‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Three participants in Mayakovsky Square poetry readings are political prisoners

7 December 2023

Artem Kamardin, Nikolai Daineko and Egor Shtovba are being prosecuted for reading anti-war poetry

Source: Politial Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ considers Artem Kamardin, Nikolai Daineko and Egor Shtovba political prisoners in accordance with international standards. The three are being prosecuted for the offence of inciting hatred for reading out poems against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Their criminal case violates the right to freedom of expression and is intended to silence the voices of those in Russia opposed to the war against Ukraine.

We demand the immediate release of Kamardin, Daineko, and Shtovba and that all criminal charges against them be dropped.

What are the charges against them?

Nikolai Daineko, aged 26, Artem Kamardin, aged 31, and Egor Shtovba, aged 21, have been participants in the Mayakovsky Readings (poetry readings beside the statue of Mayakovsky in Moscow).

The readings on 25 September were called ‘against the mobilisation’ by the organisers. Artem Kamardin, at the start of his speech, asked: ‘Remember what the Lugansk and Donetsk terrorists were called eight years ago?’ And he reminded those present: ‘people’s militia.’ After that, he read his 2015 poem ‘Kill me, militiaman!’ criticising the ‘people’s militia’ and Russian aggression against Ukraine. Then Kamardin recited what he called ‘a folk couplet about the referendums’: ‘Glory to Kievan Rus! Novorossiya – suck it up!’

On 26 September, law enforcement officers broke into the apartment where Kamardin lived with his friend and girlfriend. All three of them were assaulted, and, according to Kamardin, they put the shaft of a dumbbell in his anus, demanding that he apologise on camera.

On 28 September, Tverskoi district court in Moscow remanded Kamardin, Shtovba and Daineko in custody. All three were charged under Article 282, Part 2 (a), of the Russian Criminal Code. The investigating officers claimed the three had insulted the dignity of, and called for violence against, ‘the people’s militia of the DNR and LNR and members of their families.’

Why do we consider the three to be political prisoners?

It is clear to us that the poets are being prosecuted for expressing their civic stance.

The expert who conducted the forensic examination by order of the Investigative Committee saw, in Kamardin’s words, insult to the dignity of the ‘people’s militia,’ but did not find incitement to violence.

It is most likely that the investigators fabricated the appeals to violence in order to bring charges under Article 282, Part 2 (a), of the Russian Criminal Code.

‘Insulting dignity’ without threat of violence becomes a criminal offence (Article 282, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) only after the person in question has been held liable under administrative law for the corresponding offence (Article 20.3.1 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences) in the course of a year. None of the three defendants had been prosecuted for such an offence.

We consider that Kamardin’s poems contain no insult to the dignity of the ‘people’s militia.’ There are no statements about their inferiority or about the superiority of other people over them. The poems give artistic expression to the author’s critical attitude to this group. The evaluation of such criticism as the criminal offence of insulting the dignity of a social group is absurd.

We consider that Kamardin’s words do not exceed permitted limits of freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 29 of the Russian Constitution. In our opinion, criticism of the ‘people’s militia’ as participants in illegal armed groups, used by the Kremlin to unleash war against Ukraine, is perfectly legitimate and lawful.

A more detailed description of the case and the position of the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ human rights project are available on our Telegram publishing platform.

An up-to-date list of political prisoners in Russia is available on our website.

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?

You can write letters to the defendants at the following address:

In Russian: 127055, Москва, ул. Новослободская, 45, ФКУ СИЗО-2 УФСИН России по г. Москва – Дайнеко Николаю Дмитриевичу, 1996 г. р.; Камардину Артёму Юрьевичу, 1990 г. Р.; Штовбе Егору Олеговичу, 2000 г. р.

In English: Nikolai Dmitrievich Daineko (born 1996); Artem Yurievich Kamardin (born 1990); Egor Olegovich Shtovba (born 2000) – Remand Prison No. 2, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Moscow city, 45 Novoslobodskaya Street, Moscow, 127055

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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