Azat Miftakhov: “While Claiming to Fight Terrorism, the Russian State Seeks to Maintain its Monopoly on Terror”

The military court of the central district of Yekaterinburg has sentenced mathematician Azat Miftakhov to four years’ imprisonment for “apology for terrorism.” The young anarchist had already served a six-year sentence for so-called “hooliganism.” In September 2023, Miftakhov was rearrested immediately after his release. The new case against him was based on prisoners’ testimony that Miftakhov had promised to “avenge” a friend who had died fighting on the Ukrainian side. On March 28, Miftakhov made his final statement to the court.

During the years of my imprisonment, I never showed any love for the state – and here I am again in the dock. I’m on trial for what the police wanted to call “apology of terrorism,” falsifying the evidence once again, as they did last time. The evidence and impudence of such falsification does not embarrass them at all. It is as if they were telling us, “We can put anyone in prison, and it costs us nothing.” We see the same arrogance in many cases of inhuman torture practiced by the regime’s henchmen belonging to the FSB. They do not care if their shameful actions are made public. On the contrary, these cases are flaunted as a source of pride. In this way, the state shows its terrorist nature, as the anarchists underlined before the last presidential election, taking to the streets with the slogan “The FSB is the main terrorist.” What we said then has become obvious not only in our country, but worldwide. We can see how the whole of the state’s foreign and domestic policy is turning into a conveyor belt of murder and intimidation. While the charge against me is “proven” by false witnesses, we hear on federal channels calls for the mass murder of those who disagree with state policy. We see that the state, while claiming to be fighting terrorism, is in fact seeking to maintain its monopoly on terror.

However, no matter how hard the Chekists try to intimidate civil society, even in these dark times we see courageous people confronting the terror that has spilled over the borders of the state. By risking not only their freedom but also their lives, their actions awaken the conscience of our society, whose absence we feel so keenly, and their extreme determination becomes an example to us all.

Mobilization in support of Azat Miftakhov outside Moscow University //

One such example is that of my friend and comrade Dmitri Petrov (aka Dima the Green), who died defending Bakhmut against imperialist troops. I knew him as an ardent anarchist who, under the dictatorship, did his best to lead us toward a society based on the principles of mutual aid and direct democracy. With a doctorate in history, he had well-founded beliefs and was able to argue his position well, something I have never been able to do. At the same time, he did not just theorize, but actively participated in the organization of the guerrilla movement, which did not escape the attention of the FSB. As a result, he was forced to pursue his anarchist activities in Ukraine.

When the sinister events of the last two years began, he could not stay away and set up an association of convinced libertarians fighting for the freedom of the peoples of Ukraine and Russia. Unfortunately, there is no war without victims, and Dima is one of them. It would be unjustifiably selfish of me to admire the self-sacrifice of strangers without accepting the sacrifice of those who are personally dear to me. I am aware of this, despite my regret that my relationship with him is now a thing of the past. Yet I find it hard to accept this loss: he was one of the best of us and I want to ensure that his sacrifice is not in vain, even if my contribution is insignificant compared with what he was capable of.

For some, my words may have been unexpected. I may have disappointed some of my supporters, because, much to my regret, I find it hard to express myself publicly. Perhaps some will not agree with my beliefs, which run counter to pacifism. However, as a rational person, I reject belief in unproven entities. That is why I do not believe that the world is just and that evil will be punished, sooner or later. I therefore support active resistance to this evil and the struggle for a better world for us all.

Even if some of those who support me do not share all my beliefs, I am grateful for all the help they have given me.

I am grateful to all those who have sent me letters full of warmth and good wishes. Despite the remoteness of my colony, I received stacks of them almost every week. I am sure that such attention to me was considered by the jailers who wanted to break me. I find it very pleasant and touching that people share their lives with me, with their joyful impressions, their happy experiences. Each letter was very dear to my heart and I did not leave any of them unread.

Rally in Paris for the release of Azat Miftakhov, September 4, 2023. Photo: Lev Ponomarev

Many thanks to all those who supported me financially. Thanks to you, I did not need anything during all those years of imprisonment. Sometimes I ran out of money, but as soon as I called for help, within a few days my budget was back to a comfortable level. It is very pleasant and impossible to forget. My special thanks go to Vladimir Akimenkov, who has been organizing fundraisers to support political prisoners, including myself, for over ten years.

I am extremely grateful to the activists of the FreeAzat and Solidarity FreeAzat collectives who organize actions and events in solidarity with me, the scale of which is beyond me. Your recent “Thousand and One Letters” action was one of them. After reading all the letters, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that people from dozens of countries are concerned about me. Thank you so much, everyone who took part in this campaign and showed me how much they support me.

I am very grateful to mathematicians all over the world, and in particular to the “Azat Miftakhov Committee,” for supporting me within the mathematical community. I am very touched by the fact that people I admire and whose scientific level I dream of reaching one day are aware of my existence and are expressing their solidarity.

Many thanks to all those who have spoken publicly about me. My special thanks go to Mikhail Lobanov, who had to emigrate to France to actively support me. Despite all the difficulties of emigration, his solidarity with me is stronger than ever.

Many thanks to the Russian activists, including those who are not part of the above-mentioned collectives, who risk their comfort by showing solidarity with me in the face of dictatorship. I am very grateful to all those who came to support me at the trial through their presence. Some of you traveled hundreds of kilometers to do so, and others did so several times. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by the attention I received.

I would like to thank all the honest journalists who, through their work, are helping the public to follow my trial.

I would like to thank my lawyer, Svetlana Sidorkina, for her dedication. I never cease to admire her professionalism and I am convinced that I am very lucky to have her. Finally, I would like to thank Lena, my main support during my trials. She helped me with all her dedication to overcome all the difficulties of my imprisonment. And what is more, I am lucky enough to be in love with her.

I have the feeling that I may have forgotten to thank someone. This is a consequence of the immense support I have received since my arrest. I am glad to see that I am not the only one to have benefited from such support, that despite the dark events of recent years, your solidarity knows no boundaries. This gives me hope for a bright future for us all.

Translated into English by Desk Russie and Béatrice Murail. Read the original.

Mathematician, anarchist activist and political prisoner. Azat Miftakhov was born on March 22, 1993 in Nizhnekamsk, Republic of Tatarstan. In 2015, he started a doctorate at the Department of Theory of Functions and Functional Analysis at the Faculty of Mechanics, Moscow State University.

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