Solidarity with Alexander Kolchenko!


Alexander Kolchenko is a Crimean anarchist, social activist, and antifascist who is being held by the Russian authorities. Along with other Crimean activists, he was kidnapped by the Russian FSB (ex-KGB) and is now detained as a political hostage in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow. He has been charged with committing “acts of terrorism” and “belonging to a terrorist community.”

Why is Alexander Kolchenko in jail?

Alexander, who has proven his antifascist stance over many years, is facing preposterous accusations of belonging to Right Sector, the radical Ukrainian right-wing organization, whose real role in Ukrainian events has been blown out of proportion by Russian official propaganda.

In modern Russia, any activist — left wing, anarchist or liberal — can be slandered as a member or sympathizer of Right Sector. This situation is comparable to the hunt for nonexistent Trotskyists under Stalin, or the McCarthy witch hunt for communists in the US. Putin’s authoritarian and nationalist regime, which uses everything from religious prejudices and conspiracy theories to outright racism in its propaganda, shamelessly steals antifascist rhetoric. And yet anyone who is considered bothersome is called a fascist, even if he/she stands on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

The case against antifascist Alexander Kolchenko and civil activist and film director Oleg Sentsov (investigators enrolled them in the same “terrorist” group) is political. It is meant to intimidate the inhabitants of Crimea and prevent any resistance on the peninsula. The most authoritarian of methods are now used in annexed Crimea to repress all dissent. Many people have been forced to leave Crimea because their life and freedom were threatened: lawyers, left wing activists, student and trade union activists, anarchists, antifascists, and Crimean Tatar activists who have fallen victims of ethnic discrimination.

What does Alexander Kolchenko face?

Alexander Kolchenko is threatened with a terrible prison sentence of up to 20 years for a non-existent “terrorist attack” in which he was not involved. Kolchenko and other Ukrainian political prisoners have been detained only to demoralize the opposition through show trials. Their freedom is directly linked to the stability of the Putin regime. If we can shake Putin’s confidence in his impunity, the prisoners will be set free. There is no hope that Kolchenko, Sentsov, and others will be given fair trials. Their arrests were unlawful, and the charges against them are far-fetched. It was not a mistake: the regime knows what it is doing.

How can you help Alexander Kolchenko?

We are asking international left wing and libertarian forces for help. You can organize and lead actions of protest and solidarity, write letters to Kolchenko, and send donations to pay for lawyers, food parcels, and support for his family. It is also important to spread information about his case. Most of all, we need to dissociate ourselves from any forces that support the aggressive expansion of Russian nationalism, even if they cover it up with leftist and anti-imperialist rhetoric. Putin’s regime is doing just fine without your sympathy. You had better save it for those who are its victims.

When should you start?

You can start right now by helping us spread this appeal, translating it into other languages, and sending it to comrades. We also strongly encourage you to organize demonstrations from April 1 to 7, 2015, in support of Alexander Kolchenko and other political prisoners jailed in Russia. Sentsov’s and Kolchenko’s current terms in pretrial police custody end on April 11 and 16, respectively. In the first half of April, Lefortovo District Court in Moscow will decide whether they should await trial in jail, be placed under house arrest or be released on their own recognizance, Only strong, massive pressure on the Putin regime and protests around the world will make it possible to set our comrades free. We demand their immediate release and the dropping of charges against them.


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