Network Case Suspects Go on Hunger Strike
December 2, 2018
Andrei Chernov in court. Photo courtesy of Mediazona and OVD Info
Dmitry Pchelintsev and Andrei Chernov, residents of Penza and suspects in the so-called Network case, have gone on hunger strike, claiming remand prison officials and FSB officers have intimidated them during their review of their criminal case file, something to which they are entitled by Russian law. Several Penza suspects in the case have claimed they have been put in solitary confinement, handcuffed to radiators, and threatened with violance.
Pchelintsev and Chernov went on hunger strike on November 29, as reported by the Parents Network, a support group established by the mothers and fathers of the young men, who have been accused of involvement in a “terrorist community” that, allegedly, was planning an armed uprising during the March 2018 presidential election and 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in Russia this past summer.
It was on November 29 that wardens put Pchelintsev in solitary, demanding he admit to breaking the rules by talking with other inmates during yard time. He responded by going on hunger strike, and Chernov joined him as a token of support and solidarity. On November 30, wardens again tried to bargain with Pchelintsev and threaten him.
The Parents Network notes that the pressure on their sons has increased now that the suspects are officially reviewing the case file.
Lawyer Anatoly Vakhterov told the group that Network case suspect Ilya Shakursky had been been visited by Penza Remand Prison Warden Oleg Iskhanov, who asked him how quickly he was reviewing the file. On November 20, immediately after the incident, Shakursky was reprimanded for greeting other inmates during yard time. The alleged violation was written up, and the same day Shakursky was issued a special uniform for his upcoming stint in solitary confinement. He managed to avoid going there by filing a complaint with Penza Regional Prosecutor Natalya Kantserova.
Earlier, Maxim Ivankin spent five days in solitary. This was proceeded by a visit from Warden Iskhanov, who likewise asked Ivankin how quickly he was reviewing the case file.
As the defense lawyers explained to the Parents Network, the suspects had been reviewing the case file not only at the remand prison but also at the local FSB office. Under Russian law, suspects may review case files for up to eight hours a day. Allegedly, the Network suspects were handcuffed to radiators and stairway railings the entire time. Vasily Kuksov and Arman Sagynbayev were handcuffed to each other. As the Parents Network has noted, the suspects not only experienced physical discomfort but were also unable to examine the case file freely and take notes.
Shakursky and Pchelintsev refused to go through the procedure in such conditions. In turn, they were threatened with violence. According to them, the man who threatened them was a certain A. Pyatachkov, who had been involved in torturing them when they were initially detained in the autumn of 2017.
Mikhail Kulkov said that after handcuffing him to the staircase, FSB officers videotaped him. As they filmed him, they said, “Look at Network terrorists reviewing the case file.”
The suspects requested their lawyers be present during the review. Consequently, the authorities stopped taking them to the FSB office. Currently, all case file materials are brought directly to the remand prison.
Vasily Kuksov and Dmitry Pchelintsev in court. Photo courtesy of Rupression and OVD Info
“Obviously, all these measures are methods of mental and physical violence,” argues Vakterov. “There are signs that the group of FSB investigators, led by Senior Investigator Valery Tokarev, have been putting pressure on the suspects. Why? To speed up the review process and make it impossible to verify the complaints of torture made by the suspects. They want to intimidate the lads, who are fighting back any way they can under the circumstances.”
These events have spurred the Parents Network to issue a communique, which we publish here in an abridged version.
We, the parents of the suspects in the Penza Case, bear witness to the numerous violations suffered by our children during their review of the case file.
To avoid allowing the time necessary to investigate the claims made by our sons that they were tortured by FSB officers, the group of investigators, led by Valery Tokarev, has done everything possible to speed up the process of reviewing the Network case file. To this end, the investigators have engaged in daily acts of emotional and physical violence against the suspects, to wit:
- Our sons have been prevented from reviewing the case file with their lawyers present. When they have attempted to refuse lawfully to review the case file, they have been subjected to physical preventive measures: they have been handcuffed to whatever metal structures came to hand and handcuffed to each other. During the review of the case file, at least one hand of each suspect has been handcuffed. These actions have prevented them from concentrating on reading the file and thoughtfully preparing to defend their rights in court. This testifies to the fact that investigators have doubts about the case, and so they would like to hand it over to the court as quickly as possible.
- FSB field officers who were involved in torturing our sons have been among the people allowed to be present during the investigative case file review. They have been brought to the review to exert pressure on our children. The FSB officers in question have threatened them with physical violence if they refuse to continue with the case file review. The point of their actions is to speed up the review process, intimidate the suspects, and interfere with a potential investigation of the acts of torture they perpetrated.
