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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Rules Internet Magazine ‘Extremist’

The Samizdat online magazine, which has published thousands of aspiring authors, ended up on the Justice Ministry’s list of extremist publications because of a local activist’s feud with his former employer.

A city court in the Vologda region town of Cherepovets ruled in April that the magazine, available at Zhurnal.lib.ru, was extremist because it contained articles criticizing the town’s main employer, Severstal. The site was automatically included on a list of banned literature, alongside works by Nazis, skinheads and radical Islamists.

Vitaly Dunayev, a retired Severstal employee and critic of its management, was blacklisted after attacking Severstal owner Alexei Mordashov in his articles for Samizdat and on his personal site, hosted by Yandex.

Dunayev said banning the entire library, rather than just his articles, was likely done my mistake. “Our bureaucrats are very foolish, this is common knowledge,” he told The Moscow Times by phone from Cherepovets.

“The Cherepovets court banned [poets Alexander] Pushkin, [Mikhail] Lermontov and [Marina] Tsvetayeva together with me. … It’s nice to be in such company,” he said.

The records for his case were not posted on the court’s web site, but one of his articles is still available on Samizdat’s site. It contains a letter from local prosecutors saying Dunayev’s writing was “propaganda” against officials and Severstal management.

Samizdat means self-published and refers to Soviet-era dissident literature published underground.

Dunayev’s personal site, Barbos111.narod.ru, was closed by the court. He then moved to another web site, where he mocked the court’s decision to label an entire Internet library as extremist.

Officials at the Cherepovets court declined immediate comment when contacted by The Moscow Times on Thursday, while Justice Ministry representatives were unavailable.

Since the magazine is on the extremist list, distribution of its articles is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine of up to 3,000 rubles ($100) and up to 15 days in jail for an individual. A legal entity could be fined up to 100,000 rubles and be closed for up to 90 days.

The Justice Ministry can only remove an item from the list if requested by the court that found it extremist, or if a higher court overturns the ruling.

Maxim Moshkov, who owns the magazine, told The Moscow Times that his web site’s appearance on the extremist list didn’t bother him. He also owns the Moshkov Library, the country’s oldest and best-known collection of freely available literature.

“It’s enough for me that the court decision refers to ‘materials,’ but not the site itself,” he said.

Yandex was ordered to close Dunayev’s personal site, but Moshkov hasn’t been ordered to pull Samizdat or the article. “I’ll remove an article if I’m told to, but I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” he said.