On January 23 in St. Petersburg, the antifascist Viktor Filinkov disappeared. Two days later he was found – the press service of the St. Petersburg courts wrote that he was arrested and found guilty of involvement in a terrorist community that “shares an anarchist ideology.” A day later, members of the Public Monitoring Commission of St. Petersburg (body controling observance of human rights in detention facilities), came to visit him, it turned out that Filinkov was tortured. On January 25, other person from St. Petersburg Igor Shishkin disappeared – he left to walk his dog. The dog came back home not alone, but with the security forces. The „Dzerzhinsky Court“ of Petersburg arrested Shishkin on the same charges as Filinkov. Journalists were not allowed to attend the court hearing. He was badly beaten up. Investigative actions in St. Petersburg were sanctioned by one of the district courts of Penza.
What connects Penza, St. Petersburg and antifascists?
On December 11, 2017, OVD-Info published a large report devoted to the persecution in connection with November 5. In particular, a criminal case about the terrorist community in Penza was mentioned. At that time we wrote that in the case against 5 people two of them are an anarchists. That is not exactly true. There are six accused people in this case, and none of them is in any way connected with Maltsev, although the investigation may believe otherwise. Moreover, at least part of the accused are anti-fascists, and one of them lived in St. Petersburg before his arrest.
On 17 or 18 October, the first defendant in the case, Yegor Zorin, was arrested in Penza. Afterwards the antifascist Ilya Shakursky and his friend Vasily Kuksov were detained. On October 27 Dmitry Pchelintsev was arrested. Then, in early November, Andrei Chernov was detained in Penza, and Arman Sagynbaev – in St. Petersburg. According to the “Fontanka“, in the case of Shishkin gaven by the investigation to the court on preventive measure, there is a record of Sagynbaev interrogation. According to the investigation, they all form the terrorist group “5.11”, preparing a revolution in the country. There are five people kept in jail, the sixth is under house arrest. The accused in the case reported about psychological pressure, torture with electric shocks, “hanging upside down” and that the FSB officers planted them weapons.
In airsoft, in contrast to paintball, there are no ratings, because the responsibility for observing the rules rests with the players themselves. The player who got hit must acknowledge the hit and immediately put on a well-marked red bandage, indicating his death (or injury) in the game, and proceed to the place designated as a cemetery (or infirmary). Accordingly, the game is played not for winning, but for honesty and for pleasure. To argue about who died and who did not is not accepted – people squabbling between themselves during the game are deleted until the end of the game session.
As a weapon the so-called “soft pneumatics” with plastic bullets with a diameter of 6 or less than 8 mm is used. The bullet is fired with compressed air, or with a gas mixture. Such weapons used by airsoft players are called “drivegear.” Most often the “drivegear” is powered by an electric motor with a battery, but there are also weapons that use the player’s muscular strength or gas.
“No doubt, terrorism is bad, – says Alexander Fedulov, the lawyer of Kuksov. – But you should punish those who really have to with do this, not everybody altogether. I also used to play airsoft. Just to get my head rested. I also have a “drivegear” at home. Permission for it is not needed. I also shot at the targets in the park in the evening. I just liked this toy … Well, Vasya went to play war. He fired “drivegears” twice … For the hearing of the extension (of arrest – OVD-Info), I made a speech for 20 minutes, and not a single word was included in the court decision. The investigator reads his petition: “… engaged in illegal mastering of survival skills in the forest and the provision of first aid.” Where is the legality of these skills described?! And you see, the judge is sitting and nodding. «They were going to bomb the offices of party United Russia, the post office …». This is insane!»
When on Kuksov’s wife Elena came home from work on October 19, she realized that Vasily was still not there, although he shouls have been back before her. She began to call him on the mobile phone. His phone was ringing, but her husband did not answer. A few hours later Elena heard that someone was trying to open the door of the apartment with a key. Looking at the peephole, she saw about ten unfamiliar male faces, one of whom was holding her husband by the neck – Vasily was barely standing on his feet. The men said that they came from the FSB.
The pants and jacket of Elena’s husband were torn and covered with blood, his forehead and nose were broken, as if he had been hit on the pavement. According to Elena, the search was superficial. Then Vasily was asked if he had a car. Employees of the FSB took Kuksov, his wife, the car keys and went out into the street. In front of the car, Vasily was ordered to open the driver’s door. He came to the car and noticed that the door lock was in the wrong place. To a surprised shout of Kuksov, one of the FSB agents asked rudely: “What are you trying to say?” The security forces began to search the car and found a pistol in it. Kuksov, who had been calm before, began to shout that the guns were planted.
On the same day Ilya Shakursky was detained. He was initially suspected of organizing the group, but then the charge was replaced the “participation”. Shakursky organized lectures, cleaning of parks in the framework of ecological initiatives, arranged animal rights actions. He is a pretty visible figure in the local left movement. A friend reports that back in school Shakursky once gathered classmates and went along with them to clean the river Moksha. Previously, such an idea did not occur to anyone, but Ilya got it. After some time, members of the Mokshan city administration and police officers appeared at the school. They arranged a special class hour for students, where they explained that Ilya is a nazi and that they need to stop communication with him. Shakursky and his antifascist friends always laughed over this story.
