Our guest on the podcast this week is Nikolai Kavkazsky. Nikolai Yurievich Kavkazsy is a Russian civil society activist, human rights defender and opposition politician. He is one of the leading Yabloko activists in Moscow and for many years has also been a member of the social-democratic organisation, LevSD [Left Socialist Action]. Nikolai Kavkazsky was a defendant in the Bolotnoe case. Politically, he defines himself as a left-wing social democrat, an internationalist, a supporter of LGBT rights and of feminism. He is an advocate of juvenile justice and a humane drug policy.
The recording took place on 18 June 2022.
The questions we ask Nikolai Kavkazsky include:
- Which word best describes you – civil society activist, human rights activist or politician?
- You studied law at the Institute of World Economy and Informatization. At what point did you realize you wanted to be a civil society activist and a politician?
- You became a member of the Yabloko party in 2007 and are one of the party’s leading activists in Moscow. Why did you choose Yabloko as your party?
- Why are political parties weak in Russia?
- You took part in the Bolotnaya Square protest in 2012, after which you were charged with ‘participation in mass riots’ (under Article 212(2) of the Russian Criminal Code) and held on remand for almost a year and a half. Amnesty International recognized you as a prisoner of conscience, along with several other individuals involved in the Bolotnaya case. In December 2013, you were amnestied and the criminal case was dropped. How did all this happen?
- What were the conditions in pre-trial detention centre?
- You were an associate of the late Andrei Babushkin, who headed the Committee for Civil Rights. What is the work of this organization? And what kind of person was Andrei Babushkin?
- You support LGBT rights in Russia. Why is the country so intolerant of LGBT people?
- On 24 February 2022 you were detained for taking part in an anti-war protest. The next day you were jaled for six days. What is the situation regarding anti-war protests in Russia?
- How do you see the future of the country and, in particular, the future of human rights?
You can listen to the podcast is full here:
Given the length of the podcast, for ease of listening we have also divided it up into five parts:
Part One: Early career, civil society activist, human rights defender, politician, Yabloko, Navalny:
Part Two: Bolotnaya Square protest, pre-trial detention, Amnesty International, prisoner of conscience, conditions in detention:
Part Three: Andrei Babushkin, Committee for Civil Rights, LGBT rights in Russia:
Part Four: Anti-war protests, the future of human rights in Russia:
Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: “Everything, absolutely everything, must be politicized. Including the question of installing benches at the entrance to an apartment building and protesting against plans to build in housing courtyards.” That’s what Simon Cosgrove and I were told by Nikolai Kavkazsky in a conversation we had with him last week. I’ve known Nikolai since the infamous Bolotnaya trial in Moscow. He is first and foremost a politician, a political activist. We also remember his active participation in human rights organizations, including Andrei Babushkin’s Committee for Civil Rights. It was an interesting conversation in which Nikolay Kavkazsky bravely states that he wants to change politics as they now are in Russia; he wants to change society so that it is more just, more free, and integrates all oppressed social groups.