On January 19, we opened a street-art exhibition on the outer wall of the State Museum of Political History (the former Kschenssinska mansion) in Saint Petersburg. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of our friends the civil rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova.
We didn’t pick this spot by accident. Official sources have made it a habit of not talking about the key moments in the real political history of recent years. It is precisely this history that is silenced nowadays: the history of the formation of an authoritarian state with a fictitious constitution; the history of the leveling of fundamental democratic freedoms; and, of course, the history of continuous political murders.
A text on the façade of the museum explains that its mission includes the formation of political culture in contemporary Russia. It is impossible to say what this means when people in Russia have practically no way to hold public demonstrations (that is, of course, if they are not members of the officially recognized ruling party) and are deprived of freedom of speech because of the state’s total control of the mass media and increasing censorship of the Internet. The state endlessly spouts aggressively militarist and Russian Orthodox/great power rhetoric, and certain of its elected and appointed officials lend support to neo-Nazi organizations. (We should at very least recall here the cooperation between the pro-government organization Young Russia and the neo-fascist organization Russky Obraz.) And these neo-Nazis then murder and maim people on our streets almost daily.
Exactly a year ago, the well-known lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the anarchist journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered in downtown Moscow. During the past year the authorities have allegedly succeeded in identifying the criminals who did this, leaving it for us to decide the bigger question of who besides them would profit from the murder of a lawyer who exposed the criminal policies of the state in Chechnya and defended political activists and antifascists.
Traditional political actions no longer attract people today. That is why we chose the form of political protest that, in our view, is the most effective and original — street art.
On a huge (seventeen-meter-long) print poster we have depicted the most inglorious moments and the most significant personalities in the political history of recent years: Russian army colonel Yuri Budanov, a convicted murderer and rapist; the neo-fascist philosopher and state ideologue Alexander Dugin; police major Denis Yevsyukov, who gunned down several shoppers at a Moscow supermarket last year; antifascist Alexei Olesinov, who was convicted and sentenced to prison on false charges; lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who represented the family of the victim in the Budanov case and defended Olesinov and other political activists; and the journalist Anastasia Baburova.
We dedicate our action to Stas Markelov and Nastya Baburova because we believe that their lives and their deaths are important parts of contemporary Russian political history.
— Autonomous Action-Petersburg & the Anarchist Artists of Petersburg