‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Igor Baryshnikov from Kaliningrad is a political prisoner

13 October 2023

Igor Baryshnikov, a pensioner diagnosed with cancer, has been sentenced to seven and a half years in a penal colony for anti-war posts on Facebook

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’, in accordance with international standards, considers Igor Baryshnikov a political prisoner. He has been convicted of the offence of spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army for posts he made on social media. A court has sentenced him to a long term of imprisonment despite his serious illness. Igor Baryshnikov’s criminal prosecution violates his rights to freedom of expression and fair trial.

Who is Igor Baryshnikov and what is the background to his case?

Igor Baryshnikov is a well-known civil society activist in Kaliningrad region who regularly participated in protests in Kaliningrad city and the region, for which he was repeatedly detained and fined or sentenced to terms in jail under administrative law.

In May 2022 a criminal case was opened against Baryshnikov under Article 207.3, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code for spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army. In June, a second criminal case was initiated against him under the same article, but this time for spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army ‘motivated by political hatred’ (Article 207.3, Part 2 [e], of the Russian Criminal Code). Subsequently, both cases were merged into one proceeding.

The grounds for prosecution were Baryshnikov’s publications on his Facebook page in March-April 2022 about crimes committed by the Russian military in Ukraine.

While awaiting sentence, Baryshnikov was under travel restrictions. On 22 June 2023 a court found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to seven and a half years in a penal colony. The activist was taken into custody in the courtroom, despite serious health problems, including a diagnosis of cancer.

Shortly after Baryshnikov was sentenced, his 97-year-old mother, for whom he had been caring, died. However, the court did not allow him to attend her funeral, even under escort.

Why do we consider Igor Baryshnikov a political prisoner?

Igor Baryshnikov was prosecuted for spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army as part of the authorities’ campaign to suppress dissent in Russia. Prosecutions under this article of the Russian Criminal Code effectively prohibit any criticism of the actions of the Russian authorities and violate the right to freedom of expression. The article should be repealed, all convictions under this article quashed and ongoing criminal cases dropped.

Moreover, Baryshnikov’s cancer diagnosis constitutes medical grounds under the law that prevent his detention.

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 to Igor Baryshnikov at the following address:

In Russian: 236022, г. Калининград, ул. Ушакова, д. 2-4, ФКУ СИЗО-1 УФСИН России по Калининградской области, Барышникову Игорю Лазаревичу, 1959 г. р. 

In English: Igor Lazarevich Baryshnikov (born 1959), Remand Prison No. 1, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Kaliningrad region, 2-4 Ushakova Street, Kaliningrad, 236022, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter via Zonatelekom.

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

Translated by Rights in Russia

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