News Brief

Russian Woman Who Satirized Jesus Online Could Face 6 Years Jail

A woman living in Siberia could face up to six years in prison after being charged with hate speech and extremism for posting memes on social media that satirized Jesus and Orthodox Christian priests.

In what appears to be a continuing trend of Russians being censored for their online activities, Maria Motuznaya is due to go on trial early next month, according to the Moscow Times.

The authorities reportedly deemed her posts “insulting,” but she has been charged under a controversial law purportedly aimed at preventing hate speech, which critics say has increasingly been used to censor what Russians say online.

The case dates back to May, when police raided Motuznaya’s apartment after she had posted the memes on Vkontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, confiscating her phone and computer. But in a tweet, she said she had been inspired to publicize her story after reading allegations of widespread torture in prison which has been making headlines in Russia.

The news comes on the heels of the Russian Duma, or parliament, debating a law to curb fake news which will require internet sites to remove posts deemed to contain “factually inaccurate” information. This too has been widely condemned as another tool of state censorship.