Russian methods: Calls for Crimea’s return to Ukraine could get you imprisoned
Following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, residents of the Crimea or people in Russia calling for action in support of the Crimea being part of Ukraine could face enormous fines, or even imprisonment for up to 5 years. Vladimir Putin has now signed a law to include the Crimea and Sevastopol as 84th and 85th regions of the Russian Federation.
This "law" completing annexation of Ukrainian territory is not recognized by Ukraine or by western countries which have condemned the supposed referendum of March 16. However from May 9 the above-mentioned calls to action will result in major fines or imprisonment. This is in accordance with a Russian Federation law signed by Putin on Dec 20 2013 and coming into force from May 9. This adds Article 280.1 "Public calls to carry out actions aimed at violating the Russian Federation’s territorial integrity" to Russia’s Criminal Code. From May 9 onwards calls for Russia to stop violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and for action against the Russian annexation will face penalties ranging from a fine of up to 300 thousand roubles (which the report here describes as 2 years’ income) to a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years if such calls were published in the media or Internet.
The law also mentions "calls to carry out extremist actions" with the definition of what constitutes "extremism" being at best loose. Vsevolod Sazonov, a Russian advocate points out that there has already been a Supreme Court ruling on cases involving "extremist crimes". This takes public calls to be any address, regardless of the format to other people aimed at "calling on them to extremism." It is immaterial whether the person, protesting against the Crimea’s annexation, succeeded in spurring other people to engage in such "extremism".