Global Freedom of Expression

The Case of Chesnokov A.V.

Closed Contracts Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Electronic / Internet-based Communication
  • Date of Decision
    July 8, 2015
  • Outcome
    Criminal Sanctions, Monetary Damages / Fines
  • Case Number
  • Region & Country
    Russian Federation, Europe and Central Asia
  • Judicial Body
    First Instance Court
  • Type of Law
    Criminal Law
  • Themes
    Hate Speech
  • Tags
    Social Media, Content-Based Restriction

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Chesnakov published videos and photos on a social network website. The videos and photos contained discriminatory messages and Nazi symbols. The court found Chesnokov guilty of incitement of hatred and extremism, fining him, sanctioning his travel, and mandating good behavior.


Chesnokov created a personal page on a Russian social networking website. On his page, he published several videos and photos that contained discriminatory speech and Nazi symbols. For this, he was charged with violating Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code that prohibits incitement of hatred or hostility, and humiliation of human dignity.

Decision Overview

Chesnakov plead guilty to all charges. To establish guilt under Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, the prosecution needed to show that Chesnokov intentionally and with full knowledge, committed public acts aimed at incitement of hatred or hostility against a specific group of people.

First, the court established that users of the website where Chesnakov shared his materials were notified to not post information that would be discriminatory or offensive and that it was the user’s responsibility to self-censor. In case of uncertainty over the legality of information, the website recommended to not publish the questionable material. These rules were available in Russian and foreign languages.

Then, the court determined that Chesnakov had negative opinions of Jews and persons from the Caucasus.  The court did not specify the basis for its determination of this negative opinion.

The court accepted the findings of a linguistic examination that found the materials that Chesnokov posted on the website to have had the aim of inciting hatred or hostility, and humiliation of dignity of a group of persons on the basis of their nationality.

The court then ruled that placing these materials on a personal page of a social network website qualified Chesnokov’s actions as actively affecting the public, specifically ethnic Russians, to commit violent acts against persons of other ethnicities or nationalities. The court cited that  at least 16 people viewed Chesnokov’s materials. The ruling clarified that 16 people visiting a webpage is a group large enough to qualify as a public for charges of incitement of extremism.

Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Contracts Expression

This decision contracts expression because it establishes content-based restrictions for material posted on a social media website.

Global Perspective

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Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

Case Significance

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Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

The case was decided by a court of first instance.

The decision was cited in:

Official Case Documents

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