Gorky’s “Freedom is not given – it’s taken” found to be “extremist”


According to an official assessment, the slogan “Freedom is not given – it’s taken” is extremist and “undermines the moral pillars of society”, the human rights association AGORA reports. The assessment was carried out at the request of the Novorossiysk Prosecutor and signed by an assistant professor of a part of the Kuban State University Vladimir Rybnikov.

On the basis of this assessment, the Prosecutor has sent an application to the Oktyabrsky District Court to have the Novorossiysk Human Rights Committee declared an extremist organization and dissolved. The leaders of the Committee – Tamara and Vadim Karastelev used a placard with this slogan at one of their pickets.

According to Rybnikov, the slogan “Freedom is not given – it’s taken” is “erroneous and dangerous”. He states that Karastelov “consciously or not” is serving the interests of those who would like to undermine the socio-political system of contemporary Russia, in particular the interests of the USA, “Russia’s strategic adversary”.

A second assessment was provided by the Head of the “Psychological-pedagogical medical and social centre “Dialogue”, Svetlana Guzeva. This psychologist with the highest qualifying level states: “The call to take freedom oneself, beyond legally defined frameworks, can be viewed as a call by the organizers of the meet to active measures against current legislation. The slogan “Freedom is not given – it’s taken” is an utterance which stirs people and could be taken by minors, older adolescents as inciting them to active resistance to the authorities”.

Neither of these “experts” has taken into consideration the fact that the slogan “Freedom is not given – it’s taken” is a rephrasing of a quote from a play by Maxim Gorky (he has: “Rights are not given, rights are taken”.

Problems for the Novorossiysk Human Rights Committee over the slogan arose in April of this year. After receiving a recommendation from the FSB, the Prosecutor sent the human rights defenders a warning that extremist activities were unacceptable. They appealed against this warning in court which rejected their appeal on the basis of the above-mentioned assessments. It was after this that the Prosecutor sent the application to have the Committee declared extremist, and to have its activities suspended until the case is heard.

From a report at

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