Summer of Friendship Campaign Continues in Petersburg

Summer of Friendship Campaign Continues in Petersburg
David Frenkel
Special to The Russian Reader
June 29, 2015

The Vesna (“Spring”) Movement has continued its Summer of Friendship campaign for peace between Russia and Ukraine.

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Summer of Friendship postcard

Yesterday, Sunday, June 28, Vesna activists handed out blank postcards on the corner of Nevsky Prospect and Malaya Sadovaya Street asking people to write kind messages to Ukrainians.

The organizers claimed that members of the public dropped over two hundred “freedom postcards” into a special mailbox during the event. Our correspondent estimated that the number of postcards submitted was closer to one hundred.

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“Russian Post”

“All the letters will be sent shortly to the addressees. Our colleagues in Kyiv and other cities will help us deliver them. We want to remind both Russians and Ukrainians that we are a fraternal people and must remain this way. We have many things in common: history, culture, family connections—everything but politicians. And we must overcome hatred together!” Vesna’s press secretary Anton Gorbatsevich explained in a letter to our correspondent.

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Similar actions took place in Krasnodar and Tomsk, and another such event has been planned for Voronezh in a few days.

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All photographs by and courtesy of David Frenkel

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Free Journalist Sergei Ilchenko!

Sergei Ilchenko is a professional journalist who has reported for a number of Moldovan, Ukrainian and Russian media. He is currently being persecuted for his professional work by the secret services of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), commonly known as Transdniester or Transnistria.

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Sergei Ilchenko

Ilchenko was arrested by the PMR KGB on March 18, 2015, following his involvement in an opposition rally in Tiraspol, the PRM capital, and his refusal to delete the report and video footage he made at the rally.

The PMR Investigative Committee has brought criminal charges against Ilchenko under Article 276, Part 2 of the PMR Criminal Code (“Public Incitement to Extremist Activities”). If convicted, Ilchenko could face a term of up to five years in prison.

Ilchenko’s colleagues believe that in order to arrest and charge Ilchenko with incitement to overthrow the state the KGB resorted to a provocation by posting fabricated texts under Ilchenko’s name on various Internet forums and social media. Ilchenko denies having written these texts. Moreover, a day before his arrest he informed a number of his colleagues that his Facebook and Skype accounts had been hacked and the passwords changed, and that he had lost all control over the social media groups he was moderating.

Sergei Ilchenko is a left-wing political activist. He has been involved in the work of various trade union forums and has reported for the international trade union solidarity platform LabourStart.

What Can We Do to Help Sergei Ilchenko?

  1. Human rights organizations, journalists unions, and journalist communities in various countries should make statements of support of Sergei Ilchenko, denouncing Internet provocations as a means of persecuting dissidents.
  2. Write a letter to PMR President Yevgeny Shevchuk, demanding Sergei Ilchenko’s immediate release. Letters should be sent to the following address:

г.Тирасполь 3300, Горького, 53, Администрация Президента

Tiraspol 3300, Gorky Str., 53, Presidential Administration

You can also submit a letter to President Shevchuk on the presidential administration’s website. (Warning: all instructions are in Russian.)

http://president.gospmr.ru/ru/letter

  1. Contact your country’s ministry of foreign affairs, calling on it to put pressure on the PRM authorities to release Sergei Ilchenko immediately.
  2. NGOs and journalist organizations should send their representatives to Tiraspol to act as independent observers at Sergei Ilchenko’s trial and ensure it is covered objectively and fairly. 

More Details on Sergei Ilchenko’s Case

In English

“Journalist jailed on extremism charges in Moldova’s Transdniester region,” Committee to Protect Journalists, March 26, 2015

“[Moldovan] Government seeks release of journalist arrested in Tiraspol,” IPN, March 28, 2015

“Journalist Sergei Ilchenko jailed on extremism charges in Moldova’s Transdniester region,” Council of Europe, April 2, 2015

In Russian

Sergei Ilchenko’s LiveJournal blog (including letters from prison, photographs, and reports on the case)

“Odessa journalists demand PMR cease its persecution of Sergei Ilchenko,” Comments.ua, March 20, 2015

“Roman Konoplev on the Ilchenko case: Rogozin will sing praises, Moldova will provide cover,” Regnum, March 23, 2015

“The Republic of Moldova demands journalist Sergei Ilchenko’s release,” Teleradio Moldova, March 28, 2015

“’Free’ Transnistria: the setup and arrest of opposition journalist Sergei Ilchenko,” April 6, 2015, politcom.org.ua

“An appeal from political prisoner Sergei Ilchenko,” Antikor.com.ua, April 14, 2015

“Dill Tomatovich’s notes from a Transdniestrian prison,” [a letter by Sergei Ilchenko from Tiraspol Remand Prison No. 3], Ava.md, April 15, 2015

“Ukrainian journalists join demand for Sergei Ilchenko’s release,” Novyi Region 2, June 11, 2015.

 

Lenin, God of Water

Eight People Detained at Water Battle in Petersburg
June 7, 2015
Yodnews.ru

On June 6, Petersburg police detained eight people on suspicion of theft of personal belongings during the now-traditional mass “Water Battle,” reported online publication Fontanka.ru.

According to the publication, beat police, after chasing them around the yards of residential buildings, took eight young men, the oldest of whom was twenty, to a police station. They are suspected of large-scale theft at a public event. At present, six of the victims have filed reports of theft.frenkel-water god

“Water Battle” on Moscow Square in Petersburg, June 6, 2015. Photograph courtesy of David Frenkel

The flashmob lasted for four hours. Several hundred young people armed with buckets, water pistols, bottles, and basins met at the fountains on Moscow Square to celebrate the onset of summer.

Many came in costumes and masks, and the absent-minded risked being caught and dumped into a fountain. Those drying themselves on the sidelines performed circle dances and engaged in “free hugging.” The weather came through for the Petersburgers.