The things that can get you arrested in Vladimir Putin's Russia are, quite frankly, pretty ridiculous.
Consider the case of Maksim Kormelitsky, a resident of the Novosibirsk region who was recently sentenced to 15 months in a penal colony.
His crime? Reposting a photo on social media that had a caption questioning the sanity of Epiphany bathers, Orthodox Christians who jump into icy lakes in the dead of winter.
He was convicted of inciting hatred against Christians.
Or consider Andrei Bubeyev, an electrician from the Tver region. He's serving a 27-month sentence.
And what did he do? Well, he reposted a photo of a tube of toothpaste with the caption: squeeze Russia out of your system as well as articles criticizing Russia's intervention in Ukraine.
A SWAT team surrounded and stormed his country cottage when they arrested him.
He was convicted of extremism, separatism, and inciting hatred toward Russians.
And as a result, his wife, Anastasia, has been forced to raise their 4-year-old son alone.
There are many other cases, but you get the idea.
Part of this is the result of a regime that is determined to control the Internet to prevent it from becoming a hotbed of dissent.
Part of it is the defensiveness of a regime can't stand to be lampooned.
But most of it is explained by the deep insecurity that defines Vladimir Putin's Kremlin.
Because if posting harmless Internet memes is a threat to the Russian state, then it must be a pretty damn weak state.
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