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Russia: Navy veterans call for anarchist protester to be released pending court

Ahead of the March 5 court appearance by anarchist Alexei Polikhovich, common meeting of Central Councils of Navy Social Movements and Unions have issued a call for his release. Polikhovich, 22, who is a retired Northern Fleet conscript sailor, was detained in July 2012 on suspicion of participation in the May 6, 2012, clashes with police during a rally in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square. According to his supporters, Polikhovich dragged to safety one of the fellow protesters who was being beaten by several police officers, whom he pushed off. He is held in Butyrka pre-trial detention centre.

A statement by Navy veteran organisations:

We, Navy sailors, are intently watching the investigation of the so-called Bolotnaya case, in which our comrade in maritime brotherhood and military, Alexei Alexeyevich Polikhovich, who served at Northern Fleet's destroyer Admiral Ushakov and was transferred to reserve, has become inadverently involved.
A law of one for all, all for one exists in the Navy. On the actions of every Navy vessel's crew member its efficiency in battle and the life of each sailor depend. Thus Navy sailors do care who is side by side with them. [...] A man who responsibly carried out the combat missions under the Northern Fleet's toughest conditions has to be respected and cared for.
As far as we know, seaman Alexei Polikhovich has decently paid back his duties to Motherland in the Navy, and was offered to enroll in the Federal Guards Service, for which the selection is even more stringent. This signifies special trust, and a positive recognition of Alexei's moral and practical qualities.
From talking to his university mates, teachers and parents it is known that he was not a member of any extremist parties, movements or organisations, did not support nationalist currents, did not receive funds from foreign sponsors, and could not be organiser and an accomplice in the "rioting" in Bolotnaya Square.
It is highly likely that if not for dubious actions of police and riot police officers at the officially permitted rally For Fair Elections, no "rioting" would have occurred in Bolotnaya Square. We know that there was no fighting or mutual abuse between rally participants, no cars were set on fire, no shop windows were broken, no outside parties were injured.
We are worried that the former seaman Alexei Polikhovich, who was held in prison for eight months, has already been significantly punished, both morally and materially, for actions which even under the toughest approach cannot be described as crimes or even serious administrative offences.
Should the court sentence former sailor Polikhovich to a long prison term on very dubious grounds, it should understand that Alexei will not love or respect the authorities any more for that, and an example of abusing an honest Russian patriot would help the regime's uncompromising critics.
We, Russian Navy admirals, officers, midshipmen, petty officers and seamen, both serving and retired, demand that restrictive measures concerning former Northern Fleet sailor Alexei Alexeyevich Polikhovich be changed and he be released pending trial under a written pledge not to leave town.
He is a Muscovite and has nowhere to run to, he was never involved in criminal activities but honestly served in the Navy and studied at a university, giving an example to the modern youth. We ask investigators, prosecutors and judges to pay attention to the fact that thousands of former and serving Navy sailors, Army personnel and their family members watch this case, and any injustice done to their comrade may severely damage their trust in the authorities.

Chairman of the Interregional movement "Union of Navy Sailors" Capt (1st rank) Anatoliy Fedorovich Kresik
Chairman of the Interregional movement "Union of Combat Service Veterans of the Navy" Capt (2nd rank) Alexander Alexandrovich Matveyev
Chairwoman of the Interregional movement "Women's Council of Wives, Sisters and Mothers of Navy Sailors and Veterans" Galina Ivanovna Pochtovskaya
Chairman of the Interregional public organisation to protect the rights of military personnel "Platsdarm" Vladimir Borisovich Zalishchak

Passed unanimously during a joint session of Central Councils of Navy public movements and unions, March 3, 2013.


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