Dmitry Buchenkov, PhD in political sciences, antifascist, anarchist and boxing coach, has been under arrest for already more than three months in “Vodnik” remand prison. Investigators suspect him of participating in the riots of May 6, 2012 at Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. The absurdity of the accusation against Dmitry Buchenkov is quite evident: he had been in Nizhny Novgorod on that day, more than 300 km away from Moscow, but he was arrested anyway despite the alibi.
Dmitry Buchenkov, 36, born in Nizhny Novgorod lecturer of history and political science, PhD in political science, associate professor, worked as Deputy Chairman of the Medicine History and Socio-Humanitarian Science Department in the Russian National Research Medical University named after N.I.Pirogov in Moscow.
Dmitry has been a member of an anarchist organisation “Autonomous Action since 2002. This is how the PhD in political science describes the ideology he shares in a book entitled “Anarchists in the late XX century in Russia” published in 2009: «Basic worldview values of anarchism (self-management, self-organisation, anticapitalism) are still relevant today».
Dmitry actively participated in organising efforts and life of the antifascist and anarchist movements in Moscow. He organised many street antifascist protest actions, different cultural events. He took part in the establishment of an antifascist centre called «V project», where antifascists and anarchists held their gigs, meetings, and prepared their actions. Police and FSB more than once threatened to attack Dmitry physically for his political activities.
Dmitry Buchenkov had planned to organise an all-Russian antifascist and anarchist forum “Self-management and Libertarian Communism” in early 2016, but he was arrested. On December 2, 2015, early in the morning, police searched both apartments where Dmitry could have been finding himself: an apartment where he lived in Moscow with his girlfriend Anya and her child, and his parents’ place in Nizhny Novgorod.
The parents weren’t told anything about his arrest. They learnt about his arrest only afterwards from mass media. Buchenkov’s girlfriend said he was not allowed to make a phone call or told the official investigator’s name.
The Central Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia accused Buchenkov of the following: participation in civil disorder (art. 212 of the Criminal Code of Russia) and acts of violence against representatives of state authorities (art. 318 of the Criminal Code of Russia) during clashes at Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012. On December 3, 2015, Buchenkov was brought to court and sent to a remand prison as a result of the hearings.
In the end of January 2016 the term of Dmitry Buschenkov’s detention was extended to June 2016.
How do you spend your day in prison?
It’s like a “groundhog day”. Wakeup, breakfast, investigative actions, open air, lunch, investigative actions, open air, dinner… Everything in accordance with the schedule, which is tiresome, but there is some time for rest. I am usually reading when I have spare time. I have not read any fiction for the last six years, and here I’ve read five books already. Of course I am lacking scientific literature. I could have written my second dissertation while I’m in.
When it’s open air time I am trying to remember all exercises I used to do although I don’t manage to do all of them as there is no gym equipment. Nevertheless, one can keep fit here. All in all, I’m OK. I fell ill a little in January, when I had to participate in “investigative actions”, but now I’m much better.
Getting ill in prison is very unlucky, I would not wish it on anyone. You would not get any medical aid, so it’s best to stay in good health.
How difficult are conditions in the remand prison?
Can’t say much about conditions as everything is censored here. I can only say that I’m behaving myself to maintain basic human relations. I don’t eat as well as in a restaurant here, but prison food is OK, it feeds you well. However surviving solely on prison food would be hard, so I’m very grateful to people who help me, send me parcels – this is very important and actually helpful.
We don’t have access to information in the cell, no press, and TV shows only state channels, we also have this horrible «Russian Radio» – a real shame to the Russian culture. We are getting only little news about what happens outside.russiaac
Massive propaganda on television is driving me nuts. Russian media are dispersing thinly veiled fascist and xenophobic sentiments. TV presenters saying stuff like «tolerant Europe is suffocating», «migrants kill and rape women», «European values system has crashed» can’t even hide their jeering. They state triumphantly: «this is what we warned about», «Europe is about to fall», «while in Russia even Amur the tiger and Timur the goat live in peace».
The ruling class controlling the media is pursuing its anti-European agenda in its propaganda. Growing patriotism is very important in conditions of crisis. At the same time many representatives of the ruling class, their relatives have double citizenships, European and American passports.
The main message is quite simple. Our population should believe that: «all is good in Russia, while all is bad in Europe». It doesn’t matter that the living standards are higher in Europe than in Russia. This is reflected in objective sociological surveys. Propaganda is primitive, simplistic and deceitful.
