- Russian artist Alexandra Skochilenko was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday for swapping supermarket price tags with messages critical of the war in Ukraine.1
- Skochilenko, 33, was found guilty of deliberately spreading false information about Russia's military and is banned from using the internet for the next three years in addition to the jail term.2
- Soon after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Skochilenko replaced grocery labels with statements that listed the number of casualties in the war and called Russia a “fascist state.” She has been detained since April 2022.3
- Skochilenko’s arrest came a month after Russia outlawed the distribution of false statements regarding its military and the war. Since she spent 19 months in a pre-trial detention center, her prison sentence will be reduced by more than two years since each day in detention counts as 1.5 days of regular time served.4
- In her final statement, Skochilenko — who denies that the accusation she deliberately disseminated fake news about the army — told the judge that she was a pacifist. Her lawyers expressed concern about the artist receiving proper medical treatment while imprisoned as she has celiac disease, which requires a gluten-free diet.2
- The verdict comes the same day that former Deputy Energy Minister Vladimir Milov was found guilty in absentia of the same charge and received an eight-year sentence.5
- Anti-Russia narrative, as provided by Associated Press. Vladimir Putin has always been an anti-freedom dictator, but he has dialed the notch to 11 since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Over the last 20 months, the Russian autocrat has criminalized any form of dissent and is targeting artists like Alexandra Skochilenko, who simply want to promote peace. Russia’s fascism continues to show its ugly teeth, and something must be done to restore basic human rights.
- Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by RT. It's ironic to hear the West condemn alleged violations of free speech when dissidents are silenced every day in their so-called democratic countries. Intelligence agencies spy on dissidents and coordinate with social media companies to silence people who dare to question the established narrative. The reality of this case is Skochilenko faced a fair trial and was found guilty of breaking the law, which should always incur ramifications.