- Our demands that a lawyer be present during the proceedings and that the act of reviewing the case file not be hindered by handcuffing the hands of the suspects to tables, chairs, radiators, and stairways have led to our children being placed in solitary confinement, where they have once again been visited by FSB officers and investigators, who have tried to speed up the review process by threatening them.
We speak constantly of incidents of torture. They say there is no smoke without fire. We are unfamiliar with the contents of the criminal investigative case file due to the nondisclosure agreement signed by all the defense lawyers. If our children have violated the law, they will answer to society to the full extent of the law. In the present circumstances, however, they are unable to answer to society. They answer to people who believe that physical violence, beatings, and electric shock torture can be legally used to make other people’s lives conform to the canons and stories that will get them new assignments and promotions.
It is impossible to defend the rights of our sons in the current circumstances. We cannot prove they were tortured. We have exhausted all the legal resources we have in Russia. But we, our sons, the Public Monitoring Commissions, reporters, civil rights activists, and politicians must and will go on fighting for the sake of one big goal: making the Russian legal and justice system more humane.
We call on Russian Federal Human Rights Ombusdman Tatyana Moskalkova, Mikhail Fedotov, chair of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, and Yevgeny Myslovsky, a member of the council, to visit the Penza Case suspects. You are our last hope for help in combating torture in Russia. This joint task is our primary responsibility to society.
As we face the inevitability of double-digit sentences for our sons, we hope that all of us will have someone whose example will inspire us. It will be not the people who tortured our sons. Then none of this would make any sense at all.
The lawyers of the Penza suspects in the Network case say their clients have reached out to Tatyana Moskalkova and Mikhail Fedotov, asking them to visit and requesting their help in investigating the incidents of torture. Moskalkova and Fedotov have not yet replied to their appeals, although in November a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights did visit the Petersburg suspects in the Network case.
Translated by the Russian Reader
What can you do to support the Penza and Petersburg antifascists and anarchists tortured and imprisoned by the FSB?
- Donate money to the Anarchist Black Cross via PayPal (email@example.com). Make sure to specify your donation is earmarked for “Rupression.”
- Spread the word about the Network Case aka the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case. You can find more information about the case and in-depth articles translated into English on this website (see below), rupression.com, and openDemocracyRussia.
- Organize solidarity events where you live to raise money and publicize the plight of the tortured Penza and Petersburg antifascists. Go to the website It’s Going Down to find printable posters and flyers you can download. You can also read more about the case there.
- If you have the time and means to design, produce, and sell solidarity merchandise, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Write letters and postcards to the prisoners. Letters and postcards must be written in Russian or translated into Russian. You can find the addresses of the prisoners here.
- Design a solidarity postcard that can be printed and used by others to send messages of support to the prisoners. Send your ideas to email@example.com.
- Write letters of support to the prisoners’ loved ones via firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Translate the articles and information at rupression.com and this website into languages other than Russian and English, and publish your translations on social media and your own websites and blogs.
- If you know someone famous, ask them to record a solidarity video, write an op-ed piece for a mainstream newspaper or write letters to the prisoners.
- If you know someone who is a print, internet, TV or radio journalist, encourage them to write an article or broadcast a report about the case. Write to email@example.com or the email listed on this website, and we will be happy to arrange interviews and provide additional information.
- It is extremely important this case break into the mainstream media both in Russia and abroad. Despite their apparent brashness, the FSB and their ilk do not like publicity. The more publicity the case receives, the safer our comrades will be in remand prison from violence at the hands of prison stooges and torture at the hands of the FSB, and the more likely the Russian authorities will be to drop the case altogether or release the defendants for time served if the case ever does go to trial.
- Why? Because the case is a complete frame-up, based on testimony obtained under torture and mental duress. When the complaints filed by the accused reach the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and are examined by actual judges, the Russian government will again be forced to pay heavy fines for its cruel mockery of justice.
If you have not been following the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case and other recent cases involving frame-ups, torture, and violent intimidation by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and other arms of the Russian police state, read and disseminate recent articles the Russian Reader has posted on these subjects.
