The trial in the criminal case of libel against the veteran of the Great Patriotic War Ignat Artyomenko will continue on February 12. It was expected that the decision will be made this Friday, but at the meeting they heard only the materials of the case and the testimony of witnesses. The veteran who took part in the video about the amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation believes that he was personally insulted by blogger Alexei Navalny, who called the participants in the recording traitors. Ignat Artyomenko and his relatives demanded an apology, but they did not follow either before the trial or at the hearing. On the contrary, the defendant continued the insults. Alexei Navalny was present in court on February 5, but the streets of Moscow were quiet – his supporters did not organize rallies in support.
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Honor and conscience
The meeting in the hall of the Babushkinsky District Court started at 10 am. By the beginning, in addition to the participants in the process, the first secretary of the French Embassy Iuan Yures arrived. In addition, the journalists noticed a representative of the British diplomatic mission, but he could not explain why he came and recommended contacting the embassy for comments.
This time the defendant’s supporters did not come to support him, Alexei Navalny’s wife was not there either, and the lawyers had to wait – they were late. 95-year-old Ignat Artyomenko considered it necessary to personally, albeit via video link, take part in the court on his own claim.
“I fought, served 38 years in the army, and in July at my dacha I learned that he called me a traitor,” the veteran said at the meeting. – I will defend my honor.
The man who liberated his country from the Nazis as part of the Second Belorussian Front was declared a “traitor” on Twitter. Last summer, Ignat Artyomenko in one of the videos supported the adoption of amendments to the Constitution. Alexei Navalny called the veteran, and along with him others who spoke out on this topic, “a team of corrupt lackeys”, “a shame of the country”, “people without conscience” and “traitors.” Ignat Artyomenko did not immediately find out about what had happened – the family tried to hide this fact from him, the veteran’s grandson Igor Kolesnikov told Izvestia.
– Grandpa felt very bad. I had to call an ambulance, – he said.
The doctor who arrived then diagnosed him with ischemic heart disease on a nervous basis. Nurse Ignat Artemenko, testifying later in court, noted that since then he had “tears in his eyes”.
Without even knowing him
The case under part 2 of Article 128.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was opened by the Investigative Committee on June 15, 2020. Preliminary hearings were held on August 17, but after the blogger was in a Berlin clinic, the court suspended the process. As it turned out, six months was not enough for the lawyers and Navalny to get acquainted with the case materials. So the meeting had to be adjourned for an hour.
Later, the process was interrupted more than once: during the meeting, Ignat Artemenko became ill, an ambulance was called for him. A few hours later, the accused became infuriated and began to insult the plaintiff’s relatives.
– You trade with your grandfather. He raised a prostitute grandson, – shouted Navalny to Igor Kolesnikov.
The court had to interrupt for five minutes so that the lawyers of Alexei Navalny reassured their client. Otherwise, they threatened to remove him from the meeting.
“It was very offensive for me,” Ignat Artemenko testified, referring to the video in which the oppositionist insulted him. – I did not understand how Navalny, without even knowing me, could say this about me to the whole country. I worried for a long time, and my health deteriorated. My grandson Igor came to me, and I asked him to punish Navalny for his bad words.
Before the trial, Alexei Navalny did not apologize to the veteran, Igor Kolesnikov emphasized. The grandson of Ignat Artemenko added that he has no bloodthirstiness towards the blogger, but he also has no pity with compassion, since he “poured out a lot of dirt.”
The veteran demanded a public apology. The defense insisted that what was said in the video did not relate to him personally.
– He insulted a veteran of the Great Patriotic War. He called this man a traitor, a shame of the country and a lackey. He meant everyone who starred in the video, Ignatenko is that an exception? This is unacceptable for me, my grandfather fought on the second Belorussian front, ”the plaintiff’s witness Vladimir Akimov told Izvestia.
At about six o’clock in the evening, the judge announced the postponement of the hearing. It will continue on February 12 at 10 am.
Softness of the law
– This is actually a serious substantive moment – speaking out against veterans, insulting veterans, an issue related to the glorification of Nazism and, conversely, belittling the feat of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War, – stressed Maxim Grigoriev, a member of the public chamber of the Russian Federation, director of the Institute for Democracy Problems. – We understand that this is an important part of our history, which people like Navalny want to destroy.
