Russia’s 2nd Western District Military Court has sentenced Moscow civil activist Mikhail Krieger to 7 years in prison for “justifying terrorism.” The charge was brought forward over his Facebook posts and comments, which were published three years ago. On May 16, state prosecutors demanded that the activist be sentenced to nine years in prison for the alleged crime. In his final statement, Krieger once again criticized Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
The Insider has translated the statement in full:
My charges are based on two Facebook posts that were two years old at the moment of my arrest. This leads me to the conclusion that my texts are nothing but a pretext. In fact, I'm being prosecuted for my initially antiwar and now openly pro-Ukrainian stance because I never tried to hide it – on the contrary, I've always done my best to broadcast it as often as I can to the broadest possible audience. I believe this war is a rare type of conflict in which one side is one hundred percent in the right. And it's the Ukrainian side.
Trying to purify myself from at least some of the fratricidal disgrace my country brought upon itself, I helped Ukrainian refugees and expressed my sincere hope for Peremoha [Ukrainian for 'victory' – The Insider] on social media in any way I could. I remain confident that if Russians were to find freedom, it could only come as the result of Peremoha – the way it came to Japan and Germany through martial law.
As Alexander Gorodnitsky [A Soviet and Russian bard and poet – The Insider] wrote, 'Freedom does not always need victory; sometimes defeat is better...'
But let's return to the charges against me. I'm being accused of allowing myself a public dream about Putin's hanging. Indeed, I dream of living to see that festive occasion.
I'm positive that our dictator deserves the same kind of execution as other war criminals that were sentenced to death by hanging at the Nuremberg trials, for instance. He, too, is a treacherous tyrant who has usurped unlimited power and is elbow-deep in blood. This assessment of mine is fully in line with the warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Could it be that I forgot about clemency in my dreams, about 'mercy for the fallen', so to speak? But I didn't. It's at this butcher's behest (on that I insist) that blood keeps pouring every day.
And since he won't step down voluntarily, as we all realize, his arrest and execution is the only way to stop the fratricidal bloodshed that he, and none other, unleashed against a nation that is the closest to Russians – the people of my beloved motherland, Ukraine.
Today in my home city of Dnipro, our führer's manic ambitions have driven my numerous relatives, former classmates, and childhood friends to basements, where they are hiding from shelling and bombs. What did they do to deserve it? Could it be that our sun-faced leader didn't have enough toy soldiers as a kid? Could it be – my other personal observation – that he's become a fan of the real führer and appears to have taken a leaf from his book?
Therefore, I insist on the validity, rationality, and, if you will, practicality of my 'crystal dream'.
Or, paraphrasing a known sycophant called [State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav] Volodin, we could say: 'With Putin, there are rivers of blood. Without him, the bloodshed ends.'
Have I provided a sufficient and clear justification for my dream?
If so, let's proceed to the second charge. I'm also being charged with inciting hatred to the FSB. True, I'm not a fan of this bureau, which is a full clone of the Gestapo in Hitler's Reich and even surpasses it in vileness and barbarity. How so? you may ask. Because German executioners, as inhumane as they were, combated real enemies of the Reich and the führer instead of inventing them.
Meanwhile, Putin's 'Gestapo' conjures enemies all the time. They use agents provocateurs to create 'terrorist organizations' and then 'bust' them. To get another star on their shoulders or a medal on their chest, to get a promotion, they can ruin a teenager's life and the lives of his parents without a shade of remorse, like a predator eating a rabbit. This vile practice of theirs came to light in the cases of the New Greatness, Network, and teenagers from Kansk. One of them, 14-year-old Nikita Uvarov, spent almost a year in pre-trial detention. When he was sixteen, he got five years in a penal colony. For a 'terror attack in Minecraft'. What kind of people jail 14-year-old kids? Aren't these modern-day Gestapo officers monsters? Can they be called human?
I wrote the text that the prosecution used as the main evidence when I was deeply affected by the sentence in the 'Kaliningrad case'. To remind you, two newlyweds were sentenced to twelve and thirteen (!) years in jail for the incompetency of an FSB officer who had attended their wedding as a guest. Just a couple of days after the ceremony, the newlyweds got such outrageous sentences. What am I supposed to feel for those working for our version of the Gestapo?
