Russian journalist Anastasia Zotova: “Anyway, I don’t give up!”

Putin regime is continuing the repressions against Russian civil society. Ildar Dadin was convicted on 3 year of prison for the participation in single pickets. He went out with the posters to support Ukraine and against war.

The bride of a big friend of Ukrainian people told about her struggle for the freedom of her boyfriend, who became the captive of the murderous system. About perspectives of the peaceful protest, bullying of the activists and trampled Russian Constitution is in the interview of Anastasia Zotova to journalist of Mykyta Pidhora.


Anastasia Zotova

  • Nastya, do you feel lonely in the struggle with system for the freedom of Ildar? Who supports you?
  • Friends are supporting, and even not my friends, but Ildar’s. Strange, unexplained thing has happened with my friends, it seems that are already not my friends. The number of the desirous to communicate with harshly decreased after this sentence. Especially it was seen, when person, whom I considered best friend, did so. This man even didn’t ask who do I feel and if I need help? So, a friend in need, a friend indeed.

The verdict to Ildar Dadin

But, a lot of people, whom I considered only acquaintances, harshly begin to help me and to give advices. They tell me for whom it’s better to apply. For example, to wrote to human rights activists to look for isolation ward from their side. Guys drew posters, made stickers. My students of the same year from the journalistic faculty are trying to write more about case of Dadin.

As for friends of Ildar, we will arrange the actions of protest. They really helped me, explained how this could be done. I have never done such things! I think that we will get such type of experience from the well-known human rights people.

Maybe, it would be possible to cancel 212.1 article of Criminal Code of RF (Repeated violation of the established order of organizing or holding meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets) for anybody not to get into the jail for nothing.

The plot about Ildar Dadin

Anyway, I don’t give up. I think every person can become my ally. Now there are a lot of protests in Russia: against new taxes of against pay parkings. All this people can become accused on 212.1. So, we need to struggle for cancelling of this article together.

  • A lot of Russians suppose that verdict to Ildar is the sign to all disagree with Putin regime. Is it possible to scare citizens or opposite the injustice will make Russians to change power?
    • It is attempt to bully civic activists in general, who goes on the actions of protest. A lot of alike laws were accepted last time. At the beginning the detention was on 2 days days, then 15 and then 30. Now it takes years. Not so long ago State Duma of RF has accepted a law, which allows to RSS to shoot in the places of mass gatherings. We don’t talk already about changing of the authority. Objectively, the opposition doesn’t have resources for it. I think, the maximum now is to try to win on the local elections.
  • Did Ildar expected that he will become one of the symbol anti-Putin protest?
    • No, the only thing he wanted is to stay a human in his own eyes. Not a coward, but worthy hero, like William Wallace.
  • The sentence to Ildar was passed practically in a jubilee of the peace action of the Soviet human rights activists of 1965. What is the main similarity of the Soviet and Russian power?
  • I didn’t live in time of Soviet power, but according to my journalist experience I can say only about fierce propaganda. I worked in the state mass-media, that’s why I know what I’m talking about. I’d better say about the similarity of the sentences.

Soviet dissidents came out on the action of protest with the posters “Follow your Constitution”. The same motive has the actions of Ildar, coming on the actions of protest, he defends his right on freedom of opinion and freedom of peaceful assemblies. He can quote big parts of the Constitution by memory, as the other laws of RF, which he complies, unlike the police.

  • Ildar one of the first supported Maidan in Russia. Further he stayed on the anti-military and pro-Ukrainian positions. Did all of this become a reason for the cruel verdict?


First picket in Russia to support Maidan

The prosecutor a lot times during the trial pointed that Ildar was on Maidan, but for the article, he was judged, this fact didn’t had any general. Ildar really opposed the war, as a lot of other Russians, who also subject to harassments and attacks from the side of radicals with St. George ribbons.

