The Yakutsk City Court has fined Mikhail Romanov, a journalist for Yakutsk Vecherny (The Evening Yakutsk), 30,000 rubles ($475) for “abusing his right to free speech” by “knowingly passing off false information as the truth in a manner that threatens public order,” Interfax reported. Romanov had written an article about libertarian activist Anton Ammosov, who said FSB agents beat him after he wrote online comments about government overreach in terrorism cases.
Initial reports from the newspaper Kommersant and the local outlet Novosti Yakutii indicated that Romanov might be charged with “influencing the subconscious” of his readers “in a manner that negatively affects their well-being.” Ultimately, the reporter was fined under a different section of that same law. According to Novosti Yakutii, the comments police believed may have influenced readers’ “subconscious” read, “This is a story about how anybody can fall into the grindstones of the government’s machine. It’s about how Big Brother is watching us, reading all our comments in online forums.”