Aleksandra Skochilenko appears in court in the defendant's cage during her trial in St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Amnesty International has recognized a Russian artist arrested for using price tags in a store in St. Petersburg to distribute information about Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine as a prisoner of conscience.
"Amnesty International considers Aleksandra Skochilenko a prisoner of conscience and demands her immediate and unconditional release. The case against her must be stopped and the repressive article No. 207.3 of the Criminal Code abolished," Amnesty International said in a June 22 statement .
Skochilenko is accused of replacing price tags in a supermarket on March 31 with pieces of paper containing "knowingly false information about the use of the Russian armed forces."
Skochilenko has said her actions were not about the army but instead an attempt to propagate peace.
In early March, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that introduced Article No. 207.3 to the Criminal Code. It allows lengthy prison terms for distributing "deliberately false information" about Russian military operations as the Kremlin seeks to control the narrative about its war in Ukraine.
The law envisages sentences of up to 10 years in prison for individuals convicted of an offense, while the penalty for the distribution of "deliberately false information" about the Russian armed forces that leads to "serious consequences" is 15 years in prison. It also makes it illegal "to make calls against the use of Russian troops to protect the interests of Russia" or "for discrediting such use" with a possible penalty of up to three years in prison. The same provision applies to calls for sanctions against Russia. Skochilenko's lawyer, Yana Nepovinnova, said on June 9 her client was forcibly taken to a psychiatric clinic for what investigators called a "medical examination" that may last for up to three weeks. Amnesty International has called the current-day usage of psychiatric clinics in cases against dissidents "a punitive measure" that was "well tried and tested during the Soviet period" to pressure those in detention.