‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Vladimir Vladimirov is a political prisoner

12 February 2024

Vladimir Vladimirov has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on charges of ‘repeated “discrediting” of the army’ for setting fire to a mobile military recruitment centre

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Vladimir Vladimirov a political prisoner. Vladimirov was convicted of ‘public “discrediting” of the Russian armed forces causing damage to property’ for setting fire to a tent where volunteers were being recruited for the war. Vladimirov’s prosecution violated his right to fair trial.

We demand that Vladimirov be released from custody and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.

What is the background to the prosecution of Vladimir Vladimirov?

As follows from the court verdict, late in the evening of 17 August 2023 Vladimir Vladimirov, a resident of Kirov, tried to set fire to a tent which was serving as a mobile recruitment station for soldiers under contract. On his second attempt, he succeeded. He sent a video of the burning tent to three acquaintances, including his former wife. Vladimirov also wrote to her that he was ready to ‘join the Ukrainian armed forces to destroy Russian military service personnel’ and spoke negatively about Vladimir Putin.

That night, Vladimirov was detained. According to the investigators, at the time of his arrest he told police officers: ‘When Putin’s regime changes, all of you cops will be hanging from lampposts.’

Initially, Vladimirov was remanded in custody for obscene swearing under the administrative law offence of petty hooliganism (Article 20.1, Part 1, of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences). Then, because of the arson of the tent, a criminal case was brought against him for ‘public actions to “discredit” the use of the Russian army, resulting in damage to property’ (Article 280.3, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code).

In court, Vladimirov admitted he had set fire to the tent, but said that he had done it out of curiosity and negligence in a state of alcoholic intoxication: he had used a lighter to try to see what was inside.

On 23 August, Vladimirov was remanded in custody.

On 7 December 2023, Oktyabrsky district court in Kirov sentenced Vladimirov to two years in a general regime penal colony.

Why do we consider Vladimirov a political prisoner?

Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code was introduced as an instrument for the suppression of dissent after the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Article 280.3 effectively prohibits any criticism of the war or of the Russian authorities, in violation of the right of citizens to freedom of expression, and contradicts fundamental principles of law, in particular, the principle of legal certainty.

Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code should be repealed, all related criminal convictions quashed and ongoing prosecutions closed.

Regardless of whether Vladimirov was motivated by anti-war views or whether the arson was an accident, as he himself claims, we believe his actions have been wrongly classified.

Vladimirov’s prosecution under Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code indicates that his criminal case is political in nature and the charges against him should be dropped.

A detailed description of the case of Vladimir Vladimirov 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 donate to support all political prisoners via our website. 

Translated by Rights in Russia

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