Portland anarchist who lobbed Molotov cocktail at police car sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison

From Oregan Live

Wearing a dark blazer and tie and with his hair cut short, Sergey Yefimovich Turzhanskiy did not dress the part of an anarchist.

Instead, the 26-year-old Southeast Portland man’s voice quavered at times as he apologized to a federal judge on Monday for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Portland police car in November 2012. The device, made out of a Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle, damaged the unoccupied 2011 Ford Crown Victoria, which was parked at the Northeast Portland precinct.

“Beyond being completely ineffective towards making a positive change … I think it had the opposite effect,” Turzhanskiy said to U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez. “It’s the greatest mistake I ever made in my life.”

Hernandez sentenced Turzhanskiy to two-and-a-half years in federal prison for possession of an unregistered destructive device. The judge, who heard statements from three of Turzhanskiy’s supporters, said he was taking into account his remorse and the progress he has made since the incident. 

The sentence matched the recommendation made by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Turzhanskiy’s lawyer as part of a plea agreement that also called for dismissal of the more serious offense of attempted arson.

Turzhanskiy, who sought to make a political statement through his actions, twice threw the device at the car before it shattered and caused a fire about 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2012, according to a sentencing memorandum by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer. The incident occurred while officers were in the parking lot during a shift change, he wrote, and police quickly arrested him.

Initially, his arrest sparked support from local and national anarchist groups, the memorandum states. Turzhanskiy himself put up postings calling on supporters to “Free Sergey Turzhanskiy” and to donate to a legal defense fund, his court-appointed lawyer, Patrick Ehlers, said Monday. But that was short-lived as Ehlers told him to take them down and Turzhanskiy recognized it was a “stupid action,” Ehlers said.

In his statement to Hernandez, Turzhanskiy said that after spending time in jail, he developed a better appreciation for the work of law enforcement and the stresses officers face. He also said he and his wife hope to build a photography business – the “first time I had something” to work toward.

He added that he does not want to be known for his actions. “I’m trying to make sure people realize it’s not something to be admired. It’s not something for justice,” he said, adding that any efforts he undertakes for social justice will “come in the form of lifting people up.”

He has already paid $1,314.12 in restitution to police for the damage to the car.

Hernandez ordered him to report for the start of his prison sentence May 30. He is also to serve three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term and he is not to have any contact or communication with anarchist groups.



Dodged the arson charge and the 20 years in prison. Good for you.

...american anarchists... I hope he doesnt "report", or else I'm becoming a stalinist.

Fuck off, hero.

You can start filling this out:

Not stalinist enough.

yeah and the fbi harassment. should of been a military recruitment station though

Dam 2 1/2 years? That sucks.

Uh, not sure how to feel about the quotes in this article. Can't tell whether he's serious or if he's just trying really hard to put on a face of genuine remorse in public.

Unfortunately, theres no difference between the two, practically speaking. His disavowal is a major blow. Not trying to internet armchair warrior here, but what an incredible morale blow for US anarchists when reading peoples statements of remorse before judges. I cant help but contrast with other, beautifully confident and inspiring statements of refusal and constancy by so many defendants from other countries. I know this isnt a US vs. other countries problem, but i really wish people would think long and hard about whether or not they will stand by their actions, and the politics behind them, if they were to be caught, before committing such acts. I would love to see more cop cars mollied to ashes--but even more so id love to have a political culture where, when forced into the limelight by circumstances, we stand up for what we do, or at least dont betray it for a lighter sentence. That kind of thing does a worse blow than all the hours and money towards legal support...


100% agreed. (Thanks for articulating this.)

not that cut and dried. anyone that gets caught (sorry, but stupid for doing this with cops standing right there) and chooses to lie to the state in order to get a lighter sentence - WITHOUT snitching (i have no idea if this person did or not) - is smart in my book. fuck martyrs! anarchists don't need martyrs, they need actors. and anyone that chooses to spend one second in prison longer than they absolutely must has chosen to change their role from actor to martyr.

just my opinion, of course.

I won't be writing this kid any letters.

this is sad. why? is there no other way? jail sucks. sure. but how to not fucking flounder once this happens. "oh i just wanta be a petty merchant and take photos with my white and be a cute fucking yuppie couple. social change and shit. sorry officer. i love the pigs actually and was throwing the molotov to warm them from the chilly portland weather. thanks can i kiss your ass for real."

"That kind of thing does a worse blow than all the hours and money towards legal support.."

