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Travesty: Siberian Court Jails Russian Blogger for Having a Goofy Opinion About ISIS

Overzealous apparatchiks score an own goal against Russia's image and unjustly deprive a man of his freedom

Russia sometimes really doesn't do itself any favors. Like this week for example.

A provincial court in the Siberian city of Tyumen has sentenced one Aleksei Kungurov to two years in a penal colony for "public justification of terrorism". How did Kungurov earned himself this sentence? He wrote a few blog posts expressing a goofy opinion about ISIS which fell far short of any pro-terrorism stances.

Kungurov wrote he did not see why Russia needed to wage war on ISIS seeing how ISIS was not a terrorist network but a de facto state which enjoys broad popular support, tolerates secularists and has a well defined goal of uniting all Muslim countries and therefore can not possibly represent a threat to Russia.

Here is the machine translated bit that got him in trouble:

In general, it should be noted, citizens do not know very well, what is "Islamic state." Meanwhile, the name speaks for itself - it is a state, not a terrorist network. The state has its own territory, the population (the Sunnis of Iraq and Syria, which infringe upon the interests of the governments of these countries), citizenship, power system, the economy, the legal system, their finances. On the territory controlled by the IS is establishing social infrastructure - opens hospitals, schools, repairing roads, guarding the order, etc. How else to achieve public support?

Moreover, even during the period of Iraq's epic IS shared their spoils and booty, with a population that for many of the poor was the only way to survive. So please, as a fact: IS - it's not just the militants, the IS - a population that supports the values ​​and goals of the Islamic state.

Without the support of the population of any Islamic State would not exist. To understand this, it suffices to recall the events of 2006. In Iraq, where the Sunni population rebelled against al-Qaida, attempted to forcibly impose on the population their ideas about "correct" Islam. As a result of the uprising of al-Qaida radicals population ... cut, by 2008, the organization was defeated throughout Iraq. The civilian population in those places peace is rather arbitrary, it is not necessary to irritate unnecessarily.

Yes, the "Islamic State" is not recognized. Well, and Kurdistan is not officially recognized, although in fact it exists, and the same US enters into a relationship with him as a subject. Afghanistan under the Taliban, and though it acknowledged only three countries to have existed as a state. So the IS - is not just men with guns and black flags. And this state has its own ideology, interests, and arising from these targets of interest. IS ideology - radical Islam, however, remembering the sad experience of al-Qaida, the IS managers do not try to impose it on the people in the territories under their control, and even show tolerance towards representatives of secular political movements, especially if they have the intention to bring them to fight against the common enemy.

The goal, which proclaims the ideologues of the IS - the elimination of the borders established after the division of the Ottoman caliphate and the establishment in the territory of the orthodox Sunni Islamic state where Islamic law is valid. The declared goal - to unite all Islamic countries into a single caliphate. Thus it is clear that there is no threat of the Islamic State of Russia can not be held even in the most distant historical perspective ...

Not perhaps this is a goofy view to hold, but Kungurov is only stating facts as he sees them. In fact in nothing he says he is one hundred percent off. ISIS is in fact both a state and a terror network, it does enjoy some popular support in Iraq's Sunni areas, it tolerates numerous ex-Baathists officers in its ranks because it values their war craft, and its immediate agenda is centered on the Middle East not Russia.

I would argue he goes far overboard in much of what he says, but if so he should be debated -- not chucked into a penal colony. Most likely by overzealous provincial apparatchiks who know could not find Syria on a map.

What makes the case all the more Kafkaesque is that Kungurov wrote this in October 2015, but he was only arrested in March 2016. For half a year nobody was bothered or threatened by a blogger publishing his views about current affairs -- as indeed nobody should be.

The Russia-bashing media is already latching onto the case claiming Kungurov was jailed for "criticising Syria intervention". This is in fact not true. It isn't against the law in Russia to criticize its foreign wars.

Instead he was jailed for having an opinion about ISIS which the courts deemed too positive. That shouldn't be a legally persecuted offense either however, and the courts only have themselves to blame for providing hostile media with welcome ammunition.

In the west, you can be jailed for expressing an unpopular or controversial opinion on Facebook, or singing the wrong song at a football match. That's all the more reason why Russia should not do the same. 

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