Russia arrests US citizen for ‘rehabilitating Nazism’
A court in St. Petersburg on Saturday ordered the arrest of Yuri Malev, a dual US-Russian citizen accused of “rehabilitating Nazism” through hateful social media posts.
Malev has reportedly been living in the US since the early 1990s. According to Russian media reports, he returned to Russia around two weeks ago, entering the country from Estonia by bus, and has been residing at a hotel in central St. Petersburg. Law enforcement seized his smartphone and laptop during a search of his suite.
The case against Malev stems from two offensive posts he made on the Odnoklassniki social media network, the press service of the St. Petersburg judiciary has said. The posts were made last year to coincide with the May 9 Victory Day celebrations.
The posts revolved around the St. George Ribbon, a black and orange band that features in numerous Russian military awards and other symbols. The ribbon, which dates back to Imperial Russia times, has been used by the country’s troops as an identification mark amid the ongoing military operation in Ukraine.
A post by Malev showed a picture of a St. George Ribbon with an offensive description referring to it as “an identification mark for a person of a non-traditional sexual orientation, using obscene language to identify such a person,” according to the judiciary press service. Another post showed the ribbon on a dead person, which Malev described as the “right way” to wear it.
The “rehabilitation of Nazism” article of the Russian penal code entails heavy fines and prison terms of up to five years for those found guilty. Malev has reportedly partially admitted to the offense. The court has ordered him to be held in pre-trial detention despite his defense asking for a milder restriction, such as house arrest.