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ICC NOTE: A rise in anti-extremist crackdowns have ensure in Russia lifting the total number of arrests from 149 in 2012 to 444 in 2015. Yet, in some cases the reason is quite the opposite from extremist rhetoric. Russia has limited citizens abilities to freely express their opinions online leading to a broad interpretation of Article 282 of the Criminal Code. The fear of course is just how broad will they interpret the law when they review online posts and speech. The Christian community is nervous of the online anti-extremism law as certain posts and even websites could be misconstrued as hate speech or inciting opposition to the Kremlin.

11/10/2016 Russia (The Moscow Times) – The Russian authorities have stepped up their fight against extremism, convicting approximately three times as many people on such charges in recent years.

The greatest increase concerns convictions on Article 282 of the Criminal Code — “incitement of hatred or enmity” — with that number rising from 149 in 2012 to 444 in 2015. Most of those were crimes committed using the Internet.

According to the SOVA Center, a group that monitors abuses of anti-extremism legislation, the number of sentences based on Internet evidence has risen by 90 percent, and half of those were for posts, re-posts or “likes” on the VKontakte social network.

What’s more, the authorities interpret “extremism” very broadly, and at times illogically. For example, they have sentenced individuals for publishing the Nazi swastika as part of an anti-Nazi message. Experts explain that the siloviki pursue such criminal cases in order to pad their statistical reports, and that judges generally side with the prosecution.

The Supreme Court has decided to ease the growing pressure against freedom of expression. According to Supreme Court judge Oleg Zatelepin, the Court has issued new recommendations on legal practices for cases concerning anti-extremism charges. Those recommendations essentially call on courts to consider the context, form, and content of allegedly extremist publications, as well as the substance of the commentaries that attend the publication.

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