Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russian Teacher Faces Second Trial For Poetry Praising Ukraine

Russian teacher and poet Aleksandr Byvshev (file photo)

A former teacher of German in Russia's Oryol region who was fired from his job and convicted of inciting ethnic hatred for writing a pro-Ukraine poem says he now faces a new trial over a separate piece of writing.

Aleksandr Byvshev wrote on Facebook on November 3 that police informed a day earlier that their investigation had been completed and the case sent to a court in the region, which is in western Russia close to Ukraine.

In 2014, after his poem To Ukrainian Patriots was published in a local newspaper, Byvshev was deprived of the right to teach, his name was included in the official register of extremists, and all his bank accounts were frozen.

The poem criticized Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region and Moscow's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In 2015, Byvshev was sentenced to 300 hours of community service after a court found him guilty of inciting ethnic hatred through his poems.

Regional law enforcement officials said in January that they had opened a new investigation over another poem, On The Independence Of Ukraine, which plays on a poem of the same name by the late Nobel Literature laureate Joseph Brodsky.

Byvshev said that the Oryol Regional Court had deemed his poem to be extremist, a finding that enabled investigators to charge him.

Russia seized Crimea in March 2014, sending in troops and staging a referendum denounced as illegal by at least 11 countries.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the war between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.