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Lesbian Artist Faces 8 Years in Russian Prison For Criticizing Putin, Military

Vladimir Putin Aleksandra Skochilenko Russia
Images: OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images; Shutterstock

Alexandra Skochilenko switched out price tags with anti-war messages in a supermarket protest last year.

Russian prosecutors have requested a sentence of eight years in a penal colony for a lesbian artist who criticized the country’s military actions in Ukraine in a supermarket protest last year, according to the Russian language Mediazona.

Alexandra Skochilenko, 33, has been charged with spreading knowingly false information about the use of the armed forces and the government’s use of its authority, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in a penal colony.

On March 31, 2022, Skochilenko, also known as Sasha, switched out the price tags at a Perekrestok supermarket with stickers that looked like price tags but contained a series of anti-war messages.

In a series of five tags available on a Save Sasha website, Skochilenko accused the armed forces of committing genocide, called Putin a liar, and described Russia as a fascist state.

“My great-grandfather did not take part in the Great Patriotic War (World War Two) for four years in order for Russia to become a fascist state and attack Ukraine,” read one of the stickers.

Another sticker asked why state media was not covering the civilian death toll in Ukraine.

A witness alerted authorities and Skochilenko was arrested on April 11, 2022. She has been held in custody since her arrest despite suffering from bipolar disorder and other serious physical conditions.

Skochilenko has been specifically charged by prosecutors with knowingly spreading false information because of alleged political and ideological hatred. Prosecutors presented expert witnesses who declared there was no fascism in Russia and that the government was truthful and just in its statements and actions regarding the armed forces and Ukraine.

“Skochilenko compares the Russian Federation with a fascist state, they [prosecution expert witnesses] explained that in the Russian Federation now there are no elements of a fascist state,” prosecutor Alexander Gladyshev declared in court. “The words that Russia attacked Ukraine are false; the purpose of the SVO [special military operation] was to protect the citizens of Donbas from aggression.”

For her part, Skochilenko disputed that she was motivated but hatred or political ideology.

“I just wanted to stop the war - that was my motivation. Not hatred, but compassion,” she told the court on November 3, according to the Russian language Mediazona. “I am sure that every person in this room does not want there to be a war. Even you, your honor, even you, the state prosecutor. You also don’t want people to die prematurely, for young soldiers to lie in the fields, for civilians to die. You, like any person, want peace, prosperity, love.”

The court also heard that in addition to suffering from bipolar disorder, Skochilenko also has a cyst in the right ovary, heart disease, PTSD, and celiac disease.

Skochilenko is due back in court on November 13.

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