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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Fake phrases are a way to intimidate people

When considering a criminal case against a student of Moscow State University Dmitry Ivanov about forgery about the Russian armed forces waging a war of aggression in Ukraine, the court, at the request of the Defense, agreed to summon Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chief Spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, Head of the Press Service to participate in the trial and information department of Igor Konashenkov and Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Security Council Vitaly Nebenzya, media reported Thursday (February 2nd).

However, it is still unclear what this will lead to in practice. Meanwhile, on the eve of the same article, journalist Alexander Nevzorov, who is abroad, was sentenced in absentia to 8 years in absentia. He was also banned from administering Internet resources for four years. The prosecutor’s office demanded to give him another year.

An article about counterfeits is becoming commonplace in Russia. Previously, former city deputies Alexei Gorinov and Ilya Yashin were sentenced to seven and eight and a half years respectively.

According to Russian law, any information that contradicts official reports from the Defense Ministry, which journalists have repeatedly condemned for spreading false information, is considered deliberately false.

“The authorities are trying to unite the majority of the population unanimously”

The authorities today persecute anyone who actively expresses an anti-war position, noted Andrey Kolesnikov, senior researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (USA), in an interview with the Russian service media. In his view, journalists in this context are only part of the bigger picture.

“As in any authoritarian or totalitarian state, the authorities try to put the majority of the population in the same frame of mind as possible,” he added. – One of the proven ways, along with propaganda and state intervention in education, is intimidation. Therefore, “loud” phrases are sometimes attributed to well-known public figures. For more resonance. Nevzorov is a very suitable candidate in this sense. In the presidential administration, I believe, it has been sharpened for a long time.

Recall that earlier, under a similar article, a Russian court sentenced ex-policeman Oleg Kashintsev in absentia to 8 years in prison, who also left Russia.

At the same time, the authorities are tightly blocking the paths of return of undesirable elements, disruptors of public peace, to the country, said Andrey Kolesnikov. According to him, a prison sentence for these purposes is the best barrier.

“Of course, this does not negate the other means of intimidation, including administrative sanctions, impressive fines,” he said. – The Kremlin prefers an integrated approach to solving problems. The question of where this will lead remains open. I believe that the practice adopted will be applied regularly.

The Kremlin has taken a clear course towards a harshly repressive policy and does not hide it, the expert from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said: “Apparently they consider such tactics to be effective within the framework of their main task – to stay in power at all costs. Controlling the public conscience and keeping the people in a state of resignation is an important part of maintaining the status quo.

Waiting for the manifestation of corporate solidarity in the current situation, and even more hoping that it will lead to something positive, is completely useless, says Andrey Kolesnikov. There are no longer independent media in Russia capable of expressing their opinion in defiance of the Kremlin, which, moreover, is deaf to all the arguments of its opponents, he concluded.

“Action to intimidate other citizens”

This is the first conviction of a journalist in the “false” case since the introduction of criminal liability for knowingly spreading false information about the Russian armed forces, Galina Arapova, director and senior lawyer of the Center for protection of media rights, pointed out in a comment to media.

“At the same time, it is clear that since the sentence was pronounced in the absence of the accused, his execution will only be possible if Nevzorov returns to his native country, which is practically impossible,” he said. She. – So, at the moment, it looks purely like an act of intimidation of other citizens, and the journalist himself has nothing to fear.

A fairly severe punishment also attracts attention, stressed Galina Arapova.

“8 years in prison has rarely been handed down recently, even for murders and other serious crimes. Such a term for a statement (no matter how it is considered by the authorities) is excessive punishment, clearly not corresponding to the act. It is designed to sow fear among the population, to silence critics of the authorities and those who express an anti-war position and report on the situation at the front not according to the official position of the Russian Ministry of Defense,” summed up the director. of the Center for the Protection of Media Rights.

“It’s the vindictiveness inherent in Putin’s regime”

Member of the federal political council of the People’s Freedom Party, human rights activist Natalya Pelevina agrees that these disproportionate sentences in criminal cases against emigrants, as well as the announcement of the wanted list of opponents and journalists who left Russia, are primarily aimed at ensuring that none of them even think about returning home. According to her, the Kremlin makes it very clear what awaits them otherwise.

“It is also done to intimidate the population of the country as a whole,” assures the source of the media. “Such phrases really numb people and silence them, even if they don’t agree with the monstrous war in Ukraine and the tightening of screws inside Russia itself. Moreover, I think it is the inherent vindictiveness of Putin’s regime, which the Kremlin tries to present as omnipotence. And here all means are suitable: from polonium and “Novichok” to the stigma of “foreign agent” and imprisonment.”

As a result, in Russia, perhaps, those who are in a state of internal contradiction suffer the most, says Natalya Pelevina. “I mean people who categorically reject war and at the same time must be silent,” she explained. “They live in a disassembled state, realizing their helplessness. And many resort to the tactic of an ostrich hiding its head in the sand and trying not to listen to Nevzorov, or federal channels, or anyone. It seems to me that the Kremlin is happy with both options to varying degrees.

This, it seems, is the meaning of the condemnations of the Jesuits in highly publicized cases, believes the politician. Although, in general, talking about meanings in today’s Russia is a thankless task, she concluded.

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