This update was provided by ABC-Moscow for German Das Antifaschistische Infoblatt issue 138. This version has some minor updates with numbers mentioned.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been an unprecended wave of direct actions, targeted at military call-up centers, the FSB security services, the national guard, railroads and other military infrastructure. The Mediazona-website, originally founded by Pussy Riot members after their release from prison, has listed 94 anti-war arson attacks up to 1st of April 2023.
The vast majority of the attacks have not been claimed by any group. The Anarcho-Communist Fighting Organisation BOAK has claimed a few actions against railways, with video proof.
Roman Nasryev and Alexey Nuriev
Autonomous Nazis who are against both the Ukrainian and Russian governments have also claimed some actions. The Rospartizan project by former Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, who escaped from Russia to Ukraine after being the sole deputy to vote against the Crimean annexation, has claimed to have inspired some of the actions as well. Most of these direct actions seem to have been orchestrated by individuals not connected to any groups or organisations, often as a desperate gesture without any proper security culture or even planning. Because of this, many are being arrested.
Traditional human rights organisations have been hesitant to support direct action prisoners, but this may be changing. In December, Sergey Davidis from the Nobel laureate human rights organisation Memorial voiced the opinion, that an increasing number of political prisoners should be supported independent of their status. Already in September, Ivan Žhdanov from the team of the liberal nationalist Alexey Navalny declared, that their team will support any means of protest.
But while the mainstream opposition has been offering their opinions, anti-authoritarians have been acting. The most active group supporting direct action anti-war prisoners is currently Solidarity Zone, which consists of anarchists both inside and outside of Russia. In late February, Solidarity Zone collected statistics on known criminal proceedings against direct action anti-war activists, gathered from various news resources. All together 112 criminal proceedings are currently public. Of those 78 persons are known to be in pre-trial detention, 1 under house arrest and 1 under travelling restrictions. Four persons are already sentenced to jail, and five have received suspended sentences. The status of 23 of the suspects is currently unknown. There are 51 charges related to committed arson attacks, 17 to attempted arson attacks, 36 to railroad sabotage, 7 for torching cars with the Z-symbol of pro-war Russians and one to another kind of attack.
There is a wide range in terms of the charges being faced and sentences given to the accused. Some direct action activists have been given fines and suspended sentences, others are risking life imprisonment with terrorist charges; these differences are more due to the randomness of the Russian legal system rather than the severity of the particular actions. As providing lawyers for prisoners is expensive and also requires lots of coordination, Solidarity Zone has only been able to provide 12 prisoners with lawyers; for the rest it is pubishing addresses and calling for letters of support.
One of the most outrageous cases, handled by Solidarity Zone, is that of anti-war musicians Roman Nasryev and Alexey Nuriev from the Chelyabinsk region of Ural. They are suspected of an arson attack against the city administration building of the city Bakal in the Chelyabinsk region. They were first accused with ”property damage”, but the FSB (Federal Security Service) quickly became involved, and they are now remanded under terrorism charges. They are facing a prison sentence of 15 years to life. The court case against Nasryev and Nuriev started on the 10th of March, and they have been transferred to Yekaterinburg, to the special military court handling terrorist charges. Already after Das Antifaschistische Infoblatt went to print, Nasryev and Nuriev were sentenced to draconian 19 years of prison 10th of April.
Another notable prisoner supported by Solidarity Zone is Kirill Butylin, who is suspected of the first known anti-war arson attack against a military call-up center on the 28th of February 2022, 4 days after the beginning of the full-scale invasion, in Lukhovitsy, not far from Moscow. A video and manifesto of the attack surfaced online on the 8th of March 2022. In the manifesto it was declared that ”I will not kill my brothers”. Like in many other attacks, the plan was to destroy the files of the military reservists, which would then hinder the mobilisation. Due to these kinds of attacks, the Russian authorities began to hastily create an online database of all military reservists last year.
