the detention of Yabloko opposition leader Maxim Reznick
Suren Yedigarov, an activist of the United Civil Front (Obedinenniy Grazhdanskiy Front - OGF), was arrested and beaten in
Ilya Yashin, “Yabloko” Political Party, March 13:
A series of single-person pickets is continuing today, in support of Maksim Reznik and demanding his immediate release. We have once again encountered the tried-and-true tactic of provocation, which was previously used, in particular, during pickets in support of Gary Kasparov after he was arrested.
The tactic is very simple: a single-person picket does not require permission from the authorities, so for this reason several provocateurs will approach the single picketer with signs or other paraphernalia - at which point the picket stops being single-person and a basis is formally created for the arrest of the “participants”.
Maria Gaidar encountered such a situation today: at two o’clock she took up her position in front of the General Prosecutor’s Office building, holding a sign, and just then two provocateurs approached her (they had no paraphernalia, because seeing that they were provocateurs we took away their signs). Exactly then two policemen appeared, and on the pretext of “participation in an unauthorized demonstration” arrested Maria, the two provocateurs, and me (although at that moment I was in fact not participating in the picket).
We were taken to the Tverskoye police station, where I was almost immediately released, without any record of my arrest or reason given. Maria Gaidar and the provocateurs are still there.
We consider this arrest illegal, inasmuch as the provocateurs simply stood alongside Ms. Gaidar, without any signs or banners - just stood alongside. By this logic of the law enforcement agencies, any person who comes up to a picketer (a journalist, bystander, or anyone else) becomes a participant in a “demonstration”.
On the bright side, no one has bothered the picketers since this incident - people are able to take their turns quietly standing there. Apparently the authorities have run out of provocateurs.
What is going on right now in Saint Petersburg - with the arrest of Reznik, the whole story with the Yabloko/Saint Petersburg office (we learned today that it is about to undergo an inquiry from the Prosecutor’s office for “extremism”) - all of this is, I am certain, a political repression against the Yabloko political party. I think that the initiative came from the city authorities, but things like this cannot help but be approved at the very top.