Political Trial Regarding “Bolotnoe Case”: Return to Past (Statement of the International Society Memorial)

In Moscow, the court trial regarding “mass disorder” which took place on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012, has just begun.

It seems unlikely this event would have drawn such serious attention, if it was indeed a routine trial of participants of the demonstration for clashing with the police. These kind of conflicts take place in every country. In democratic countries, if these sort of clashes do not entail serious consequences they are usually not seen as a severe violation of the law, since the rights of citizens, who take part in the demonstration, are considered a priority.

On 6 May 2012, nothing that would deserve to be called “mass disorder”, took place – neither from a legal nor civil point of view. There were no victims among the police, nor were there any shattered shop-windows, nor any cars flipped over, nor any attempts coming from the demonstrators to use weapons. The society was not presented with any solid evidence of intentional and deliberate actions of the demonstrators to cause harm. On the contrary, there was plenty of evidence of unprofessional actions carried out by the police leading to a skirmish as well as inadequate usage of police forces.
In the course of the investigation, the investigative committee, from the start took side of the police. The bias investigation, exaggerated qualification of the events by investigative agencies, crows of investigators, investigating an ordinary clash, inadequate measures of restraint selected by the court – all these issues, let alone, deserve the public's attention.
Unfortunately there is one other sinister aspect to the “Bolotnoe case”, reminding of our country's tragic past: the search for zagovor (conspiracy).

In spite of the obvious evidence and simply common sense, the investigators are trying to “glue together” the group work, revealing conspiracy where there are no traces of it. In the worst domestic traditions they search for a “foreign trace” in the events that took place on 6 May – and they succeed in finding it: turns out it was hostile Georgia, which for a ridiculous amount of 30 thousand dollars was planning to overthrow the Russian authorities. This is a crude concoction to which successors of Dzerzhinsky-Andropov have undoubtedly contributed, shamelessly and on a large scale advertising governmental mass media.

All of this, forces to think that the “Bolotnoe trial” should not be viewed as typical criminal investigation, but as a political trial. The political motivations behind the demonstrators' actions are evident and that itself does not create an immunity for them from judicial prosecution, even if they did indeed break the law. However political motivation is clearly visible in the actions of the law enforcement authorities – and that is absolutely unacceptable. A fair trial should have freed the defendants and closed the case, because the investigation was unfair and in bad faith, not in the interest of the law but in the interest of the authorities.

Unfortunately everything that until now has been happening in the context of “Bolotnoe case” does not give any basis for hoping for a fair trial.
However, regardless of the outcome, this trial will show the country and the rest of the world what kind of government has formed in Russia today – a legal or a police one.

2 July 2013
Board of the International Society Memorial