: Russian activist gets three years in jail for claiming Crimea is Ukraine

10:00 May. 6, 2016

Russian activist gets three years in jail for claiming Crimea is Ukraine

Russian web activists face jail terms (Getty Images photo)

Andrey Bubeyev was found guilty of 'extremism aimed to undermine Russia's territorial integrity'

Zavolzhskiy district court in the Russian city of Tver sentenced a local citizen Andrey Bubeyev for reposting in Vkontakte social network an article claiming "Crimea is Ukraine" to two years three months in a penal colony.

The verdict was announced on May 5 after the court debate, Bubeyev's lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina reported from the courtroom, according to RFE/RL.

Bubeyev was charged with public calls to commit extremism and activities aimed at "violation of the territorial integrity of Russia."

Read also Young Russian activist who protested annexation of Crimea commits suicide

Persecution was launched after the man reposted an article titled Crimea is Ukraine" originally posted by a publicist Boris Stomakhin and an image on the same subject on his profile page on VKontakte.

During the debate, the public prosecutor asked to sentence Bubeyev to three and a half years in prison. Bubeyev claims that he is being persecuted for his beliefs, pleading not guilty.

But this is not the first conviction of Bubeyev. In August last year, he was found guilty of extremism for reposting material linked to Ukrainian nationalist group Right Sector. It included a video that referred to Russia as a "fascist aggressor". The 39-year-old electrical engineer received a 10-month jail sentence for this and a further two months for illegal possession of ammunition.

The day before Bubeyev went on trial for the second time, human rights group Agora published a report saying that at least 18 people had received jail sentences in 2015 for activity on the internet.

Watch also Russian authorities charge store clerk with extremism after she posted Ukrainian content

Most cases involved extreme xenophobic and racist material, it found. But, it said, posting material about Ukraine or Crimea, or criticising the authorities were now activities that carried a "heightened risk" of prosecution or imprisonment.

As in Bubeyev's case, such subjects can fall under Russia's notoriously vague extremism laws, as well as a law passed after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 that bans the use of the internet to undermine Russia's territorial integrity.

Reporting by UNIAN, BBC


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