Boris Kagarlitsky

The Russian state has jailed socialist and anti-war activist Boris Kagarlitsky for five years.

Kagarlitsky was arrested for “justifying terrorism” in July last year. His real offence is to be a staunch opponent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He argues that “most of the motives for the war in 2022 were purely domestic. It was an attempt to restore the shattered support for the regime in the face of mounting social and economic crisis.”

The regime of Vladimir Putin responded by branding Kagarlitsky as a “foreign agent” and followed it up with a terrorism charge.

After a global campaign reflecting his worldwide reputation as a writer and critic of capitalism and imperialism, his trial ended in December with a guilty verdict and a fine of 609,000 roubles (£5,110)—but no time in prison. 

The prosecution then appealed against the fine as “unjust due to its excessive leniency” and claimed falsely that Kagarlitsky was unable to pay the fine and had failed to cooperate with the court. 

In fact, he had paid the fine in full and provided the court with everything it requested.

On 13 February a military court of appeal sent him to prison for five years and banned him from running a website for two years after his release.

The Boris Kagarlitsky International Solidarity Campaign said, “The reversal of the original court decision is a deliberate insult to the many thousands of activists, academics, and artists around the world who respect Dr Kagarlitsky and took part in the global campaign for his release. 

““The section of Russian law used against Dr Kagarlitsky effectively prohibits free expression. The decision to replace the fine with imprisonment was made under a completely trumped-up pretext. Undoubtedly, the court’s action represents an attempt to silence criticism in the Russian Federation of the government’s war in Ukraine, which is turning the country into a prison.”

And the campaign links Kagarlitsky’s fate to wider attacks. It said, “The sham trial of Dr Kagarlitsky is the latest in a wave of brutal repression against the left wing movements in Russia. 

“Organisations that have consistently criticised imperialism, Western and otherwise, are now under direct attack, many of them banned. Dozens of activists are already serving long terms simply because they disagree with the policies of the Russian government and have the courage to speak up. 

“Many of them are tortured and subjected to life-threatening conditions in Russian penal colonies, deprived of basic medical care. Left-wing politicians are forced to flee Russia, facing criminal charges. International trade unions such as IndustriALL and the International Transport Federation are banned and any contact with them will result in long prison sentences.

“There is a clear reason for this crackdown on the Russian left. The heavy toll of the war gives rise to growing discontent among the mass of working people. The poor pay for this massacre with their lives and wellbeing, and opposition to war is consistently highest among the poorest. The left has the message and resolve to expose the connection between imperialist war and human suffering.”

The campaign has launched a petition to demand that Boris Kagarlitsky and all other anti-war prisoners be released immediately and unconditionally.

Every trade unionist and campaigner should sign it and raise Kagarlitsky’s case inside the structures of their organisations.

Sign the petition at tinyurl.com/FreeBorisK0324

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