For many your case is an example of absurdity. How do you live through it?
It’s only when you are outside that my case looks so absurd – «an innocent man imprisoned». In reality for our country my case is rather logical, moreover, it’s a part of common practice. Everything that happened to me is only convincing me even more that I chose a right way and that my convictions are correct.
In such situation one should not just wait for release, one should live one’s life in prison. Can’t do it otherwise. Staying inside, I realise that it’s not about my person. The problem is the entire system to which nothing can be opposed so far.
Did you know that you could be arrested or the visit from police agents was a total surprise?
A-Russian-woman-holds-an–007I did not know I would be arrested, but I supposed that it was possible. Around one year before my arrest I started dreaming about the so called «law enforcement authorities» in my sleep. Perhaps I should have paid attention to my insight, my subconsciousness.
I knew that logically they could not “lock” me in remand prison, I was innocent and I was not present at Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012, police knew it. Social experience and political knowledge were telling me that I would be imprisoned against all logics. Fist I was pissed off with their atrocious insolence, but then I got used to it.
I acquired one very important thing inside here — a profound hatred against the modern state system and class society. It is an extremely useful acquisition for a revolutionary. I want to say, I did feel something like that before, but it was purely logical.
Now it’s a profound living emotion. I’d like to thank the Investigative Committee and police for this opportunity to completely turn me into a convinced revolutionary.
I was lacking but this small detail – prison, where all strata of Russian society are represented, from hopeless junkies to big business figures. You can’t make that many social observations in your everyday life in such a brief period outside.
What’s the reason for your arrest, you reckon?
It’s not Bolotnaya riots. I was not there. I think there are a number of reasons that altogether brought about my arrest: it is a high probability of civil unrest around Russia in the next 1-2 years due to political and economic crises, the forthcoming parliamentary election, the complicated foreign relations post-Ukraine 2014.
My staying locked in the remand prison — it’s pure politics. What are the prospects of this process? It is highly likely that I will get a sentence on this absurd case and will be sent further to a penitentiary camp. This whole case is crazy, it’s fabricated and falsified, and nobody cares and nobody gives a damn. This is our judicial system and our state in general. An absolutely innocent person can get an absurd sentence and have to do real time in prison, this is the essence of the Putinist Russia.
I was arrested for my political convictions, for my political activities. For organising demos, for participating in the «V project» antifascist centre establishment. For organising and coordinating antifascist and anarchist activities in Moscow. I am simply sure of that. The authorities are trying to purge the left wing, anarchists and antifascists via police and the Investigative Committee. In the last few years we are under a road roller of repressions, there are so many criminal cases filed, so many militants arrested, some had to leave the country.
A big number of anarchists and antifascists passed through the Bolotnaya case, some of them are still locked in by the Putin regime: Alexei Gaskarov and Anredi Barabanov do their time in camps. Well-known left activists Sergey Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozjayev are still imprisoned as well.
Many antifascists and anarchists are in prison on various falsified accusations. Constant pressure is exerted on Alexei Sutuga by his camp administration – he was locked in a solitary confinement cell for refusing to collaborate with the administration. Alexander Kolchenko got a monstrously long sentence – 10 years – for arson in a reception room of “United Russia” party. Ilya Romanov was sentenced to 10 years in a falsified case on terrorism, and it happened soon after his release from prison, where he spent another 10 years on another case.
Yegor Alekseyev is persecuted in Tomsk for his political activities – he was accused as per art. 282, used by the authorities to suppress dissent.
Do you discuss politics with your cell mates, how do they react?
Yes, sometimes we share ideas on what’s happening in the country and in the world. People are mainly critical towards the modern Russian authorities, because they felt its humaneness and justness upon their own skin.
remixes(1)I do try to talk more to prisoners, respond to people who are writing to me – correspondence is very important and it embellishes a prisoner’s life a little.
I am very glad when I receive letter from friend and from unknown persons, it supports you and doesn’t let you break down. For any prisoner a news from outside is like a gulp of fresh water in the midst of Sahara, that’s why I’m asking all who want to help political prisoners — do write letters, it takes only little time and anybody can do it, while it keeps warmth in a prisoner’s heart. I want to thank all for support.
This inteview appeared online on Avtonom.org on the 13th April 2016. The interview was conducted by Oleg Volin.