War against Independent Culture: a Digest of Russian Protests
On 26 February 2022, among other theatre figures, he signed an open anti-war letter. According to a source in the leadership of the Voronezh region (Central Russia), “Bychkov continued to write open condemnatory letters, and he did not support relatives of Special Military Operation fighters by giving them discounted tickets,” which was the reason for his dismissal. The theatre’s three leading actresses—Natalia Shevchenko, Tatyana Babenkova and Yana Kuzina—have announced that they are leaving the theatre with the director.
On 20 November, a court in the city of Saratov found Dmitry Lyalyaev guilty of spreading fakes about the Russian army and sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment in a penal colony. Before that, on 11 September 2023, the same court sentenced Lyalyaev for public calls to extremism and for the production of Nazi symbols or symbols of an extremist organisation. For this, he received two years in a penal colony.
It is unknown exactly why criminal proceedings were initiated. At the same time, four administrative cases against Dmitry Lyalyaev, including those on discrediting the Russian army and disrespect for the authorities, initiated in 2022, have been published in the court’s files. A street sweeper from Satka (Chelyabinsk region, Urals) was given a 400,000 ruble fine for “justifying terrorism”.
A criminal case was brought against Gulnara Bakhareva, the single mother of an 11-year-old son, due to anti-war comments on VKontakte.
In the city
The Spring activist movementthat activists in St. Petersburg put up anti-war stickers all over the city. Among the slogans are “Don’t die for Putin”, “Wake up people, there is a war!” among others.
Pickets and rallies
On 21 November in Kazan Daniil Alimov went on a solitary picket with a poster “Peace to the world. No to war.” He was.
The Cheremushkinsky district court of Moscow sent 22-year-old student Ibragim Orudzhev to a pre-trial detention centre charging him with terrorism training. Investigators claim he was planning on setting fire to a military enlistment office. He was detained on 10 November when taking pictures of the enlistment office. The court claims that Orudzhev had previously been suspected of terrorism and state treason.
Maria Kartasheva, who fled to Canada, has been sentenced in absentia by the Basmanny District Court of Moscow to eight years in a penal colony for military “fakes”. She had reportedly posted on her Telegram channel about civilians being murdered in Bucha. Kartasheva published photos from Bucha, accompanying them with the text: “These are not even all the photos, there are even more horrifying ones. Please share them with your loved ones who do not believe the truth.” She ended the post with the words “Don’t let yourself forget what is really happening in Ukraine right now.”
Refusal to fight
According to data collected from Russian military court websites as of 21 November 2023, Russian military courts have brought criminal cases against 4,121 soldiers for abandoning their units. Military courts hand down approximately 100 verdicts in such cases per week. In addition to these cases, the courts charged 317 people for disobeying orders and 96 for desertion.
On 21 November, an “army delegation” arrived at the penal colony where Ilya Yashin (Russian opposition politician, former municipal deputy, sentenced to 8.5 years in a high-security colony for publishing information about the crimes of the Russian army in Ukraine) is being held to recruit prisoners for the war. Yashin reportedly told recruiters: “Your task is to send people to death. And I want people to live.”
The report was prepared by Memorial volunteers from information in SOTA, OVD-Info; 7x7 Horizontal Russia; Feminist Anti-War Resistance; Vesna, Aktivatika and other sources.