November 16, 2023

Seven Years for Five Slips of Paper


Seven Years for Five Slips of Paper
Sasha Skolichenko during her trial. Bumaga

Artist former Bumaga employee Sasha Skochilenko was today convicted of spreading “fakes” about the Russian army. She received a sentenced of 7 years in a general regime colony.

Skochilenko was ratted out by a pensioner who was outraged that Skochilenko replaced price tags in the Perekrestok store with data about those being killed and bombed in Ukraine.

The state prosecutor said that Skochilenko acted deliberately and, “having a hostile attitude towards the Russian Armed Forces, government bodies and the president, placed at least five sheets of paper with price tags and distributed ‘fake news’ under the guise of reliable information.”

“The state prosecutor has mentioned more than once that my act is extremely dangerous for society and the state,” Skochilenko said during her Final Word. “How little faith does our prosecutor have in our state and society if he believes that our statehood and public safety can be destroyed by five small pieces of paper?”

When she delivered her Final Word – the one remaining element of free speech left in the judicial meat grinder – Skochilenko did it from memory, looking straight into the eyes of judge Oksana Demyasheva. The judge cowered behind a folder, only sometimes looking up. “Despite the fact that I am behind bars, I am freer than you,” Skochilenko said. “I can make my own decisions, I can say whatever I think.”

During her trial, Skochilenko repeatedly emphasized that she was a pacifist, and that she was driven by a feeling of compassion for all those who died and suffered in the war.

“But man is not a wolf to man,” Skochilenko said before her sentencing. “It’s easy to just get angry at each other because of different positions, but to love each other, to try to understand and find compromises is very difficult. It is so unbearably difficult that sometimes it seems simply impossible - at such moments, violence or coercion seems to be the only way out. But that’s not true!”

Skochilenko was arrested almost 20 months ago. Since then, dozens of acts of solidarity actions have taken place around the world in support of Skochilenko.

“An unjust case, an unjust trial, in my opinion,” director Alexander Sokurov commented on the trial. — <...> To judge a woman for her civic convictions is an outrage against the people, against the person. In my opinion, there is no substance to the crime. Judging by how the prosecutor feels and how the judge listens to the trial with downcast eyes, I wouldn’t want to be in their place.”

Seconds after the verdict was announced, cries were heard from the gallery: “This will pass! Sasha, you will leave earlier! The walls will collapse! Shame on [judge] Demyasheva and [prosecutor] Gladyshev!”

Skochilenko responded by folding her hands over her heart.

Translated and edited from Bumaga. For a complete photo story on Skochilenko and her case, click here.

 

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