International support for man who hunted Pokemons in church


Memorial may recognize blogger Sokolovsky as a political prisoner

JustMedia, 26 September 2016


The rights advocacy center Memorial is discussing the question of recognizing blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky to be a political prisoner.


"At its next session of the council of the center will discuss whether Sokolovsky falls under the international criteria of the concept of 'political prisoner.' If they agree with the opinion of our program of support of political prisoners, then the video-blogger will be declared by Memorial to be a political prisoner and he will be added to the list of Russian political prisoners that we maintain, in which there now are 102 persons," Viacheslav Feraposhkin, a colleague of the program of support of political prisoners of the rights advocacy center, explained.


In the opinion of the news agency's interlocutor, Ruslan Sokolovsky's actions do not fall under the article that was applied to him.


"Statements in three videos contain obscene language and derogatory characterizations of Christians and Muslims (in one) on his part, but they do not contain any aggressive calls for violence. Not one of the persons attending church or any clergy was injured by the actions of the blogger (this refers to hunting for Pokemons in the church—ed. note) and there was no damage to liturgical items," Vicheslav Feraposhkin says.


In the opinion of the rights activist, Sokolovsky was taken into custody because of his nonviolent conduct of freedom of expression of opinions, which violates provisions of the Russian constitution and international agreements that were signed by our country.


"In declaring a person to be a political prisoner, we urge the authorities and law enforcement agencies to be guided by law and not by momentary political interests and to release him. We urge international legal institutions and the governments of countries that signed the European Convention of Human Rights and other relevant international agreement to put pressure on Russian authorities and to facilitate the release of a victim of illegal arrest. We ask society to help the political prisoner either by their actions or materially," the rights advocate adds.


In Feraposhkin's opinion, the case should be closed for lack of evidence of a crime.


"I think that Sokolovsky's vulgarity does not even entail an administrative violation of law. And the recently introduced penalty for offending the religious feelings of believers (points 1 and 2, article 148 of the Criminal Code of the RF) should be expunged from the Criminal Code, since it is obscurantism unworthy of a civilized state in the 21st century, which Russia certainly is. I know that many believers forgive boors and it is this that they consider to be the true feelings of a believing person," Viacheslav Feraposhkin adds.


"I thinks that Ruslan is a typical example of a citizen who is being persecuted for his political and ideological views. Since his statements do not sound calls for violence and disorders, I consider his prosecution to be illegal and improper," says Sokolovsky's attorney Aleksei Bushmakov.


The blogger's attorney says that many support Sokolovsky and are in solidarity with him.


"Not everybody is bold enough to state their ideas aloud, and still fewer will be ready to suffer for their ideals," Aleksei Bushmakov says.


The attorney notes that from a legal point of view, recognizing Sokolovsky as a political prisoner will give him nothing.


"Although if one recalls the Magnitsky List, then in particularly outrageous cases judicial mechanisms are included. International institutions, including western governments, pay great attention to the list of political prisoners that Memorial conducts. This forces the authorities to pay greater attention to cases of people included in this list and to assess the situation objectively," Aleksei Bushmakov adds.


We recall that previously the organization of the disgraced oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, "Open Russia," spoke out for Ruslan Sokolovsky. Rights advocates awarded the blogger's mother a prize of 150,000 rubles. The international rights advocacy organization Amnesty International recognized Sokolovsky as a prisoner of conscience and now the rights advocacy center Memorial, which the Ministry of Justice includes in its list of "foreign agents," is discussing the question of recognizing Sokolovsky to be a political prisoner.


The date for the session of the council at which the decision will be made has still not been set. Probably it will discuss him in several weeks. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 September 2016)

Background articles:
Blogger arrested after hunting Pokemons in church
September 4, 2016

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