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Teen Jailed Over Ukraine Anti-War Post on Social Media

Teen Jailed Over Ukraine Anti-War Post on Social Media

On one ankle, Olesya Krivtsova has an anti-Putin tattoo, and on the other, she wears a bracelet that tracks her every move.

The 19-year-old from Russia’s Arkhangelsk region must wear the device while under house arrest after being charged with discrediting the Russian army and justifying terrorism on social media.

Krivtsova was added to Russia’s list of terrorists and extremists, alongside ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban, for posting an Instagram story about the October bridge explosion that also criticized Russia for invading Ukraine.

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Krivtsova, a student at Northern (Arctic) Federal University in the northwestern city of Arkhangelsk, is also facing criminal charges for allegedly discrediting the Russian army in a student chat on the Russian social network VK.

Krivtsova is currently under house arrest in her mother’s apartment in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk region, and is prohibited from using the internet or other forms of communication.

“Olesya’s case is not the first, nor will it be the last,” Krivtsova’s lawyer, Alexei Kichin, told CNN.

According to Kichin, the adolescent could face up to three years in prison for discrediting the Russian army and up to seven years in prison under the article of justification of terrorism.

Krivtsova’s legal team, on the other hand, is hoping for a lighter punishment, such as a fine.

According to OVD-Info, an independent human rights monitor, at least 61 cases were initiated in Russia in 2022 on the charges of justification of terrorism on the internet, with 26 leading to sentencing thus far.

Natalya Krivtsova, Olesya’s mother, believes the government is attempting to send a message to the public by “publicly flogging” her daughter for not keeping her opinions to herself.

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“We live in the Arkhangelsk region, which is large but far from the center. There are no more protests in Arkhangelsk, so they are attempting to strangle whatever remains in its early stages,” Natalya Krivtsova told CNN.

On state television, the local Communist Party leader, Alexander Novikov, publicly mocked the teenager, calling her a fool who should be sent to the front lines in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region to “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 law for publicly expressing her opinions. She was charged with discrediting the Russian army by distributing anti-war posters last May.

Last October, she was accused of discrediting the Russian army on social media, which escalated the situation. A repeat offense under the same article, according to Krivtsova’s lawyer, results in a criminal case.

“She has a strong sense of justice, which makes her life difficult. “In the Russian Federation, being unable to remain silent is now a major sin,” her mother told CNN.

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According to Natalya Krivtsova, police stormed into the apartment where her daughter was living with her husband Ilya on December 26, 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 led by Yevgeny Prigozhin.

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

“Olesya was terrified after seeing the video of a prisoner being killed with a sledgehammer,” her mother told CNN.

In the infamous video, mercenaries from the Wagner Group, which actively recruits prisoners, appear to have executed a former convict, Yevgeny Nuzhin, with a sledgehammer after he attempted to flee his post. “The traitor received the traditional, primordial Wagnerian punishment,” according to the video description.

“The state has some odd policies: prisoners are sent to war, and children are sent to prison,” she explained.

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