Lev Ponomarev: From Network* to New Greatness – stop the FSB

19 February 2020 

Lev Ponomarev, chair of the national NGO For Human Rights, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Ekho Moskvy]

The verdict in the Network case* brought together thousands and thousand of people. They were opposing the absurd charges, the torture used to obtain confessions and the extremely lengthy prison sentences.

And in the first days of March another verdict may be passed, in the New Greatness case. On the 20 February, at 2pm, in the Lublinsky District Court the prosecutor will request punishment for the accused.

I urge everyone to attend court and all subsequent trials in the New Greatness case, until the verdict is announced. Let’s make the most of the impetus that Russian civil society has managed to accumulate in opposing the Network case, the Moscow case, in the defence of Yegor Zhukov and Kostya Kotov, in order to protect the guys from New Greatness.

Let’s recap.

The whole country has read about provocateurs and law enforcement officers infiltrated a chat with young people. About how a special services agent wrote the order and the program, rented premises, bought office equipment and organised meetings, manipulated young people – including covert filming and audio recordings – in order to collect material for a criminal case and create evidence of an extremist organisation.

We have read of how 17-year-old Anya Pavlikova was captured by a group with machine guns, how she had to freeze for several hours in a police car in indoor clothes, and after this was tortured with night interrogations, during which somewhere nearby Ruslan Kostylenkov was being beaten, thus convincing him that he was the organiser. With our own eyes we saw Anya in a cage during the court hearings, where her detention in a pre-trial detention centre was prolonged time after time, disregarding her tears, medical certificates and the arguments of lawyers.

We were plunged into consternation by all this, we went on the Mothers’ March, crowds gathered near the FSB building on Lubyanka, we went to the courts. We rejoiced, almost celebrating victory, when Anya Pavlikova and Masha Dubovik were transferred to house arrest and, we worried when Vyacheslav Kryukov, whose illegal detention was repeatedly extended, went on a serious hunger strike in jail, and when the guys slashed their veins in court, acting out of despair.

We were furious, reading the journalists’ investigations into the provocateur Radu Zelinksy (aka Ruslan D., aka Alexander Konstantinv, a secret witness), and listening to the court’s testimony about how FSB officers quietly took notes from surveillance cameras in the rented premises, and “chatted” with the landlady so she kept quiet in court. We clenched our fists when Kostya Kotov, who came out in defence of the guys from Network* and New Greatness, was sent to prison for four years, and wished him and Anya Pavlikova happiness when they got married in the detention centre where he was being held.

And now the most dramatic, serious and important stage has begun, when a lot depends on our activity and support. And on the nature of the verdict in the New Greatness case, and on how the young people in the dock, their friends and relatives take it.

The New Greatness and Network* cases are a challenge that the FSB has posed to society. This call must be answered.

* Network is an organization prohibited in the Russian Federation

Translated by Anna Bowles

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