Political Prisoners: Memorial: Maksim Lypkan is a political prisoner

1 May 2023

Maksim Lypkan is accused of spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army for appeals to attend anti-war protests and an interview he gave to Radio Liberty

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ considers Maksim Lypkan a political prisoner in accordance with international standards. Lypkan’s criminal prosecution violates his rights to freedom of expression and dissemination of information and is intended to silence the voices in Russia of those who oppose the war against Ukraine.

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

Who is Maksim Lypkan and what is the case against him?

Maksim Lypkan, an 18-year-old activist from Moscow, is accused of spreading information known to be false about the actions of the Russian army (Article 207.3, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). Lypkan was active on social media, urging readers to participate in peaceful anti-war protests and support political prisoners.

The reason for the initiation of the criminal investigation against Lypkan was an interview he gave to Radio Liberty published online on 18 February 2023. In particular, the material contained the following words: ‘I learned about the war at 5 a.m. on 24 February. I was awake, saw the news about the war and thought what a war criminal Putin is, since he started this invasion… I was so shocked by the victims among the Ukrainian people in Kharkiv, Bucha and other Ukrainian cities that I decided to protest actively… I have no doubt that the authoritarian regime will soon collapse and that the war will end in defeat for Putin.’

In addition, Lypkan announced a protest rally to be called ‘A Year of Hell’ and to be held on 24 February 2023, but Moscow city authorities refused permission for it to take place. The activist challenged the refusal in court, but his claim was dismissed, while Lypkan himself was detained and charged with two administrative offences for discrediting the Russian armed forces and for organising a public event without notifying the authorities.

On 22 February 2023 Khamovnichesky district court in Moscow remanded Lypkan in custody.

Why do we consider Maksim Lypkan a political prisoner?

Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code, criminalising the spreading of information known to be false about the use of the Russian army, contradicts the Constitution of Russia, Russia’s international obligations and basic principles of law.

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that ‘everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression’ and that restrictions on the exercise of this right ‘shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: for respect of the rights and reputations of others; for the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals.’ It is clear to us that the restrictions on freedom of expression established by Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code do not serve any of the above purposes and are a manifestation of censorship.

Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code criminalises almost any statements made about the use of the Russian armed forces and the activities of Russian government agencies abroad. In the course of an armed conflict, it is often impossible to establish the accuracy of information disseminated by various sources; it is obviously absurd to declare all information that contradicts the official information put out by the government of the Russian Federation to be false. Still less is it possible to establish whether the defendant intended to spread false information. Taken together, these defects in Article 207.3 establish its illegitimate nature.

The timing and context of the introduction of Article 207.3 into the Russian Criminal Code after the start of the full-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine indicate that this article was specially created as a tool to persecute those who criticise the actions of the Russian authorities, including Maksim Lypkan.

Further information about this case 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?

You can write to Maksim Lypkan (born 2005) at the following address:

In Russian: 109382 Москва, ул. Верхние поля, д. 57, СИЗО-7 УФСИН России по г. Москве, Лыпканю Максиму Кирилловичу, 2005 г. р.

In English: Maksim Kirillovich Lypkan (born 2005), Remand Prison No. 7, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Moscow city, 57 Verkhnie Polya Street, Moscow 109382, Russia

You can also send an electronic letter via FederalPenitentiaryService-Letter.

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.

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