Public Events in Memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova
On January 19, 2020, people of Russia engaged in various events to commemorate the murders of Russian human rights lawyer, Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, in several cities.
In the capital city of Moscow, a traditional march took place. As every year, the event was organized by the Committee of January 19th – a non-political, informal association of civil society activists. Apart from the usual and expected participants – representatives of left-wing and anti-fascist youth associations, LGBT activists, feminists, human rights defenders and journalists – the event also saw involvement of mothers of the victims of politically motivated prosecutions and those who wished to protect and uphold the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Apart from Moscow, several other cities also saw active engagement by the citizens in various forms of protest action on this day. In Penza, there were two mass pickets – one, organized by the youth organization “Generation of the New Era” (PNV) on Dzerzhinsky Square and the other by the local Komsomol (LKSM) at the site of the national monument to the Fighters of the Revolution. In St. Petersburg the RSD (Russian Socialist Movement) organized a picket line, bringing people together under the slogan of “Solidarity is stronger than repression.” The RSD also organized picket lines in Izhevsk (under the slogan “No to Torture! No to repression!”) and Yekaterinburg. Barnaul saw activists distributing pamphlets of the Committee of January 19th to the residents and in Samara and Tyumen they laid down flowers at the monument “A Soldier of Victory” and “Fighters of the Revolution”, respectively.
In Moscow, the estimates provided by the observers of SOVA Center, showed that close to a 1000 people partook in the action approved by the authorities which is a significant increase from the previous year (“Bely Schyotchik” (White Counter) observers who monitor the attendance at public rallies estimated the number of participants to be 1420 inclusive of journalists covering the march and law enforcement officers in civil clothes). The higher turnout can be attributed to the call from one of Moscow’s municipal councils’ member, Yulia Galyamina, for all those who opposed the amendments to the Constitution of Russia to join the march.
The demonstrators carried pictures of Markelov and Baburova and displayed banners of the Committee of January 19th and other participating organizations. The protesters chanted a variety of slogans against fascism and the proposed constitutional reforms. They demanded the release of political prisoners, including those involved in the Moscow case, the cases of "Set” (Network) and “Novoe Velichie” (New Glory), Azat Miftakhov, transgender woman Michelle, activist Julia Tsvetkova, Khachaturyan sisters, etc. Two people in the crowd were playing tambourines. Participants marched along Tverskoy, Nikitsky and Gogolevsky boulevards and laid flowers on the site of murders of Markelov and Baburova in Prechistenka street.
According to OVD-Info monitoring, nine people inclusive of five minors were detained during the march. Konstantin Fokin who held the poster “Putin, go away!”, was arrested at the beginning of the march for sitting on the pavement and refusing to get up. Eight people (Dmitry Yartsev, Alexander Kaprilov and Marina Fadeyev who were adults and five minors) were detained on Gogolevsky Boulevard. Some of the detainees carried posters against the persecution of LGBT activists.
The procession was followed by the representatives of National Liberation Movement (NOD) in garrison caps and camouflage uniforms, singing patriotic songs and chanting pro-Putin slogans. At the end of the march members of NOD stopped at the entrance of metro station Kropotkinskaya and continued their chants there.
Several members of far-right also attended the event. According to the organizers at least six ultra-right were detained by the police at the beginning of the procession (details were not reported); two more allegedly associated with the nationalist Association of National Resistance (ANS) walked in the procession and chanted slogans in support of the neo-Nazi Black Bloc; at least three more represented the National Conservative Movement (NKD). The ultra-right activists took videos of the peaceful march, commented on the slogans and expressed indignation at the symbols displayed during the march (such as Russian Imperial flag crossed-out and the rainbow flag). One of them wore a T-shirt with the inscription “White and Proud” and an image of heavy boots with bloodied toe caps which he showed to the cameras. Despite this aggressive message there were no clashes reported during the march.
The day also received international attention with rallies being organized in Kiev and Lviv in Ukraine. In Kiev, the Anarchist Committee of January 19th organized a rally on Mikhailovskaya square. As the year before, the event was attended by the far-right. Several young people stood raising their hands in the Nazi-salute and some other with faces covered in scarves tried to attack the participants of the rally, as a result of which 11 were detained for trying to attack the protestors.