The recent transfer of Russian blogger Andrey Bubeev to a penal colony with tougher conditions represents a continuation of the intimidation faced by independent journalists and bloggers in Russia, PEN America said in a statement.

Today, a Zavolzhsky Court tightened conditions for Bubeev, who was sentenced to 2 years and 3 months internment in a penal colony settlement for reposting pictures about Crimea. As the decision enters into force on December 23, Bubeev will now be moved to a penal colony with medium security.

According to his wife, Anastasia Bubeeva, who announced the developments on her Facebook page earlier this week, since the beginning of his sentence, her husband has been accused of more than 60 violations of the rules of the penal colony, which were purportedly falsified for the purpose of requesting his transfer. Bubeeva says that Andrey’s calls for inmates to read books – “all books, not specific ones” – was considered as “bad influence on others.”

“Andrey Bubeev was sentenced solely as a result of his online expression. He shouldn’t be incarcerated in the penal colony in the first place, and toughening conditions for him is inhumane and absurd,” said Polina Kovaleva, Free Expression Program Coordinator for Eurasia at PEN America. “We call on Russian authorities in Tver to immediately release Andrey Bubeev and drop all charges against him.”

Bubeev was charged in May 2016 for a total duration of 2 years and 3 months in a penal colony settlement based on Part II of Article 280 (call for extremism) and Part II of Article 280.1 (calls for separatism) for reposts stating that Crimea belongs to Ukraine. Earlier this week, another Russian blogger, Alexey Kungurov was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in a penal colony settlement for a LiveJournal post criticizing Russia’s military operation in Syria.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT:

Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: sedkins@pen.org, +1 646.779.4830

Polina Kovaleva, Free Expression Programs Coordinator, Eurasia: pkovaleva@pen.org, +1.212.334.1660