There is no question that the conviction and sentence for "insulting the feelings of the believers" is marasmatic and completely out of touch with the realities of the XXIrst century, as well as against the own Constitution of Russian Federation and against the European Convention as to the freedom of speech and expression.
But, what has struck me when reviewing materials from that proceeding is not the obvious stupidity and illegality of the criminal prosecution, conviction and sentencing of Sokolovsky, but the transparency of criminal proceedings unmatched in the U.S.
Imagine the reality of being able to watch, from anywhere in the world:
- testimony of factual witnesses:
- of the defendant;
- of prosecution's witnesses:
- Ilya Fomintsev, a Russian Orthodox believer;
- Elena Lapina, a Russian Orthodox believer;
- of a secret witness, with hidden identity and changed voice - but video and sound recording is still allowed;
- of defendant's witnesses:
- Elena Sannikova, a Russian Orthodox believer and a former political prisoner;
- for the prosecution:
- linguistic expert Marina Borisovna Voroshilova (this witness requested the court to prohibit videorecording, only sound recording was allowed, over defense's objection, I would note here that TWO defense attorneys were allowed to voice objections AND the defendant personally; such objections by both an attorney and a represented party, would not be allowed in a US court, which is a shame, as it adds a unique perspective of the client);
- sociologist Dmitriy Sergeevich Popov:
- expert on religions Alexey Nikolaevich Starostin, who also asked for the court's protection as to videotaping - but not as to audiotaping:
- a forensic psychologist (a police officer) Kirill Vitalyevich Zlokazov who, like prosecution's expert witnesses Voroshilova and Starostin, asked the court not to allow videotaping of their testimony, but audio taping was still allowed - of course, neutrality of this "expert" witness is in big question because he is also a police officer, a Major in the police force:
- for the defense:
- linguistic expert Anna Mikhailovna Plotnikova who did not try to hide her face from videotaping:
- religion expert Zoya Elifeevna Chernyshkova who did not conceal her face, see a member of the public directly photographing her during testimony on a tablet;
including the reading (mumbling, rather, as in a bad sermon) portions of expertise of the 6 videoclips that blogger Sokolovskiy has put on YouTube:
did not care that she was recorded when presiding over proceedings and reading the verdict.
She did not care even that she is being videotaped while reading out the following bizarre portion of the verdict:
"attributing to Jesus Christ of images ... from the bestiary of Japanese mythology", whatever that means.
That is a crime, ladies and gentlemen, that a 22-year-old young man is convicted of in Russia, by a secular court.
Yet, one cannot deny to Judge Sheponiak that she MOSTLY (with the exception of several witnesses for the prosecution) allowed both videotaping and audiotaping of court proceedings, and even where she did not allow videotaping, she allowed audiotaping for all witnesses.
Moreover, it is obvious that video- and audiotaping in court proceedings in Russia are routine, since all other participants in that court also did not react to smartphones being used in the courtroom to take pictures and videos of witnesses during testimony.
and for the defense
and either took a photo or recorded a video. Nobody stirred, and the testimony continued.
- she did not invite the public and the press into her cloakroom;
- she made it clear that she removes proceedings into her cloakroom because she wants to exclude witnesses from the public and the press.