Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 46

Interfax reported on November 27 that Boris Stomakhin, the editor-in-chief of the publication Radikalnaya Politika (Radical Politics) who has also been a regular contributor to the Chechen separatist Kavkaz-Center website, appealed the five-year prison sentenced handed down against him for fueling religious hatred. RIA Novosti reported on November 20 that Moscow’s Butyrsky Court had found Stomakhin guilty of publicly fueling religious enmity and extremism through the mass media and sentenced him to five years in prison. Stomakhin’s lawyer Aleksei Golubev, who filed the appeal with the Moscow City Court, told Interfax on November 24 that his client wanted the Butyrsky Court’s verdict invalidated and the case reconsidered. Prosecutors had argued that Stomakhin’s stories “endorsed criminals and terrorists, whose actions are aimed at destroying the Russian nation.” Stomakhin, who has been in custody since March 2006, pleaded not guilty.

Several human rights activists denounced the verdict against Stomakhin during a press conference held in Moscow on November 22, Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 23. “The precedent with Stomakhin makes it possible to easily accuse any person who is inconvenient to the authorities,” Valentin Gefter, director of the Human Rights Institute, told reporters. “That will soon turn into a ban on ‘incorrect’ information.” Valery Novodvorskaya, leader of the Democratic Union, predicted that the sentence handed down against Stomakhin was only the start of a wider campaign, “because together with him, the entire human rights sector and the entire democratic movement will be put on trial for disagreeing with the majority, for not accepting the state policy of the RF [Russian Federation], for sympathizing with the Chechen people, for anti-war demonstrations and pickets.”