A civic activist from the Transnistrian region, Victor Pleshkanov, was sentenced to three years and two months in jail for “incitement to extremism”. This is the first case of conviction in Tiraspol for open criticism of the Ukraine war. “Promo-LEX” Association noted that the 58-year-old activist permanently had a critical narrative and position on the abuses committed in the Transnistrian region. Together with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, he has criticized the abuses committed by the Russian army, including the illegal presence of Russian troops in the Transnistrian region, IPN reports.
On June 10, 2022, he was arrested for five days for “hooliganism” because, while being in a fabric store in Tiraspol, he said that he will put the flag of Ukraine on his balcony and allegedly insulted the so-called state security ministry in Tiraspol. While he was under arrest, his home was searched by the local security bodies and some of his personnel effects, including his computer, were confiscated. His wife was verbally informed that a criminal case was started against Victor Pleshkanov over “incitement to extremism through the Internet and the media”.
On June 15, the man wasn’t set free. His wife learned that he was remanded in custody and the remand detention was later extended. In a hearing held behind closed doors on September 26, the Tiraspol City Court convicted Victor Pleshkanov to three years and two months behind bars for “incitement to extremism”. So far, Victor Pleshkanov has been held in the so-called remand prison No. 3 in Tiraspol.
“Despite the made efforts, in almost four months of his arrest, his wife does not have access to the materials of the case, including to the so-called public defender, with the materials being considered secret. At the same time, the activist’s wife had only one meeting with Victor but now does not know anything about his state of heath. Even if she filed an appeal against the “conviction sentence”, his wife does not believe that this will have any effect,” stated “Promo-LEX”.
In June this year, the Moldovan constitutional authorities asked that Tiraspol should stop persecuting and intimidating Victor Pleshcanov. Apparently, this reaction wasn’t sufficient. The experts of “Promo-LEX” ascertained that the number of sentences by which people living on the left side of the Nistru are convicted for “incitement to extremism” or other similar action has increased and the victims of this phenomenon cannot defend their rights. They mention the cases of Mihail Ermurachi, Ghenadie Ciorba, Alexandr Samonii, Pavel Dogari, Larisa Kalik, Boris Babaian and others. The persecution of these persons was “legalized” by Vadim Krasnoselsky together with the adoption, in March 2020, of the so-called “Strategy for combating extremism in the Transnistrian region”.
In this connection, “Promo-LEX” reiterates its previous calls and asks again the authorities of the Republic of Moldova and the international organizations and diplomatic missions to become involved and to attentively monitor the situation of the freedom of expression in the Transnistrian region. The Association’s experts also ask to make prompt effort to obtain the unconditional release of Victor Pleshkanov and to take measures to protect his family.