The same laws used to imprison the activist musicians of Pussy Riot in Russia are being used to pursue charges regarding posts made by a female blogger, who could face jail time as a consequence. Lyobov Kalugina, a 31-year-old who resides in the Siberian city Omsk, said she’s facing charges regarding posts that she made on Russian social media site VKontakte, as far back as 2013.
Kaligina informed the SOVA center, a respected extremism watchdog in Moscow, that she could face hate speech charges and up to five years in jail for posting about what she described as “some jokes about asses, pussies, and intra-feminist debates.” The charges she faces are under Article 282, which bans the “incitement of national, racial or religious enmity.” The SOVA center said that though some of Kaligina’s content could be seen as inciting violence against men, it should not result in any criminal charges as it posed no real threat, according to Radio Free Europe.
One of the memes features a woman wielding a frying pan and sporting the caption “beat up a brute, save Russia.” Other posts feature profanity and violent images, suffering women or photos of violent altercations.
The investigation started following a complaint by an unnamed Russian man who told police that her posts had insulted him as a “representative of the ‘male’ social group.” Russia’s high number of extremism and hate speech cases in recent years have been criticized by Russian activists, legislators, and social media companies. Until recently, prosecutions were rarely aimed at gender-related posts. The recent crackdown of this online material has affected young Russians in particular.
Kaligina told the Mediazona news website that she knew there was a risk in posting her self-described radical feminist views on the social media site, but she never thought that she could be prosecuted for what she describes as jokes. She noted that the investigation could set a bad precedent.
According to a string of recent social media posts, Kaligina was scheduled for an interrogation by lawyers that was canceled a few hours later. Kaligina did not immediately respond to a request for comment.