A 46-year-old man in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, has been sentenced to three years in a penal colony for insulting the president of a foreign country on Facebook, in this case Vladimir Putin, reports Nur.kz.
Sanat Dosov, described locally as a 'social activist' and entrepreneur, was found guilty under Article 174 of the Kazakh criminal code. His lawyer plans to appeal the ruling.
Article 174 forbids actions aimed at "social, national, generic, racial, class or religious hatred" as well as the "insult of the national honour and dignity or religious feelings of citizens" along with "propaganda of exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of citizens on grounds of their relation to religion, class, national, generic or racial assignment."
Article 174 is widely criticised for its vagary. Kazakhstan's administration has jailed several people for violating this article in the past two years, particularly for social media posts.
In Dosov's case, he was charged for multiple insults made to Putin including sharing a meme which showed images of of Lenin, Stalin, and Putin together in 2015.
Prior to that he reportedly shared a news story from a Ukrainian site with a comment calling Putin "the enemy" and a "terrorist." He also reportedly shared news articles and memes critical of Putin and Russian policy, especially with regard to Ukraine and Syria.
"Putin is ruining the country! and that Russians needed to stop fascism in their country," read one of his posts which are not accessible anymore, according to The Diplomat.
Kazakhstan's mainstream media is censored to an extent where it is forbidden from reporting on politically sensitive topics. As a result, people take to social media to voice their opinions.