The Network Trials: Pinning the “Code” on the Defendants

filinkov-boyarshinovPetersburg Network Trial Defendants Viktor Filinkov and Yuli Boyarshinov. Photo by Alexander Koryakov. Courtesy of Kommersant

Prosecution Tries to Pin “Code” on Network Defendants
Anna Pushkarskaya
Kommersant
May 21, 2019

The Volga District Military Court rejected the defense’s motion to send the Penza segment of the so-called Network case back to prosecutors. The prosecution has alleged the defendants established the Network (an organization now officially banned in the Russian Federation), a “terrorist community” of anarchists, in order to overthrow the regime.

Today in Penza the prosecution will begin presenting its case against the seven defendants.

This stage of the trial has been completed in Petersburg, where Viktor Filinkov and Yuli Boyarshinov are on trial for their alleged involvement in the community. Their defense attorneys have moved to disallow key pieces of evidence in the prosecution’s case and summon Penza FSB investigator Valery Tokarev and Petersburg FSB field officer Konstantin Bondarev to the stand. The two FSB officers have been accused by the defendants of torturing them with electrical shocks. The Moscow District Military Court, which is hearing the case in Petersburg, postponed its consideration of these motions until June 4.

The trial in Penza began later than the trial in Petersburg. During the second hearing in Penza, on May 15, after the indictment was read aloud, the defense moved to send the case back to the prosecutor’s office for further investigation. It argued the case had been carelessly patched together, and some of the evidence had been obtained under pain of torture. It was nearly impossible to mount a coherent defense against such an “absurd, vague, and inconsistent” indictment, they said.

Prosecutor Sergei Semerenko argued the trial should proceed, although he refused to rule out the possibility the indictment would ultimately be withdrawn and resubmitted on less serious charges.

The judges reacted to this turn of event unexpectedly. They withdrew to chambers and never returned to the courtroom. A court clerk eventually told the lawyers, waiting for a ruling on their motion, the hearing was adjourned, after which armed guards led the defendants away.

The next day it transpired the trial would resume on May 21.

In the Penza trial, Dmitry Pchelintsev and Ilya Shakursky have been charged with running the Network terrorist community. They face twenty years in prison if convicted. Arman Sagynbayev, Vasily Kuksov, Andrei Chernov, Mikhail Kulkov, and Maxim Ivankin have been charged with involvement in the alleged community. They face ten years in prison if convicted.

A number of the defendants have also been indicted on other charges, including weapons possession and drug trafficking.

In Petersburg, Viktor Filinkov and Yuli Boyarshinov also face charges of involvement in the alleged community. Boyarshinov has also been charged with possession of gunpowder.

Filinkov has claimed he was tortured and denies his guilt. Boyarshinov has complained of torture-like conditions in remand prison but has confessed his guilt.

The subject of torture also came during when a witness in the trial, Igor Shishkin, was questioned. Mr. Shishkin has already been convicted on charges of involvement with the alleged Network as part of a plea agreement with investigators. Members of the Petersburg Public Monitoring Commission found the most serious injuries on his body after he was initially detained and questioned by the FSB in January 2018.

When Mr. Shishkin was asked whether unacceptably violent methods had been used on him and whether had testified voluntarily, he smiled and replied, “The military investigator carried out a brilliant investigation: nothing of the sort was found.”

The Moscow Military District Court finished its examination of the evidence in Petersburg on May 17 after holding a video conference with witnesses in Penza, including the defendants on trial there. All the witnesses testified they had not seen Viktor Filinkov at training sessions in the woods.

However, Mr. Pchelinitsev and Mr. Sagynbayev testified they had not been questioned about the Petersburg case. The transcript of this interrogation had been copied from testimony they gave to FSB investigator Valery Tokarev in Penza while they were tortured. They later withdrew their testimony.

Mr. Filinkov, who worked as a programmer before his arrest, also claimed investigators had falsely interpreted physical evidence seized during searches and reached the wrong conclusions during their investigation.

In particular, he claimed he had not “zigzagged” around Petersburg on the day before his arrest before discarding the hard drives FSB field agents later found in a trash bin. The images and photos on the drives, which had been entered into evidence, were of the kind one would find in the possession of any punk. They had been produced by his wife Alexandra Askyonova as a teenager.

Ms. Aksyonova was granted political asylum in Finland last week.

