“By throwing us in prison, the regime is hastening its end”
Closing statement by anarchist Alexander Kolchenko, accused of terrorism
August 19, 2015
I deny the charges of terrorism. This criminal case was fabricated and politically motivated. This is borne out by the fact that a criminal arson case was filed only ten days after the arson itself under [Russian Federal Criminal Code] Article 167 (“Intentional damage and destruction of property by means of arson”) and was changed to a terrorism case only on May 13, after [Gennady] Afanasiev and [Alexei] Chirniy were detained, and the necessary testimony had been obtained from them.
Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko
As regards the wording used by the investigation and the prosecution [in their formal charges against Kolchenko], it is really remarkable: “[The accused] committed accessory to arson in order to destabilize the authorities of the Republic of Crimea with the aim of influencing the decisions of Russian Federation authorities on the withdrawal of the Republic of Crimea from [the Russian Federation].”
In keeping with the prosecution’s line of thinking, if you use contraceptives, your objective is destabilizing the demographic situation in the country and the country’s defensive capabilities as a whole. If you criticize an official, you do this in order to undermine your country’s image in the international arena.
The list of such assertions is potentially endless.
During the trial itself, we had the chance to hear about the use of threats and torture against [Oleg] Sentsov and Afanasiev by FSB officers.
Interestingly enough, the people who use such methods to obtain testimony do not hesitate to accuse us of terrorism.
The Bolotnaya Square trial in several acts, the trial of Alexei Sutuga, the trial of Ilya Romanov, our trial, and the trial of [Nadiya] Savchenko all have the aim of extending this regime’s time in power. But, by throwing us in prison, this regime hastens its end, and people who only yesterday believed in law and order, are today losing this faith as they observe such trials. And tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, these people, who are part of that selfsame eighty-six percent [of Russians, who, allegedly, according to Russian pollsters, support Putin] will demolish this authoritarian regime.
I also want to note that in Afanasiev’s affidavit [a letter that he wrote from Remand Prison No. 4 in Rostov-on-Don and which defense attorney Dmitry Dinze read aloud during closing arguments—Kasparov.ru], it says that an FSB officer told Afanasiev that the day when he testified in court would be the most important day of his life. Apparently, Afanasiev took these words to heart, and in his own way. I was amazed by this gutsy, strong deed of his.
I would also like to thank those who have supported Oleg and me.
I agree with the arguments of our attorney. I consider them reasonable and fair, and I will not ask the court for anything.
On August 19, 2015, the Russian prosecutor asked a military court to sentence Alexander Kolchenko to twelve years in prison, and his co-defendant, filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, to twenty-three years in prison. The verdict is scheduled to be read out in Rostov-on-Don, where the trial has been taking place, on August 25.
Read more about the Sentsov-Kolchenko case:
- “Ukrainian Film Director’s Defiant Court Statement: ‘The Greatest Sin Is Cowardice’,” RFE/RL, August 21, 2015
- Roland Oliphant, “Controversial trial of Ukrainian filmmaker closes in Russia: Oleg Sentsov and his co-accused, Alexander Kolchenko, stand accused of organising a series of attacks on pro-Russian groups in Crimea,” The Telegraph, August 19, 2015
- “Alexander Kolchenko: The ‘Terrorist’ from Simferopol,” The Russian Reader, May 2, 2015
- “Solidarity with Alexander Kolchenko!” The Russian Reader, March 8, 2015
Translated by The Russian Reader. Photo courtesy of Unian.net