Hunger Strike to Reclaim “Day of Political Prisoners” in Russia

Russian political prisoners are set to stage a one-day hunger strike on October 30, seeking recognition and support.

Russian political prisoners unite in a one-day hunger strike for recognition and support.
Russian political prisoners unite in a one-day hunger strike for recognition and support. Photo: Reuters

Moscow, October 5, 2023 – Several Russian politicians and public figures, recognized as political prisoners, have announced their intention to hold a one-day hunger strike on October 30. In a call for solidarity, they have urged individuals who support their cause to join them in this symbolic protest.

The appeal, made public on Alexei Navalny’s website, carries the signatures of prominent figures such as Alexei Navalny himself, Ilya Yashin, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Liliya Chanysheva, Daniel Kholodny, and Vadim Ostanin.

The primary objective of this action is to restore the original significance of October 30 as the “day of political prisoners.” Currently observed as the “Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression,” this date’s historical roots trace back to October 30, 1974, when Soviet political prisoners Kronid Lyubarsky and Alexey Murzhenko initiated a symbolic one-day hunger strike within the Dubrovlag prison. Their aim was to secure the recognition of political prisoner status, the removal of restrictions on correspondence, parcels, and transfers, an increase in the frequency of visits from relatives, and access to comprehensive medical care.

Navalny and the co-signatories highlight that eating food on this day was seen as the “last resort.” Despite widespread punishment by prison authorities for those who refused food on October 30, including confinement in punishment cells, the hunger strike served as a powerful symbol. The authors also draw attention to the fact that although the Memorial society, which organized actions on the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Repression, was disbanded by authorities, the issue of political prisoners persists, with many individuals still in custody.

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The appeal does not explicitly outline any specific demands coinciding with the one-day hunger strike.

It’s worth noting that in the spring of 2021, Alexei Navalny embarked on a several-week hunger strike to demand access to medical care.

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