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

22 March 2024

Mikhail Sharygin, a former member of the Yabloko party in Nizhny Novgorod, has been remanded in custody on charges of involvement in Navalny’s Headquarters

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Mikhail Sharygin a political prisoner. Sharygin is being prosecuted on charges of participating in the activities of an extremist organisation for supporting the initiatives of democratic opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. Sharygin’s criminal prosecution violates his rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association and fair trial.

We demand that Mikhail Sharygin be released and his criminal prosecution terminated.

Who is Mikhail Sharygin and what are the charges against him?

Mikhail Sharygin, 40, is a civil society activist from Nizhny Novgorod. In 2020, he had wanted to run for the city Duma from the Yabloko party, but the authorities refused to register him as a candidate. That same year, a criminal case was brought against him on charges of incitement of terrorism (Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code) for an online comment in which he proposed to ‘blow up the fence’ around the site of an illegal construction. Sharygin was then sentenced to a large fine.

On 13 February 2024, a Telegram channel associated with law enforcement agencies reported that a ‘member of Navalny’s Headquarters’ in Nizhny Novgorod had been detained. During a search of his home, law enforcement officers found items with symbols of the Anti-Corruption Foundation and more than $10,000. The detainee turned out to be Mikhail Sharygin, although until then it had not been known that he was connected to Navalny’s organisations.

On 15 February, Sharygin was remanded in custody on charges of participating in the activities of an extremist organisation (Article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code). The investigative authorities claimed that ‘on instructions of the leadership of anti-Russian centres based abroad,’ the activist had ‘intended to destabilise the situation in the run-up to the presidential election in Russia.’ Sharygin was accused of reposting publications by Navalny’s Headquarters and proposing that people join or support these organisations.

Why do we consider Sharygin a political prisoner?

On the basis of our analysis of the available materials that formed the grounds upon which Moscow City Court designated Aleksei Navalny’s organisations as extremist, we concluded that this designation was politically motivated and unlawful.

First, no evidence of actual extremist activity by these organisations was presented. Prosecution of individual employees under administrative and criminal law does not constitute such evidence.

Second, regular inspections of the organisations failed to reveal extremism in their work, although the results of these inspections were accepted by the court as evidence of extremist activity.

We do not know whether Mikhail Sharygin reposted Navalny’s Headquarters messages online or whether he called for their support. Nevertheless, such actions do not constitute a crime, and the criminal prosecution of Sharygin, based on the unlawful decision by Moscow City Court, is therefore politically motivated.

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

In Russian: 603098, Нижний Новгород, пр-т Гагарина, д. 26А, ФКУ СИЗО-1 ГУФСИН России по Нижегородской области, Шарыгину Михаилу Сергеевичу 1984 г.р.

English translation: Mikhail Sergeevich Sharygin (born 1984), Remand Prison No. 1, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Nizhny Novgorod region, 26A Gagarin Prospekt, Nizhny Novgorod, 603098, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter to Mikhail Sharygin using 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