Tag Archives: Artyom Savelov

Russia’s Political System Is “Overbearing,” or, One Day in the Life of Artyom Viktorovich

It turns out that for the past five years, at least, we’ve been looking at things the wrong way round. Distinguished Ghanaian-British writer and journalist Ekow Eshun and The Guardian have finally set us straight:

Two decades after the fall of communism, Russia remains a mystery to many foreigners. And from a distance, the country’s most visible aspects – showy oligarchs and an overbearing political system – hardly seem alluring.

But scratch the surface and a different story emerges. For the past year, I’ve been working with a London-based gallery to develop the Calvert Journal, an online guide to creative Russia. The journal is inspired by a generation of creative talent who are starting to remake the country in their own image.

You can feel their influence in Moscow and St Petersburg, where chic bars and restaurants and dynamic cultural centres are springing to life . . .

—Ekow Eshun, “How Russia’s creative revolution is changing the cultural landscape: Moscow, St Petersburg, and cities across Russia, are enjoying a creative boom that features design hubs, hotels, cafes and bars,” The Guardian, April 5, 2013

“Overbearing” is undoubtedly how political prisoner Artyom Savyolov, one of the twenty-seven people charged so far in connection with the so-called Bolotnaya Square Case, would describe the Russian political system:

There is nothing all much that is interesting [behind bars in the pretrial detention facility]. After the new year, I began reviewing “the case.” I do this five days a week, like I’m going to work. In the morning, I get up and drink tea, and then I’m taken to the case review. If I’m lead straight into the police investigator’s office, but he is late getting there, then I have a chance to read a book a little along with my fellow prisoners. Or first I might be taken to “assembly” (the place where prisoners are gathered before being sent to court, to investigators, etc.), and that’s also not bad.

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What is interesting is that despite ethnicity, what crimes people have been charged with, and age, people somehow support each other. Someone gives someone else advice about their case or makes a suggestion. If someone’s low on smokes or matches, people share theirs. Someone tells jokes and pokes fun, and everyone laughs. People get to know each other.

Until lunch, I review “the case.” It’s been a week since I managed to make them  take me for a lunch break [every day]. Then it’s back to the reviewing. By evening, I’m usually exhausted. There’s only time left to have tea with the lads, wash clothes or  do some other small things, and in the morning it all starts over again. 

Weekends, on the other hand, are like a holiday: I get to go for a stroll [in the prison yard] and chat with the lads with a clear head. We play dominoes with each other, with the losers paying in push-ups, and so on.

Sometimes I wish I were on a desert island. (The rules here prohibit leaving prisoners alone, and except for the cooler, it rarely, rarely happens that one gets to be alone.)

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I wish I were alone on an island with a box of soap and a case of vodka. I’d get washed up, belt out crazy wild songs, and walk for miles. I realize that’s not a very elegant wish, but it is a sincere one. Otherwise, my wishes are the most ordinary: to see loved ones and friends without prison bars between us, see how my apple trees are doing at the dacha without me, and lots of other, completely ordinary things.

They feed us okay: it’s just the ticket for Lent (laughs).

Communication [with the other prisoners] is normal: there are very few real evildoers here. Some have ended up here out of foolishness, while life somehow or another pushed others here. I like how at “assembly” one bloke compared  the “our country is a prison” situation with a line. You walk and walk the line, but sooner or later you stumble. If you’re lucky, you step to the right—and you stay on the outside. If you’re not lucky, you stumble or are pushed to the left—and you go to prison.

I’ve talked with lots of [other inmates], and many of them had thought, “I’m not planning on killing or stealing, so I’m the last person they’d send to jail.”

I want to close on a positive note. Everything that hasn’t killed us has only made us stronger. I’m alive and filled with cheerful anger, and that means we’ll battle our way through and everything will be okay!

“And only up high, next to the Royal gate, / Privy to mysteries, a child was crying / That homecoming is no one’s fate.” I read that somewhere and liked it.

P.S. This letter isn’t very cheerful, but in the future I promise to improve.

March 16, 2013

Artyom

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grani.ru

Artyom Savyolov Day
April 7, 2013

A campaign in support of the “prisoners of Bolotnaya Square” has kicked off in Moscow. On April 6, a rally took place in Pushkin Square. Starting on April 7, each subsequent day will be dedicated to one of the twenty-seven people accused in the case. The campaign will culminate in a large-scale protest action on the anniversary of the [May 6, 2012] events on Bolotnaya.

