Statement by Women’s March activists before the verdict in the New Greatness trial
Pictured: Anna Narinskaya

4 August 2020

A statement by Women’s March activists (Varvara Gornostaeva, Olga Grinkrug, Anna Kachurovskaya, Evgenia Lavut, Tatyana Lazareva, Tatyana Malkina, Anna Narinskaya, Yana Troyanova and Maria Shubina)

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

On Thursday, 6 August, at noon, in the Liubinsky district court, the verdict will be announced against the figures in the case of “New Greatness” – a nonexistent extremist organization. The prosecution, which is based on a provocation and organized through the efforts of an embedded special services agent, has been dragging on for two and a half years.

Over the course of the trial, the defence has not left one stone standing in the prosecution’s arguments. Witnesses have testified, the defendants have been held in the remand centre and under house arrest and have given testimony, and expert analyses have been produced over and over again.

The truth is obvious to everyone, including the judge, apparently: “New Greatness” is not an organization, not extremist, the defendants were not, did not participate in the affairs that are shamelessly being ascribed to them. Nevertheless, we do not know what verdict the court will issue for them. As we know, acquittals don’t happen in Russia anymore. But this is precisely that instance when the verdict must be an acquittal.

Nearly two years ago eight women-friends – mothers – called on you to join a peaceful march from Pushkin Square to the Supreme Court building. This was an “unsanctioned action,” and the night before policemen and other agents charged our apartment doors and warned us about the liability and risks.

Our little march with stuffed toys atilt was called the Women’s March. At the time we were meekly asking for very little – that two defendants in the case, the very youngest, be released from the remand centre to house arrest because it was obvious the girls were falling apart, physically and psychologically.

It was pouring with rain, and some good or astute official ordered our illegal action not to be blocked, and the police with exaggerated courtesy let us through, soaking wet, with our soaked stuffed bears, owls, and rhinos, with which we decorated the doors to the Supreme Court. Thank you.

The next day, the girls – more likely by happy coincidence – were released from prison to house arrest. Thank you.

Meanwhile, four are still sitting in the remand centre. Ever since, we have been following the case continuously. We have been to the courts, delved into the most minute details of the trial, written maximally detailed reportage from there, become close to the defendants’ relatives and lawyers, and memorized the expressions on the faces of the prosecutor and judge and local police officers (as they have ours, by the way).

The Prosecutor’s Office has asked for truly outrageous sentences, actual and suspended, for the defendants. And now, after brilliant speeches by the team of defence lawyers, who have worked as if some magician had whisked us off to a wonderful land where there are adversarial legal trials, we are waiting for the verdict. And we understand that the essence of the verdict obviously does not depend on proof of guilt, but precisely what it does depend on – nobody knows.

Meanwhile, during the reporting period the situation in our country has worsened, and criminal prosecution literally for a thought crime does not seem that impossible, quite the contrary, actually.

Therefore, we are now calling on you to come to the court to hear the verdict pronounced. This is perfectly legal and entails no liability or risks. This is almost our last, possibly insane, hope – that our presence in the court building can be that deciding grain of sand in the balance of our obviously broken scales of justice.

You never know. It’s even good that it’s going to rain. That only makes us grains of sand heavier.

Translated by Marian Schwartz

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