GLOBAL — Arshak Makichyan, Russian Fridays for Future activist and one of youth representatives at COP25, was arrested today following a court trial for organizing a protest on October 25th in Russia. Despite all the arbitrary circumstances of his arrest, the court has given him a very harsh 6-day sentence, which he will serve in a detention center in Moscow.
According to Arshak’s lawyer argumentation during the court hearing, the activist was illegally denied a permit to protest. He was not given any explanation of this refusal, and instead was offered an alternative location in a remote park, where any protest would be virtually invisible.
The three people who coordinated the protest were arrested just minutes after starting it. The activists have already been denied the right to organize a strike 10 times before the protest that led to their arrest. Moreover, the activists were arrested without a warning or a chance to leave.
On the arbitrary arrest of Arshak Makichyan, Svitlana Romanko, Managing Director of 350.org in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, issued the following:
“Arshak’s arrest is an absolutely disproportionate punishment and an act of intimidation towards all climate activists in Russia and across the world.
“We are witnessing the rise of youth and civil society in all regions of the globe, that are challenging the culprits of the crisis we are in. These young activists are doing what governments are not. How dare they act against them, instead of responding to what their are calling for: real climate action.
“They may try to lock us up, but they will not silence our voices. We at 350.org have come to show our support and solidarity with Arshak Makichyan and all imprisoned activists, and we demand their immediate release, on behalf of all the more than 10 million people who stroke for climate throughout the year of 2019.”
A few days ago, Arshak also took part in the UN climate conference COP25 in Madrid, where he joined youth activists from around the world to call on politicians to take drastic measures against the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Since March 2019, Arshak has been striking every Friday to draw the attention of Russian society and politicians to the impending climate crisis. Arshak is far from being the only climate activist in Russia. On September 27, more than 700 people took part in climate protests across the country, as part of the strikes’ wave that took 7.6 million people to the streets in September.
More context of the silencing of civil society in Russia
For the entire duration of the law “On Foreign Agents”, 150 “foreign agents”, including 29 environmental organizations, were entered into the register of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. This was an attempt to frame and paralyze the work of these organizations, of which some fight to put a spotlight on the climate impacts of the russian government’s dirty energy policies.
There are a least four local iconic fights against fossil fuels in Russia, that are also trying to be silenced: the “Nord Stream-2″ gas pipeline; the Tominsky mining and processing plant in the Chelyabinsk region; the oil exploration of Rosneft in the South and West Black Sea sections of the Black Sea; and the open pit mining of new coal mines in Kuzbass.
To know more about the work of 350.org in the EECCA region, click here.