Saturday action in support of unregistered candidates to the Moscow City Duma have already broken the record for both the number of detainees and the toughness with which people in uniform dealt with protests. We talked with the protesters about how they felt at the moment when they were subjected to violence.
TEXT: Alexandra Koksharova
On Saturday, at the rally, people crowded in the side streets of Tverskaya Street because they were not allowed further. It turned out that there were several rallies. I ended up in Bryusov Lane, where Rosgvardia officers were working with us at first. The protesters also tried to communicate with them: they said that it was bad to go against your own people. It was evident from their faces that these were very young guys, some of them replied that they were not our enemies. Then a detachment of riot police arrived, lined up and began to press us. Later, riot policemen appeared with truncheons. They were already wearing masks, they had completely different eyes. I asked: “Will you beat us? For what?" The people around did not make any attempts at provocation. Someone waved flags, someone shouted: "Sobyanin resign." Even then it became clear that the force that would be used against us was not justified. I suddenly literally felt that I was not in a free country, but in a place that looked more like a zone. Many of those who went to the rally on Saturday were no longer there because they supported specific deputies - this stage seems to have passed. People left because their suffrage was under threat. I myself work as a municipal deputy in the Khamovniki district, and not a single system in the city works properly. People have accumulated, but at the same time it was a peaceful protest from our side.
So, after I asked "Will you beat us?", We silently stood in front of the squad with truncheons for a few more minutes, and suddenly a very strong wave came from the riot police - they began to squeeze the crowd. I felt unwell from the crush, and then I felt a sharp blow to the head. It is difficult for me to restore the chain of events, I briefly lost consciousness. I was hit on the head from behind, and there were only riot police behind me. The video from the rally clearly shows that the riot police began to beat people with truncheons. They beat peaceful people from whom no threat came.
When I woke up, I ran my hand through my hair, my whole hand was covered in blood. The riot police took me out. They seemed to get scared and suggested that I call an ambulance. I refused to go somewhere with them, and the thought flashed in my head that they would press me so that I would not write a statement. I received first aid from Inga Kudracheva, who was nearby. It turns out that I refused to leave the rally. She said something like that I would not go anywhere since people around me were beaten. It was a shock, after losing consciousness I could not even understand how I looked from the outside. Then I saw that all my shirt and underwear were soaked in blood. I was taken to the N.I. Sklifosovsky. There, the doctors explained that the parietal surface was dissected. There were many people in the hospital who were brought in after the rally. The doctors treated everyone in a very human way, for which many thanks to them. A man in civilian clothes, who introduced himself as a police officer, came into my room and asked: "You must have been hit with a bottle?" I said that I would not continue this conversation.
I have never seen protesters beaten so severely at rallies before. As a person, all this is very unpleasant for me. But I am still a municipal deputy. Therefore, as the evil commentators write, I understood where I was going. I knew that something like this could happen, and I was not afraid. This should especially alert the authorities - people are less afraid. People have nowhere to go, otherwise their future will be taken away from them. Yes, I suffered, but if this rally can change something, then my blood was not shed in vain.
I was at Bolotnaya, at a rally on March 26, 2017, at a rally in defense of Ivan Golunov. There, in front of my eyes, people were also detained, but then everything was much calmer. This time I left not for the sake of specific deputies who are not allowed to participate in the elections, but for myself, for the sake of changes in the management system. I knew that there would be many arrests, but I did not know how many people would come to the rally. If 30-40 thousand people came, the result would be completely different. I was ready to be detained, so I took only the most necessary things with me. The OVD-Info phone number was on speed dial. I was not scared, I felt unity and strength, but when I saw how many Rosgvardia were around, I felt uncomfortable: people in uniform, packed from head to toe with protective ammunition. It seemed that it was preparation for war, no less.
At first, I was pinned down for a long time in the alleys in the Dmitrovka area. When I managed to get out, I went in the direction of Leontievsky Lane. But I didn't get there - they took me by the arms and put me in a paddy wagon. I didn't even understand how it happened. It seems that the National Guard just grabbed me by the elbow and took me to the paddy wagon. I was alone, without posters, not shouting slogans, but just walking down the street. In the paddy wagon, we sat together for a long time with another guy, nothing happened. I even went out and asked the police how long to sit and what was going on. They answered me: "We will go soon." Just a few minutes later, the paddy wagon began to fill up with detainees.
The very last were two very young guys, whom for some reason they continued to be severely beaten on the floor of the paddy wagon. I and other people, first with words, tried to extinguish the employee's rage, and then, when he once again swung hard, I just lay down on the guy. The officer hit me twice with a truncheon. They broke my rib. The guy also has broken ribs and bruises.
Naturally, I do not recognize a single employee from those who beat us. They are all, to put it mildly, the same. And the fact that a petition has now been created so that the riot police “have faces”, I consider a big step. I really want this to be realized.
