JRL NEWSWATCH: “Free Boris Kagarlitsky: The Nation joins the global appeal for his release” – The Nation: Katrina Vanden Heuvel

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

“… [O]n February 13, a military court sentenced Boris Kagarlitsky, prominent sociologist, Marxist scholar and labor activist, to five years in prison for criticizing the war in Ukraine … after a Moscow court initially ordered him to only pay a $6,500 fine for ‘justifying terrorism,’ charges which Kagarlitsky denied. Prosecutors appealed … calling [the initial judgment] ‘excessively lenient.’ Kagarlitsky, … founder and chief editor of the left-labor news organization Rabkor, and director of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements (… labeled a ‘foreign agent’ in 2018), was first detained in July 2023 in connection with a since-deleted YouTube video about the 2022 Crimea bridge explosion. Perhaps because Boris has been arrested before as a dissident — in 1982 during the Brezhnev years and in 1993 when he protested Yeltsin’s shelling of the country’s elected Parliament — he responded to the decision with calm and dignity: ‘We just need to live a little longer and survive this dark period for our country.’ …  For information on how to show solidarity and support, use Patreon or Busti. Visit freeboris.info.”

The Moscow court sentencing Kagarlitsky reportedly is sending him to the Federal Penitentiary Service’s pretrial detention center No. 12 in Moscow, reputedly one of Russia’s harshest jails. It is believed that he will share a cell with 15 other men.

When arrested last year,

“Boris wrote in a letter to global supporters

‘This is not the first time in my life. I was locked up under Brezhnev, beaten and threatened with death under Yeltsin. And now it’s the second arrest under Putin. Those in power change, but the tradition of putting political opponents behind bars, alas, remains. But the willingness of many people to make sacrifices for their beliefs, for freedom, and social rights remain unchanged.

I think that the current arrest can be considered a recognition of the political significance of my statements. Of course, I would have preferred to be recognized in a somewhat different form, but all in good time. In the 40-odd years since my first arrest, I have learned to be patient and to realize how fickle political fortune in Russia is ….

The experience of the past years …does not dispose much to optimism. But historical experience as a whole is much richer and gives much more grounds for positive expectations. Remember what Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth? “The night is long that never finds the day.”‘”

Meanwhile, in other cases, Russia courts are handing out harsher penalties when the opposition defendant appeals the sentence.

“… Perhaps in anticipation of [March 17] Presidential elections, … the growing strength of nationalistic ‘siloviki,’ or part of an attack on the Russian Left movement, Russian authorities are handing out harsher sentences to those who appeal their charges. …”

Another victim of Russian judicial hardening is human rights activist Oleg Orlov, leader of the (joint) Nobel Prize-winning human rights organization Memorial.  A Russian court initially fined Orlov $1,630 over an article ‘discrediting the armed forces.’  When Orlov appealed the fine, a Moscow court responded by throwing Orlov in prison for  two and a half years for opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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