An artist in St Petersburg faces up to ten years in prison for an anti-war protest in which she replaced supermarket shelf price labels with short news texts about the bombing of an art school and drama theatre in Mariupol, the besieged Ukrainian port city.
Judge Yelena Leonova, ruled that Sasha Skochilenko, 32, must be held in pre-trial detention until 31 May. She was arrested after a supermarket customer reported the labels to the police. Perekryostok was caught on security camera footage and questioned late into the night of 11 April according to her lawyer, who was quoted by independent news sources.
According to PaperPaper, a St Petersburg news site for which Skochilenko used to work and which has, like most independent news sources, been blocked in Russia, the judge said that Skochilenko is “accused of carrying out serious actions against public safety”, and that “acting deliberately, she installed fragments of paper containing knowingly false information.” The fact that she “has friends in Ukraine” and “a sister in France” are grounds to keep her in prison rather than under house arrest.
It is a crime to describe Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine as a war, according to a new law that took effect on 4 March.
In a social media post that has since been locked, Skochilenko wrote on 2 March that “peace postcards” left on store shelves are a way of reaching the public. The post and postcards that she created are published on Sever.Realii, a news site of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
“After all, there are still a lot of people who do not know (do not remember?) about what a miracle human life is, how beautiful and precious it is, and that violence is not a solution to problems,” she wrote.
Yesterday in Moscow, in a further sign of how far authorities will go to block positive mentions of Ukraine, a concert which featured music by Valentin Silvestrov—Ukraine’s most famous living composer—was raided by police. Silvestrov, 84, had to flee Kyiv in March and is now a refugee in Berlin.