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Blogger Sentenced for Criticizing Russian Aid to Ukrainian Citizens

Anatoly Pleshanov / Vkontakte

A court in St. Petersburg has sentenced a blogger for a social media post in which he criticized Russian support for Ukrainian refugees.

Anatoly Pleshanov was added to a terrorism list in 2016 after he allegedly wrote an incendiary post on the popular social media site VK, the Moscow-based SOVA research center said Monday in an online statement.  

According to official accounts, Russia has spent at least 5 billion rubles ($84 million) on aid for Ukrainians who have fled the ongoing conflict in their country. Russia has been accused of fomenting the conflict in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and the Kiev regime following the toppling of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych — a claim Russia denies.

SOVA cited a court ruling as saying that Pleshanov “wrote that he’s dissatisfied with Russia’s and Russian citizens’ help to Ukrainian residents."

“The author believes that the Russian population itself doesn’t enjoy this level of help and support in their country.” 

On Monday, a district court in St. Petersburg handed Pleshanov a one-year suspended sentence for inciting national hatred.

The exact content of the post has not been made public or included in court documents, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

SOVA says Pleshanov unjustly faced criminal charges, arguing in its online statement that his post could at most be interpreted as insulting.

But, following the ruling, Pleshanov wrote in a post on his VK page that he was “pleased” with the sentence.

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