Courtesy of Mischa Firer, via Quora
Jailed municipal deputy Alexei Gorinov holds placard “I’m against war” in a courthouse in Moscow.
The Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Alexei Gorinov, a municipal deputy of the Krasnoselsky District, to 7 years in penal colony. He is also deprived of the right to hold positions in state bodies and local governments.
Mr. Gorinov was found guilty of disseminating deliberately false information about the actions of the Russian armed forces.
The reason for starting the criminal prosecution of the deputy was his public speech at a meeting of deputies on March 15, 2022 when he said that the organisation of leisure for Muscovites is unacceptable when “military operations are being conducted on the territory of a neighboring sovereign state.”
Alexei Gorinov’s last words at the trial on July 7, 2022 were about “unlearned lessons of history.” Below is the full text in English:
“I think, or it always seemed to me, that our country’s common past teaches us several important lessons.
My father returned from World War II disabled. As did his brother. They were the lucky ones. His sacred duty was to protect the Fatherland from the enemy.
I also remember Moscow in the 1960s: WW2 veterans without arms, without legs, blind. There were many of those in our home. I grew up among them.
The survivors of that war were tongue-tied with stories about it. As I got older, I understood why. Because war in itself, as a human occupation, no matter what synonym you call it, is the most vile and dirty thing. A matter unworthy of the title of a person who is entrusted by the Universe and evolution with the care of preserving and increasing all life on our planet.
I am convinced of this: war is the fastest means of dehumanization, when the line between good and evil is blurred. War is always violence and blood, torn bodies and severed limbs. It is always death. I don’t accept it and reject it.
Our common past taught me this. And, probably, not only me – in the Criminal Code of Russia there are articles 353 and 354, which provide for severe punishment for the preparation, conduct and propaganda of an aggressive war. And I erroneously believed that Russia exhausted its limit on wars back in the twentieth century.
However, our present condition is Bucha, Irpen, Gostomel… Do the names of these cities tell you anything? Find out what happened there. And don’t say later that you didn’t know anything.
For five months, Russia has been conducting hostilities on the territory of a neighboring state, bashfully calling it ‘special military operation.’
We are promised victory and glory. Why, then, do so many of my fellow citizens feel shame and guilt? Why did many people leave Russia and continue to leave? And why did our country suddenly have so many enemies?
Maybe there is something wrong with us? Let’s think! Give us a chance to at least talk about what’s going on. Let us exchange opinions. This is, after all, our constitutional right!
In fact this is what I did it. At a meeting of the municipal council, I expressed my opinion, my human attitude to that subject. I based this opinion, this attitude, on my convictions. And I was supported by the majority of those present!
And now I’m in court.
It seems, this is another unlearned lesson lesson from our past. Persecution for the spoken and written word, fabricated cases, a speedy trial, a belated insight: ‘How could it be? We didn’t know!’
During the years of Stalinist terror, my grandfather was accused of calling for the overthrow of the Soviet system, in the creation and strengthening of which he participated in the most direct way. Grandfather lived to see see his rehabilitation, after half a century.
I hope my rehabilitation will take much less time.
But for now, I’m here in the courtroom.
My criminal case is one of the first to be heard, but hundreds of such criminal cases have been initiated in Russia against my fellow citizens who think and speak out about what is happening. You destroy families. You break the young people’s lives.
And being here first, I speak for all of them who have not yet been brought to justice.
Several phrases I uttered at an everyday meeting of the Council of Deputies were examined under a microscope.
An investigative group of nine investigators has been formed, six of which are of ‘particularly important cases.’ The five experts are linguists and psychologists. They delved into my thoughts, trying to understand: what is really behind the opinion expressed by me to my fellow deputies on one of the issues on the agenda of the meeting. What was my secret meaning and hidden message? What is really behind these phrases of mine? They have compiled 120 pages of examinations.
Meanwhile, Article 29 of the Russian Constitution guarantees everyone the freedom of thought and speech – if we are not talking about the propaganda of hatred, enmity, superiority. Everyone has the right to freely seek, receive, transmit, produce and distribute information in any lawful manner. Freedom of the media is guaranteed. Censorship is prohibited. By Constitution.
In the days of the August putsch in 1991, I was also a councillor.
Together with other defenders, I was at the building of the Supreme Council of the Republic, the “White House”. We protected our future. Our right to live freely – which means to speak freely, to express our thoughts, to collect information and share it.
If they had said then that in thirty years I would be tried by a criminal court for my words, for my opinion, I would not have believed it.
The reasons for such a sad outcome, to which our society has succumbed, will require careful study and reflection by historians. They will require not only reflection, but also conclusions. It won’t be easy, but we will have to accept that war is war. We must rehabilitate the victims and try the perpetrators. We must restore the good name of our people, our country.
In the meantime, I wish our government prudence.
Wisdom to judges.
To all who are subjected to a new wave of repression: steadfastness, as well as to the Ukrainian people.
To myself, to become in the future Russian ambassador to Ukraine.
To everyone who supported me directly or at a distance, do not lose heart! I’m with you!”