Legal Case of the Week: Vladimir Luzgin

posted 4 Jul 2016, 03:54 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Jul 2016, 04:00 ]
On 30 June 2016 Vladimir Luzgin was convicted and fined 200,000 roubles for reposting on his social network page a text stating the USSR invaded Poland in 1939. As Halya Coynash writes in Human Rights in Ukraine, "37-year-old Vladimir Luzgin has been convicted and fined 200 thousand roubles for reposting on his social network page a text which correctly states that the Soviet Union, in collaboration with the Nazis, invaded Poland in 1939. A Russian prosecutor claimed and a court in Perm accepted that Luzgin was guilty of posting 'knowingly false information'. Kommersant reports that Luzgin is the first person in the Perm region (and probably in Russia) to face criminal prosecution under a highly controversial law envisaging anything from fines to five years’ imprisonment for so-called ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’. The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in May 2014, was an earlier opus from Yelena Yarovaya, co-author of a recently adopted and terrifying repressive ‘anti-terrorist bill’. The law claims to be aimed at opposing the glorification of Nazism and distortion of historical memory. The renowned Sova Centre disagrees and believes its aim is to prohibit historical discussion." 

The Moscow Times reports that the article, entitled '15 Facts on Banderovtsy, Or What the Kremlin Is Silent About,' was reposted by Luzgin in 2014 and since then had been viewed by 20 users. The court ruled that the repost contained 'deliberately false information' about a joint attack on Poland carried out by German and Soviet forces in 1939. The Moscow Times states that 'Luzgin was declared guilty in publicly denying facts that were established by the International Military Tribunal during the Nuremberg trials. The court has also described Luzgin, who graduated from school with a ‘B’ grade in history, as educated enough to understand falsity of the information in the article.'

Halya Coynash in Human Rights in Ukraine notes that 'In fact, the Perm ruling effectively criminalizes mention of inconvenient historical fact.' She also points out that the dean of Perm University’s History Faculty Aleksander Vertinsky appeared as a witness for the prosecution and claimed that the material contained 'statements that do not correspond with the position accepted at international level. Even if the statements which Luzgin only reposted on his personal VKontakte page had been incorrect, the criminal prosecution would be extremely disturbing.' She also notes that, 'At a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10, 2015, Putin defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, claiming that the Soviet Union was being left to face Hitler’s Germany by itself.'

Halya Coynash, 'Russian fined for reposting that the USSR & Nazi Germany invaded Poland,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 1 July 2016
Natalya Zemlina, '37-летнего пермяка осудили за реабилитацию нацизма,', 30 June 2016
Maksim Strugov, 'Ссылка в Нюрнберг,' Kommersant, 30 June 2016
'Man in Russia's Perm Fined for "Nazism Rehabilitation",' The Moscow Times, 1 July 2016