Alexey Kungurov is a blogger from Russian Siberia currently serving a two-year sentence in a penal colony for a blog post critical of Russia’s intervention in Syria.

Case Background

Alexey Kungurov is an activist and blogger from Tyumen, Russia. It is claimed that he is a member of the “Committee of January 25,” an informal association of national-patriotic activists and leaders of Russian politics created by Igor Strelkov, a Russian army veteran who played a key role in the Russian occupation of Crimea. However, Kungurov denies this information. According to Novaya Gazeta, Kungurov’s personal blog has more than 7 million unique visitors a year. Russian human rights organization Memorial, who list Kungurov among other Russian political prisoners, has noted that Kungurov does not show support for ISIS or other terrorist groups in Syria and that in his post he only presented his analysis of the situation in the Middle East.

CASE Updates

December 2016: Kungurov is convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment in a penal colony for his LiveJournal blog post on Syria titled,  “Who are Putin’s Falcons Actually Bombing,” in which he criticizes Russian military operations in Syria. Although Kungurov’s post does not proclaim support for ISIS or Al-Nusra, and does not make any calls for violence against Russian forces in Syria, his post is deemed a public call to terrorism per part 1, Article 205.2 of the Russian criminal code.

2016: In the fall of 2016, while Kungurov is awaiting trial, his blog is hacked and his family sent anonymous threats.

June 2016: On June 15, Kungurov is detained and kept in a detention facility. Kungurov’s wife, Asiya, continues to post and tweet under the handle @kungorov. Kungurov is detained until his trial in December 2016.

March 2016: Local police carry out a raid in Kungurov’s apartment and place him under house arrest.  His arrest comes the day after publishing another post called “What should Russia do with Donbass and Crimea?” and occurred alongside the similar arrest of popular blogger Anton Nosik, who is accused of extremism and charged 500,000 rubles ($8,000) for a controversial blog post supporting Russian operations in Syria.

October 2015: Kungurov publishes a post on Syria entitled “Who are Putin’s Falcons Actually Bombing,” which criticizes Russian military operations in Syria.

FREE EXPRESSION IN Russia

As political constraints tighten on free expression in Russia, divergent views are increasingly unwelcome on any platform. The years of President Vladimir Putin’s dominance have brought Kremlin control to virtually all media outlets and progressively to other cultural spaces and modes of expression, including social activism, scholarship, art, and theater. The result has been to populate the discourse with “approved’’ ideas and raise the stakes on dissent, which most recently accumulated in the ever-returning conversation of censoring and controlling the Internet even more.

PEN America works to aid and elevate Russian writers fighting limits on free discourse and open access to information, including but not limited to hosting independent novelists, poets, and journalists for public events and high-level briefings in the United States, building ties with U.S. literary, cultural, and human rights communities, and publishing a comprehensive report, Discourse in Danger: Attacks on Free Expression in Putin’s Russia.

 

IN THEIR WORDS

Alexey Kungurov’s blog: http://kungurov.livejournal.com/

Who are Putin’s Falcons Actually Bombing?

What should Russia do with Donbass and Crimea?