“Public Calls to Violently Overthrow the Russian Government”: An Examination of Navalny’s Remarks

Aleksey Navalny “has publicly called on his audience to overthrow the Russian government, including in a violent way”. These are the results of the linguistic examination of the statement made by the oppositionist in the live broadcast of Echo of Moscow. It was conducted by the expert legal centre “Top Expert” at the request of the former vice-governor of the Kirov region Sergey Karnaukhov. He shared the results of the examination with RT and also intends to send them to law enforcement bodies.

This is about the broadcast of the radio station “Echo of Moscow”entitled “Morning development” from April 27th 2020. At the time, Navalny, in particular, said the following on the air:

“If our government is such that they want to leave 60 million people hungry in order not to do something nice, then this government should definitely be overthrown right now, probably even by force.”

“If they now say that Navalny will score some political points for himself, because he offered, so to hell with it, let them sit hungry – well, then such a government simply deserves the worst treatment,” Navalny added.

The text of the live broadcast was published on the website of “Echo of Moscow”.

Associate Professor of the Department of Legal Support of the Market Economy of RANEPA and former vice-governor of the Kirov Region Sergey Karnaukhov turned to the expert legal centre “Top Expert” for an examination of the statement.

He asked to establish whether Aleksey Navalny’s statement contains “linguistic signs of motivation to commit any actions (including violent or destructive ones)”.

He also asked experts a question about what Navalny was prompting, what kind of actions and their object were being discussed, and whom these motivating statements were aimed at.

The examination lasted ten days – from July 18th to 28th.

Criticism of the authorities in the media “in itself should not be considered in all cases as an action aimed at humiliating the dignity of a person or group of persons, since the limits of permissible criticism are wider for these persons than for individuals,” said the expert, stating his conclusions.

However, “the intent of the studied phrases [of Navalny] was to call someone to commit some action, and not to express their own feelings,” the study emphasises.

According to the expert, Navalny’s statements on the air of the radio station are expressed “in the form of an affirmation”, are not “an evaluative vision of the situation”, they do not contain “a reference to a source of information” and they “are not expressed through figurative meaning”.

“The text of the studied statements contains linguistic signs of motivation, including in the form of a call, to commit any actions, including violent, destructive ones,” says the conclusion of a forensic expert with ten years of experience, Ella Bargoyakova. “The author of the statements under study (of A. Navalny) publicly calls on the audience to overthrow the Russian government, including by violent means.”

Sergey Karnaukhov believes that an independent examination has officially confirmed his opinion: Aleksey Navalny “could have violated Article 280 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation ‘public calls for extremist activities'”. He intends to contact law enforcement bodies.

“In the near future I will send the results of the examination to the address of the Prosecutor General of Russia,” said Sergey Karnaukhov to RT. “I believe that the level of competence of the prosecutor’s staff is sufficient enough to make a legal decision based on the results of the examination and the materials presented.”

The maximum punishment stipulated by Article 280 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation is five years in prison. In addition, the sanction involves the deprivation of the convicted person of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for up to three years.

Earlier, Sergey Karnaukhov has already made a similar statement to the FSB.

“I hope that a legal assessment will be given on this claim and a criminal case will be initiated,” he told RT back then. “At the same time, I do not wish for a long prison term for Aleksey Navalny. I believe that he must understand that political activity in Russia should be carried out freely and without hindrance, but exclusively within the framework of the current legal norms”.


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