Grigory Pasko: Committee for Support of Khodorkovsky Operating in Chita

Committee for Support of Khodorkovsky Operating in Chita By Grigory Pasko, journalist Marina Savvateyeva is the chairperson of the Center for Support of Civic Initiatives of the city of Chita. She is also deputy chairperson of the Committee for Support of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This committee was founded in 2005. The newspaper “Znay”, the news bulletin of the Trans-Baikal Civic Union, published an announcement on the founding of the committee in November 2005. It says, it part: “Mikhail Khodorkovsky became a prisoner of the Trans-Baikal colony IK-10 because he openly criticized today’s political regime… The power has always considered the Trans-Baikal region a land of imprisonment at hard labor and of deportation… The destinies of many of Russia’s best people, who became victims of political repressions, are closely connected with the history of the Trans-Baikal region – from the Decembrists to the victims of Stalinism… We are creating our public committee to express our support for the civic position of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who became a victim of direct political pressure and the absence in our country of an independent judicial system…” komitet.jpg Photo of Marina Savvateyeva (L) and Tatiana Maltseva (R), members of the committee for support of M. Khodorkovsky, by Grigory Pasko I met with Marina in Chita right after yet another court session at which the question of the supposedly unlawful participation by Marina and her committee colleagues in a picket in support of Khodorkovsky (right after the new charges had been filed against him on February 5 of this year) was being considered. Marina Savvateyeva had lodged a complaint with the court, asking it to rule that the prohibition on conducting the picket had been illegal, and requesting the court to oblige the city administration to approve the conducting of a picket the following Saturday. The court has yet to adopt a final decision, apparently because it’s not that easy to rule that blatant lawlessness is legal: the city administration had no grounds whatsoever to prohibit the picket and arrest its participants. Here is the latest answer to come from the city administration of Chita [in all its untarnished bureaucratic glory—Trans.]: “…To the point of your application on picketing I inform about the impossibility of conducting the given undertaking in the place and time announced by you in connection with information addressed to us that has been received about special measures being conducted on 5 March of the year 2007 by law enforcement organs with respect to persons suspected of and charged with the commission of crimes on the territory adjacent to the square named after V.I. Lenin”, signed, Deputy Mayor of Chita A.I. Glushchenko. ploshchad.jpg Photo of square named after Lenin in the center of Chita by Grigory Pasko I can understand the desire of a bureaucrat to justify the unlawful actions of the law enforcement organs. But why does he need to violate the law himself in the process? Pursuant to Article 12 of the Law “On Operative-and-Detection Activities”, information about the organization and tactics of conducting operative-and-detection activities [roughly “police work” in Russian—Rough Trans.] is classified as a state secret. But Glushchenko’s letter indicates the kind of operative activity (“special”), its character (“with respect to [certain] persons”), its time (“5 March 2007”), and its place (“the square named after V.I. Lenin”). Maybe this is why the court, having considered the arguments of the prosecution and of the defense of the picket participants, came to the conclusion that the trial needs to be postponed until better times. Also postponed was consideration of the question about the participation in the picket of the former priest Father Sergiy, who was defrocked for his “calumnious” ties with Khodorkovsky: Sergey Mikhailovich Taratukhin had spoken with Mikhail Borisovich in the Krasnokamensk penal colony, which served to give rise to conflicts with the diocese. Marina Savvateyeva told about the forms of the committee’s work. The work has gotten stronger in the past year. Oleg Kuznetsov, a scholar-anthropologist, who heads the committee for support of Khodorkovsky, conducted many meetings with journalists. The committee members have participated in pickets, met with inhabitants of the city and the Kray and clarified to them what Khodorkovsky was locked up for in actuality. It is noteworthy that the makeup of the committee includes not only lawyers – Yevgeny Anisimov, Irina Zaborovskaya, Igor Linnik, Vitaly Cherkasov – but also entrepreneurs – Andrey Zhidkov, Alexander Luchankin. Of course, the local power does everything to hinder the activities of the committee. But it seems the enthusiasts aren’t giving up.