Monday, August 21, 2017

Anti-Extremism Law ‘Most Horrible Thing in Russia Today,’ Moscow Blogger Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 21 – “The most horrific thing in Russia today is not corruption, the poverty or the regions or even poor health care,” Pavel Gladkov says. That is because everyone is at risk of criminal charges for reasons that no one can know in advance or often defend after they are advanced.

            In Soviet times, everything was clear and understandable, the Moscow blogger continues. One risked charges if one said that he or she didn’t accept Soviet power or its policies. In the US and Europe, the situation is equally clear. There are rules that define what one can do and what one can’t and thus one knows how to act (

                But in present-day Russia, nothing of the kind is clear. No one can be sure whether declaring “Orthodoxy or death” will meet with approval or be the basis of criminal charges. No one is certain what can be said about Syria without landing in difficulties with the Russian authorities.  Everything in this area is confused and undefined.

                And something that may be perfectly fine at one moment can land one in prison in another. Posts five or more years ago online can come back to haunt the unwary – and what is especially worrisome anyone at all. As a result, one is afraid to even go on line or post anything there, Gladkov says.   

            “If the state likes such ‘hybrid’ censorship – direct censorship as is well-known is prohibited by the Constitution,” then it needs to be clear so that people will know what they can and cannot do. If the state doesn’t do that, it and not the population is guilty of “the real extremism.” 

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