Against opponents of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian judicial system hands down exceptionally long sentences. On Thursday, November 14, Alexandra Skotchilenko, a 33-year-old openly homosexual artist, was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony for pasting anti-war slogans over price tags in a St. Petersburg supermarket.
On the same day, Alexei Arbuzenko, 46, a resident of Togliatti (Volga region), was sentenced to six years in prison for “defaced posters representing Russian soldiers”. A former deputy energy minister turned opponent, Vladimir Milov, 51, was sentenced to eight years of detention in absentia for “public dissemination of false information about the Russian armed forces” in Ukraine.
Ally of the opponent Alexeï Navalny, imprisoned since January 2021, Mr. Milov has been in exile in Lithuania for two and a half years, from where he runs his own YouTube channel followed by half a million subscribers. Also on Thursday, three lawyers for Mr. Navalny, Vadim Kobzev, Igor Sergunin and Alexeï Liptser, were placed by the Russian authorities on the list of people “linked to extremist or terrorist activities”. They were remanded in custody in October.
The presidential election in sight
The increased severity of the judicial authorities comes in the context of the approach of the Russian presidential election (scheduled for March 2024), for which the invasion of Ukraine apparently does not feature in the campaign themes favored by the outgoing candidate Vladimir Poutine.
In a survey made public at the beginning of November by the‘Russian Field institute, created in 2018, by political scientists, sociologists and journalists, 48% of Russians say they are in favor of peace talks with Ukraine, compared to 39% who are in favor of continuing “special military operation”.
But, for the first time, while this study has been carried out regularly since April 2022, the curve of people in favor of a negotiated outcome exceeds that of supporters of the military solution. The evolution of Russian public opinion perhaps explains the feverishness of the authorities and the growing intimidation of civil society.
In March 2022, Alexandra Skotchilenko, who had made stickers on which small slogans such as “Putin lies to us from the television screens” Or “Stop the war, 4,300 people died in the first three days,” had been denounced by a 76-year-old woman who had seen him replace the price tags, reports the website Paperpaper.ru. According to this independent media, which contacted her on Thursday, after the verdict, this retiree is indignant that she is being “calls an informer” and said to himself “proud”because “Isn’t doing nothing in the face of a crime shameful? »
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