The Tagansky District Court in Moscow on Sunday ordered political activist Pavel Krisevich to be detained for two months following a “suicide performance” in Red Square.
Krisevich was charged with the crime of hooliganism after firing blanks into the air and then at his head in an act designed to support Russian political prisoners. The Russian criminal code defines hooliganism as a “gross violation of public order [that expresses] clear disrespect for society.” If convicted, Krisevich could face a prison sentence of up to seven years. Police also detained but later released Nika Samusik, a journalist who recorded the performance.
Krisevich has previously been imprisoned for his activism. In May, he spent 10 days in jail for displaying the artwork of Russian political prisoners in Moscow. In November of last year, he was jailed for his performance of a “mock crucifixion” in front of FSB headquarters. According to Krisevich, “that protest symbolized criminal cases against Russian citizens.”
Earlier this month, the Moscow City Court outlawed “extremist” organizations linked to Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, which effectively prevents his allies from running for public office. Many of Navalny’s associates were expected to run in the upcoming September elections. Additionally, Russian President Vladimir Putin last week signed legislation that prevents members of “extremist” organizations from running for office. The US State Department condemned the court ruling in a recent press release:
We condemn today’s decision by a Moscow court to designate as “extremist” three organizations affiliated with imprisoned opposition figure Aleksey Navalny. This designation puts staff members, volunteers, and thousands of supporters across Russia at risk of criminal prosecution and imprisonment for exercising fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, and it further restricts the ability of opposition candidates to appear on the ballot in the September Duma elections. With this action, Russia has effectively criminalized one of the country’s few remaining independent political movements.
US President Joe Biden and Putin are scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.