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Philosophy professor fined for a sad emoji under an anti-war post

Philosophy professor fined for a sad emoji under an anti-war post

Alexei Argunov, a philosophy and history professor from Barnaul, was fined for reacting to anti-war posts on social media with emojis. As Sibir.Realii reports, this is the first case of the article on the “discrediting of the Russian armed forces” being applied to a “sad emoji” and not a publication or a repost.

Here is the defendant's account of what transpired:

“I got a call from the police: ‘You should come down. We need to talk to you.’ When I arrived at the station, they showed me the ‘discriminatory materials’ and told me to write an explanatory note. This was how I learned that actions discrediting the Russian army included a sad emoji under someone else's post about Alexander Goncharenko, leader of the Yabloko party in Altai, who had been convicted under the same article on discrediting. So did an appreciative emoji under Arnold Schwarzenegger's video. <...> The police officers’ attitude showed clearly that they thought the case was insignificant, ridiculous even. They were doing the FSB's bidding, but their heart wasn't in it. This is why I had a feeling that I'd write an explanation and this would be it; that there would be no trial. So I did write it. They said they’d consider it before July 12, and then I had to come and get my notice. On the 12th, Chief Inspector Zenchenko told me: ‘You're out of luck on this one. Your case will go to court.’

The trial took place on July 15. Argunov did not bring a defense counsel and wasn't assigned a public one. He pleaded with the judge that likes and reposts were different things, which meant he had not been distributing any materials.

“She kept nitpicking. ‘So when you leave a sympathetic emoji, what are you trying to say?’ How am supposed to reply? Sympathy is sympathy. The judge did not argue with me. She simply listened to all I had to say. ‘You verdict will be ready in an hour and a half.’ When I returned for the decision, they said: ‘You’re guilty as charged. A fine of 30,000 rubles.’”

As a professor at a vocational school, Argunov gets 17,000 rubles a month.

By late July, the Russian police has drawn up over 3,300 reports on the “discrediting of the Russian armed forces”, by the estimates of the Net Freedoms Project.

Once Russia had unleashed the war, Roscomnadzor demanded that Russian media refer to it only as a “special operation”. Criminal cases about spreading “fake information” about the Russian army are initiated in today's Russia on a massive scale.

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