As antifascist activists marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of the 20-year-old antifascist activist and punk musician Timur Kacharava on Saturday, they claimed that they are under increasing pressure from the police, while the threat of attacks from nationalist radicals has not decreased.
Antifascist Filipp Kostenko filed a lawsuit against the Prosecutor’s Investigative Committee last week after four anti-extremism Center E operatives broke into his apartment, searched it and arrested an activist, Rinat Sultanov, who was there at the time.
The investigators had called the fire brigade to break down the metal door to get into the apartment. The three activists who were in the apartment were thrown on the floor and kicked in the stomach, Kostenko said Thursday.
“When I came 15 or 20 minutes later, they were still lying on the floor, but I asked the [officers] to stop this and they put [the activists] into different corners,” he said.
“But they didn’t beat anybody when I was there.”
Kostenko said it was done to intimidate the activists on the eve of the Nov. 4 antifascist rally and prevent the rally, of which he was one of the organizers, from taking place.
The rally, called “Defend the City from Fascism,” was held to counter the extreme nationalist Russian March that took place on the same day, and was authorized by City Hall.
“They arrested Sultanov for an old fight that took place two years ago and seized a lot of things that don’t even belong to him,” Kostenko said. “If they had just wanted to arrest him, it could have been done in some other manner.”
Sultanov has been charged with “inflicting grievous bodily harm” during an incident that took place on the Russian March on Nov. 4, 2008.
According to Kostenko, the investigators took computers, magazines and banners for the rally, among other things.
Lawyer Iosif Gabuniya said Thursday that a complaint against the actions of the investigator who conducted the search, and an application for the opening of a criminal case against the investigator have been filed.
According to Gabuniya, the investigators committed a number of violations during the search, including refusing to allow him to enter the apartment to observe how the search was being conducted.
“I think the actions were illegal and the rights of my client were violated, and that’s why I believe that the court will find them illegal,” Gabuniya said.
“There was also material damage; the door has been broken. We’ll also be suing for the material damages to be compensated.”
Kostenko said that the authorities turn a blind eye to the activities of nationalist organizations in St. Petersburg.
“They do arrest neo-Nazis who are directly involved in terrorism, but many nationalist organizations are aimed at cooperation with the authorities,” Kostenko said.
According to Kostenko, the threat of attacks committed by nationalist radicals against antifascist activists is still high, as an attack on the fans of the Karelia-Discovery Soccer Club at a soccer match in the town of Pushkin in August demonstrated. Dozens of fans of the club, who are widely regarded as sharing antifascist views, were beaten.
“At some point it appeared to be decreasing, but after the attack in Pushkin it became clear that the threat is still here,” Kostenko said.
“They have even progressed to the next level, because to attack a full stadium of fans, that’s quite a well planned action, and it shows that nationalists, although in the underground, are getting ready for some very decisive actions and are capable of carrying them out,” he said.
“Perhaps they coordinate their actions with the authorities, because there were only ten policemen at that match. Soccer matches are events that are widely regarded as having the potential for conflict, and yet there were only ten policemen providing security.”
For the murder of Kacharava, four extreme nationalists were sentenced to 2 to 12 years in prison and three received suspended sentences in 2007.
Dozens brought candles and flowers Saturday to an annual vigil near the Bukvoyed bookstore on Ligovsky Prospekt where Kacharava was stabbed to death.
Photo by Sergey Chernov. See his complete photo reportage of the memorial for Timur Kacharava here.