A court in St. Petersburg has put sixty-year-old accountant Irina Tsybaneva under house arrest for leaving a note that read “Death to Putin” on the grave of the Russian president’s parents. The woman was able to steal up to the gravestone, which is guarded, but she was unable to leave the cemetery unnoticed. The police and the prosecutor’s office asked the court to send Tsybaneva to a pretrial detention center, calling the crime “audacious,” but the court found that this was too harsh a pretrial restraint. Mediazona has delved into the details of the case and found out what role the news played in the Petersburg woman’s spontaneous actions.
“I just saw a [TV] program, at that time very serious, there was some news, and something just…,” said Tsybaneva, trying to explain her actions, while standing in the defendant’s cage at the Primorsky District Court in Petersburg.
Tsybaneva has been charged with desecrating the burial place of deceased persons due to political or ideological enmity. It is alleged that she went to the grave of the parents of Russian President Vladimir Putin and left a note there that included the following phrase: “You raised a freak and a murderer.”
“And how often do you go and write notes to everyone [sic] while watching the news?” the prosecutor asked her.
“Never. I watched the news and realized that everything is quite scary, everything is very sad, a lot of people have been killed.”
“We had the coronavirus, everyone was depressed. Did you also write something to someone then?”
“What for? No, of course not,” said Tsybanev, smiling.
“Well, I don’t know. You watched the news and decided to write.”
“Yes, under the influence of the news.”
“Are the media to blame for your actions?”
“That’s the upshot.”
Before the war in Ukraine, Tsybaneva, who is employed as an accountant in Petersburg, was not particularly interested in politics. Even after the Russian invasion, she practically never raised the topic of war raised in conversations with relatives, her son Maxim told Mediazona.
“She went to concerts, festivals, theaters, and museums. She traveled a lot both in Russia and abroad,” the man added. “At one time, she was a big fan of bard music. I don’t know how it is now, but it’s probably still the case. She went to the Grushinsky Festival many times. She was a prominent figure in Trofim‘s fan club.”
Tsybaneva spent a lot of time with her six grandchildren. (Her daughter and her son each have three children.) She moved to St. Petersburg in the 1980s from the Tver Region, working as an engineer and then as an accountant in various companies.
On October 6, the eve of the Russian president’s birthday, Tsybaneva went to the Serafimovskoe Cemetery, where Mr. Putin’s parents are buried.
Security had already been beefed up at the cemetery and specifically at the graves of Vladimir and Maria Putin, probably due to the fact that, in late September, a small poster in the guise of a school pupil’s class journal appeared on their headstone. It read as follows: “Dear parents! Your son has been behaving disgracefully! Skipping history lessons, fighting with his desk mates, and threatening to blow up the whole school! Take action!”
A week later, a court in Petersburg jailed the activist Anastasia Filippova for ten days on charges of disobeying a policeman. As reported by Bumaga, Filippova’s relatives linked her arrest with the poster. Yesterday, a court overturned her arrest, and she was released from the special detention center.
Despite the beefed-up security and the police officers on duty at the cemetery, Tsybaneva was able to walk up to the grave of the Putins.
“They got distracted there, and she somehow left the note. It transpired that there are a lot of cameras there,” Maxim Tsybanev said, adding that his mother was able to photograph the note on her phone, which was later seized, however.
The contents of the note were made public today during Tsybaneva’s pretrial restraints hearing. “Parents of the maniac, move him in with you. He has caused so much pain and trouble, the whole world is begging for his death [illegible]. Death to Putin, you raised a freak and a murderer,” Tsybaneva’s message read.
In a linguistic analysis, a copy of which was submitted as part of the written request for pretrial restraints in court today, experts concluded that the note contains a “negative assessment of Russian President Vladimir Putin” addressed to his parents. But how exactly the police identified the person who left the note is unknown. In court, the prosecutor cited an “ongoing investigation.”
The leaflet containing the appeal to Putin’s late parents was found the same day by a cemetery guard, who immediately informed the police. On Monday, October 10, they were already knocking on Tsybaneva’s door.
“She wouldn’t open it for a long time, but eventually a policeman promised to pry it open, and she opened it. At three p.m. yesterday she was taken to the 35th police precinct. For some reason, they kept her waiting there for a long time. Finally, around nightfall, she telephoned and said that there would be a search. We immediately went to her house, but she wasn’t there,” Maxim Tsybanev told Mediazona.
The accountant was placed in the temporary detention center and a criminal case was opened against her for abusing the burial place of deceased persons due to political or ideological enmity. If she is convicted, Tsybaneva could face up to five years in prison.
During the couple of days that Tsybaneva was in custody, the police were able to conduct a DNA examination, which confirmed that the traces of skin found on the note were hers. Handwriting analysis also indicated that it was Tsybaneva who wrote it. In addition, a picture of the note was found on her phone.
“I immediately admitted that I had written [the note], and that there was no need to do these analyses,” Tsybaneva said in court.
Police investigators and the prosecutor’s office asked that Tsybaneva be sent to a pretrial detention center.
“She is suspected of a crime whose danger to public consists in insulting the memory of the dead, the deceased, and the feelings of the living towards the dead,” the prosecutor argued.
She called the crime committed by the accountant “audacious” and, given Tsybaneva’s impressionability and the impact the news has on her, she argued that it was better for the woman to be in custody.
The defense lawyers were able to convince the court that the restraint measure requested by the state was too harsh. Consequently Judge Dmitry Lozovoy put Tsybaneva under house arrest for twenty-eight days, forbidding her to use the internet, telephone and mail.
“Given the actions committed, this is too harsh, but given current situation in the country, it is quite good,” said her son Maxim, commenting on the judge’s decision.
Source: Pavel Vasiliev, “‘Move him in with you’: 60-year-old Petersburg woman put under house arrest in case of note left on grave of Putin’s parents,” Mediazona, 12 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader