Newsweek

How a Social Media Post in Russia Can Land You in Jail

A little-known police agency known as Center E is cracking down on dissent.
Opposition activists have begun referring to Center E officers as oshranka, which was a czarist-era secret police force.
PER_Russia_01 Source: Illustration by Alex Fine

It was just before 6 a.m. when police officers raided Daniil Markin’s apartment in Barnaul, a small Russian city some 2,000 miles from Moscow. Markin, a film student who was 18 at the time of the July 2017 raid, had no idea why police had burst into his home. The officers, he says, were in no hurry to explain. Instead, they removed his computers, smartphone and other electronic devices, then drove him to the local branch of the Center for Combating Extremism, a police department within Russia’s powerful Interior Ministry.

Officers from the so-called Center E then informed Markin that he was being charged with hate speech against Christians over a handful of images that he had either reposted or saved to his account on VKontakte, Russia’s version of Facebook, which is also known as VK. The earliest dated from 2013, when he was just 13. Markin did not create any of the images, most of which had already been widely circulated online, but he now faces up to five years in prison over the

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Newsweek

Newsweek2 min read
The Grandest Olympic Stadiums of All Time
The excitement over the 2020 Summer Olympics has been building since Tokyo won the bid to host the prestigious event, edging out Istanbul and Madrid. Then began the process of erecting buildings worthy of inspiring the entire world. Now, as the 121-d
Newsweek4 min readPolitics
Which Democrat is Winning the Hollywood Primary?
WHEN ACTOR JACK BLACK GOT A STAR ON Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 2018, he volunteered this political commentary: “Donald Trump’s a piece of shit.” In a recent column for Variety, Barbra Streisand was more circumspect but just as passionate, writing th
Newsweek4 min readSociety
Constitutional Test
THE U.S. SUPREME COURT HEARD arguments in the case of June Medical Services v. Russo on March 4. While the name of the case may not be widely known, the issue raised has been a centerpiece of partisan politics for half a century—namely, abortion righ