The Trial of Aleksandr Gaponenko: “Inflicting Sufficient Pain without Causing Serious Injuries”

On June 3rd there was a regular hearing of the Vidzemsky district court of Riga in the case “Latvia – v. Aleksandr Gaponenko with charges of incitement to ethnic strife (Point 2 of Article 78 of the Criminal Code of Latvia).

At this hearing, the Prosecutor’s Office charged me with a new charge under the same article. However, in the text of the prosecution I found nothing new except references to the fact that I am a “special case” and I am not subject to the norms of the Latvian Constitution concerning freedom of speech, as well as the norms of the UN Convention and the European Conventions on Freedom of Speech. What this “feature” of mine is, they didn’t say. The prosecutor also mentioned that I continue to “incite” and now he will demand the maximum penalty, i.e., 5 years of imprisonment instead of 2, as was the case in the previous charge.

What I have done that’s new is not clear from the text of the prosecution. In my understanding, these were the publications of chapters from my new book “European Fascism: Problems of Identification and Overcoming”. They didn’t like the theoretical design I used to present the actual material. Did they apply the concept to Latvia on their own and were horrified?

The “feature” of my case is that I articulate the interests of the Russian population of Latvia and it’s refusal to assimilate. The authorities consider it a terrible crime to embody in terms of concepts and emotions the terrible situation in which the Russians found themselves. We must not only wear shackles on our arms and feet, but also an iron mask on our mouths. We are not subject to freedom of speech.

The situation is like two drops of water similar to the one that led to the current race riots in the United States. There, too, the black population is a “special case”, the police and the entire law enforcement system treat them a priori as criminals, they are forbidden to talk about the facts of racial discrimination.

Now, on occasion, everyone is outraged by the police killing a black man, George Floyd. A white police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee during the arrest, which caused his death.

So two years ago, police officers from the Security Police attacked me on the street without any motivation, threw my face into the dirt, pressed on my throat with their knee, hit me on the head for good measure, and handcuffed me. In the presence of witnesses. Then they kept me in handcuffs for a day, didn’t let me wash my face in order to humiliate me, they didn’t feed me. This is nothing but torture under all legal norms. Despite my old age, I managed to survive. Why did they do it? Because I’m a “special case” – it’s possible to do this with me. But not with THAT origin.

Similarly, the security services behaved in a similar way with Vladimir Linderman and Yury Alekseyev during the detention. Then they we were thrown behind bars. I stayed in Riga Central Prison without charge for four months. For my anti-fascist colleagues it was less. My colleagues are also a “special case” – they dare to articulate the interests of the local Russian population.

Complaints to the Prosecutor’s Office about the illegal actions of the special services are not accepted by the Prosecutor’s Office. After all, we are a “special case”.

How will the events in my trial develop further? The next hearing is in the autumn. The process will last one or two years. Then they will come up with a new reason, add another article ,and extend the process for two years. I.e., “special” instruments of punishment are used against “special cases”: an improved torture rack.

They hung him by the hands on a rope, a heavier weight was attached to the legs and they look. If the accused articulates something about the rights of the ethnic group that he represents – the wheel is turned, an additional load is hung on his feet. If he lost his senses, went limp, and is already afraid to speak – the wheel is turned back a little, so that the tips of his toes could touch the ground.

This is how such a method of combating those who dared to speak the truth was interpreted by the author of the famous German manual on torture “Righteous Torturer”: “Inflicting sufficient pain without causing serious injuries”.

The ministers of the Latvian Themis think that a lot of time will pass before the case of George Floyd will happen in their country and that they will be able to write their own chapter in the above-cited manual. And that they will become famous by doing so.

Aleksandr Gaponenko

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