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When they try you for your words


An artist from Syktyvkar (the Komi Republic) has been officially charged with inciting hatred towards the police. The local police did not appreciate criticism that the latter expressed on the Internet.

Human rights defenders maintain that the law enforcement officers are simply using the “anti-extremism law” for their own ends, while those really inciting inter-ethnic enmity via the Internet act with impunity and are flourishing.

Last Thursday the Syktyvkar Prosecutor charged Savva Terentyev under Article 282 § 1 of the RF Criminal Code (inciting hatred or enmity, as well as denigrating a person”). Terentyev could face anything from a fine of 200 thousand roubles to two years penal colony.

The unflattering remarks addressed at the work of the police were written in February on Live Journal. In his entry, Terentyev compared law enforcement officers with representatives of marginal youth elements and suggested a medieval way of exerting influence on police officers.

The police decided that they had been insulted and launched a criminal investigation, in the course of which they visited his home and removed his computer.

Savva Terentyev says that even if they impose a fine, he doesn’t have that sort of money. The blogger is also indignant as to the grounds for charging him since not one expert assessment has proven that he wrote the text.

There have been two court linguistic assessments made.  The first was not to the prosecutor’s liking, since the expert found that Terentyev had only expressed his opinion. The second was more obliging and found “social enmity” in the utterances. To establish authorship, the investigators used Terentyev’s school notebooks which he had blithely copied from textbooks, yet charges were laid on the basis of this.

Savva Terentyev is convinced that the police have blown up this case because the harsh words annoyed them. The Director of the Fund for the Defence of Glasnost Alexei Smirnov agrees that the police are pursuing their own ends and is outraged that a person is being tried for expressing his personal opinion, and on the Internet at that.

Meanwhile openly xenophobic publications appearing on the Internet are spreading like wildfire. One especially notorious case which has just made the headlines involves a video clip demonstrating the brutal killing of a person from Tajikistan and another from Dagestan, committed against the background of a flag with a swastika.

Svetlana Gannushkina, Director of the Civic Assistance Committee: is pessimistic:  “I doubt if anything will be done about it. The law enforcement agencies usually treat such cases with special care and try to avoid the defendants receiving punishment. This is encouraged today and nobody speaks out against it”.

Based on an article in Novye Izvestia

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