Crimean imprisoned for ‘discrediting Russia’s army’ and its war crimes in Ukraine on social media
Danylo Seryohin from occupied Simferopol has been remanded in custody and is facing a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment for critical comments about Russia’s war against Ukraine on Facebook.
reported on 10 August that criminal proceedings had been initiated against Seryohin under Article 280.3 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code. This is one of the draconian new charges rushed into law immediately after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It punishes for what are described as “public actions aimed at discrediting the use of Russia’s armed forces”. There is also an analogous article of Russia’s Code of administrative offences, with criminal charges laid if a person has already been convicted on the administrative charge, and is considered to have to have ‘committed the same offence’ in the course of one year.
There is little information available about the specific charge which prompted the criminal proceedings, however Sova believes it to have been over publications posted by Seryohin on Facebook under the pseudonym . These are, in the main, links to YouTube videos, sometimes with accompanying commentary, most of which are clearly in support of Ukraine and against the current regime in Russia and its war against Ukraine. On 29 April, for example, a video was posted about the beginning of Ukraine’s counter-offensive. was that “This spells joy and hope for us hostages of a bloody regime of terrorists. However, alas, they kill us in Crimea even hard, Putin’s terrorists have totally lost it.”
Sova mentions also that the enforcement officers who carried out a search of Seryokhin’s home claimed to have found some marihuana, with a second charge, as yet unidentified, also brought. Worth noting that this is fairly standard behaviour, used against other Ukrainian political prisoners. The additional charges may also serve to ensure that the person is remanded in custody. No more is known as yet about the new charge except that Seryokhin has, indeed, been placed in a SIZO, or remand prison, where the conditions are appalling.
More is known about the first administrative prosecution under Article 20.3.3 § 1 of the administrative code (the same supposed ‘discrediting’ of Russia’s armed forces or others involved in the war against Ukraine, referred to as Russia’s ‘special military operation’]. That prosecution was passed to the occupation ‘Simferopol district court’ on 24 March 2023, and . Predictably, she found Seryokhin ‘guilty’ and fined him 40 thousand roubles.
Despite using very many words, Nazdracheva’s ruling gives little real information about the administrative charges that Seryohin faced, except that his supposed ‘offence’ was alleged to have been committed in a public place at 4 p.m. on a date that, for some reason, is concealed. Instead of trying to explain how Seryohin’s actions warrant the charges and his conviction, Nazdracheva simply repeats the entire article of the administrative code in its entirety twice.
Sova reports, however, that Seryohin was supposed to have criticized what Sova also calls ‘the special operation’ and to have yelled out phrases about NATO forces soon entering Crimea.
According to Sova’s information, Seryohin has also been prosecuted under two other administrative charges: Article 20.1 § 3 (circulating information expressing disrespect to the state) and Article 20.3 § 1 (public demonstration of symbols of an extremist organization).
The above charges, and others purporting to punish for ‘fakes’, but in fact prosecuting people for telling the truth about Russia’s actions in Ukraine, have been in force since early March 2022. From then until 10 August 2023, reports that occupation ‘courts’ have handed down 389 administrative rulings over supposed ‘discrediting of the Russian armed forces’. There have also been three convictions on the criminal charge for ‘repeat discrediting’.