A prominent Russian state TV host has warned that opponents of Russia’s war in Ukraine will face harsh punishments including ‘concentration camps and sterilisation’.
Karen Shakhnazarov, a pro-Putin filmmaker, said any ‘opponents to the letter Z’ – the symbol of Russia’s invasion – will face ‘no mercy’.
‘The opponents of the letter Z must understand that if they are counting on mercy, no, there will be no mercy for them,’ Shakhnazarov, who leads the state-backed Mosfilm film studio, said on the state-owned Russian television channel Russia 1.
‘It’s all become very serious. In this case, it means concentration camps, re-education and sterilisation.’
Karen Shakhnazarov, a pro-Putin filmmaker, said any ‘opponents to the letter Z’ – the symbol of Russia’s invasion – will face ‘no mercy’
‘The opponents of the letter Z must understand that if they are counting on mercy, no, there will be no mercy for them,’ Shakhnazarov, who leads the state-backed Mosfilm film studio, said on the state-owned Russian television channel Russia 1
Shakhnazarov later claimed his comments had been taken out of context, but did not expand further.
In a similar tone to that of Shakhnazarov’s, Putin recently likened opposition figures to ‘gnats’ and ‘traitors’ who try to weaken the country at the behest of the West. The Russian President called for the county to ‘purify’ itself of the opposition.
‘The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths — spit them out on the pavement,’ Putin said in March.
‘I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to respond to any challenges.’
Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said yesterday he fears that the Kremlin is preparing to send him to a ‘torture’ prison notorious for sexual violence in an attempt to stop him from speaking out against the invasion.
‘I’ve heard rumors that I’ll be transferred to the high security colony in Melekhovo, where convicts get their fingernails pulled out,’ he wrote on his Twitter account.
The strict regime maximum security penal colony at Melekhovo is known for brutal beatings and the rape of male inmates.
Navalny – a leading Vladimir Putin foe who is currently in another less harsh prison – posted: ‘My [new] verdict has not yet entered into force, but prisoners from Melekhovo maximum security colony write that they are equipping a “prison in prison” for me there.’
Navalny was convicted for fraud and sentenced to an additional nine years in a maximum security prison in March, after already receiving a sentence of three years and eight months for ’embezzlement’, marking almost 13 in total.
Navalny is pictured at his trial offsite court session in the penal colony N2 (IK-2) in Pokrov. He was sentenced to an additional nine years in a maximum security prison in March. Now, he fears he is to be sent to a ‘torture’ prison notorious for sexual violence
Hundreds of Russians are now facing charges for speaking out against the war in Ukraine since a repressive law was passed in March that outlaws the spread of ‘false information’ about the invasion and disparaging the military.
Human rights groups say the crackdown has led to criminal prosecutions and possible prison sentences for at least 23 people on the ‘false information’ charge, with over 500 others facing misdemeanour charges of disparaging the military that have either led to hefty fines or are expected to result in them.
‘This is a large amount, an unprecedentedly large amount’ of cases, said Damir Gainutdinov, head of the Net Freedoms legal aid group focusing on free speech cases.
The Kremlin has sought to control the narrative of the war from the moment its troops rolled into Ukraine.
It dubbed the attack a ‘special military operation’ and increased the pressure on independent Russian media that called it a ‘war’ or an ‘invasion,’ blocking access to many news sites whose coverage deviated from the official line.
The Kremlin has sought to control the narrative of the war from the moment its troops rolled into Ukraine. Pictured: Russian Communist party members and supporters wave flags during the annual May Day (Labour Day) marking the international day of the workers in Moscow on May 1
Support for the ‘special invasion’ has fallen amongst Russians from 81 per cent to 74 per cent, according to a poll by the independent Levada Centre. One in five say they are against the war.
Sweeping arrests have stifled antiwar protests, turning them from a daily event in large cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg into rare occurrences barely attracting any attention.
A law against spreading ‘fake news’ about the war or disparaging the military was passed by parliament in one day and took force immediately, effectively exposing anyone critical of the conflict to fines and prison sentences.
The first publicly known criminal cases over ‘fakes’ targeted public figures like Veronika Belotserkovskaya, a Russian-language cookbook author and popular blogger living abroad, and Alexander Nevzorov, a TV journalist, film director and former lawmaker.
Both were accused of posting ‘false information’ about Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine on their widely followed social media pages – something Moscow has vehemently denied, insisting that Russian forces only hit target military targets.