Yan Shenkman: As repression rises in Russia, so does solidarity

Dmitry Pchelintsev’s parents are often told that prison breaks people. “That’s not what’s going to happen to our lads,” Pchelintsev’s dad says. And It’s true. The Network case has been going on for two and a half years, and plenty of terrible things have happened, but none of the defendants look broken, or even as if they’ve lost. The first thing that Dmitry Pchelintsev shouts when we come into the courtroom in Penza is: “I got the song, it’s great! I just didn’t know the melody, but I tried singing it and it turned out OK!”

It’s as if the terrible words “18 years” won’t be said about Dmitry any moment. Or the other defendants – 16 years, 14 years, 13 years, 10 years, nine years, six years.

The song is called “This will pass”, and it’s by the Russian punk band Pornofilmy. The song is about them, the Network Case defendants behind bars. “The honest guys from Penza and Petersburg get a sentence,” the song goes, and then: “With a wet plastic bag on your head, with electric burns on your wrist…”

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