Artist and The Paper’s ex-author faces up to 10 years for anti-war flyers in a supermarket. Highlights of Sasha Skochilenko's case

Artist and The Paper’s ex-author faces up to 10 years for anti-war flyers in a supermarket. Highlights of Sasha Skochilenko's case Translated by

Sasha Skochilenko, The Paper’s former author and author of The Book of Depression, is suspected of spreading fake news about the Russian military. She allegedly replaced price tags with anti-war flyers at the Perekrestok supermarket. She now faces up to 10 years in prison. This is the first case under this article in St. Petersburg. The Paper tells the story about Sasha and her prosecution.

To help Sasha join the group:

Sasha Skochilenko at the interrogation

Sasha Skochilenko was detained on charges of fake news about the Russian military. This is the first case in St. Petersburg

On 11 April it was reported that Sasha Skochilenko, a St. Petersburg musician, artist and The Paper video report author, had been detained. As her friend told The Paper, the law enforcement officers arrived at her musician friend's house. Sasha went to see him, after which there was no connection with any of them.

Afterwards, Sasha was taken to the police station. Her friend, according to The Paper, remains at large and there is no information about any police measures taken against him.

Originally, it was a criminal case on the first part of the article on fake news about the Russian military, Skochilenko's lawyer Dmitriy Gerasimov told The Paper. Later, Gerasimov said that the case had been reclassified to a more severe second part of the same article. While the first part implies up to 3 years in prison or a fine of up to 1.5 million roubles, the second part entails from 5 to 10 years in prison. This is the first such case in St. Petersburg.

The case initiated over a silent action of replacing supermarket price tags with information about the deaths of civilians in Ukraine

A criminal case on fake news about the Russian military has been initiated over the replacement of supermarket price tags with flyers with information about the military actions in Ukraine and its consequences, lawyer Dmitriy Gerasimov explained to The Paper. Gerasimov has confirmed that the case file refers to the replacement of price tags at the Perekrestok supermarket on Vasilievsky Island, which took place on 31 March.

The Net Freedom Project wrote that Skochylenko allegedly placed flyers with information about the shelling of the Mariupol theatre and the deaths of civilians. Gerasimov told The Paper that he could neither confirm nor deny this information. "Sasha does not remember now what the price tags were and what was written there, the investigation has not charged us yet," Gerasimov told The Paper.

The Russian Defence Ministry has repeatedly denied responsibility for the theatre shelling and still claims that the building was blown up by "Ukrainian nationalists". According to the Mariupol City Council, 300 people of those hiding in the theatre were killed when the building was destroyed.

Sasha does not deny placing information about the use of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine and its consequences but does not consider the information to have been false, Dmitriy Gerasimov told The Paper. As a result, the investigation qualified the flyers' content as "false information" about the use of the Russian armed forces, allegedly spread for political reasons, Gerasimov pointed to The Paper.

The Rotonda Media also reports that the police relied on surveillance footage in the supermarket when compiling the case file. X5 Retail Group, which includes Perekrestok supermarkets, did not comment on the situation. The Paper has sent an enquiry.

Sasha is a suspect. She is sent to a pre-trial detention centre

Skochilenko is a suspect. At the time of this publication, there was no information that she had been charged. Skochilenko's interrogation lasted several hours, she remained at the police station pending trial.

The hearing on the precautionary measure was due to start in the Vasileostrovsky district court at 1 pm on 12 April, but upon visiting the court The Paper found out it did not start. It is known to The Paper that the court nevertheless accepted the criminal case files. The latest information from the court stated that the hearing was adjourned until 9 am on 13 April.

Boris Vishnevskiy, a member of the State Duma, said he had signed a bail for Skochilenko and filed it with the court. "She <...> faces between five and ten years in prison. For real serious crimes against the person, the court doesn't always go with such sentences.

The law enforcement authorities do not react to calls to 'cut off the heads' of political opponents, threats to journalists and calls to attack Azerbaijan. But here they did so immediately," Vishnevskiy commented on the situation.

The investigation has requiested Sasha’s detention, and she is detained now until May,31.

Sasha filmed protests for The Paper, wrote The Book of Depression, composed music and spoke publicly against the war

In 2013-2015, Sasha Skochilenko worked on videos for The Paper, she made reports from rallies and protests for us.

Sasha is also an author of a famous comic book The Book of Depression (translated into English and Ukrainian), as well as the book Nobody Ever Loved Me. Her illustrations are used in the book The Bipolar Disorder. A Survival Guide for Those Who Often Don't See the White Line, and her personal story is told in the book Bipolars. Without Masks. Candid Stories of People Who Looked for Their True Selves and Changed the World.

We have also published Sasha’s story about living with depression. And she also hosted one of The Paper's Freedom podcast episodes, where people with psychiatric diagnoses talked publicly about living with disorders.

Skochilenko is mainly involved in mental health awareness and art, particularly poetry and music. Sasha sees music "as an instrument of freedom", says her friend Alexey Belozerov.

She wants to create a free space through music - without the hierarchies that are inevitably built up within a music band, without [division into] performers and listeners, says Alexey.

Sasha's friend, who has performed with her many times at music events, told The Paper that the main idea behind her music is free improvisation, "so that people without musical background, but who really want to play, could have the courage to pick up instruments and play together".

The Paper's contact person also shared that Sasha held music jams in the psychoneurological centre as a form of art therapy.

After 24 February, Sasha publicly spoke out against military actions in Ukraine: she drew and published anti-war postcards and sang anti-war songs. 

Two more people detained for price tag replacement in St. Petersburg

On 12 April it was reported that Andrei Makedonov, an intensivist from St. Petersburg, had been detained in one of the Lenta supermarkets in the Nevsky district. He told The Paper that this had happened because the price tags had been replaced with anti-war flyers. At the same time, Makedonov said, he was only charged with an administrative report for discrediting the Russian military.

The first person to be detained because of anti-war price tags in St. Petersburg was a girl who took a picture of an anti-war sticker in the Lenta supermarket. She was fined under an administrative offence for discrediting the military.

At the end of March, activists from the Vesna movement proposed an initiative to replace the price tags with anti-war flyers. In April, the action had already resulted in charges of residents of Russian regions for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces and fines.

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