An Appeal from the January 19 Committee
Three years ago, on January 19, 2009, we lost our friends Stanislav (Stas) Markelov and Anastasia (Nastya) Baburova, who were gunned down in broad daylight in downtown Moscow. After many protest actions, marches, rallies, and speeches by activists and ordinary citizens shocked by this violence, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, themselves the unfortunate victims of the neo-Nazi narcotic, have been convicted of the murders and sentenced to life and eighteen years in prison, respectively. Events have come full circle and the criminals have been punished, but we continue to remember how sincere lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were in their anti-fascist convictions. We are aware of their absence on a daily basis, when hundreds of activists, people from various movements and of different ideological hues, require an uncompromising lawyer to defend them and an engaged journalist to cover their cases and their campaigns. So for the third year in a row, on the day when they were murdered, the coldest day of the year, we will take to the streets in an anti-fascist march to remind our fellow citizens and ourselves of the need for each of us to continue our daily struggle with fascism. We must be extremely vigilant in order to recognize fascism in ordinary things: fascism mimics and constantly changes its guises without altering its essence.
There are changes, however, that only a blind man would not notice. Three years ago, the neo-Nazis switched from the indiscriminate slaughter of immigrants to targeted, more “effective” political assassinations: this is how we lost Fyodor Filatov, Ivan Khutorskoi, Stas, and Nastya. After Tikhonov and Khasis were sent to prison, ultra-rightists were on the verge of tucking their tails between their legs, but a year ago, in response to the unlimited callousness and corruption of the courts and the police, we were treated to the monstrous, senseless riot on Manezh Square in Moscow. A year later, in December 2011, during the mass protests against the rigged parliamentary elections, we once again saw extreme right-wingers trying to appear more respectable at meetings of protest organizing committees and on the podium at protest rallies.
They scream that it is time we stopped “feeding” the North Caucasus, although it is not the most federally subsidized region of our country: the problem is caused by the local authorities there, who embezzle all available resources and suppress dissenters. The neo-Nazis stuff immature minds with demagoguery about immigrants, but if their fellow “national-democrats” came to power in Europe and began kicking out ethnically and religiously “inferior” Russia, what would they say? They criticize the regime, but many of them are always willing to serve it for a small fee by breaking up opposition rallies and attacking environmentalist protest camps. It is the neo-Nazis who will support the current regime if it is faced by the real threat of a democratic revolution demanding freedom and equality for all. Along with other opposition forces, they are against anti-extremist laws, but they want to abolish them only in order to insult other ethnic groups with impunity and play them off each other. It is not immigrants and “aliens” who threaten a mythical “indigenous majority,” but rather an ultra-right minority that threatens the majority of people in Russia. The “Russian question” is not the issue, but corruption and an unjust social order that enables some people to suppress, exploit and gag others, regardless of their ethnicity and religion. Nationalism is an obligatory element in this society. The anti-fascist cause is an inherent part of the struggle for genuine democracy, for the right to vote, to speak and be heard for everyone now deprived of this right. Baburova and Markelov proved this with their lives and their deaths.
Please join us on January 19, 2012, at 19:01, on Nikitsky Boulevard, for a rally in memory of Stas and Nastya involving social and civic activists and musicians.
We will never forget, we will not forgive! Russia for everyone willing to work and live honestly!
The January 19 Committee is a public anti-fascist initiative involving people from various walks of life – workers and teachers, lawyers and journalists, artists and filmmakers, musicians and sociologists. The January 19 Committee was formed in autumn 2009 in memory of anti-fascist lawyer Stanislav Markelov and anti-fascist journalist Anastasia Baburova, who were murdered in downtown Moscow on January 19, 2009. The January 19 Committee will hold its third annual civic march against neo-Nazi terror on January 19, 2012.
City Refuses to Approve Commemorative Rally
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
January 18, 2012
The city authorities have refused to authorize an annual anti-fascist march and rally in memory of the slain anti-fascists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova due to be held on Thursday, Jan. 19, allowing only a “picket” on the largely deserted Ploshchad Sakharova on Vasilyevsky Island.
Human rights lawyer Markelov and journalist Baburova were shot dead in downtown Moscow on Jan. 19, 2009, and the date has been marked with vigils and rallies across Russia since then. Other anti-fascists, such as Nikolai Girenko, Timur Kacharava, Ivan Khutorskoi and Alexander Ryukhin, who were also killed by neo-Nazis, are commemorated as well.
Stefania Kulayeva, the program director of Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, said City Hall refused to issue a permit on purely technical grounds, just as it did last year.
According to the law on public assemblies, applications must be submitted to the authorities from 15 to 10 days before the event, but because of New Year and Christmas celebrations, City Hall was closed from Jan. 1 through Jan. 9.
Kulayeva said she applied on Jan. 10, the first working day of 2012, but received a refusal the following morning on the grounds that the application was too late. Last year, she said she applied on Dec. 31, just before the holidays, and a refusal was issued on the grounds that the submission had been made too early.
She pointed out that the Jan. 19 march in Moscow has been authorized. “We didn’t choose this date, they could have issued a permit, especially if they did not need more than one day to give us a refusal,” she said.
Nevertheless, Kulayeva said the protesters are planning to gather at 6 p.m. near Gorkovskaya metro, the closest station to Ploshchad Sakharova, and walk together to the site for security reasons, as threats against participants have appeared on neo-Nazi web sites. The event, which will feature a slide show, will be held at 7 p.m.
Under Russian law, picketing is defined as a form of stationary public assembly that does not use sound amplifying equipment. Only posters and other forms of visual agitation are allowed.
Kulayeva said that she received multiple phone calls from City Hall officials and police officers Tuesday, who warned her against holding an unauthorized march.
“It appears that the commemoration of human right activists and anti-fascists such as Markelov is highly undesirable for the authorities,” she said.
Markelov, 34, and Baburova, 25, were shot and killed by a masked man in downtown Moscow after they left a press conference at the Independent Press Center.
Despite international outcry over the killings, neither Prime Minister Vladimir Putin nor President Dmitry Medvedev reacted or offered their condolences to the families of the slain activists.
Interfax quoted a Foreign Ministry official who said that the murders were “artificially politicized and used, with dishonest intentions, to discredit Russia.”
In November 2009, Nikita Tikhonov and his partner Yevgeniya Khasis, described as extreme nationalists, were arrested in Moscow and charged with the double murder. The investigators said the FN/Browning M1910 semi-automatic pistol that was used in the double murder was found in their apartment during a search.
In May 2011, Tikhonov was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Khasis as an accomplice was sentenced to 18 years in a penal colony.
According to the January 19 Committee in Moscow, commemorative events for Baburova and Markelov will be held in 20 Russian cities, including Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Petrozavodsk, Ufa and Omsk, as well as in Ukrainian cities and in Berlin and Paris.