Aleksandr Kolchenko was detained in Crimea on the 17th of May 2014 on suspicion of participation in a "terrorist group," preparation of a terrorist attack, and arson.
He is suspected of having participated in a "terrorist group" which planned explosions near the eternal fire memorial and the Lenin monument in Simferopol on the 8th and 9th of May, and of having sabotaged railway tracks and electricity lines. Kolchenko is also suspected of having carried out two arson attacks: against the headquarters of the Russian Unity-party and Russian Community of Crimea on the 14th of April, and the office of the United Russia party in Simferopol on the 18th of April. He has since been transferred to Moscow and is being kept in the Lefortovo remand prison. The case is run by the FSB, the former KGB.
Aleksandr is an anarchist and antifascist who has participated in student and environmental actions. He has been part of campaigns against tuition fees and supported workers' rights protests. He was under constant Nazi attack for his antifascist ideas. One incident took place after a film screening about murdered anti-fascist journalist Anastasiya Baburova, where he was attacked by thirty Nazis using knives. In this context, claims by the Russian authorities that Aleksandr is part of the nationalist "Right Sector" are ridiculous, and he is denying these claims.
As lawyers of the accused are subject to a gag order, we have limited information on the charges and the level of cooperation from the suspect. We know that Aleksandr has admitted to being present at the location of the arsons, but he denies terrorist charges, which carry a 20-year maximum prison sentence. There is no reason to believe that he has implicated anyone else.
Aleksandr Kolchenko is claimed to be part of a bigger group protesting against the Russian invasion of Crimea by organising direct actions. A famous film director, Oleg Sentsov, as well as two Maydan activists, Gennadiy Afanasyev and Alexei Chirniy, have also been detained under the same suspicion. All of them are claimed to be part of the Right sector (a Ukrainian ultra-right organisation). This is a lie as apart from Chirniy none of the accused have any connection to the Right sector, and Aleksandr Kolchenko has never shared nationalist ideas. The whole case is considered to be part of the Russian campaign to take over Crimea, which includes repressions against anyone who doesn't comply with the new authority.
Oleg Sentsov's arrest has gained worldwide attention, as recently, a number of known directors, including Pedro Almodovar, Mike Leigh, Agnieszka Holland, Stephen Daldry, Bela Tarr and Wim Wenders signed a petition demanding his release.
Since this case is highly political, Aleksandr's legal costs are high, around 850 euro per month. We expect the investigation to last long enough as to put a heavy financial strain on local ABC groups. So we call for support with finances and information distribution. You can make donations via PayPal to [email protected] or using a bank account (write to the same e-mail address for details).
An international week of actions for the arrested will take place from July 15 to July 22.
You can write to Aleksandr using the following address (only letters in Russian are accepted, so you can send postcards or use google translate in case you do not speak Russian):
Kolchenko Aleksandr Aleksandrovich
Lefortovskiy val, 5, p/b 201
Originally posted on Autonom.