Let’s tell the story of Anton Zhuchkov and Vladimir Sergeev
Thirty-nine-year old Anton Zhuchkov and Vladimir Sergeev, who is 37, were both brought up without a father. In 2009, Zhuchkov also lost his mother, and there were no close relatives left. The two men got to know each other 15 years ago at a computer club in Omsk. In 2015 Sergeev moved to Moscow and found work as a lathe operator at a research centre. After some time he convinced his friend to move to the capital, too. Zhuchkov started to earn a living as a security guard.
On 6 March 2022 there were protests all over Russia against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At about 17.30, near Pushkin Square in the centre of Moscow, police officers stopped Zhuchkov and Sergeev and began to search them. In Vladimir’s rucksack they found a bottle of inflammable liquid. He explained that he wanted to destroy a prisoner transport van as an act of protest against the war. In response to police questioning, he said: “The authorities have fucked up, the war has fucked up and you have fucked up.” When they were arrested, the two friends took lethal doses of methadone.
A video recording made from the police van in which the two men were detained, which was mentioned in the criminal prosecution, was not shown to the defence lawyers. It may be that police violence and threats are recorded there. Zhuchkov has said that, after his arrest, police officers insulted him and his family, and then took off his and Sergeev’s shoes, and tortured them with electric shocks. Sergeev also said that violence was used against him: the security forces kicked him and slammed his face against the dirt-covered side of a car.
The two arrested men were being taken to a nearby police station when they fell ill. So they were escorted instead to the Sklifosovsky Institute for the Research of Emergency Medicine. The next day, a criminal case was opened against them, for joint preparation of hooliganism using arms (part 1 Article 30 and part 2 Article 213 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code). On 17 March 2022 Zhuchkov and Sergeev were arrested.
Initially, Vladimir Sergeev admitted his guilt. When questioned, he said that he wanted to protest against the war in Ukraine. He said: “I felt a terrible fear for Russia and her future, and also for the lives of soldiers – both ours and Ukraine’s”. Subsequently he renounced his confession. His defence lawyer Svetlana Zavodtsova and Zhuchkov’s legal representative Dmitry Sotnikov both consider that these statements were made under duress.
At the end of April, the charges against both Zhuchkov and Sergeev were altered to “preparation of an act of terrorism”. The basis for this was a report from the Federal Security Service (FSB), where the two friends were described as “firm adherents of radical anarchist ideology”, the aim of which was the “violent removal of the foundations of constitutional order” in Russia.
At the end of last year, an additional charge was brought against Zhuchkov: supply of a significant quantity of narcotics. The prosecution claimed that he had acquired methadone on the darknet, and “supplied” it to Sergeev.
At the opening of the court hearing, both men declined to admit their guilt. Sergeev said that his actions should be defined as “individual preparation of hooliganism”, since Zhuchkov knew nothing of his plan for firebombing. Zhuchkov emphasised that his only intention had been to commit suicide: “I did not plan to destroy anything. (...) The only thing I wanted to do then was to kill myself: for me it was impossible to live in a world where this war was taking place – a war that could be the very final one.”
On 20 April 2023 the Second Western District Military Court sentenced the two friends to long periods of imprisonment: Zhuchkov to ten years, Sergeev to eight years.
The accused and their lawyers entered an appeal against their conviction. This appeal will be heard at the Military Appeal Court on 27 September.
You can write to Anton and Vladimir, at:
Russia, 107996 Moscow, ulitsa Matrosskaya Tishina 18, SIZO-1,
Zhuchkov Anton Aleksandrovich (d.o.b. 1983) Sergeev Vladimir Andreevich (d.o.b. 1985)
It is possible to send via the electronic service "FSIN-pismo" (sending from anywhere in the world, subject to payment by a Russian card) and the volunteer resource РосУзник (sending from anywhere in the world and the ability to remain anonymous).
Solidarity Zone supports Anton Zhuchkov and Vladimir Sergeev.