Legal Case of the Week: Oleg Novozhenin

posted 7 Dec 2015, 03:01 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Dec 2015, 07:39 ]
On 1 December 2015 for the first time a Russian court handed out a real prison sentence to a social media user, Oleg Novozhenin, on charges of ‘propaganda of extremism.’  Oleg Novozhenin, an internet user who lives in the Siberian town of Surgut, has been sentenced to one-year in prison for distributing “extremist materials” on social networks, under Article 282 of the Russian criminal code. Global Voices has cited Russian media reports that Oleg Novozhenin had previously posted audio and video files ' “promoting the activity” of Ukrainian nationalist party organization “Right Sector” (currently banned in Russia) and the right-wing “Azov” volunteer battalion.' According to Rossiisky Dialog, the FSB argued that postings by Oleg Novozhenin contained 'incitement to violence and hatred towards a specific group of people.' Novaya gazeta reports that the FSB 'discovered on the VKontakte page [of Oleg Novozhenin] extremist videos and audio files "propagandizing the ideology of racism, violence, separatist and revolutionary moods among young people.' Radio Svoboda reports that Oleg Novozhenin admitted he was guilty of the offence as charged. As Global Voices has reported, this was not the first time RuNet users have been charged with extremism-related crimes for online activity. However, previously, similar charges mostly resulted in fines or suspended sentences:

'Charges of “incitement to extremism,” coupled with increasingly restrictive public assembly and protest regulations, are what tends to land users in hot water. A retweet of an image, a republished post on VKontakte and even an anti-fascist Donald Duck cartoon can cost Russian citizens unfettered access to the Internet. Article 282 of the criminal code presents a fairly vague definition of what amounts to “promoting extremism” and is broadly applied as a censorship tool. Together with other repressive laws, it has resulted in a handful of court cases, but in most of them, the court proceedings have ended with suspended sentences, administrative penalties, or fines. Now, the Surgut court verdict has created the first precedent of a real prison sentence for “extremist” activity online.'

Picture source: Website of government of Russia

Tetyana Lokot, 'Russia Sees Its First Real Prison Sentence for ‘Promoting Extremism’ on Social Media, Global Voices, 1 December 2012
Игорь Лесовских, 'В России впервые назначено реальное лишение свободы за пропаганду экстремизма в соцсетях,' Kommersant, 1 December 2015
'Russia Hands Out First Prison Term for Distributing Extremist Materials,' The Moscow Times, 1 December 2015
'Жителя Сургута приговорили к году колонии за "экстремизм в соцсетях",'  Радио Свобода, 1 December 2015
'В России впервые на год осужден сторонник "Правого сектора" за публикацию "В Контакте",' Российский Диалог, 1 December 2015
Георгий Бородянский, 'Жителя Сургута приговорили к году колонии-поселения за поддержку «Правого сектора»,' Новая газета, 1 December 2015
'Олег Новоженин,' Герои воли, 1 December 2015