Look, donating money to someone who is in a tight spot is not suppose to be a fucking bribe for them to construct an "inspiring (...) beautiful" Greek like statement at their sentencing. We live in the United States where possessing a bottle filled with gasoline will get you 4 years. If this kid bowed his head in front of a judge to get a lighter sentence, good for them. Mind you, all of these statements are directed to their judge and then recycled by Oregon Live. It would do you and everyone else some good to withhold judgement until there is some sort of statement released on their behalf or someone personally confirms that they are in fact a coward, not someone trying to avoid a shitty sentence. If at that point they reveal themselves as a douche, gloves off. Until then, this could literally be regurgitated pillow talk from Sergey to the judge.

I guess the part that raises questions for me is also the bit about sympathizing with cops and the difficult job they face. I think there are ways of expressing remorse in an effort to gain sympathy from a judge that don't entail a complete rejection and disavowel of anarchist politics. That's the most disappointing aspect of this statement.

Dude, what you are reading isn't a statement to anarchists at large. It was directed towards a judge to get off the hook. It is important to say whatever you need to to get off the hook while you are on their turf (aside from giving up names), as this is the only thing you have going for you in such a position. To shame them for effectively trying to massage the judge's ego to get a lighter sentence is in summary a cowardly internet pot shot. If you want to talk shit on someone/thing, talk shit on the media for putting their court date on blast.

It's always easy to criticize when it isn't your neck in the noose. It's an old movie, but there's a scene in Cool Hand Luke (boot licking) you should see.

Really wish I could see what was said about "gaining respect for cops" or whatever. The rest I can write off as "I want out and I wish I'd done more constructive things", which is fair if that's how he feels, but fuck fawning over cops.
Eh. Different strokes. People want defiant heroes, so do I but if someone who went thru the ringer would rather go about their life without ratting I won't be pissed they don't wanna be our personal captain anarchy doll.

I had heard part of the plea deal included names and places, and connections also

And pray tell, where did you hear this dear anonymous commentator?

who in the fuck uses the phrase "pray tell"? What the fuck, you're just another fucking bourgeois asshole playing revolutionary. I hope you get ass cancer. Folks are already under the microscope in PDX and several fucks have already been brought in and told that Serg has ratted them out as part of a plea deal, the man also gave details that only Serg knew, so fuck him and fuck you, you fucking rat protector.

I'm from PDX and haven't heard anything whatsoever saying that there was a cooperating plea deal. In fact it doesn't even make any sense considering he did this by himself. Without some kind of supporting evidence, it seems to me that you're just a snitch jacketing asshole working to sow fear and division into the Portland anarchist community.

It's smart to apologize and say whatever you have to say to get less time. It's basically dumb not to in almost every fathomable circumstance. I don't feel disempowered by Sergey's statement because who cares what he says to a judge? Do we really define ourselves in opposition to the state? Is that how we know who we know what we are? By being against stuff? How is this not the morality for the slaves, the resentful christian ethics?

I cringe when I read the statements from other countries even if they are often very brave. I can imagine some circumstances where, when facing death perhaps, it is better to just lay it all out for the press and everyone else. Otherwise, why risk it? Isn't it better to appear as a random criminal then a political criminal if its possible? Isn't it better to stay off the no-fly lists if that's an option?


"It's smart to apologize and say whatever you have to say to get less time"

"say whatever you have to get less time"

does that include snitching?

That usually depends on how much sober thought went in to your principles before you had to face the consequences of your actions

it depends on how scared you are of doing time dumb shit, you must be one of those stupid intellectuals who rat people out when they get nabbed.

No. Absolutely does not include snitching. The point of the conversation was the merits of "apologies."

"does that include snitching?"

Quit poisoning the fucking well. Point to any credible place within this thread or post about this kid snitching.

First off, Serg is not a kid. He is a grown man. You can walk around at 30 and call yourself a kid as much as you like and it doesn't make it so. Secondly, talk to folks who have been dragged in by the pigs and told that Serg ratted them out and then when the pigs give you details, times and locations that only Serg would have known and then added shit to get his sentence reduced you know what happened. I hope he gets justice inside.

Ever since I first read about this guy, wondered how the fuck he got this idea in to his head without anyone else having any input, telling him to think. He must have lurked in the back of meetings or on websites without actually talking to anyone. I remember chomsky making jokes about this (yeah, I read him when I was a kid, shut up), how insurrectionaries piss people off by answering every question on tactics with "attack the police station!" It's like the punchline of a joke about praxis.

