Russian Blogger Vows to Fight Conviction

internet-bolger.jpgMOSCOW ~ A Russian blogger convicted of inciting hatred for his online comments vowed to fight his conviction this week as his supporters criticized attempts by Russian officials to restrict speech on the internet.

“I don’t feel that I committed any crime,” Savva Terentyev, who received a one-year suspended sentence last week for fiercely criticizing the police in online comments, said at a press conference in Moscow.

Terentyev, a musician and blogger from the northern city of Syktyvkar, was convicted for writing that “infidel cops” should be burnt in public squares “like in Auschwitz” in comments on the blog of a local journalist.

While admitting the comments were “fairly sharp,” Terentyev did not retract his words. “I don’t have a single friend who hasn’t had unpleasant encounters with the police,” he said.

Police in Russia have a reputation for corruption and are widely distrusted.

A lawyer for Terentyev, Vladislav Kosnyrev, said the bloggers’ lawyers had appealed his conviction on Monday and would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if necessary.

Terentyev and his lawyer spoke alongside Anton Nosik, a prominent Russian blogger and internet entrepreneur, who said attempts to police speech on the internet were “clumsy and ignorant.”

On Friday, Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said the internet should be treated like any media outlet, a change that would allow authorities to punish internet users who published “extremist” content.

“Today it is becoming ever more important to bring criminal penalties for the promotion of extremism and terrorism on the internet,” Nurgaliyev said at a meeting of top law-enforcement officials, the ministry’s web site said.

The Russian-language internet has remained a source of uncensored news and discussion in recent years, even after most major Russian media outlets began to follow a strictly pro-Kremlin line.

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