[Marxism] "Decent people rub Prince Lemon the wrong way": Alexandra Dukhanina-Naumova's Closing Statement at the Bolotnaya Square Trial in Moscow

Thomas Campbell avvakum at gmail.com
Thu Feb 6 02:55:00 MST 2014


Alexandra Naumova (née Dukhanina), born 1993, was the first person to be
arrested in the Bolotnaya Square case, instigated by the Russian
authorities after a sanctioned opposition march in downtown Moscow on May
6, 2012, the day before President Putin's re-inauguration, ended in clashes
with police. Dukhanina-Naumova was detained at the Occupy Arbat protest
camp in Moscow in late May 2012 and has been under house arrest since that

Dukhanina-Naumova and her co-defendants Sergei Krivov, Alexei Polikhovich,
Artyom Savyolov, Denis Lutskevich, Andrei Barabanov, Stepan Zimin and
Yaroslav Belousov are charged with involvement in mass riots and assaulting
police officers. At the January 22, 2014, hearing in the case, prosecutors
asked the presiding judge, Natalya Nikishina, to sentence each of them to
between five and six years in prison.

Dukhanina-Naumova is specifically accused of throwing chunks of asphalt,
one of which, allegedly, struck a police officer, slightly bruising him,
and splashing a soft drink (kvass) from a liter-size bottle.

A photograph of a riot cop dragging Dukhanina-Naumova away by the neck on
May 6, 2012, taken by famed opposition blogger and photographer Rustem
Adagamov (aka Drugoi), himself now in exile, has become, perhaps, the most
famous image of the "riots" that took place in Moscow that day. Many
opposition activists and independent observers have claimed that what
happened was in fact a provocation on the part of the authorities aimed at
demoralizing the opposition and selectively punishing those who had tried
to spoil Putin's repeat "coronation" by publicly protesting.

Before her arrest, Dukhanina-Naumova was a student at Moscow State
University, where she majored in translation and interpretation. An
anarchist, she had been involved in such causes as the defense of the
Tsagovsky Forest, near Moscow, and Food Not Bombs.

On December 19, 2013, four other defendants in the case, Maria Baronova,
Vladimir Akimenkov, Nikolai Kavkazsky and Leonid Kovyazin, were released
under an "amnesty" that has been regarded by many as a gesture meant to
defuse domestic and foreign criticism of the Putin regime's concerted
attacks on human and civil rights, NGOs, gays and lesbians, migrant
workers, and opposition activists.

In any case, this amnesty did not fool the several thousand people who
marched in Moscow on February 2, 2014, demanding the release of
Dukhanina-Naumova and the other Bolotnaya Square defendants.

Dukhanina-Naumova made the closing statement, below, during the final
hearing in the trial, on February 5, 2014, in Moscow.

After Dukhanina-Naumova and her co-defendants had finished making their
closing statements, Judge Nikishina announced she would read out the
verdict in the trial on February 21, 2014. This is two days before the end
of the Sochi Olympics, President Putin's wildly expensive showcase of his
personal triumph over man, nature, and budgetary common sense.


Closing Statement by Alexandra Dukhanina-Naumova at the Bolotnaya Square
Trial, Zamoskovoretsky District Court, Moscow, February 5, 2014

At first I thought that this whole trial was a crazy mistake, the result of
some mix-up. Now, after hearing the prosecutor's speeches, and considering
the length of the prison terms they are asking for us [Bolotnaya Square
defendants], I'm starting to see that what the authorities want is revenge.
They want revenge because we were there and saw how things really were. We
witnessed who instigated the stampede, how people were beaten, and the
unjustified violence. They are getting revenge on us for not bowing down to
them and repenting for our nonexistent crimes, neither during
interrogations nor here, in the courtroom. They are also avenging me for
not helping them further their lies, for refusing to answer their questions.

These are serious crimes that carry a penalty of six years in a penal
colony. There is no one else who has earned such a severe punishment, just
us. They're afraid of the real criminals--they imprison the strangers who
get in their way while they wouldn't lift a finger against their own. It is
up to you, Your Honor, to decide whether to pay for furthering their
happiness--promotions, stars, and medals--with our lives.

