crimean activist, crimea repressions

Crimean activist Olena Hukova. Photo from her YouTube 

Crimea, Russian Aggression

While Russian soldiers are killing people in mainland Ukraine, Russian law-enforcers are suppressing the freedom of speech in the occupied peninsula. Olena Hukova, 68, a teacher and civic activist from Yalta, Crimea, was summoned to a Russia-controlled court in the peninsula for open anti-war views. Even in the courtroom on the defendant’s bench, she did not betray her beliefs. Her deed matters in the light of the fact that since Russia’s occupation in 2014, Crimeans have lived in an informational vacuum, consumed Kremlin-made propaganda, and been intimidated. And those who dared to speak up have ended up in prison, have been abducted, tortured, and threatened.

On 10 March 2022, Russian law enforcers reported that Olena Hukova is suspected of “discrediting the Russian Armed Forces” (article 20.3.3 par. 1 Russian Code of Administrative Offences). This article was introduced to the code on 4 March 2022, in the midst of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russia-controlled courts in Crimea have already made a number of rulings under the new article. It reads as follows: “Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in order to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintain international peace and security.” In reality, it allows charging people for actions or public statements against Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Crimean activist, Russian invasion of Ukraine

Olena Hukova in a single picket in Yalta, Crimea. She holds a post “We don’t recognize falsified elections” to protest against falsified parliamentary elections in Russia in 2021. Courtesy photo

On 12 March, Olena published audio from the court that fined her 30,000 RUB (approximately 305 USD). The audio contains her statement in the court in which she calls the Russian invasion of Ukraine a war, not a special operation in Ukraine:

“I have always been and will be against the war of aggression. War is the mass killings of innocent people… [T]his is, of course, not a special operation, it is a complex of special operations. The war is ongoing in the entire territory of Ukraine, except for the West. However, its gets bombings, too. Offensive from Belarus may be called a central operation – because there is an attack on Kyiv, attack from the east may be referred to as the eastern campaign, and attack from the south may be named southern campaign. And these campaigns are made of special operations. There is Kyiv operation, Kharkiv operation, Mariupol operation… And how does Putin not understand this? To call all of this a military operation… And now, I am being prosecuted for this. This is a ‘C’ student, got at school Cs to Ds, he was admitted to a university on a sportsmen quota. His Minister of Defense did not serve in the army at all. And they tell us such nonsense… But this does not even have a principal meaning. People are dying… I showed you the theater of war. I showed that there are a number of military operations. And you know it yourself. Today, they are already bombing Kryvyi Rih, going to Mykholaiv, are bombing it, are bombing Kharkiv, they have bombed the whole Mariupol… All these special operations have converted into a stage of a protracted war… My value judgement: most genuine fascist regime has reigned in Russia.”

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