Alexey Polihovitch

Alexey Polihovitch. Moscow, 2016.

The protests in the winter of 2011–2012 was that people wanted to see a new election to the Duma. The most tense standoff between protesters and the police happened on 6 May, 2012, in Moscow. It was crowded on Bolotnaya Square when Aleksey Polihovitch got there.

Polihovitch: “The government did not know how they would handle the situation. Protests was a test. I saw the fear in the faces of the police.”

Polihovitch tried to dislodge a protester who was beaten. The police officer who arrested him did not remember what had happened during the first steps of investigation.

  • Only later, after Putin held a press conference, the policeman pointed me out. They needed material for the case. I was sentenced for three years, three months and three days for just trying to help a person who was beaten by the police.

During the imprisonment Alexey understood that some people are kept behind the bars for no reason.

  • We [Bolotnaya Case prisoners — A.] looked strange for other prisoners. Many saw us like rock stars, — he laughs.

Since he was imprisoned the social climate has become harsher. Some of the reasons for the changes is the war in eastern Ukraine, killing of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, and the annexation of the Crimea.

His smile disappears.

  • International law doesn’t work anymore in Russia. The authorities do not care what other countries think. On the upcoming parliamentary elections the government will try to stop the protests if they occur. The new National Guard consists of 200 000 soldiers, submits directly to the president, and has been created to act as a deterrent, — says Polihovitch.
  • I’m afraid of the Maidan in Moscow. Much more blood would be spilled here, in Russia, — finishes Alexey.

Text: Maria Georgieva
Photo: Alexander Aksakov