Limonov’s next move: organize Russia’s ex-cons
Russian summer is short and unpredictable. The only thing that is predictable about Russian summer is that it is short. Usually, the month of May is cold, July is hot and August looks like an autumn month. In 2008, the months of May and June were cold and this half of July was rainy and cold. Shitty climate, shitty weather, only the girls are pretty in Russia.
Russian politics are dozing in cold summer. The only exception—Russian quarrel with Georgia. Maybe it will end with an exotic little war in the Caucasian Mountains. I dream that just as poet Lermontov, I will sing the exploits of Russian army officers in subtropical surroundings.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin keeps a low profile, he is busy with building infrastructure for the Winter Olympic Games near Sochi. When I was a teenager half a century ago, I used to work in that very region near Sochi and Krasnaya Polyana, where Putin now is busy with killing off nature. Half a century ago, I had escaped from my parents’ home in Kharkov and was seated on the beach at Sochi bus station. I was approached by Georgian middle-aged traveler, who fed me (thanks to him!) and proposed me to go to the region of Krasnaya Polyana, where I could work at a tea plantation. A starving teenager, I accepted his proposition. That is how I found myself working deep in a subtropical forest clearing mountain slopes of trees, so that other workers could plant a Georgian tea there. Forest clearing proved to be a difficult work, really tough work, you know, so after a few weeks of slavery I escaped. Through jungles of vegetation I found my myself to the nearby town, Adler. I was pursued by plantation guards with savage Karabakh’s dogs. But I managed to avoid them.
And now Vladimir Putin is busy putting concrete everywhere in those subtropical mountains. He will put concrete on the exclusive vegetation, over beautiful landscapes. He will forever destroy that unique world. There is plenty of mountains in Siberia, strong, great, awful mountains that can suit Winter Olympic Games. Why destroy the land of my personal memories, prime minister Putin?
President Dmitri Medvedev also keeps low profile. Nothing spectacular was said by him at the G-8 summit in Japan. George Bush have named Medvedev a “smart guy,” but what Medvedev have said about George Bush we don’t know. Maybe he said, “Smart George!” or simply “Oh, George!” Russians are secretly admiring the Yankees, they really wish to behave themselves somewhat as Yankees behave in Iraq. To be bloody and careless masters of the universe. But now is not our best time. Yes, yes, biggest part of Russian anti-Americanism is made of envy and jealousy. Of jealousy and of envy.
On July 3, my closest collaborator, Natzbol Vladimir Linderman (Abel) was acquitted by District Court of Riga and set free. The court of Riga decided that explosives found in his apartment in his armchair were planted there by police who “found them” in November 2002, a few days after Vladimir spoke as witness at my trial in Saratov. Explosives served as a punishment for his testimony at my trial, what led to my partial acquittal. Collaboration of secret services of Latvia and Russia was destroyed by independent position of Riga’s district court. That is good. That was the first time when a Nazbol was acquitted. Not in Russia, but in Riga, Latvia.
On July 6, about a hundred former political prisoners, mainly Nazbols gathered at the hall of hotel Ismailovo, corpus Alpha, for the First Congress of Political Prisoners. The date and place of the gathering was kept secret until the last minute. We also invited some guests: lawyer and ex-prisoner Michael Trepashkin was there as well as lawyer Sergei Beliak. Some human rights activists ignored the gathering, however. Namely it is was Sergei Kovalev and he may have been motivated by some jealousy because their monopoly over issues of prisoners rights was broken on July 6. We have founded organization called Union of Prisoners, which will gather, not only political prisoners, but will defend the rights of all prisoners and ex-prisoners.
Also, I announced my proposition to establish the Day of Prisoner on September 14. We have here in Russia celebrations such as the Day of the Frontiers Guards and Day of Dessantnik (special airborne commandos), so why don’t we start a tradition of gathering ex-prisoners every year? Almost every family in Russia have someone who passed through the prisons and camps. I portrayed vividly to the congress as, on September 14 near Gorky Park, small and big groups of ex-prisoners will gather around some placards with simple words written on then: Butirskaya Prison, Lefortovo, Matrosskaya Tishyna, Presnenskaya Prison, Women’s Prison N. 6, etc. As about a million people stay behind bars in Russia at any given time, this movement could become a strong movement. Union of Prisoners—strongest union in all of country, dangerous for Government because those who went through Russian prisons are very tough and hard people. I got the idea for Day of Prisoner at the end of 2002, when I was held in Saratovski Central.
These guys can’t wait to party together on the outside…
On July 10, two of seven of my comrades, sentenced for defending me in April 2006 near Tagansky Court were set free. Elena Borovskaya and Aleksei Makarov. The sun was shining, day was beautiful. Aleksei was set free from Butirskaya Prison really early in the morning, Elena in late afternoon. After spending a few hours with his family, Aleksei was able to arrive at Women’s Prison N. 6, where he was happily met by Nazbols and joined us in our ritual screaming: “Yes, to death!” (It does not mean that we want to kill somebody, but it is only the statement of our determination to struggle for our political ideas even to the death.) Aleksei wasn’t yet 18 when he was arrested two years ago. He grew greatly in prison.
When Elena finally emerged out of the prison gates, we, Nazbols, were surrounded by at least a dozen police cars and one hundred police officers. However, it did not spoil our joy. I handed to Elena red roses. We will celebrate the Day of Prisoners on September 14.
Edward Limonov co-heads the Other Russia opposition coalition along with Garry Kasparov. He contributed this article to The eXiled.
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