A second passport, especially a residence, there are millions of Russians. Not all of it has notified authorities, as required by law. But for political purposes a prosecution for it is the first time, writes Ivan Preobrazhensky.
Against the publisher of “media zones” Peter Verzilova opened a criminal case in connection with the presence of his canadian citizenship. Now Verzilovo face fines of up to 200 thousand roubles, retention of income for a period of one year in favor of the state or, alternatively, compulsory work for a term up to 400 hours.
Prior to this, journalist and public figure was arrested on charges of organizing mass riots, but were unable to confirm it. Then, right at the exit of the court, for disorderly conduct. Now, finally, opened a criminal case. Could it be the signal for the whole of the opposition?
The repressive rule of law awakens
Suffice it to recall that the formal author of the act obliging the holder of a second citizenship or residence permit abroad, to denounce himself, was the Deputy Andrei Lugovoi, the former intelligence officer, who in the UK has been implicated in the murder of a former colleague, Alexander Litvinenko. This symbolic fact suggests that this law was not passable for the Russian authorities. In 2014, in June the document was signed by Vladimir Putin.
According to initial estimates by the Russian authorities, the country had to gain about 5 million, then holders of the residence permit or the second citizenship, which was supposed to notify the state. Those of them who did not, considered to be hiding this information. However, for the late notification or incorrect registration this form they face only administrative punishment, from 500 to 1,000 rubles. Criminal term, as it was explained, is only for “persistent evaders”.
As a result, in 2015 more than 70 thousand people were fined for administrative article. More than a million – have registered as the law required. Of criminal cases in that time there were only a few, and the peculiar resonance they have not caused, because it was not about media and public of important persons. Now all of a sudden criminal charges brought against Peter Verzilova, which is the publisher of one of the best contemporary Russian media, independent from the Kremlin. And it is a clear signal that slept the last five years of the repressive rule of law awakens.
Certification of the Russian opposition
It is no secret that today in Russia the repressive measures by the authorities stamped a significant portion of independent, professional journalists and representatives of the political opposition. As shown in the case of Ivan Safronov, who was detained on charges of treason immediately after the call Verzilova in for questioning, fears these people for their life and freedom are not unfounded.
Some, like the Chechen blogger Mamiano Umarov, it is impossible to hide even in Austria, they are killed abroad. Many of them, therefore, are owners of a second passport or residence permit. To convey to themselves they fear, not wanting to be drawn up by the Russian authorities of registers that can always be the basis of criminal cases. Thus these people now fall into a different registry. If they do not live permanently abroad and come regularly to Russia, fall under the same article, which now intend to judge Peter Verzilova.
His case is clearly to be taken as a sign. Adoption of amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation actually makes Vladimir Putin’s permanent ruler, but a set of invented for Russia’s “traditional values” – in fact, mandatory for all code like “the Moral code of the Builder of communism.” Further, it seems that in the course of going previously harvested over the past years, which is seen by many as dormant legislation. Rules which, it seemed, the authorities themselves have accepted in a hurry and was not willing to apply.
From publishers to bloggers
From the point of view of the law, if having a second citizenship from Verzilova is proven, he will be found guilty. Punishment is at best a fine, at worst the mandatory work. And public support, he probably will not get – the more resonant criminal cases against his colleagues on journalistic shop.
For authorities, it is highly likely, it will signal that it is time to awaken and to involve other sleeping normal. It may be the recognition of individuals as “foreign agents”, and the use of sanctions against bloggers equal to mass media.
But everything is going to a new attempt to introduce in Russia the Institute of deprivation of citizenship. It tried several times to create under the old Constitution, but these attacks could reflect the efforts of civil society and common parts of the state apparatus. Now the odds not only that this idea will again be proposed pseudo-Patriotic public, but also on its implementation.