Russian Socialist Movement (RSD) on Navalny’s death and rising repression in Russia: ‘The murderers will be punished, the dictatorship will be overthrown’


First published in Russian in the Russian Socialist Movement’s Facebook and Telegram channel. Translated by LINKS International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

The following statements have been issued by Российское социалистическое движение (Russian Socialist Movement, RSD) in the wake of the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison and the jailing of socialist dissident Boris Kagarlitsky.

Alexei Navalny: They killed him

February 17

Alexei Navalny was killed in prison. Federal penitentiary service reported the death of the politician but it is evident that he did not die by himself — he was killed by Vladimir Putin. Navalny’s anti-corruption investigations and campaigns helped to politicise millions of Russians and to inspire thousands of activists, many of whom did not share his political views but believed in the possibility of change in Russia. He and his organisation, Anti-Corruption Foundation, were able to organise mass anti-Putin rallies until 2021.

Navalny was one of the authors of Russian populism, which in spite of its right credentials tended to problematise oligarchic capitalism by drawing attention to poverty and inequality in Russia and distinguishing between ordinary Russians and the absurdly rich Russian state ruling clique that derives its enormous wealth from usurpation of power, corruption, acquisition of public funds and property, torture, murders and wars. 

Putin was afraid of Navalny. His assassination is a clear political signal that Putinism is entering a new phase that allows for physical elimination of political opponents and, maybe, anyone who is considered a threat to the survival of the regime. It means that the life of all political prisoners in Russia is at risk. We must anticipate escalation of violence within and outside of Russia and new “unexpected” deaths of political activists.

By killing Navalny, the murderous and genocidal Putin regime wants to demotivate the Russian opposition. We must act contrary to its expectations. To end the dictatorship, we must enhance our solidarity and self-organisation. Navalny’s death is an example of political martyrdom which must inspire us to continue political actions rather than frustrate us. We must not give up. The murderers will be punished, the dictatorship will be overthrown.

Boris Kagarlitsky* sentenced to 5 years: ‘We just need to get through this dark period for the country’

February 13

The Court of Appeal has increased the sentence of left-wing politician and sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky from a fine to 5 years in prison. This is despite the fine of 609 thousand rubles having already been paid.

According to the decision, Kagarlitsky will be taken into custody in the courtroom and sent to pre-trial detention centre No. 12 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in Moscow. Boris Kagarlitsky himself is not discouraged: “I am sure that everything will be very good. And we will see you again both on the channel and in freedom. We just need to live a little and get through this dark period for our country.”

The case of Boris Kagarlitsky is a mockery of justice. This is also a slap in the face to the thousands of people who expressed their solidarity with him, wrote letters, made broadcasts, and put up posters. As soon as possible, our editors will publish new ways to support Boris Yulievich.

Freedom for Boris Kagarlitsky! Freedom for all political prisoners!

* Recognized as a foreign agent

Repression again

February 16

Repression against left-wing activists continues. For example, yesterday, a court in Moscow order the arrest of Maria Menshikova, editor of the online magazine DOXA*, in absentia under the charge of “justification of terrorism”. The reason given was an anti-war post on the magazine’s Vkontakte [Russian social media] page. However, arrest in absentia is probably the best kind of arrest.

Левое социалистическое действие (Left Socialist Action, LevSD) activist Yuri Chilikin, who was sent to a pre-trial detention centre by the Kanavinsky district court of Nizhny Novgorod on January 25, was less fortunate. It is not known under what article the criminal case was opened, but Chilikin's comrades assume that it may be Part 2 of Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (“calls to terrorism on the Internet”).

Articles of the Criminal Code are often deliberately drafted with the broadest possible wording, under which any case can be framed to persecute people for their political views. With growing inequality and public fatigue with the SMO [Special Military Operation], authorities realise left-wing forces can mobilise the population. To prevent them from doing so, the regime is carrying out preventive sweeps. The best way to counter repression is with solidarity and self-organisation.

* Recognised as an undesirable organisation in the Russian Federation

On repression

February 18

Navalny’s death — regardless of whether he was directly murdered or his death was the result of unbearable living conditions — is a clear signal that Putinism is entering a phase of physical liquidation of its main political opponents. And maybe all those who, in the regime’s opinion, threaten its existence.

This means that the lives of political prisoners are in danger first and foremost. We must be prepared for an increase in the level of violence and for new unexpected “deaths” of political activists. This is already happening now: for example, Minniyar Baiguskarov and Rifat Dautov, who participated in recent protests in Bashkortostan, were both detained and killed. Rifat died in the police station and, according to the official version, Minniyar committed suicide, but it is obvious who is to blame for the deaths of these people.

The way to oppose the cannibal regime is through self-organisation and mutual support. No matter how much the authorities would like us all to give up, it will not happen.

Two socialists were detained in St. Petersburg last Friday

February 19

Our supporter Irina was detained the day before yesterday by police officers near the Solovetsky Stone, which has become a spontaneous memorial for Alexei Navalny. She was taken to the 52nd police station in the Krasnogvardeysky district of St Petersburg. The following day she was given a 10-day sentence.

Irina was not the only St Petersburg socialist detained on Friday. Police also detained Левое социалистическое действие (Left Socialist Action, LevSD) activist Vladimir Nimlas (Salmin) for laying flowers at the Voskresenskaya Embankment. He was charged with Part 1 of Article of the Code of Administrative Offences and will face Krasnoselsky District Court.

As we know, hundreds of people have been detained [since Navalny’s death]. In our opinion, even by the standards of the modern Russian police state, all this looks absurd — thousands of police officers all over the country, cordoning off spontaneous memorials, detaining people for laying flowers, destroying memorials. In trying to demonstrate its power, the authorities have only succeeded in revealing their insane fear.