‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Viktoria Goncharova is a political prisoner

6 October 2023

Viktoria Goncharova has been sentenced to six and a half years in a penal colony on charges of involvement in Right Sector and spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’, in accordance with international standards, considers Viktoria Goncharova a political prisoner. She has been prosecuted for spreading ‘fake news’ about the use of the Russian army and for participation in an extremist organization in violation of her rights to freedom of expression and fair trial. The harsh punishment handed down in her case is intended to intimidate opponents of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

We demand the release of Viktoria Goncharova and that all criminal charges against her be dropped.

Who is Viktoria Goncharova and what is the background to her case?

Viktoria Goncharova, who is fifty-three years old, was born in Ukraine but lives in Adygea, where she worked organising shelters for homeless dogs.

Goncharova’s arrest became known in June 2022 when propaganda Telegram channels called her the ‘Valkyrie of the Bandera’.

According to the FSB, Goncharova was a Ukrainian nationalist and in 2022 joined Right Sector, an organisation banned in Russia. The Investigative Committee claimed that Goncharova ‘engaged in propaganda activities’, that she posted the Right Sector flag on her social media accounts and ‘advertised this organisation among her acquaintances’.

Now Goncharova’s social media accounts contain only photographs of herself against the background of the yellow and blue Ukrainian flag and a black and red banner with the Ukrainian coat of arms.

On 30 May 2023 Goncharova was found guilty of spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army (Article 207.3, Part 2[e], of the Russian Criminal Code) and participation in the activities of an extremist organisation (Article 282.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). She was sentenced to six and a half years in a general regime penal colony.

Why do we consider Viktoria Goncharova a political prisoner?

It seems unlikely that 53-year-old Viktoria Goncharova, who has lived in Russia for the past 30 years, joined the Right Sector organisation. Moreover, since 2014 the FSB has been using charges of involvement in Right Sector to propagate hatred towards Ukraine and Ukrainians. We consider the court decision designating Right Sector an extremist organisation and banning it in Russia to be unjustified and we call for the quashing of a conviction based on charges of involvement in this organisation.

Charges of spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army under Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code were brought against Goncharova as part of the campaign unleashed by the Russian authorities to suppress domestic dissent following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Article 207.3 effectively prohibits any criticism of the war or of the Russian authorities and violates citizens’ right to freedom of expression. Article 207.3 should be repealed. All convictions under this article should be quashed and all ongoing criminal prosecutions ended.

A detailed description of this case and the position of the Human Rights Project are set out 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 a letter to Viktoria Goncharova at the following address:

In Russian: 350001, г. Краснодар, ул. Воронежская, д. 42, ФКУ СИЗО-1 УФСИН России по Краснодарскому краю, Гончаровой Виктории Васильевне 1970 г. р.

In English: Viktoria Vasilyevna Goncharova (born 1970), Remand Prison No. 1, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Krasnodar region, 42 Voronezhskaya Street, Krasnodar, 350001, Russia.

You can send an electronic letter via the F-Letter service.

Information about making donations to support all political prisoners can be found on our website.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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