks, mainstream or independent media channels, and any other ways you might suggest.

With love, rage and solidarity,

Chto Delat, Saint Petersburg

“My name is Anna Tereshkina, I was one of the thirty people detained on June 22nd during a peaceful gathering near the St.Petersburg tribunal, which led to being detained for 31 hours at the police station. That day, the court announced the sentences for Viktor Filinkov and Yulian Boyarshinov, falsely accused of building a terrorist organization named “Network”. Hundreds of people gathered in support of the unjustly convicted young men, shouting “Shame” and singing songs, waiting for Vitya and Yulik to be escorted out. The riot police began to pull us out from the crowd, one by one at first, and then randomly grabbing whoever was passing by. The display of such aggressive reaction by the authorities is meant to show that those who go out to voice their dissent are dangerous for society and that everyone should just sit home alone and be silent, otherwise one may end up behind the bars, just as the ones whom we try to defend and support.

People ask me all the time what is the meaning of the “Network” case, and why the Federal Security Service (FSB) continues to build such a clearly fake case. I can’t answer these questions, I have the feeling that “there” – in those vertical power structures – there is some other logic, the purpose of which is not to search for the truth, but to cover it. The same can be said about the case of Yulia Tsvetkova, among many other absurd cases. Yulia Tsvetkova’s story is even more troubling and disgusting. She got criminal charges for her drawings! It seems that her art pierced the most purulent abscesses on the authorities’ body. We are reaching the bottom line, where people are arrested or risking to be arrested because of their critical thinking. Thinking in itself has been criminalized. I am also an artist, I draw quick sketches during political court hearings, some of them are poignant, so I’m aware that a case similar to Yulia’s could be built against me. I feel vulnerable and at risk. So, what to do in such conditions?  We try to balance between manifesting solidarity, which is dangerous, and self-preservation. Many, from the older generation, advise me to not go to the court and to protect myself from this brutal state machine. But such an attitude won’t bring any change, it won’t end this repressive system but instead would leave the repressed one on their own, with no support- not even a moral one.  This is the worst thing that can happen. During the two days and one night I spent in the detention cell, our friends helped not to lose hope, and to recover after our release. For 31 hours I found myself in the place of those unjustly convicted and I physically felt how important is the support of friends and relatives. Therefore – do write letters to political prisoners, do send them books, make international campaigns, speak out in their defense – these are all small gestures but they weaken the massive stone that is trying to crash and silence us”.

“My Name is Nadezhda Kalyamina. I am a member of the activist musical group Rhythms of Resistance, and a friend of Yulian Boyarshinov, whom I have known since before his arrest. On June 22nd we came to play drums to support Yulian and Viktor after the announcement of the verdict. We didn’t play for long, but we know they’ve heard us. The riot police started to assault the crowd and three members of my band were detained. We continued to play drums in the police van. In February, we had the impression that the outcome of the case could have changed thanks to the large support – the crowd that gathered at the entrance of the courthouse was so big that we could not all fit in the courtroom. The trial was resumed in May and ran for three weeks. Due to the pandemic, observers were no longer allowed to attend the hearings. For the same reason, the police began to threaten arrests for solitary pickets or for playing music – not only at the courthouse but throughout the city.

Any manifestation of solidarity becomes dangerous, and the visits to court considered a health threat. People stopped going.

The “Network” case is fabricated: the claimed “evidence” of them creating a terrorist group was them playing a game called Airsoft, their expressed anarchist and anti-fascist values, the fact that some of them legally possessed licensed arms, and that they were using encryption while corresponding on the Internet. What was brought up as evidence was the testimony themselves released while being beaten and under torture? The trial began a year ago, the hearings were adjourned many times, though during the pandemic the case was quickly wrapped up, as it happened for many other political cases. On June 22nd, the judges read the verdict in front of federal journalists and relatives, the only allowed in the courtroom. It is now very important to disseminate information about this case. International and local support and solidarity are even more important for Yulian and Viktor now – sending them letters, messages that will be translated and delivered through our network, is so important. The sentence against Yulian and Viktor will not stop us from fighting for their release. Please help circulate!”

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* These testimonies were first published in Russian at


(2) Yulia Tsvetkova faces up to six years behind bars, following a six-month investigation into an art group called Vagina Monologues set up on the social media site VK. The community is dedicated to “removing the stigma around the vagina and female physiology as a whole.”

(3) See the video: An advisory message from Artists at Risk (AR) International Advisory Board member, •𝕸𝖆𝖘𝖍𝖆 𝕬𝖑𝖊𝖐𝖍𝖎𝖓𝖆 of PussyRiot: FUCK PUTIN’S AMENDMENTS

“From 25 June to the 1st of July, a nationwide vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution is being held. A key point is the nullification of previous limits on presidential terms, and hence the effective legitimization of the eternal rule of Vladimir Putin. Also, following these constitutional amendments, any decisions won by Russians in international courts can be practically overturned by Russian courts, leaving us nowhere to defend our rights.

Although the results of the “vote” are not even in, the newly amended constitution is already being sold in shops.”


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