The artist Aleksandra Skoczylenko, who replaced price tags in a supermarket with cards appealing to end the war in Ukraine, was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony. – This is not justice, this is an execution – said Borys Vishniewski, a critic of the Kremlin, politician. The 33-year-old, who has been in custody for a year and a half, has been diagnosed with several diseases. – What will you tell your children? That one day you threw a seriously ill, respected artist into prison for five pieces of paper? – the accused asked the prosecutor.
On March 31, 2022, 33-year-old artist Aleksandra Skoczylenko placed anti-war cards criticizing the authorities in a supermarket. She was detained and accused of spreading “fake news” about the Russian army, which she denied.
On Thursday, before the verdict was announced in the St. Petersburg court, Skoczylenko warned the judge that “whatever decision he makes, he will go down in history.” – Your honor, this is a unique opportunity to show society an example with your judgment – she said.
The verdict was handed down a few hours later – Skoczylenko will spend seven years in a penal colony. The court also banned her from using the Internet for three years.
The prosecutor – who accused the 33-year-old of committing a “serious crime resulting from political hatred – wanted to order an eight-year prison sentence. Skoczylenko, turning to him, asked: – What will you tell your children? That one day you threw a seriously ill, respected artist into prison for five pieces of paper?
– I am not afraid and maybe that is why my government is afraid of me, keeping me in a cage like the most dangerous animal – she added.
After the court’s decision was announced, people supporting the artist started shouting: “Shame!” Skoczylenko smiled at first and formed a heart with her hand, but then tears flowed from her eyes. The woman, turning to her partner, said: – I love you more than anything in the world. I love you more than life. Everything will be fine.
“This is not justice, this is execution”
Russian politician of the Yabloko party and Kremlin critic Boris Vishnevsky emphasized that “the verdict is unfair.” – There is no guilt, Skoczylenko is not guilty of anything. I won’t even mention humanity or equality before the law, because sometimes people receive less than five years in prison for murder. This is not justice, this is execution, he emphasized.
Kremlin critics point out that the artist’s case is part of the repression against anyone who speaks out against Russia’s armed attack on Ukraine – a “special military operation”, as Vladimir Putin’s supporters and the authorities in Russia call it. This repression led to the arrest of almost 20,000 people and the initiation of over 800 criminal cases.
Skoczylenko, who has been in custody for a year and a half, has been diagnosed with several diseases, including celiac disease, a severe gluten intolerance. Her lawyers warned that the inability to obtain qualified medical care would pose a threat to the artist’s life.
The artist, as noted by Reuters, was recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, i.e. a person deprived of liberty or subjected to other physical restrictions solely because of her views, who did not incite or use violence in her actions.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV