‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Yaroslav Vilchevsky from Vladivostok is a political prisoner

17 October 2023

Yaroslav Vilchevsky is a political prisoner

Yaroslav Vilchevsky, an activist from Vladivostok, has been sentenced to two years in a penal colony  for ‘justifying’ the 2018 suicide bombing by the anarchist Zhlobitsky

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’, in accordance with international standards, considers Yaroslav Vilchevsky a political prisoner. Vilchevsky has been convicted of justification of terrorism for a post he made on social media. His criminal prosecution violated his rights to freedom of expression and fair trial.

We demand Vilchevsky’s immediate release and that his criminal conviction be quashed.

Who is Yaroslav Vilchevsky and what is the background to his case?

Yaroslav Vilchevsky is an activist, anarchist and musician from Vladivostok who ran music festivals, published a rock magazine, and organised ‘Food instead of bombs’ events.

The grounds for Vilchevsky’s criminal prosecution was a publication on the VK social media site in the ‘Anarchopositive’ group run by Vilchevsky. There, on 8 November 2022, Vilchevsky posted a text about Mikhail Zhlobitsky, a young anarchist who blew himself up at the FSB headquarters in Arkhangelsk in 2018 (Zhlobitsky himself was killed and three FSB officers were wounded). The publication read in part, ‘In times of fear and apathy, when most movements have been broken up and everything seems lost, we can draw strength and inspiration from the bravery of this boy from Arkhangelsk. After all, he sacrificed his life for each of us, knowing full well he would most likely die in the explosion.’

A criminal case was opened against Vilchevsky under Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code for justification of terrorism. On 4 January 2023 his home was searched, he was detained and subsequently remanded in custody. On 27 June 2023 the 1st Eastern District Military Court sentenced Vilchevsky to two years’ imprisonment.

Why do we consider Vilchevsky a political prisoner?

After Zhlobitsky’s suicide bombing, the FSB launched a repressive campaign against people who tried to comprehend or explain the reasons for the young anarchist’s act. Dozens of people were prosecuted under the criminal law as part of this campaign, many of whom were sentenced to terms of imprisonment merely for their opinions. We believe that in this way the security forces have sought to suppress an important public discussion about the role of the FSB and intimidate the organisation’s critics.

At the same time, Vilchevsky’s text does not itself provide grounds for criminal prosecution, let alone imprisonment. In his publication he analyzed the reasons for the suicide bombing and the young man’s motives, assessing Zhlobitsky’s personality and the public significance of his act, without, however, in any way justifying terrorism or terrorist acts.

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 Yaroslav Vilchevsky at the following address:

In Russian: 690106, Приморский край, г. Владивосток, Партизанский проспект, 28 «б», ФКУ СИЗО-1 ГУФСИН России по Приморскому краю, Вильчевскому Ярославу Борисовичу, 1990 г. р.

In English: Yaroslav Borisovich Vilchevsky (born 1990), Remand Prison No. 1, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Primorsky region, 28b, Partizansky Prospekt, Vladivostok, Primorsky region, 690106, Russia.

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

Translated by Rights in Russia

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