9 November 2022
Since early March 2002, 5,003 administrative cases on “discreditation” of the army (Article 20.3.3 of the Russian Code of Administration Violations) have gone to Russia’s courts. This is the conclusion from data in the GAS Pravosudie [Russian automated state system Justice] collected by Mediazona.
Of these, 5,001 cases were examined in district courts and two in military ones. One of the “military” cases was heard by the 26th Garrison Court in Baikonur. The person against whom the police charge was brought does not serve in the army and is being tried as a civilian; due to its status, Baikonur only has a military court, which hears all cases.
According to a publication on the court’s website, a Baikonur resident by the name of Borisov posted a video in “Odnoklassniki” [Schoolmates] entitled “ZELENSKY in Bucha: thousands killed, hacked…” Moreover, the police record indicated that he had “liked” pro-Ukrainian posts and published the Ukrainian flag.
Borisov admitted his guilt and explained that he didn’t think that there was general access to the information on his page. The court fined him 30,000 roubles.
In district courts, most of the cases were in Moscow (681), Petersburg (284), Krasnodar region (233), Crimea (167), and Sverdlovsk region (140). Most of them—70-80%, depending on the region—have already been heard and a decision has been issued on them.
The article about public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Russian army (Article 20.3.3 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences) was introduced into the Code on 4 March. It provides for punishment in the form of a fine of 30,000-50,000 roubles. For a year after the court’s decision goes into force, criminal charges may be brought against the person for the analogous offence (Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code Code).
Police charges for “discreditation” of the army have been brought for “No to War” written on the fence of the FSB [Federal Security Service] administration building and on election ballots, for a request to include the Ukrainian song, “Oh, there’s a red virburnum in the meadow” at a wedding, for calling on municipal deputies to deem Vladimir Putin a traitor to the state, and even for an application from a draftee to be given alternative service.
Translated by Marian Schwartz