At the trial on the extension of preventive measure, Shakursky for some reason sat in the audience, and not in a courtroom cage with Sagynbaev and Pchelintsev. Perhaps the investigator did not want Shakursky to communicate with the other defendants. They had a common court hearing. Shakursky looked very depressed, pulling a hood over his head. Next to him was his mother, who always hugged him. She was asking her son something, he was giving her one-word answers. The longest thing he said to his mother was about the New Year: “Mama, you definitely have to decorate a tree”.
According to his lawyer Fedulov, Shakursky made a confession statement. Actually, confessions were given by everyone exept Kuksov, who at the beginning refused to answer questions under Article 51 of the Constitution. Some time ago, Shakurskii and Pchelintsev were friends, who trained and played sports and airsoft in the forest together. But in the last few months they had not been in contact.
Dmitry Pchelintsev to his wife:
… it’s mean to treat people like that. You are suspected and accused of something, but when it’s not yet proven – you are not guilty. So why am I in such shitty conditions, IT REALLY IS redoubling the punishment for what I did not actually do.
Angelina Pchelintseva to her husband:
I do not care about birthdays, new year, other holidays and all the difficulties that happen to me. Only you are important. If I could, I would be with you and go through all this. But I know that at least you are against it, but at the most it’s impossible. I’ll do everything I can to help you, and you just must not worry about me, believe me, I can handle it.
Before his arrest, Pchelintsev worked as a firearms instructor. He received his training passing military service in the training center of the Penza Artillery Engineering Institute. On October 27, Pchelintsev left early in the morning from home to meet his grandmother. His wife Angelina was still asleep when her husband returned to the apartment already in handcuffs and with FSB officers. According to her, during the search, law enforcement officers turned the apartment upside down, seized personal phones and other electronic data carriers, as well as registered weapons – two hunting rifles and two gas pistols. Then they went to the car – it was broken into, recently he hardly drove it to the house. The alarm did not work. The FSB officers searched the car and, at a time when no one saw them, found two grenades under the back seat. Pchelintsev said: “The car is without alarm, great job”, meaning that the grenades were planted to him.
On the same day Angelina was called and asked to come in the FSB – allegedly her husband wanted her to be present at his interrogation. Arriving at the FSB, Mrs. Pchelintseva realized that there was no interrogation. She was met by two officers of the special services. During the conversation, one of them, significantly playing with an awl in his hand, began to threaten Pchelintseva with a life sentence for her husband. One FSB guy said that “it is just needed to shoot someone in the foot”, so that Pchelintsev would stop refusing to testify under Article 51 of the Constitution.
- The dumbest thing is a terrorist organization that has not committed a single terrorist act and has not planned it” says Pchelintseva. “It is not even possible to say at the trial that they were planning to do this and this on this date. This can not be said, because they did not plan anything at all. All they did, was learning to provide medical assistance in the field, survive in the forest. Is that illegal?”
A few days later in the pretrial detention facility, Pchelintsev declared that he was going to confess his guilt. This shocked his family, who were convinced of Dmitry’s innocence. To pay for the lawyer’s work, relatives took a loan from the bank – lawyer Alexei Agafonov asked 150 thousand rubles in advance. But, despite this money, he did not pay much attention to the client’s needs. Agafonov regularly came to the detention center and showed Pchelintsev where to sign on the papers brought by the investigator. But he could have, for example, arranged to meet with Dmitry on Monday before the investigator arrived, and also could have been present when the FSB officers arrived on Tuesday. In response to Pchelintsev’s bewilderment Agafonov answered: “Well, I did show up.”
Dmitry Pchelintsev to his wife:
Not just. Not fair. Wrong. Senseless. All the paths of my life led to only one. You, grandmother, sister, parents, a lot of people who know that I’m a good person. But why doesn‘t it matter for everything that is going on with me? Screw the whole idea of a harmless person with all its joys and troubles, thoughts and experiences. What is achieved in the end, except for a trauma for me and all my relatives? It does not even make me angry, but it is frustrating me like nothing else before. This is not an accident, not a coincidence. It’s just someone’s unfair will. A senseless Saturday. At least I was allowed to shower and shave my beard. I don’t want to look like the person they think I am. What am I wrong about, Angelina?
Angelina Pchelintseva to her husband:
I believe you, just as your whole family, your friends. Everyone is very worried about you and understands what’s going on. For us it is obvious. The first month I tried to understand how they can treat a person THAT WAY, but later I stopped looking for sense. It is a merciless road roller that does not care at all whom it is rolling over and who is buried underneath.
The lawyer Agafonov once met with Pchelintseva and asked if her husband fantasizes a lot, in other words if he is delusional. Angelina did not entirely understand and answered that there is probably no time for „fantasies“ in his situation. It turned out that Dmitry told the lawyer that FSB officers come to him every day and take him to other cells for “interrogations”. But, in the lawyer’s view, this simply could not be possible in a detention center – it is prohibited there, theoretically.
