Russian teen faces years in jail over social media post criticizing war in Ukraine
Olesya Krivtsova is sporting an anti-Putin tattoo one ankle and a bracelet the tracks every step on the other.
The 19-year-old from Russia’s Arkhangelsk region must wear the device while she is under house arrest after she was charged over social media posts that authorities say discredit the Russian army and justify terrorism.
Russian officials have added Krivtsova, along with ISIS and al Qaeda, to their list of terrorists/extremists. She posted an Instagram story in October about the blast on the Crimean Bridge. It also criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Krivtsova was a student of Northern (Arctic) Federal University. This university is located in Arkhangelsk’s northwestern region.
Currently, Krivtsova is staying under house arrest in her mother’s apartment in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk region, banned from going online and using other forms of communication.
“Olesya’s case is not the first, nor is it the last,” Alexei Kichin, Krivtsova’s lawyer, told SME.
Kichin stated that the teenager could face three years imprisonment for discrediting Russia’s army, and seven years under Article of Justification of Terrorism. However, Krivtsova’s legal defense hopes for a softer punishment such as a fine.
Independent human rights monitor OVD Info said that Russia had received at least 61 criminal cases in 2022 for justification of terrorism via the internet. There have been 26 convictions so far.
Olesya’s mother, Natalya Krivtsova, says the government is trying to give a warning to the public, with her daughter being in effect “publicly flogged” for not keeping her views to herself.
“We live in the Arkhangelsk region and this is a vast region but too remote from the center. There are no more protests in Arkhangelsk, so they are trying to strangle everything that is left at its early stage,” Natalya Krivtsova told SME.
A local head of the Communist Party, Alexander Novikov, publicly mocked the teenager on state television, calling her a fool who should be sent to the front lines in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region so that she could “look into the eyes” of the military fighting as part of the Arkhangelsk battalion.
This is not Olesya Krivtsova’s first run-in with the authorities for publicly airing her views. She was accused of discrediting Russian Army by publishing anti-war propaganda.
The situation became even more complicated when Krivtsova was charged with discrediting Russia’s army via social media in October. According to Krivtsova’s lawyer, a repeat offense under the same article turns into a criminal case.
“She has a heightened sense of justice, which makes her life hard. The inability to remain silent is now a major sin in the Russian Federation,” her mother told SME.
According to Natalya Krivtsova, police burst into an apartment on December 26 where her daughter was living with her husband Ilya, forcing the young people to lie face down on the ground and allegedly threatening them with a sledgehammer, which the officers told her was a “hello” from the Wagner Group, a private military contractor headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
SME reached out to Arkhangelsk’s state police for comments.
“Olesya was very frightened because she saw the video in which a prisoner was killed with a sledgehammer,” her mother told SME.
Natalya Krivtsova referred to the famous video where mercenaries with the Wagner Group who actively recruit prisoners execute Yevgeny Nazhin, a former prisoner, using a Sledgehammer to smash his escape attempt. The video description said: “The traitor received the traditional, primordial Wagnerian punishment.”
“The state has some strange policies: prisoners go to war, and children go to prison,” she said.