Russia: Interview with Andrey Nestruev, “The authorities did not expect these protests”

In the midst of intense activity against the Russian aggression against Ukraine, we spoke with Comrade Andrey Nestruev, from St. Petersburg, a member of the Russian Socialist Movement and the International Socialist League.

How do the Russian people experience the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine?

Society has been divided. Many people are against the war. Protests take place every day in major cities. In the actions, they arrest a lot of people. So much so that there is no longer room in the St. Petersburg police jails, so people are being moved to other nearby cities. It is also true that there are quite a few people who support the war. It is difficult to accurately assess, around me, how many activists are against the war.

What consequences does war have on everyday life?

One of the consequences is that the dollar has risen and with it, the price of household items. On the other hand, people feel uncertainty and withdraw cash, so ATMs are often empty. But so far, the full scale of the war is yet to be felt. I believe that the most serious problems have not yet begun, they are yet to come.

Has the government and the regime accentuated its authoritarianism?

The authorities did not expect these protests and did not have time to react. However, they are now passing a law on fake news about the war, with sentences of up to 15 years in prison. Also, today Putin will meet with the governor of St. Petersburg. I think this is due to the fact that the largest action against the country’s war took place in our city. We will see what comes out of the meeting.

What are the expected punishments?

The law I mentioned has cruel punishments. 1- Arrest for rally: fine of 10,000 rubles or 15 days of arrest. 2- Arrest for rally: fine of 300,000 or one month of arrest. 3- Arrest for a demonstration: a criminal case and a prison for several years.

You were arrested…

That’s right, I was imprisoned along with other comrades and 1,700 people who mobilized on February 24 in 52 cities throughout the country. The message from those of us who took to the streets was very clear: “We don’t need this war.” We were held overnight on charges of “participating in an unauthorized demonstration.” The fine for release was 150 euros.

What do you think of the imperialist interference of NATO and the US in Eastern Europe?

I believe that part of the responsibility for what is happening lies with NATO and Western imperialism. The two imperialisms share influence. And the common people are left suffering in the middle of the dispute. That is why it is so important that solidarity with the Ukrainian people grow throughout the world.

What message would you send to the workers and the peoples?

I would tell them that it is necessary to act to overthrow the fascist regimes before the moment they unleash the wars. That it is necessary to provide the struggles with more strength and radicalism. And that it is necessary to achieve fraternity among peoples, confronting our own governments, which respond to imperialist and capitalist interests.