‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Aleksei Arbuzenko from Togliatti is a political prisoner

8 August 2023

Aleksei Arbuzenko was sentenced to six years in a penal colony for throwing paint, together with his son, on banners supporting the war against Ukraine

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Aleksei Arbuzenko a political prisoner. Arbuzenko was prosecuted on charges of vandalism, ‘discrediting’ the army and involving a minor in criminal activity after he and his 15-year-old son threw paint on banners supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine and wrote anti-Putin graffiti on public trash cans. Arbuzenko’s criminal prosecution violates his rights to freedom of expression and fair trial and is intended to intimidate all those in Russia who oppose the war against Ukraine.

We demand the immediate release of Aleksei Arbuzenko and an end to his criminal prosecution.

Who is Aleksei Arbuzenko and what are the charges against him?

Aleksei Arbuzenko is a well-known teacher, psychologist, poet and musician in Togliatti.

According to the Investigative Committee, in June-July 2022, together with his 15-year-old son and ‘motivated by hooliganism,’ Arbuzenko threw paint and wrote insulting graffiti on three banners bearing photos of Russian soldiers who participated in the invasion of Ukraine. In addition, Arbuzenko stands charged with using a stencil to write graffiti against Vladimir Putin on public trash cans.

It has been reported that Arbuzenko published photos on the ‘Protest Togliatti’ page on the VKontakte social media site, which allowed officers from the anti-extremism police department [‘Centre E’] to identify and detain him.

On 3 August 2022, a criminal case was opened against Aleksei Arbuzenko on charges of vandalism (Article 214, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code), repeated ‘discrediting’ of the army (Article 280.3, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code) and involving a minor in criminal activity (Article 150, Part 4, of the Russian Criminal Code). Zhilin himself was remanded in custody.

On 12 May 2023, a court in Togliatti convicted and sentenced Aleksei Arbuzenko and his minor son. In August 2023, on appeal Aleksei Arbuzenko’s sentence of six years in a general regime penal colony was left unchanged, while his teenage son was acquitted on account of the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Why do we consider Aleksei Arbuzenko a political prisoner?

Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code on repeated ‘discrediting’ of the army is unlawful in nature and was specifically created for purposes of political repression against critics of the authorities. Article 280.3 should be repealed and any related prosecutions stopped.

The article of the Russian Criminal Code on vandalism has also turned into an important instrument for the persecution of critics of the authorities and opponents of the war. We believe the damage caused by the actions of Aleksei Arbuzenko to be insignificant, while his actions do not qualify as offences under this article.

Aleksei Arbuzenko did not commit the crimes with which he has been charged, and therefore it makes no sense that he was charged with involving a teenager in criminal activity.

A detailed description of the 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 Aleksei Arbuzenko at the following address: 

In Russian: 45023, Самарская область, г. Тольятти, Хрящёвское шоссе, д. 3, ФКУ СИЗО-4 ГУФСИН России по Самарской области, Арбузенко Алексею Валерьевичу, 1976 г. р.

In English: Aleksei Valeryevich Arbuzenko (born 1976), Remand Prison No. 4, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Samara region, 3 Khryashchevskoe Shosse, Tolyatti, Samara region, 445023 Russia

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

You can donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. For more information about donating, see our website

Translated by Rights in Russia

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