April 7 was dedicated to Artyom Savyolov. Activists told metro passengers and passersby about him.

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“The May 6 Case Is the Disgrace of the Putin Regime”

[…]

Artyom Savyolov was arrested on June 9. Like most of the “Bolotnaya prisoners,” he has been charged under two articles of the Criminal Code: Article 212 (rioting) and Article 318 (violence against a government official). According to investigators, Savyolov shouted the slogan “Down with the police state!” and others, and grabbed a police officer by his arm and his bulletproof vest. A video recording clearly shows  that Artyom was on Bolotnaya Square for a mere three minutes. After being unwillingly pushed by the crowd past the police cordon, he was almost immediately detained.

Artyom has a severe stutter and is almost unable to speak. However, the claim that he was shouting slogans, recorded in the charge sheet of his administrative arrest [on May 6], has found its way into the criminal case against him.

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Photos of Artyom Savyolov and Artyom Savyolov Day courtesy of Grani.ru and Dmitry Borko. Thanks to Comrades Larry and Ilya for the respective heads-up.

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May 6 Committee: Stop the Crackdown on the Opposition in Russia!

STOP THE CRACKDOWN ON THE OPPOSITION IN RUSSIA!
Call for an International Day of Action on July 26

The protest demonstration that took place on May 6, 2012, in Moscow was one of the most massive and assertive during the past several months. Despite pressure from the authorities and societal depression after Vladimir Putin’s alleged election victory, ten of thousands of people took to the streets of Russia’s capital. The May 6 demonstration showed that the protest wave that rose in December 2011 had not only not subsided, but had taken on a new impetus and a new, more radical and decisive direction.

The most striking outcome of this legal, peaceful march was the harsh detention of more than 600 people. Police assaulted an even greater number of marchers.

The fact that the actions of police were illegal is borne out by a large number of photos, videos, eyewitness accounts, and medical examinations. However, despite numerous appeals by citizens and human rights advocates to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, the Russian Investigative Committee and other bodies, not a single criminal case on abuse of power by police officers or obstruction of a legal mass event has been initiated.

On the contrary, the authorities have used the events of May 6 to launch an unprecedented crackdown on the Russian opposition. During May and June, twelve people were arrested as part of an ongoing criminal investigation of the “riots,” and two more people were placed under house arrest. All fourteen people have been charged with organizing and participating in mass riots, and violence against police officers.

Their names are Vladimir Akimenkov, Oleg Arkhipenkov, Andrei Barabanov, Maria Baronova, Fyodor Bakhov, Yaroslav Belousov, Alexandra Dukhanina, Stepan Zimin, Alexander Kamensky, Mikhail Kosenko, Maxim Luzyanin, Denis Lutskevich, Artyom Savyolov and Rikhard Sobolev.

There is no doubt that the authorities are now fabricating the most massive political case in recent years. Thus, according to the Investigative Committee, 160 investigators are working on the case, and more than 1,250 people have been questioned so far. The number of detainees could rise, according to certain sources, to several hundred people.

Only concerted action by thousands of concerned people around the world can stop this from happening!

The May 6 Committee has now been launched in Moscow: this grassroots initiative demands an end to the crackdown and closure of this shameful “criminal case.” The committee’s activists, who represent various human rights, civic and political organizations, are in constant contact with the lawyers of the accused, have launched a public awareness campaign, and are organizing protests against this political crackdown.

We are calling for an International Day of Action on July 26. We appeal to human rights organizations and progressive groups around the world: the fate of dozens of innocent, peaceful protesters, people already in prison or who soon might find themselves there, depends on your solidarity and your active stance. Distribute information about the case, hold rallies and solidarity concerts, picket Russian embassies and consulates in your cities and countries, and send letters and petitions to Russian authorities. The future of the new protest movement in Russia now depends on whether we are able to stop this crackdown by the authorities.

SOLIDARITY IS OUR STRENGTH!

For more information or to contact us:

Telephone: +7 926 305-2823
Web site: www.6may.org
E-mail: help6may@gmail.com
Live Journal blog: 6mayorg.livejournal.com
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Комитет-6-мая/336195009792710
Vkontakte: vk.com/6mayorg

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Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, Russian society