Staunton, February 12 – Many Russians have been shocked by the long sentences the courts have handed down against members of the now-banned “Network” organization especially since there was already so much coverage of the way torture was used to extract the confessions of many of them.
But they shouldn’t be, Zoya Svetova, a Moscow rights activist and commentator, says because the sentences had a very specific purpose: to sow fear among young Russians that the FSB will pursue them and ensure that they are put behind bars for years as a means of discouraging others from protesting (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/190910?fcc).
Before our eyes, she continues, is “really being repeated what was the case in Soviet times, albeit in a different form. This was a falsified case, the goal of which is clear: the FSB wants to sow fear among young people,” to show that “even for falsified dissent, they can be punished” and will be tortured even before the sentences are handed down.
Torture became the norm among Russian siloviki. Sometimes police are caught and tried, but this doesn’t happen with the FSB. Indeed, Svetova says, the organs now torture even those who are not involved in political crimes but simple murders or narcotics offenses. Using torture has become normalized.
The only way that those sentenced in this particular case would be the appearance of a massive social movement. If thousands of those who are now protesting online go into the streets, the authorities might back down. That is a long shot, but if there are no protests, those sentenced will likely remain in prison as long as the current regime is in place.