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Talks about war, ‘I am for peace’ posters, painting over symbols: how is persecuted for ‘discrediting the Russian Armed Forces’ in Crimea

At least 73 administrative cases under Article ‘the public actions aimed at discrediting the Russian army’ for consideration by Crimean ‘courts’.

On March 4 an article regarding ‘the public actions aimed at discrediting the Russian army’ (RF CoAO Article 20.3.3) came into force.

The Crimean Human Rights Group has documented the facts of applying the article “For discrediting the army” in Crimea from early March to July 20, 2022. For this period the occupation authorities sent at least 73 administrative cases under RF CoAO Article 20.3.3 for consideration by Crimean ‘courts’. For 62 of them a punishment verdict was passed, with the amount of fines totalling about RUR2mln.

The most common reason for persecution was ‘No War’ statement published on a social network or single person protest with the same statement on the poster. In one of the cases, “I am for peace” statement became a reason for persecution. According to the “logic” of the occupying power, the Russian Federation is not officially at war with Ukraine, as it has been “conducting a special operation”, so calls for peace are a defamation of the Russian Armed Forces.

Then, conversations about the Russian-Ukrainian war with acquaintances, colleagues or relatives also become an often reason for persecution. People are also persecuted for posting or commenting on social networks.

In order to initiate administrative proceedings, it is enough to call the war “A WAR” or to publish information that the Russian Armed Forces have been involved in mass killings of civilians in Ukraine.

In several cases, people were persecuted for destroying or painting over symbols of war: destroying posters with “Z” letter or attacking cars with such symbols. In one case, a Crimean man was persecuted for throwing eggs at the military unit front gate.

As wording of “court” decisions shows, the proceedings are most often initiated by a denunciation. For example, in one of the cases, pupils denounced the teacher, who during the lesson tried to tell that there were no Nazis in Ukraine, and Ukrainians did not welcome the Russian army as a liberator. In another case nursery school teachers wrote a denunciation against their colleague for negative statements about the president of the Russian Federation and the war in Ukraine. In the third case, the wife informed the police about political disputes with her husband.

In addition, performing the national anthem of Ukraine or chanting the slogan “Glory to Ukraine” also constitutes the reason for persecuting under RF CoAO Article 20.3.3. The “judges” explain this stating that though there is no official war, “congratulating the Armed Forces of Ukraine being an opposing side of the Russian Federation in the “special operation” is defamation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

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