‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Ruslan Ganeev is a political prisoner

23 February 2023

Ruslan Ganeev has been charged with distributing ‘fake news’ about the Russian army in comments he published on the VK social media platform

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ considers Ruslan Ganeev a political prisoner in accordance with international standards. He has been remanded in custody for comments criticising the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine. Ganeev’s criminal prosecution violates his right to freedom of speech and is intended to intimidate opponents of the war with Ukraine.

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

Who is Ruslan Ganeev and what is the case against him?

Ruslan Ganeev, a web designer from Naberezhnye Chelny, is accused of spreading information known to be false about the actions of the Russian army (Article 207.3, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code).

According to the Investigative Committee, on 30 March 2022 Ganeev posted two negative comments about the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine during a discussion on VK. In the first, published after the Russian retreat from the outskirts of Kyiv had begun, Ganeev asked, ‘What was it all for?’ In the second, he wrote about the number of civilians and military personnel killed in Ukraine. The investigators describe both instances as spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army, citing excerpts from official statements by the Russian Ministry of Defence.

The case against Ganeev reached court on 21 September 2022, but he did not attend the hearing and was not found at home. In the upshot, on 6 December 2022, Ganeev was detained and remanded in custody. His trial is now underway.

Why do we consider Ruslan Ganeev a political prisoner?

Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code, concerning the dissemination of information known to be false about the use of the Russian army, is in contradiction with 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 (ordre 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 reports that contradict the official information put out by the government of the Russian Federation to be false. Still less is it possible to establish whether a 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 specifically created as a tool to persecute those who criticise the actions of the Russian authorities, including Ruslan Ganeev.

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 write to Ruslan Ganeev at the following address: 

In Russian: 422980, Татарстан, г. Чистополь, ул. Карла Либкнехта д. 1, СИЗО-5 УФСИН России по Татарстану, Ганееву Руслану Разифовичу, 1983 г.р. 

In English: Ruslan Razifovich Ganeev (born 1983), Remand Prison No. 5, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Tatarstan, 1 Karl Liebknecht Street, Chistopol, Tatarstan, 422980, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter via the website 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.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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