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“A handsome young man with a good sense of humor”: Elderly woman in Moscow fined for complimenting Zelensky

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A Moscow court fined 70-year-old Olga Slegina 40,000 roubles (close to $500) for “discrediting” the Russian army, as she had called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “handsome young man.” According to a report from the Memorial human rights organization, the court session on Slegina’s offense lasted no more than five minutes.

The case was heard in the absence of Slegina, who was unable to attend due to an illness. The judge refused to postpone the hearing, in spite of Slegina’s medical certificates, stating that the defendant was not seriously ill and “not in intensive care.”

The conversation that put the pensioner on trial took place in a health resort in Nalchik, a city in Kabardino-Balkaria, where she was on vacation in December. Slegina, who lives in Moscow, got into a conversation with a woman from Odesa, discussing how to pronounce the Ukrainian word “palyanytsya” [a type of Ukrainian bread – The Insider] correctly. The conversation was joined by a waitress, who said that Zelensky is a “freak.” Slegina responded that “Zelensky is a handsome young man with a good sense of humor, everyone used to laugh at his jokes,” adding: “Don't Ukrainians in your republic shout 'Glory to Ukraine, like we do in Moscow'?”

A few days later, the pensioner was approached by the police. Following an interrogation, Slegina signed a document, which, as noted by Memorial, she suffers from cataracts and was unable to properly read without her glasses. According to the woman, she did not understand what was going on because of the stress and wanted “everything to end quickly.”

According to Slegina, the police report twisted her words. In particular, it said that she shouted “Glory to Ukraine” (“Slava Ukraini”) and “expressed her dissatisfaction with the current situation in the country.” Slegina’s anger at the fact that “those who have money [are] going abroad,» was interpreted by the police in a different light: “Slegina expressed her support for Ukraine, believing that Ukrainians are glorifying their country, while Russian soldiers are fleeing the war.”

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