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Vladivostok student sentenced to two years in prison for Telegram voice messages, DOXA reports

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Rodion Stukov, a 22-year-old former student of the Industrial College of Energy and Communications in Vladivostok, has been sentenced to two years in prison and banned from “public activities on the Internet” for three years for voice messages in a closed Telegram chat room, allegedly recorded on his behalf. The publication DOXA reported the sentence, citing a copy of the verdict issued by Vladivostok’s 1st Eastern District Military Court.

Stukov was accused of committing two criminal offences: propaganda of terrorism (Part 2 of Article 205.2 of Russia’s Criminal Code) and participation in an illegal armed formation (Part 2 of Article 280 of Russia’s Criminal Code).

According to the court, Stukov, “having a negative attitude towards the current authorities, supporting and sharing the ideas of the 'Navalny Headquarters' movement,” posted a call to “carry out extremist and terrorist activities” in the “Sobaki1love” chat room.

Stukov was detained in July 2021 – he claimed that he first heard about the channel during the interrogation. According to him, the voice message contained a call to throw smokebombs at the security forces. The investigators believed that Stukov was behind the recording, as the administrator of the chat room who published the voice message had the nickname rodion_rodion, which matched Stukov’s first name.

In November, an expert examination found that the messages, allegedly recorded on behalf of Stukov, contained “extremism.” Stukov himself claims that he recorded the messages under pressure from FSB officers who allegedly wanted to compare his voice to the original “extremist” messages. The first examination of the case in Vladivostok found no incitement to violence and extremism in the messages, after which a second examination was conducted in Krasnoyarsk.

It is now possible to be criminally prosecuted in Russia over sad emojis – and even for a private conversation with one’s relatives. In July, Alexei Argunov, a philosophy and history teacher from Barnaul, was fined for using a sad emoji under anti-war posts online. In August, a Russian court approved a fine for Alexei Veselov, who was “caught” discussing the war in Ukraine with his wife in a sanatorium canteen. According to the court order, Veselov’s wife Oksana told her husband that she was worried about her relatives in Kyiv, where her 87-year-old mother currently lives. The woman was also concerned about the whereabouts of her missing cousin.

The Insider previously reported that many criminal cases concerning the “discreditation” of the Russian Armed Forces and spreading “fake information about the Russian army” were initiated following tips from informants. Russians have reported schoolteachers and their own children to the security services.

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