“In our last meeting with Azat Miftakhov it was decided to write about the pressure security forces exert on Azat, previously not brought up by the support group – reports the channel FreeAzat! We were not doing it because at the beginning of his incarceration, we heard about Azat’s unwillingness to disclose this topic – back when it was too sensitive for him. Later in the penal colony, at his suggestion, we wanted to reserve the topic in case the administration uses pressure on prisoners with (political) status."
But now he decided that the situation requires a separate discussion, for the sake of criticism of the caste system itself - suitable to FSIN (Federal Penitentiary Service) for prisoners control.”
Translators note: offended”, “downgraded” or “roosters” is the lowest caste in Russia’s prison caste system, traditionally associated with homosexuality.
The anarchist political prisoner and mathematician Azat Miftakhov decided to make public his status in prison as “rooster”, due to his bisexuality. Azat’s wife Elena Gorban told DOXA that he found himself in that status when, at the beginning of 2019, FSB used against Miftakhov his intimate photos, by passing the information to the inmates of the prison.
Azat Miftakhov decided to publicly disclose his status in order to subject to criticism the system of inequality among prisoners – Gorban reports his words. She also notes, that currently Miftakhov doesn’t need additional protection, although experiences a greater amount of difficulties - associated with his status - compared to other prisoners. For instance, he had conflicts with other prisoners. Gorban believes that the status of political prisoner protects him from serious troubles.
Elena Gorban shared with DOXA that the pressure on Miftakhov had already started when he was in SIZO “Butirka” (pre-trial detention center). Back then Miftakhov didn’t face any problems with other inmates, since at the beginning he was in a solitary cell. Then, he was in a special cell for “roosters”. “In Kirovsk SIZO he was in a common cell and was not planning to raise the topic of his status during his transfer to Omutkinskaya penal colony – says Gorban.
According to Gorban, FSB wanted to worsen Miftakhov’s position in jail and pressured him with his intimate photos. Security forces made sure that prisoners downgrade him to the lowest caste of “roosters”.
Azat Miftakhov’s story was recounted under the nickname “Pasha” in DOXA’s article on prison castes. As Gorban tells, prisoners who cooperate with the administration advised Miftakhov not to deny anything: “As they said, missteps in life”. They were convincing him that, perhaps, that (status) would be more comfortable to him. That he would be interacting more with people, that in contrast to the majority of prisoners, don’t share homophobic views. And that’s how it went”.
“Even though Azat had to face a great amount of difficulties due to the status, he claims that at the end he regrets nothing” – sais Elena Gorban.
“There are inequality problems. But at the same time he is freed from regular encounters with wide-spread manifestations of homophobia and sexism against women among “muzhiki” (the most widespread caste, not professional criminals). He can express his views on those topics and communicate with more reasonable people”.
Elena Gorban herself, considers that politics with regards to prisoners requires a radical change. In her opinion, the security forces are using homophobia as an excuse to distinguish the “roosters” cast to control prisoners by the principal “divide and rule”.
More details on the condition of “roosters” in jail you can learn from DOXA
Azat Miftahov – at the time a master student of MSU’ s faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics – was arrested at the beginning of February of 2019. According to the investigation, he was among those who broke the window of United Russia’s office in Khovrino. The charge is based on a testimony of a secret witness who recognized Azat after a year by his “expressive eyebrows”.
In 18th of January 2021 the court sentenced him to six years of general regime colony. Later the sentence was reduced by three months. Considering the time spend in SIZO, he should be released in September of 2023.
In prison Miftakhov became an honorary doctoral student of Paris-Saclay University and also received an invitation from Harvard to continue his research.
In February it became known that security forces are checking Azat Miftakhov for his involvement in the fictitious terrorist organization “Network”. Later, Azat Miftakhov received a visit from FSB officials, to take his pictures.
Recently, support to Miftakhov expressed the leader of the “France Undowed” Jean-Luc Melenchon, philosopher Slavoj Zizek, Navalny’s associate Vladimir Ashurkov, the chef editor of “Mediazona” Sergey Smirnov.
Address for letters: 612744, Russia, Kirovskaya oblast, Omutninsk, St. Trudovikh Rezervov, FKU IK-17, Azat Miftakhov Fanisovich 1993
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