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Russian poet imprisoned for seven years over anti-Ukraine poetry

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Russian poet jailed seven years for anti Ukraine verses

Following the reading of the sentence, cries of “Shame!” erupted from supporters in the courtroom. Some of them were later detained by police outside the court building, as reported by an AFP journalist.

Russian authorities have detained thousands for engaging in acts of protest against the offensive in Ukraine, effectively outlawing criticism. Kamardin claimed his detention was particularly violent, alleging that officers raped him and coerced him into filming an apology video while threatening his partner.

Prior to his arrest in September 2022, he recited his poem “Kill me, militia man!” on a Moscow square where dissidents have been gathering since the Soviet era. He also shouted offensive slogans against the imperial “New Russia” project aiming to annex the south of Ukraine.

Both were convicted of “inciting hatred” and “calling for activities threatening state security.” Kamardin stated in court that he was unaware of breaking the law and pleaded for mercy.

Responding to the sentencing, his father, Yury, expressed, “This is a total outrage!” Around two dozen friends, along with the poets’ parents and wives, came to support the defendants. Kamardin’s wife, Alexandra Popova, remarked, “It is a very harsh sentence. Seven years for poems, for a non-violent crime,” before being taken away by police officers.

In an interview with AFP in late 2022, she recounted her then-boyfriend’s arrest, alleging threats of “gang rape,” physical assault, and superglue being sprayed on her cheeks and mouth by officers. Meanwhile, Kamardin claimed to have been taken to a separate room, where he was reportedly subjected to physical violence and sexual assault with a barbell.

Kamardin was coerced into filming an apology video. Shtovba also insisted that he did not break the law. In his final statement in court, he questioned, “What have I done that’s illegal? Read poetry?” He also addressed his mother, acknowledging her financial dependence on him and expressing regret for leaving her and his father alone.

Nikolai Dayneko, who was arrested at the same time, was sentenced to four years in prison last May after entering a pre-trial agreement, as per OVD-info. These are the latest in a series of severe sentences against Russians who protested the offensive, which critics denounce as absurd.

In mid-November, artist Alexandra Skochilenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for swapping price tags with slogans criticising Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. Skochilenko had replaced five price tags in a branch of one of Russia’s largest supermarket chains in Saint Petersburg with messages about the conflict. The trials of ordinary Russians typically occur away from public attention, unlike those of prominent critics.

Most of Russia’s high-profile opposition figures have fled the country or are behind bars, including Alexei Navalny.

AFP

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