Person of the Week: Olga Li

posted 11 Apr 2016, 06:58 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Apr 2016, 06:58 ]
On 1 April 2016 investigators in Kursk region launched a hate crime investigation against regional lawmaker Olga Li for her criticism of President Putin. As reports, the Kursk region Duma deputy and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Narodnyi zhurnalist (‘People’s Journalist’) Olga Li has been called in for questioning by the Investigative Committee. A few days after she strongly criticised the president at the beginning of March in a video she uploaded on to YouTube (which by 1 April had garnered more than 210,000 views), two criminal cases were brought against her. They were consolidated into a single case at the end of last week. The two cases are the alleged defamation of Liudmila Shurova, a judge at Kursk’s Leninsky district court (Article 298.1, Section 1 of the Criminal Code), and 'the incitement of hatred or enmity on the grounds of belonging to the social group of government officials' (Article 282, Section 1 of the Criminal Code). RFE/RL reports that 'investigators in Kursk region said in an April 1 statement that a linguistic analysis of social-media texts and online videos posted by lawmaker Olga Li concluded that her language "is aimed at degrading the dignity" of government representatives. If convicted, she could face up to two years in prison.' RFE/RL also points out that, as a Kursk news portal noted, Li has 'regularly criticized regional and federal officials but had never faced criminal investigations until she published the video attacking Putin.' Olga Li's lawyer, Roman Lyzlov, says: 'She is being persecuted for publicly expressing her opinion. There is absolutely no evidence of defamation or extremism.' 

As reports, Olga Li herself says: “I am mostly being criticised for the fact that I do not support Russia’s annexation of Crimea and I insult Putin. I have been condemned by the deputies of every party. A KPRF deputy said that my words regarding the illegal annexation of Crimea are dividing the country and at this difficult time we need to stand together on the subject of Crimea. The deputy suggested that I publicly apologise and retract what I said. I replied that the actions of the current government are leading the country to war. I do not want this and will not abandon my convictions. I voiced my own value judgements, which is my right. I was prepared for problems and will tackle them as they arise.”

'Journalist Olga Li called in for questioning by Investigative Committee,' in English, 5 April 2016
'Russian Regional Lawmaker Who Criticized Putin Targeted In Hate-Speech Probe,' RFE/RL, 1 April 2016
'Russian Politician Faces 'Hate Speech' Probe After Criticizing Putin,' RFE/RL, 7 April 2016