Mr. Filinkov made a point of noting that Petersburg field officer Konstantin Bondarev, who had compiled the case file on him, should be charged with torture.

Ultimately, the court agreed to summon Mr. Tokarev and Mr. Bondarev to the witness stand, but so far they have failed to appear at the hearings.

The key evidence of the alleged anarchist community’s terrorist inclinations are two documents, seized from two of the Penza defendants: the so-called Code, which outlines the Network’s alleged goals and organizational structure, and the minutes of an interregional “congress” held in a Petersburg flat in 2017, featuring responses from the movement’s alleged cells to socio-political issues.

The FSB has claimed the cells were armed units. The minutes contain neither the names nor the pseudonyms of the respondents.

When Vladimir Putin discussed the Network case with the Presidential Human Rights Council, he referred to a report drafted for him; the report claimed that “founding and programmatic documents had been seized from the terrorist community.”

However, the defendants and witnesses have denied the existence of the documents, claiming they only held discussions during their meetings but did not ratify or sign documents.

Mr. Shishkin, who made a plea agreement with investigators, corroborated this.

Prosecutor Ekaterina Kachurina asked him, “Why did you become interested in anarchist ideology?”

“And why did you become a prosecutor?” he replied, explaining anarchism was interesting to him.

Mr. Pchelintsev said there had been no “congress,” only “a seminar by consensus.”

Vitaly Cherkasov, Mr. Filinikov’s defense attorney, said in court there was every reason to believe “an unlimited number of Petersburg and Penza FSB officials had illegal access over a lengthy period of time” to the hard drive and laptop on which the files containing the “Code” and the “Minutes” had, allegedly, been discovered, due to improprieties in the secure storage and unsealing of the physical evidence.

Mr. Boyarshinov’s assistant defense attorney, Olga Krivonos, moved to have the court declare the documents inadmissible as evidence, along with the FSB’s linguistic forensic investigation, which concluded the “Code” was a “set of instructions outlining the basic organizational principles of a network of combat units capable of resisting the current powers that be.”

The court has adjourned until June 4.

Translated by the Russian Reader. You can read more about the Network case and stories related to the case here.

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“They Are Not Terrorists! The Terrorists at the FSB Torture People”

30716533_1994906870765445_1419384209113350144_n“They are not terrorists! The terrorists at the FSB torture people.” Photo courtesy of St. Petersburg Anarchist Black Cross (@abc.russia.spb)

Anarchist Black Cross-SPb
Facebook
April 15, 2018

Today, April 15, a series of solo pickets took place on Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg to protest the frame-up of nine anarchists and antifascists, arrested in Petersburg and Penza, and charged with involvement in a “terrorist community” that the Russian security services have dubbed The Network.

Around fifteen activists took part in the pickets and leafletted passersby. The police showed up only when the picketers were rolling up their placards and heading home. The policemen were very sorry they were unable to write down the internal passport info of the picketers.

Many of the passersby who showed an interest in the pickets were informed about the case and sympathized with the arrestees.

On April 11, 2018, yet another Petersburger, Yuli Boyarshinov, was charged with involvement in the so-called terrorist community. He is currently being held in Remand Prison No. 6, located the village of Gorelovo, Leningrad Region. The prison is notorious as a torture chamber. Boyarshinkov is housed in a barracks with as many as one hundred and fifty other inmates, including murderers, rapists, and robbers.

“He has not been tasered, but the conditions in which my client is being held are tantamount to torture,” says his defense attorney, Olga Krivonos.

We demand the authorities close The Network case and release everyone who has been charged in it. We also demand the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers who tortured the arrested men be brought to justice.

On April 14 and 15, Yekaterina Kosarevskaya and Yana Teplitskaya, members of the Petersburg Public Monitoring Commission, were assaulted by reporters from the pro-regime TV channel NTV, who insolently and intrusively asked the women how often they met with foreign diplomats and why they were aiding terrorists. Today as well, an NTV crew ambushed Vitaly Cherkasov, the defense counsel of Viktor Filinkov, a defendant in the case, outside the lawyer’s home and tried to interview him.

We continue to raise money to pay the defense attorneys for their work and pay for care packages for the arrested men.

Details for Donations
St. Petersburg Anarchist Black Cross Yandex Money Account: 41001160378989
PayPal: abc-msk@riseup.net (Moscow Anarchist Black Cross)

Show solidarity, support the prisoners!