I must also add that in the Network case, at the very least, the defendants were subjected to electric torture to extract forced confessions. The judges chose to look the other way. Judging by the geography of these cases and the obedience of the courts, I can only conclude that this cannibalistic, horrendous practice is indeed a practice and not a handful of isolated incidents. What am I supposed to feel for the personnel of this bureau? Boundless respect and simpering delight?
What am I supposed to feel for this government agency after the poisoning of Navalny, Kara-Murza, and others, perpetuated by a mobile unit of uniformed assassins who follow their victims all over the country? That's what they call 'blazing hearts and clean hands'.
Explain this to me: how can someone aware of everything I just mentioned feel about the agency of executioners, sadists, murderers, and snitches? Why aren't I allowed to share my revulsion with others? Doesn't Article 29 of our Constitution guarantee my right to share information from open sources?
Therefore, I think I've provided enough clarification on my position regarding both charges.
This is also why I consider Mikhail Zhlobitsky to be a hero. That doesn't mean I justify terrorism! Has Putin's government left him another form of protest except suicide bombing? Did the judges pay attention to the traces of electric torture on defendant Filinkov's body during the session? How many State Duma deputies submitted their inquiries to the Investigative Committee or the General Prosecutor's Office to investigate the incident? Did Channel One or VGTRK mention anything about the five-year sentence passed to Uvarov, who is still a minor? So what was such a heroic truth-teller as Zhlobitsky supposed to do? What forms of protest were available? When the 'ashes of Klaas' throbbed on his chest? Only the 'folly of the brave', as Maxim Gorky put it...
A few more words. During the court sessions, the prosecution often mentioned my numerous administrative arrests, apparently as an aggravating circumstance. The idea must have been to present me in a negative light.
I'd like to emphasize I never joined public protests for fun or out of boredom. My only goal was to defend legitimacy, and I acted in full agreement with the Constitution, which guarantees the right of peaceful assembly in Article 31.
There's more. I considered walking out in protest as both my right and my duty as a citizen to defend my civil rights. I often made myself do it, despite my laziness, fatigue, and other circumstances.
And in doing so, honorable judges, prosecutors, and investigators, I defended your rights too. So that you could elect an accountable government. So that the deputies you elected would prioritize your response, approval, or disapproval when making a decision. So that they were dependent on you at least to some extent. So that your sons, brothers, fathers, and husbands would not get drafted to this criminal war and returned home in a body bag. I believe you're as much invested in it as I am. But you're more afraid. My good intentions got me arrested, fined, and jailed many times.
And a couple more words.
I'm appealing to everyone who can hear me or read my words. If you read or hear one day that 'Krieger changed his mind', 'Krieger withdrew his statement', 'offered an apology', and so on, know one thing: My loved ones or myself are in grave danger.
And finally, a few quick words for my esteemed compatriots [Mikhail Kriger delivered the rest of his speech in Ukrainian – The Insider] – the defenders of my native Ukraine.
My beloved friends!
What saddens me the most is that I can't be by your side. In the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, for instance.
So I can only wish you Victory!
The best of luck to you, brothers and sisters!
Glory to Ukraine!”
On May 16, after the end of the first day of the court hearing, Krieger sang the Ukrainian song “Chervona Kalyna” – to applause from the audience. When a policeman asked him to keep his voice down, the political prisoner replied: “But I’ve already sung everything.”
When leaving the courtroom, multiple people leaned their palm through the glass against Krieger's hand in a show of support.
State investigators argued that Krieger had threatened the lives of security officials and had called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be executed by hanging. Krieger did not back down from his position on the day of the verdict, mentioning Putin's execution in his last statement.
Krieger is a Moscow-based opposition activist and a former deputy of Moscow's Tagansky District Council. He regularly supported political prisoners, went to rallies and pickets, and even spoke out in defense of Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza in his last statement in court – both men are also serving prison terms for political reasons. Since 2014, Krieger organized rallies against the war in Ukraine. In 1991, during the August Coup, he and his wife Vera took part in defending Moscow's White House, as the building became a center of resistance to the State Committee on the State of Emergency.