The 33-year-old Russian artist Aleksandra (Sasha) Skochilenko from St. Petersburg protested against Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. She replaced price tags in a supermarket with small pieces of paper with information about the war. One of the messages was that “the Russian army bombed an art school in Mariupol. Around 400 people where hiding inside.” Another message was: “My great grandfather did not fight in World War II for four years so that Russia could become a fascist state and attack Ukraine.”
Skochilenko admitted in court that she had written and posted the pieces of paper with messages about the war. In her closing statement, she pointed out how “bizarre and ludicrous” the trial felt.
“Consider this: the information I disseminated was deemed patently false by my investigators, unlike to me. Yet, they circulated it among their department, as well as the prosecutor’s office and the court, inadvertently offending military witnesses and igniting a significant public outcry. Thanks to my investigators and prosecutors, the information I spread reached thousands in Russia and all over the world. Had I not been arrested, it would have been known only to one granny, a cashier, and a security guard at the Perekrestok store. (…) If these five pieces of paper are so alarming, why initiate these proceedings?”
“My trial has garnered significant attention in Russia and worldwide. Tens, possibly hundreds of thousands, follow it, with books being written and documentaries filmed. Your verdict, whatever it may be, will be historical. You might be remembered for imprisoning, acquitting, or for a neutral decision like a fine, suspended sentence, or for deeming I’ve served my time. Everyone sees and knows you aren’t trying a terrorist. You are trying a pacifist.”
“Wars are waged by warriors, but peace is brought by pacifists. Imprisoning pacifists only delays the advent of long-awaited peace.”
The prosecutor asked for 8 years in prison. Skochilenko did not get through to the judge who sentenced her to 7 years in a penal colony.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is concerned about her health situation. According to her sister, she suffers from coeliac disease and has a heart defect. She may risk dying in prison if she does not receive adequate care.
The NHC demands that Aleksandra Skochilenko must be released immediately.