Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Writers and unorthodox believers, look out

Law enforcement in Russia often seems to aim at opinion outliers rather than criminals (by Western standards).

Russian Terror Law Has Unlikely Targets
Over the last week, a well-known writer and a Jehovah’s Witness in Siberia have become two more Russians to fall foul of a murky and much-criticized law purported to fight terrorism but being turned against a broad and seemingly random array of people.

Grigory Chkhartishvili, better known as Boris Akunin, the writer of best-selling historical mysteries, revealed in his blog that a federal investigative body subordinate to the Kremlin had summoned his publisher for questioning about possible extremist statements in his latest book…

The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation said it had been alerted that Mr. Chkhartishvili’s novel might be in violation of a law pushed through by the Kremlin in 2002, purportedly to fight terrorism, and amended in 2006…

The Investigative Committee quickly concluded it had found no offending passages…

On Thursday, a court in the Gorno-Altaisk region of Siberia found Aleksandr Kalistratov, a Jehovah’s Witness, guilty on charges of disseminating extremist materials…

Religious literature distributed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is on a list of extremist literature compiled by Russia’s Ministry of Justice…

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