While we were in the paddy wagon, we were not given water, it was very stuffy. I began to understand something only at night from Saturday to Sunday. Painkillers were injected in the ambulance, but when the physical pain receded, it became simply unbearable, although in a different way. Now I have a feeling of emptiness, powerlessness and anger at the system - it seems that I am nobody and I have no rights. Policemen and National Guardsmen were rude a lot. They said: "Shut up", "What are you whining", "It's your own fault." I will go to the next meeting. The most important thing now is not to be afraid and get out. And, of course, to support OVD-Info - they are doing an important job for all of us.
I was detained for a minute in Kamergerskoye, I ended up in a crowd that was breaking through the OMON chain. As a result, the chain was broken, but the riot policemen and several other people pushed me against the wall. Further, those who detained, forced everyone to stand facing the wall and raise their hands behind their heads and held that for some time. Then some other riot policemen came up, twisted our hands and were supposed to lead us to the paddy wagon, but a mess started around again, and the officer who was leading me let go of his hand and said: "Run, bro." Then I realized that I should have shouted from afar, “Quit your job, bro!”, But it was too late.
Literally next to me they kicked someone on the ground, they just pushed me into the wall. I was detained on the boulevards when there was “Occupy Abai”, then everything was much softer. At Bolotnaya, the violence was, perhaps, just as harsh, but I was not arrested there. It seems to me that the rally now differs primarily in self-organization: crowds of people managed to walk around the city for hours without being sprayed or losing their passion - I had never seen this before and was very impressed. It seems to me that the police were so mad about it. Well, that is, I have seen this, but not among the "liberals", football fans or anarchists have always been very well organized.
I will or will not attend the next rallies, depending on what the occasion will be. I have been attending rallies for a long time, but not very often.On Saturday, it just seemed to me that it was impossible not to go - I’m still a Muscovite.
I went to all the “swamp” rallies, on Sakharov Avenue, against the war in Ukraine, on processions in memory of Nemtsov, on the May 6 case, even against the arrest of Navalny in July 2013, although I was not at all his supporter. I have never personally experienced police violence before, and this time, on July 27, I saw it up close, but did not experience it myself. I am completely horrified by the videos of the beatings in the Lubyanka, I was not even able to watch them the first time.
I think my experience is light, in comparison with the beaten ones, with those who spent the weekend in the police department, but, to be honest, watching the chronicle of the rally was scarier than being inside it. There was an incredible sense of solidarity, there were many young people in whom there was a lot of freedom, dignity and fearlessness, who upset those who began to somehow react aggressively to what was happening. I hate this aspiration about "people with good faces" - the faces on both sides were very different, but around me the protesters behaved very humanly, civilized and emphatically non-aggressive, raising their hands and chanting "We are without weapons."
I myself constantly stopped older uncles who began to bully and insult the cordon, young recruits, judging by their appearance: "They are a stupid herd, fascists, they did not enter good universities and are struggling in the garbage." Why is this?
It was scary several times - when on Pushkinskaya the police squeezed out people from Tverskaya, which provoked a crush - I was afraid that people would fall into the hole of the passage next to "Armenia". The second time, already on Trubnaya, at the beginning of the rally, riot police suddenly ran into the crowd from behind, panic broke out, and people around me ran, stumbling over the nice Sobyanin curbs - one girl broke her leg to the point of bleeding. It did not last long, but it was very unpleasant. And then the riot police started running into the square with a Teutonic pig: their faces were covered with fabric masks, shields, armor all over their bodies. When faces are not visible, no human contact, as with the police in the morning, with which many tried to talk normally about corruption, is already impossible - stupid, animal cruelty appears: they tightly twisted their arms, grabbed people by all limbs and carried someone face down they even dropped - it's very scary to watch - for others, but not for themselves for some reason, although they took five or six people next to me.
I can’t speak for those who were beaten or screwed up, but I think that this will radicalize many even more and force them to leave again and again, because this is lawlessness and blatant arbitrariness. I am going to go out to the rally and next Saturday, I hope, they will not arrange carnage. But more than the police and even the OMON, I was horrified by the comments on Facebook and offline from those who complained that we were "piled on a little", that "it was necessary to crush this rotten food" and so on. I understand everything about psychological protection and solidarity with the aggressor, but so far I don’t understand how not to let this hatred into myself, how to cope with rage, these feelings frighten even more potential and real clubs and police wagons.
I am a little ashamed, because I ran away from the riot policeman who wanted to detain me. When everyone on Trubnaya was cordoned off, he chased after me and tripped me, and I flew away into the bushes. I hit my head, I was bleeding. Then the riot policeman picked me out of the ground with the words: "Let's go, dear, to the paddy wagon, we will help you now." They did have first-aid kits with them, and before the ambulance arrived, they wrapped a turban of bandages around my head. There is something human in them, but it would be better if they behaved in such a way that they do not have to give first aid to people later. I would very much like to say that I was brave, but the fact that my glasses were missing, I only remembered in the ambulance. After that I was taken to the N.N. Sklifosovsky. It turns out that I deserted from the battlefield for medical reasons.
