‘Political Prisoners: Memorial’: Egor Kazanets, a Ukrainian citizen who wrote ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ on a wall in St. Petersburg, is a political prisoner

11 July 2022

Egor Kazanets is being prosecuted for vandalism motivated by ethnic hatred

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Egor Kazanets a political prisoner. His criminal prosecution violates the right to freedom of expression. Remanding Kazanets in custody is disproportionate to the actions with which he is charged and is intended to silence the voices of opponents of the war against Ukraine.

We demand the immediate release of Egor Kazants.

Who is Egor Kazanets and what are the charges against him?

Egor Kazanets is a 22-year-old Ukrainian citizen living in St. Petersburg. He came to Russia from Marganets, a city in the Dnepropetrovsk region of Ukraine. In St. Petersburg he graduated from the College of Shipbuilding and has worked as a driver and bartender.

According to the Investigative Committee, on 10 May 2022 Kazanets wrote on the facade of a new building ‘Glory to Ukraine!,’ thereby demonstrating ‘a negative attitude towards the special operation in Ukraine.’ The slogan, according to the prosecutors, was used ‘as a greeting by nationalist military formations in Ukraine engaged in military operations against the Soviet army in 1917-1920.’

Egor Kazanets was charged with vandalism motivated by ethnic hatred or enmity under Article 214 (Part 2) of the Russian Criminal Code. 

On 16 May 2022 Pushkin district court in St. Petersburg remanded Kazanets in custody.

Why do we consider Kazanets a political prisoner?

Egor Kazanets has been charged with vandalism in the form of ‘desecration of a building motivated by ethnic hatred.’ The Russian Criminal Code does not contain a precise interpretation of the term ‘desecration,’ a fact which undermines this law’s legal certainty and makes possible its arbitrary application. 

A systemic approach to legal norms enables us to argue that the key feature of ‘desecration’ is insult to public morality or the causing of spiritual harm to society. However, the phrase ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ does not contain obscene or indecent words and is obviously not addressed to anyone as an insult in terms of ethnicity or in any other way. 

We believe that, given the current situation, the slogan ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ is an expression of support for the people of that country who face the most serious difficulties as they confront aggression by the Russian military. 

In our view, then, and in the view of Egor Kazanets, the slogan is not an insult directed against the moral values of residents of St. Petersburg. On the contrary, the slogan is intended to draw public attention to an important social and political issue and constitutes an appeal to conscience and to the values of law and morality. We are convinced that the actions of Egor Kazanets do not constitute a crime under Article 214 (Part 2) of the Russian Criminal Code and writing the words on a wall can only be considered an administrative offence.

More information about the case of Egor Kazanets and the position of the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ project are available on our Telegram channel.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ project agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

Letters and parcels can be sent to Egor Kazanets at the following address: 

In Russian: 196655, г. Санкт-Петербург, г. Колпино, Колпинская ул., д. 9, ФКУ СИЗО-1 УФСИН России по СПб. и ЛО, Казанцу Егору Алексеевичу 1999 г. р.

In English: Egor Alekseevich Kazanets (born 1999), Remand Prison No. 1 of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for St. Petersburg and Leningrad region, 9 Kolpinskaya Street, Kolpino, St. Petersburg, 196655, Russia.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.

Translated by RIghts in Russia

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