Person of the Week: Ekaterina Vologzheninova

posted 29 Feb 2016, 07:25 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 29 Feb 2016, 07:27 ]
On 20 February 2016 a court in the city of Ekaterinburg sentenced local shop assistant Ekaterina Vologzheninova to 320 hours of 'corrective labour' for ‘inciting hatred and enmity’ by means of online criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass in the east of Ukraine, Human Rights in Ukraine has reported. Ekaterina Vologzheninova, a single mother and a sole carer for her elderly mother, will appeal against the ruling. Ekaterina Vologzheninova has told Amnesty International that her account on VKontakte (VK) was not public and only accessible to friends. She browsed Ukrainian media because she was looking for alternative information to that provided by the state-controlled television and other media in Russia, and shared some publications from Ukraine on her personal page. 

Amnesty International has issued an 'Urgent Action' notice on the case calling on the Russian authorities to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression for all persons in Russia, and to review Ekaterina Vologzheninova’s conviction, ensuring that it is overturned, as she is being prosecuted solely for exercising her right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International has also stated that Ekaterina Vologzheninova's name must be immediately removed from the official List of Terrorists and Extremists held by Rosfinmonitoring (the official Russian agency which combats money laundering and terrorism funding) - and that her bank account and cards must be unblocked.

In the same statement Amnesty International notes an increase in the number of Internet users prosecuted for the peaceful expression of critical views on Russia’s current politics under Article 280 of the Criminal Code (“public calls to commit extremist activities”) and Article 282 (“publicly inciting hatred or enmity as well as denigrating human dignity”). The organization says that criminal sanctions for private social media posts is an excessive and disproportionate punishment under international human rights standards, infringing on the right to freedom of expression. 

Photo: RFE/RL (Denis Prorubov)

Halya Coynash, 'Russian convicted of ’inciting enmity’ for criticizing Putin’s war against Ukraine, Human Rights in Ukraine, 22 February 2016