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HomeNewsRussian court docket sentences pacifist artist to seven years for opposing warfare

Russian court docket sentences pacifist artist to seven years for opposing warfare


RIGA, Latvia — Alexandra Skochilenko, a pacifist Russian artist and musician with no prior historical past of political activism, was sentenced to seven years in jail by a St. Petersburg court docket on Thursday, for a trivial antiwar protest: overlaying 5 grocery store worth tags in March of final 12 months with stickers giving details about Russia’s warfare towards Ukraine.

Skochilenko, carrying one in all her trademark vivid hippie shirts with a purple coronary heart emblazoned on the entrance, mounted her eyes on Decide Oksana Demyasheva and informed her: “Everybody sees and is aware of that you’re not judging a terrorist. You aren’t judging an extremist. You aren’t even judging a political activist. You might be judging a pacifist.”

The decide prohibited video protection of Skochilenko’s closing assertion earlier than saying a responsible verdict on the cost of spreading “faux information” concerning the navy.

Spectators shouted, “Disgrace!” after Demyasheva handed down the seven-year sentence, in accordance with Mediazona, an impartial Russian media outlet.

The decision comes amid a raft of unusually harsh punishments being meted out for even the mildest dissent towards Russia’s warfare in Ukraine. As Skochilenko was taken away by police, supporters chanted a diminutive of her identify: “Sasha! Sasha!”

In her closing tackle to the court docket, Skochilenko denounced the warfare, saying it had introduced nothing however sorrow, loss of life and ache, for no motive that she may comprehend, in accordance with impartial Russian media retailers, a few of which printed her full assertion.

“Why wage warfare after we are all that we’ve got on this world, filled with calamities, catastrophes and hardships? Can all of the wealth and energy within the universe redeem the one you love from the clutches of loss of life?”

One police investigator, she claimed, resigned somewhat than proceed engaged on her case, an announcement that might not be independently verified.

“He confided to my lawyer, ‘I didn’t come to work for the Investigative Committee to pursue instances like Sasha Skochilenko’s,’” she continued, saying that the investigator had adopted his conscience, simply as she did.

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“My case is so weird and ludicrous that even staff at Pretrial Detention Heart Quantity 5 are astonished, exclaiming, ‘Do they actually put folks in jail for this now?’” stated Skochilenko, 33, who has been incarcerated since spring of final 12 months.

A lot of the Russians who’ve been sentenced to harsh jail phrases are distinguished opposition figures and fierce critics of President Vladimir Putin comparable to Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Kara-Murza and their associates. However earlier than the warfare, Skochilenko was not a political activist and spent most of her time organizing jam classes and drawing quaint cartoons.

In feedback to The Washington Publish final 12 months conveyed by her lawyer, Skochilenko stated her time in jail had turn into a type of involuntary antiwar protest, calling it her “largest work.”

“My detention and the cruelty to me has made my act public and given it such magnitude,” she stated. “I’m not an activist. I’m an artist, a performer.”

Upset by the Ukrainian deaths attributable to Russian’s invasion, she was impressed on a whim by an internet antiwar marketing campaign by activists throughout Russia to position the stickers with warfare statistics and different antiwar info on high of grocery store worth tags.

One sticker learn, “The Russian military bombed an artwork college in Mariupol the place about 400 folks had been hiding from shelling.” One other stated: “Weekly inflation reached a brand new excessive not seen since 1998 due to our navy actions in Ukraine. Cease the warfare.”

Skochilenko was caught as a result of a pensioner, Galina Baranova, 76, noticed the stickers whereas buying and reported the incident to the police. The artist, who had a guitar protruding of her backpack and had been on her approach to go to a pal, was simple to trace on CCTV cameras.

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“The state prosecutor repeatedly declared my actions extraordinarily harmful to society and the state. How fragile should the prosecutor’s perception in our state and society be, if he thinks that our statehood and public security may be introduced down by 5 small items of paper,” Skochilenko declared on Thursday.

“Nobody was harm by my actions, but I’ve been incarcerated for over a 12 months and a half now, alongside murderers, thieves, statutory rapists and pimps. Can the supposed hurt I induced even examine to those crimes?”

All through her ordeal, Skochilenko has confronted astonishing cruelty. Jail authorities denied her gluten-free meals that she wants as a sufferer of celiac illness. She was additionally denied medicine for a coronary heart situation at one level. She additionally has bipolar dysfunction and was recognized with an ovarian cyst whereas in jail.

Authorities positioned her in a cell with bullies who compelled her to face all day, denied her entry to the bathroom for hours on finish and made certain she missed meals, her accomplice, Sonya Subbotina, informed The Publish in an interview final 12 months. Additionally they tormented her by forcing her to comb the cell repeatedly and to scrub her clothes time and again.

Skochilenko made some extent of attempting to enchantment to the decide’s conscience on Thursday, warning that Demyasheva can be remembered for her verdict. However Demysheva’s sentence was only a 12 months wanting the eight years demanded by prosecutor Alexander Gladyshev.

Days earlier, Demyasheva suspended the listening to as a result of spectators loudly applauded the impassioned protection provided by Skochilenko’s lawyer, Yana Nepovinnova.

“You should not punish dissent. You should not punish for goal criticism of the federal government and its selections,” Nepovinnova stated, calling the trial an examination that the decide may go or fail.

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Skochilenko stated Thursday that as a pacificist she couldn’t bear to kill even a spider, and was “frightened on the very considered taking a life.”

“Sure, I feel that life is sacred. Oh sure, life! Strip away the world’s frippery like cash, energy, glory and social standing, and all that’s left is life. Oh sure, life! It’s persistent, tenacious, transferring, unimaginable, highly effective.”

She stated that she doubted that the prosecutor, deep in his coronary heart, actually needed to see her jailed for such a very long time, speculating that he was most likely pondering solely of his profession.

“Regardless of being behind bars, I’m freer than you,” she stated, explaining that at the least she was not afraid to state her opinions.

“I’m not terrified of not making a superb profession, showing ridiculous, susceptible, or unusual. I’m not afraid of being totally different from others,” she stated. “Maybe that’s why my state is so afraid of me and others like me and retains me caged like a harmful animal.”




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