Write to Russia: Eduard Sharlot – a musician remanded in custody for criticising Russia’s war against Ukraine

On 22 November 2023 the Russian pop singer Eduard Sharlot, known for having criticised the Russian authorities in his songs and music videos, returned to Russia from Armenia where he had been since early 2023. He was detained at a Moscow airport and taken to Samara where he was remanded in custody on three charges: ‘desecrating symbols of military glory’ (Article 354.1, Part 4, of the Russian Criminal Code), ‘damaging an official document’ (Article 325, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) and ‘insulting the feelings of religious believers’ (Article 148, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). The grounds for the charges were three videos. In one video, Sharlot tore up a large paper letter Z; in a second he set fire to his passport; and in a third he nailed his military ID, together with a photo of Patriarch Kirill, to a crucifix. Memorial has recognised Eduard Sharlot as a political prisoner. Subsequently, Memorial reported that Sharlot had been placed in a psychiatric hospital for a psychiatric assessment.

The article of the Russian Criminal Code on the rehabilitation of Nazism and the desecration of symbols of military glory unreasonably restricts freedom of expression. The provisions of this article criminalise the expression of opinion about past events and prohibit criticism of official symbols associated with the memory of the Second World War. However, even in this context, Sharlot’s prosecution is absurd. The letter Z is not a symbol of military glory, but a symbol of the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. The article that criminalises ‘insulting the feelings of religious believers’ does not meet the principle of legal certainty and contradicts the Russian Constitution, in particular the provisions affirming the secular nature of the state and enshrining freedom of conscience and expression. Finally, the charge against Sharlot that he damaged an official document for personal gain is self-evidently without grounds, as he received no benefits from burning his passport.

Political Prisoners. Memorial, 4 March 2024

Write to Russia – Write to Eduard Sharlot

Illustration: Political Prisoners. Memorial

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 Eduard Sharlot 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 Eduard Sharlot 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 £2.50 – $3.14; €2.92). To learn more about our letter writing project, click here: Write to Russia.

The address to write to Eduard Sharlot is:

410060, г. Саратов, ул. им. Штейнберга, здание 50, стр. 4, ГУЗ «Областная клиническая психиатрическая больница Святой Софии», Шарлоту Эдуарду Валерьевичу 1998 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 – 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 – held on remand for his work monitoring elections – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-18/
  18. Daniil Stepanov – imprisoned for anti-war ‘vandalism’ and ‘cooperation with ‘foreign organisations’ – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-19/
  19. Evgenia Berkovich – a theatre director held on remand on charges of ‘justifying terrorism’ in violation of the right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-20/
  20. Svetlana Petriychuk – a playwright held on remand on charges of ‘justifying terrorism’ in violation of the right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-21
  21. Oleg Orlov – prominent human rights defender imprisoned for exercising the right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-22