Russia: Legal appeal, global petition launched to free anti-war socialist Boris Kagarlitsky

March 15, 2024
Free Boris Kagarlitsky
Russian anti-war socialist Boris Kagarlitsky has been sentenced to five years' jail. Graphic: Green Left

Family members and supporters of renowned Russian sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky have initiated two fronts in their campaign to free the 65-year-old political prisoner.

Together with lodging a cassation appeal with Russia’s Supreme Court against his harsh five-year jail term, an international petition has been launched demanding his release, along with all other anti-war prisoners.

Kagarlitsky — who was editor of the online leftist media platform Rabkor (Worker Correspondent) — was jailed and banned from administering any website for two years upon release, by a military court of appeal on February 13.

But his supporters say his imprisonment is the latest “attempt to silence criticism in the Russian Federation of the government’s war in Ukraine, which is turning the country into a prison”.

Among the initial signatories are national, state and local politicians, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell (Britain), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (France), Myriam Bregman and Nicolás del Caño (Argentina), Sâmia Bomfim and Fernanda Melchionna (Brazil), Bernd Riexinger and Andrej Hunko (Germany), Richard Boyd-Barrett (Ireland), Sarah Hathway and Sue Bolton (Australia).

The petition has also garnered support from academics and writers such as Naomi Klein (Canada), Slavoj Žižek (Slovenia), Tariq Ali (Britain), Walden Bello (the Philippines), Kavita Krishnan (India), Yanis Varoufakis (Greece), Kohei Saito (Japan), Claudio Katz (Argentina), Reinaldo Iturriza López (Venezuela), Grigory Yudin (Russia) and Patrick Bond (South Africa).

Kagarlitsky was arrested in July on trumped-up charges of “justifying terrorism” relating to comments he made in October 2022 on YouTube and Telegram about the bombing of the Crimea Bridge

Following an initial global campaign, a military court found Kagarlitsky guilty on December 12, handing him a fine of ₽609,000 (about US$6700). This sentence was subsequently overturned on appeal by the prosecution who argued it was “unjust due to its excessive leniency”.

According to the petition, “the decision to replace the fine with imprisonment was made under a completely trumped-up pretext”, namely that Kagarlitsky was unable to pay the fine and had failed to cooperate with the court.

“In fact, he had paid the fine in full and provided the court with everything it requested,” the petition notes.

The petition continues: “The sham trial of Dr Kagarlitsky is the latest in a wave of brutal repression against the left-wing movements in Russia. Organisations that have consistently criticised imperialism, Western and otherwise, are now under direct attack, many of them banned.

“Dozens of activists are already serving long terms simply because they disagree with the policies of the Russian government and have the courage to speak up. Many of them are tortured and subjected to life-threatening conditions in Russian penal colonies, deprived of basic medical care.

Calling on Russian authorities to “reverse their growing repression of dissent”, the petition states: “There is a clear reason for this crackdown on the Russian left. The heavy toll of the war gives rise to growing discontent among the mass of working people.

“The poor pay for this massacre with their lives and wellbeing, and opposition to war is consistently highest among the poorest. The left has the message and resolve to expose the connection between imperialist war and human suffering…

“Russia is nearing a period of radical change and upheaval, and freedom for Dr Kagarlitsky and other activists is a condition for these changes to take a progressive course.”

Kagarlitsky’s cassation appeal, which was lodged on March 11, must be heard within two months.

[The petition can be signed at or]

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.