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The Mothers' Speech
Mothers of Valery Kostenok & Daniil Konon for TV-Rain
Translated by the HereWeStand team
This is a translation of the speeches by Marina Kostenok and Natalia Konon (mothers of arrested students Valery Kostenok & Daniil Konon) in their interviews to the TV-Rain Channel
VALERY KOSTENOK
20 years old, "Yabloko" party member, collected signatures.

At the rally, July, 27, he threw two plastic bottles at the policemen. He is charged with article 212 and is facing up to 8 years in prison.
MARINA KOSTENOK, VALERY'S MOTHER
He wanted to stand for something, for an idea. Do not make a person abstain from politics when they stand up for people. Give them way, move a little. If people like Valera are going to be put in jail… I do not know. We will simply eat ourselves from the inside; we will simply turn the self-destruction mechanism on.
Of course, my son did not participate in any riots.

As far as I know, there were no riots at all. Neither arsons, nor rampage took place. Still, it is all under prosecution right now. The only thing he admitted to is having thrown the plastic bottles.

We are at Valery's bedroom where he has been living since he was eleven. Nothing has changed here, not really.

/crying/ Sorry.

Valery was at home alone. When they started threatening to break down the door, he opened it. The shoelaces, the watch are back, it all has been given back.

/crying and turning away from the camera/.

[...] You can see Valery throwing a bottle at his [a policeman's] back and the policeman just keeps on going, he does not even notice [the bottle], he has a bulletproof vest on.

When I was tidying his table I came across his notes about collecting these signatures and checking them afterwards. Why did he lose temper and why was he in that place at that time? Because his work had just been rejected. You see, the streets, Leninskiy, Mytnaya, Lesteva. Valery did not want to do anything bad. He wanted things to get better. But it is a shame that nobody else needs them to get better. And exactly when a young man's feelings are hurt, he can lose temper. That day [July 27] was the day when he was told that even his grandmother's signature was rendered invalid. And when this happened, even with [his grandma's] signature, he has made the decision to go there [to the rally]. Probably, otherwise he would not have gone.

[...]

He has always been a non-confrontational guy, he used to say one can always settle down, reach a compromise and meet halfway.

How is he doing? Well, he is managing somehow. I have seen him in the courtroom, by video streaming. He was not present himself. Many people have shown support for Valery. Grigory Yavlinskii [head of the "Yabloko" party] attended the proceedings in person, he vouched for him but unfortunately it was not enough. Many people sympathize with those convicted; consider their actions to be at least understandable. Others say: «the youth, Moscow, spoiled, foreign money". But Valery has never had any foreign money, he has never been paid by anyone.
DANIIL KONON
22 years old. Student of Bauman Moscow State Technical University. Collected signatures for an independent candidate Ivan Zhdanov.

After they were rendered invalid he decided to go to the rally. He is charged with the participation in "mass riots". Article 212, part 2. Up to 8 years in prison.
NATALIA KONON, DANIIL'S MOTHER
The whole situation now is neither about the opposition, nor about the election in Moscow City Duma. It is about having a choice at all. It is about ways of finding a solution. Currently, the government has a great chance to make the right choice. The guys, who were caught, are a cross-section of society. Amazing, nice guys. It's showing. The direction this situation is going to go is the same direction the country is going to evolve in.
August, 3, he was taken from home after a search as a witness. So when he was taken away, he was not charged with anything.

He worked as a signature collector for independent candidate Ivan Zhdanov. When the signatures had been declared invalid, it was he [Daniil] who visited people one more time to confirm them. And a couple of them were with phone numbers, the ones that he had contacted again. All of them were added to the case. That's all, basically.

There are lots of violations. They did not bring him to the appeal hearing, he was in a cage. It was a real cage, like the ones for wild animals, a narrow and small one. Moreover, it was freshly painted. So, before the court and during the whole hearing he was in that cell. Despite it [the hearing] was set to start at 9 a.m, it started only at 2 p.m. They might have thought all the guarantors [people who legally vouched for Daniil] would be gone. There were 150 of them. The courtroom was really small, only two guarantors managed to get in there. They were not questioned but nobody left. During all five hours, none of them left neither the street nor the hallways.

And one more single thing: I am extremely grateful to the judge. I think she has done everything she could in the situation she was in. She has read out the names of all 150 guarantors, so Danya [Daniil] could hear who vouched for him. I wrote him in the letter: "We have lived the rightful lives, we have something and somebody to rely on now".

When he was in the third grade he decided to apply for the Cadet Corps. He came across an advertisement in a newspaper on the train and began preparing. 40 people competed for one place and he managed to get into that school. I could see how well-prepared he was for the exams. I mean, we still keep in touch with his first teacher, we always call her to tell her about his accomplishments. By the way, yes, I need to call her.

He wanted to pursue a military career. He joined Ivan Zhdanov's campaign by accident. They were extremely lucky to have him there. When he started collecting the signatures, he always dedicated himself to the teamwork and have put the team's interests even beyond his own ones. So when he got involved personally, he wanted to do his job well.

When we realized there were defective signatures, I had only one thought: I wished they were not the ones collected by Daniil. When he was back, he said that more than 10% of his signatures were rejected. Since he knew that he had done his job correctly and professionally, Daniil's first reaction was to contact all the people again. He went to the people who signed once more, got the signatures again, took the applications. They were not accepted as well. They said there was no such a procedure. ..So, it happened. The logic was absent on their side.

The greatest number of questions is to the graphologists (verifying the signatures - HWS). And honestly, I feel sorry for them. I would not like to live with sin like this on my soul.

After a little time we were sent a nice [state channel] REN-TV video.

"And here's another coordinator, the one wearing the plaid shirt. Like a police crossing guard, he is confidently regulating the crowd".

That was when everything has become clear to me.

Everything else was expected and predictable afterwards. He could not be unnoticed in the crowd, let's say this. He is very handsome and prominent. Journalists have shown that in their own way. So, that it would be more fun. Or perhaps so that it would fit the [government] demands. Let it lie on their conscience too. It was reported as if he was the organizer of mass riots.