Court rejects Kagarlitsky’s appeal: Campaign pledges to redouble efforts for his freedom

Update Boris Kagarlitsky International Solidarity Campaign

June 6, 2024

“Unjust but not unexpected”: this is how Suzi Weissman, spokesperson for the Boris Kagarlitsky International Solidarity Campaign, described the June 5 decision of a Russian court to reject Boris Kagarlitsky’s appeal against a five-year jail term for “justifying terrorism”.

The court also maintained the ban preventing the well-known Marxist sociologist and anti-war activist from managing internet sites and telecommunications channels for two years from the end of his prison sentence.

Weissman said: “The judges’ draconian decision was no great surprise since all recent appeals against sentences brought down under Russia’s catch-all anti-terrorism legislation have been rejected.”

The charge of “justifying terrorism”, which has been widely used against anti-war activists in the Russian Federation, was brought against Kagarlitsky on July 25 last year after he made some ironical remarks on the occasion of the Ukrainian Navy’s July 17 attack on the bridge connecting Crimea to Russia.

The refusal of the body hearing Kagarlitsky’s appeal (the Judicial Collegium for Military Personnel of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation) means that he will now remain confined in a penal settlement in Torzhok (Tver region).

Kagarlitsky’s lawyer, Sergey Erokhov, has already stated on his Telegram channel (June 5) that he will continue with the appeal process, taking the case to higher instances of the Russian legal system, starting with the Praesidium of the Supreme Court and going as far as the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.

International appeal ignored

The appeals court judges refused to budge on Kagarlitsky’s sentence despite a special appeal from 37 internationally prominent progressive political figures and intellectuals, including Yanis Varoufakis, Jeremy Corbyn and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, as well as ministers in the Spanish government and MPs from France, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and Brazil.

The signatories emphasised that Kagarlitsky had never advocated terrorist methods to reach political objectives and that keeping him in jail would tarnish Russia’s international reputation.

Since his jailing Kagarlitsky has also received offers of university postings in Brazil and South Africa, while the ongoing petition demanding his release has attracted more than 18,000 signatures to date.

Increasing repression

The court rejected the two main arguments of Kagarlitsky’s defence formulated by lawyer Erekhov, namely: “(1) it is impossible to judge a social scientist … for his professional activities and (2) punishment must be fair, i.e. it must correspond to the nature of a crime, the degree of danger it entails for the public and the circumstances in which it is committed.”

For Suzi Weissman, the judges’ “barbarous” decision to ignore such basic legal criteria reflects the determination of the Putin regime to crush domestic opposition to its war on Ukraine.

“In this context the basic democratic and legal rights of anti-war activists like Boris Kagarlitsky and thousands of others count for very little.

“Upholding Boris’s appeal would have set a very bad precedent for the Kremlin: if his argument had been accepted, why not that of everyone else condemned for ‘justifying terrorism’?”

Weissman concluded that Boris Kagarlitsky has become a “courageous champion of peace and symbol of the struggle for the right to freedom of expression, who has been the victim of a gross but entirely deliberate miscarriage of justice”.

The Boris Kagarlitsky International Solidarity Campaign will now redouble its efforts for his release. Details of a new round of initiatives will be announced soon.

Contact details:

United States: Suzi Weissman +1 818 521 2860
Canada: Andrea Levy +1 514 433 7890 Quebec: André Frappier 1 514 476 7306
United Kingdom: Alex Callinicos +44 (0)7703 358 909
South Africa: Patrick Bond +27 834 251 401
Europe: Alexei Sakhnin +33 758 988 815 Adam Novak +421 904232 129
Dick Nichols +34 683 171 461

Australia: Fred Fuentes +61 412 556 527

OBJECT WAR CAMPAIGN: Petition to support Conscientious Objectors and Deserters from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine

Press Release posted on 21st September, 2022


On the occasion of the International Day of Peace, 21st September, Connection e.V., the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, the European Office for Conscientious Objection, and War Resisters’ International are calling for a signature campaign for deserters and conscientious objectors from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The #ObjectWarCampaign calls on all citizens from everywhere to join the global effort to ensure protection and asylum for conscientious objectors and deserters from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine involved in the current war in the region. They are our hope to refuse war and let peace prevail!

On April 6, 2022, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, had called on Russian soldiers to desert and promised them protection under refugee law. So far, this promise has not been fulfilled. 

Within the scope of #ObjectWarCampaign, a petition has been prepared for everyone to sign in. The petition is addressed to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Council Charles Michel, and the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola. The petition emphasizes the need to uphold the right to asylum for conscientious objectors and deserters from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine by hosting states. The petition launched on the website can now be signed in German, English, French, Italian and Greek.

There are an estimated 100,000 Russian military draftees and deserters refusing the war of aggression. An estimated 22,000 Belarusian military draftees have left their country because they don’t want to participate in the war in Ukraine. Everyone who has refused service risks several years of prosecution because of their stand against the war. They are hoping for protection in various countries.

Ukraine suspended the right to conscientious objection and closed the border for men between 18 and 60. Over 100,000 men have evaded war involvement in Ukraine and fled abroad. Currently, Ukrainian citizens have temporary residence in the European Union. The #ObjectWarCampaign petition demands that the right to conscientious objection to military service is fully guaranteed in Ukraine.

The petition signatures are a crucial sign of support for conscientious objectors and deserters. This campaign highlights the importance of opening borders to those who oppose the war at great personal risk in their countries and calls on everyone around the world to support those who refuse to fight and kill.

Every recruit can be a conscientious objector, every soldier a deserter. Let’s support those who refuse to kill and end war together! 


The launch of the petition has been anticipated by an appeal sent in June 2022, to the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe -supported by 60 organizations from 20 countries – detailing why protection and support for deserters and conscientious objectors on all sides of the Ukrainian war is necessary and moreover that it is a human right. There have already been discussions about this in the European Parliament. 

More information: 
The appeal to the European institutions can be found here.
Background information can be found here.

Contact and interview requests:
Zaira Zafarana, International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR),, (English, Italian)
Rudi Friedrich, Connection e.V., +496982375534,, (German, English)
Semih Sapmaz, War Resisters’ International (WRI),, (English,Turkish)
Sam Biesemans, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), +32477268893,, (French, Dutch, Italian, English)

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The INTERNATIONAL PEACE BUREAU supports this campaign, as those who refuse to kill and refuse to take part in violent means of conflict resolution are also contributing to peace.