‘Political Prionsers. Memorial’: Opposition activist Aleksei Onoshkin from Nizhny Novgorod, remanded in custody for anti-war posts on the VK social media site, is a political prisoner 

6 February 2023

Aleksei Onoshkin has been charged with disseminating ‘fake news’ about the Russian army and public justification of terrorism

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ a human rights project, considers Nizhny Novgorod opposition activist Aleksei Onoshkin a political prisoner, in accordance with international standards. His criminal prosecution for non-violent anti-war statements violates the rights to freedom of expression and dissemination of information and is intended to silence the voices of opponents of the war against Ukraine in Russia. 

We demand the immediate release of Aleksei Onoshkin and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.

Who is Aleksei Onoshkin and what are the charges against him?

Aleksei Onoshkin is a well-known guide, blogger and political activist in Nizhny Novgorod.

On 16 August 2022, law enforcement officers searched his home in connection with an investigation initiated the day before concerning the spreading of ‘fake news’ about the Russian army (Article 207.3, Part 2 [e], of the Russian Criminal Code). The next day, Onoshkin was remanded in custody. The criminal case was initiated because of publications on the activist’s personal page on the VK social media site about the shelling of the Mariupol Drama Theatre.

In October 2022, an investigation was opened against Onoshkin for the offence of public justification of terrorism (Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). Investigators believe Onoshkin posted on his VK page ‘statements glorifying suicide bombers and members of illegal groups operating on the territory of the Chechen Republic.’

On 3 October 2022, Onoshkin was transferred to a psychiatric hospital for compulsory treatment. He remains there to this day.

Why do we consider Aleksei Onoshkin a political prisoner?

We believe Onoshkin’s critical comments about the Russian invasion of Ukraine posted online cannot be grounds for criminal prosecution for spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army. In essence, his comments constitute the exercise of the rights to receive and disseminate information guaranteed by the Russian Constitution. Moreover, we believe that criticism of Russian military aggression is a socially useful act.

From our viewpoint, the posts expressing Onoshkin’s opinion about the wars in Chechnya, events that took place more than twenty years ago, do not constitute evidence of the criminal offence of justification of terrorism. Onoshkin’s posts do not recognise the ideology and practice of terrorism as correct or as something to be supported or imitated. It is clear to us that Onoshkin’s prosecution is related to his anti-war statements.

Of particular concern is the practice of punitive psychiatry. Although we do not know the formal grounds for Onoshkin to be placed in a psychiatric hospital, his detention there is directly related to his unlawful criminal prosecution, and therefore it is also unlawful.

Further information about the case of Aleksei Onoshkin and the position of the human rights project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ is available on our website.

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

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

How can you help?

Letters can be sent using the following address:

In Russian: 603155, Нижний Новгород, ул. Ульянова, д. 41, ГКПБ № 1, 5 мужское отделение, Оношкину Алексею Владимировичу , 29.03.1990 г.р. 

In English: Aleksei Vladimirovich Onoshkin (born 29/3/1990), City Clinical Psychiatric Hospital No. 1, Male Section 5, 41 Ulyanova Street, Nizhny Novgorod, 603155, 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. For more information about donating, see our website.

Translated by Rights in Russia

Leave a Reply