Staunton, February 4 – The actions of the Russian “legal” system – and given Vladimir Putin’s behavior, it seems increasingly appropriate to set that description off with quotation marks – is ever more frequently bringing charges and bringing in convictions that indict not those charged but those who make these decisions.
Three such noxious cases have come up in the last several days alone:
· Moscow has now entered the Crimean Tatar Milli Mejlis on its list of banned extremist groups. Russian repressive measures against the Crimean Tatars and their national organization and leaders in Russian-occupied Crimea have been going on for a long time and have been well-chronicled. But now the Russian justice ministry has made official what Russian officials have long acted as if were true. It has put the Milli Mejlis on its list of banned extremist organizations (sova-center.ru/religion/news/extremism/counter-extremism/2017/02/d36305/).
· Russian prosecutors in Stavropol Kray have charged Viktor Krasnov, a Russian blogger, with offending the feelings of believers for posting that “God does not exist” and “the Bible is a collection of Jewish stories,” even though activists from all religious groups in the region say they are not offended by such statements. North Caucasus journalist calls this case “one of the most absurd of recent times” (kavpolit.com/articles/zvezdochki_dlja_operov-31539/).
· A court in Yugra found shaman Sergey Kechimov guilty of threatening to murder two oil company employees in an effort to block them from violating the sacred lake he guard, a charge he and his supporters deny and say was designed to promote the oil company’s interests by getting him out of the way. After almost 18 months of legal back and forth sentenced him to a corrective labor colony. Happily in this case, Nazaccent reports, he “fell under the terms of an amnesty in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Great Fatherland War and avoided any punishment (nazaccent.ru/content/23073-yugorskomu-shamanu-kechimovu-vynesli-prigovor.html).