84 investigators in Moscow are working day and night to convict citizens for participating in a peaceful protest rally on July 27, organizing, or at least intending to stage a “riot”. The materials of the same type are taken to the courts as a measure of restraint, in which the crime itself is described as one plastic bottle thrown towards the police. It is also proposed to consider rioting out slogans in order to attract the attention of citizens and journalists. And the organization of the riots was described by investigators as the actions of Yegor Zhukov, a student at the Higher School of Economics, who walked around Moscow and showed someone that they should turn right.

According to Russian law, riots imply violence, the use of weapons against government officials, the destruction of property, arson and pogroms. This constitutes the objective side of the crime provided for in Article 212 of the Criminal Code. There was nothing like this in Moscow. On the contrary, here

there is a non-violent civil protest against the prohibition of independent candidates for elections. After the death of Gandhi, you can talk about this with Muscovites.

It is clear to us that the case of the riots in the absence of the riots themselves is politically motivated and has nothing to do with Russian laws. The sole purpose of this criminal case is to intimidate people and isolate the political opposition. The actions of investigators are pushing Russian citizens to abandon their constitutional rights to political representation and freedom of assembly under the threat of prison sentences. These actions are otherwise called political terror.

Citizens of Russia must make political terror as difficult and unpleasant as possible for any forces that wish to take this path. Our survival as a society and, ultimately, the preservation of the country depends on whether people can stop the forceful destruction of opponents of power.

There were no precedents in history when terror against the people would become the basis for the prosperity of the state and the creation of a stable political system.

We have legal ways to express our attitude to what is happening. The political crisis in Moscow should be resolved in a civilized manner, and the first step towards this is to end the criminal prosecution of participants in a peaceful protest. The situation in the capital is crucial for Russia as a whole. If the course on terror is taken here, it will then be scaled to all regions where people defend their rights during peaceful demonstrations, from the Arkhangelsk region to Dagestan and Siberia.

The Office of the Attorney-General has the authority to stop the unlawful persecution of people for their political beliefs. Now, as many people as possible should express solidarity with the accused under Article 212 after the July 27 rally and demand from the Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika to stop the criminal prosecution of citizens for peaceful protest. If the bill of the signatories of the petition goes to hundreds of thousands, it will be more difficult to ignore the people of Russia.

Novaya Gazeta launches a campaign of civil solidarity with the accused and calls on all Russians, media representatives and activists to join it.