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Fourth Resident Of Russia's Altai Charged With Social-Media Extremism

Anton Angel was informed that a number of pictures on his VKontakte social-network account contained elements of anti-Semitism.

ZARINSK, Russia -- A fourth resident of Russia's Altai region in Siberia has been charged with inciting hatred via posts on the Internet.

Anton Angel told RFE/RL that police searched his house and his mother's house in the town of Zarinsk on August 6, confiscating his mobile phones, computers, and flash cards.

He said he was then taken to the police station where interrogators attempted to make him confess that he incited hatred on the Internet. After he refused, he was informed that a number of pictures on his VKontakte social-network account contained elements of anti-Semitism.

Angel said investigators ordered him to undergo a psychiatric examination in a clinic. He said the case against him was politically motivated and related to his civil-rights activities.

Angel is the fourth resident of the region in southern Siberia charged with extremism and inciting hatred over social-media posts.

On August 6, Maria Motuznaya, a 23-year-old resident of the region's capital, Barnaul, went on trial over social-media memes that prosecutors allege contained hate speech and insulted religious believers.

Another Barnaul resident, Daniil Markin, a 19-year-old film student, was charged with inciting hate speech over a VKontakte meme likening Jesus Christ to Jon Snow, a character in the U.S. television show Game Of Thrones.

On August 3, a 38-year-old resident of Barnaul, Andrei Shasherin, was charged with inciting hatred via posting caricatures on his account in VKontakte.

In another Siberian region, Tuva, a local journalist and civil rights activist, Oyumaa Dongak, was detained and charged with inciting hatred and propagating Nazism for placing four years ago a historical picture of young Nazi-era German women waving flags with a swastika in a post in VKontakte comparing the Soviet system with that of Nazi Germany.

Dongak wrote on Facebook that she was briefly detained on August 6 and informed that a criminal case was launched against her.

Russia's crackdown on online speech has been broadening in recent years, and rights advocates say it's intended to stifle dissent and help law enforcement officials rack up convictions.

On August 6, the Russian Internet services company Mail.Ru Group called on the authorities to change legislation criminalizing hate speech on social media and to grant amnesty to those who have been "unjustly convicted" under it.

The Mail.Ru Group, whose businesses include a popular e-mail service and a search engine, is controlled by Kremlin-friendly oligarch Alisher Usmanov.