1 March 2023
This translation of Dmitry Ivanov’s final statement at his trial is taken from the Telegram channel Prison_MSU and is reproduced here by kind permission.
I have been under arrest since last April. At the beginning of June, I was charged, and since then I have been called an accused. This is the name I see in the documents, the name I use to sign statements, and it is how the prison authorities address me. The accused, the indictee — this has been my new social status for the past nine months.
Being charged with a serious crime can be a serious burden. I have met people in prison — even if only a few — who feel guilty about what they have done. However, in my case, all the accusations against me seem absurd, and the charges under which I am being tried should not exist in principle. Taking a consistent stance and telling the truth is easy and rewarding for me — I have always stood by this principle both in my public and personal life. The investigation, attempting to accuse me of spreading lies, has fabricated a huge lie. Every word in the indictment in the first place from the first to the last — contradicts reality. On the other hand, I stand by every word I wrote a year ago. Every emotional account remains valid, and every statement of fact has been corroborated. There is no basis for guilt in this case. However, life is much more complicated than a fabricated criminal case.
A year ago, events began to occur that shocked the world. In a matter of days, the foundations of the life that seemed to us unshakeable were destroyed. The most horrific pictures emerged that could have been from the pages of history textbooks, reviving the nightmares of wars breaking out from long ago. Unable to stop this ongoing tragedy, tens of millions of Russians are faced with an intense sense of guilt. This is a normal reaction to the monstrously abnormal situation in which we all find ourselves. If you feel guilty, it means you have a conscience. It means that you cannot see the suffering of innocent people without pain in your heart, that you are capable of empathizing with someone else’s grief. In addition, you cannot feel guilty about your country’s actions without feeling a sense of belonging. This means that no matter where you are now, you retain an emotional connection to your homeland, you are aware of yourself as a citizen of Russia, and you care about its fate. You and I are true patriots of Russia in the true sense of the word. We love our country, and therefore we are particularly hurt and ashamed that this inhumane war is being waged in its name.
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the feeling of guilt we experience is irrational, as we are not to blame for the war. Those responsible for this tragedy are the ones who unleashed and waged it, who carried out criminal orders and atrocities, and those who created an atmosphere of fear and intolerance. We, on the other hand, want to live in a free and peaceful country, with a better future for ourselves and our neighbors.
To make our hopes a reality, we must move beyond feeling passively guilty about the past and take responsibility for our civic duties. We should focus on resolving existing problems and making plans for the future. Although we may not be able to stop the war right now, we are not powerless. Each of us can do something to make a difference. The answer “nothing” is not acceptable. If you did not support the crooks, remained true to yourself, stayed sane, and are reading this text now, that is already a significant contribution. And I, too, am doing what I can to make a positive impact..
I continue to speak out and expose the truth about the ongoing war. This trial serves as a platform for my anti-war message, which I share with the public. I also do my best to support fellow prisoners who are here for their civic beliefs. But there is much more that each of us can do to create a better future. I urge you to seize the opportunities available to you and take action for the benefit of all.
Our problem is a lack of initiative and collaboration. We wait for leaders to guide us, but we must take action ourselves. Volunteer, aid refugees, and support political prisoners. Build horizontal connections with like-minded individuals, whether neighbors, colleagues, or classmates, and work together to achieve shared objectives. Don’t ignore those who need your help. Let’s improve this world for ourselves and our children.
We like to repeat, like a mantra, the words “Russia will be free!” But Russia is ourselves. And what it will be depends only on us. The war will inevitably end, and only then, will the regime that has unleashed it will cease to exist. This is the law of history. And we have a lot of work ahead of us, which must begin now. In this work, I believe, we are destined for success.
Russia will be free. Because we will make it so.