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Extremism or expression: Kremlin backs caution in pursuing penalties for Internet reposts

The issue should be regulated, the Kremlin spokesman stressed

MOSCOW, July 5. /TASS/. The Kremlin calls for an exceedingly careful approach to imposing punitive measures on Russian citizens for Internet reposts.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that this issue had been mentioned during the Q&A session with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Of course, the president said that a purely formal approach is out of place here, that is, when it takes on an excessive form," the Kremlin spokesman noted.

According to Peskov, "the issue should be regulated." "This doesn’t mean that we should encourage the spread of extremist or other outlawed material, however, we need to protect the citizens from cases that aren’t even farcical, but quite high-profile," he stressed. "Of course, this issue exists, but a very careful approach is necessary to maintain a balance," Peskov added.

During the annual Q&A session with President Putin, Russian MP Sergey Shargunov raised the issue of article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Inciting hatred and enmity") restricting freedom of thought. According to him, people are sometimes punished not for inciting violence, but for harshly expressing their opinion on social networks.

At the end of June, Shargunov, along with his colleague Aleksey Zhuravlev, introduced a bill to the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) with the aim of establishing fair responsibility for actions that do not present a significant threat to society’s safety, and therefore, cannot be considered a criminal offense. Reposts of news and messages on social networks and on other Internet resources are among such actions.