war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Illegal Flowers, Solitary Protestors, Molotov Cocktails: a Digest of Russian Protests

23.02.2023    available: Українською
Memorial volunteers
Last week in Russia, the recruitment office, the Investigative Committee, relay cases by the railway were all set on fire: Russians are mastering “hot” forms of protest. Meanwhile, one could be put behind bars for a bouquet of flowers or a “Peace” poster.

Левашівський меморіальний цвинтар, Санкт-Петербург “To the innocent slain in Ukraine, may they never be forgotten.” The Levashovo Memorial cemetery (St. Petersburg)

“To the innocent slain in Ukraine, may they never be forgotten.” The Levashovo Memorial cemetery (St. Petersburg)

Last week in Russia, the recruitment office, the Investigative Committee, and relay cases by the railway were all set on fire: Russians are mastering “hot” forms of protest. Meanwhile, one could be put behind bars for a bouquet of flowers or a “Peace” poster.

Protests, arrests, fines and jail-time

Yelena G. from the city of Tver (Central Russia) was fined 30,000 roubles (two months Minimum Wage) for laying flowers in memory of those killed in Dnipro on 14 January 2023. She was charged with ‘discrediting’ the Russian army (Article 20.3.3, Administrative Offences). Earlier she was denounced to the authorities by a local government official. On Saturday 21 January the informer rang the police and told them that two girls had lain flowers at a spontaneous memorial. In February it became known that law-enforcement agents had visited the girl at home and taken a statement from her.


In St Petersburg police arrested protestor Andrei Maslyak who stood on the city’s Palace Square, holding a placard that read, “Peace to the world”.


On the night of Saturday11 February, in Moscow, civil activist Fyodor Protashchik was arrested for shouting, “Glory to Ukraine!” 


In St Petersburg Ivan Popov, a local resident was arrested next to the Bronze Horseman (Peter the Great), holding a placard, “No to the War.”

Іван Попов, Петербург Ivan Popov (St Petersburg), “No to the War”

Ivan Popov (St Petersburg), “No to the War”

In Vladivostok (Far East), a local Alexei was arrested for protesting against the war in Ukraine. He was standing on the city’s central square with a placard reading “Thou shalt not Kill”. At first, he was taken to the police station. Three hours later a team arrived from the out-patients department of a psychiatric clinic and took him away for examination. There they tried to learn what he was hoping to express with his placard.


Dmitry Rumshisky was arrested, after the guard called the police, at a Moscow swimming pool because he was wearing a tee-shirt decorated with Ukrainian symbols. Rumshisky’s wife reported his arrest.


The Novomoskovsky district court in the Tula Region (Central Russia) fined Stanislav Yermakov 45,000 roubles (three months Minimum Wages) for ‘discrediting’ the Russian army (Article 20.3.3, Administrative Offences). Yermakov filmed Putin’s New Year address with a song by Ukrainian duet Potap& Nastya playing in the background. Charges were brought earlier against a DJ who played the same song.


Krasnodar (South Russia) activist Vitaly Votyanovsky has received death threats after circulating photographs of numerous fresh burials at a graveyard belonging to the Wagner Group.


In Moscow music-master Leonid Simonov was charged by police with ‘discrediting’ the Russian army (Article 20.3.3, Administrative Offences). Simonov teaches at a centre for children’s extra-curricular education. He was guilty of February 2022 reposts to the InContact social network of (1) the front page of the British ‘Daily Star’ newspaper depicting Putin as Hitler, and (2) a report from the ‘Present-day Newsreel’(«Настоящеголентача») about the arrest in St Petersburg of a Leningrad Blockade survivor holding a placard with the words “No to the War”.

Law-enforcement officers (siloviki) also considered that Simonov was giving out information during his classes that discredited the Russian army and named the Special Military Operation in Ukraine as “nothing less than a war”.


In Chuvashia (Volga) partisans removed a section of text supporting the war on a poster by the city’s central mosque.


A court in the Vladimir Region (Central Russia) turned down a petition to the recruitment and enlistment offices demanding that military officer Farkhad Djabbarov (reserves) be demoted and removed from its records because he was not prepared to serve in an army that had attacked a neighbouring country.


Colonel (reserves) Mikhail Shendakov’s two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence was replaced by the Krasnogorsk district court (Moscow Region) with the same term of imprisonment in the Russian penal system. A hearing about replacing another suspended sentence on the colonel (three years imprisonment for a video telling a joke about a surgeon and a National Guardsman) will take place on Monday, 20 February. In 2022, Shendakov was twice charged with ‘discrediting’ the Russian army (pt 1, Article 20.3.3, Administrative Offences). The court fined him 30,000 roubles (two months’ Minimum Wage) because of Shendakov’s anti-war posts on the Classmates social network.

Memorials to those who died in the shelling of Ukrainian towns and cities

Despite the arrests, people in Russia continue to make popular memorials to those who died in Dnipro (see Digest, 29 January-4 February 2023).

