Memorial recognizes prosecution of Novosibirsk region resident Maksim Kormelitsky to be politically motivated

posted 9 Sept 2016, 10:32 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 9 Sept 2016, 10:33 ]
8 September 2016

Source: Memorial Human Rights Centre

Maksim Kormelitsky, a resident of the town of Berdsk, Novosibirsk region, has been convicted of an offence under Article 282, Section 1 (inciting hatred or enmity, as well as degrading human dignity on the basis of religious belief) of the Russian Criminal Code on the grounds that he posted on his page ‘Maks Sever’, in the VKontakte social network, ‘an image of people swimming in an ice hole, containing obscenities and references to religion…accessible for viewing by users of the Internet’.

On 31 May 2016 Judge Tatyana Vasiukhnevich sentenced Kormelitsky to one year in prison. Taking into account the fact that Kormelitsky had been sentenced on 29 January 2014 under Article 207 (making an intentionally false report of an act of terrorism) of the Russian Criminal Code to two years in prison, which he had not yet finished serving, Vasiukhnevich ordered that Kormelitsky serve one year three months in a low security prison colony. On 10 August the sentenced entered into force. At present Kormelitsky is under travel restrictions imposed until he has arrived at the prison colony.

According to Sova Centre, the image posted by Kormelitsky ‘does not present any danger and gave no grounds for criminal prosecution.’ It is clear that the text accompanying the image does not contain calls to violence or discrimination. Kormelitsky himself points out that he was the only one to be convicted for posting this picture, although at least 70 other VKontakte users did the same, and he was prosecuted because his page attracted the attention of the notorious Orthodox activist from Novosibirsk, Yury Zadoya, who wrote a complaint to the police.

Kormelitsky has been sentenced to a term in prison solely with regard to the non-violent exercise of the freedom of expression of opinion, in violation of the right to free trial and other rights and freedoms guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, in the absence of any evidence of a crime.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not mean that the Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves of an individual’s views, statements or actions.

For more information about this case, please see here.