Solidarity Zone is also supporting 50 year old taxi driver Vladimir Zolotarev from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, who is accused of setting a fire to the entrance of the National guard building in Komsomolsk-on-Amur on the 4th of June 2022. Already in March 2022, several canisters of fuel were found in his car, while he was having a violent altercation with the police at a traffic stop due to disagreements over Russian foreign politicy. After the incident in March, Zolotarev was placed under home arrest, which did not stop him from carrying on the struggle. Vladimir is interested in social anthropology, feminism and animal rights.
You can find a full list of prisoners supported by Solidarity Zone, and how to pass funds through their telegram channel, which is also occasionally posting updates in English.
Another project to support anti-war prisoners, Black February, is concentrating on supporting criminal cases around new criminal statutes such as: ”spreading false information about the army” and ”discreditating of the army.” The first statute carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and the second a maximum sentence of five years. Currently Black February lists 57 persons who are facing such charges in Russia, but in some of these cases, not even the names of the suspects are known. Among others, Black February is supporting Dmitri Ivanov, a student activist who was the administrator of the telegram channel ”Protesting Moscow State University”, which was an important source of information during the spring wave of protests. On the 7th of March 2023 Dmitri Ivanov was sentenced to 8 years and 6 months of prison, which is more than the average sentence for a murder in Russia.
Two teenage anarchists from Chita in Siberia, 19 year-old Alexandr Snezhkov and 16 year-old Lyubov Lizunova are also suspected of running anti-war telegram channels, having painted the graffiti ”death to the regime” and encouraging sabotage actions and support of BOAK. Lizunova is currently under home arrest, Snezhkov is being held in a prison on remand. Support for them is organised by the Anarchist Black Cross of Irkutsk.
Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow is also active, after 20 years it is one of the oldest ABC groups in Europe. Previously, the group was concentrating on supporting anarchist and anti-fascist prisoners, but after start of the invasion it was decided to spread information and to support as many anti-war prisoners as possible, except outright Nazis. Currently the group is mainly spreading information and channeling funds to other campaigns for repressed anti-war prisoners and anarchists, and publishing updates on the Autonomous Action media portal.
In various opinion polls, 15-30% of Russians are consistently against the war, and the real number could be even slightly higher as people may be wary of opinion polls. But so far anti-war Russians have not managed to find each other, and those who act are often acting in isolation. Supporting all anti-war prisoners is an important means to break this isolation, and to create a genuine movement which may challenge the Russian regime. It is not possible to change regime of a nuclear superpower from the outside.
Organisations listed in the article:
Uznik Online – organising support events for anti-war prisoners around the world (site only in Russian):
RosUznik: Send support letters for Russian political prisoners online (only Russian interface):
Adresses for prisoners mentioned in article. All letters must be written in Russian – you may use google translate for example.
Roman Raifovich Nasryev 1995, born in 1995
IK-2 PFRSI, ul. Malysheva 2b
620019 Yekaterinburg Russia
Alexey Talgatovich Nuriev, born in 1985
IK-2 PFRSI, ul. Malysheva 2b
620019 Yekaterinburg Russia
Kirill Vladimirovich Butylin, born in 2001
SIZO-1, Matrosskaya Tyshina str. 18
107076 Moscow Russia
Vladimir Georgievich Zolotarev, born in 1972
SIZO-1, 6 Znamenshchikova st.,
680038 Khabarovsk Russia
Dmitri Aleksandrovich Ivanov, born 05.08.1999
SIZO-5 FSIN Rossii, Vyborgskaya ul. 20
125130 Moscow Russia
Alexandr Evgenevich Snezhkov, born in 2003
SIZO-1, Ingorinskaya ul. d. 1
Chita, Zabaykalski kray 672038 Russia
You can also send letters via e-mail through the ABC Moscow e-mail address email@example.com.
Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow
Keep up supporting prisoners in Russia
You can find the contact addresses of all prisoners in Russia supported by us here. and instructions how to donate here. If you want to make a donation to a particular prisoner or case, please contact us beforehand to make sure that the supporters of the prisoner or case are currently gathering donations.
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Fundraising to pay for a lawyer for Boris Goncharenko, a person in Krasnodar accused of burning down the military registration and enlistment office