Translation of an article published on August 24, 2021 in “Novaya Gazeta”.
Anarchist and mathematics graduate student of the Moscow State University Azat Miftakhov, sentenced to six years in prison in the case of a broken window in the office of United Russia, was assigned to hard physical labor in a woodworking shop. This was told to Novaya Gazeta by his wife Elena Gorban.
Now Miftakhov is serving his sentence in correctional colony No. 17 of the Kirov region (Omutninsk). During the visit of a local lawyer Svetlana Frolova, Miftakhov said that after two and a half years in the pre-trial detention center cell, he was sent to clean sawdust from under the sawmill. Miftakhov would like to transfer to a different work assignment.
Relatives of the anarchist, according to Gorban, fear that this work may be chosen as a tactic of pressure on Miftakhov.
“This is hard unreasonable work, which in other colonies is usually automated. If he is sent to a strict, poorly known colony far from the place of his residence, and immediately upon arrival he is given such work, after two and a half years of forced restriction of no physical activity, it may well be a desire to make his remaining term as difficult as possible within the law. But other prisoners who probably do the same job, too, are not in the best conditions either,” Gorban says.
Former political prisoner Ivan Astashin, who has served almost 10 years in prison in the case of the Autonomous Combat Terrorist Organization (banned in the Russian Federation), said in his Telegram channel that in the colonies such sawmills can be automated, and work on the Soviet sawmill, which “has seen Brezhnev”, is “a lesson for masochists”. “I don’t know what’s going on at the production site in Omutninsky IK-17 – the sawdust suction hood broke there, or it’s not installed there at all, so that prisoners don’t have any strength to defend their rights. But one thing I’ll say for sure is that it is very hard for Azat there now. <…> It’s akin to torture,” he wrote.
It became known that Miftakhov was transferred to IK-17 of the Omutninsky district in early August. Prisoners of this colony talked about torture, and their testimony was published by Radio Liberty.
On August 15, Miftakhov came out of quarantine. He said that the administration demands to welcome the colony’s employees with the words “Hello, citizen boss”. He was queued to call his relatives, but so far the anarchist has not had the opportunity to contact his family, says Gorban.
Earlier, the Moscow City Court recognized Miftakhov’s sentence as legal. At the same time, the court excluded the smoke bomb from among the weapons, but the hammer that broke the window in the office of United Russia was retained in the case.
Miftakhov was arrested on February 1, 2019 in Moscow in the case of illegal manufacture of explosives (Part 1 of Art. 223.1 UK), found at a bus stop in Balashikha. The investigation found no evidence indicating the anarchist’s involvement in the case, and Azat was released. At the exit from the detention center, he was detained again in the case of vandalism (Part 1 of Art. 214 of the Criminal Code). Later, the prosecution was reclassified as hooliganism.
On January 18, 2021, the Golovinsky court found Miftakhov guilty of hooliganism motivated by political hatred committed by a group of persons (Part 2 of Art. 213 of the Criminal Code) – January 30, 2018, the defendants in the case attacked the office of United Russia. According to the court, Gorban broke the window with a hammer (she was assigned a suspended sentence), Alexey Kobaidze (wanted) threw a smoke checker into the office, Andrey Yeykin (conditional term) filmed everything that happened on video, Svyatoslav Rechkalov (wanted) published a record on the Internet, and Miftakhov stood close and watched the situation. The whole criminal case is based on the testimony of secret witnesses.