A teacher in western Russia has been under criminal investigation since late March for making anti-war comments in class that were secretly recorded by students, according to an April 7 interview on Radio Liberty.
Irina Gen, 45, is an English teacher at an elite school for young domestic athletes, many of whom qualify for major championships abroad.
In an audio recording published on Telegram on March 31, a student asked Gen why Russia was banned from the upcoming European Multisport Championships.
“As long as Russia doesn’t behave in a civilized way, this will go on forever,” Gen replies in the recording. “They started bombing western Ukraine… They wanted to go to Kyiv, overthrow Zelensky and the government. By the way, this is a sovereign country. There is a sovereign government there.”
“Well, we don’t know all the details,” said one schoolgirl.
“Exactly! You (plural) know nothing. In fact, you know nothing,” Gen replied. “We’ve got a totalitarian regime here. Any kind of dissent is considered an ideological crime. We’ll all be kicked out in 15 years.”
The conversation was recorded March 18, according to Gen’s interview with Radio Liberty. She believes the parents of her students “convinced the children to make a recording and give it to the authorities.”
Authorities have warned: Gen said a Russian Federal Security Officer came to the school on March 23 and told her she “made a big mistake” in telling students about Russian attacks on infrastructure. civilian Ukrainians, including the Mariupol bombings – which Russian authorities have denied.
“I never thought someone could grovel their teacher or anyone else for that matter,” Gen told Radio Liberty. She resigned on April 1.
Threat of imprisonment: Gen is being investigated for violating a new censorship law that prohibits the spread of so-called “misinformation” that discredits the Russian military. It carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 5 million rubles (about $60,000).
Gen told Radio Liberty she hopes she will only be fined and not set as an example. “There’s definitely going to be a harsh trial waiting for me. And then a verdict, which will decide how I can start rebuilding my life,” she said.
CNN has reached out to Gen’s attorney for comment on the case. The Human Rights Media Project OVD-info said Gen is under house arrest.