‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Igor Levchenko, a musician, is a political prisoner

9 November 2023

Ukrainian citizen Igor Levchenko has been sentenced to three years in a penal colony for an anti-war video posted on Instagram

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’, in accordance with international standards, considers Igor Levchenko a political prisoner. He has been convicted of ‘incitement to hatred with the threat of violence’ for a video he posted on his blog immediately after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Levchenko’s criminal prosecution violated his rights to freedom of expression and fair trial. 

We demand the release of Igor Levchenko and that his criminal conviction be quashed.

Who is Igor Levchenko and what is the case against him?

Igor Levchenko, a singer and music teacher, has dual Russian and Ukrainian citizenship. He lives in Krasnogorsk near Moscow. He runs a blog on Instagram in which he has posted his songs and sometimes also humanistic reflections. On 24 February, the day Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, he posted a video on his blog in which he states: ‘I wish death to the Russian soldiers who invaded Ukraine. And I want as many corpses as possible, corpses of Russian soldiers in Ukraine, to be sent back to Russia.’

On 12 March, Levchenko was detained and apologised on camera for his video, after which he was released. However, on 15 March, the musician was re-arrested on charges of ‘inciting hatred or enmity with respect to membership of a social group with the threat of violence’ (Article 282, Part 2 (a), of the Russian Criminal Code).

On 28 June 2022 Levchenko was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. 

Why do we consider Levchenko a political prisoner?

First of all, the words that Levchenko speaks on the video contain no incitement to violence and no attempt to incite hatred, and still less any threats. He merely shares his own feelings and desires.

At the same time, in our view, even as he gave way to fully understandable emotions, he did not proclaim what he has always opposed: hatred on the basis of a person’s belonging to a particular group. He wishes death not to the Russian military in general as a social group (we note that we consider the use of this term in Russian legislation to be incorrect in principle), but specifically to those servicemen participating in the war of aggression. Such a wish, however harsh it may sound, is not an offence.

A detailed description of the case of Igor Levchenko 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 Levchenko at the following address: 

In Russian: 390506, Россия, Рязанская обл., Рязанский р-н, пос. Стенькино, ФКУ ИК-6 УФСИН России по Рязанской области, Левченко Игорю Юрьевичу, 1995 г.р.

English translation: Igor Yuryevich Levchenko (born 1995), Penal Colony No. 6, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Ryazan region, Stenkino settlement, Ryazan district, Ryazan region, 390506, Russia.

Please note that letters in languages other than Russian are highly unlikely to reach the recipient.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via our website.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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