Dmitry Pchelintsev and Andrei Chernov, residents of Penza and suspects
in the so-called Network case, have gone on hunger strike, claiming
remand prison officials and FSB officers have intimidated them during
their review of their criminal case file, something to which they are
entitled by Russian law. Several Penza suspects in the case have claimed
they have been put in solitary confinement, handcuffed to radiators, and
threatened with violance.
Pchelintsev and Chernov went on hunger strike on November 29, as
reported by the Parents Network, a support group established by the
mothers and fathers of the young men, who have been accused of
involvement in a “terrorist community” that, allegedly, was planning an
armed uprising during the March 2018 presidential election and 2018 FIFA
World Cup, held in Russia this past summer.
It was on November 29 that wardens put Pchelintsev in solitary,
demanding he admit to breaking the rules by talking with other inmates
during yard time. He responded by going on hunger strike, and Chernov
joined him as a token of support and solidarity. On November 30, wardens
again tried to bargain with Pchelintsev and threaten him.
The Parents Network notes that the pressure on their sons has increased
now that the suspects are officially reviewing the case file.
Lawyer Anatoly Vakhterov told the group that Network case suspect Ilya
Shakursky had been been visited by Penza Remand Prison Warden Oleg
Iskhanov, who asked him how quickly he was reviewing the file. On
November 20, immediately after the incident, Shakursky was reprimanded
for greeting other inmates during yard time. The alleged violation was
written up, and the same day Shakursky was issued a special uniform for
his upcoming stint in solitary confinement. He managed to avoid going
there by filing a complaint with Penza Regional Prosecutor Natalya
Earlier, Maxim Ivankin spent five days in solitary. This was proceeded
by a visit from Warden Iskhanov, who likewise asked Ivankin how quickly
he was reviewing the case file.
As the defense lawyers explained to the Parents Network, the suspects
had been reviewing the case file not only at the remand prison but also
at the local FSB office. Under Russian law, suspects may review case
files for up to eight hours a day. Allegedly, the Network suspects were
handcuffed to radiators and stairway railings the entire time. Vasily
Kuksov and Arman Sagynbayev were handcuffed to each other. As the
Parents Network has noted, the suspects not only experienced physical
discomfort but were also unable to examine the case file freely and take
Shakursky and Pchelintsev refused to go through the procedure in such
conditions. In turn, they were threatened with violence. According to
them, the man who threatened them was a certain A. Pyatachkov, who had
been involved in torturing them when they were initially detained in the
autumn of 2017.
Mikhail Kulkov said that after handcuffing him to the staircase, FSB
officers videotaped him. As they filmed him, they said, “Look at Network
terrorists reviewing the case file.”
The suspects requested their lawyers be present during the review.
Consequently, the authorities stopped taking them to the FSB office.
Currently, all case file materials are brought directly to the remand
Vasily Kuksov and Dmitry Pchelintsev in court. Photo courtesy of
Rupression and OVD Info
“Obviously, all these measures are methods of mental and physical
violence,” argues Vakterov. “There are signs that the group of FSB
investigators, led by Senior Investigator Valery Tokarev, have been
putting pressure on the suspects. Why? To speed up the review process
and make it impossible to verify the complaints of torture made by the
suspects. They want to intimidate the lads, who are fighting back any
way they can under the circumstances.”
These events have spurred the Parents Network to issue a communique,
which we publish here in an abridged version.
We, the parents of the suspects in the Penza Case, bear witness to the
numerous violations suffered by our children during their review of the
To avoid allowing the time necessary to investigate the claims made by
our sons that they were tortured by FSB officers, the group of
investigators, led by Valery Tokarev, has done everything possible to
speed up the process of reviewing the Network case file. To this end,
the investigators have engaged in daily acts of emotional and physical
violence against the suspects, to wit:
Our sons have been prevented from reviewing the case file with their
lawyers present. When they have attempted to refuse lawfully to review
the case file, they have been subjected to physical preventive measures:
they have been handcuffed to whatever metal structures came to hand and
handcuffed to each other. During the review of the case file, at least
one hand of each suspect has been handcuffed. These actions have
prevented them from concentrating on reading the file and thoughtfully
preparing to defend their rights in court. This testifies to the fact
that investigators have doubts about the case, and so they would like to
hand it over to the court as quickly as possible.
