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Russian doctors demand release of imprisoned anti-war artist

by Dmytro Basmat November 19, 2023 1:31 AM 2 min read
Jailed Russian artist Alexandra Skochilenko, 33, appears in court in St. Petersburg on Nov. 13, 2023. (Dmitry Lovetsky / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)
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Over 200 Russian doctors signed an open letter Nov. 18 demanding imprisoned Russian anti-war artist Alexandra Skochilenko be released due to her declining health.

"Apart from our outrage over the obvious injustice of the verdict, we, as a medical community, are deeply concerned about Sasha's health," the letter said.

Skochilenko was sentenced to seven years in prison on Nov. 16 for "public dissemination of deliberately false information" about the Russian army. She replaced five price tags at a St. Petersburg grocery store with anti-war messages shortly after Russia's full-scale invasion.

In total, 247 medical professionals directed their letter to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, calling for the artist's immediate release. Skochilenko, 33, suffers from a heart condition and celiac disease, requiring specialized medical attention and dietary care.

While the letter defended Skochilenko's right to her "pacifist" views, the doctors did not address Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Skochilenko was convicted one month following the enactment of a Russian law that essentially criminalizes public anti-war expressions. The legislation has been used extensively amid a crackdown on dissenting figures, with numerous individuals facing prolonged prison sentences.

According to the organization OVD-Info, between the Feb. 24 invasion and October 2023, Russian authorities have detained 19,834 people at anti-war protests. Over 700 criminal cases have been brought against demonstrators.

Where is Russia’s anti-war opposition?
For many Ukrainians, watching queues of conscription-age Russians fleeing the specter of mobilization has proven bittersweet. Each body that crosses the border into Kazakhstan, Armenia, or Georgia is one less soldier to occupy Ukrainian soil. But why have the same crowds failed to appear at anti-wa…
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