Free Sasha Skochilenko!

Artist and musician was sentenced to seven years in prison for placing several anti-war stickers in a supermarket. We demand freedom for Sasha.

Who is Sasha Skochilenko?
Sasha Skochilenko is an artist and musician from St. Petersburg. In 2014, Sasha created an educational online-comic which later became A Book about Depression, published in Russia and Ukraine and translated into several European languages. Later, she also created several other comics about living and struggling with depression, bipolar affective disorder and anxiety disorder. Three of Sasha’s comics were once again published in Russia after her arrest.

The “special military operation”, which the Russian government started in Ukraine, affected Sasha deeply. From the first days of war Sasha rallied the streets, made pacifist statements in her social media, sketched leaflets calling for peace, and organized small-scale musical events called Jams for Peace.
“I feel that I can no longer stay silent. I get information from people I got acquainted to through my book, from real people in Ukraine: there are bombs falling and there are casualties. This is the reality. You can’t possibly fake anything like that. There are living, breathing people and they ask us to let the truth be heard. All that I learned from working with Ukrainians is that we are no different from each other, we experience the same feelings and states.”

from Sasha’s Facebook post
What is Sasha accused of?
I had an idea—what if I discreetly place my drawings calling for peace on supermarket shelves? There are many people out there, who don't know (or have they forgotten?) that human life is a miracle—beautiful and precious—and that violence is never a solution. Maybe we read different news, attend to different events, listen to different music—but we most certainly go to the same stores. The plain language of a price tag is something that everyone can understand.


As one of her peaceful protest actions, Sasha replaced price tags in a supermarket for stickers with information on the actions of the Russian military in Mariupol, Ukraine—information which Russian authorities consider to be “knowingly false”. This is what her criminal case is based on.

Sasha was detained on April 11th, 2022. A store customer reported her stickers to the police, and Sasha was charged with a criminal offense under the article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
“Whatever my prosecutors try to do to me, however they attempt to drag me through the mud, humiliate me, put me in the most inhumane conditions, I will only take the brightest, the most incredible and beautiful things from this experience—that is what the essence of being an artist is.”

from Sasha’s first letter from prison

Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the execution by the state organs of the Russian Federation of their legal powers


Sasha was charged with part D of this article—“motivation of political, ideological, racial, national, or religious hatred or enmity, or motivation of hatred or enmity towards a particular social group.” This part of the article calls for a punishment of up to 10 years of imprisonment.


St. Petersburg courts have already put seven people in custody on similar charges of “public dissemination of knowingly false information.” Their names are Maria Ponomarenko, Olga Smirnova, Viktoria Petrova, Boris Romanov, Vsevolod Korolyov, Oleg Belousov, rev. John Kurmoyarov, and Evgeny Bestuzhev.

The court chose detention as a pre-trial measure, even though the defense motioned for bail or house arrest. The defense provided bail money as well as legal documents for the apartment where Sasha could’ve stayed under arrest. But the court believed that since Sasha has relatives and friends abroad, she could escape the investigation.

Sasha suffers from celiac decease—a genetic intolerance to gluten, cereal grain protein. It is practically impossible to maintain a strict diet that is required, while in detention, and diet violation causes permanent food poisoning symptoms, malnutrition, and other complications that can be as grave as gastrointestinal cancer. It was only on May 7 when Sasha could confirm that she was receiving hot food—for almost a month, she had to wholly rely on limited parcels.

Sasha has faced the horrifying conditions of the detention center. She was bullied by her cellmates who harassed and humiliated her, forbade her to eat, and made her wash all of her clothes every day as a “punishment”. At the detention center, Sasha underwent a surgery—her wisdom tooth had to be removed; however, the hole wasn’t stitched, and Sasha’s lymph nodes became inflamed as a result. She was not provided with painkillers and antibiotics and was not allowed to receive them in a parcel.

Sasha has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder—which means the person suffers significant mood swings and severe depressive symptoms. The stress Sasha experiences at the detention center caused an aggravation of the state of her mental health, and the circumstances of her arrest induced a post-traumatic stress disorder.

On November 16th 2023, after a long sham trial, judge Oksana Demyasheva sentenced Sasha to 7 years in a penal colony.

Amnesty International recognizes Sasha as a political prisoner.
BBC listed her among 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2022.

Sasha’s girlfriend Sonya and their two cats miss her very much.
Media about Sasha
The Washington Post
16 Nov 2023
Radio Free Europe
16 Nov 2023
The New York Times
17 Nov 2023
Reuters
16 Nov 2023
The Moscow Times
16 Dec 2022
Amnesty International
2 Aug 2023
The Moscow Times
22 Apr 2022


The Guardian
13 Apr 2022
For any questions, please contact us at
free@skochilenko.ru