FSB field officers who were involved in torturing our sons have been
among the people allowed to be present during the investigative case
file review. They have been brought to the review to exert pressure on
our children. The FSB officers in question have threatened them with
physical violence if they refuse to continue with the case file review.
The point of their actions is to speed up the review process, intimidate
the suspects, and interfere with a potential investigation of the acts
of torture they perpetrated.
Our demands that a lawyer be present during the proceedings and that the
act of reviewing the case file not be hindered by handcuffing the hands
of the suspects to tables, chairs, radiators, and stairways have led to
our children being placed in solitary confinement, where they have once
again been visited by FSB officers and investigators, who have tried to
speed up the review process by threatening them.
We speak constantly of incidents of torture. They say there is no smoke
without fire. We are unfamiliar with the contents of the criminal
investigative case file due to the nondisclosure agreement signed by all
the defense lawyers. If our children have violated the law, they will
answer to society to the full extent of the law. In the present
circumstances, however, they are unable to answer to society. They
answer to people who believe that physical violence, beatings, and
electric shock torture can be legally used to make other people’s lives
conform to the canons and stories that will get them new assignments and
It is impossible to defend the rights of our sons in the current
circumstances. We cannot prove they were tortured. We have exhausted all
the legal resources we have in Russia. But we, our sons, the Public
Monitoring Commissions, reporters, civil rights activists, and
politicians must and will go on fighting for the sake of one big goal:
making the Russian legal and justice system more humane.
We call on Russian Federal Human Rights Ombusdman Tatyana Moskalkova,
Mikhail Fedotov, chair of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and
Human Rights, and Yevgeny Myslovsky, a member of the council, to visit
the Penza Case suspects. You are our last hope for help in combating
torture in Russia. This joint task is our primary responsibility to society.
As we face the inevitability of double-digit sentences for our sons, we
hope that all of us will have someone whose example will inspire us. It
will be not the people who tortured our sons. Then none of this would
make any sense at all.
The lawyers of the Penza suspects in the Network case say their clients
have reached out to Tatyana Moskalkova and Mikhail Fedotov, asking them
to visit and requesting their help in investigating the incidents of
torture. Moskalkova and Fedotov have not yet replied to their appeals,
although in November a member of the Presidential Council for Civil
Society and Human Rights did visit the Petersburg suspects in the
Translated by the Russian Reader
What can you do to support the Penza and Petersburg antifascists and
anarchists tortured and imprisoned by the FSB?
Donate money to the Anarchist Black Cross via PayPal
([email protected]). Make sure to specify your donation is earmarked
Spread the word about the Network Case aka the Penza-Petersburg
“terrorism” case. You can find more information about the case and
in-depth articles translated into English on this website (see below),
rupression.com, and openDemocracyRussia.
Organize solidarity events where you live to raise money and publicize
the plight of the tortured Penza and Petersburg antifascists. Go to the
website It’s Going Down to find printable posters and flyers you can
download. You can also read more about the case there.
If you have the time and means to design, produce, and sell solidarity
merchandise, please write to [email protected].
Write letters and postcards to the prisoners. Letters and postcards must
be written in Russian or translated into Russian. You can find the
addresses of the prisoners here.
Design a solidarity postcard that can be printed and used by others to
send messages of support to the prisoners. Send your ideas to
Write letters of support to the prisoners’ loved ones via
Translate the articles and information at rupression.com and this
website into languages other than Russian and English, and publish your
translations on social media and your own websites and blogs.
If you know someone famous, ask them to record a solidarity video, write
an op-ed piece for a mainstream newspaper or write letters to the prisoners.
If you know someone who is a print, internet, TV or radio journalist,
encourage them to write an article or broadcast a report about the case.
Write to [email protected] or the email listed on this website,
and we will be happy to arrange interviews and provide additional
It is extremely important this case break into the mainstream media both
in Russia and abroad. Despite their apparent brashness, the FSB and
their ilk do not like publicity. The more publicity the case receives,
the safer our comrades will be in remand prison from violence at the
hands of prison stooges and torture at the hands of the FSB, and the
more likely the Russian authorities will be to drop the case altogether
or release the defendants for time served if the case ever does go to trial.
Why? Because the case is a complete frame-up, based on testimony
obtained under torture and mental duress. When the complaints filed by
the accused reach the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and
are examined by actual judges, the Russian government will again be
forced to pay heavy fines for its cruel mockery of justice.
December 2, 2018