Vladimir Panin, a third-year student at the State University of Education (GUP), received five days of administrative arrest for reading the memoirs of an SS officer in public transport. The court found the young man guilty of propagating Nazi symbols, as he “failed to show the degree of care and discretion required of him in order to prevent the public display of such paraphernalia or symbols.” On the cover of the book that the student was reading in the subway car, there was a photo of a German soldier in a helmet with the emblem of the SS. Lawyers call the court’s decision “an excess of law enforcement practice”, since the book itself is not included in the register of extremist literature.
On May 6 in the morning, police detained Vladimir Panin, a third-year student at the State University of Education, in a subway car at the Chistye Prudy station. A young man was reading a paper book “The Black March. Memoirs of an SS officer. 1938-1945″ by Peter Neumann. Its cover features a photograph of a soldier in a German helmet with the emblem of the SS (double rune zig). In the Russian Federation, the demonstration of this emblem is prohibited.
The book by Peter Neumann was published in Russian by the Tsentrpoligraf publishing house in 2012. It is not included in the register of extremist materials. At the moment, it can be bought in electronic form, for example, on Litres (Russian service of electronic and audio books). The cover of the book is displayed on the site.
On May 7, the student was taken to the Basmanny District Court, where Judge Irina Guseva found him “guilty of committing an administrative offense under Part 1 of Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation”, that is, of “propaganda or public demonstration of Nazi paraphernalia or symbols.”
The Basmanny Court explained that the third-year student “carried out a public demonstration of Nazi paraphernalia to an unlimited circle of people – passengers of the Moscow Metro”, while reading a book with such a cover in public transport.
Vladimir Panin was sentenced to an administrative arrest for five days with the seizure and subsequent destruction of the book.
Mr. Panin pleaded guilty in court, but asked to take into account that “he does not adhere to the ideologies of Nazism and fascism, but studies the aforementioned material as a historical source due to his education.” The young man is a third-year student at the Faculty of History, Political Science and Law of the State Unitary Enterprise and works in the Metropolitan Archaeological Bureau. He told Kommersant that he bought the book on the Wildberries marketplace and read it for educational and professional purposes.
The court ruling explains that “any actions that make the symbolism and paraphernalia in question available to the perception of other persons, including by exposing it to the public, indicate that the person did not show the degree of care and diligence that was required of him in order to preventing the public display of such paraphernalia or symbols.
Vadim Tkachenko, a lawyer, founder and CEO of the vvCube consulting group, called the court’s decision “an excess of law enforcement practice.” The expert explained that the article on which the judge relied when making the decision contains a note according to which “in the absence of signs of propaganda or justification of Nazi and extremist ideology, the provisions of this article do not apply to the use of Nazi paraphernalia or symbols.” Propaganda and demonstration, in his opinion, could be called a situation in which “a student offered others to read a book, showed it and would associate the positive characteristics of the character with a specific uniform.”
Moreover, according to the lawyer, “historical events and their images cannot be recognized as propaganda when placed as confirmation of a historical fact.”
Alexander Bolomatov, a partner at the law firm YUST, points out that “an appeal against the decision is the best way out” due to the vagueness of the wording.
However, Vladimir Panin does not intend to appeal the court’s decision.