‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Mikhail Babintsev is a political prisoner 

28 February 2024

Mikhail Babintsev, a photographer from Buryatia, was sentenced to 13 years in a strict regime penal colony on charges of terrorism for the arson of a military enlistment centre 

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Mikhail Babintsev a political prisoner. Babintsev was convicted of a terrorist offence for the arson of a military recruitment centre. Mikhail Babintsev’s criminal prosecution violated his right to fair trial.

We demand that the conviction of Mikhail Babintsev on charges of terrorism be quashed. 

What were the charges against Mikhail Babintsev?

On 17 October 2022, almost a month after the announcement of partial mobilisation, Mikhail Babintsev, a resident of the village of Mukhorshibir in Buryatia, threw two Molotov cocktails at the building of the district military enlistment centre. One struck the roof of the building, the other fell to the ground. As a result of the arson attempt, two square metres of the outside of the building were burned. On 28 October 2022, Babintsev was detained. 

The prosecution and the court classified Babintsev’s actions as an act of terrorism (Article 205, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code). On 4 October 2023, the 1st Eastern District Military Court sentenced him to 13 years’ imprisonment, with the first three years to be served in a cell-type prison and the rest of the term in a strict regime penal colony. On 17 January 2024 the Military Court of Appeal left the sentence unchanged.

Why do we consider Babintsev a political prisoner?

Babintsev’s actions were incorrectly classified as terrorism since the trial failed to prove that he intended to intimidate the public, cause danger to life or destabilise the work of the authorities. Attempted arson is not in itself sufficient grounds for prosecution for terrorism. Babintsev, according to his testimony, saw the arson as a means to avoid mobilisation, thereby avoiding participation in the war and preserving his own life and health. This is confirmed by the evidence collected in the case.

We believe that the classification of Babintsev’s crime as an act of terrorism is unjustified and the punishment to which he was sentenced is wholly disproportionate to the public danger of his actions. We demand that Babintsev’s sentence be annulled, that his criminal conviction on terrorism charges be quashed, and that his case be retried in a fair hearing.

A detailed description of the case of Mikhail Babintsev 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 Mikhail Babintsev at the following address:

In Russian: 670000, Республика Бурятия, г. Улан-Удэ, ул. Пристанская, д. 4-а, ФКУ СИЗО-1 УФСИН России по Республике Бурятия, Бабинцеву Михаилу Петровичу 1983 г. р.

English translation: Mikhail Petrovich Babintsev (born 1983), Remand Prison No. 1, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Republic of Buryatia, 4-a Pristanskaya Street, Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia, 670000, 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.

The human rights organisation Solidarity Zone supports Mikhail Babintsev.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via our website.