Support The Moscow Times!

Federal Police Raid Russian Classroom and Arrest High Schooler for Online Extremism

Pixabay

Federal police raided a classroom at a high school in Perm this October, in search of a 16-year-old student named “Mark R.,” according to the local news website “Periscope” (unrelated to the video-streaming app). When Federal Security Service agents found Mark, they arrested him on the spot and took him in for questioning.

In a story that’s now familiar in Russia, the boy is in trouble because of something he wrote online.

The supposedly criminal remark occurred last spring, when Mark got into an argument on Vkontakte, Russia’s largest social network, with a Christian student from his school. At one point in the exchange, Mark wrote, “Churches should be burned down.” According to Periscope, Mark self-identifies as pagan.

Local police reportedly conducted a linguistic analysis of Mark’s comment about churches — a favorite tactic in Russian law enforcement — and determined that his words “illegally advocated hostility.”

Federal agents also visited Mark’s school twice for “explanatory conversations,” meeting with him and with his teachers, according to the local radio station “Echo of Perm.” The teenager then deleted his remark about burning down churches.

But that wasn’t enough, it seems, and Mark now faces five years in prison, if convicted of advocating extremism. After his interrogation by federal police, he was released on his own recognizance.

According to Echo of Perm, the arrest occurred in October, but Periscope, which was the first to report the incident, only learned about it this Monday.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.