Free Aleksandra, artist jailed for opposing the Russian invasion (W4R 2022)

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Aleksandra spoke out and peacefully opposed the war. Now, she faces years in prison.

What is happening in Ukraine?

On 24 February 2022, people across Ukraine woke to the news that their country was being invaded by the Russian military. The sheer scale of human rights violations and war crimes continues to be exposed with every passing day.

As Russia continues its war of aggression against Ukraine, it also fights a battle with its own people – silencing those who bravely criticise the war, and the war crimes committed by Russian forces.

Aleksandra is one of those people. Once a mental health advocate, writer and musician, she is now facing 10 years in prison for speaking out about Russia’s invasion.

The case of Aleksandra Skochilenko

In March 2022, Aleksandra replaced price tags in a local supermarket in Saint Petersburg with little paper labels, containing information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the early morning of 11 April, police arrested Aleksandra and charged her with “public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation” – a new crime that was rushed into law, in order to clamp down on war critics.

Russian police have frequently used force to disperse nationwide anti-war protests. Since the beginning of the invasion, the media has been ordered to only use information provided by official state sources when covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Aleksandra remains in detention where she has limited access to resources like food, water, and healthcare.

“My accusers have power and money, but I have immeasurably more: kindness, empathy, real love and huge support of people from all over the world”.

Aleksandra Skochilenko to Polish media outlet Belsat

Aleksandra’s partner Sofia has grave concerns for her health and safety in detention. Not only has she been regularly harassed by detention centre employees and cellmates, she has been forced to go hungry for most of her detention – Aleksandra suffers from coeliac disease, and has been routinely deprived of the food she needs.

Amnesty International has declared Aleksandra a prisoner of conscience: someone who has not used or advocated violence or hatred and is imprisoned solely because of who they are or what they believe.

The human rights that have been violated:

  • The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information
  • Arbitrary detention and the right to liberty and security of person
  • The right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment or punishment
  • The right to health
  • The right to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person while in detention

People power works – how can you help

Millions of compassionate people like you take action for Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign every year. Together, our actions pressure authorities around the world to bring those responsible for human rights abuses to justice, and free those unjustly imprisoned.

Take action to challenge injustice and call for Aleksandra’s freedom.

When courageous people protest, they make the world a better place. We must protect the right to protest wherever it is restricted and whenever it is at risk.

For Write for Rights 2022, we are taking action for brave individuals from around the world, who have all paid a great price for speaking truth to power. We run Write for Rights every year because it works – real change happens when ordinary people come together to take action.

Learn more about Write for Rights. Write a letter, change a life – including yours.