On June 4, 2023, a rally was held on the Meckenbergstrasse in Hamburg: under the title "We are together. A rally in support of Alexei Navalny and all political prisoners." There are now more than 500 prisoners in Russia recognized by Memorial as political. These are people who are imprisoned for their faith, political and anti-war activism. Their list is updated every day.
Despite the sunny, Sunday afternoon and a lot of cultural events, more than 100 people came to a public event in Hamburg on this day in support of Russian political prisoners. Among the participants were not only Russians, but also several German civil activists who are not indifferent to the fate of Russian political prisoners.
After the official opening of the rally, the organizers of the event kindly gave me the floor. Below I publish the full text of my speech: "Dear compatriots, dear German friends! Now, back in 1975, the great Russian songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky wrote a quatrain:
In those days, secluded,
Now — almost epic,
When the deadlines are huge
We walked in long stages.
Vysotsky wrote about the period of Stalin's repressions, but the lines turned out to be prophetic for modern Russia. Just think, 10 years ago (in 2012), three Pussy Riot members were sentenced to two years in prison. On the "two-piece", as they said then. This caused a huge outrage among the Russian and world public.
After the start of full-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine and seven years in prison for the oppositionists is no longer a term!
Politician Ilya Yashin and student Dmitry Ivanov received 8.5 years in prison each. According to an unlawful decision, journalist Ivan Safronov was sentenced to 22 years in prison for alleged treason, and public figure Vladimir Kara-Murza to 25 years.
There are more political prisoners in Russia today than in the Brezhnev Soviet Union! The country has made a historical circle, and it has returned to the state that my fellow countryman from Altai, the poet Robert Rozhdestvensky, wrote about:
On the fields of thawing, The free will breathes…
Half of the country is a staging area.
Half of the country is a convoy.
The lieutenant is looking out the window.
He drinks – he won 't stop…
Half the country is already sitting.
Half the country is getting ready.
As a human rights activist who has been involved in the Russian prison system for many years, I will say that our primary task in helping political prisoners is to mention their names on all available public platforms, in the media, on the Internet social networks on the principle: No one is forgotten!
In Russian prisons, political prisoners, especially those who do not have much fame abroad, such as Alexei Navalny or Vladimir Kara-Murza, have to deal not only with cannibalistic laws and rules of internal prison regulations, but also with the lawlessness of ordinary jailers, with a cruel thieves' world with their "concepts" and caste.
Taking this opportunity, I want to express my words of support to all political prisoners and personally to those whom I personally know.
This is to Vladimir Kara-Murza, my colleague at Yabloko from Khakassia Mikhail Afanasyev, the founder of the weekly "Leaf" in the Altai Republic Sergey Mikhailov, the coordinator of Navalny's headquarters in Barnaul Vadim Ostanin and Altai journalist Maria Ponomarenko.
The situation has developed so that the keys to the prison cells of Russian political prisoners are in the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The military victory of Ukraine over the aggressor and the restoration of the Russian-Ukrainian borders of 1991, against the background of economic sanctions, will lead to a split of the elites, to the displeasure of the deep people, and may end in the collapse of the Putin regime.
Even if not immediately, but after a certain period, democratic processes will begin in Russia, and with them the release of all political prisoners.
Let's say it together as loudly as possible:
TO ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS FREEDOM – YES!
PUTIN'S GANG ON TRIAL – YES!
Alexander Goncharenko, doctor, Russian politician and human rights activist