An unidentified person in Russia's Novgorod Oblast has become the first person to be convicted and fined under a controversial new law penalizing "disrespect toward the authorities."
Rights lawyer Pavel Chikov, of the legal-aid group Agora, on April 23 noted the announcement of the case on the website of a district court in the city of Chudovo that had been posted the previous day.
The court stated that it had fined the individual, who was identified only by the initial K, 30,000 rubles ($470) for two social-media posts that "offend human dignity and social morals and express clear disrespect to society, the state, and government organs of the Russian Federation." The posts were allegedly made on March 31, two days after the new law came into effect.
The website The Insider reported that a Novgorod Oblast man named Yury Kartyzhev had written on the social-media site VK that he was the defendant. He also posted an audio recording purportedly from the courtroom in which the judge can be heard asserting that Kartyzhev had posted two obscene texts and a graphic image insulting President Vladimir Putin.
Under the law, the penalty for insulting the authorities or state symbols is punishable by fines up to 100,000 rubles ($1,570) or administrative detention up to 15 days.
Another law, adopted at the same time, made it illegal to publish "fake news" on the Internet. The penalty for individuals convicted under that law is a fine up to 100,000 rubles, while the penalty for commercial entities is a fine up to 500,000 rubles ($7,850).