20 September 2022
Mumrikov’s friend, the anti-war artist Danila Tkachenko, had planned to blow smoke in the colours of the Ukrainian flag over military vehicles passing through central Moscow, but the performance failed to take place. Tkachenko himself has left Russia.
The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’, in accordance with international standards, considers the Moscow musician and artist Grigory Mumrikov a political prisoner and the artist and activist Danila Tkachenko a victim of unlawful politically motivated prosecution. Their prosecution violates the constitutional right to freedom of expression. The purpose of the criminal prosecution is to silence the voices of opponents of the war against Ukraine and to decisively intimidate Russian civil society.
We demand the immediate release of Grigory Mumrikov from house arrest and that all criminal charges against both Mumrikov and Tkachenko be dropped.
Who are Mumrikov and Tkachenko and what are the charges against them?
Danila Tkachenko is a Moscow performance artist who won a World Press Photo award for his photo project Escape about hermits and, as part of another project, Homeland, set fire to empty village houses.
Grigory Mumrikov is a musician, artist and photographer from Moscow and a friend of Danila Tkachenko.
On 9 May 2022, Tkachenko planned an anti-war protest in central Moscow. For this purpose, he rented an apartment in a house on Tverskaya Street, adjacent to the State Duma, and built into the air conditioners flares that would emit yellow and blue smoke which he planned to activate remotely during President Vladimir Putin’s speech on that day. Tkachenko himself left Russia on 7 May.
During Putin’s speech, the air conditioners did not start but, as Tkachenko told reporters, in the television broadcast from Tverskaya Street he saw that some people were taking pictures of the apartment windows. In this way he realised the security services had found out about the failed protest. According to the lawyers, a home-help found suspicious wires in the apartment and contacted the police.
Despite the fact that Tkachenko claims he prepared the protest ‘alone’ and did not tell anyone about his plans, the Investigative Committee immediately began looking for accomplices. On 10 May law enforcement officers detained Grigory Mumrikov, a friend of Tkachenko. On 12 May a judge sitting in Basmanny district court sentenced Mumrikov to 10 days in jail for petty hooliganism for allegedly swearing in a public place.
Mumrikov was never released. On 24 May Moscow’s Tver district court remanded him in custody.
On 30 May Mumrikov was charged with attempted hooliganism committed by a group of persons motivated by ideological hatred (Article 30, Part 3, in conjunction with Article 213, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). In the view of the Investigative Committee, according to the ‘distribution of roles’ among those involved, Mumrikov, in addition to taking part in finding items necessary for the performance, was supposed to take photographs of the yellow and blue smoke above the Victory Day parade on 9 May.
On 2 June Danila Tkachenko was charged with the same offence in absentia. On 26 July the court remanded him in custody in absentia.
On 8 August Tver district court changed the pre-trial restrictions imposed on Grigory Mumrikov from custody to house arrest.
Why do we consider the criminal case politically motivated and unlawful?
Mumrikov and Tkachenko have been charged with hooliganism under Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code. This article, as it exists in the Russian Criminal Code, does not comply with the principle of legal certainty: citizens cannot know in advance which of their actions may be criminally liable. In practice, Article 213 is used as an ‘additional’ means to prosecute those against whom it is not otherwise possible to open a criminal case.
It is obvious that the appearance of multi-coloured smoke in central Moscow could not lead to violations of the work or leisure conditions of citizens, interfere with the work of institutions, or otherwise lead to a ‘gross violation of public order.’
The anti-war performance should not be regarded as an expression of disrespect for society. On the contrary, the purpose of the protest was to draw public attention to an important social and political issue. In our opinion, the protest, which did not take place on 9 May, did not constitute any danger to the public whatsoever and cannot be regarded as a crime.
Moreover, analysis of the materials of the criminal case allows us to assert that the investigative authorities have no evidence of Grigory Mumrikov’s alleged involvement in the preparation of the protest, or even as to whether he knew anything about the protest at all.
Altogether, analysis of the case materials suggests that the prosecutions of Tkachenko and Mumrikov have the purpose of suppressing the anti-war movement in Russia and also to intimidate all those who disagree with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops.
More information about the prosecutions of Grigory Mumrikov and Danila Tkachenko 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 or as a victim of an unlawful politically motivated prosecution does not imply the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ human rights project agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
How can you help?
You can join the support group ‘Free Grisha Mumrikov!’
Republished by kind permission. of ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’