Thanks to George Losev for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader. If you want to learn more about the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case, read the extensive coverage on this website and listen to this interview with a member of the Moscow Anarchist Black Cross, recorded in March on The Final Straw Radio Podcast. Thanks to Ed Sutton for the heads-up.

A New Face in Hell: Yuli Boyarshinov

“We Made It Worse for You, So Speak”: A New Defendant Emerges in The Network Case
OVD Info
April 11, 2018

30173702_10213690256883419_2044878347_1Yuli Boyarshinov, 2015. Photo by Maria Shuter. Courtesy of OVD Info

A new defendant has been added to the case of the so-called Network, Petersburger Yuli Boyarshinov. In the following article, OVD Info reports what it knows about how Mr. Boyarshinov was charged in the case, and about the pressure put on him in the remand prison where he is currently jailed.

Mr. Boyarshinov’s defense attorney Olga Krivonos told OVD Info that he was charged with involvement in The Network on April 11. Ms. Krivonos cannot discuss the particulars of the case, since she was made to sign a nondisclosure agreement concerning the preliminary investigation. Mr. Boyarshinov has been charged with involvement in a terrorist community (Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 205.4 Part 2) and illegal possession of explosives (Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 222.1 Part 1).

27-year-old Yuli Boyarshinov has worked the last several years as an industrial climber. From 2010 to 2015, he was a co-organizer of the Free Fair in Petersburg, events where people donated and took home all kinds of things free of charge. He [CENSORED BY REQUEST OF THE RUSSIAN ANARCHIST CENTRAL COMMITTEE]* volunteered at animal shelters.

yulik.jpgYuli Boyarshinov. Photo courtesy of Mr. Boyarshinov’s friends and OVD Info

Arrest
Mr. Boyarshinov was detained on the evening of January 21, 2018, in Petersburg’s Primorsky District, most likely accidentally. Several local residents told OVD Info that anti-drugs raids occured there frequently and police regularly stopped passersby.

Mr. Boyarshinov recounted that police from the 53rd Precinct struck him in the face and stomach several times: they did not like the fact the young man had refused to talk with him, citing Article 51 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees an individual’s right not to incriminate himself. The beating ended when another policeman entered the room, was outraged by what was happening, and asked his fellow officers not to “cause mayhem.”

Police found 400 grams of smoke powder, a relatively weak explosive obtained by mixing saltpeter, charcoal, and sulfur, on Mr. Boyarshinov’s person. Smoke powder is now most often employed in the manufacture of fireworks, as well as by hunters and sport shooters who pack their shells manually. Mr. Boyarshinov has a hunting license, but not a firearms permit. Ms. Krivonos could not say why Mr. Boyarshinov needed the smoke powder, since it fell under her nondisclosure agreement.

On January 22, police searched the home the young man shares with his parents. Law enforcement officers confiscated equipment, books, and the anarchist magazine Avtonom.  He was then taken in a police cruiser to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Hospital staff did not ask him for either his internal passport or insurance policy. The detainee was given an MRI scan of the brain, and his blood was drawn. Mr. Boyarshinov told his lawyer the physician who administered the MRI scan was quite worried about his condition. After the examination, the young man was transported to the Temporary Detention Center. In conversation with his lawyer, Mr. Boyarshinov suggested he was taken to the hospital first so that it would be impossible to say he had been injured in the Temporary Detention Center. The doctors noted bruises on his face.

On January 23, Primorsky District Court Judge Yelena Tsibizova ordered Mr. Boyarshinov remanded in custody for thirty days. His relatives were not informed of the court hearing. Ms. Krivonos had not yet taken the case, and so Mr. Boyarshinov was represented by a state-appointed attorney. At that point, he had only been charged with illegal possession of explosive substances.

1523224346412_1Yuli Boyarshinov. Photo courtesy of Mr. Boyarshinov’s friends and OVD Info

Pressure in the Remand Prison
After the hearing, Mr. Boyarshinov was incarcerated in Remand Prison No. 1 aka The Crosses Two, where doctors noted his injuries: blows to the stomach and head, and a black eye.

As the young man told his lawyer, his cellmates immediately tried to chat him up.

“I’m also in for Article 222.1. I’ll tell you what’s what,” one cellmate said to him.

