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FSB agents got this ‘Internet extremism’ suspect drunk and filmed him. A court says the footage is legitimate case evidence.

Meduza

Oral arguments are done in the case against Dmitry Tretyakov, the Primorsky Krai lawyer charged with inciting extremism online. He is the first Telegram user to be tried in Russia for the felony offense; all previous cases in Russia involving criminal charges and social-media reposts have been against VKontakte users. Tretyakov’s current arrest expires on April 4.

Sergey Valiulin, Tretyakov’s lawyer and an attorney at Open Russia's Human Rights project, told Meduza that he tried to stop the court from admitting footage recorded by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents as case evidence. The four-hour-long video from April 2018 shows Tretyakov and another arrested man named Andrey Ternopolsky drinking alcohol that was provided by the FSB. Valiulin says this was a ploy by federal agents to induce his client to confess to the felony charges. The Primorsky court overruled Valiulin’s objection, however, agreeing with prosecutors that the footage was obtained legitimately in a covert operation.

Tretyakov’s trial will resume on March 27, and Valiulin says he expects a verdict no later than March 29. Prosecutors have requested a two-year prison sentence.

Valiulin accuses the state of “shrewd maneuvering”: “If the court agrees, then Dmitry will be freed automatically, because his time in pretrial detention recently hit the one-year mark, and in these situations time served is calculated on the principle of two days for each day.”

Valiulin says procedural violations have marred Tretyakov’s trial. He highlights the fact that defense attorneys weren’t given sufficient time to prepare their oral arguments. Human rights advocates are already planning to bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Tretyakov faces felony extremism charges because he shared a Telegram post by Arkady Babchenko, the Ukraine-based firebrand journalist who made world headlines last year for faking his own murder. When reposting the content, Tretyakov added the comment, “Agreed.” Russian federal officials say this amounts to inciting “extremist activities.” Investigators have not filed any related charges against Babchenko, however.

Vladislav Gorin

Translation by Kevin Rothrock