Russia Jails Man For Holding “Je Suis Charlie” Sign

Jan 16, 2015 at 12:34 PM ET

In the latest Kremlin overreaction, Russia just jailed a protester for having the audacity to hold up a “Je suis Charlie” sign in central Moscow.

Mark Galperin, a well-known anti-Putin activist, was initially detained on Jan. 10 while holding the sign near Red Square. While one-person pickets are legal under Russian law, a suspected police plant joined up with Galperin, transforming his solitary protest into an illegal rally. Galperin was also nabbed Thursday evening at a protest in Moscow in support of beleaguered opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

At a brief court hearing in Moscow on Friday, Galperin got eight days behind bars for the “Je suis Charlie” sign, plus an extra 30 days for yesterday’s arrest. “At least they didn’t shoot him,” tweeted Oleg Kozlovsky, another opposition figure.

While the Western world and many ordinary Russians have condemned the cold-blooded killings at the offices of the Paris-based satirical Charlie Hedbo magazine, the response from pro-Kremlin figures and activists has been somewhat different. Just two days after the attacks, Russian Orthodox activists gathered outside the French Embassy in Moscow to support what they said was the divine “just punishment” handed out to the cartoonists, whose art had mocked both the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ.

But it’s not only marginal Orthodox activists who have been getting angry. In Russia’s mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya, strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov pledged earlier this week to bring half a million people onto the streets of the capital, Grozny, in protest at the publication of the “survival” edition of Charlie Hedbo, which depicts the Prophet Muhammad on the front cover.