19 people are currently on trial with 12 of them being kept in Russian prisons, on charges of involvement in the “mass riots” on May 6, 2012. Ahead of them are unlawful trials which may result for them in many years of imprisonment.
So, what is, in fact, their crime?
On May 6, 2012, on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration, dozens of thousands of people took part in a peaceful demonstration of protest in Moscow. This was the 7th mass manifestation of protest since the wave of political protest swept Russia in the aftermath of the December 2011 elections, which were marked by mass fraud. People went out into the streets to protest against the authoritarian political regime in their country, against corruption, arbitrariness of the authorities, and in defence of the fundamental human rights and freedoms. The protest rallies under democratic slogans were supported by a wide variety of political groups, yet the bulk of protesters were represented by politically unaffiliated rank-and file activists, ordinary citizens of Russia, young people.
On May 6 the police suddenly blocked the way to Bolotnaya square where the sanctioned rally was planned to take place, thus provoking a clash with the protesters. After that the police announced that the rally had been cancelled and immediately attacked the protesters, beginning to disperse them violently using truncheons and special equipment and weapons. As a result, approximately 600 people were illegitimately arrested, many had to spend the entire night in detention, several dozens were injured, with hundreds and thousands of other protesters leaving shocked and dazed by what had happened.
The criminal proceedings were, however, initiated neither against the police force, nor individual police officers, but against protesters who took part in the dispersed demonstration, with them facing charges of alleged involvement in “mass riots”. That blatant lies– recognising the culprits behind the violence as victims and declaring that their victims are criminals – became the response of the authorities to the peaceful protests against their own political fraud.
19 people were selected by the authorities at random from among the thousands of protesters, 12 of them were incarcerated for the duration of the inquiry. Their only guilt was their attempt to avail of their legitimate right to take part in a peaceful demonstration of protest and to defend people standing next to them from the brutal actions of the police.
The so-called “May 6 case” is a perfect proof of that the authoritarian ruling regime in Russia increasingly tends to resort to political repressions, resolved to stop at nothing, including forgery and election fraud, quite in the best traditions of the Stalinist era of terror.
If we want to stand up against the repressive onslaught of the authorities against civil society in Russia and to put an end to the lawless suppression of any manifestation of dissidence and opposition to the current Russian government, we first of all must struggle for an end to the May 6 repressions.
What we demand:
- release and complete legal rehabilitation of all those who are on trial in connection with the May 6 events, as well as compensation for both material and psychological injury sustained by them;
- just punishment for officials who were responsible for the crackdown on the peaceful demonstration, beatings and illegal arrests of some of the participants.
For this we will need the efforts of all concerned people not only in Russia, but all over the world. We ask you to disseminate information about what is happening in Russia, to address individual and collective letters of protest and appeals to the Russian authorities and diplomatic representatives, to organise protest actions and other actions of solidarity with the “May 6 prisoners”. People in other countries of the world can also help the victims of political repressions in Russia by demanding from their own governments and from international organizations to put pressure on the Russian authorities in order to prevent violations of the international human rights obligations on their part.