The Soviet-era label “enemy of the people” – used to describe everyone from suspected saboteurs and spies to prosperous farmers and Old Guard communists – is well-known to anyone with even a passing knowledge of Russian history. Such enemies were persecuted, imprisoned, and even executed. Some were also exiled and had their Soviet citizenship revoked.
In modern Russia, crimes against the “constitutional foundation” of the Russian state include treason, mutiny, and several other offenses, including “extremism.” And the state’s own statistics show that it is on something of a conviction spree.
Statistics published by the Russian Supreme Court this summer show that the number of people convicted on such charges has risen from 21 in 2003 to 588 in 2016 – a 28-fold increase. There has been a particularly strong upsurge in convictions since 2011.
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