Russia: how security services entrapped and framed teenager Valeria Zotova

Yaroslavl teenager Valeria Zotova was found guilty of “plotting to commit a terrorist act” at her trial in June – despite the defence proving that she was the victim of entrapment by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and the FSB admitting as much in court. Zotova faces six years in prison, pending appeal. Solidarity Zone here recounts the highlights of this dismal case and urges people in Russia and around the world show Valeria their support. Translated by the Russian Reader, and reposted from there with thanks.

On June 28, Valeria Zotova, a 19-year-old woman from Yaroslavl, was found guilty of “plotting to commit a terrorist act” (per Article 30.1 and Article 205.1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code). Zotova will spend six years in prison because of the “experiments” that the FSB (the Russian Federal Security Service) conducts on people.

According to police investigators, Zotova wanted to set fire to a warehouse where “aid” was collected for Russian servicemen fighting in the war against Ukraine.

In the video footage of her arrest, Zotova is pulled from the passenger seat of a car by masked men. However, the other people in the car were apparently not touched.

Prior to this, a certain “Andrei” had for a long time been writing to Valeria, claiming that he lived in Ukraine. In the letters, he asked Valeria to perform “missions” for him. She refused and showed the exchanges with “Andrei” to her mother. After some time, Andrei’s “girlfriend” “Karina” started writing to Valeria in VKontakte [a popular Russian social network].

According to Valeria’s mother, “Karina” harassed her daughter, constantly writing and calling her, and urging her to commit arson. When Valeria was detained, “Karina” was in the vehicle with her, but “Karina” was not charged in the case.

It transpired that “Andrei’s girlfriend” was an FSB officer and a secret witness. At one of the hearings in Valeria’s trial, “Karina” openly stated that it was all a “crime re-enactment” [sledstvennyi eksperiment, which translates literally as “investigative experiment”] Although the FSB chose not to conceal its actions, this had no effect on the verdict.

The defence provided the court with obvious evidence of Valeria’s innocence, namely, her correspondence with Karina, in which Valeria repeatedly refuses to commit arson.

Despite the fact that the court did admit this evidence into the case file and “weighed” it, Valeria was found guilty on the charges. Instead of the eight years of imprisonment requested by the prosecutor, the court sentenced Valeria to six years.

Valeria’s lawyer has appealed the verdict, so we can look forward to an appeal hearing in the future.

We wrote recently about why the appeals process is so important.

On the outside, Valeria worked very hard, almost seven days a week. In her spare time, she drew and beaded. In winter, she skated whenever possible. She adores doing crosswords and other such puzzles. She is an extraordinarily upbeat and resilient young woman who always succeeded at whatever she undertook.

Valeria is currently in custody at the Yaroslavl pretrial detention center. You can show your solidarity and support by sending her a letter. She is always glad to get them and expresses her gratitude for all the support.

Address for letters and parcels: Zotova Valeria Igorevna (born 2003) 10 ul. Portovaya nab., SIZO-1 Yaroslavl 150001 Russian Federation

You can also send her letters via FSIN-Pismo and Zonatelecom. Solidarity Zone is supporting Valeria Zotova. #wewriteletters