Published by Prof. Ilya Kapovich in the Washington Post on February 21, 2022.
The Feb. 18 editorial “In a moment of peril, clarity” correctly pointed to the link between Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and the Putin regime’s increasingly oppressive nature at home. However, the examples given of such domestic political oppression are far from the most jarring.
On Feb. 10, a court in Kansk sentenced three middle school boys for putative “terrorism” offenses. The boys, who were 14 at the time, were arrested by the FSB in June 2020 while putting up leaflets on the wall of a local FSB office. The leaflets expressed support for a jailed Moscow State University mathematics graduate student and an opposition political activist Azat Miftakhov. Although minors and civilians, the boys were tried by a military court in a closed proceedings. One of the boys, Nikita Uvarov, received a five-year prison sentence, likely because he refused to cooperate with the authorities from the start. The other two boys, who initially admitted some guilt under coercion, received suspended prison sentences.
Political persecution of children is barbaric and despicable, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the distraction of the Ukraine conflict to perpetrate this shameful practice.
Ilya Kapovich, New York
The writer is a member of the Azat Miftakhov Committee of Mathematicians.