Political Prisoners. Memorial: Maria Mekhedova is a political prisoner 

29 February 2024

Maria Mekhedova, a paediatrician from Blagoveshchensk, has been placed under house arrest for comments about the death of Vladlen Tatarsky 

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial


The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Maria Mekhedova a political prisoner. She is being prosecuted on charges of justification of terrorism for commenting online that she was not sad about the death of a pro-war blogger. Mekhedova’s prosecution violates her rights to freedom of expression and fair trial. 

We demand that the charges against Mekhedova be dropped and that she be released from house arrest. 

What are the charges against Maria Mekhedova?

Maria Mekhedova, a paediatrician from Blagoveshchensk in Amur region, most likely came to the attention of law enforcement agencies when participants in parent chat rooms were harassing her for her anti-war posts on social media and discussing whether they should ‘report her to the FSB’ or beat her up. 

In November 2022, Mekhedova was convicted of the administrative-law offence of discrediting the Russian armed forces (Article 20.3.3, Part 1, of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences) for anti-war comments. After Ukrainian forces retook Kherson, she wrote: ‘Well done the Ukrainian Armed Forces, they are defending their territory, everything seized should rightfully be returned to them.’ On 5 December 2022, Blagoveshchensk City Court in Amur Region fined her 30,000 roubles. 

In the spring of 2023, in connection with other publications on the Internet, Mekhedova’s home was searched twice and communications equipment used by her and her husband seized. On 28 June, she was charged with ‘justification of terrorism’ (Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code) for comments she made about the murder of pro-war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, killed in an explosion in St. Petersburg on 2 April 2023. 

The comments by Mekhedova in question were: 

I never thought I would ever be happy about this. Forgive me, God, for this.’ 

and: 

Have a look at this page, make the effort, how much hate there is on the page of this ‘Tatarsky’, how many calls for death, how much cynicism. I’m not sorry for him at all. The earth itself is cleansing itself of bad people. It’s like in a film, when a bad character dies, the viewer rejoices, just as all sensible people,who stand on the side of what’s good, rejoice.’

Immediately after the criminal case was initiated, Mekhedova was placed under house arrest and banned from continuing her medical practice. She faces up to seven years’ imprisonment if convicted.

Why do we consider Mekhedova a political prisoner?

We believe that the comments for which Mekhedova is being prosecuted contain no justification of terrorist activity. Essentially, she was simply reacting emotionally to the fact of Tatarsky’s death, without expressing any support, approval or any kind of evaluation of the circumstances under which it occurred. Mekhedova’s comments relate solely to the characterisation of Vladlen Tatarsky’s personality and do not contain any assertions about the correctness of the actions of those who organised or carried out the explosion. A positive assessment of someone’s death is in no way prohibited by law, and therefore these actions do not constitute an offence, whether that of justification of terrorism or any other. 

In addition, we believe that the increased attention to the activities of Maria Mekhedova has been because of her anti-war position, which she has repeatedly expressed publicly. 

A detailed description of the case of Maria Mekhedova 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.