6 May 2022
A letter from Vladimir Kara-Murza from the pre-trial detention centre
Source: Facebook [Yuri Dzhibladze]
Greetings to all from Moscow pre-trial detention centre № 7.
What haven’t I seen this month: police stations, temporary detention facilities, special detention cells, punishment cells and ordinary cells, prison cells, police vans of every kind, exercise yards.
Everything that I had once read about in dissidents’ memoirs, which seemed like an echo of the distant past, has now been before my eyes every day.
The rattle of doors in the corridor, the sound of the prison officer’s keys, being moved under guard, inspections – even the ‘musical accompaniment’ that plays every morning – the sound of the Soviet anthem – has not changed since the days of Vladimir Bukovsky and Anatoly Sharansky (or rather, it did change, but not for long).
I am already used to the fact that when I leave my cell I have to stand facing the wall, my hands on the wall and my feet shoulder width apart. When you are walking, your hands always have to be behind you. It’s awkward going down stairs.
The commands are simple: ‘Get up!’, ‘Stand down!’, ‘Get your things and go to the exit!’, “Last name, first name, patronymic, article [of the Criminal Code]!’
Almost no one knows Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code – they ask what it is. (It’s not surprising: they made it up themselves in the first days of the thing-that-can’t-be named.) In all the time since I was jailed, in all the so-called ‘establishments,’ only a couple of the prison guards with feigned indignation have ever begun to ask, ‘So you are against it or what?” Most just keep quiet. And many of the inmates give you a look to let you know they understand. They are just amazed that in our country in the XXI century someone can be jailed for 10 years for a thing they said.
One such convict, while we stood next to each other facing the wall, quietly said, his voice rising in a question towards the end: ‘It would probably have been better to stay shtum?’
‘No,’ I answered, without thinking. ‘You can’t be silent. All the evil in the world is done with the consent of those who keep silent.’
Not everyone in Russia is silent.
The other day I was in the same prison van as Aleksei Gorinov, deputy of Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district charged with the same offence as me.
Others who have also been charged with the same offence are ex-Moscow police officer Sergei Klokov, St. Petersburg artist Sasha Skochilenko, Penza teacher Irina Gen, publisher and former deputy from the Altai Sergei Mikhailov, and dozens more people from all over Russia (and these are just those facing criminal charges, not counting the administrative charges brought against so many others).
Don’t forget them. These are the people who are saving the honour of our country today.
Thank you so much for your letters, for your concern, for your support. All will be well. The night is darkest before the dawn.
Translated by Simon Cosgrove