Human Rights Activists convicted for Facebook posts

Peaceful Assembly

On 1st December 2018, anti-war activists gathered in Moscow to protest and to show discontent in relation to the deteriorating relations between Moscow and Kiev after Russia captured Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea and arrested the crew. According to reports, the rally was disrupted by representatives of the SERB pro-Kremlin movement. After the incident, the demonstrators decided to change the location of their protest and gathered in front of the Presidential Administration building. 

In addition, on the same day, several protest actions took place in support of the Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentzov, who was jailed on charges of plotting terrorist acts in Crimea.

Expression

Lev Ponomaryov, human rights activist and the executive director of the organisation "For Human Rights", was sentenced to 25 days in administrative detention. Ponomaryov was on trial for a Facebook post he published in October 2018 calling for a peaceful rally to support several young activists that were arrested under Russian “anti-extremism” and “anti-terrorism” laws. Ponomaryov was charged on 2nd December 2018 with “repeated violation” of the Russian law on public assemblies as the protest action was deemed unauthorised by the authorities. Amnesty International stated

“After speaking out against the injustices suffered by others at the hands of Russia’s so-called justice system, Lev Ponomarev is now its latest victim. For the Russian authorities, Ponomarev’s outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights equates him to a criminal. By locking him up over a Facebook post, written in support of a peaceful rally, the authorities have shown they will stop at nothing to crush freedoms in Russia.”

In a separate development, on 7th December 2018, Emil Kurbedinov, human rights lawyer in Crimea, was sentenced to five days of administrative detention under Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation for “propagandising for extremist organisations”. The conviction comes after he was charged for a Facebook post published in 2013 that the court considered "displayed symbols of the terrorist organisation Hizb-ut Tahrir”. In his support, on 11th December 2018,  a few hundreds of Crimean Tatars gathered in the streets of Simferopol waiting for his release. 

Restrictive legislation 

On 12th December 2018 a new legislative initiative was introduced in the State Duma. The proposal seeks to ban any publication "spreading false information" or "expressing obvious disrespect" for society and state officials. Violations of these regulations will be punishable with fines of 30,000-50,000 rubles, ($450-750) for individuals, and 400,000-1,000,000 rubles, ($6,000-15,000) for legal entities.