A policeman in Russia's Rostov region attempted to frame a man as a Nazi in order to boost local prosecution rates, a statement released by the Moscow-based SOVA Research Center said Tuesday evening.
The incident took place in January of last year, when the officer used a police database to find a Rostov resident previously convicted of inciting hatred online. The two struck a deal by which the officer would use the resident’s VKontakte social network profile to post the swastika, and then pay the resident’s inevitable fine.
However, the officer was unaware that the Rostov resident recorded their conversations. A local court found the officer guilty of abusing his power and of forgery. His sentence was eventually commuted and he was quickly pardoned.
The court heard that he had wanted to improve arrest statistics related to Russia's anti-extremism laws, which carry fines and jail time for spreading hate speech on the internet.
Ninety percent of all extremism-related convictions in 2015 involved internet activities, Alexander Verkhovsky, head of the SOVA Center, told the Moscow Times in March. More than half of those involved VKontakte.