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I Have Made My Choice – To Fight
A Letter from Valery Kostenok
Translated by the HereWeStand team
Many very talented and very young people are being locked up, and I am the youngest of them.

Before, I used to think of always being the youngest as my main trait.
Valery Kostenok
Engeeniring Student, Prisoner
The Letter
"Hello, friends!

This is Valery Kostenok. As it happened, I am a defendant in the 'July 27' case. This is how most of you have learned about me and why you are reading this letter. I find you to be new but very interesting to me. I got an idea that we should all introduce ourselves.

I will start.

I'm 20 years old, and I am in prison for demanding free and just elections. Such people are now called 'mass disorders' participants by the authorities, so let it be… I know that this is how they are trying to hide their mess together with many people already familiar to us.

Many very talented and very young people are being locked up, and I am the youngest of them.

Before, I used to think of always being the youngest as my main trait. At age 18, [the political party] Yabloko has nominated me for municipal representative. At age 18, I became [Yabloko's leader, presidential candidate] Grigori Yavlinsky's authorized confidant, I joined politics at 17.

Yes, now the authorities are trying to take my youth from me, it has even deprived me of university education, job and most importantly – freedom. I used to know how to think progressively [while being free]. No problem, I will learn to do the same here, in prison.

Because now there will be anger in me – such anger is the best motivation! And the conditions [here] are tempering. You know, I have made my choice – to fight, not to just sit around.

Thank you to those who help me on this path! You write me a lot. I receive 3-5 new letters a day. I must tell you – not only me, but also my cellmates and employees of the Federal Agency of Punishment Execution are interested in the letters. At first, there were questions, who writes? And what do they write? And why?

And I explained that now there is a great injustice and there are those fighting against it. Some people are writing letters of support. And since right now my cellmates are looking at a large stack of written sheets in front of me, it becomes the most important sign of my recognition.

It's very nice when you're not on your own, but with smart, educated people who speak for you. That's why your letters are the key thing that helps me to adapt in here! Thank you for them, I am waiting for them!

Keep fighting outside, there are many of you, and I will fight here, alone... but with you from the pre-trial detention center. As we have started to say often, "One for all and all..."!"