Russia Court Rejects Appeal Of Blogger Sentenced To Five Years

A court in Moscow has rejected the appeal of a Russian blogger sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of inciting violence against children of National Guard officers on Twitter.

Moscow City Court on October 4 ruled that Vladislav Sinitsa must serve his sentence, rejecting arguments by his lawyers that his words were not a call to action.

Last month, a court in Moscow found Sinitsa guilty of inciting hatred, a charge that falls under Russia’s tough anti-extremism legislation.

In his July 31 tweet, Sinitsa, using the pseudonym Max Steklov, imagined a situation in which people located the homes of law enforcement officers to kidnap and kill their children.

Sinitsa, speaking via a video link, told the court on October 4: "No one should be jailed for words and thoughts."

He said that Russia is now "living in some kind of Middle Ages."

His defense team asked for the punishment to be softened to a noncustodial sentence, saying Sinitsa was not dangerous to the public.

Opposition politician Aleksei Navalny had called the tweet “really dumb,” but said it was idiotic to issue such a harsh sentence.

On October 3, dozens of Russian bloggers signed an open letter, calling for Sinitsa's immediate release.

Russia has in recent years increasingly criminalized online content, frequently jailing people for sharing or publishing information deemed extremist or illegal.

The law currently forbids the sharing of content judged extremist, though rights groups say this label is also applied to opposition material.