29 August 2022
Aleksei Fedorov is under house arrest
Sourcer: Political Prisoners: Memorial
The human rights project ‘Political prisoners. Memorial’ considers Kemerovo blogger Aleksei Fedorov a political prisoner in accordance with international standards. He is being prosecuted for criticism of the authorities at local, regional and national level. Fedorov’s prosecution violates his right to freedom of expression and is intended to stop his civil society activity.
We demand Aleksei Fedorov’s immediate release and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.
Who is Aleksei Fedorov and what are the charges against him?
Aleksei Fedorov is an internet blogger who lives in the village of Dmitrievka in Kemerovo region [a region also known as the Kuzbass]. He attended a military college and then served in the police for 12 years. In 1996 and 2000 he served in Chechnya, for which he was awarded the Order of Courage.
From 2001 to 2018, Fedorov worked in education, including as principal of a rural school. After the local education department failed to provide the money requested to repair the school, he reported existing violations to the sanitary and fire inspectorates. He was then dismissed from his position as principal.
This incident, among other things, prompted Fedorov to start a blog online entitled ‘Mowing-Kuzbass. Aleksei Fedorov’ [‘Pokos-Kuzbass. Aleksei Fedorov’]. In his blog, he actively criticised the work of local authorities, paying special attention to environmental issues and illegal construction.
Fedorov was repeatedly prosecuted under administrative law for online statements. He was variously fined and jailed on charges of inciting hatred against officials and the police, expressing disrespect towards the President and the Constitution, resisting the police and calling for the public to take part in rallies.
In May 2021 a criminal case was initiated against Fedorov for inciting hatred or enmity (Article 282, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code). On 18 May his house was searched. During the search, police officers claimed to have found two cans of hunting gunpowder. This was the basis for the charge that Fedorov had illegally stored explosives (Article 222.1, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code).
Fedorov has been under house arrest since June 2021. At his trial, which began in November 2021, he pleaded not guilty and claimed the gunpowder had been planted.
Why do we consider Aleksei Fedorov a political prisoner?
We believe the prosecution of Aleksei Fedorov has all the intrinsic defects of Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code.
First, initiation of criminal proceedings under Article 282, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code is now tied to a conviction for an administrative offence. For the first such administrative offence, the penalty falls under administrative law. However, after a second conviction for a violation of this kind committed in the course of a year, the person convicted becomes a defendant in a criminal case. In administrative cases, however, there is a lower level of guarantee of the rights of the accused, and, according to current practice, the courts as a rule always find the defendant guilty.
Second, Fedorov is charged with inciting hatred and hostility towards the ‘social group of law enforcement officers.’ The blogger has indeed made harsh remarks about government officials and law enforcement officers, both in general as well as in terms of individuals. However, the rude statements of the blogger do not go beyond the legal right to give a negative, reasoned assessment of the activities of public officials.
The circumstances of the discovery of the two cans of gunpowder raise doubts as to whether they belonged to Fedorov. The investigators did not find any fingerprints on the cans and did not establish the circumstances of the alleged purchase of the gunpowder. In any case, we believe the public danger of storing a small amount of gunpowder after the right to have a hunting permit has been revoked is extremely low.
The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ continues to analyse the criminal prosecution of bloggers, journalists, and activists in Kuzbass, one of the most repressive regions in Russia.
More information about the case of Aleksei Fedorov and the position of the Human Rights Project is available on our Telegram publishing platform.
You can access a full list of political prisoners in Russia on our temporary website.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ human rights project agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
How can you help?
Translated by Rights in Russia; republished by kind permission of ‘Poltical Prisoners. Memorial’