The Kremlin’s repression calms the war resistance, harmless first courageous

Former police officer discusses Russian invasion Talking on the phone. A priest who preached in his congregation about the suffering of the Ukrainians. The student who raised the banner without words – just star symbols.

Hundreds of Russians face charges for speaking out Against the war in Ukraine since the enactment of the repressive law last month banning the spread of “false information” about the invasion and the defamation of the military.

Human rights groups say at least 23 people have been convicted of “misinformation” and sentenced to more than 500 years in prison, and more than 500 are facing charges of defaming the military. They led to hefty fines or are expected to result in them.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Tamir Keinudinov, chairman of the Net Freedom Legal Aid Group, which focuses on “large sums, unprecedented amounts of cases” and independent speech cases, said:

The Kremlin has been trying to control the story of the war since the moment its troops entered Ukraine.. It called the attack a “special military operation” and increased pressure on the independent Russian media, calling it a “war” or “invasion” that blocked access to many news sites that deviated from the official line.

Massive arrests halted anti-war protests, turning them from a daily occurrence into a rare event in large cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg.

However, reports of police arrests of protesters in various Russian cities are almost daily.

Even seemingly innocuous acts led to arrests.

A man was detained in Moscow for possessing a copy of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” near the World War II monument inscribed “Kiev” for the city’s heroic stand against Nazi Germany. Another is said to have been detained for possessing a packet of sliced ​​ham from meat producer Miradork, which crossed the second half of the name and was spelled “Mir” – “Peace” in Russian.

The law against spreading “fake news” about the war or defaming the military was passed by parliament on the same day and went into effect immediately, effectively exposing anyone who criticizes the conflict to fines and imprisonment.

The first publicly known criminal cases involving “fakes” targeted public figures such as Russian-language cookbook author and well-known expatriate blogger Veronica Belotserkovskaya and television journalist, film director and former lawmaker Alexander Nevsorov.

Both were accused of posting “false information” about Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine on their widely-followed social media pages – Moscow vehemently denied that Russian forces should only target targeted military targets.

But then the scope of the repression expanded, and the police caught anyone.

Former police officer Sergei Klovkov was detained and remanded in custody after discussing the war with his friends over the phone. His wife, Meduza, told the news site that in a casual conversation at home, Klogov, who was born in Irbine, near Kyiv, and his father, who lived in Ukraine despite Russian troops rolling in, condemned the invasion.

Klovkov faces up to 10 years in prison for spreading false information about the Russian Armed Forces.

St. Petersburg artist Sasha Skolichenko faces up to 10 years in prison on a similar charge: he exchanged price tags with anti-war flyers at a grocery store. On Wednesday, the court ordered that Skolichenko be remanded in custody for 1 1/2 months.

The Rev. Fr. Ion Burdin was fined 35,000 rubles ($ 432) for publishing an anti-war statement on his church’s website and for “insulting the Russian armed forces.” He speaks to a dozen people during a service about the pain he felt about people dying in Ukraine.

Burdin’s speech to the AP elicited mixed reactions. “He created a scene where I was talking (it) when a woman just came to pray,” he said, adding that he believed he was one of those who heard the sermon he reported to the police.

Marat Krachev, director of an Apple product repair shop in Moscow, got into trouble when he was shown a link to an online petition saying “No to war” on the store’s screen. Several customers expressed support when they saw it, but an elderly man demanded that it be removed, and Khrushchev threatened to report it to authorities.

Police were soon shown, and Khrushchev was accused of insulting the military. The court ordered him to pay a fine of 100,000 rubles ($ 1,236).

Another court ruled in favor of Dmitry Resnikov, a Moscow student, for displaying a blank piece of paper with eight-star symbols, which in Russian could be interpreted as “no war” – a popular slogan of the protesters. The court found him guilty of defaming the armed forces and fined him 50,000 rubles ($ 618) for possessing the identity in central Moscow, a protest that took place in mid-March, just seconds before police arrested him.

“This is a theater of absurdity,” his lawyer Oleg Filatsev told the AP.

A St. Petersburg court last week fined Order Dmitriev for a sign with quotes from President Vladimir Putin from last year’s Victory Day parade marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II – briefly omitting a few words.

“The war brought with it many unbearable challenges, sorrows and tears that cannot be forgotten. There is no apology or justification for those who pursue re-occupation plans, ”Putin was quoted as saying by the Kremlin’s website.

Dmitriev was fined 30,000 rubles for insulting the Russian military. It prompted him to post on Facebook on Friday: “Vladimir Putin’s phrase and he himself are insulting the targets of the Russian armed forces. From this moment on, Roskomnadzor (Internet and Media Controller) must block all of Putin’s speeches, and genuine patriots – remove his portraits from their offices.

Net Freedoms’ Gainutdinov said that nothing about the military or Ukraine can target a person. The lawyer added that even the wearing of the blue and gold cap of the Ukrainian flag or the green ribbon as a symbol of peace has been found to be a disgrace to the military.

Resnikov, who appealed his sentence for the poster with the asterisks, said the repression was frightening. After his first misdemeanor, the second strike could lead to a criminal case and up to three years in prison.

Both appellant Burdin and Khrushchev received more donations than their fines.

“I realized how important this was and how valuable it was to get support,” Krachev said.

Burdin said the publicity about his case had spread his message beyond the dozen or more people who had initially heard his sermon – officials were expecting him to be fined.

“It can not be called anything other than the blessing of God,” the priest added. “The words I said reached many.”


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