'Fantastical f***head' jibe at Putin sparks fine
A 34-year-old man has become the first Russian to fall foul of new legislation banning "disrespect" of government officials after labelling president Vladimir Putin a "fantastical f***head".
The controversial law had been in place for just two days before a regional judge fined the equivalent of €422 for a post criticising Mr Putin.
Unfortunately for the Kremlin, the phrase has now become the only thing people are talking about.
Within a day of Monday's decision, an online flashmob had broken out in support of the offender, Yuri Kartyzhev.
By yesterday afternoon, a tweet introducing the #Putinisafantasticalf***head hashtag was trending, with over 5,000 engagements. As some pointed out, its 2,400 retweets amounted to a potential €1m in fines.
Leonid Volkov, a prominent aide to opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said that the authorities had set themselves up for ridicule. First, they passed the much-criticised law, and then they allowed it to be first applied in relation to Mr Putin.
"I'm certain the Streisand effect will be so big that they won't forget what they have done in a hurry," he said, referring to the unintended publicity effect of an attempt to censor information made famous by Barbra Streisand, when efforts to suppress publication of photos of her Malibu mansion led to increased awareness of it.
"They should instead have gone after some fool inciting people to go out and do harm to politicians." (© Independent News Service)