Why six years? What are these "no fewer than eight targeted throws" I
supposedly dealt? Where did they come from? Whom was I aiming and whom did
I hit? Eight different police officers? Or did I hit the two men they've
painted as the victims eight times? If so, how many times did I hit each of
them? Where are the answers to these questions? Isn't it up to them to
describe the attack in detail and prove their case before putting me in
prison? After all, this isn't fun and games; it's six years of my life at
stake. Otherwise, it isn't even lies, but mendacious demagoguery
unsupported by facts, a game played with a human life in the balance. And
if they had 188 videos and not eight, would they allege that there were 188

You've seen the two riot police officers who were my so-called victims.
Each one of them is two or three times my size, and on top of that, they
were in body armor. One of them felt nothing, and the second one was not
injured by me at all and has no grievances. Is this the "rioting" and
"violence" that have earned me six years of incarceration?

I almost forgot about the kvass. The bottle alone gets me five years, and
the eight targeted blows get me the last one. At least let them say so,
that way at least I'll know the price of kvass. They should also tell me
where my "mass rioting" ends and my "violence toward the authorities"
begins. What's the difference between the two? I still haven't understood
the charges against me: what did I burn? What pogroms? What destruction of
public property? What does any of this have to do with me? What did I blow
up? What did I set on fire? What did I destroy? Whom did I conspire with?
What's the evidence? Am I getting four years in accordance with Article 212
just for being there? Is my mere presence at what began as a peaceful
demonstration the "rioting" that I was involved in? All I did was show up.

Take a look at these people. They're not murders, thieves or con artists.
Putting us all in prison is not only unjust, it's criminal.

Many people have given me the opportunity to repent, apologize, say what
the investigators want me to say, but you know, I don't find it necessary
to repent, let alone apologize, to these people. In our country, it's
widely accepted that they are absolutely untouchable despite the well-known
cases of their involvement in drug trafficking, prostitution, and rape.
Just a few days ago, that happened in the Lipetsk Region.

The narrative of the charges pinned on us isn't just funny; it is absurd
and based solely on the testimony of the riot police officers. What does
this mean, that if a person has epaulettes they're a priori honest and holy?

Your Honor, in the course of the past eight months of this trial, you've
received such substantial evidence of our innocence that if you send us all
to the camps, you will be ruining our lives and futures for nothing.

Is the government really so determined to make an example of us that it is
willing to take this step? Letting a pencil pusher, rapist or policeman off
for [inaudible] is a matter of course: they're untouchable, one of your
own. We, on the other hand, can handle a prison term. Who are we, after
all, we're not even rich? For some reason, I am convinced that even in
prison I will still be more free than any of them because my conscience
will be clear, while those who remain on the outside continuing their
so-called protection of law, order, and freedom will live in an unbreakable
cage with their accomplices.

I can admit to making a mistake. If I were truthfully presented with facts
and it were demonstrated to me that I had done something illegal, I would
confess to it. However, no one has done any such thing: all I've witnessed
are lies and brute force. You can suffocate someone with force, drag them
[inaudible] and all of this has already been done to me. But lies and
violence can't prove anything. Thus, no one has proven my guilt. I am sure
that I am right and that I am innocent.

I'd like to close with a quote from Gianni Rodari's Cipollino:

"My poor father! They've thrown you in the pen with thieves and bandits."

"Hey now, son," his father tenderly interrupted him. "Prison is chock full
of honest people!"

"Why are they in prison? What have they done wrong?"

"Absolutely nothing, son. That's why they're in here. Decent people rub
Prince Lemon the wrong way."

"So getting in prison is a great honor?" he asked.

"That's how it seems. Prisons are built for people who steal and kill, but
in Prince Lemon's kingdom, it's all topsy-turvy. The thieves and murderers
are in his palace, while honest citizens fill the prisons."

Translated by Bela Shayevich

Originally published, in Russian, on Grani.Ru

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