We, the members of PEN-Club Moscow and the Free Word Association, in according with the principles formulated in the Charter of PEN-International — an obligation to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace and to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression — call for the Russian government to stop the persecution of Alexei Navalny under trumped-up and inadequate charges. The proclamations of the biggest Russian functionaries and politicians who called Navalny “a traitor, a turn-coat, and an agent of the US State Department,” testify to the fact that Navalny is being persecuted because of his civil actions and not because of any transgressions against the law. Firstly, these proclamations are in themselves an offense against the rule of law, being an extrajudicial accusation and, what’s worse, a call to lynching. Secondly, these texts make obvious the government’s real motivations and goals: an unprecedented pressure is being applied on civil society for the purpose of political manipulation.

War is being declared: not just on Navalny, but on the whole of Russian civil society. The actions of the power structures clearly express their barefaced desire to intimidate anyone who dares to criticize the existing regime. The moral atmosphere of the worst era in the history of our motherland is coming back.

We demand protection of the falsely accused and of the dignity of the country, which is humiliated and disgraced by the regime’s actions.

We demand freedom for Alexei Navalny!

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The members of PEN-Club Moscow and the Free Word Association, St Petersburg PEN-Club, and other individuals have signed the petition, which has been translated by author and PEN-Club Moscow member Maria Rybakova.

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Photograph by Evgeny Feldman, 2017.