Employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Karelia drew up an administrative offence report against a resident of Olonets for publishing prohibited symbols. The user of vk.com is sure that images of the forbidden symbols were not in the public domain. The resident of Olonets told 7x7 about it on April 2.
The Centre for Combating Extremism at the Ministry of Internal Affairs was interested in several images saved by a local resident named Ivan. They included:
- a photo of American criminal Charles Manson with a swastika tattoo on his forehead;
- a photo of a dish with a ketchup swastika on it;
- a photo of a cat with a Nazi order around its neck;
- a photo of a man with some swastika tattoos;
- a meme with a psychiatric attendant in a Wehrmacht cap, etc.
The reported resident of Olonets thought that the images that he had saved to his social network account were not in the public domain, because the administration of vk.com accounted for this in 2017. He changed the settings and made his entire account on vk.com private after the police visit.
Stanislav Seleznyov, a lawyer of the Agora Human Rights Group, told 7x7 that since March 2020, the police must have proved in court that the supposed offender had been promoting Nazism (and not just demonstrating its symbols) through the publication of a swastika:
— Since 2014, it has been enough for the courts to establish the fact of demonstrating the symbols of a ban to bring in the verdict of guilty. First, this has increased the popularity of using this article in order to increase the closure rate in extremist cases, and second, it led to many curious cases. However, since March 12, 2020, the situation has changed significantly. Now, the prosecution has to obtain a conclusion from specialists (a linguist, a historian, sometimes a culture expert) that would resolve questions about the presence or absence of signs of propaganda or justification of a prohibited ideology in the publication, as well as signs of a negative attitude towards this ideology, before submitting such a case to court. At the same time, it is impossible to give qualified answers to these questions without studying the context of the publication, captions to the picture or video, texts, the content of the whole thread or album of the user.
According to the report that was drawn up against the resident of Olonets, the police made an inspection report on his page on March 11, 2020 — the day before the law changes came into force.
According to the statistics from the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Russian courts considered about 1,700 cases of prohibited symbols’ demonstration in the first half of 2019.
A citizen who has been fined for publishing prohibited symbols loses his eligibility (he cannot run for Deputy) for a year under law. According to lawyer Seleznyov, the authorities took advantage of this in order to debar activists who often drew historical parallels between authoritarian regimes in their blogs from elections.