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Poet Byvshev from Oryol region was not allowed to become familiar with the methodology for identifying extremism in his poems

Daniil Kuznetsov

Investigators did not allow Alexander Byvshev, a poet from Kromy, Oryol region, to familiarize himself with the methodology used by language experts for analyzing his poems, which later on were defined as extremist. Byvshev posted a blog on «7x7» about it on July 24.

According to Byvshev, his poem was reviewed by language experts from Tula. In his blog, he described how he got acquainted with the case materials.

“I immediately paid attention to two points. First, these, for Christ sake, linguists for some reason did not study the full text of the poem but only its beginning – the first four lines. Secondly, in their report, they refer to the manual which most likely, does not exist in nature. In any case, it is not publicly available on the Internet, neither it is available in the Moscow State Public Library. As a response to our request to provide us with a copy of this manual, which the expertise was based on, we received an answer that this manual (in the number of 50 copies in the whole Russia!) is only for internal use. Thus, there is no way for us to check the conclusions of the experts. That is, they suggest that we just take their word for it”.

According to the poet, the Interior Ministry experts checked his verse “The Russian Spirit”.

Dmitry Dubrovsky, the expert of the Center for Independent Social Research, commented for «7x7» on the prosecution of Byshev and the requirements for the linguistic methodology.

“One of the requirements for an expertise is its verifiability, that is, the ability to check it. Any expert should be able to take the case materials and apply the same methods to the text to check to what extent it was applied correctly. If the investigators refer to the methodology “for internal use”, it can not be verified. So, investigators refer to some kind of secret knowledge, that flatly contradicts even the general sense of law enforcement. In our country, in extremism cases they confuse between the “language of war” and “hate speech”, even many experts are confused. “Hate speech” is the incitement to hatred towards certain groups, with the presence of calls for illegitimate violence, discrimination. Byvshev, on the contrary, describes the war. If we look at Ilya Ehrenburg's verses that he wrote during the Great Patriotic War, there clearly sounds: “If you see a German – kill him!”. Now we would say that this is a pure incitement. Or you can find extremism in Saltykov-Shchedrin's texts if you want. I think that Bystshev will beat in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), because recently there they proved the groundlessness of criminal punishment for harsher texts. If you watch, say, the First Channel, then their speeches, with more dangerous 'hate speech' are pronounced every day. They are only not rhymed”.

In 2015, Alexander Byvshev's poems “To Ukrainian Patriots” and “Ukrainian Insurgents” were recognized as extremist, the author was twice convicted and included in the list of terrorists and extremists by Rosfinmonitoring [The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation]. Due to this status, his bank accounts were blocked. He was dismissed from work in school back in 2014.

The ECHR communicated the complaint on the previous two verdicts in 2017. During the investigation of the third case (for verses “On the Independence of Ukraine”), two more criminal cases on extremism were made against Alexander Byvshev. He found out about his fifth case on April 3, from the press release of the Investigative Committee for the Oryol region. The investigators were interested in his poems “The Russian Spirit” and “Mighty Pile”, which were published on the website “Orlets”.

«7x7» reporter spent one day visiting Alexander Byvshev in Cromy.


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