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Members of the YABLOKO party participated in the action in support of journalist Grigory Pasko which took place on January 7 at Lubyanskaya square in Moscow

Press realease

About 40,000 people participated in a civil action in support of the military journalist Grigory Pasko which took place on January 7, 2002, at Lyubyanskaya Square in Moscow opposite the Federal Security Service building.

The action entitled "Merry Christmas to the Federal Security Service and Co!" was performed under the motto "Hey, someone alive there come out and help!" The organisations that supported the action included the International Socio-Ecological Union, the Centre for Development of Democracy and Human Rights, the Ecological Protection Group, Greenpeace, the Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO and the Keepers of the Rainbow. The action at Lyubyanskaya square attracted the attention of about 20 Russian and foreign journalists.

On December 25, 2001, the Military Court of the Pacific Fleet pronounced Grigory Pasko guilty of state treason in the form of espionage in accordance with Article 275 of the Criminal Code and sentenced the journalist to four years of imprisonment in a prison colony, stripping him of his military rank of Captain of 2nd rank and all the awards. In accordance with the verdict Pasko was taken into custody in the court hall and placed in the investigative prison of Vladivostok.

On December 26, 2001, the barristers of the journalist appealed to the Military Board of the Supreme Court of the RF. They asked the Board to close the criminal case as Grigory Pasko had not committed any crime. The verdict will come into force after consideration of the cassation. The date of its consideration is yet unknown.

The action in support of Pasko began on January 7 at 2 p.m. All participants in the action crossed the square and joined in the middle of the square where the monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky (Ed. The first head of the KGB) stood before its dismantling in August 1991. A stool was put there and on it stood "Felix Dzerzhinsky" - Egor Buzykin, post-graduate student of the Biology Faculty of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, was camouflaged as the powerful chairman of the KGB. Even though the termperature reached -20 C he stood motionless throughout the action which lasted 30 minutes.

After the "monument" was finally "overthrown from the pedestal", "Felix Dzerzhinsky" made the following declaration to the journalists, "The fact that you are not in prison yet represents aneglect of our services, rather than your merit."

During the action eight people stood in line: each of them raised a letter made from barbed wire, and all together they made up the word "ECOLOGY". Several other participants carried slogans "Appointed Spy", "Who is Next?" and "Is Felix Back?" Behind the "Iron Felix" you could see the flags of the YABLOKO party waved by the Moscow Youth Organisation of YABLOKO.

At a short spontaneous meeting poet and Director General of the Russian Pen-Centre and public advocate at the Pasko case Alexander Tkachenko, Deputy Chairman of the YABLOKO party and deputy of the State Duma Sergei Mitrokhin, President of the Union "For Chemical Security" Dr. Lev Fyodorov expressed their opinions of the Pasko case. Then all of them, as well as a famous defender of human rights Sergei Kovalyov, answered the questions of the journalists.

The verdict to Grigory Pasko represents "a crime against the humanity" and is targeted "against all of us", said Tkachenko. "We face now a setback of political repressions," added Mitrokhin, who thinks that Pasko has been sentenced on “trumped-up” charges. He called on the President of Russia Vladimir Putin to interevene in the situation and facilitate the "restoration of justice” for Pasko.

Within 15 minutes of the beginning of the action, the militia proposed that the participants of the action roll up the transparencies and stop the unsanctioned action (the Moscow authorities did not authorise permission to conduct the action).

The negotiations between the participants of the action and militia were peaceful. However, once they stopped, four participants of the action (three men and one woman) were arrested and forwarded to the nearby militia department; whereas "Felix Dzerzhinsky" was also arrested at the square.

Deputies of the State Duma Sergei Kovalyov and Mitrokhin went to the militia department to rescue the arrested. The four arrested people spent over two hours in the militia department and were then freed.

On January 7, 2002, the Press Service of the International Socio-Ecological Union informed that actions in support of Pasko will take place shortly in Ekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Birobidjan, Volgodonsk, Novocherkassk, Rostov-Don, Kalach-Don, Yaroslavl, Nizhni Novgorod and Vladivostok.

See also:

Grigory Pasko Case

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