In 12 Who Don’t Agree, journalist Valery Panyushkin profiles twelve Russians from across the country’s social spectrum, including: a politician, a journalist, an army officer, an author, a bank manager, a laborer, and a university student. Despite varied backgrounds, they all have one thing in common—participation in the historic March of the Dissidents. Held in 2007 to protest the eroding state of affairs in Russia, the march was held in flagrant violation of increasingly stringent laws forbidding public demonstrations. Though each of these men and women had personal reasons for joining the demonstration, they shared a belief that the government of Vladimir Putin was betraying the promise of Russia’s future.
Risking the threats and violent retaliation inflicted on Russian journalists who dare to question the powers that be, Panyushkin boldly illuminates the lives and convictions of these twelve men and women. Refusing to accept the effects of a decade of oil- and gas- generated wealth, government corruption and media censorship, these people have taken a stand against a powerful and ruthless oligarchy; their stories reveal how a growing commitment to human rights, equality, the principals of decency and fairness can transform one into a dissident in the eyes of a ruling class that does not value those same principals. And in today’s Russia the dissident’s journey is one from which often there is no return.
Valery Panyushkin is a well-known, and widely translated, journalist and writer. He is the author of eleven books, two of which are about the Russian opposition movement, and the latest, Prison Cell #18, about repression and torture in Belarus. Panyushkin is the recipient of the Golden Pen of Russia award. He lives in Moscow.