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Russia Fines Navalny Ally For Extremism Over John Oliver Repost

Semyon Kochkin (left)

CHEBOKSARY, Russia -- A coordinator for Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's headquarters in the Chuvashia region has been fined for extremism after reposting a portion of the popular U.S. television show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

In a May 25 decision, a court in Chuvashia's capital ruled that Semyon Kochkin distributed extremist material and fined him 1,500 rubles ($27).

In 2015, Kochkin posted a clip from an episode of Oliver's political satire show in which he discussed an Al-Jazeera report that three women from Russia's Chechnya region tricked members of the extremist group Islamic State (IS) into sending them money.

According to the report, the women communicated with IS fighters via the Internet and promised to join them in Syria, but shut the social-network accounts they had used after receiving money for the trip.

The court said that Kochkin, 23, is guilty because the excerpt included what it said were Islamic State symbols, which are banned in Russia.

Kochkin said that he was afraid that he could have been incarcerated as propagating extremism can be punished by up to 15 days in jail.

He said that Navalny’s supporters will organize an anticorruption rally in Cheboksary on June 12.

Rights activists say Russian President Vladimir Putin's government uses antiextremism legislation to prosecute Kremlin critics on false pretenses.