  • What resources are used by Russian authority, repressing disagreement people? Who is the main persecutor of freethinking: center “E”, FSS, MIA, Investigation Committee?
  • It’s a difficult question too. I can only say that center “E” except looking for real terrorists, is running for civil demonstrants, “earning sticks” (insignia on the shoulder straps – ed.). The same is with the police. That’s more easy to grab old woman with the poster or even young guy, than catch a criminal, who will resist! It’s likely not a hate in address of activists, it’s only cynicism and laziness, the wish to get salary not for real cases, but for the imitation of work. And those, who especially defend own rights, the ordinary employees have already beaten in the police Departments, knowing that they will have nothing for it. Because they beat not only political, but every detained. Not because of hatred, just because. Because they can.


  • What must happen in Russia to begin serious protests against Putin? Is Maidan possible in RF?
  • I think that not. Russia has protest, but Putin is the personification of “kindness and justice” for a biggest part of Russians. It considered that tsar is good, but boyars are bad. The problem is not in Putin, but in civil self-consciousness. The system will stay the same, if any Ivanov, Petrov, Kozlov come on the place of Putin. I think the system must be changed from inside. We walk by Departments of police and conduct talks with the employments for them to know the law about police and Constitution. They must pass the human rights activists, they must know that they live for our taxes and we, people are their employer. And we control their work. We need to change the voting system, to take part in elections as like observers and like candidates. We need to be volunteers in human rights and other initiatives.

Ildar Dadin tells about his participation in Maidan

It is necessary to understand, what we need to get as a result and build such a system. Because faith, that kind uncle President will come except Putin and correct everything, is irrational. It’s the same as the believing in kind Putin. We need to create such system not to have chances for thieves and rogues to hold repressions, steal money and rib people. How does it must be made? I still don’t know. First we need to do is to struggle with the repression articles.

  • Dadin is the supporter only of peaceful resistance. Is he right, how do you think?
  • I against the violence too. I would never killed a man. I consider that human life is priceless. Even if it’s life of the criminal, which must be isolated from the society. We don’t have a right to deprive somebody life. It’s hardly to find the supporters of violence in Russian opposition. Those, who were (not many) became the followers of the annexation of Crimea and now have a little common with the opposition. Aggression is connected somehow with imperial consciousness.

Here is also nationalists, who are for “Crimea is ours”, but if they make the attempt to overthrow power or something like this I will be against first. I’m against armed rebels. Violence borns violence and also starving and demolition. Revolution is like a storm: different garbage gets to the surface.

  • It’s known that Ildar helps to stand for their rights to other prisoners in isolation ward. What do you know about the conditions of detention there, who are his cellmates, how administration treats gim?
    • According to his words, all his cell is the first-time-prisoners. He’s treated well. Administration still behaves in the same way. In spite of fact that remand, where he’s sitting is problematic:  1 prisoner dies there every week. The last died, choking on his own vomit. It happens when suffocation is used to a human (gas mask is put on and hosepipe is clamped, one of the favourite tortures in Russian jails – ed.). But, I hope that Ildar will pass it as the public person. I want it not to happen. We trying to do our best in struggle for every prisoner. I think that he shares food with his cellmates. 2 kilograms of oranges must be delivered to him, it’s understood that he won’t eat them by himself. The cell is designed for 10 people, but there are 8 beds. Ildar sleeps in hammock, but doesn’t complaint. There is also the place for trainings and table for food. There is also a free time to read books. He studies Criminal Process Code, helps to write complaints to other prisoners. He gets a lot of letters from other people. He says to us, his friends not to lose heart.
  • Do you consider the opportunity to remove from Russia while Putin is in power?
  • A lot of people choose freedom not to become a victim of the regular mad lawlessness. As for me, I’m sure that till January of next year I won’t go. It’s my country and if here is a mess, I’m responsible for it and must correct it. I think that Ildar has the same opinion. He didn’t want to go, he wanted everything to be good in his country.


Anti-military march in Moscow

I want to say that Ildar loves Russia more than somebody from my friends. Imagine, once I woke up in the morning and he was reading in the laptop about Russian flag. What do these colours mean? Like, white is for honour, white is for freedom. And he began to read aloud it to me! With such a big love and honour!

I don’t know, who will be startled and who not. But there are a lot of people, for whom the main thing is to stay a human and to run is to to succumb to weakness and cold feet. And will resist till the end to upcoming Mordor.

Interviewed by Mykyta Pidhora

Translated by Denis Bizkitov