200.000 Roubles as a Fine for a Bad Knowledge of History

A month ago, the regional court of Perm Krai convicted Vladimir Luzgin, for the first time in provincial practice, according to Article 354.1 ‘Rehabilitation of Nazism’ of the Criminal Code, Part One—‘public denial of facts identified by the sentence of the International Military Tribunal for judgement and punishment of the main military criminals of the European states of the Axis, public condoning of the crimes identified by above-noted sentence, as well as dissemination of knowingly false fabrications about the activity of the Soviet Union in the years of World War II’,  that was enacted in a hurry two years ago.  The ‘criminal’ was sentenced to a fine of 200 thousand roubles, that is not too bad, as the maximum punishment in that part is three years of imprisonment.  A criminal case was opened after Luzgin shared in VKontakte social network a link to a propagandistic article of an unknown author, ‘Fifteen Facts about Banderites, or What Kremlin Keeps Silent about’.  As the investigation showed, a huge number of people could read that article by Luzgin’s link—as much as… twenty persons.

What can I say about it?  The text of the article can easily be found in the Internet, and it’s certainly nothing but rubbish.  The author tries to varnish reputation of Stepan Bandera, the infamous leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists during the Second World War, but without any success, as Bandera’s hands are coated with too much innocent blood.  The author also doesn’t know history well, otherwise he wouldn’t have written that ‘communists and Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and thus set off the Second World War’.  As I can understand, it was this phrase that our prosecutors were so angry about.  I can also imagine that a person who shares a link to such a material in a social network is not well-educated either.

What I can’t understand at all, however, is what does this have to do with the Criminal Code.  Especially as the Soviet Union did invade Poland, although not on 1 September, but ‘only’ on 17 September 1939, and did it in accordance to the secret protocol to the German–Soviet non-aggression pact of 23 August.  This fact, of course, was not under consideration at the Nuremberg trials, and we know why.

Of course the case of Luzgin is a purely political process, one could expect something worse in the ‘post-Crimean’ period.  Of course it wasn’t an attempt to establish any kind of censorship.  Nevertheless, this story means that full-aged citizens of this country, if they don’t know history well enough, have now a good chance to get not just a bad mark, but a criminal sentence.  Especially if the issue is the Second World War.  Learn your lessons properly, guys…