Jailed for a Like

Coda’s mini-documentary series tells the stories of Russians who have been prosecuted or imprisoned for their posts, shares or likes on social media.

Jailed for a Like | Episode One: Pokemon Games

We spoke to Elena Chingina, the mother of 22-year-old Ruslan Sokolvksy, while he awaited his trial date in pre-trial detention in a Yekaterinburg prison. On August 11, 2016 Ruslan uploaded a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in a church. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested at home and charged with offending the religious feelings of believers. In May 2017, Sokolovsky was given a three and a half year suspended sentence for “inciting hatred” and “breaching the right to freedom of religion. A main part of Sokolovsky’s guilty verdict rested on his “denial of the existence of God” said the judge when she read the verdict.

Jailed for a Like | Episode Two: When Caring Becomes a Crime

This is a story of young mother from Russia’s Kurgan region who was sentenced to six months in prison in 2016 for sharing a video on the Russian social media platform Vkontake. On March 6, 2016 the Kurgan regional court released Evgeniya from prison, one month before the end of her sentencing. The case of Evgeniya Chudnovets sparked debate across Russia about how Russians should behave on social media.

Jailed for a Like | Episode Three: Silencing the Poet

This is a story of Alexandr Byvshev, a poet and a schoolteacher from Russia’s Oryol region who was sentenced to 300 hours of labor for posting a poem about Ukraine that criticized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2015. His poem was added to Russia’s list of extremist materials and a second case was opened regarding a second poem he had written about Ukraine.

Jailed for a Like | Episode Four: A Family Accused of Extremism

This is the story of an electrical engineer from the city of Tver who was arrested in 2015 for extremism and sentenced to two years in prison for his social media posts. The “evidence” of his extremism was a series of articles he shared about Russian forces in Ukraine. After his release, the family moved to Ukraine.

Jailed for a Like | Episode Five: Criticism or Terrorism?

This is the story of Aleksey Kungurov, a blogger from the city of Tyumen sentenced to two years in prison in 2016 for his post which criticized Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria.

Jailed for a Like | Episode Six: The Lucky One Percent

This is the story of Natalia Vahonina, a journalist from the city of Nizhny Tagil who says that Russia’s laws on extremism on social media were used to try and silence her investigation into local corruption in 2018.

The story you just read is a small piece of a complex and an ever-changing storyline that Coda covers relentlessly and with singular focus. But we can’t do it without your help. Show your support for journalism that stays on the story by becoming a member today. Coda Story is a 501(c)3 U.S. non-profit. Your contribution to Coda Story is tax deductible.

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