Russian Poets Imprisoned for Anti-War Poetry

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Russian Poets Imprisoned for Anti-War Poetry

| Updated: December 28, 2023 17:32

Anti-War Poetry

In a Moscow court session held on Thursday, two Russian men faced severe consequences for expressing their dissent through poetry against the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Artyom Kamardin, aged 33, received a seven-year prison sentence, while Yegor Shtovba was handed a term of five years and six months. The verdict was met with cries of “Shame!” from their supporters present in the courtroom, as reported by an AFP journalist who attended the hearing.

Russian authorities have been cracking down on individuals engaging in even simple acts of protest against the Ukrainian offensive, effectively criminalizing criticism of the war. Kamardin claimed that his detention was marked by violence, alleging that officers subjected him to rape and coerced him into filming an apology video while making threats against his girlfriend.

Kamardin, prior to his arrest, had recited his poem titled “Kill me, militia man!” on a Moscow square frequented by dissidents since the Soviet era. He also vociferously opposed the imperial “New Russia” project, which aims to annex the southern regions of Ukraine. Both men were convicted on charges of “inciting hatred” and “calling for activities threatening state security.”

During the court proceedings, Kamardin expressed his lack of awareness that his actions constituted a breach of the law and pleaded for mercy. In a statement posted on his supporters’ Telegram channel, he disclaimed being a hero and emphasized that going to prison for his beliefs was never part of his plans.

Following the sentencing, Kamardin’s father, Yury, decried the outcome as a “total outrage.” Approximately two dozen friends, along with the poets’ parents and wives, were present to support the defendants. Kamardin’s wife, Alexandra Popova, characterized the sentence as excessively harsh, stating, “Seven years for poems, for a non-violent crime.”

Shtovba, 23, maintained his innocence and questioned the legality of his actions in a statement published by the independent site Mediazona. He directed an apology to his mother, acknowledging her financial dependence on him and expressing regret for leaving her and his father alone.

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