‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Aleksei Sidorov is a political prisoner

16 January 2024

Aleksei Sidorov from Chelyabinsk has been remanded in custody on charges of ‘incitement of terrorism’ for  calling on Ukrainians to attack the Kremlin

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Aleksei Sidorov a political prisoner. Sidorov is being prosecuted on charges of inciting terrorism for statements he made on YouTube in connection with the war against Ukraine. Sidorov’s criminal prosecution violates his right to freedom of expression.

We demand the immediate release of Aleksei Sidorov and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.

What are the charges against Aleksei Sidorov?

Aleksei Sidorov, a 40-year-old construction worker from Chelyabinsk, in connection with the drone attack on the Kremlin on 3 May 2023, commented on his YouTube channel: ‘Ukrainian brothers, keep up the good work…! I’m on your side, fuck these pigs, they’ve so pissed everyone off already… Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes! May they kill those fuckers…! Let’s hope they get to the Kremlin and destroy it all …! The Russian nation can’t stand up to that fuck Putin. I put all my hopes in the Ukrainians that they will reach the Kremlin and fuck it up… Completely! Fuck it up and destroy it all …! We need you to get to the Kremlin and destroy it. Well, in reality, how else can this be done? You guys are the only hope.’

Sidorov did not save the recordings of his broadcasts on YouTube, but on 9 May the popular pro-Kremlin blogger Anatoly Shary published the video on his Telegram channel. The next day, FSB special forces detained Sidorov, breaking down the door to his apartment with a sledgehammer and crowbar. 

Sidorov was charged with inciting terrorism under Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code and on 12 May 2023 a court remanded him in custody.

Why do we consider Sidorov a political prisoner?

Aleksei Sidorov was remanded in custody for the offence of inciting terrorism, a charge which is increasingly being used to prosecute dissidents. 

First of all, it should be noted that Sidorov was in fact commenting emotionally on a hypothetical development of the course of military operations that the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting in response to the full-scale attack by Russia. The military actions undertaken by the Ukrainian armed forces, including strikes on the enemy’s decision-making centres, are in exercise of the right of the Ukrainian state to defend itself and cannot be regarded as terrorism.

Furthermore, in our view, regardless of the content of the statements by Aleksei Sidorov, they present a negligible danger to the public. The claim that a Chelyabinsk YouTuber with 160 subscribers could induce anyone, much less the Ukrainian military (to whom he formally addressed his speech), to undertake violent actions is absurd. In addition, his statements, although in the form of an incitement to action, are in fact rhetorical constructions, in other words, they are not an appeal to action but an expression of an opinion. 

Sidorov’s criminal prosecution violates his right to freedom of expression and is selective in nature. It is clearly disproportionate to the degree of his public influence and is in reality based not on the danger of his actions, but on the very fact of his public criticism of the war and of Vladimir Putin personally.

A detailed description of the case of Aleksei Sidorov 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  to Aleksei Sidorov at the following address:

In Russian: 56006, г. Челябинск, ул. Российская, д. 53, СИЗО-1 ГУ ФСИН по Челябинской области, Сидорову Алексею Сергеевичу, 1982 г. р. 

English translation: Aleksei Sergeevich Sidorov (born 1982), Remand Prison No. 1, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Chelyabinsk region, 53 Rossiiskaya Street, Chelyabinsk, 56006, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter via the Zonatelecom service.

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

Leave a Reply