A lonely radio nerd. A poet. Vladimir Putin’s crackdown sweeps up odd Russians | EUROtoday

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A lonely man jailed for criticizing the federal government on his ham radio. A poet assaulted by police after he recited a poem objecting to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine. A low-profile girl dedicated to a psychiatric facility for condemning the invasion on social media.

President Vladimir Putin’s 24 years in energy are virtually sure to be prolonged six extra by this month’s presidential election. That management has remodeled Russia. A rustic that tolerated some dissent is now one which ruthlessly suppresses it.

Along with opposition politicians, impartial journalists and human rights activists, odd Russians have been more and more swept up in a crackdown paying homage to the Soviet period. Some human rights advocates evaluate the dimensions of the clampdown to the repression from the Nineteen Sixties to the Nineteen Eighties, when dissidents had been prosecuted for “anti-Soviet propaganda.”


Vladimir Rumyantsev led a lonely life. The 63-year-old labored stoking the furnace at a wood-processing plant in Vologda, a metropolis about 400 kilometers (250 miles) northeast of Moscow. He had no household aside from an estranged brother.

To entertain himself, he purchased a few radio transmitters on-line and began broadcasting audiobooks and radio performs that he had preferred, together with YouTube movies and podcasts by journalists essential of the Kremlin and the conflict in Ukraine. He additionally shared posts on his social community web page wherein impartial media and bloggers talked about Russia’s assaults on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

Rumyantsev didn’t intend to succeed in a radio viewers. According to his lawyer, Sergei Tikhonov, he listened on headphones in his personal condo.

In a letter from behind bars printed by Russia’s distinguished rights group OVD-Info, Rumyantsev stated “tinkering with and improving” radios has been his passion since Soviet occasions, and he determined to arrange self-broadcasting as an alternative choice to Russia’s state TV, which was more and more airing “patriotic hysteria.” To him, it appeared a greater technological answer than Bluetooth audio system as a result of the radio may attain in every single place in his condo, he stated within the letter.

But his social media exercise ultimately put him on the authorities’ radar, they usually found his radio frequency. In July 2022, police arrested Rumyantsev, accusing him of “spreading knowingly false information” concerning the Russian military — a felony cost authorities launched shortly after invading Ukraine.

Rumyantsev rejected the fees and insisted on his constitutional proper to freely acquire and disseminate info, Tikhonov says. The regulation below which Rumyantsev was charged successfully criminalized any expression concerning the conflict that deviated from the Kremlin’s official narrative. In December 2022, he was convicted and sentenced to a few years in jail.

Tikhonov visits Rumyantsev sometimes in a penal colony about 200 kilometers away (125 miles) from Vologda and described him as “calm and resilient,” though incarceration has taken its toll on his well being.

He stated Rumyantsev intentionally selected to talk out in opposition to the conflict and refuses to use for parole as “it is unacceptable for him to admit guilt, even as a formality.”

Russian media reported on the case in opposition to Rumyantsev when he was in pretrial detention, and he began getting many letters of assist, Tikhonov stated. Some supporters put cash in his jail account, whereas others have despatched provides — principally meals, but in addition books and private hygiene objects, in keeping with the lawyer.

“In addition to making the man’s life easier, this (gave him) an understanding that he is not alone and there are many people who share the same values,” Tikhonov stated.


Artyom Kamardin labored as an engineer, however poetry is his ardour.

He was a daily at month-to-month recitals within the middle of Moscow, close to the monument to Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. The recitals continued even after Russia invaded Ukraine. One was billed as an “anti-mobilization” recital a number of days after Putin introduced a partial call-up into the military in September 2022.

Kamardin, 33, recited a poem condemning Russia-backed insurgents in jap Ukraine. The subsequent day, police with a search warrant burst into the condo he shared along with his spouse Alexandra Popova and one other pal, and took the poet into custody.

Police beat Kamardin, Popova and their flatmate, and raped the poet, each his spouse and his lawyer stated. All three filed a proper criticism with the authorities, and the allegations had been ultimately investigated. The authorities concluded that police acted “inside the regulation,” the Russian news outlet Sota reported, citing the lawyer without providing further details.

For the couple, the experience was so traumatic that they “still can’t openly talk to each other” about what happened, Popova said in an interview with The Associated Press.

In addition to Kamardin, police swept up two other poets who didn’t know him, nor each other. They charged all three with making calls undermining national security and inciting hatred. All three were convicted and sentenced to prison terms.

Kamardin got the longest — seven years.

“No one should be in prison for words, for poetry,” Popova said. She said she believes that her husband’s poem “insulted someone so much that they decided to scourge a defiant poet.”

The couple got married while Kamardin was in pretrial detention.


Unlike dozens of other Russians convicted over speaking out against the war in Ukraine and handed prison terms, St. Petersburg resident Viktoria Petrova is spending her days in a psychiatric facility. In December, she was sentenced to six months of involuntary treatment over a social media post condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Her lawyer has said that doctors can keep Petrova there for as long as they want and extend the term indefinitely once the six months run out. So the ruling “can’t be considered good news,” Anastasia Pilipenko wrote in her blog on the messaging app Telegram.

Petrova was arrested in May 2022 and placed in pretrial detention over a post on Russian social network VK, in which she criticized Russian officials for what the Kremlin insists on calling “a special military operation” in Ukraine, the lawyer instructed Russian impartial information web site Mediazona.

In her Telegram weblog, Pilipenko has described Petrova, 30, as “an odd lady” who “merely shared her thoughts on social media.”

“Ordinary life, ordinary gym, a cat. Ordinary job at an unremarkable office,” the lawyer wrote.

The courtroom ordered a psychiatric analysis of Petrova after different inmates of her pretrial detention middle reported that she stored up her “antiwar propaganda,” Pilipenko stated in an interview with an area information outlet. These evaluations are widespread however in a uncommon flip, Petrova was declared mentally incompetent.

The lawyer argued that it wasn’t true and her shopper’s phrases have been misconstrued, however to no avail — Petrova was dedicated to a psychiatric facility.

In November, Pilipenko reported abuse by facility employees, saying that they compelled a strip search of the girl by male employees, pushed her round, strapped her to the hospital mattress and injected her with medicine that left her unable to to talk for 2 days.

“This should not happen to ‘political (prisoners),’ criminals, mentally ill people, healthy people — anyone,” Pilipenko wrote on Telegram. The facility did not touch upon the allegations, however shortly after she spoke out about it, Pilipenko wrote, the abuse stopped.