The anarchist symbol had been traced on the dusty glass in the cell’s window.

On January 31, Mr. Boyarshinov was visited by two men who gave only their first names, Kostya and Dima. Kostya had been present during the search at Mr. Boyarshinov’s home. When he asked where they were from, Kostya and Dima gave him their work number at the Petersburg office of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). The supposed FSB officers listed the names of defendants in the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case and many other names, promising Mr. Boyarshinov that if he did not talk to them, “things would get worse” for him. The young man refused to speak with the FSB officers, again invoking his rights under Article 51 of the Russian Constitution.

“You’re making things worse for yourself, and you’ll go to prison,” the security service officers told him.

On February 12, Mr. Boyarshinov was transferred to Remand Prison No. 6 in the village of Gorelovo, Leningrad Region, on the orders of an investigator in the Primorsky District office of the Interior Ministry, allegedly, “for the purpose of conducting investigative procedures.” Ms. Krivonos said that then, after she filed an appeal against the extension of Mr. Boyarshinov’s remand in custody, staff at the Primorsky District Court telephoned her and asked her client’s whereabouts. They were looking for him to fill out papers. Ms. Krinovos argues the transfer to another remand prisoner violated her client’s rights. The Gorelovo Remand Prison is a former medium security correctional labor colony, and the conditions there are considerably worse than in The Crosses Two Remand Prison, which was built to satisfy the requirements of current legislation.

Mr. Boyarshinov told his lawyer he was placed in a cell where there were forty inmates, although it was designed for thirty-five. When he moved into the cell, his cellmates beat him up for no reason. They forced him to clean the cell, and because of this he was not let out for walks outside in the yard.

On February 13, FSB officers again came to talk with Mr. Boyarshinov.

“We made things worse for you. Now talk, or conditions will get even worse.”

Mr. Boyarshinov again refused to speak with them.

photo_2018-02-19_19-27-57.jpgYuli Boyarshinov and defense attorney Olga Krivonos at a custody extension hearing on February 19 in Primorsky District Court. Photo courtesy of Ms. Krivonos and OVD Info

On March 2, the remand prison was inspected by members of the Leningrad Region Public Monitoring Commission (PMC). Mr. Boyarshinov told his lawyer the Leningrad PMC members summoned the inmates one by one to chat with them in the office of a warden, who was present during their conversations.

FSB officers visited Mr. Boyarshinov again immediately after the PMC’s inspection. The very same day, he and another inmate (who had not spoken to the PMC) were transferred to a cell that held approximately 150 inmates: the number of inmates constantly changed. There were only 116 bunks in the cell, which was reserved for men charged with murder, rape, and robbery, and who had served time before. However, the inmates who smoked were not segregated from the nonsmokers. At first, Mr. Boyarshinov had to sleep on the floor.

“During the nearly two months of his incarceration in Gorelovo, no investigative procedures involving Yuli have been carried out. Due to the fact the conditions of my client’s imprisonment in terms of cell assignment and personal safety have been violated, his state of mind has deteriorated considerably,” said Ms. Krivonos.

On March 16, Sergei Shabanov, human rights ombudsman for Leningrad Region, and his staff member Sergei Gavrilovich visited the Gorelovo Remand Prison.

“There were no complaints and statements from the persons held in custody,” reads a report of the visit, posted on the remand prison’s website.

“He has not been tasered, but the conditions in which my client is being held are tantamount to torture,” argued Ms. Krivonos.

She also said that Mr. Boyarshinov has chronic tonsillitis, which has been aggravated by his living conditions.

9ac654e24a7baa41f22dbfeb5e102410Visit by Leningrad Region Human Rights Ombudsman Sergei Shabanov to Gorelovo Remand Prison. Yuli Boyarshinov sits with his back turned to the camera. Photo courtesy of Remand Prison No. 6 website and OVD Info

Petersburg industrial climber Ilya Kapustin was a witness in The Network case. He claimed FSB agents tasered him, after which he left Russia, requesting political asylum in Finland. Kapustin told OVD Info that, during his interrogation, investigators had asked him whether he knew Boyarshinov, when they had last met, and why he had telephoned him on the day he was detained.

“We had a professional relationship. I telephoned him around the time of his arrest to ask him whether he wanted a job shoveling snow off rooftops,” Kapustin explained.

