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The Russian authorities should protect freedom of expression

posted 16 Feb 2012, 13:02 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 6 Mar 2012, 22:24 ]
On 14 February a painting by the artist Aleksandr Savko ‘Sermon on the Mount’ from a cycle of works entitled ‘Mickey Mouse’s Travels through Art History’ was ruled to be extremist by Kaluga regional court. The legal representative of Aleksandr Savko pointed out that from this moment dissemination of 'Sermon on the Mount' will come under Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code (‘Producing and disseminating extremist materials’). For bloggers and owners of websites this could lead to a fine of up to 3,000 roubles or 15 days in prison, combined with confiscation of the computer. For legal persons, including media, there could be a fine of up to 100,000 roubles and closure for up to 90 days, combined with confiscation of the organization’s computers. People who publish this picture themselves could risk facing criminal charges for extremism (Articles 280, 282 of the Criminal Code of Russia). These restrictions on freedom of expression are in violation of Russian law and Russia's international obligations. The Russian authorities must act to protect freedom of expression.