- part 2 of Art. 280 of the Russian Criminal Code (“public appeals for carrying out extremist activities” on the Internet)
December 16, 2016
1 year suspended sentence (initially sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment in a general regime penal colony)
Ihor Movenko was convicted solely for a comment he posted on a “Vkontakte” group called “Crimea is Ukraine.” He was charged under article 280.2 of the Russian Criminal code, having allegedly made public appeals online “for carrying out extremist activities.” A first ruling of the de facto court on 4 May 2018 sentenced him to 2 years of imprisonment. However, on 26 June 2018, the Court of Appeal overturned this judgement replacing it with a 1 year suspended sentence. He was released from Simferopol’s remand prison on 28 June 2018.
The criminal prosecution against Movenko was launched after he insisted for investigations to be carried out against a police officer who brutally attacked him and left him hospitalized with a craniocerebral trauma, a cerebral commotion, a basal skull fracture, a broken jaw and nose as well as an eye injury.
The attack against Movenko happened on 7 September 2016 in Sevastopol while he was getting on his bike decorated with two stickers: one with the Ukrainian trident and another one from the “Azov Battalion.” The identity of the attacker was later revealed by the Crimean Human Rights Group: Volodymyr Sukhodolsky, a former member of the «Berkut» riot police who joined the Russian police. No investigation was launched against him while Movenko was fined 2,000 rubles for “disseminating fascist symbols” on his sticker.
Charges against Movenko are solely based on a comment he posted on “Vkontakte” in a group named “Crimea is Ukraine.” The main “evidence” in his case is a linguistic expertise carried out by a professor who has no experience in this field. While the findings of the independent expert presented by the defense team were not taken into account by the Court.
Even though his first sentence to two years of imprisonment in a general regime penal colony was later commuted to a one year suspended sentence, he was imposed a six-month ban on carrying out any type of activities on the Internet. For Oleksandr Sedov, an analyst at the Crimean Human Rights Group, this equates to the temporary deprivation of Movenko’s right to freedom of expression: “This ruling on the prohibition of Internet activities, as the entire verdict to Ihor Movenko, is political persecution. (…) It is aimed at depriving Ihor of the opportunity to express his opinion, when the Internet gives the maximum opportunity for this.”
Tortures and pressure
Ihor Movenko was first arrested on his way to work on 16 December 2016, his house was searched and his laptop, hard drives and mobile phone were seized. He was beaten up, threatened by FSB officers and prevented from talking to his wife and a lawyer:
“They were saying: “We’ll take you to the forest, undress you and leave you there naked.” Then they came to my work, seized a computer, forbade me to talk to anyone. As soon as I opened my mouth to say something, they just took me to the corner, punched me several times telling me to “Shut up!”.
Movenko’s lawyer, Oksana Zheleznyak, has also denounced the fact that her client was pressured not to file a complaint after having been beaten up in custody as officers were telling him that this would lead to problems not only for him but for his wife as well.