A Khabarovsk woman, detained in March on suspicion of treason for financing the Ukrainian armed forces, has been identified by BBC journalists as twenty-three-year-old Tamara Parshina. Parshina’s initials and surname appeared in a judicial database in late April, when her term of detention was extended at the FSB’s request.
Parshina graduated from the Far Eastern State University of Railway Engineering (DVGUPS) with a degree in information systems and information technologies. Prior to that, the accused studied at the prep school on Leningrad Street, which was also where she was detained. The young woman was employed at the Khabarovsk Regional Compulsory Health Insurance Fund.
After Parshina’s arrest, there were rumors that she was an activist in the I Am/We Are Furgal movement. However, the regular attendees of the pickets in support of ex-regional governor Sergei Furgal said that no one they knew had been arrested in the case. Furgal’s headquarters called the claim that the detainee was an activist in the movement an attempt to discredit it.
The attorney Kaloy Akhilgov reported that Parshina had donated a total of 2,500 rubles [approx. 29 euros] in small amounts to various Ukrainian charitable foundations. She is currently in custody at Moscow’s Lefortovo remand prison.
Parshina is the youngest person so far detained on suspicion of treason in Russia. She faces up to twenty years in prison if convicted. The toughening of the punishment for treason occurred after Parshina’s arrest. Also, women are not given life sentences in Russia: the maximum sentence for women is twenty-five years.
Source: “Khabarovsk woman arrested for treason identified,” Activatica, 13 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Olga Mazurova for the heads-up.
In March, the FSB began accusing Russians of providing financial assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces and charging them with treason. The BBC has discovered that 36-year-old Nina Slobodchikova from Novosibirsk was the first to be detained, followed by 23-year-old Tamara Parshina from Khabarovsk (who is the youngest Russian woman so far accused of treason). Both women were employed in the IT field before their arrests. One of them has relatives in Ukraine.
Two men in camouflage walk briskly, skirting snowdrifts, down a snow-covered sidewalk. They chase down and grab a young woman in a light-colored down jacket carrying a small bag. Her face has been blurred: only a strand of hair that has escaped from under her cap is visible. She is confused and crying. Something falls from her hands to the ground; one of the men picks it up and says, “Calm down.” The girl is bundled into a black minibus with tinted windows.
This is video footage shot by the FSB. In the next scene, the detainee, now carrying a backpack, enters the FSB’s Khabarovsk Territory offices, escorted by security forces officers. She is then seen being led up the gangway of an Aeroflot Boeing 777 named in honor of Marshal of the USSR Vasily Chuikov. The sign above the airport reads “Khabarovsk.” At the end of the video, the young woman disembarks from the plane at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. In the final shots, she is led through the courtyard of Lefortovo remand prison. Her hands are cuffed behind her back.
The video appeared in the media on March 13, the same day the FSB reported that it had detained a Khabarovsk woman on suspicion of treason for financially aiding the Ukrainian army. The BBC was told by the Lefortov court that pretrial restraints had been imposed on Parshina on March 9 in Khabarovsk. According to information obtained on the website Flightradar24, the Chuikov Boeing flew to Moscow around three o’clock in the afternoon on March 9.
The BBC tracked down classmates and acquaintances of 23-year-old Tamara Parshina on social media. One of them recognized the young woman in the video released by FSB. “Those are her sneakers,” she said. “And she seems to be sobbing too. I remember because she often cried at school. The hair is curly, like hers. She also wore glasses.” Her description matches photos of Parshina on social media.
Parshina’s friends do not know the exact nature of the charges against her. “It seems that she donated money last spring [in 2022] to some organization that helps someone in Ukraine,” an acquaintance of the young woman wrote to the BBC. Parshina’s mother declined to speak with the BBC about her daughter.
The FSB reported that the young woman was detained on Leningrad Street in Khabarovsk “near the train station.” According to a friend, [that was a coincidence]: she merely lived in the neighborhood. Leningrad Street is also the location of the prep school that Parshina attended and where she won academic competitions. [I was unable to access this link from my computer — TRR.]
In 2021, Parshina graduated from the Far Eastern State University of Railway Engineering (DVGUPS) with a degree in information systems and information technologies. “Novice web developer […] looking for remote work, but would also consider relocating,” she wrote about herself on LinkedIn.
After graduating from university, the young woman worked at the Khabarovsk Regional Compulsory Health Insurance Fund, said a former university classmate.
Friends of Parshina with whom the BBC spoke had lost contact with her in the winter. “[In February] some friend of hers wrote to me: he was also looking for her. I wrote to her wherever I could, but she didn’t reply to me,” one of them said. Another friend of Parshina from a group in which they played board games together claims that Parshina had not been in touch with him since late January.
The FSB alleged that Parshina was “an activist in the ‘I Am/We Are Furgal’ movement.” With this as their slogan, thousands of the region’s residents protested in support of ex-governor Sergei Furgal after his arrest [on murder charges] in the summer of 2020. In February of this year, Furgal was sentenced to 22 years in prison. According to the FSB, the Khabarovsk woman, motivated, allegedly, by “political hatred and enmity,” donated money to the Ukrainian armed forces for the purchase of weapons, ammunition, and uniforms. Now she is housed in the same Moscow prison as Furgal.
Parshina’s friends were not aware of her protest activities. “To be honest, I don’t think she was involved in that,” a former university classmate told the BBC. “I know that she was subscribed to various environmental activists and feminists on Instagram.”
Six months before his arrest, Furgal paid a visit to DVGUPS, where Parshina was studying at that time. There were many students in attendance, and the Khabarovsk Territory government published a report about the visit on its website. [This website seems to be blocked to users outside Russia — TRR.] Parshina is not in any of the photos of this event.
On March 13, Khabarovsk regional MP Sergei Bezdenezhnykh, a Furgal ally, wrote on his Telegram channel that “none of the I Am/We Are Furgal activists recognized the detainee.”
“As a member of the Furgal team, I can say that she has nothing to do with us. I have the sense that certain forces want to link financing of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the ex-governor’s name. The movement is not official, it is not registered anywhere. First and foremost, it is an indefinitely large group of people,” Bezdenezhnykh wrote. The Furgal team, he claims, supports Russia, not Ukraine.
The FSB alleges that Parshina donated “personal funds” to the Armed Forces of Ukraine on grounds of “political hatred and enmity,” without specifying at whom these feelings of hers were directed.
It was this motive that the Khabarovsk Regional Court had previously ruled an aggravating circumstance in another treason case. In the autumn of 2022, it sentenced Vyacheslav Mamukov to twelve and a half years in a maximum-security penal colony for, allegedly, attempting to sell information on the design of thirty Russian bridges to the Ukrainian special services.
Source: Sergei Goryashko and Ksenia Churmanova, “‘I want peace, to hug my mother, and to walk around Kyiv’: two stories of Russian women accused by FSB of financing the Ukrainian army,” BBC News Russian Service, 11 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader
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