Honoring the memory of the murdered lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist and anarchist Anastasia Baburova has very quickly become a matter of low-scale partisan warfare in Russia. The police have been quick to interfere with or altogether stamp out spontaneous (i.e., “unsanctioned”) collective expressions of grief and outrage. First, there was the antifa/anarchist march through downtown Moscow, where dozens were detained even before the procession could get under way. The following day (January 21), in Petersburg, mourners initially faced a police blockade; they were finally allowed to march to the Field of Mars only after they agreed to hide their memorial photos and candles. In Krasnodar on February 2—a day of international solidarity against the wave of terror unleashed Russian activists that saw rallies and memorials from Moscow to Paris and Rome—the police ordered activists to turn off a boom box that was playing a recording of Markelov’s speech at a November 30 rally against political terror in Moscow.
Yesterday (February 8), after having been turned down by Moscow authorities when they applied for a permit, a group of about twenty or so human rights activists marched from the Garden Ring to the site of the murders on Prechistenka. As reported by Legal Team member Nikolai Zboroshenko on his LiveJournal, seven marchers were detained by police two hours after the event. The police intended to charge them with “disobeying the lawful demands of police officials.” Unfortunately, the police (in this case) picked the wrong group of people to mess with: the Legal Team, it is safe to say, knows the Russian criminal and civil codes better than the police themselves. After a few hours in custody, the marchers were released and a police official even issued an apology for the incident.
Meanwhile, in Petersburg, a group of anarchists carried out a lightning-strike action against the city’s most prominent symbol of state terror—the so-called Big House (local FSB headquarters), on Liteiny Prospect. They affixed a memorial plaque bearing the inscription “In This Building They Decide Who Lives and For How Long” to the façade of the building, and laid a memorial wreath and flowers under the plaque. As one of them wrote in his LiveJournal:
The FSB continues the traditions of the KGB-OGPU-NKVD. Why is there no plaque in memory of the victims of political repression during the Soviet period, in memory of the victims of the Great Terror of 1937–1938, on even one building of the former KGB? Why are part of the archives of the punitive organs still closed? The authorities declare [their adherence to] democracy and freedom, but in fact they continue the traditions of terror.
Yevgeny Vyshenkov, deputy director of the Agency for Investigative Journalism (AZhUR), the Petersburg media holding company that publishes the popular Fontanka.Ru website, was detained for nearly an hour after he noticed the memorial plaque and crossed the street to take pictures of it. The traffic police officers who detained him explained that closed circuit video recordings of the building would have to be checked to verify that he wasn’t in fact the person behind the action.
More photos can be found here.