Left leaders, intellectuals demand: ‘Free Boris Kagarlitsky and all anti-war political prisoners in Russia’

Boris Kagarlitsky International Solidarity Campaign

March 23, 2024 | For immediate release

An international campaign for the freeing from prison of well-known Russian intellectual, writer and anti-war activist Boris Kagarlitsky, along with all other jailed opponents of the war in Ukraine, was launched on March 11 by the Boris Kagarlitsky International Solidarity Campaign.

Produced in multiple languages (including Russian and Ukrainian), the campaign petition has already won the support of former British Labour Party leaders Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, eminent French left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and leaders and elected representatives of left and progressive parties North and South–in Germany, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Ireland, Quebec, Puerto Rico.and Russia itself.

These supporters have been joined by well-known left intellectuals Naomi Klein, Slavoj Žižek, Fredric Jameson, Etienne Balibar and Claudio Katz (see full list here).

The petition has been published on two platforms: www.freeboris.info and change.org, both of which carry regular updates about the campaign. By March 22, it had collected over 7000 signatures of support.


Boris Kagarlitsky was sentenced to five years jail by a military appeals court on February 13. The judges heeded the prosecution case that his initial punishment of a $6550 fine and two-year ban on administering web sites was “excessively lenient” (see here for full details of the farcical case against Kagarlitsky on the charge of “justifying terrorism”).

As a result, the international networks whose effort had helped keep the Russian writer from prison in his initial trial have come together in the present campaign. Its immediate purpose is to draw the attention of international left and progressive forces to the repression of their Russian colleagues, of whom Boris Kagarlitsky is probably the best known.

Stop the repressive machine

The left in Russia is being subjected to unprecedented repression. Many organisations have been shut down and activists who despite official threats have had no intention of leaving the country have been sent to jail on a variety of spurious grounds.

The Boris Kagarlitsky International Solidarity Campaign is calling on left and democratic forces globally to demand a halt to the repressive machine from which their Russian counterparts suffer, because they draw attention to the serious problems accumulating in Russia due to its war in Ukraine.

The campaign believes that without international attention, Russia’s anti-war political prisoners will be left alone to face a government that condemns them not only to imprisonment, but also to the prospect of death. Conditions in Russian detention centres are far from satisfactory, as Boris Kagarlitsky, confined to a pre-trial detention centre for the duration of his appeal, is now experiencing.

In his letters from prison, Kagarlitsky insists on the need to support all left-wing activists presently behind bars, especially those whose names are not as well-known as his.

Globally, the campaign aims to build so much support that it becomes impossible for politicians who are in dialogue with the Russian government to ignore it.

Within Russia, the campaign appeals to all who are concerned about the future of their country, to those who are convinced that change cannot come without an end to the fighting and the release of all who favour a progressive rethink of the Putin regime’s current policies.

It is expected that Boris Kagarlitsky’s appeal will be heard in early May: the international solidarity campaign therefore calls for an urgent effort over the next six weeks—on Kagarlitsky’s behalf and that of all Russia’s anti-war political prisoners.

The petition is presently available in the following languages (with others soon to come): ArabicCzechDanishGreekSpanishEnglishFrenchHindiItalianDutchNorwegianPolish,PortugueseRussianSerbianSwedish and Ukrainian.

MEDIA: For further information contact Alex Callinicos at alex.callinicos@kcl.ac.uk