Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/9/2012 (1659 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
He's not exactly Pussy Riot, but Winnipeg human rights lawyer David Matas now shares the distinction of being silenced in Russia for speaking his mind.
"Fortunately for me, I'm not there and I'm not in jail," Matas said after learning the Russian Supreme Court last week upheld a ban on a report he penned. "I see it as the same phenomenon, though."
Social activists and performance artists Pussy Riot received lengthy jail sentences for hooliganism in speaking out against Russian ruler Vladimir Putin and the Orthodox Church that supports him.
Matas is in trouble with the court in Russia for publishing "extremist literature" about China harvesting the organs of political prisoners.
"All this stuff with Pussy Riot leads me to believe Russia is insensitive to freedom of speech," said Matas, who can still go to Russia as a tourist but not to present his work.
The globe-trotting lawyer had co-authored with former MP David Kilgour a report about Falun Gong practitioners in China being jailed for their spiritual beliefs and having their organs removed for transplant. It led to a book called Bloody Harvest. In 2008, the Pervomayskiy court in Krasnodar, Russia, banned the report.
The ban was based on a court-chosen expert opinion that the report "can create for the readers a negative image of China, its social and political system, representatives of authorities, medical workers, military, etc."
It was appealed to the Supreme Court by Russian activists who worried the ban on extremist literature was being misused to silence opposition and could be used as a vehicle of oppression.
Matas didn't know about the ban on his work until he was informed by a Russian at a 2011 conference Matas spoke at in Kyiv, Ukraine.
"This whole proceeding is very bizarre in terms of result and process," he said. "I was never formally notified of it."
There was no chance to make submissions on the application of the law to the report they wrote, he said.
Banning a work as extremist literature without hearing from its author isn't fair, he said.
"This wouldn't have happened without government support," said Matas. China has a strong commercial relationship with Russia and silencing a critic of China works to Russia's political advantage, he said.
"I had some hope the Supreme Court would do something about it," said Matas.
"The reality is, when push comes to shove, what the (Russian) government wants is more important to the court than their own values."