• Press Release

Russia: Human Rights Defender Arrested for Displaying “Extremist” Facebook Logo Must be Freed Immediately

July 7, 2024

(Alexandra Ponomareva /Amnesty International)

Reacting to the arbitrary arrest of a prominent Russian human rights defender, Aleksei Sokolov, in Yekaterinburg, the Urals, for displaying the Facebook logo online which is regarded as an “extremist symbol” in Russia, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director, said:

“With this arrest, the Russian authorities are exacting revenge against Aleksei Sokolov for his relentless defence of prisoners’ rights and for exposing torture in Russian prisons over almost two decades. For displaying the Facebook logo, he is being charged on a pretext that would have been laughable were it not real, and at the expense of his freedom and personal security.

“The deliberately filmed heavy-handed arrest, and harsh treatment Aleksei Sokolov has been subjected to, signals that the authorities are intent on punishing him harshly for his human rights work. Amnesty International demands his immediate and unconditional release and the termination of these ridiculous criminal proceedings.”

“Aleksei Sokolov’s case is emblematic of how far Russian authorities are prepared to go to suppress dissent and silence human rights defenders.”


On July 5, Aleksei Sokolov, the head of “Legal Foundation”, a human rights organization defending prisoners’ rights, was arrested after a raid of his home by Russian security forces and charged with “repeated demonstration of prohibited symbols” (Article 282.4 of the Criminal Code). Earlier, in October 2023, Aleksei Sokolov became the first person in Russia to serve a five-day administrative arrest for displaying Facebook’s logo online. The social platforms Facebook and Instagram were banned and blocked in Russia in March 2022, after their parent company Meta was declared “extremist” organization and its activities prohibited in Russia.

Russian Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) officials had reported the logo’s presence on a website allegedly administered by Sokolov, leading to the October 2023 charges.

The raids also targeted Sokolov’s son and his fellow human rights activist, Larisa Zakharova. Her husband was allegedly beaten during the search, and her teenage daughter threatened by law enforcement officers. During the arrest, Sokolov was allegedly ill-treated, including being put face down on the floor and asked about his “status in the criminal underworld,” as shown in videos released by pro-government media.

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