9 May 2023
Dmitry Skurikhin was remanded in custody on charges of ‘discrediting’ the Russian army for expressing opinions against the war.
Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial
The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ considers Dmitry Skurikhin, a businessman from Leningrad region, a political prisoner in accordance with international standards. The criminal prosecution of Skurikhin flagrantly violates his right to freedom of expression and to evaluate and criticize the actions of the authorities. His prosecution is intended to intimidate opponents of the war against Ukraine within Russia.
We demand the immediate release of Dmitry Skurikhin and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.
Who is Dmitry Skurikhin and what is the case against him?
Dmitry Skurikhin is a businessman from Leningrad region, the father of five daughters and a former member of the local village council. Since 2014, he has actively spoken out against the war and in support of political prisoners, including Aleksei Navalny and anti-war activists, and has posted blogs on social media calling for solidarity and peaceful protest. He has held numerous opposition and anti-war protests and has turned a village store he owns into an installation against war and political repression.
In May 2022 Skurikhin was fined 45,000 roubles under Article 20.3.3 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences for discrediting the Russian armed forces by posting a video clip on his Telegram channel in which he demanded an end to the war.
In September 2022, Skurikhin put up a poster on his storefront that read ‘Go to hell with your mogilisation [a play on the Russian words for ‘mobilisation’ and ‘grave’ – ed.), that’s what you deserve for the way you run this country.’ In addition, on the first anniversary of the start of the war he knelt down in front of his store holding a poster with the words ‘Sorry, Ukraine!’ and a list of the names of Ukrainian cities attacked by Russian troops. A criminal case was initiated against Skurikhin on account of both these episodes under Article 280.3, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code.
On 26 February 2023, Lomonosovsky district court in Leningrad region remanded Skurikhin in custody.
On 21 April 2023 he was released from custody and placed under house arrest.
Why do we consider Dmitry Skurikhin a political prisoner?
Analysis of the wording of Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code regarding ‘repeated discrediting’ of the Russian army shows that it does not meet the requirements of legal certainty. The Russian Criminal Code has no concept of ‘discrediting,’ which means citizens cannot know in advance which of their actions are criminally liable.
Article 280.3, introduced into the Russian Criminal Code one week after the start of the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, effectively prohibits criticism of the actions of the Russian authorities and violates the right of citizens to freedom of expression.
In addition, Article 280.3 links the evidence for a criminal offence to previous administrative liability. In other words, it establishes double jeopardy – repeated punishment for one and the same act.
We believe that Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code on ‘repeated discrediting’ of the Russian army contradicts the Russian Constitution and Russia’s international obligations, as well as basic principles of law. Illegitimate in nature, it was created for the purpose of political repression against critics of the authorities and must be repealed. Any prosecutions under this article are unlawful and must be stopped. The same applies in full measure to the prosecution of Dmitry Skurikhin.
Further information about this case and the position of the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ human rights project 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 donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. For more information about donating, see our website.
Translated by Rights in Russia