Russian University Student Faces Terrorism Charges for Criticizing Russia’s War in Ukraine
On December 26, 2022, Olesya Krivtsova, a 19-year-old student at Northern (Arctic) Federal University, was arrested on terrorist charges for her social media posts that criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Krivtsova remains under house arrest at her mother’s house in Severodvinsk and is banned from accessing the internet or any other forms of communication.
This was not Krivtsova’s first encounter with Russian authorities. She had previously been fined 30,000 rubles in May 2022 for distributing and posting anti-war pamphlets in Lenin Square. Her arrest in December, however, came after two of her peers at Northern (Arctic) Federal University reported her to Russian authorities in October by taking screenshots of her anti-war posts on Instagram and the Telegram app, a private messaging app popular in Russia for sharing uncensored content. Three months later, the Russian police barged into her and her husband’s home, forcing them to lie on the ground and threatening them with sledgehammer beatings.
Once arrested, the government classified Krivtsova as a terrorist by claiming her social media posts had intent to “discredit the Russian army,” which has been a common indictment against other anti-war dissidents who have expressed their opposition views on social media. She faces up to more than seven years in a penal colony if convicted.
Krivtsova’s case is one of many that have become a part of the unrelenting crackdowns on free expression in Russia following the instatement of the war censorship laws early last year. The legislation was implemented to punish the spread of “fake” information about the Russian military and the invasion of Ukraine, which the government continues to describe as a “special military operation”. If convicted, citizens can be sentenced up to 15 years in prison. OVD-Info reports that as of November 2022, the Russian government has detained at least 157 civilians since the beginning of the war for posting anti-war rhetoric on social media, and over 19,000 others have been imprisoned for additional anti-war activities and stances.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide (ESW) condemns the arrest and treatment of Olesya Krivtsova and other academics, students, and civilians who have been detained for freely and peacefully expressing opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Russian forces’ multiple crimes against humanity. ESW calls upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to protest Krivtsova’s arrest and impending sentencing, as well as the use of the her case as an unjust “propaganda piece” that the state media has weaponized to further suppress political dissent.
Please send appeals to the following:
Embassy of the Russian Federation in the United States
2650 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 298-5700
Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
136 East 67th Street
New York, NY 10065
Phone: (212) 861-4900
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland