Freedom for Kurmoyarov!

On March 4, the Russian parliament passed a bill punishing the dissemination of false information about the actions of the Russian military. The bill introduced a new article into the Criminal Code (207.3). In accordance with it, those guilty of disseminating false information about the actions of the Russian armed forces face up to three years in prison. If a fake is distributed as part of an organized group or was accompanied by forgery of evidence, the maximum penalty is increased to 10 years in prison. If the dissemination of false information caused serious consequences, the perpetrators face up to 15 years in prison.

The Ministry of Justice of Russia has prepared two methodological manuals for investigators, judges and experts on how to conduct an examination of new articles about fakes and discrediting the army. In the documents, the department indicates that the “statement of fact” refers to the article on the “dissemination of deliberately false information” (fakes), and the negative conclusion “discredits” the army.

Thus, the Russian punitive machine is ready to punish a person for making a value judgment about the armed forces. Solidaritätsnetz International is shocked by such a blatant violation of the elementary norms of freedom, international law and the very Constitution of Russia.

Article 29 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees everyone freedom of thought and speech, the right to freely seek, receive, transmit, produce and disseminate information in any legal way; freedom of the media is guaranteed; censorship is prohibited.

The Kalininsky District Court of St. Petersburg extended until February 28, 2023 the arrest of priest Ioann Kurmoyarov, accused under an article on spreading false information about the Russian army. On August 10, Mr. Kurmoyarov was finally charged under the article on the dissemination of “fake news” about the army motivated by political hatred (clause “d”, part 2, article 207.3 of the Criminal Code). On August 29, it became known that he pleaded guilty. Several videos served as the reason for the criminal prosecution, including a video in which a clergyman says that Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine will not go to heaven, but to hell. “In paradise, “blessed are the peacemakers”, “peacemakers”, do you understand what the problem is? And those who unleashed aggression will not be in paradise,” the priest said.

The case of Mr. Kurmoyarov strikes us with the cynicism that is used in the methods of suppressing freedom in Russia! The prosecutor’s office is a holy inquisition? The public prosecution, apparently, wants to prove in court the standards by which people go to heaven and the very existence of paradise? The Russian government was saved from the shame of judicial debate and open trial by the confession of Mr. Kurmoyarov’s guilt.

Solidaritätsnetz International demands that Moscow immediately stop the vicious practice of punishing citizens for value judgments and release Mr. Kurmoyarov.

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