Russian poet Artem Kamardin, tortured and raped by police, charged with incitement to hatred

The investigation has announced charges against Artem Kamardin, Russian activist and poet, human rights defender Pavel Chikov says.

The poet is accused of group incitement to hatred towards “participants of hostilities in LPR and DPR” [the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics”] and calls for actions directed against the state’s security.

The investigation found that in September 2022 Kamardin and two “accomplices” had organised and carried out a public reading of poems, known as Mayakovsky poetry readings, on the topic of mobilisation. The reason for the criminal case against Kamardin is a poem in which he asks people not to “take” draft notices from the hands of draft boards’ representatives, not to “sign” documents about receiving draft notices, and not to “go to” draft boards.

The investigation’s ruling also states that Kamardin’s “accomplices” repeated the words after him and put their hands in the air.

Chikov notes that this is the first criminal case under the calls for actions directed against the state’s security article which was introduced to Russia’s Criminal Code in July 2022.

On 26 September, Moscow police officers broke into the flat of activists Kamardin, Alexander Menyukov, and Alexandra Popova. The officers did not let lawyer Leonid Solovyev into the flat due to them allegedly conducting a surveillance activity “room inspection” inside. Popova, activist and Kamardin’s girlfriend, subsequently said that police officers had beaten Kamardin severely and put a dumbbell in his anal opening.

The rape was recorded on video and shown to Popova. The police officers also used superglue to put stickers on Popova’s face, tried to glue her mouth shut, pulled out her hair, and threatened her, saying that five of them would rape her. Menyukov was also beaten by police officers — doctors documented him having multiple contusions.

Afterwards, Kamardin was made to apologise on video for previously saying “Glory to Kievan Rus, Novorossiya — suck dick” (or New Russia, this is how the Russian propaganda refers to Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions — translator’s note) during the Mayakovsky poetry readings.

On 28 September, Moscow’s Tversky District Court sent Nikolay Dayneko, Artem Kamardin, and Egor Shtovba to a pre-trial detention centre for having taken part in the Mayakovsky poetry readings on 25 September. Linguistic examination found that their performances during the readings contained “signs of humiliating militia fighters who participated in combat in LPR and DPR”.

In November, Kamardin was sent to the Serbsky Centre of Forensic Psychiatry for a month-long mandatory psychiatric assessment.

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