19-year-old Olesya Krivtsova, from Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, was charged for social media posts that discredit the Russian army and justify terrorism, authorities say. Krivtsova must now wear a device on her ankle that tracks her every move since she has been put on house arrest after the charges. She is banned from going online and using other forms of communication.
Krivtsova, after being charged, was also added to the list of terrorists and extremists containing ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban by Russian officials. She was considered a terrorist and extremist because she posted an Instagram story about the explosion on the Crimean bridge in October and criticized Russia for invading Ukraine.
The 19-year-old may face up to three years in prison for her actions discrediting the Russian army and possibly up to seven years under the article of justification of terrorism. She is also facing criminal charges for again discrediting the Russian army by reposting the war in a student chat on the Russian social network VK. Krivtsova’s case is one of many during the ongoing war, and it has not been her first run-in with the authorities publicly airing her views. In May of last year, Krivtsova faced administrative charges for discrediting the Russian army by distributing anti-war posters.
Krivtsova’s mother, Natalya Krivtsova, said Olesya has always been outspoken with her high sense of justice. Olesya has a tattoo on one ankle that reads “Big Brother is watching you” with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face attached to the body of a spider. Her placement of the tattoo is a symbolic gesture of power, using her body to protest her situation.
Because of her repeated offenses under the same article, her case has now turned into a criminal case. There have been many cases of Russian natives speaking and protesting the war and more than 15,000 Russians have been arrested for it. Krivtsova’s mother said, “The inability to remain silent is now a major sin in the Russian Federation.”
Natalya Krivtsova also spoke out on everything that happened when Olesya was arrested. She explained that on December 26th, the police burst into the apartment where Olesya and her husband were living. Both of them were forced to lie down facing the floor and the police threatened to kill them with a sledgehammer. The officers claimed that was a “hello” from the Yevgeny Prigozhin-led Wagner group. The Wagner Group plays a significant role in Russia’s military attempts to capture Ukrainian territory in the eastern Donbas region. The Wagner group is also known to aggressively recruit convicts into the Russian army. Her mother also said that Olesya was shown a video by the forces where a prisoner was executed with a sledgehammer.
Krivtsova’s legal team is hoping for a softer punishment such as a fine, rather than sending her to prison. Shortly after the war began, Putin signed a new law into effect that calls for up to fifteen years in prison for individuals who distribute “false news” or discredit the Russian military. The law also orders media across the country to only publish information provided by official sources and forbids describing the unprovoked actions as an invasion of the war.
With these laws and severe restrictions in place, many Russians are scared to speak and/or protest the war, forced to be silent to preserve any safety they may have left. But for some individuals, like Krivtsova, the Russian laws will not silence them and many continue to protest the injustice and cruelty taking place in Ukraine.
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