Stomakhin, editor of the small-circulation monthly newspaper Radikalnaya Politika (Radical Politics), was imprisoned on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and making public calls to extremist activity. The Butyrsky District Court of Moscow sentenced him to five years behind bars in November 2006. The journalist, his family, and his defense team said his imprisonment was in retaliation for his sharp criticism of the Kremlin’s policies in the southern republic of Chechnya.
In her ruling, Judge Lyubov Ishmuratova said Stomakhin’s articles “approved Chechen terrorists’ criminal actions aimed at the annihilation of the Russian people as an ethnic group.” The ruling quoted him as writing: “Let tens of new Chechen snipers take their positions in the mountain ridges and the city ruins and let hundreds, thousands of aggressors fall under righteous bullets! No mercy! Death to the Russian occupiers! … The Chechens have the full moral right to bomb everything they want in Russia.”
Stomakhin, who had pleaded not guilty, said he was “tried for his views and not for any real crime. … In the articles, I expressed my opinion, with which people were free to agree or disagree,” the news agency RIA-Novosti reported. He said an opinion was not a “call to action.”
Police arrested Stomakhin in March 2006, a day after he fell from the window of his fourth-floor Moscow apartment while trying to elude police, according to local press reports. He broke both his legs and suffered a back injury. After his conviction, Stomakhin was placed in a prison colony in the village of Burepolom, Nizhny Novgorod region.
In February 2008, the Tonshaevsky Regional Court denied an appeal for Stomakhin’s early release, the Moscow-based For Human Rights group told Kavkazsky Uzel. Representatives of the group met with him briefly and told the press they were concerned about the journalist’s health; the fall from the window in 2006 had left him with a permanent limp and spinal cord damage.
Two other appeals for early release, made in 2009, were also denied. In 2010, a website dedicated to Stomakhin’s defense described harsh conditions, including insufficient heating, in the Burepolom prison colony.