Russian student jailed for pro-Ukraine WiFi network name

Moscow student named his Wifi network using a popular anti-war slogan that translates to ‘glory to Ukraine’

Shweta Sharma
Monday 11 March 2024 07:55 GMT
Related Navalny supporters chant outside funeral service in Moscow

A Russian student has been jailed for 10 days for naming his WiFi after a pro-Ukrainian slogan, the latest case of an ordinary citizen being swept up in Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on freedom of speech around the war.

A court in Moscow found Oleg Tarasov guilty of spreading propaganda and the “public display of Nazi symbols” on Thursday as it sent him to prison, reported state-run Ria. The Kremlin accuses the Ukrainian government of being composed of neo-Nazis, despite the fact it has a democratically elected Jewish leader in Volodymyr Zelensky.

Tarasov, a student at Moscow State University, had named his WiFi network “Slava Ukraini!”, a popular anti-war slogan that translates to “Glory to Ukraine” in English, according to the independent Russian Telegram news channel Ostorozhno Novosti.

The student was arrested on Wednesday morning after a police officer reported the WiFi network to the authorities.

Police inspected his room within the university’s student accommodation and confiscated his WiFi router.

The court said he used his WiFi network to "promote the slogan ‘Slava Ukraini!’ to an unlimited number of users within wi-fi range” and was found guilty of using “symbols of extremist organisations”.

The student is the latest among thousands to be convicted and handed prison sentences for criticising the Putin regime over its invasion of Ukraine and subsequent actions, including suspected war crimes, in over two years of conflict.

Slava Ukraini has become a rallying cry for both Ukrainians and supporters of the country since Russia mounted the full-scale invasion that has entered into a third year.

Pro-Ukraine demonstrators take part in a rally commemorating the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires (AFP via Getty Images)

Since the start of the war, Russians have been prohibited from calling the conflict a “war” after president Vladimir Putin referred to it as a "special military operation".

Russian human rights group OVD-Info has said more than 260 people in Russia are serving jail terms for crimes related to their anti-war stance. There have ben more than 20,000 detentions.

Last month, hundreds of people were detained in Moscow for laying flowers in tribute to opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle in mid-February.

Amnesty International has said that more than 21,000 people have been targeted by Russia’s "repressive laws" used to "crack down on anti-war activists" and said they were sentenced in "deeply unfair trials".

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