22-year-old Ukrainian jailed for 3 years for writing that Russia is destroying Ukraine
Prokhor Neizhmakov was 21 and a student when Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He is now imprisoned in Russia, serving a three-year sentence for writing on social media that Russia had taken everything from him and was destroying his country. Russia’s Investigative Committee used those comments, as well as his rejection of any negotiations until Russian leader Vladimir Putin, to claim that the young man had engaged in ‘public calls to terrorist activity; justification or propaganda of terrorism’. Russia’s [Memorial] has recognized Neizhmakov as one of the huge and ever-mounting number of Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russian captivity.
Prokhor Neizhmakov was studying at the Pervomaisk Industrial-Pedagogical College and living in his home town of Rubizhne in February 2022. It is not known whether he fled from the fighting to Russia because his mother and elder brother were there or because any way to government-controlled Ukraine was blocked, but it was clearly not out of support for the aggressor state.
He was in Vladimir when arrested in early March 2023, with Russia’s Investigative Committee that the criminal charges of ‘a public call to carry out terrorist activities’ had been initiated over “a number of comments” on a chat on Telegram. The Investigative Committee claimed that Neizhmakov had ‘admitted the charges’. He was sentenced during a single court hearing, so this may be the case, however Russia’s entry on his ‘trial’ does mention that an appeal has been lodged. Any ‘confession’ would also, almost certainly, have been extracted while the young man was in FSB custody, without access to an independent lawyer, and very likely through torture.
Fortunately, the Telegram channel § 2 of Russia’s criminal code. The statements were allegedly posted on something called “Vladimir Gang’, a Telegram channel that neither ASTRA nor MediaZona were able to find. On 8 November, Neizhmakov wrote the following: has cited the actual statements which prompted the serious ‘public calls to terrorist activities’ charges under Article 205.2
“I say that Russia has imperialist aspirations, they always want to swallow someone up”
“You are simply destroying my country”
“How many slain men and brothers because of this conflict. If you hadn’t invaded Ukraine, everything would have been fine, we would have been neighbours.”
“Say thank you to uncle Volodya [i.e. Putin] thanks to whom I don’t have a home, education and all else.”
“We won’t negotiate with Putin…. Overthrow him and then [we can move] forward.”
This was deemed sufficient to justify a three-year prison sentence which was handed down by presiding ‘judge’ and two colleagues from the Western district military court on 14 August 2023. The sentence will presumably be from early March 2023 when the young Ukrainian was detained.
points out that the claim that Prokhor ‘admitted his guilt’ is not sufficient proof, “given the reality of modern criminal investigation and trials”, that the young man was, in fact, the author of the above comments. However, this is less important than the fact that there was, quite simply, nothing criminal about the comments, nothing even remotely falling under so-called “public calls to terrorist activity; justification or propaganda of terrorism.’ This means that, regardless as to whether he is the author or not, Prokhor Neizhmakov is a political prisoner.