I go to almost all rallies.The police used to screw up everyone in a row, but not so atrocities. This time the people were detained as if they wanted to deliberately do them badly: to wring their hands, to hold their faces along the asphalt.
I ran twice for municipal deputies. Now I see that the election commission is violating the laws in the most rude manner. I want everyone who has collected signatures in accordance with the law to be admitted. But until this happens, I will go to rallies.
I have been going to almost all rallies since 2011. During this time, I developed an intuition of how not to screw up and quickly step aside if something starts to happen. This time I decided not to run away, but to be in the center of events right in front of the armed riot police.
The graphologist considered my signature in support of Ilya Yashin invalid, then I was not admitted to the commission, at which they said that the opinion of the graphologist is more important than my confirmation of the signature and, therefore, does not exist. This is a violation of my civil rights, and together with other recent political events, it makes me want to express my position by direct action.
I was scared, but it was also joyful that I could do at least something and at least become visible somewhere. We corresponded with friends, met in a crowd, and it feels like we are walking through our city and saying out loud what we think is worth everything that happened afterwards.
At the beginning of the rally it was boring, my friend and I rode along Tverskaya and looked at the columns of riot police and journalists. Then on Pushkinskaya I felt myself in a crowd of intelligentsia (I began to recognize faces and general mood), where people stood as in a classic meeting. And then the movement began. This is the coolest thing about the latest protests - walking, scattering and gathering around the city, uniting in decisive moments and leaving on time. At about four o'clock our group was surrounded at the intersection of Dmitrovka and Stoleshnikov, the riot police lined up in several rows and went towards us. At the moment of a head-on collision, I confess, I squeaked, but we firmly grabbed our elbows with other people, and only by going in a straight column, they were able to crush us. When I saw how my friend was being detained, my heart sank, I rushed to him and immediately felt myself being pulled from behind. At that moment, I felt such anger that I started screaming very loudly. This scream contained all my anger and despair of the political mood of recent years. I shouted because I knew: when you are grabbed on the street, you should not be silent, but attract attention - and indeed, they carried me almost like a feather, only saying, "Fuck you."
In the paddy wagon, I met my friend and many other wonderful people. This is a very important experience, because now I am not so afraid of a direct political clash and going to jail. I am a peaceful person, I am engaged in philosophy, and such illegal actions only radicalize me. It also helps in feminist practice, in realizing one's own boundaries and the need to train in self-defense. I will go to the next rallies, I am not afraid.
We found ourselves in front of Detsky Mir when riot police began to cut through the crowd. At some point, the man who was walking in front of me was grabbed by a riot policeman. Reflexively, I pulled his shoulder. A truncheon flew into my ear, and I began to roll over and fall with him. Then they began to beat me. I was counting on the protesters to help me. It seemed to me that they beat me for a long time. At some point, my girlfriend Inga jumped up and tried to close me. I tried to close it too. It seems like it was a bad idea because at that moment the policeman started jumping on my back. All of this was filmed. I watched it today - it turned out that everything was much faster. Apparently, due to the release of adrenaline into the blood, it seemed that time had slowed down. I remember that I tried to close myself and screamed. I've never been in such a situation before. Then they took me to the paddy wagon, put my head on the door again. I asked to call an ambulance.In response I heard: "Nobody beat you." Inga was there, we corresponded with her. I was taken to the police station, I called an ambulance there. I was taken to the Botkin hospital on suspicion of a concussion. As a result, only hematomas and bruises. On Monday I was discharged.
When I watched the video, I also thought that I would like to look more masculine. Some of my ridiculous male pride is hurt. I do not believe that I could have behaved differently, that I could not have tried to fight off that person. You should try to stop any violence, and I am very grateful to Inga that she protected me. I have the best girlfriend, she is very brave.
A year ago, I was detained at a rally on June 12. I didn’t understand it then. This time I was already offered help by Zona Prava, I will meet with a lawyer. I don't really rate the likelihood of my victory in a Russian court very highly, but it's worth a try. In any case, I will go to the rallies as long as they go. You need to seek justice.
Inga feels fine now, and so do I. The problem is that besides physical condition, there is something else. It's still hard for me to talk about it. When I tell all this, I begin to relive these events anew. Today I woke up in the morning, and I really wanted to cry. I have been going to a psychotherapist for a long time. I'll go to him next week and cry there. I think I can handle it.
I am a little ashamed, but I understand how violence works: it cannot pass without a trace, whatever it may be. I would like, of course, to seem like a hero and say that this did not affect me in any way, but all this is very painful, insulting and frightening.
COVER: Valery Sharifulin / TASS