Two kindergarten heads charged with ‘extremism’ for using Facebook icon on website

Two kindergarten directors in the Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous district in the Urals have been charged with “displaying extremist symbols” for using the Facebook icon on their school’s website, Russian Independent news outlet Mediazona reported on Thursday.

If found guilty, both directors face a fine of up to 2,000 rubles (€20) or 15 days imprisonment.

Olga Shikaleyeva, who heads the Solnishko Kindergarten in the village of Mortka, said that the Facebook icon was one of several social media icons on the school’s site, including that of Russian social media giant VK. She said that the icon had since been removed.

Shikaleyeva only learnt about the case against her upon reading the results of an inspection performed by the regional Prosecutor General’s Office and stressed that it had not been due to a complaint made against her.

The head of the Rodnichok Kindergarten in the town of Mezhdurechensky, Olga Melnikova, was also charged, but declined to comment.

Facebook was banned in Russia in March 2022 after a Moscow court found its parent company Meta guilty of extremism for its refusal to censor posts promoting the murder of Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

Both kindergartens have been holding so-called “patriotic” events to coincide with the recent presidential election in Russia. The Solnishko Kindergarten encouraged pupils to “participate in the vote” by playing a game called “farmyard elections‘’ which sought “to form a positive and responsible attitude to the election process.” On 18 March, the school also celebrated the Day of Crimea’s “Reunification” with Russia.

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