A Russian artist and musician has been jailed for seven years for replacing supermarket price tags with anti-war slogans in what fellow critics of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine have decried as a “deeply tragic and frustrating illustration of the state of Russia today”.
Sasha Skochilenko, 33, a self-described pacifist, appeared in a St Petersburg court on 17 November after 19 months of pre-trial detention. She was charged last April with discrediting Russia’s armed forces and spreading misinformation about the “special military operation”.
Standing behind bars, the artist blew kisses and made a love symbol with her hands during her final hearing as crowds applauded from outside. She was dressed in a tie-dye t-shirt with a peace sign on the front.
Her seven-year sentence was handed down in the same week that former Russian detective Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, who murdered Kremlin-critic Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, was pardoned by Putin for spending a year fighting in Ukraine. He had served less than half of his sentence, having been imprisoned in 2014.
It was also revealed this week that Vladvislav Kanyus, who killed his 23-year-old girlfriend Vera Pekhteleva in 2020, was no longer paying damages to the family of his victim due to being pardoned for his own participation in the “special military operation”.
Ms Skochilenko, meanwhile, was sentenced to seven years in prison for writing slogans such as “Russian conscripts are being sent to Ukraine. Lives of our children are the price of this war”.
Another of her slogans read: “The Russian army bombed an arts school in Mariupol. Some 400 people were hiding in it from the shelling.”
Evgenia Kara-Murza, the wife of a Russian opposition figure currently serving 25 years in a Siberian colony for speaking out against the war in Ukraine, said the sentencing of Ms Skochilenko against the backdrop of Khadzhikurbanov’s presidential pardon was “a very good illustration of the situation in Russia”.
She told The Independent: “People who stand up and speak out against the criminal oppressive war against…