Posted on 24 December, 2010 by Mathias Vermeulen
Rights activists say
the vaguely worded legislation, first passed in 2002, is increasingly being exploited by the authorities to persecute religious minorities, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses, intimidate the media and clamp down on opposition activists. The law — ostensibly aimed at combating potential terrorist threats — was used earlier this year to fine two prominent Moscow curators a combined 350,000 roubles ($11,300) over an controversial Pop Art exhibition in Moscow and to impose a ban on the popular Internet portal YouTube in Russia’s Far East.
Prosecutors can move fast to outlaw texts, which are then included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials — an ever-growing catalog that ran to over 50 pages in its latest print version.The ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ basic texts has spurred over 150 police detentions and searches in a three-month period alone, according to SOVA.
Prosecutors typically seek out an “expert review” and submit the material to a local court, but analysts say the reviews are slanted, courts are pliable, and higher courts rarely overturn their decisions.
Filed under: Freedom of speech - incitement, Russia