: Russian politician faces 'hate speech' probe after criticising Putin
Politics10:35 Apr. 8, 2016

Russian politician faces 'hate speech' probe after criticising Putin

RFE/RL: Kursk region Duma member Olga Li accused Kremlin leader of a "criminal conspiracy" 

Olga Li is a newspaper editor and independent politician in Russia's Kursk region.

She is facing a hate-crime investigation after publishing a YouTube video accusing Putin and Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika of failing to deal with, what she calls, rampant corruption.

Read also New Pussy Riot video takes on Russian Prosecutor General Yuriy Chaika

Olga Li: "Even those people who are influenced by propaganda and dislike the West abhor the abuse of power by the attorneys that you support." 

Li accused Putin of a "criminal conspiracy" against the Russian people.

Published in March, her message reached hundreds of thousands of viewers and polarized public opinion. The response from her fellow lawmakers in Kursk was harsh. In a heated exchange, the regional Duma spokesman accused her newspaper's sponser of leading her in the wrong direction, then going onto say, she should think of her children's future.

During the same session, Li learned that she was under investigation for "hate crimes" for allegedly "degrading the dignity" of government officials. If convicted, she could face up to two years in prison.

Read also Chechnya's Kadyrov posts video of Putin critic in sniper's crosshairs

Li believes that one of her political opponents - the deputy speaker of the Kursk Duma - is connected to the investigation against her.

Olga Li: "He and I will be running in the same precinct. Besides, he's a friend of the [local] prosecutor. We think he knew about the criminal investigation even before it was launched."

It's not the only criminal investigation against Li. She faces libel charges over her newspaper's publication of the corruption allegations aimed at senior officials. Even her physical safety is at risk.

Watch also Vladimir Putin named corrupt person of the year

Olga Li: "The first time, someone shot at me. Then, someone cut the brake lines in my car. The third time was this winter. A man pushed me against the car. He had a knife or something."

But Li isn't deterred by legal action -or physical threats. Her newspaper's sponsors have pulled their funding, and her journalists now write under pseudonyms. But the publication is still running, and Li has shown no signs of backing down.

Photo courtesy - Olga Li, Facebook


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