Russian Activist Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Prison for Sharing Rammstein Video Online
Andrei Borovikov has been found guilty of “production and distribution of pornography” after sharing Rammstein’s music video for “Pussy” on social media. The verdict from the Lomonosovsky District Court was handed down today (April 29) and is believed to be politically motivated, as Borovikov served as coordinator for imprisoned anti-Putin activist Alexei Navalny.
Borovikov allegedly saved the "Pussy" clip in the "videos" section of his personal VKontakte (the Russian equivalent of Facebook) account in 2014. The pornographic music video, released in 2009, depicts uncensored sex scenes with the heads of Rammstein members superimposed on the bodies of adult film actors. BBC notes that hundreds of reposts of the "Pussy" video remain on VKontakte. BBC could find no other instances of VKontakte users being criminally charged for sharing the video.
Borovikov pleaded not guilty to the charges and pointed out the probable bias of the witnesses in his trial, while voicing doubts regarding qualifications of the supposed experts.
Today, Borovikov was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for sharing the Rammstein video. Prosecutors had requested a three-year sentence for Borovikov in a high-security penal colony.
"The accusation is based on the testimony of a police informant who invited Borovikov to watch the saved video together, as well as on the conclusions of the examination ordered by the investigation, which did not find artistic value in the frank clip of the world famous group," writes news source Novaya Gazeta.
Borovikov was formerly the coordinator of Alexei Navalny’s regional headquarters. As leader of the Russia of the Future party and a founding member of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Navalny attempted to run for President against Vladimir Putin in the 2018 election, but was barred by Russia’s electoral commission due to prior criminal convictions.
In 2020, Navalny was hospitalized for one month after being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent. Navalny is currently imprisoned in a corrective labour colony, with multiple reports claiming the activist has been subjected to torture by Russian authorities.
“It is blatantly obvious that [Borovikov] is being punished solely for his activism, not his musical taste,” says Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director. “The Russian authorities should be focusing on turning around the spiraling human rights crisis they have created, not devising ludicrous new ways of prosecuting and silencing their critics,” Zviagina elaborated to Radio Free Europe.