«For your freedom and ours!» - Red Square 40 years on
On 24 August 2008, at exactly midday near Lobnoye Mesto on Red Square seven young people sat down on the cobblestones unfurling a banner reading «For your freedom and ours!»
Forty years ago, at the same time on 25 August 1968, 4 days after Soviet tanks rolled in to crush the Prague Spring, eight people unfurled banners one with the same words and in that very place. The others were: «At zije svobodne a nezavisle Ceskoslovensko!» [Long ling free and independent Czechoslovakia”), “Shame to the occupiers!” and others. They were arrested within minutes. The eight were: Larisa Bogoraz, Konstantin Babitsky, Vadim Delaunay, Vladimir Dremluga, Pavel Litvinov, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Victor Fainberg and Tatyana Baeva.
Vladimir Dremluga was imprisoned for 3 years, Vadim Delaunay for 2 years and 10 months. Pavel Litvinov, Larisa Bogoraz and Konstantin Babitsky who had no previous convictions and who had children received periods of exile (5,4 and 3 years respectively). Natalya Gorbanevskaya who had recently given birth and Victor Fainberg were declared mentally unfit. The KGB worked on 21-year-old Tatyana Bayeva who agreed to say that she had ended up there by chance.
40 years ago those who took part in such a courageous protest knew what faced them.
The young participants in the action today were Yulia Bashinova, Valentina Chubarova, Veniamin Dmitroshkin, Nikolai Zboroshchenko, Sergei Konstantinov, Ivan Ninenko and Denis Shadrin.
In the few minutes that elapsed during which they were surrounded by Muscovites and visitors to the capital, and before the police arrived, Yulia Bashinova explained what had brought the young people out onto Red Square.
“Our action is in memory of how 40 years ago seven people went out onto Red Square. That was a breath of freedom and a serious step towards overcoming our own fear. The fear is again appearing. This banner remains relevant and we felt that we had to come out here since otherwise we are with every day losing our freedom.”
The first police officer appeared a few minutes after the banner was unfurled and tried unsuccessfully to rip it out of Yulia Bashinovas hands. He then began calling his colleagues. When the second police officer arrived, the participants in the action began moving with their banner in the direction of GUM. It was broken up after men in civilian clothes came up to the participants and literally carried them off the square and put them in cars. In the chaos some of them managed to get away. According to one of the latter, Valentina Chubarova, the police took Nikolai Zboroshchenko, Veniamin Dmitroshkin and Ivan Ninenko to the police station, together with four journalists.
The participants in the action believe that on 25 August 1968 freedom was born in the USSR and even 40 years later the meaning of the sloganl “For your freedom and ours” retains its importance in modern Russia..
Based on material from www.svoboda.org