“Being aware of the fact that not all Russian citizens were equally receptive to Russia’s latest territorial gains, as well as realizing that the consequences, such as internal political unrest, aggravated by the economic sanctions against Russia, will bring the country to the brink of disaster, the Russian authorities elected to suppress civil liberties,” wrote Nariman Jelyal on his Facebook page.

According to him, any attempts to raise a voice of dissent against Russia’s latest territorial policy will be severely punished from now on.

“That is what the yesterday’s trial of the Crimean Tatar activist goes to show,” said Nariman Jelyal.

He claims that Russian laws prescribing punishment for encroachment on Russia’s territorial integrity and incitement of interethnic hatred ‘can be too broadly interpreted’.

“Now the police will get to charge with extremism and separatism everyone they consider disloyal. Too bad. A country, which was about to become free and unshackled, threw itself into a chasm, whence it once emerged and where the ghosts of the Evil Empire and Stalin, once barely alive and bodiless, are now beginning to take shape, while those brainwashed and zombified by propaganda are picking up scraps of the Iron Curtain,” Jelyal concludes.

Rafis Kashapov, a Crimean Tatar activist, was sentenced to 3 years in prison following a verdict handed down by a court in the town of Naberezhny Chelny (Russia). After being placed under arrest at his place on December 28, he was searched and taken to Kazan where a judge of the Sovetsky district court named Erik Khabibulin ruled that he be kept in custody until the end of February 2015.

Under Section 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (incitement of hatred or enmity) which prescribes a prison term of up to 4 years, Rafis Kashapov was held in pre-trial custody.

In January, Kashapov went on a hunger strike to protest his arrest and initiation of a criminal case against him. Kashapov is charged with posting a comment on his VKontakte (Russian social media) page comprised of three texts and one captioned picture in July-December 2014.

The interesting thing is that one of the texts was written not by Kashapov but by his twin brother Nafis Kashapov, also a famous social activist, who has been living in Poland since 2005. This is a second criminal case initiated against Kashapov under Section 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Under the first sentence, handed down in April 2009, the activist was given a 1,5-year suspended prison sentence.