THE TRIAL
Yegor Zhukov: The Final Word
A 21 year old Russian Political Science student Yegor Zhukov had his final word while on trial for the Summer Protests in Moscow on December 4, 2019.

HereWeStand publishes the full translation. Original text can be found on Meduza.io.
The trial which is now taking place is devoted, first of all, to the words and their meanings. We have discussed specific phrases, nuances of formulations, methods of interpretation, and I hope we were able to prove to the respected court that I am not an extremist, from the point of view of both, linguistics and common sense.

Now I want to touch on things that are more fundamental than the meaning of words. I want to talk about the motives of my actions. It's great that the [linguistics] expert also spoke about them. These motives are genuine and deep. They are the motives that make me run for politics. These are also the motives out of which I used to record the videos for [my YouTube] channel "Zhukov's Blog".

And here is what I want to begin with. The Russian state today positions itself as the last defender of traditional values. Much attention, we are told, is given to the institution of the family and patriotism. Christian faith is being called the key traditional value. Your honor, it seems to me, maybe this is even good. Christian ethics includes two values that are truly important to me. The first one is responsibility. At the heart of Christianity lies the story of a man who decided to put the suffering of the whole world on his shoulders. The story is about a man who took responsibility in the most literal sense of the word. In essence, the central idea of the entire Christian religion is the idea of personal responsibility.

The second value is love. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," - this is the major saying in Christian faith. Love is trust, compassion, humanism, mutual help, and care. A society that is built on such love is the strong society and, perhaps, the strongest of all possible societies.

But to understand the motives of my actions it is enough to look at how the Russian state - the one that proudly claims itself to be the defender of Christianity, and therefore of these values, - defends them in practice. Before talking about responsibility, one needs to answer the following questions first: what is the ethics of a responsible person? Which words does such a person tell themselves throughout their life? I think these are the words: "Remember, your whole way is going to be filled with difficulties, and sometimes they are going to be unbearable. All your loved ones will die. All your plans will be thwarted. There will be times when you will be lied to and abandoned. And you won't be able to run away from death. Life is suffering. Deal with it. But once you are reconciled with these things, once you are reconciled with the inevitability of suffering, still take your cross on your shoulders and follow your dream because if you do not do it everything will only get worse. Become an example, become someone who people can rely on. Do not obey despots, fight for the freedom of body and mind, and for the political system of the country in which your children will be able to become happy".

But is this what we are taught? Is this the ethics adopted by children in schools? Are we the heroes that we are honoring? No. The situation in the country is destroying all the possibilities for human prosperity. 10% of the wealthiest Russians have 90% of the country's wealth concentrated in their hands. Of course, there are rather decent citizens among them as well, but most of this wealth was obtained not through honest labor for the benefit of the people, but through trivial corruption.

There is an invisible barrier dividing our society into two categories. All the money is concentrated above, and nobody is going to give it away from there. And below, without exaggeration, only hopelessness is left. Realizing that they have nothing to rely on, realizing that no matter how hard they try, they cannot bring happiness to themselves or their family, Russian men take out all the anger on their wives, turn into alcoholics or hang themselves. Russia holds the first place in the world by the number of male suicides per 100,000 people. As a result, single mothers constitute a third of all families in Russia. And I want to ask, is that how we are defending the traditional institution of the family?

Miron Fedorov [Russian rapper Oxxxymiron], who has attended the court hearings on my case more than once, has very correctly and fairly pointed out: alcohol in our country is cheaper than student books. The state is creating all the conditions so that between responsibility and irresponsibility a Russian citizen always chooses the second.

And now about love. Love is impossible without trust. Real trust arises at the time of joint action. Firstly, joint action is rare in the country with a weak responsibility. Secondly, if joint action has occurred somewhere, after all, it immediately begins to be seen as a threat by lawmen. And no matter what ones do - whether ones help [political] prisoners, advocate for human rights, protect nature - "foreign agent" status will catch up with him or they just lock ones up sooner or later. The State makes it clear: "scutter to the burrows guys and do not work together. No meetings of more than two persons on the streets or you will go to jail for rallying. Do not work together on a social agenda or a "foreign agent" status will be imposed on you". Where will trust and finally love come from in this environment? Not a romantic love but a humanist love of a person to a person.

The only social politics Russian Government consistently pursues is separation. This is how The State dehumanizes us into each other's eyes. In the State's eyes, we have been dehumanized for a long time. How else such barbaric treatment can be explained? The treatment that is stressed by everyday bludgeoning, torture in the prisons, ignoring of HIV epidemic, closure of schools and hospital and so on.

Let us look at the mirror. What have we become by letting them do this to us? We have become a nation that has forgotten how to take responsibility. We have become a nation that has forgotten how to love. More than 200 years ago, Alexander Radishchev [late 18th Century famous Russian writer, lawyer, who was exiled under Catherine the Great – ed.], passing between St. Petersburg and Moscow, wrote: "I looked about me and my soul was lacerated at the sufferings of humankind. I turned my eyes inward – I saw that man's woes arise in man himself." Where are these people today? People whose hearts ache for what is now happening in their fatherland. Why are they almost extinct now?

It is all about autocracy [samoderzhavie - ed] – the only traditional institution that truly honors and strengthens the current Russian state. Autocracy, which tries to wreck the lives of anyone who sincerely wants to do good for their homeland, who is not ashamed to love and take responsibility. Because of that, the citizens of our long-suffering country have had to learn that the initiative is punishable; the higher-ups, simply because they are superior, are always right; that happiness here may be but not for the fellow citizens. They had learned this lesson and began to fade out. According to Rosstat [Russian official statistical office – ed], Russia is fading out at an average rate of minus 400 thousand people per year. The stats cannot show the human beings. So, see them! They are those who hold the liquor of powerlessness, those who freeze in cold-water hospitals, those who are murdered by someone, those… people who got killed by themselves – like you and me.

I guess my motives had become clear by now. I really wish to see the two qualities in my fellow citizens: responsibility and love. The responsibility for themselves, for those who surround me, for the whole country. The love for the weak, for the neighbor, for humanity. This is my desire, and this another reason why, Your Honor, I could not encourage violence. Violence emboldens, it leads to the impunity which then unleashes irresponsibility. As much as violence does not lead to love. And yet, despite all the obstacles, I have not a bit of doubt my wish will come true. I look ahead, beyond the horizon of years, and I see Russia, which is full of responsible and loving people, which will be a truly happy place. Let everyone imagine that Russia. And let this vision guide you in your life just as it is guiding me.

In conclusion, I will say the following: if today the court makes the decision that these words are said by a truly dangerous criminal, the following years of my life will be filled with deprivations and hardship. But I look at the guys who are a part of the same 'Moscow case' - Constantin Kotov, Samariddin Radjabov, and I see smiles on their faces. Alexei Minaylo and Daniil Konon in the minutes of our short encounter in the remand prison have never allowed themselves to complain about life. I will try to follow their example - to go through the challenge in the name of my values. In the end, your honor, the scarier my future is, the wider is the smile I look at it with. Thank you!
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