More and more towns and cities are joining this commemorative protest: some of the most recent were in Veliky Novgorod and Ukhta (Northwest Russia), Vladikavkaz (North Caucasus), and Naberezhnye Chelny (Volga). Protestors continue to lay flowers at the Solovki Stone in Moscow, the memorial to Captain Dyachenko in Khabarovsk (Far East) and to monuments to Taras Shevchenko in Novosibirsk and Omsk (Siberia). Inhabitants of Izhevsk (Volga) started bringing flowers to the memorial to the Victims of Radiation Disasters and a memorial appeared in Svetlogorsk (Kaliningrad Region, Northwest Russia).

Стихійні меморіали в пам’ять про загиблих у Дніпрі The texts on pages at the memorials read; “We are grieving”, “To those who died in Dnipro” and “This war is a crime”

The texts on pages at the memorials read; “We are grieving”, “To those who died in Dnipro” and “This war is a crime”


In Buryatia (east Siberia) 56-year-old Oleg Alexandrov set fire to the offices of the Investigative Committee.


32-year-old Anton P. threw a ‘Molotov cocktail’ at a recruitment & enlistment office in Omsk (west Siberia) but his attempted act of arson failed.


In the Amur Region (Far East), Roman P., 29, set fire to the recruitment & enlistment office of the Magdachinsky and Skorodinsky districts. The archives office and conscription records were damaged.


Railway partisans in Moscow destroyed a relay case, resulting in a halt to railway traffic.


On the Grabovo-Bessonovka stretch of the railway through the Penza Region’s Bessonovsky district (Central Russia) rail traffic was halted after the relay case was burnt.


An unidentified individual damaged the track switch of the main Kursk Railway near Moscow.

Other activities

The State Duma is preparing amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences. These will introduce additional grounds for charges of ‘discrediting’ the participants in military action, including volunteers. These amendments will help to conceal the past crimes of Wagner Group mercenaries.


The editors of the ‘Holy Fire’Orthodox magazine have suggested that 293 priests be defrocked for signing an appeal in early March 2022, calling for an end to the war in Ukraine.


A series of anti-war articles appeared on the website of the propagandist, pro-regime Komsomolskaya pravda daily paper. They were uploaded by a former news editor of the newspaper, Vladimir Romanenko, who has left Russia. He termed his protest “atonement”. The website has now been restored to its former appearance.

The Webarchive service enables us to see what it looked like before. It carried reports entitled, “Putin ordered the bombing of peaceful towns and cities in Ukraine”, “How much Putin’s war in Ukraine is costing”, “The Kremlin has unleashed armed prisoners”, “Russia committed crimes in Bucha, Hostomel and Izium”, “Russia has been occupied by the Putin regime”, “Despite repression, Russian activists are continuing to resist the Putin regime”.

Anti-war articles on the Komsomolskaya pravda website

Anti-war articles on the Komsomolskaya pravda website

The administration of the Sovremennik Theatre in Moscow has withdrawn the most recent show starring the famous actress Leah Ahedjakova from its repertoire. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 the actress has repeatedly called for an end to the war in Ukraine. She has also appealed for people to speak out if they oppose the war.

Лія Ахеджакова Leah Ahedjakova (

Leah Ahedjakova (

Conscientious objection to military service

The autumn call-up in Russia ended on 31 December 2022. It encompassed an unprecedented number of violations. Young men of conscription age were sent to the army the same day they were seized on the street, in the Metro, in a café or dormitory: they were taken to the recruitment & enlistment office (voyenkomat) and transferred immediately to the assembly point. Even faced by such open lawlessness and violence conscripts resisted and, often, were successful. The Medusa media outlet, based in Latvia, gathered five stories of resistance by conscripts who managed to avoid being unlawfully sent to Ukraine.


The testimony of army officer Dmitry Vasilets, a senior lieutenant from Northwest Russia (the Pecheng settlement in the Murmansk Region) were published. He spent five months fighting with the Russian army and did not return to Ukraine after taking some leave .

After Putin announced a partial mobilisation to support the war in Ukraine (see Digest, 26 September-1 October 2022, “Mogilisation”) and amendments were made to the RF Criminal Code, Vasilets was charged with “refusing to take part in military operations” (amendments to Articles 201 & 285, Criminal Code; Article 151, Criminal-Procedural Code). Meanwhile, Vasilets openly stated that reasons of conscience prevented him from returning to fight. His explanation, we consider, to be THE document of 2023;


In the Volgograd Region (South Russia) a man who refused to fight on religious grounds, Anton Kuznetsov, was sent to the army “for a day”. Now he has gone to court, contesting the decision to call him up for military service. At the social networking site ‘Once and for all’ the sum of 60,000 roubles was raised by donation to pay for his defence lawyer.


The News-26 website questioned four lads who were able, thanks to the ‘Appeal to Conscience’ coalition (see Digest, 17-24 June 2022) to replace conscription with alternative civilian service.

A Note on Sources

This digest was compiled by Memorial volunteers, drawing on reports in the following Russian-language media outlets:; Astrapress; Chuvashia Dream (Volga); Era anarchy; Horizontal Russia; Medusa (Latvia); Odessa journal (in English); Ostorozhno Novosti; OVD-Info live; RBC free news; Telegraph; Vesna democrat; World protest, and others.

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