Russian police reportedly stopped a convoy of tanks marked with swastikas traveling down a highway outside of St. Petersburg this week.
Changes to Russian law in 2014 made it a criminal offense to display any form of Nazi symbol, regardless of intent. The decision has seen prosecutions soar from 480 cases in 2013 to 1,800 in 2016, according to Russia’s Supreme Court data collated by rights groups.
About half a dozen armored vehicles, tanks and low-bed semi-trailers were stopped on approach to the island town of Kronstadt, where heavy vehicles are banned, the Fontanka.ru news website reported Friday.
The equipment was due to take part in a re-enactment of the Battle of Stalingrad on Sunday, but traffic police said they were not notified on time, pointed to missing paperwork and criticized the tanks for ‘moving chaotically through the city.‘
The incident took place a month after a Russian opposition activist was fined for publishing a picture with Nazi symbols from a history textbook cover that depicted the Soviet victory parade on Red Square in 1945.
This week, opposition leader Alexei Navalny called on his supporters to repost the same photo in the wake of the fine in what he termed an ’anti-idiocy" campaign.