Young men accused of belonging to an organization classified as terrorist by the security services, during their trial in Penza, in central Russia, on 10 February. David Frenkel / AP
“Shocking ! But, alas, not surprising… ” As many advocates of human rights in Moscow, the representative of Human Rights Watch, Tanya Lokshina, denounces with horror but impotence the heavy sentences passed by a military court, on Monday, February 10, against seven young activists, anti-fascists of the extreme left. These anarchists, are presented as dangerous ” terrorists “, will have to serve sentences ranging from six to eighteen years of prison, while their confessions have been largely obtained under torture and that no plan of attack has not been updated.
“This is a new example of the arbitrary charges, manufactured evidence, invented confessions forced under violence, heavy convictions to fear…,” says Tanya Lokshina. “This case should open our eyes : it can happen to any of us who critique the system. It is the Russia in which lives our young people. “
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The seven young men aged between 23 and 31 years, originating from Penza, in central Russia, had been arrested in 2017 and 2018. They are accused of belonging to ” Network “, organization classified as terrorist by the security services. The FSB, heir to the KGB, ensures that they have wanted to prepare attacks in 2018 during the presidential election and then, in the same year, in the matches of the football world cup. Accusations never confirmed by evidence.
“Coup attempt “
The FSB, in contrast, is believed to have mounted the case to hover in front of the public a threat to the power and to justify the repression on the opposition. “A textbook case “, noted Svetlana Gannouchkina, a figure of a Memorial, the organization of defense of human rights. For the NGO, which had registered the seven of Penza in the list of “political prisoners” during their pretrial detention, the FSB has based the prosecution on confessions bad obtained from activists arrested in another drug deal.
In recent years, the authorities have stepped up legal action against various political groups with charges of terrorism or extremism. It is not only organizations violent but also of various political movements or religious, moderate, and criticism of the authorities. Among them : “New-size “, a group of young people who, on the mail-Telegram, exchanged messages against the Kremlin and pledged to work to ” give back to Russia its former greatness “.