Free Boris Kagarlitsky!

8 August 2023

On July 25, Russian intellectual and socialist activist Boris Kagarlitsky was detained and accused of “justifying terrorism” by the Federal Security Service (FSB) before being transported to the city of Syktyvkar, 1300 kilometres from Moscow. There, in a closed hearing and without his lawyer present, a court ordered that he be detained until his trial in late September, where he faces the possibility of up to seven years in prison.

The arrest and detention of Kagarlitsky has taken place within the context of a repressive campaign waged by the government with the intention of silencing all voices that oppose the invasion of Ukraine and its domestic policies. Since last year, the Putin government has dedicated itself to persecuting, jailing or forcing into exile recognised politicians, intellectuals and activists that have publicly opposed the war, as well as ordinary citizens that have expressed their opinions on social media. Kagarlitsky himself was labeled a “foreign agent” in May last year.

The following statement has been issued by members of Kagarlitsky’s family and other anti-war Russians. It can be signed here.


We are shocked and appalled to learn that on July 25, prominent Russian socialist thinker Boris Kagarlitsky (64) was arrested in Moscow on fabricated charges of “justifying terrorism”.

Boris Kagarlitsky is an academic scholar whose sociological and philosophical work is well known the world over. His articles, books, and interviews are published in many languages. He is a leading Russian intellectual whose work has built a reputation for his country in global academia. For several decades, Kagarlitsky has remained an influential figure both in Russia and worldwide, contributing significantly to understanding global challenges and fighting for the progress of humanity. A whole generation of scholars, activists, and politicians has come to understand Russia and its place in the global community through his books.

The real reason for the repressions against Kagarlitsky is that, since February 2022, he has consistently denounced the aggression against Ukraine, underscoring that this barbaric war causes unspeakable harm not only to the Ukrainian people but also to ordinary Russians. Though many of us have disagreed with Kagarlitsky in the past, we recognize and applaud how bravely he has spoken out against the woeful decisions of the Russian government and remained one of the rare public voices inside Russia opposing the war. He has stayed in the country, running the YouTube channel “Rabkor”, where he has continued resisting militarization and demanding profound change in Russia.

Boris Kagarlitsky is now among the tens of thousands of Russians subjected to state repression, with many sentenced to long prison terms, others paying massive fines, and still others tortured to death by the police apparatus. His arrest is yet another chain in a wide-ranging crackdown on Russian citizens who dare to oppose a regime that has “turned out to be incompatible not only with human rights and democratic freedoms but simply with the elementary preservation of the rules of modern civilized existence for the majority of the population,” as Kagarlitsky himself put it recently. We are furious that matters have now reached the point where a senior academic scholar is jailed for calling things for what they are.

This is a case of an intellectual being persecuted for free speech. We call for the release of Kagarlitsky and express solidarity with all political prisoners in Russia arrested for their antiwar views.

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