28 December 2023
Egor Bazaleikin, a 17-year-old high school student from Leningrad region, has been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment on two charges of attempted arson of military recruitment centres
Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial
The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Egor Balazeikin a political prisoner. Balazeikin has been prosecuted on charges of attempted acts of terrorism for his unsuccessful attempts to set fire to military recruitment centres. Balazeikin’s prosecution violated his right to fair trial.
We demand that Egor Balazeikin’s case be reviewed and that he be released on grounds of health.
What are the charges against Egor Balazeikin?
Egor Balazeikin, a high school student, was initially concerned about the failures of the Russian military in Ukraine. However, after hearing news of war crimes, and especially after his uncle was killed at the front, he took an anti-war stance. Wishing to protest against the war, Balazeikin decided to set fire to a military enlistment office.
In mid-February 2023 (the exact date is unknown), 16-year-old Egor threw a bottle of white spirit or paraffin into the building of the military enlistment office in St. Petersburg. The bottle shattered on a wall, but the liquid did not catch fire, and no one noticed the arson attempt. On 28 February, Balazeikin tried again, this time in Kirovsk, a town in Leningrad region. There he threw three bottles of diesel fuel against the wall of the local military recruitment office. Again there was no fire, but Egor was seen by a member of staff. Police officers called to the scene detained the young man.
Initially, Balazeikin was charged with intentional damage to property (Article 167 of the Russian Criminal Code). At Balazeikin’s first interrogation, by asking leading questions the investigator managed to obtain testimony from Balazeikin that he had ‘tried to influence the decision-making of the military recruitment centre.’ This became the basis for a reclassification of the charge to attempted terrorism (Article 30, Part 3, in conjunction with Article 205, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code).
On 22 November 2023, the 2nd Western District Military Court sentenced Balazeikin to six years’ imprisonment. Balazeikin has been in custody since his initial arrest.
Balazeikin suffers from autoimmune hepatitis, a chronic disease of the liver, and his incarceration could lead to cirrhosis of the liver and poses a high risk of premature death.
Why do we consider Balazeikin a political prisoner?
We do not agree with the classification of Balazeikin’s actions as attempted terrorism, as he had no intention to intimidate the population or cause grave consequences.
Egor’s confession that he wanted to stop the work of the military enlistment office is not sufficient to consider his actions as terrorism, all the more since this testimony was obtained in violation of the law.
The court did not take into account the young man’s true motives: his attempt to draw attention to what he called ‘the madness of war.’
In conditions of severe repression against any form of anti-war speech, Egor saw no other way to express his protest.
Egor Balazeikin’s actions could not have had any serious consequences as the liquid from the bottles was incapable of causing a fire.
The court also failed to take into account the teenager’s state of health. During his time on remand, Egor’s health deteriorated significantly and further imprisonment may cost him his life.
The severity of the sentence handed down to Egor Balazeikin is disproportionate to the public danger of his actions and is directly related to his anti-war beliefs.
A detailed description of the case of Egor Balazeikin and the position of the Human Rights Project are available on our website.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ agrees with, or approves, their views, statements, or actions.
How can you help?
You can write letter to Egor Balazeikin at the following address:
In Russian: 195009, г. Санкт-Петербург, ул. Арсенальная, д. 11, ФКУ СИЗО-5 УФСИН России по СПб и ЛО. Балазейкину Егору Даниэлевичу 2006 г. р.
English translation: Egor Danielevich Balazeikin (born 2006), Remand Prison No. 5, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for St. Petersburg and Leningrad region, 11 Arsenalnaya Street, St. Petersburg, 195009, Russia.
Please note that letters in languages other than Russian are highly unlikely to reach the recipient.
You can donate to support all political prisoners via our website.
Translated by Rights in Russia