One of Russia's most popular influencers has been threatened with a six year jail term because she uses Instagram.
Beauty and fashion vlogger Veronika Loginova has 584,000 followers on the platform, but Russian President Vladimir Putin's officials have accused her of using it for “extremist activity”.
Despite never posting anything political on her account before, she took to the site – which is already banned in the country as Kremlin bosses see it as “extremist” – to warn her followers about the threat.
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She said: “This can now happen to anyone in Russia – any day prosecutors can come to your house.
“I never touched politics and now I face six years in jail for running Instagram.”
“Good morning, you woke up in Russia,” she said.
“And while we don’t speak about such things, I will still speak. An entrepreneur, creator of my own clothing brand that pays taxes to her own country. A person who writes posts about mental health support, and has never once touched on a political agenda on her blog.
“You live, you make pretty pictures, you build a business, you help people, you don't touch anyone. But you live in Russia, and among a million bloggers, they come to you.
“What do I do now? Quit Instagram? Flee Russia? Sue?”
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Having started the account when she was just 15, the defiant teen has vowed to continue using the account.
Putin's forces have been cracking down even hard on anyone using apps such as Instagram to show life in Russia to the outside world as his attempts to take Ukraine have been failing miserably.
He has now threatened Europe with nuclear war – although most of ridiculed this as the words of a “desperate man”.
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And Moscow-based Veronika has now fallen foul of the panicked state that his officials and police find themselves in.
She was accused by the Kuntsevskaya Interdistrict Prosecutor's Office of “extremism” by "performing actions to attract users to social networks Facebook and Instagram”.
Until the current tension with the West, Instagram was not considered extremist in Russia, and it remains widely used, including in Putin’s circle.
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But there is no record of the Kremlin Instagrammers facing prosecution under Putin’s draconian laws.
She added: “Anyone can have a visit from police or prosecutors, and be told that there is a threat of a six-year jail term for using Instagram.
“This is what just happened to me. No matter how much I worked on this with the prosecutors, with my lawyers – I didn’t expect to get lawyers at the age of 18.
“The issue is not getting resolved.
“So I am asking everyone who has a voice, everyone who has even one follower to share it, and to say this is NOT normal.”
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