Russian teacher on trial for poem against annexation of Crimea

The next hearing is due on April 2 into the trial of Alexander Byvshev, a Russian poet and school teacher whose poem “To Ukrainian Patriots” lost him his job, and could result in a prison sentence. The poem has been found ‘extremist’ in Russia and cannot be accessed, and none of the ‘witnesses’ can name even one line from it, but they know it’s “anti-Russian”, “not patriotic”.

The poem, written in March 2014, is very clearly strongly against Russia’s invasion of Crimea and suggests Ukrainians should ensure that not one inch of Crimea is handed “to Putin’s chekists”.

The poem is undoubtedly full of bitter criticism of Moscow. It remains a poem, and more in any case is needed to fall under Article 282 § 1 of the Criminal Code, that is, “Stirring up hatred or enmity, as well as denigrating human dignity”. That article refers to incitement to enmity on the grounds of sex, race, religious beliefs, etc. No clarification would be provided even if, as other reports suggest, he is charged under Article 281.1 (“Organizing an extremist group”). The poem itself has been classified as ‘extremist’, and in fact an Internet website with Byvshev’s poems has removed quite a number of them.