RUSSIALINK: “Mail.ru Group calls for amnestying people convicted of extremism over reposts, likes” – Interfax

Montage of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Logos, adapted from image at nps.gov

MOSCOW. Aug 15 (Interfax) – The Mail.ru Group has urged the State Duma, the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, and the Justice Ministry to decriminalize the activity of social media users and amnesty persons convicted on such counts.

“We have sent the following official petitions today: we urged the State Duma to initiate the submission of a bill on the amnesty of people convicted under Articles 282 (Incitement of Hatred or Enmity, as Well as Abasement of Human Dignity) and 148 (Obstruction of the Exercise of the Right of Liberty of Conscience and Religious Liberty). The amnesty should apply to persons convicted of extremism, dissemination of information, and other activity in the social media (including likes, reposts, and publication of images) if such actions did not entail socially dangerous consequences,” the group’s press service said in a statement seen by Interfax on Wednesday.

There is also a petition to the Russian Supreme Court, requesting “summarization of legal precedents in criminal proceedings based on counts of Internet crimes (posts, reposts, likes, etc.) in order to prevent such cases in the future,” the press service said.

“We ask the Supreme Court to indicate the need for a detailed probe into the motivation behind such deeds, because, according to the law, the motivation reveals the true essence of the socially dangerous action. There can be no elements of a crime punishable under extremism legislation if there is no motivation,” it said.

“We have also asked the Supreme Court to give legal definitions of such notions as ‘post’, ‘repost’, ‘like’, ‘class’, and others in order to create a legal base for the impartial hearing of similar cases,” the group said.

“Depending on the degree of the offense and the presence of socially dangerous consequences, we believe that the Russian Supreme Court could suggest that criminal proceedings be based on Article 76.2 of the Russian Criminal Code, which stipulates the imposition of a fine, whenever Part 2, Article 14 of the Russian Criminal Code does not apply,” it said.

In addition, the Mail.ru Group asked the Russian Foreign Ministry to elaborate methods of linguistic, artistic, and other types of examinations in extremism proceedings.

“This is a necessary measure, considering that experts in various regions have diverse opinions on the materials submitted for their consideration,” the statement said.

Mail.ru Group also urged the Russian human rights commissioner to ask the Russian Constitutional Court “for verifying the constitutionality of the provision of Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, which expands the law enforcement practice to the detriment of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by Article 29 of the Russian constitution and contravenes Article 29 of the constitution by directly violating constitutional rights and freedoms of users.”

“In addition, we have separately addressed the Russian interior minister and the Russian Investigative Committee chairman in regard to the Barnaul situation,” it said.

In early August, the Mail.ru Group, which owns the Internet portal and mailing service Mail.ru, as well as three social media services – VKontakte, Odnokslassniki, and Moi Mir, called for amnestying people convicted of extremism over reposts and likes in the social media, and for decriminalizing such cases.