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Russian activists commemorating the August 1968 invasion arrested

Slovak diplomatic channels promised to follow their situation in Russia; in the meantime, the protesters detained in Moscow have been released.

Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák (Source: TASR)

All three activists detained on August 25 in Moscow's Red Square were released the next day, the TASR newswire wrote. The protest was to mark the 50th anniversary of the so-called "Protest of Seven” from August 25, 1968 which followed the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia by the troops of the Warsaw Pact.

One of those detained, Sergei Sharov-Delone (nephew of one of the original protesters from 50 years ago, poet and dissident Vadim Delone), confirmed their release for the Moscow Echo radio. He also explained that they were detained for an alleged breach of the rules governing the organisation of public meetings.

Another participant, Anna Krasovitska, granddaughter of Natalia Gorbanevska, also a dissident and 1968 protester, moreover brought a placard to the Red Square calling on authorities to release the Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov who has been imprisoned on charges of organising a terrorist group.

Then and now

Participants of the recent protest wanted to unroll a banner with the inscription “For Our and Your Freedom” – the same as that brought to the square in 1968 by the original group of dissidents, according to internet daily Novaya Gazeta.

The 1968 event was attended by academic Konstantin Babitskyi, student Tatiana Baeva, writer Natalia Gorbanevska, philologist Larisa Bogorazova, poet Vadim Delone, worker Vladimir Dremlyuga, mathematician Pavel Litvinov and translator/reviewer Viktor Fainberg. They had placards stating “For Our and Your Freedom” and “Hands Away from CSSR (i.e. communist Czechoslovakia).

After five minutes, they were arrested, sentenced to years in prison, banishment or ordered medical treatment in an institution. Baeva was released shortly afterwards, as she claimed to be coincidentally on the square, TASR wrote

Slovak reactions

Immediately after the detention of three activists in Moscow, public broadcaster RTVS informed that the Slovak Foreign Ministry said it would follow the situation and had even managed to contact the detained activists, adding it was ready to react in case of further persecution. The opposition called for even tougher steps.

“The ministry believes that after the participants of this event were released, the Russian authorities' persecution against them can be considered concluded,” the ministry’s spokesperson Boris Gandel told the Slovak Radio. “We will continue cautiously watching the further development of this case and depending on the persecution steps taken by the Russians, we are ready to react respectively.”

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