A former teacher in annexed Crimea has said he was beaten and imprisoned for singing a patriotic Ukrainian song that became a symbol of Kyiv’s resistance to the Russian invasion, independent Russian media reported. reported Tuesday.
Andrei Belozerov said security guards from the annexed peninsula’s second-largest city, Simferopol, broke into his dormitory and violently arrested him on the morning of October 28.
“They put me face down, […] handcuffed me and started kicking me in the kidneys, stomach and chest,” Belozerov told the Kholod news site, adding that he was also punched and stomped on in the face.
A local court sentenced Belozerov to 14 days in detention for the offense of “promoting extremist symbols” for posting the song “Chervona Kalyna” on social media and resisting arrest, according to Kholod.
“Chervona Kalyna” has become a Ukrainian resistance anthem since the invasion of Russian troops in February. One of its many interpretations calls for Ukraine to be freed from “Muscovite shackles”.
Belozerov had previously been expelled from university and sentenced to 13 days’ arrest in September for watching a video with students that featured another Ukrainian song and Turkish-made Bayraktar drones that proved effective in the military campaign.
Also that month, six people were arrested and fined for performing “Chervona Kalyna” at a wedding reception on the Black Sea peninsula.
In October, the winner of this year’s Miss Crimea beauty pageant and her friend were fined for singing “Chervona Kalyna” in an Instagram video.
Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014 – a move largely unrecognized by the international community – following protests that toppled the Kremlin-friendly Ukrainian president.
As Ukrainian forces approach the peninsula amid its battlefield gains in neighboring Kherson, Crimean Kremlin-appointed governor Sergei Aksyonov warned residents of “ pro-Ukrainian slogans” and “nationalist songs”.