Russian student facing prison over social media posts starts new life in Europe

Olesya Krivtsova speaks to CNN in Vilnius, Lithuania. (CNN

Olesya Krivtsova thinks it’s because she was neither the first, nor the last, to criticize the war in Ukraine that she scared Russian authorities as much as she did.

Her social media posts were neither particularly strident nor unusual, she told CNN, reflecting those of so many other university students across the country. And that, she believes, is where her troubles started: when her fellow students denounced her to authorities in need of an example.

Now in Lithuania and on Moscow’s list of most wanted criminals, the softly spoken, slight 20-year-old from Russia’s northwestern Arkhangelsk region makes for an unlikely villain. But from the start, Russian authorities seemed to have singled her out for harsh punishment with particular zeal.

According to OVD-Info, a Russian human rights media group, most of the 447 Russians prosecuted for anti-war activity since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year have been charged with “disseminating false information.” But Krivtsova was placed under house arrest in January, and banned from using the internet on the far more serious charges of discrediting the Russian army and justifying terrorism. OVD-Info reports 49 people have been charged for discrediting the army and 30 for justifying terrorism.

Those charges relate to an Instagram story she posted about the Crimean bridge blast last October, which also criticized Russia for invading Ukraine, and for making an allegedly critical repost of the war in a student chat on the Russian social network VK.

Her voice should have remained a little one, she said, but for the repression she faced.

“I think they really regretted it. No one expected that the case would grow so much that the resonance would be so huge,” Krivtsova said of the Russian authorities. 

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