Russian prosecutors have called for severe prison sentences for poets Artem Kamardin and Egor Shtovba, following their involvement in an anti-mobilization event known as the Mayakovsky Readings, held in September 2022.
The event, which openly criticized the state's mobilization efforts, led to charges of "inciting hatred or enmity" and "inciting action against the security of the state" against the poets.
According to the independent Russian media outlet Mediazona, the prosecution has requested a seven-year prison term for Kamardin and a six-year sentence for Shtovba. In addition to the prison terms, the state prosecutors are seeking to impose a fine of 500,000 rubles (approximately $5,446) on each of the accused.
The severity of the proposed sentences comes in the wake of a police raid on Kamardin's apartment the day after the Mayakovsky Readings.
During the raid, Kamardin's girlfriend and friend reported being beaten by Moscow police officers and forced to apologize on camera for their statements made during the event. The situation escalated further when Kamardin's lawyer alleged that the officers sexually assaulted Kamardin with a dumbbell.
The Mayakovsky Readings, named after the famous Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, was an event that openly challenged the Russian government's mobilization policies.
The poets' participation and subsequent arrest have sparked concerns among human rights activists and free speech advocates about the increasing crackdown on dissent in Russia.
The case against Kamardin and Shtovba is currently ongoing, with the Russian judicial system's response being closely watched by international observers.
The proposed sentences have highlighted the risks faced by those who speak out against government policies in Russia, especially in the current context of heightened political sensitivity and repression.