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Russian Youth Charged for Online Extremism

The Moscow Times reports that prosecutors in the northern Russian port region of Arkhangelsk have opened a criminal case against a student for “inciting ethnic hatred through pictures and comments posted on the Internet,” which could lead to a two-year prison sentence if convicted. MT continues:

The student posted pictures “humiliating Africans and Jews as ethnic groups,” as well as comments inciting ethnic and national hatred and “accessories resembling Nazi ones” on the social network, the Investigative Committee said on its web site on Wednesday.

The Russian Internet is generally a surprisingly open space when compared to broadcast media (particularly TV), and Russia has rarely prosecuted bloggers for online speech, especially when compared to countries like Iran and China that go to great lengths to limit speech they disagree with. Those cases where bloggers have been charged usually revolve around extremist or racist commentary. The Independent reported recently that the Kremlin is now concerned with Russian nationalist groups it has long tolerated (and even encouraged), but that are now seen as a threat to national security. According to The Independent, Russia’s large migrant population, mostly from neighboring former Soviet states, are increasingly being made scape goats for rising poverty and unemployment caused by the economic crisis and diminished oil revenues.

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