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‘They won’t shut me up’ 18-year-old arrested in St. Petersburg for taping a poem by Ukrainian writer Taras Shevchenko to his monument

Source: Meduza

Darya Kozyreva, an 18-year-old from St. Petersburg, has been arrested for repeatedly “discrediting” the Russian army after she taped a piece of paper with excerpts from Ukrainian writer Taras Shevchenko’s poem “My Testament” to his monument. Kozyreva was previously arrested for writing an anti-war message on a monument commemorating the brotherhood between St. Petersburg and the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which sustained significant devastation during the Russian invasion. She had also written a post on Russian social media network VKontakte criticizing the new amendments to Russia’s Criminal Code regarding “discrediting” the Russian army — which earned her a fine for, you guessed it, “discrediting” the Russian army. Here’s Meduza’s summary of the charges brought against Kozyreva.

A court in St. Petersburg has jailed 18-year-old Darya Kozyreva for repeatedly “discrediting” the Russian army. The court hearing was held behind closed doors due to the presence of “state secrets,” reports human rights advocacy group OVD-Info.

The St. Petersburg courts’ press service said that, according to the investigation’s operational data, Kozyreva “maintains stable ties with opposition movements, including representatives outside the Russian Federation, acting in the interests of foreign states.”

Kozyreva was detained on February 24, the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, after she taped a piece of paper with excerpts from a Taras Shevchenko poem “My Testament” to his monument:

Oh bury me, then rise ye up

And break your heavy chains

And water with the tyrants’ blood

The freedom you have gained.

The police weren’t able to immediately remove the note from the monument, so they covered it with a black bag. According to St. Petersburg news outlet Bumaga, Kozyreva initially received an administrative charge for disobeying the police. Later, lawyer Vladislav Sosensky told Telegram channel Rotonda that the administrative case would be changed to a criminal case, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in a penal colony.

Kozyreva had previously received an administrative charge for “discrediting” the Russian army after making a post on VKontakte on March 4, 2022. In the post, she criticized the amendments to the Russian Criminal Code regarding “fakes” and “discrediting” the army, and discussed the “imperial nature of the war.”

Kozyreva was fined 30,000 rubles ($326). “There was no reason to dispute the case. I understood perfectly well that this post contains what can be considered discrediting. I disagree that this army can be discredited. In my opinion, it’s doing a great job of discrediting itself. And what is dead cannot die. Discrediting the Russian army is an oxymoron,” she said to the outlet Sever Realii.

The 18-year-old was expelled from St. Petersburg State University due to the administrative case — despite the fact that she wrote the post before she was enrolled at the university and while she was still in school.

In December 2022, Kozyreva was arrested for writing an anti-war message “Killers, you bombed it. Traitors.” on the installation “Two Hearts” located in Palace Square to commemorate the brotherhood between St. Petersburg and Mariupol. She was first charged with “discrediting” the army before they opened a criminal case for intentionally damaging property. According to OVD-Info, there have been no developments in the case since then.

Kozyreva has been charged on several other occasions, but none of them made it to court since she was still a minor at the time.

The charge she received for her post on VKontakte in March 2022 served as the basis for the criminal case against her for repeatedly “discrediting” the Russian army after her arrest on February 24, 2024.

“They won’t shut me up. I consider it beneath my dignity to remain silent just because that’s what is expected. Maybe my words won’t influence anything, but at least I’ll keep a clear conscience. I’ll know that I didn’t stay silent in [the years] ’22, ’23, ’24,” said Kozyreva in an interview with journalists in January 2024. “I’m a patriot and a patriot in the true sense of the word. Not in the sense that propagandists interpret it. I hope everything will change. The people’s patience isn’t eternal and I believe that one day the people will take up stones, the weapons of the proletariat, and rise up against these villains who believe they are tsars. And no one who is guilty in this bloodbath, no one responsible for the evil that is now taking place will go unpunished. No evil is forever and it’s always darkest before the dawn. And here too, dawn will break.”

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Translation by Sasha Slobodov

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