Did Russia fabricate a terrorist group?
A court in the Russian city of Penza has sentenced seven young men to prison terms of between six and 18 years. According to the prosecution they founded a left-wing terrorist group called Set (network) with the intention of overthrowing the government. But the group had not committed any concrete crimes and NGO Memorial says that the confessions were extracted by the FSB using torture. The case has triggered a wave of indignation and protest.
The only act of terrorism is the sentence
Echo of Moscow publishes an open appeal already signed by 2,700 Russian academics and journalists to have the verdict revised:
“The harsh accusations are based on highly questionable 'evidence'. The condemned have repeatedly said they were tortured to extract confessions, but these statements were effectively ignored in the investigations and at trial. Everything we know about the 'Set case' indicates that it was entirely fabricated. The manifestly unfair verdict is evidence of the complete paralysis of the independent judicial system in our country. It is not the fictitious 'terrorist acts' that the convicts supposedly 'intended to plan' but the sentence itself that is the real act of terrorism.”
Successful investigations suspected of being fake
Such cases make a mockery of the success stories propagated by the Russian authorities according to which dozens of terrorist cells are exposed every year, Vedomosti points out:
“These data are difficult to verify, as are the methods used to expose the suspects - were they really terrorists or just young people playing Airsoft? … Society learns how the investigators actually work through such processes. ... According to the statements of the accused and witnesses, a provocateur acting for the the authorities usually plays a leading role. Fighting terrorism is an important task of the security services. But if the successes are based on provocations and self-incrimination under torture, the real value of these successes is zero.”
Freedom for all political prisoners!
The Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was also in Russian custody and was released during the prisoner exchange in September 2019, calls for solidarity with all political prisoners in Russia on gordonua.com:
“I have always supported the Russians who are fighting against the Putin regime and believe that Crimea belongs to Ukraine. Because this dragon is the common enemy of all ordinary people. ... Hundreds if not thousands of people who have dared to challenge the dictator - or who are simply not indifferent - are languishing in Mordor's prisons. One of them is Kostya Kotov, who took to the streets for me and other Ukrainian political prisoners. ... During the trial he wore a T-shirt with my portrait because he believes my story encouraged him to protest. ... Freedom for Konstantin Kotov and for all political prisoners!”