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Published in Press Stream:
June 17, 2016

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Published in Stream:
June 17, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
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Novaya Gazeta reports that the Tyumen Central District Court in Western Siberia ordered the arrest of blogger Aleksei Kungurov, making his pre-trial restriction more severe as he had originally been released after signing a pledge not to leave town.

The judge said Kungurov "might influence witnesses" or "go into hiding" as he had already twice flown to Moscow to take part in a conference "without permission" although he said he had verbally notified investigators of his trips.

Kungurov is accused of "justifying the Islamic State, a terrorist organization banned in Russia." He denies the charge and says there is nothing in his writings that qualifies as such. 

Instead, he was detained the day after writing that Russia should "admit its guilt for the perishing of the Malaysian Boeing" (MH17) and "Pay compensation to the families of those killed."

Kungurov is among the founders of January 25, a group of ultranationalists including Col. Igor Strelkov, former commander of the forces of the self-declared "Donetsk People's Republic," Eduard Limonov of the National Bolshevik party and Stepan Sulakshin, a Tomsk politician and former deputy and presidential commission in Tomsk Region who is now the director of the Center for Scientific Political Thought and Ideology.

Several other Russians have been arrested or sentenced for their social media posts, AP reported last month. Andrei Bubeyev, an electrician from Tver who enjoyed online political debates was first sentenced to one year in prison for "inciting hatred of Russians" for posting a picture of a toothpaste tube with the phrase "Squeeze Russia out of yourself!"  

Later, his sentence was extended by another year and three months with charges of "acts of extremism" and "actions undermining Russia's territorial integrity" because he published material about the Ukrainian Azov volunteer battalion and a video describing Russia as a "fascist aggressor" and showing Russian tanks purportedly crossing into Ukraine.  A local TV show said that social media users like Bubeyev were supporting Ukrainian troops and were "ready to back a coup in Russia and take up arms and kill people as the Nazis did."

Novaya Gazeta also reported that Vadim Tyumentsev, a video blogger was sentenced to 5 years in a standard-regimen labor colony for a 3-minute video. Some years ago, he had founded an organization that opposed the draft and distributed leaflets against Russia's invasion of Georgia, then later opposed the war in Ukraine and was critical of the "people's republics" there. He also advocated the federalization of Siberia, which Russian authorities have viewed as "separatism." A number of his videos such as "What are we fighting for, brother Slavs?" are still on YouTube.

Tyumentsev says in the video:

"Since Ukraine could not manage to nationalize the Soviet residents of Ukraine in 23 years, Putin is trying to fascitize them into Russians along with the territories where they reside."

As we reported last month, Maksim Kormelitsky from Novosibirsk, was sentenced to 1.3 years after Russian Orthodox believers filed a complaint about his post on VKontakte that they said "insulted" religious people.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick