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25.10.2006

Russian journalist fined for a satirical dig at Putin

   

The Chief Editor of the Internet publication “Kursiv” Vladimir Rakhmankov has been fined 20 thousand roubles for the publication on his site of his article “Putin as Russia’s phallic symbol”.

The ruling was handed down today, 24 October, by the Ivanovo Magistrate’s Court. The state prosecutor had demanded a fine of 40 thousand roubles, however the judge decided to halve this figure.

Vladimir Rakhmankov is planning to appeal the ruling.

The criminal investigation against Vladimir Rakhmankov was launched by the Ivanovo Regional Prosecutor’s office under Article 319 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Insulting public officials”) in connection with the publication of his article on the website “Kursiv” on 18 May 2006.  The article satirized one of the themes of a message by the President on increasing the birth rate in Russia. The pretext for the article was a report from the press service of the Ivanovo city administration about the reproduction of Przevalsky horses, ponies, lynx and long-legged buzzards in the local zoo. The author suggested that the animals had responded immediately to the President’s call.

After the publication of the article, Vladimir Rakhmankov began having problems with his hosting – the website was disconnected from the provider on the pretext that it was in debt (while it says that all payments had been made). In the middle of the summer the site again became available – “Kursiv” changed provider, however then the new provider also refused to provide its services to Rakhmankov without giving any reason. At the present time the website “Kursiv” is unavailable. The journalist informed the Ivanovo newspaper “Chastnik” that his Internet publication would soon be starting work again, however IA Regnum reported that Rakhmankov had been refused hosting services for a third time.

According to the journalist, after the publication on Rakhmankov’s personal site (rakhmankov.ru) of an article “Yakovleva doesn’t smoke very much” in which there was criticism of the President and ruling circle as a whole, the provider closed this website. The latter explained the step as being due to the fact that after the publication of the article, he had been summoned to the regional department of the FSB where they showed him a statement from one of the employees of the regional government. The statement said that the journalism of Vladimir Rakhmankov was undermining the foundation of the state. The provider, Rakhmankov says, had been advised “to not make unnecessary problems for himself.”

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