Moscow, Russia, August 18, 2012
Given the disturbing events of the past few days, many people have been asking what they can do to help. Garry Kasparov’s non-profit organization, the Foundation for Democracy in Russia, supports legal defense for opposition activists. You can donate to the foundation by clicking here.
The purpose of this statement is to make clear the facts of my unlawful arrest by the Moscow police on August 17, 2012, outside the courthouse where the trial of the band Pussy Riot was taking place. I need make no complicated arguments, as there is a large amount of professional video publicly available that shows the police violently seizing me while I was chatting with journalists and later physically assaulting me. I plan to file suit for this illegal arrest and against the officers who attacked me.
This video evidence also categorically disproves the accusation made by the police that I assaulted an officer by biting him on the hand. The officer in question, and his hands, are clearly visible before, during, and after the police assault on me. There is never any sign of a bite, any visible injury, or any reaction from the officer as if he had been harmed. Article 318(1) of the Russian criminal code describes penalties from fines of 200,000 rubles ($6200) up to five years in prison for causing a minor injury to a uniformed state officer on duty. On Monday, August 20, I will be interrogated by the police on the matter of my supposed assault on a police officer. They will then decide whether or not to proceed with a criminal case against me. On August 23, I will be in court on the charge of participating an unsanctioned political rally on the 17th. Both allegations are preposterous and in any free nation with an independent judiciary they would be thrown out after a single viewing of the video record of events.
Unfortunately, having all the evidence in the world on my side will not help me in a Moscow courtroom. The sentencing of the members of Pussy Riot to two years in prison for an anti- Putin prank is only the latest demonstration that the rule of law in Putin’s Russia begins and ends in the Kremlin, and not with our Constitution. It does not matter who you are. Any demonstration of disobedience to the Putin police state is met with violence and persecution. The video evidence of August 17 does more than prove my innocence. It indicts the security forces as nothing more than political enforcers. They do not serve the state, which is defined by the Constitution. By committing these acts of brutality they want Russians to be afraid. But we are not afraid; we are angry. And we will stay angry until Vladimir Putin and his cruel, corrupt system are swept away.
Below is a link to a compilation of annotated video footage showing the police violently seizing Garry Kasparov, lifting and carrying him to the police bus, and forcing him on board. The police refuse to answer Mr. Kasparov’s repeated question, “What am I being charged with?”
Later, Mr. Kasparov is grabbed and beaten by several police officers outside the bus. One of these officers, highlighted in the video and in the video stills below, was reported injured by the police, who claimed Mr. Kasparov had bitten him on the hand. The videos and the photos show this officer striking Mr. Kasparov in the head with his left hand. There is never appearance of a bite or injury to the officer. The officer stays at the scene and uses both his hands with no sign of discomfort.
BBC footage of Kasparov talking calmly to journalists outside the Moscow court
He is grabbed by police officers and carried to the paddy wagon
The officer who was allegedly bitten by Kasparov during the arrest
His left hand seems fine after the encounter with Kasparov...
... as does his right hand
I am feeling better and I hope my meeting with the police tomorrow goes better than this "meeting" with them Friday! Here you can read my statement on my arrest and assault, as well as see pictures and videos. To the many kind people who are asking, "what can I do?" I ask you to contact your representative to support legislation against Putin's criminals. If you live in a democracy you have a voice! Use it, don't waste it! There are versions of the Magnitsky Act in Europe and the US that would sanction corrupt foreign officials, taking away their visas and freezing their assets. This hits them where it hurts, in their wallets! And if you would like to donate online, our non-profit organization Foundation for Democracy in Russia provides legal defense and other aid to those persecuted by the Putin regime. And please spread the word online. Thanks again to everyone.
From a statement from the Human Rights Foundation on Pussy Riot:
What is most frustrating about the considerable western reaction to this horrible farce is when the media talks about Putin and the Kremlin "losing a PR battle" with a punk rock band. What does Putin care about PR in the west? As long as the oil and gas keep flowing and the money keeps going from the treasury into the crooks' pockets, they don't care about anything else! As I've said many times, Putin and his criminal regime are a Russian problem for Russians to solve, but western hypocrisy about human rights gets tiresome when they could take serious measures instead of just talking.
I am glad artists like Paul McCartney and Madonna are speaking out, but until Interpol and EU parliaments and American legislators take action to penalize Putin's cronies for criminal, financial, and human rights violations, all the press chatter in the world makes little difference. Tell the young children of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina that their mothers "are winning a PR battle" while they sit in prison for three years for political protest!
Here just three of the many letters we have received, overwhelmingly in a similar vein:
Dave Barr in Pennsylvania, USA
I was wondering if anyone has talked about organizing a boycott of Russian chess events if Kasparov is jailed. The video evidence clearly shows that Gary was doing nothing wrong when he was arrested. Considering all that Gary has done for the chess world, doesn't the chess world owe him some support? Or will this be a case where we collectively shrug our shoulders, thank God it didn't happen to us, and go about our daily lives as though nothing happened?
Richard Jones in Bologna, Italy
Would it be possible for you to organise a petition protesting against the arrest and mistreatment of Gary Kasparov that could be signed by your readers and forwarded to the Russian authorities and/or media?
Philip Feeley in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
For this and the outrageous sentence of the band, Russia should be boycotted by all – including chess players!