  • Novaya Gazeta writes that the Gorelovo Remand Prison is considered a torture chamber. According to the newspaper, inmates are tortured and raped by order of the wardens. This was the reason Vladimir Malenchuk, former head of the local office of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service was dismissed, and his deputy, Vyacheslav Tippel, who was involved in the torture, was sentenced to seven years in prison. However, the beatings and abuse of inmates at the remand prison have not stopped.
  • On March 16, antifascist Viktor Filinkov was transferred to Remand Prison No. 6. Mr. Filinkov has been charged with involvement in the terrorist organization The Network (Criminal Code 205.4 Part 2). The FSB claims members of The Network were preparing for the outbreak of unrest in Russia. Mr. Filinkov confessed his guilt, but later claimed he had done so under torture. Members of the Petersburg Public Monitoring Commission noted numerous taser burns on the antifascist’s body. Businessman Igor Shiskin was charged in the same case. He did not complain of torture, but the Petersburg PMC likewise noted injuries on his body. The criminal investigation and arrests in St. Petersburg were sanctioned by a district court in Penza.
  • In October 2017, five young men were arrested in Penza. A sixth man was arrested in Petersburg, transferred to Penza, and also remanded to custody there. All of them have been charged with involvement in a terrorist community. The FSB claims the young men were also involved in The Network, which, allegedly, has cells in Moscow, Petersburg, Penza, and Belarus. The defendants in the terrorism case in Penza have spoken of psychological pressure, torture by electrical shock, being hung upside down, and having weapons planted by FSB officers in their cars and flats.

* There is no “Russian Anarchist Central Committee,” of course, but I was asked—twice—to expunge a perfectly trivial, innocent passage because it supposedly endangered Mr. Boyarshinov’s safety in remand prison. I dared to doubt out loud that the wardens at Gorelovo Remand Prison read my website and much less that they would happen on this passage. The anarchist authoritarian “we” was forced to repeat its peremptory request, referring to the meaningless fact that it was a “common decision.”

This is what you will discover about 99% of Russian “anti-authoritarian” leftists if you spend enough time with them. They do not understand that solidarity is a two-way street. So, God forbid, for example, that any of them would take the time and then have the guts to speak out against the Russian government’s crimes in Syria. But if something untoward happens with any of their own kind, you can be sure they will demand the world’s attention, because, at the end of the day, they are good “white people,” like the good “white people” in Europe and North America, so they imagine they do not deserve to be treated the way the FSB has been treating their antifascist comrades in Penza and Petersburg.

Of course, they should not be treated this way, but nor should anyone else on God’s green earth be treated this way, even if they do not happen to be good “white people.” 

The other thing you discover is that the mindset of most Russian “anti-authoritarian” leftists is completely authoritarian, which is no surprise because Russia has been an authoritarian country for most of its thousand-year history. There has been the odd decade here and there down through the centuries when Russia was not an authoritarian country, and Allah be praised, how sweet it was to live during one of those rare decades, as your humble servant did during the 1990s. 

Now, however, the country has endured nearly two decades of increasingly oppressive authoritarian rule, so it should be no surprise that people who nominally espouse democratic, progressive, “anti-authoritarian” beliefs would revert to authoritarian type when push comes to shove. 

During the ten-plus years I have been translating, editing, and writing this website and its predecessor, Chtodelat News, I have been clubbed over the head, slandered, and bossed around by my putative Russian “anti-authoritarian” leftist allies so many times I have lost count. On the contrary, the number of times I have been thanked for what I do or encouraged and vigorously supported by these selfsame so-called anti-authoritarians has been much less numerous.

They really don’t get it. Until they do, most of their efforts will be doomed to failure. Despite what Putin and his junta have done to Russia and its people, the country and its people are way past the point where they have the time of day for authoritarians of any stripe, whether nationalist, leftist, rightist, centrist, neoliberal, Anglican or Presbyterian. When and if they rise up to overthrow their oppressors, it will be a democratic revolution. Or it simply won’t happen at all. TRR

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade NN for correcting a typo.

Read more about the insane FSB frame-up of the wholly fictional Network aka the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” and related current cases involving torture and framing on the part of the security service once chaired by President Vladimir Putin and in which he proudly served as an officer for many years. It is their increasing dominance of politics and the economy that has pushed the world’s largest country to the brink of toxic governance and administrative insanity.