The right to speak; Olga’s struggle

It has just ended on April 25, the national day for liberation.  For all of us it represents a moment of mourning for the fallen for freedom; civilians, priests, soldiers, police men and partisans who gave their lives to free our country from Nazi-fascism.

This time, however, the celebration has also taken another meaning because of the current persistent context in Eastern Europe, the invasion of Ukraine has well highlighted the fact that there are still nations such as Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy, Joseph Stalin’s USSR and Adolf Hitler’s nazi Germany.

By now, we all know what Russia has done and is still continuing to implement in Ukraine.  Some scholars have now compared it to Adolf Hitler’s Germany not only for the attack launched or for the war crimes that are reiterated day after day, but also for the now tireless repression against freedom of expression.

Today, there is a person who, defying the danger and possible transversal retaliation, wants to talk about the real thoughts of Russian people on the war, the abolition of freedom of speech and also the hard struggle that she has been waging for three years.

The Journal, is pleased and honored to present you an interview to Olga Misik. This young girl has been nicknamed by many people as the girl of the constitution or the Greta Thunberg of Russia, following the beginning of her struggle against President Putin at the age of sixteen, or we could say like Piero Gobetti with the Italian fascist regime.

Olga Misik’s first appearance in front of the world’s cameras in 2019, where during a protest in Moscow she read the Russian constitution

Currently, Olga is serving a sentence of two years and nine months of “restrictions on freedom” for her anti-Putin activism, but nevertheless, she has not given up.

Here the integral interview:

Olga, in Europe you are known as the girl of the Constitution; tell me, despite the “house arrest”, can you still express your thoughts?

Formally yes, now I am allowed to use the Internet and I often write to my Twitter channel, Telegram and other social networks. But in fact, now in Russia they are imprisoned for any “wrong” thoughts, so you need to talk even at home with great care.

What is your favorite article of the Russian constitution?

The third – where people are the only source of power in the state.

Is there still a form of opposition in Russia?

Now they are all clandestine, there are no rallies and they are not planned and we must invent new forms of protest that are less likely to be arrested: now even buying yellow blu clothes is a crime.

What do Russians currently think about the conflict in Ukraine?

People who have at least the rudiments of a brain, of course, are outraged and even devastated by what is happening, but, unfortunately, in Russia there are only half of them. The others, in all seriousness, support Putin’s actions and almost run as volunteers to kill people. It is very strange to suddenly realize that there are so many cruel mini-Hitlers around.

As for the new law on 15 years in prison, how have the few political opponents of Putin generally reacted? Do you also think that this will stop your struggle?

It seems to me that nothing can stop the ideological struggle. When one form of protest is declared a crime, dozens more arise in its place. It is impossible to completely ban everything in general, and when you take the opposition out of the legal field, outside its framework, people’s hands are loose.

Olga, have any of your friends been drafted into the army?

No.

Is it true that in Russia there are associations that help Ukrainian refugees?

Yes and I am a member of the greatest of them: “Helping to leave”. We take care of coordinating Ukrainian women and Ukrainians on how to leave the country or where to get help in Ukraine.

Is it dangerous for those who work there?

So dangerous that we even stopped recruiting volunteers from Russia and now I doubt it’s worth writing about my participation. But it’s not in my rules to keep quiet about things to be proud of, so I encourage everyone who speaks Russian or Ukrainian and lives outside Russia to join our team. We will also welcome donations (they will be used to buy tickets and medicines for refugees) and new big sponsors.

Do you think it likely that Putin will be removed from the presidency in the future?

I still bet rather on his death and I hope with all my heart that it will be painful.

You and your colleagues are fighting for free speech and against Putin, so tell me, if he leaves, what are you going to do?

I would have to devote a lot of time and effort to fixing everything Putin has done in 22 years. It will probably take at least ten years. And of course, pardons, the abolition of repressive laws, a path to democratic politics. But first of all – the first fair elections in the history of Russia.

Moreover, how many people have been arrested for anti-war demonstrations?

About ten thousand.

Do you believe that after Navalny’s new conviction, Putin no longer has rivals at his level?

Opposition is like a hydra: if you cut off one head, another grows. New ones will come to replace Navalny. This is neither good nor bad, it is only the law of history.

Thanks Olga

Translation and editing by Tommaso Bernardini

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