Olesya Krivtsova, a university Russian student, has missed numerous classes. This is as a result of Olesya, 20, being placed under home arrest. On her leg, she wears an electronic tag. Police can watch everything she does.
Her purported offence? Olesya was detained because of her social media posts opposing war. One of them dealt with the explosion that occurred on the bridge connecting Russia and the occupied Crimea in last October.
According to Olesya, who spoke to the BBC, “I posted an Instagram story on the bridge, commenting on how Ukrainians were thrilled with what had happened.”
She had also shared a post on the war from a friend.
The drama then started.
“Olesya explains, “I was on the phone with my mother when I heard the front door open. Numerous officers arrived. My phone was taken away, and I was yelled at to lay on the ground.”
Olesya was accused of backing terrorists and defaming the Russian military. She might spend up to 10 years behind bars.
Olesya says, “I never thought someone could get such a hefty prison sentence for writing something online. I had heard rumours of absurd rulings in Russia, but I didn’t pay any mind and kept speaking out.
Olesya, an undergraduate at the Northern Federal University in Arkhangelsk, has now been included on the official list of terrorists and extremists maintained by Russia.
“I thought it was crazy when I realised I’d been put on the same list as school shooters and the Islamic State group,” recounts Olesya.
She is not permitted to use the phone or the internet while she is under house arrest.
Olesya has the arresting tattoo of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a spider with the Orwellian phrase, “Big Brother is watching you,” on her right leg.
It seems that in Olesya’s instance, her classmates were the ones keeping an eye on her rather than Big Brother.
“”A buddy sent me a post about me in a conversation about how I was opposed to the’special military operation,'” Olesya continues. Russian students of history made up the majority of the chat participants. They were debating whether or not to report me to the police.”
The BBC has viewed selected portions of the group discussion.
Olesya is accused of writing in one remark “provocative articles with an extreme and defeatist tone. This is inappropriate during a war. It must be stopped in its tracks “.
“Let’s try to discredit her first. Let the security services handle it if she doesn’t understand it.”
Another person writes, “A patriot’s responsibility is denunciation.
Later, Olesya recognised the identities from the Russian student conversation when the list of prosecution witnesses was read aloud in court.
One year has passed since the Kremlin began what it refers to as a “special military operation” in Ukraine, which is another name for an invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. President Putin urged the Russian population to distinguish “genuine patriots from slime and traitors” just weeks after the assault.
Since then, there have been allegations of Soviet-style denunciations against pro-war opponents all around Russia. They include employees complaining about coworkers and pupils spying on teachers.
It is risky to publicly criticise the invasion, including by reposting the condemnation of others. The offensive in Ukraine should get complete and unwavering support, according to Russian authorities. At the very least, you are expected to remain silent if you disagree with it. There are numerous repressive laws for punishing dissent if you don’t keep quiet. These regulations prohibit “discrediting” the army and disseminating “false information” about it.
The words “Being a warrior means living forever” are painted on the façade of a nine-story residential building in Arkhangelsk alongside a massive photo of a Russian soldier killed in Ukraine.
The messages are convincingly patriotic. We find little pity for Russians who are being prosecuted for their anti-war remarks on the streets of Arkhangelsk.
Konstantin informs me that “those who disparage our troops or propagate fakes, they’re sick in the head.” They ought to be used as cannon fodder on the battlefield.
Ekaterina admits that she has a bad attitude towards those who criticise the special operation.
But isn’t it harsh to receive a lengthy prison sentence for something you posted online? I ask.
People ought to think for themselves, Ekaterina responds. “They need to follow the law if they live in this country, if they profit from everything this country has to offer, and if they’re patriots.”
Olesya is permitted to leave her apartment later that day. just to show up at a court hearing. The movement limitations on her are being lifted, in part, thanks to the efforts of her defence attorneys.
On Olesya’s T-shirt, the word “School Bus” is displayed next to a picture of a police van. An observation regarding the treatment of young Russians who criticise the government.
The court orders that she remain under home arrest.
Olesya claims that “the state doesn’t have the stomach for discussion, for democracy, or for freedom.” “However, they are unable to imprison everyone. They will eventually run out of cells.”