Humorist can be jailed for 8 years for mocking authority




Actor Andrei Neretin, who takes part in a Russian satirical video, in a promotional photo Merkuriy LLC/Disclosure via REUTERS

Actor Andrei Neretin, who takes part in a Russian satirical video, in a promotional photo Merkuriy LLC/Disclosure via REUTERS

Photo: Reuters

A Russian satirical filmmaker was charged with vandalism on Wednesday and faces up to eight years in prison for a YouTube skit in which a fictitious local authority accidentally blows up a bus stop, his lawyer told Reuters.

More than 1.78 million people watched the September 20 video “Vitaly Nalivkin Prevented a Terrorist Act” in which the bumbling official attempts to destroy a suspicious bag at a bus stop by shooting at it with a grenade launcher. The bag, as you see later, was full of carrots.

Andrei Klochkov, who directed the skit, was charged by police and faces a sentence of five to eight years in prison if convicted, according to his lawyer, Alexei Kletskin. Another team member, producer Semyon Vavilov, was identified as a suspect.

The indictment came two weeks after the Interior Ministry in Ussuriysk, Russia’s far eastern region, announced it had launched a criminal case over allegations that the bus stop was damaged.

Kletskin said the case was “completely ridiculous” and that the actors in a group of satirists known as “Barakuda” used legally purchased firecrackers, not explosives, and that a local government inspector certified that there was no damage.

In a statement posted on Instagram, the group said that a month and a half had passed since filming when “the riot squad broke in, pressed our faces into the ground and confiscated all the equipment.”