‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Vladimir Timofeev is a political prisoner

10 November 2023

Vladimir Timofeev, a left-wing activist from Irkutsk, has been sentenced to two years eight months in a penal colony for a comment approving the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’, in accordance with international standards, considers Vladimir Timofeev a political prisoner. He has been convicted of the offences of spreading ‘fake news’ and justifying terrorism on the grounds of a post on social media about an airstrike by the Ukrainian armed forces on a Russian oil depot. Timofeev’s criminal prosecution has violated his rights to freedom of expression and fair trial and is intended to intimidate domestic opponents of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

We demand Timofeev’s immediate release and an end to his criminal prosecution.

Who is Vladimir Timofeev and what is the case against him? 

Timofeev is a resident of Irkutsk and a leader of the left-wing opposition organisation, Narodnaya Volya. He had previously served in the armed forces during the Afghan and Chechen wars.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, he has been publishing news on social media about war crimes committed by the Russian military, the mass deaths of mobilised Russians, and so on. In March 2022, his page on the VK social media site was blocked at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office, but he continued to publish on his Telegram channel, ‘Baikal Partisan’. 

On 29 November 2022, Timofeev’s home was searched. The next day he learned that two criminal cases had been opened against him: for justification of terrorism (Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code) and for spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army (Article 207.3, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code). 

The criminal investigations were based on a post he had made in April 2022 on Telegram about a Ukrainian airstrike on an oil depot in Belgorod region: ‘Who knows will understand. For such work, the pilots should definitely be officially recognised as Heroes. Flying at night, through all the enemy lines, into foreign territory, at an extremely low altitude. With almost 100 percent certainty that even if they were able to shoot back, they had only a one-in-a-thousand chance of getting out alive. They made it.’

On 30 November 2022, Kuibyshev district court in Irkutsk placed Timofeev under house arrest.

On 25 April 2023, the 1st Eastern District Military Court in Khabarovsk sentenced Vladimir Timofeev to three years in a general regime penal colony. 

On 11 September 2023, the Military Court of Appeal reduced the sentence to two years eight months.

Why do we consider Vladimir Timofeev a political prisoner?

The article of the Russian Criminal Code on spreading ‘fake news’ about the army in practice prohibits any criticism of the actions of the Russian authorities and violates the right to freedom of expression. The article should be rescinded and all criminal cases under this article dropped.

The charge against Timofeev of justifying terrorism also had no basis, since the airstrike by the Ukrainian armed forces on the Russian oil depot cannot in any way be considered an act of terror. It was an act of war. The purpose of the strike, as a result of which, according to Russian media, not a single person was injured, was to deprive the enemy of supplies of fuel near the border. In other words, it was an absolutely legitimate target for one of the warring parties. It was all the more legitimate because in this war Ukraine is defending itself from criminal aggression.

At the same time, in his online comment Timofeev did not make a moral judgement about the actions of any of the parties, but only analysed the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces from a professional point of view as an experienced military officer.

A detailed description of the case of Vladimir Timofeev 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 Vladimir Timofeev at the following address: 

In Russian: 664019, Иркутская область, г. Иркутск, ул. Баррикад д. 63, СИЗО № 1 ГУФСИН России по Иркутской области, Владимиру Владимировичу Тимофееву 1971 г.

English translation: Vladimir Vladimirovich Timofeev (born 1971), Remand Prison No. 1, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Irkutsk region, 63 Barrikad Street, Irkutsk, Irkutsk region, 664019, Russia.

You can also write to Vladimir Timofeev using the F-Letter and Zonatelekom online services.  

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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