The essence of Navalny’s accusation boils down to the fact that on Twitter the defendant called the war veteran a “corrupt lackey”, slandering him, says lawyer Sergei Maksimov.
– The word lackey has a meaning – ingratiating, low-worshiping servant. In combination with the adjective corrupt, it means that this is a person who performed his actions in favor of the master for rewards, his actions were unworthy, at least immoral, ”he clarified.
As explained by the Candidate of Legal Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of Criminal Law of the Moscow State Law Academy. O.E. Kutafina Anastasia Rogulina, for violation of Article 128.1 Part 2, a fine of up to 1 million rubles, compulsory labor for up to 240 hours, forced labor for two years, arrest for up to two months or imprisonment for two years may follow. However, in the overwhelming majority of cases, a person is not imprisoned under this article.
In December, Article 128.1 of the Criminal Code “on libel” was supplemented with a provision stating that criminal liability is established for libel on the Internet against several persons or individually. However, it is impossible to apply all the severity of Article 128.1 to Alexei Navalny, since the case against him was initiated earlier, and the criminal law does not have retroactive effect, the managing partner of Legas Bureau LLC Maria Spiridonova.
Dozens of criminal cases are initiated for libel in Russia, said Sergei Maksimov.
– In 2019, 83 people were convicted under all five parts of 128.1, Article 83, but it is justifiably seven times more – 650 people. In 2018, 129 people were convicted, ” the lawyer said, noting that statistics for 2020 have not yet been released.
He added that libel is criminalized in many countries of the world and the punishment in many is even more severe.
– So, in some US states, libel may be punished with up to 10 years in prison and millions in fines. In France and Germany up to five years in prison, in Italy up to three years in prison, – said Sergei Maksimov.
By the way, given that on February 2 the suspended sentence in the case of Yves Rocher was replaced by a real one, the hours of obligatory work can be re-read on additional days of imprisonment, lawyers do not rule out.
Elena Tsunaeva, co-chairman of the Central Headquarters of the Immortal Regiment movement, believes that the blogger has offended a whole generation with his statements.
“The generation that fought, the generation that worked in the rear, and the generation that restored our entire Motherland after the war,” she said in an interview with REN TV. – Personally, I also feel insulted. If there was such a legal opportunity, I would also sue him.
Problems with respecting the memory of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War were noticed not only among Navalny, but also among his supporters. In May 2019, they uploaded photographs of the Nazis to the website of the Immortal Regiment. So, according to the UK, a resident of Perm, Daniil Simonov, who supports Navalny’s headquarters, posted a photo of General Vlasov, who went over to the enemy during the war years. Another detainee in this case, Andrei Shabanov from Samara, uploaded a photo of Adolf Hitler.
On January 30, supporters of the defendant mocked in social networks the death of the legendary Soviet and Russian artist Vasily Lanovoy. For example, a user under the nickname “Our Canada”, actively posting in support of Navalny, wrote that Lanovoy should have died 20 years ago.
On the decline
Not all supporters of Alexei Navalny share these views. Perhaps that is why they did not gather on February 5 at the Babushkinsky court building. After the massive rallies on January 23 and 31, they also refused to hold new rallies in the near future. The blogger’s headquarters coordinator Leonid Volkov announced that the protests are planned to resume in the spring. This tactic is understandable, since Navalny has already exhausted his status as a “protest icon”, believes the head of the Political Expert Group, Konstantin Kalachev.
– It is not necessary to take everything into routine and bring the protest to the gradual extinction of the opposition itself. A new trigger will appear in the spring and summer – new federal elections. Navalny played his role as a trigger for the protest, but then we need to look for other reasons, ”he explained to Izvestia.
The expert also noted that protest moods will grow before the elections, but there is a big difference between the mood and going out. Government officials recognize differences in views and opinions, but call for nonviolent struggle.
– Different views and opinions have been and will be in society. They may spill over into protests, but the actions should be peaceful and not interfere with the normal life of other people, ”Alexander Khinshtein, head of the State Duma committee on information policy, information technology and communications, explained to Izvestia.
He also added that the state does not perceive the protesters as enemies. When young people chant “We are not enemies,” this is a statement of fact recognized by all parties, he summed up.