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Russian Court Jails Man 3 Years For Criticizing Child’s Pro-War Hat

The 11-year-old boy (left) and Alexander Neustroev (right). Video grab

A court in Russia’s Urals region has sentenced a man to three years in prison for insulting a child who wore a pro-war hat, regional prosecutors announced Monday. 

The Oktyabrsky District Court in Yekaterinburg found Alexander Neustroev guilty of “hooliganism committed with the threat of violence, motivated by hatred against a social group,” according to the Sverdlovsk region Prosecutor’s Office.

Neustroev was arrested in April 2023 after he told an 11-year-old boy, who was wearing a hat with the militarist Z symbol, to “shove the hat up your a**, moron.” Law enforcement authorities released a video of him apologizing following the arrest.

Neustroyev was initially fined on charges of “hooliganism” as part of a court-ordered settlement instead of a criminal conviction. However, following an outcry from Russia’s community of staunch war supporters, prosecutors announced they would seek a new trial against him.

“During the new review, the court refused to satisfy the investigator’s request to terminate the criminal case and impose a court fine and returned the criminal case to the head of the investigative body,” the Sverdlovsk region Prosecutor’s Office said Monday. 

The 11-year-old boy, whose father is reportedly fighting in Moscow’s war against Ukraine, was given an award by local authorities last year and offered to speak to other schoolchildren about the aims of the full-scale invasion.

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