2022 Libertarians of the Year

“Those of us who have been so fortunate as to have been born in a free society tend to take freedom for granted and regard it as a natural state of mankind. It is not. It is a rare and precious thing: most people throughout history – most people today – have lived in conditions of tyranny and misery; not of freedom and prosperity.” – Milton Friedman

Of all the various members of the International Alliance of Libertarian Parties, none have had as difficult a year in the fight for liberty as the Libertarian Party of Russia. A long buildup of troops near the border of Ukraine became an invasion after months of ridiculing those who saw the obvious prelude to war. In the US there are no legal penalties for activists here who support Russia’s war of aggression or promote Russian disinformation. But in Russia “being put in prison for up to 30 days is a trivial thing here for political activists” said Andrey Perfilev, a member of the ethical committee of the Libertarian Party of Russia. Additionally there have been police beatings, home intrusions of activists and many have been forced to flee the country for their commitment to standing for libertarian principles against Putin’s government. With the events of this year the Classical Liberal Caucus of the Libertarian Party decided to recognize Boris Fedyukin and the Libertarian Party of Russia as our Libertarians of the Year.

The Libertarian Party of Russia is a political party founded in 2008 and is based in the city of St. Petersburg. Since their beginning, they have criticized Vladimir Putin’s regime and its authoritarian nature. The party has actively opposed Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine since 2014, discriminatory laws against LGBT people, violations of basic civil rights to freedom of assembly, parliamentarianism, and the change of power. In addition, the party supports and assists in the organization of large educational libertarian festivals – Readings of Adam Smith (Moscow) and Readings of Ayn Rand (St. Petersburg). In 2022, shortly before the full-scale invasion, the party opposed Russian aggression in Ukraine, for which many of the activists were subjected to pressure from the security forces. Dozens of activists who took part in anti-war demonstrations and pickets this spring have received lengthy arrests and fines.

At the moment, the party works primarily as a human rights organization: it collects money to pay fines for anti-war activists, and provides free legal advice to people who may be subject to forced mobilization for war. The party also continues to be open about its anti-war stance by issuing statements in support of peace and freeing political prisoners. The party unanimously stands for the earliest cessation of hostilities on the territory of the independent state of Ukraine. The direct condemnation of the aggressor and the need for restitution for the injured party is the restoration of justice that libertarian principles require.

Their strong stand for libertarian principles have not been without cost. In April of this year, Nikolai Munsky (party member from Krasnoyarsk) was charged with “discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation.” The reason was a post on Russian social media app Vkontakte by Nikolai about the terrible events in Bucha, Ukraine by Russian military forces. Party activists Timur Tukhvatullin and Yegor Beschastnov were forced to leave Russia in order to avoid conscription triggered by their anti-war stance. The municipal deputy of the city of Guryevsk, libertarian Vyacheslav Galinov, was removed from his office for his anti-war position. Another member of the party Naila Mullaeva had her house searched by police as part of a case against her because of a video on Youtube about the Russian ambassador in Poland. Yet another Libertarian member of the steering committee, Alexander Kazitsyn was arrested and imprisoned after requesting a permit (denied of course) to protest the war.

Boris Fedyukin is a politician and chairman of the Libertarian Party of Russia since 2020. Since then he has been repeatedly harassed by the police for political activities. In 2021, he was arrested and held for 9 days for participating in a rally in support of freeing political prisoners. As a measure of intimidation by the authorities, he became a witness in a criminal case on “road closures”. At the moment, the criminal case is closed, and the legality of the arrest was challenged in court. In 2022, since the beginning of the war, he was subjected to repeated searches under the article “Knowingly false report of an act of terrorism” facing a fine of up to a million rubles and imprisonment from 6 to 8 years. The police openly admitted that the searches were intimidation to stop political activity. Boris and other public members of the party (Sergey Boyko, Mikhail Pozharsky, Vera Kichanova, Stanislav Rudkovsky, Timur Tukhvatullin) have been listed as “Russophobes and traitors to the country” by supporters of the invasion of Ukraine.

The Classical Liberal Caucus thanks Boris Fedyukin and the entire Libertarian Party of Russia for their principled anti-war and anti-disinformation activism.

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