Write to Russia: Daniil Stepanov – imprisoned for anti-war ‘vandalism’ and ‘cooperation with foreign organisations’

Daniil Stepanov, a 30-year-old construction worker from the town of Aleksin in Tula region, was sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment on 27 July 2023 on charges of ‘vandalism motivated by political hatred’ (Article 214 of the Russian Criminal Code) and ‘cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign organisation’ (Article 275.1 of the Russian Criminal Code). Stepanov has been recognised by Memorial as a political prisoner on the grounds that Stepanov’s punishment is wholly disproportionate to the public danger of his actions, given that his actions did not cause significant damage to property, his ‘discrediting the Russian president and government’ was the exercise of his right to criticise the authorities, and the charge of ‘confidential cooperation’ does not comply with fundamental principles of the rule of law.

The offence of cooperation with foreign organisations for the purposes of assisting activities directed against the security of the Russian Federation was introduced into the Russian Criminal Code in the summer of 2022. Like other repressive articles of the Russian Criminal Code, Article 275.1 is clearly an instrument of political repression targeting critics of the Russian authorities. Article 275.1 does not comply with the principle of legal certainty. On its basis, a citizen cannot determine in advance which of their contacts are lawful and which are not. In practice, any online correspondence can be considered ‘confidential.’ Accusations of ‘cooperation for the purposes of assisting activities’ are vague, unconvincing and non-legal in nature.

Political Prisoners. Memorial, 31 January 2024

On 1 December 2022, Stepanov was arrested on his way to Georgia on charges of having allegedly set fire to several pro-war banners in Aleksin and written graffiti on official buildings (the military enlistment office and the city administration) that ‘discredited’ the Russian president and government. Subsequently, law enforcement officers said they had found Ukrainian flags and flags of the Free Russia Legion at Stepanov’s home. They also claimed to have found correspondence with members of the Free Russia Legion on Stepanov’s phone.

Write to Russia – Write to Daniil Stepanov

The Russian penal system does not allow any messages to prisoners that are written in foreign languages, but Write to Russia is here to help you. To write to Daniil Stepanov to show your support for him, please send your letter as an email to us at: letters-to-prisoners@protonmail.com. We shall translate the letter into Russian for you and, depending on your request, either mail the translated letter on your behalf to Daniil or return the letter to you by email for posting in an envelope with an address written in Russian. If we send the letter on your behalf, we ask that you compensate us for the cost of postage from the UK (currently £2.20 – $2.73; €2.52). To learn more about our letter writing project, click here: Write to Russia.

The address to write to Daniil Stepanov is:

300012, г. Тула, ул. Мориса Тореза, 11 «б», СИЗО-1 УФСИН России по Тульской области, Степанову Даниилу Владимировичу, 1992 г. р.

If you would like to write to another person unjustly deprived of liberty in Russia, the project Write to Russia has so far highlighted the following cases:

  1. Sasha (Aleksandra) Skochilenko – imprisoned for peaceful anti-war protest – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-2/
  2. Mikhail Zhilin – imprisoned for refusing to fight against Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-3/
  3. Aleksei Arbuzenko – imprisoned for protesting the war against Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-4/
  4. Aleksei Navalny – imprisoned for peaceful participation in electoral politics – died in custody – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-5/
  5. Evgeny Zinich- imprisoned for his faith – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-6/
  6. Alsu Kurmasheva – held on remand for her work as a journalist – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-7/
  7. Bakhrom Khamroev – imprisoned for his political and religious beliefs and human rights work – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-8
  8. Andrei Kapatsyna – imprisoned for his religious beliefs and refusing to fight in Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-9
  9. Gregory Vinter – imprisoned for speaking out about the killings in Bucha and Irpen – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-10
  10. Aleksei Gorinov – imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-11/
  11. Vladimir Kara-Murza – imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-12/
  12. Darya Poliudova – imprisoned for exercising her right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-13/
  13. Ilya Yashin – imprisoned for speaking out about Russian war crimes in Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-14/
  14. Appaz Kurtamet – imprisoned on fabricated charges of ‘financing an illegal armed group’ by a Russian-controlled court in occupied Crimea – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-15/
  15. Vyacheslav Malakhov – remanded in custody for criticising Putin for launching the war against Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-16/
  16. Maria Ponomarenko – imprisoned for sharing information about the Russian attack on the Mariupol theatre – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-17/
  17. Grigory Melkonyants – in custody for his work monitoring elections in Russia – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-18/

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