A 19-year-old student from Russia’s Arkhangelsk region may face a total of ten years in prison, if convicted, for supposedly discrediting Moscow’s army and justifying terrorism. Furthermore, the teenager has also been placed on Russia’s terror list which puts her on par with ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban. This comes after she was charged over social media posts which were allegedly critical of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Who is she?

The teenager in question is Olesya Krivtsova hailing from Russia’s Arkhangelsk region has been placed on house arrest after she was charged for her social media posts which authorities in Moscow say discredit the Russian army and justify terrorism. 

Krivtsova who is a student at the Northern Federal University is also facing criminal charges for her alleged discrediting of the Russian army and making a critical repost of the war on a student chat on VK, a Russian social network. Currently, the 19-year-old is under house arrest at her mother’s apartment and is banned from going online or using other forms of communication. 

How did this happen?

According to media reports, one of the supposedly anti-war posts also included an explosion on the Crimean bridge in October 2021 which also criticised Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Subsequently, two of her fellow students took a screenshot of the story as well as some of  Krivtsova’s anti-war comments shared in a small chatroom on the Telegram messaging app and reported her to the authorities, as per a report by Washington Post. In relation to this case, Krivtsova has been detained twice. 

Last year, in March Russia, introduced two articles to its criminal code which were passed days after what Moscow described as its “special military operation” first began in Ukraine. One of them was article 280.3 states that “public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation”. The violation of this is punishable by fines and a prison sentence of up to three years in lesser cases, or five years if there is resulting damage to life, property, public order and security. 

What do we know about Krivtsova’s?

Last May, Krivtsova had to pay a fine of $450 after she was charged with “discrediting the Russian armed forces” by distributing anti-war posters. However, the 19-year-old was later detained for the first time when a group of officers showed up at her door on December 26. According to Natalya Krivtsova, her mother, at the time her daughter was living with her husband Ilya when they were asked to lie face down on the ground. 

The officers allegedly threatened them with a sledgehammer, her mother also said that Olesya was scared that he would hit her husband with it. On their way to the police station officers reportedly told her “hello from Wagner”, a mercenary group headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin who has sent a private army to fight alongside the Russian military in Ukraine. 

“Olesya was very frightened because she saw the video in which a prisoner was killed with a sledgehammer”, the teenager’s mother told CNN. The video she is referring to is what has made the sledgehammer, an eerie symbol of Wagner which shows mercenaries from the group who allegedly executed a man convicted for murder, Yevgeny Nuzhin, as per media reports. 

The 55-year-old was released from prison to fight in Ukraine and when he attempted to leave his post he was allegedly killed with a sledgehammer, “The traitor received the traditional, primordial Wagnerian punishment,” said the description of the video as per CNN. 

After her detention, she was taken to the regional court in Primorsky where the judge ruled to limit her communication but not restrain her movements which the prosecution, as per the Washington Post, strongly requested. However, days later placed on the wanted list and detained again and accused of attempting to leave the country. 

Currently placed on house arrest awaiting trial Krivtsova sports a bracelet which tracks her every movement on one ankle and a tattoo on the other that shows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face on the body of a spider that says ‘Big Brother is Watching You’. 

Speaking to CNN, the 19-year-old’s lawyer, Alexei Kichin said, “Olesya’s case is not the first, nor is it the last”. She also said that Krivtsova may face a sentence of at least three years in prison for discrediting the Russian army and up to seven years in prison for justification of terrorism. 

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