Russian man arrested for joke about Russian retreat from Kherson

14 March, 11:19 AM
Russian published an anecdote about the escape of the invaders from Kherson (Photo:REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

Russian published an anecdote about the escape of the invaders from Kherson (Photo:REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

A Russian man from Ryazan Oblast is facing the music after posting a joke about Russia’s humiliating retreat from Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast days after announcing it was “forever part of Russia”, Russia’s OVD-Info reported on March 4.

He has been charged with discrediting the Russian army for posting the following joke on the Russian social media network VKontakte on Nov. 9:

“I haven’t read a genuinely funny joke for a long time – Sergey (Shoigu, Russian Defense Minister), why are we retreating from Kherson? Volodya, (familiar form of Vladimir (Putin)) you ordered that Ukraine be liberated from Nazis and fascists...”.

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Russian security forces obviously didn’t find the joke funny – they came knocking on the man’s door in February, knocking him to the ground, beating him, and putting him in handcuffs. His home was searched and his electronic equipment was seized.

He was charged with repeatedly discrediting the Russian army (Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The man had previously been fined 30,000 rubles ($399) for comments he made on VKontakte last summer.

Russia, a police state and dictatorship, also has laws against using the word “war” to describe Russia’s war against Ukraine – the Kremlin propaganda phrase “Special Military Operation” must be used instead.

Protests, even single person ones, are usually not tolerated, especially in large cities.

And while the Russian army’s incompetent performance in Ukraine has made it the butt of many jokes, there is mounting evidence its troops have committed atrocities, war crimes, and acts of genocide.

U.S. newspaper the New York Times reported on March 13 that the International Criminal Court was to open two war crimes cases against Russia – one on the abduction of Ukrainian children (a possible act of genocide) and another on deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure.

However, the Kremlin may be able to thumb its nose at the court, as it does not try suspects in absentia, and Russia is unlikely to surrender the top Russian officials who will likely be named as defendants in the cases.

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