Sergei Davidis: "The suppression of freedoms within Russia is a necessary prerequisite (and guarantee) for the regime’s brutal military adventures overseas"

posted 15 Dec 2016, 03:50 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Dec 2016, 03:56 ]
"As the situation in Aleppo deteriorated in November 2016, a small opposition group, the 5 December Party, called for protests against the mass murder of Syrian civilians and the destruction of their schools and hospitals by Russian and Syrian armed forces. Demonstrations were held across Russia on 20 November, in an important attempt to get the message to Russian citizens that serious war crimes were being committed in their name and at their expense. The initiative was supported by a number of civic organisations, and received attention from the Russian press and on social media. Anti-war protests were also held in Kirov, Saratov, Stavropol, Rostov and Voronezh, albeit with little resonance. In Moscow, where you can rely on the prospect of publicity, our initiative encountered opposition from the authorities. Not only did Moscow’s municipal authorities bar us from protesting in the city, but didn’t offer an alternative location instead — in direct violation of the law. After great persistence, the organisers of the event managed to bring the case to the courts. Yet the courts only bothered to rule on the case a fortnight after the proposed date for the protest, and not until two weeks before it (as the law mandates). Naturally, they found no legal violations in the municipality’s actions. Although the organisers intend to get justice at the European Court of Human Rights, it’s obvious that, in practice, holding a demonstration against the policy of the Russian state is impossible if that selfsame state doesn’t consider it possible to permit it. This particular attempt to protest the deaths of Syrian civilians demonstrates a fact that has long been clear: the suppression of freedoms within Russia is a necessary prerequisite (and guarantee) for the regime’s brutal military adventures overseas. Russians’ seeming indifference to war crimes in Syria is due, among other things, to their own inability to speak out publicly against them. Meanwhile, Aleppo burns."

- Sergei Davidis, member of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre and a member of the Federal Coordination Council of the 5th of December Party.

Source:
Sergei Davidis, 'Why aren’t Russians protesting against war crimes in Syria?' Open Democracy, 14 December 2016
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