Filip Kostenko is one of the hundreds of people, arrested in Russia during a crackdown against protests against bogus elections. He was singled out as a political activist, and given a 15 day arbitrary prison sentence. He has been in a hungerstrike since 7th of December.
Arch ceilings and windows, wrought bars with peaks, iron stairs, galleries connecting three floors of cells/. This is Zakharievskaya street, 6, view from inside, special police prison. The building looks as it was described in old books about revolutionaries of the past.. This prison was built in the 19th century, at the tsar’s times, it still functions in the 21st century. No change. As if time has stopped here. All this time that the state has stolen from the prisoners.
The authorities did not expect so strong protests. When the results of the falsified election were published thousands went to the streets. The era of stability is over. As usual, the authorities’ reaction is panic. They seize everybody. They also seize me. It is a pity that they seize me before everything begins.. They drag me into the bus where OMON checks how my ribs survive punches, and also takes away my firecrackers. In 20 minutes the bus is packed. There are activists of protest movements, people who have come to the street for the first time because they are fed up, many people were arrested arbitrarily. No difference, they carry everyone to the police station to spend the night there. For some people it is the first night in captivity. Now people see the state as it is. But this does not cause fear. On the contrary, it gives courage and the understanding of the necessity to struggle.
The bus window is broken and covered with plastic. Somebody must have left through it yesterday and this suits us fine. We are waiting for the court for a long time, the convoy become less watchful. It is easy to tear the plastic away. There is another guy with me who had been clever enough to leave his passport at home. We run a reasonable distance away and calm down. Too early. They see our route with CCTV cameras and the political police are after us. Now we are lying on the ground – our faces on asphalt.
The most humane court in the world is headed by judge Kouznetzov. About 200 detained people pass through his court, for most of them the hearings are laid off, but there are special orders. Political police are here and they are consulting him. I am recognized – takeover of cruiser Aurora, action at Vasilevsky, at Primorskaya… Some of them have been waiting for me undercover at the place of my official recidence. Different police departments even start competing, who will get me. Kouznetsov’s ruling is quick, no formalities: 15 days in prison, this is the order of the police chief. The guards make me put my hands to the back immediately, one of them is an Afghanistan war veteran and he promises to shoot me dead with one bullet.
The time moves very slowly. The heads of this humanitarian shelter are very polite, they strongly recommend me to taste their dinner, but my choice is hunger strike. I have not been eating for three days and I feel well. Why should man stay in prison, moreover why should one eat there?!
Those, who have been maximally deprived of freedom still can continue their struggle and we do continue. A cell mate who received 10 days in prison joins me. He is an activist of Strategy 31. They separate us very quickly, probably they are afraid of us agitating for a riot. Political prisoners are kept separately here, the guards say this is done to prevent them from spreading their ideas.
The lawyer comes and brings news. Many notes from friends and comrades. The feeling of support is practically physical. Frustration goes. We are alive and continue struggle. I am talking with the guard about the perspective. All parties are the same. People must decide for themselves. The guard seems surprised, he has not expected such an approach. A walk in the yard. I am given 15 minutes, will go to breathe some fresh air while I still have the strength. No sign of winter in our Northern city so far, let’s see what it will be in 15 days.
On Dec 12 the lawyer visited Philip. She says that after 5 days of hunger strike he has become very thin. The doctor sees him every day. The prison head came to persuade him to give up. Philip remains unbending and is sending his salute to comrades.