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Leningrad Blockade Survivor Arrested, Fined For Anti-War Protest

Published: March 9, 2014 (Issue # 1800)



  • Local activist, Igor "Stepanych" Andreyev.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / For SPT

Russian police detained a 75-year-old survivor of the Nazi siege of Leningrad and fined him 10,000 rubles ($275) for attending an anti-war rally and holding a sign that read "Peace to the World, while a pro-Kremlin lawmaker reportedly called him a supporter of "fascism."

The activist, Igor Andreyev, was detained at a protest in St. Petersburg against Russia's dispatch of troops to the Crimea. Police held him in custody for nearly 24 hours, before releasing him on Wednesday and ordering him to pay a fine, Novaya Gazeta reported.

Related: Anti-War Protest Leads to Arrests, Violence

Andreyev said he was first accosted by a local lawmaker from the pro-government United Russia party, Vitaly Milonov, who tore a placard that the activist had brought to the rally from his hands, ripped it apart and threw the pieces into a trash can.

"I was telling him that I was a child of the siege, that I know what war is like," Andreyev said.

"Milonov responded: 'You have been reborn, you are supporting fascism.' What does he know about fascism?" Andreyev said.

Related: Local Protesters Acquitted in Maidan Event

During World War II, the German army cut off Leningrad now called St. Petersburg from Russian lines for 872 days, and hundreds of thousands of people died as famine gripped the city.

"I was four years old, but I remember how buildings crumbled, how we suffered in bomb shelters," Andreyev said.

He said he then took a placard with the handwritten words "Peace for the World" from a woman who seemed too shy to hold up the sign. It was a small and naive placard, he said, similar to what Soviet-era children wrote in elementary school classes.

"I unfolded the placard, and immediately the Omon [riot police] ran up to me, took me by the arms and led me to the police bus," Andreyev said.

After Novaya Gazeta reported that a 10,000 ruble fine was levied on the retiree, who lives on a 6,500-ruble monthly pension, many readers offered to pay the fine, the newspaper said.

Andreyev thanked readers for their support but declined the money, saying he did not want to create the impression that he was getting money for participating in anti-war protests.

Russian officials have accused the West of bankrolling anti-government protests in Ukraine that led to the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

"Every time they take me to the bus with the other detainees, they ask me: 'How much did they pay you, old man?'" he said. "I don't want to give them any grounds to think I might take money."





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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