Russian folk-punks release track in solidarity with political prisoner Boris Kagarlitsky

August 30, 2023

Russian folk-punk outfit Arkadiy Kots Band have released a new track to mark the 65th birthday of political prisoner Boris Kagarlitsky. The title and lyrics for the song are taken from one of Kagarlitsky’s last articles before his arrest, “A plea to my Western progressive friends”.

The well-known Marxist sociologist, who publicly opposed Russia’s current war on Ukraine, spent his birthday on August 29 in a pre-trial detention centre, where he has been since being detained on July 25. Kagarlitsky is facing the possibility of up to seven years’ jail if found guilty of the trumped-up charge of “justifying terrorism”.

His arrest has been viewed by many as an escalation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s domestic war on leftist anti-war dissent.

Arkadiy Kots Band’s decision to use Kagarlitsky’s article as a means to promote solidarity with his case are self-evident. In his open letter to Western progressives, Kagarlitsky writes: “We only need one thing — stop helping Putin with your conciliatory and ambiguous statements.

“The more often such statements are made, the greater will be the confidence of officials, deputies and policemen that the current order can continue to exist with the silent support or hypocritical grumbling of the West.

“Every conciliatory statement made by liberal intellectuals in America results in more arrests, fines, and searches of democratic activists and just plain people here in Russia.”

Speaking to Green Left about the song, band member Kirill Medvedev, who is also an activist with the Russian Socialist Movement, said: “We are participating in the campaign in support of Kagarlitsky not only because he is a person who has fundamentally influenced us as a rare left-wing intellectual in post-Soviet Russia ... who was sent to prison for his socialist beliefs in the late Soviet Union era, under [Boris] Yeltsin and under Putin.

“The campaign in his support is an opportunity to unite both Russian and many international leftists on a renewed platform: democratic, anti-capitalist, anti-war. And it is an opportunity to show those progressives who have a positive or neutral view of Putin's regime that it is time to reconsider their views.

On the importance of solidarity with Kagarlitsky, Medvedev added: “If we do not support Boris today, tomorrow we will face a complete purge of the remnants of the independent left and trade union movement under the pretext of ‘defending our state traditions against the West’.”

In response to Kagarlitsky’s arrest, the Russian-based Kagarlitsky Solidarity Committee launched an international petition demanding his release. The committee is also calling for an international day of action in solidarity with Kagarlitsky, to be held outside Russian consulates and embassies on September 16.

[The song can be downloaded at Bandcamp or viewed on Youtube.]

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