Legal Case of the Week: Vladimir Luzgin

posted 13 Mar 2017, 07:25 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Mar 2017, 08:19 ]
On 3 March 2017 reports said the blogger Vladimir Luzgin, fined for stating that both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had invaded Poland in 1939, has applied to the European Court of Human Rights against his conviction. Halya Coynash writing for Human Rights in Ukraine on 6 March said, Luzgin "was left no alternative after Russia’s Supreme Court agreed that this unpalatable truth constituted ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’." Luzgin, who is from Perm, was convicted on 30 June 2016 and fined 200,000 roubles for reposting on his social network page an article entitled, ‘15 facts about Bandera supporters, or what the Kremlin is silent about’." 

Halya Coynash wrote: "The Ukrainian theme, especially with respect to the Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, would have almost certainly attracted FSB [Russian security service] attention to Luzgin back in September 2015, however the criminal charges were brought over the following lines: 'The communists and Germany jointly invaded Poland, sparking off the Second World War. That is, communism and Nazism closely collaborated…' The first court considered this to be 'knowingly false information,' claiming as justification that the statement contradicted the facts set out in the Nuremberg Tribunal sentences. That verdict was upheld by Russia’s Supreme Court on September 16, 2016, the 77th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s s invasion of Poland, 17 days before the anniversary of the Soviet invasion from the east." 

Luzgin became the first person to be convicted under Article 354.1 of the Russian Criminal Code. This law on ‘Rehabilitation of Nazism’, officially authored by Iryna Yarovaya, was signed into force on 5 May 2014. The law introduced a sentence of up to 3 years imprisonment for "public denial or approval of the facts established by the sentence of the Nuremberg Tribunal." As Coynash notes, "The same norm makes it possible to prosecute somebody for 'spreading knowingly false information about the activities of the USSR during the years of the Second World War'." In his application to the European Court of Human Rights, Luzgin alleges violations of Articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 7 (no punishment without law) of the European Convention. Luzgin is represented by Kirill Koroteev, senior lawyer at the Memorial Human Rights Centre. 

Halya Coynash, 'Blogger fined for saying the USSR invaded Poland in 1939 takes Russia to Court in Strasbourg,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 6 March 2017
Анна Пушкарская, Евгений Хвостик, 'Страсбургский суд разберется с решениями Нюрнбергского трибунала,' Kommersant, 3 March 2017
'Legal Case of the Week: Vladimir Luzgin,' Rights in Russia, 4 July 2016
German and Soviet officers in Brest, 1939, Wikipedia