Novaya Gazeta challenge to Roskomnadzor warning unsuccessful

posted 1 Feb 2015, 06:48 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Feb 2015, 12:32 ]
27 January 2015

Source: (info)
On 26 January, 2015, it emerged that Tagansky district court in Moscow had dismissed a claim made by Novaya Gazeta against Roskomnadzor challenging a warning given for an article by Yulia Latynina, "If we are not the West, then who are we?", published on 10 September, 2014.

The court took into account the results of expert testimony provided by Roskomnadzor, and rejected the findings of three reports commissioned by Novaya Gazeta, which all stated that the article by Latynina does not contain extremist material and does not go beyond the scope of academic debate.

The claims made by the authorities focussed on two statements in the article.

Roskomnadzor alleged that these contained elements promoting the exceptionalism, superiority or inferiority of a person on the basis of their social, racial, national, religious or linguistic affiliation, as well as a public and knowingly false accusation against a person holding public office, which constitutes extremist activity.

The SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis comments on the Court’s ruling:

"In our view, the warning was issued unlawfully. The letter from Roskomnadzor failed to explain in what respect the statements were found to contain elements promoting extremism and what it was that amounted to a knowingly false accusation of "a peson holding public office", according to Article 1 of the Federal law "On counteracting extremist activities".

Moreover, the second quote was taken out of context. The word "mudblood" (taken from the Harry Potter series) serves to demonstrate this well: while justified by the ambitions of the author, it is perceived as racist when uttered in isolation (please note that we do not believe Latynina's strident thesis to be beyond question itself).

Furthermore, the passage by Latynina about a "special Russian culture" and "the Russian authorities" should be interpreted as a rhetorical technique, while the degree of truthfulness of such assertions cannot be established.

It is also worth noting that, according to Resolution No. 11 (2011) of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation 'On judicial practice in criminal cases involving extremist offences', "The criticism of political organisations, ideological and religious associations, political, ideological or religious beliefs, or national or religious practices in and of itself should not be regarded as an act aimed at inciting hatred or enmity".

The editorial staff of Novaya Gazeta have said that they intend to appeal the Court’s decision.

Translated by Lindsay Munford