Legal Case of the Week: Aleksei Kungurov

posted 28 Dec 2016, 02:54 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 Dec 2016, 02:54 ]
On 20 December 2016 blogger Aleksei Kungurov was convicted and imprisoned for 2.5 years by a court in Tiumen for a post criticizing the government’s military operation in Syria. As RFE/RL reported, prosecutors said Kungurov's blog was sympathetic to terrorism and the court found Kungurov guilty of 'publicly justifying terrorism.' The blog post had been published soon after the beginning o f Russia's intervention in Syria last year. RFE/RL describes Kungurov as 'an activist who has been involved with strident nationalist and anti-Western groups, argued in the October 2015 post that the extremist group Islamic State (IS), which is banned in Russia, had characteristics of an actual government. He also asserted that President Vladimir Putin's intervention was aimed primarily at propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and not, as the Kremlin has said, defeating IS militants and other "terrorists" in the country.' RFE/RL notes that the Sova Center, based in Moscow, said there was nothing illegal in Kungurov's post. The Memorial Human Rights Centre included Kungurov in its list of 'political prisoners.'

The day Kungurov was convicted, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement calling on Russian authorities to release him. Nina Ognianova, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said"We call on Russian authorities in Tyumen to immediately release Aleksei Kungurov and drop all charges against him. Since the Kremlin's control over traditional media is nearly absolute, blogs have become an important platform in Russia for independent reporting, analysis, commentary, debate, and information-sharing. Now authorities are contracting that space as well."

Photo of Aleksei Kungurov: RFE/RL

'Russian Blogger Convicted, Imprisoned For Post Criticizing Syria Intervention,' RFE/RL, 20 December 2016
'Russia jails blogger over post criticizing military action in Syria,' Committee to Protect Journalists, 20 December 2016