‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Nikolai Farafonov is a political prisoner

15 March 2024

Nikolai Farafonov is a blogger from Komi charged with a terrorist offence for anti-war posts on Telegram

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Nikolai Farafonov a political prisoner. Farafonov is being prosecuted for the offences of inciting and justifying terrorism for online publications. Farafonov’s prosecution violates his rights to freedom of expression and fair trial.

We demand the immediate release of Nikolai Farafonov and an end to his criminal prosecution.

Who is Nikolai Farafonov and what are the charges against him?

Nikolai Farafonov, from the town of Vuktyl in the Komi Republic is a blogger, anti-fascist and anti-war activist. For several years, Farafonov has been running an oppositionist Telegram channel called Cynical Komyak, in which he writes about local news, political prisoners and – since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – about men from the region who have been killed in the war. Farafonov has been prosecuted several times under the Russian Code of Administrative Offences because of his criticism of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

On 20 September 2023, Farafonov was detained and on 21 September he was remanded in custody on charges of justification of terrorism (Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). The investigative authorities claimed that Farafonov, via the Internet, urged people to set fire to military recruitment centres and also ‘justified the actions of the person who had set fire to the military recruitment centre in the town of Usinsk.’

Why do we consider Farafonov a political prisoner?

Nikolai Farafonov has been remanded in custody on a charge of justification of terrorism, a charge increasingly used by the Russian authorities to combat dissenters, including those who oppose Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

We do not know which of Farafonov’s publications served as grounds for his criminal prosecution. We have studied his Telegram channel and concluded that the posts about arson against military recruitment centres contain neither incitement to commit acts of terrorism nor justification of terrorism.

The arson of a military recruitment centre in Usinsk, allegedly committed by Nadezhda Kornilova, cannot be classified as an act of terrorism. Therefore, Farafonov’s comments on the extension of Kornilova’s detention do not constitute justification of terrorism. Moreover, in his text Farafonov does not justify her actions in any way, but expresses outrage at the treatment of the pensioner by the Russian security forces.

A detailed description of the case of Nikolai Farafonov 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 Nikolai Farafonov at the following address:

In Russian: 2167028, Республика Коми, г. Сыктывкар, п. Верхний Чов, д. 99, ФКУ СИЗО-1 УФСИН России по Республике Коми, Фарафонову Николаю Николаевичу 1988 г. р.

English translation: Nikolai Nikolaevich Farafonov (born 1988), Remand Prison No. 1, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Republic of Komi, 99 Verkhny Chov Settlement, Syktyvkar, Komi Republic, 2167028, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter to Nikolai Farafonov using the F-Pismo service.

Letters written by Nikolai Farafonov in detention are regularly posted on the Telegram channel Komi Political Prisoner.

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