Russia for the first time since the start of the war in Ukraine, on February 24, condemned a citizen who allegedly spread “false news” about the conflict. The conviction was decided by a court in the Zabekalsky district in western Russia.
According to the accusations of the Russian authorities, a local resident stated Pyotr Melnikov allegedly forged unidentified Russian Defense Ministry documents, as well as posted “intentionally false” videos in a social media chat he moderated in March.
According to the Russian newspaper, the Moscow Times, Melnikov ran a group called “I Live in Ruins” on a Russian social network called VK. He pleaded guilty to the charges against him.
Although they have brought charges, the Russian court has not identified the clips that they allegedly share Melnikov TInham, but the Russian Federal Security Service told local media that it “wanted to form a negative attitude towards the participation of the Russian army in the special operation.” Moscow used this term to avoid calling the conflict in Ukraine a war.
In a decision issued yesterday, the Zabaikalsky Court imposed a fine of one million rubles (about 77,000 Brazilian reais) on Melnikov. However, the court did not go so far as to impose a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment provided for in the Russian Penal Code, as he took responsibility for the crimes.
Under current law in Russia, harsher 10-year prison sentences can be handed down if a court finds that “war fraud” has spread due to “hate” or abuse of power, while 15-year prison sentences can be used if it “causes serious consequences.”
Russian authorities have opened at least 53 criminal cases over the spread of “false news” about the Russian military since March.
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