Legal Case of the Week: Anton Nosik

posted 19 Dec 2016, 08:04 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Dec 2016, 08:05 ]
On 15 December 2016, Moscow City Court reduced the fine imposed on blogger and Internet entrepreneur Anton Nosik, who had been convicted of extremism, from 500,000 roubles (approximately $8,000) to 300,000 roubles (approximately $4,800), RAPSI has reported. In October 2016 Anton Nosik had been convicted of 'extremism' under Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code for views he expressed about events in Syria in the radio programme 'Osoboe mnenie' on the radio station Ekho Moskvy. Nosik said: 'I consider that if the name of Syria disappears from the map, it won't be bad for anyone, just the opposite. In fact, a country like that should be wiped of the face of the earth, just as once Nazi Germany was destroyed and is no longer on the map.' Prosecutors had asked for Anton Nosik to be sentenced to a term of two years in prison. That day, Anton Nosik published the same sentiments in a post on LiveJournal, entitled 'To wipe Syria off the face of the earth.' A judge sitting in Presnensky district court in Moscow one year later found that Nosik's post had been intended to incite enmity and hatred of a group of individuals ('the Syrians') on the ground of ethnic origin and territorial location, which contravenes Article 282. Anton Nosik had pleaded not guilty to the charges on the grounds that the post he had distributed on the Internet contained his private opinion. After sentencing, Anton Nosik pointed out that the fine of 500,000 roubles was the largest ever issued under Article 282. 

Anton Nosik has since launched a campaign to abolish Article 282. As Isaac Webb writing on Global Voices points out, Nosik 'submitted his proposal to “Russian Public Initiative” (ROI), a website designed to filter proposals from the private citizens through to the federal government. Nearly two months later, he received a response from ROI saying that his proposal had been approved and that a petition would be posted on the website beginning on November 30. Russian citizens over 18 years old who register through a government portal will be able to vote for or against the petition until November 30, 2017. The proposal needs 100,000 supporting votes in order to be sent to the federal government for discussion.'

Isaac Webb provides a translation of the petition, which reads as follows:

Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, “actions aimed at the incitement of hatred or enmity” is formulated in such a way that it allows for a huge amount of abuse, arbitrary interpretation, and lays the groundwork for the prosecution of “thought crimes.” There is not a single document and not a single court decision that spells out which statements qualify as “extremism” and which are constitutionally protected as freedom of speech. In recent years, we have seen a constant increase in the number of times this article has been used to prosecute dissidents, to suppress freedom of the press, including of personal accounts that criticize regional security officials and their public activity. There have also been a number of times that completely random people have been prosecuted under this article simply “for show,” as part of the security services’ “fight against extremism.” In the 21 years of its existence, this article has been rewritten numerous times, and every time it becomes more severe. Still, however, it does not contain a clear definition of “extremism.”

Photo: Wikipedia

'Russian court reduces fine for blogger sentenced for extremism,' RAPSI, 15 December 2016
Isaac Webb, 'Russian Blogger Launches Campaign to Annul Anti-Extremism Law He Was Convicted of Violating,' Global Voices, 3 December 2016
Anton Nosik, 'Стереть Сирию с лица Земли,' LiveJournal, 1 October 2015
Gennady Zubov, '500 тысяч с Носика,', 3 October 2016