Roll up by yourself on the cop shop, on a BICYCLE no less, and then … what?!?! WHAT THE FUCK?!
HOW DID YOU THINK THAT WOULD WORK?! This man's friends failed him miserably.

Chomsky doesnt make jokes, doesnt mention insurrectionaries ever and does not even seem aware of them, and does not refer to attacks on police stations. I seriously doubt you are remembering something Chomsky actually said.

He does actually, they're just subtle, plus he mumbles a lot. Even his writing-style comes off like a mumbling nerd who's quite funny in a bone-dry sort of way. The line was something like - of course the government is the enemy but when people ask "what should we do?" telling them to go attack the police station isn't very helpful. I'm paraphrasing.

Would you like me to cite sources and or someshit?
Take a deep breath and hold it til I give a fuck if you live or die, ok cupcake? 123 go!

It is weird that you are getting all hysterical imsisting that I was worked up over yr dumb post, when I was just pointing out that you obviously made that up. I wouldnt ask you to cite it because I know you cannot and I really do not care. But obviously you made that up. Now take a deep breath before you pass out.

just to clarify for u.s. anarchists: while non-cooperating plea deals seems to be how u.s. anarchists show they are not traitors, in other parts of the world anarchists have a higher standard.

namely, if you get busted you either keep your mouth shut about how you feel about your charges, or you defend the action and ideas publicly. but if you do the standard, "i ride a bike, work in a community garden, shelter for abused women, etc etc. i would never do this sort of thing", you're considered a traitor.

does the u.s. have a different prison and judicial system than a lot of places with that standard? yes. should that standard being implemented here wholesale? i don't know but i wished u.s. anarchists were discussing it more.

only a handful of anarchists facing charges have lived up to that standard in the past ten years or so.

Fuck the world! Look after your loved ones priority!

nice Lexus ass licker

I'd be crazy to put any trust in North American anarchists.

That's perspicacious because most of the 'snitches' are their 'comrades'.

It's a stupid standard.

Anarchists should embed ourselves in projects that have more than one function, at least one of which appears "innocent" - like book publishing or operating bars and restaurants. At this point, claiming to "just be a book publisher" or be a "good older bartender" is OPACITY not "treason" to the anarchist nation.

Sergey's lawyer probably wrote this piece. Sergey probably didn't want to read it but did and if they get out sooner because of that, great. This wasn't a high profile case. There is nothing to be gained by dialoguing with power in the way that the Greek and Italian comrades do when they "justify" their actions to those pigs. It is better to hide in the ruins of the contemporary subject than to expose ourselves to our enemies at a time when we are most weak: on the stand.

To the folks saying it's acceptable to renounce your actions and their motivations to maybe get a lighter sentence -- why not just say nothing? Let your lawyer say a few things about how you have a job and are upstanding, but there is nothing to be gained by apologizing and delegitimating your own actions. I know I'm just another fuckin anon here, but I've done time for combative demo tactics (admittedly less than this guy), and I can tell you that sitting in jail watching other people rush to distance themselves from the same actions is very depressing.

Yes, we need our buddies out on road taking care of their crews and doing cool shit, but if anarchist ideas are to be contagious, we need to be principled when we face repression. At the very least, do not make public statements. When you talk about how misguided you were, you break solidarity with people everywhere who would support you and with others who are facing repression. You reduce a political conflict to an individualized situation -- exactly what the justice system wants to do. Not that we have much power in the courts or that it's necessary to make a statement. Just don't shit talk militaincy and resistance because you got caught. What the fuck do the ideas that lead you to action mean to you when you're willing to so casually renounce them? What do you expect them to mean to all the people who watch you do that? Do you really expect others to be inspired by this cringing, or to remember the molotov in the face of your apology?

There are lots of anarchist prisoners and I'm much more likely to put my energy into supporting the ones who don't opportunistically retreat.

there is nothing to be gained by apologizing

He got his sentence reduced by 18 years.

"You reduce a political conflict to an individualized situation -- exactly what the justice system wants to do."

Yeah well, it's not just want the system _wants_ to do, it's what the system actually does, like it or not. Like my mom always said, those crazy friends of yours aren't going to do the time for you. It's great @ is filled with so many heroes and supermans, but i just wanna fsu not die for a cause.

in the post pic, that dude looks like prince!

"he is not to have any contact or communication with anarchist groups."

we'll see about that heheheh *punches fist into hand*

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