Russian teen faces years in jail for criticizing Ukraine war

(CNN) — Olesya Krivtsova sports an anti-Putin tattoo on one ankle and a bracelet that follows her every move on the other.

The 19-year-old from Russia’s Arkhangelsk region must wear the device while under house arrest after she was indicted for social media posts that authorities say discredit the Russian military and justify terrorism.

Russian authorities added Krivtsova to the list of terrorists and extremists, on par with ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban, for posting an Instagram story about the Crimean bridge explosion in October that also criticized Russia for invading Ukraine. .

Krivtsova, a student at the Northern (Arctic) Federal University in the northwestern city of Arkhangelsk, also faces criminal charges for discrediting the Russian military for making an allegedly critical post of the war in a student chat on the Russian social network VK.

Krivtsova is currently under house arrest at her mother’s apartment in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk region, with a ban on going online and using other forms of communication.

“Olesya’s case is not the first and not the last,” Alexei Kichin, Krivtsova’s lawyer, told CNN.

Olesya wears a tracking bracelet on one ankle and a tattoo on the other that reads “Big Brother Is Watching You,” with the face of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attached to the body of a spider. (Natalya Krivtsova)

Olesya Krivtsova, pictured at a court hearing, is now under house arrest in her mother’s apartment. (Vladimir)

The independent human rights monitor OVD-Info said at least 61 cases were brought in Russia in 2022 on charges of justifying internet terrorism, of which 26 have resulted in sentences so far.

Olesya’s mother, Natalya Krivtsova, says the government is trying to give the public a warning, with her daughter being “publicly flogged” for not keeping her views to herself.

“We live in the Arkhangelsk region, and this is a vast region, but too far from the center. There are no protests in Arkhangelsk anymore, so they are trying to strangle everything that is left in its initial stage,” Natalya Krivtsova told CNN.

A local Communist Party leader, 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 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 expressing her views. Last May, she faced administrative charges for discrediting the Russian military by distributing anti-war posters.

Things got more serious when she was accused of discrediting the Russian military on social media last October. According to Krivtsova’s lawyer, a repeat offense under the same article becomes a criminal case.

“He has a heightened sense of justice, which makes life difficult for him. The inability to remain silent is now a great sin in the Russian Federation,” her mother told CNN.

Olesya Krivtsova handcuffed. (Natalya Krivtsova)

According to Natalya Krivtsova, the police broke into an apartment where her daughter lived with her husband Ilya on December 26, forcing the young men to lie face down on the floor 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.

CNN has reached out to the state police in Arkhangelsk for comment.

“Olesya was very scared because she saw the video in which a prisoner was killed with a sledgehammer,” her mother told CNN.

In the notorious video Natalya Krivtsova refers to, mercenaries from the Wagner Group, which actively recruits prisoners, apparently executed an ex-convict, Yevgeny Nuzhin, with a sledgehammer after he tried to flee his post. The description of the video read: “The traitor received the traditional and paramount Wagnerian punishment.”

“The state has some strange policies: prisoners go to war and children go to prison,” he said.

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