In September, the Russian government continued its persecution of two anarchist movement members: a Chelyabinsk court handed down prison sentences to Dmitry Tsibukovsky and Anastasia Safonova for displaying a banner opposing the FSB.
Chelyabinsk anarchists: prison sentences for protesting against the FSB’s “sadistic” methods
On September 10, a court in Chelyabinsk sentenced anarchists Dmitry Tsibukovsky and Anastasia Safonova to two and a half years and two years in prison, respectively, for hanging a banner reading “FSB is the main terrorist” on the fence of the regional FSB office in February 2018.
The act of protest was held “in solidarity with the anarchists repressed throughout the country” after reports surfaced about the detention and torture of left-wing activists in Penza and St. Petersburg, who later became defendants in the “Network” case on creating a “terrorist organization” (IMR wrote about it here).
Tsibukovsky, Safonova, and several other anarchists were detained a few days after the act. Initially, they were charged with hooliganism (Part 1, Article 213 of the Criminal Code), but after six months the case was closed for lack of corpus delicti. At the time, Tsibukovsky reported that the security officers had beaten him and tortured him with an electric shocker.
In April 2020, the couple was detained again and charged with hooliganism motivated by political hatred and enmity committed by a group of persons by prior conspiracy (Part 2, Article 213 of the Criminal Code). Tsibukovsky and Safonova were placed in a pre-trial detention center, then under house arrest, and finally banned from certain actions as a preemptive measure.
According to investigators, the defendants attacked the FSB office building “using weapons,” namely, a smoke flare, which activists threw into the guarded territory surrounding the building (it landed in the snow).
The defendants did not admit guilt. “This protest action was of an exclusively peaceful nature and was aimed at expressing a protest against the openly sadistic actions employed—I’m afraid on a systematic basis—by the FSB,” Tsibukovsky said during the court hearings.
The persecution of the Chelyabinsk activists is part of a repression campaign the Russian government has been leading in recent years against members of the anarchist movement.
According to the Memorial human rights center, “State authorities, primarily the FSB, cultivate the image of anarchists as a public threat, [accusing them of] involvement in terrorism and attempts to destabilize the social and political sphere… In addition to repressing activists and terminating their work, the power structures, as always, pursue an additional goal of influencing society by sending a signal that any kind of oppositional social and political activity is undesirable for the authorities and dangerous for its participants.”