A resident of Mari El Republic, together with human rights activists, is fighting for the right to express her opinion freely

28 October 2021

Фото из открытых источников

On 21 September 2021, Olga Aseinova was brought to administrative responsibility by the Justice of the Peace of the judicial district No. 16 of the Volzhsk Judicial District of the Republic of Mari El under Part 9 of Article 13.15 of the Administrative Code (Dissemination in the media, as well as in information and telecommunication networks of deliberately unreliable socially significant information under the guise of reliable messages …), and she was sentenced to an administrative fine of 30,000 rubles.

The reason was her comment, which she wrote under the news with the headline “On 9 July, in Mari El Republic 4 people died from coronavirus in a day.” Literally, her words looked like this: “The more vaccinated, the more sick and dead, who will be responsible? And you’ll have to answer! If not now, then a little later. On my page there is more about this) like on the Internet, if you look for it.”

And you can dig up a lot of contradictory things on the Internet now. At what price mass immunity will be achieved is a really exciting question, and people are discussing it, expressing their opinion. The state has put citizens in rather harsh conditions: many of the citizens do not have freedom of choice, for example, if we are talking about civil servants. It turns out that by its decision, the court also questioned freedom of expression.

The court decision itself uses a number of very intimidating formulations addressed to Olga Aseinova. According to the court, the woman not only “spread deliberately unreliable socially significant information under the guise of reliable information,” but also created “a threat of harm to the life and health of citizens, a threat of mass disruption of public order and/or public safety,” “a threat of unjustified discontent among the population with vaccination measures against COVID-19 coronavirus infection,” and even created “prerequisites for social tension in the country.”

The experience of the organization “Man and Law” shows that at present it is necessary to weigh every word that is written on the Internet, especially if it is addressed to a high-ranking person, as, for example, in the case of Shevelev v. Markelov. The story of Olga Aseinova demonstrates that the authorities react very sharply to the current topic of vaccination.

Sergei Poduzov, co-chairman of the NGO “Man and Law”:

A person cannot be an expert in all areas, he does not have and is not obliged to have specific knowledge and be responsible for it when he expresses his opinion in relation to a particular problem. Yes, freedom of expression may be restricted on the basis of national legislation and for certain purposes, but in judicial practice we see that the courts actually equate any person with a specialist or official who is responsible for expressing his opinion about purely medical, scientific, statistical knowledge. But what about the discussion in society?

Vladimir Protasov, lawyer of the NGO “Man and Law”:

The main arguments of the defense side are the lack of evidence of intent and motive for committing an administrative offense. In accordance with article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, everyone has the right to freedom of expression. In our opinion, the use of this article to punish a public statement in the form of a comment on a social network is unreasonable.

Currently, Vladimir Protasov has prepared a complaint, which will be considered in the near future in the Volzsk Town Court.

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