- “Network Case Suspects Go on Hunger Strike,” 3 December 2018
- “Convoyed,” 31 October 2018
- “How the FSB Tortures Detainees: Stories of the Victims,” 28 October 2018
- “No Justice, No Peace: Petersburg’s Kangaroo Courts Revisited,” 21 October 2018
- “Shakursky and Pchelintsev Indicted for Organizing ‘Terrorist Community,’” 11 September 2018
- “Arman Sagynbayev: I Was Tortured by the FSB,” 8 September 2018
- “Yana Teplitskaya: Wonderland,” 6 September 2018
- “Network: Parents versus the FSB,” 2 August 2018
- “Is Maxim Shulgin an ‘Extremist’?” 26 July 2018
- “Moscow City Court Affirms Anna Pavlikova’s Remand in Custody,” 26 July 2018
- “Is Lydia Bainova an ‘Extremist’?” 24 July 2018
- “Anna Pavlikova: Enemy of the Putinist State?” 22 July 2018
- “A Funny Thing Happened in Pryamukhino,” 20 July 2018
- “Two More Suspects Detained in Network Case,” 6 July 2018
- “Petersburg Court Bailiffs Attack Reporter at Network Case Hearing,” 20 June 2018
- “Anna Tereshkina: At the Court Hearing,” 20 June 2018
- “Nikolai Boyarshinov: I Hope One Day We Can Say the FSB Has Been Banned,” 12 June 2018
- “Lemmy Kilmister vs. Vladimir Putin,” 19 May 2018
- “Brazil,” 18 May 2018
- “This Is What Antifascism Looks Like,” 13 May 2018
- “May Day in Petersburg: ‘Your Torture Won’t Kill Our Ideas,’” 2 May 2018
- “Riot Cops Raid Punk Rock in Barnaul: ‘Freaks, Not Patriots,” 29 April 2018
- “Hug Your Son and We’ll Open Fire,” 27 April 2018
- “Denis Lebedev’s Suicide Note,” 26 April 2018
- “‘Are You a Bitch Yet?’ FSB Makes New Threats to Framed and Tortured Antifascist Viktor Filinkov,” 26 April 2018
- “Suicide Invoice,” 25 April 2018
- “Zoya Svetova: Interview with Petersburg Public Monitoring Commission Members Yana Teplitskaya and Yekaterina Kosarevskaya,” 23 April 2018
- “TV Party Tonight!” 21 April 2018
- “Valery Pshenichny: Tortured, Then Murdered,” 19 April 2018
- “They Are Not Terrorists! The Terrorists at the FSB Torture People,” 16 April 2018
- “FSB and NTV Pressure Mother of Man Accused in ‘Terrorist’ Frame-Up,” 12 April 2018
- “A New Face in Hell: Yuli Boyarshinov,” 12 April 2018
- “Wife of Tortured Antifascist Seeks Asylum in Finland,” 11 April 2018
- “The FSB’s Tall Tales,” 10 April 2018
- “Families of Penza-Petersburg Terrorists Form Committee,” 9 April 2018
- “Extremism Inside Out,” 30 March 2018
- “Search and Intimidate,” 29 March 2018
- “Solidarity? (The Case of the Penza and Petersburg Antifascists),” 24 March 2018
- “Anna Tereshkina: At Viktor Filinkov’s Remand Extension Hearing,” 23 March 2018
- “Ping, Ping, Ping: The Remand Extension Hearing of the Penza ‘Terrorists,’” 20 March 2018
- “Tortured Petersburg Antifascist Viktor Filinkov Transferred to Remand Prison in Leningrad Region,” 17 March 2018
- “Svyatoslav Rechkalov: ‘They Proceeded to Pull Down My Trousers, Threatening to Shock Me in the Groin,’” 15 March 2018
- “They Jump on Anything That Moves, Part 3: The Case of the New Greatness Movement,” 15 March 2018
- “The Horrorshow Continues: Svyatoslav Rechkalov Tortured in Moscow,” 15 March 2018
- “The Rowdies Have to Be Apprehended Legally, So We Can Have a Celebration in the City on March 18, not Bedlam,” 15 March 2018
- “Ilya Kapustin: ‘When the Stamp Thudded in My Passport, It Was Like a Huge Weight Had Been Lifted from My Shoulders,’” 13 March 2018
- “Your Husband Safely Made the Flight to Minsk after We Abducted Him in Petersburg,” 2 March 2018
- “‘FSB Officers Always Get Their Way!’” 28 February 2018
- ‘The Case of the Anarchists: Disappearances, Torture, Frame-Up (11 AM, February 15, 2018, Moscow),” 14 February 2018
- “The Strange Investigation of a Strange Subway Attack,” 12 February 2018
- “Arrested Penza Antifascists Talk about Torture in Remand Prison,” 10 February 2018
- “Solidarity with Persecuted Russian Antifascists and Anarchists in NYC and Minneapolis,” 7 February 2018
- “Ilya Kapustin: ‘They Said They Could Break My Legs and Dump Me in the Woods,’” 31 January 2018
- “The Penza ‘Terrorism’ Case,” 30 January 2018
- “Breaking Bad with the FSB,” 29 January 2018
- “How ‘Stability’ Has Really Been Achieved in Russia,” 29 January 2018