Support The Moscow Times!

Russia Jails Buryat Activist 7 Years in Absentia for ‘War Fakes’ 

Alexandra Garmazhapova. Alexandra Garmazhapova / facebook

A court in the Siberian republic of Buryatia on Friday sentenced the head of the anti-war advocacy group Free Buryatia Foundation to seven years of prison in absentia for spreading “war fakes.”

Russian authorities accused activist Alexandra Garmazhapova of spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian Armed Forces in a video about Russian servicemen who were detained in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk region last year after refusing to continue fighting in the war.

“I don’t consider this [ruling] a legal document that can be taken seriously — that’s my principled position,” Garmazhapova, who currently resides outside Russia, told The Moscow Times. 

“We were dealing with a fake legislation and a fake court, so the result is a fake verdict,” she added.  

Prosecutors argued that Garmazhapova’s actions were “motivated by political hatred.”

However, an independent analysis of the video, which was published on Free Buryatia’s YouTube channel, found no signs of “humiliation of the dignity of a person or a group of people based on ethnic or political affiliation,” according to a court document the activist shared with The Moscow Times. 

Garmazhapova, who was also branded a “foreign agent” by Russian authorities, is the first ethnic anti-war activist and member of an indigenous anti-war movement to be convicted in absentia. 

The Free Buryatia Foundation was created in March 2022 and focuses on the rights of mobilized Buryats — an ethnic minority in Siberia — and provides them with legal advice.

In September, Russia designated Free Buryatia as an “undesirable organization,” a label that criminalizes the group and puts its staff at risk of prosecution.

“I think [Russian officials] made a certain contribution to making [Free Buryatia] more visible and recognizable, so the entire world would know that Buryats are against this war,” Garmazhapova said. 

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more