In the beginning Angelina did not get letters from her husband, although he wrote to her almost every day. The letters all went to the desks of FSB officers. Only after a month, she found a thick envelope in her mail box, full of her husband’s letters from the last month. Then it turned out that Dmitry complained about Agafonov almost from the very beginning. Angelina said the fact that his own lawyer did not want to believe her husband, literally was the final straw for her husband. At the same time he was in a solitary cell in maximum isolation from everyone and the lawyer was the only person he could confide in.
- Taking into accaunt the relations between law enforcement agencies and courts of our city, a minimum amount of evidence is already sufficient for a conviction, believes Fedulov. Because this is the first such case in the region, and everyone is interested of course, along the lines of: „Imagine, the terrorists were caught. Terrorists who ran through the woods with wooden sticks and with pine branches.“ Vasya said to me: „I know what I was afraid of the most, Sasha. That someone will really see that I’m running through the woods in a war game. I would felt so ashame that I just wanted to shrivel up and disappear“. Changing the constitutional order on the territory of what? …in the village of “Shalusheyki”? And how would they have brought about this change of the system – with their “drivegears”?
Once Pchelintseva received a letter from Dmitry on a piece of paper, unevenly pulled out from a notebook. In the beginning, there was something written about the fact that her husband reads books with 800 pages and that he loves his wife. But these writings were crossed out, and in the end, in a very uneven handwriting, Dmitry wrote: “Do not write to me, do not send any things to me anymore, go away as far as possible and do not ask about me, it’s over for me”. In the same letter, Pchelintsev reported that he is injected with “tranquilizers” and that they give him pills – that this is “worse than death”. His wife thought that Dmitry was not in his right mind, and wrote him the answer.
“I took the paper and wrote with trembling hands that everything would be fine. I realized, while not that much time had passed for us, that it was all considerably longer for him. Then his father told the lawyer Agafonov that he should take from the already paid advance as much as he thinks is appropriate and return the rest. And then we found a new lawyer. “
After the hearing of Pchelintsev‘s charges on December 1, Angelina and Dmitry were allowed to meet and talk. Dmitry said that he needed a meeting with his wife “to say goodbye”. According to Pchelintsev, he was tortured every day – hung upside down, electric shocks to different parts of the body – including the groins. He was afraid that he could be killed but made to look like a suicide. He said that his body is not able to handle the torture: “I’m afraid that my heart will not last this long and that I will not get out of here alive. This is hell”. Pchelintsev asked his wife to tell the investigator that he had said goodbye to her, hoping that then, perhaps, today they would not torture him. Angelina said that she prepared herself for this visit, not wanting to cry in front of the FSB‘s, trying to keep her composure and to cheer up her husband as well as possible. She persuaded him not to despair and to wait for the new lawyer to come up with something.
After her husband was taken away again, the investigator asked Angelina what they had been talking about. Pchelintseva replied: “Stop killing Dima”.
Dmitry Pchelintsev to his wife:
I wouldn’t mind to colonize Mars. Better some even further planet. So that these earth people could not reach us so quickly. By the way, I probably do not need anything in the next package. So do not come for some time. I’ll write if I will need something. Overall, I am holding on. I‘m thinking about how we could be living.
Angelina Pchelintseva to her husband:
I’ll deal with Elon Musk, we will fly away from here and never again return to this planet. Let’s just stay strong and wait while they finish building the ship, okay?
Arman Sagynbaev, who was arrested after the main mass of the defendants, has serious health problems and needs constant medical help. At the trial on the extension of preventive measures in December, he said that he is nauseous all the time and constantly has to vomit.
Zorin is a classmate of Shakursky, they studied together at the Penza State University to be physics teachers. Zorin was detained first, and he was the first to testify. In his testimony, there are passages like: “… a terrorist organization of extraordinary secrecy, working on a scheme in the forests for overthrowing the government…”. Zorin started the new Year at home – he was released under house arrest.
In the investigators’ view, the group “5.11” was created with the aim of preparing a revolutionary upheaval and overthrowing the government through terrorist activities. In addition to it, other similar groups operated on the territory of Russia, all of which were part of a single organization with similar goals and methods.
Participants of the group “5.11” were conspiratorial, roles were distributed between them. The group allegedly had, for example, a sapper and a signalman. In this context, the airsoft games, according to investigators, were a preparation for terror.
At the same time, nowadays there isn‘t any procedural or actual connection between the cases on the “Maltsev revolution” and the Penza case of antifascists, except for the numbers 5 and 11 being used in the name of the “terrorist association”.
Dmitry Pchelintsev to his wife:
The light is on 24 hours a day. If they do not find me innocent and release, they will have to release me because of progressed Alzheimer’s disease. The humidity is so intense here that they could release me because of tuberculosis, and it is so dirty that they could let me free because of hepatitis. And I smoke so much that they could also release me because of cancer. And you send me so much chocolate that they will have to release me because of diabetes. I’m kidding of course. Nobody will let me go.
On the photo: Pre-trial detention center №1 in the city of Penza