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22.05.2000

News from Russia: a new way of expressing solidarity with Chechnya

   

The Committee of public monitoring of Russian obligations to Chechnya invented a new method of expressing protest against the Chechen war. It started in the end of October and is still continued. The participants of the protest are the Metropolitan of Old Believers in Russia Viktor Popkov, the orientalist Mikhail Roshchin; this action is supported by the writer Andrey Bitov, poet Aleksandr Tkachenko, journalist Irina Dementyeva, human rights protection activist Kirill Popov, medical doctor Lidiya Gileva, academician Tatarinov, director of Sakharov’s center Yury Samodurov, Nataliya Nelidova from the refugees’ organization ‘Warm home’ and a number of others. The total number of the supporters of the action is now 25 people. The ultimate aim of the action is to demonstrate the solidarity with the Chechen people and other victims of our egotism.

The form of the expression of the protest is the relay hunger strike: one goes on strike for a certain time, and then one is replaced with another participant.

The public part of the action is held daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in a quiet yard in Moscow downtown, by the address 12 Maly Karetny Bystreet (metro station ‘Tsvetnoy bulvar’). Deputies and public figures more than once addressed the Moscow authorities, asking them to permit to hold this action in a more public place. All the requests were refused. Moreover, the Moscow authorities did not permit to put up a tent or even to cover with plastic the improvised chapel which the organizers erected in the yard. However, neither administrative obstacles nor colds shattered the resolution of the protesters to hold the action. The organizers are sure that if the action is pleasing God, then the union of prayer, patience and time sooner or later will improve the public attitude.

Now, as a result of the action, Viktor Popkov lost 16 kg and Aleksandr Gorbenko, who went on hunger strike after Mikhail Roshchin, lost 10 kg.

We all have what to confess, the load of responsibility for all whom we have not saved, lies on us.

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