A St. Petersburg court has ended the criminal terrorism case against a popular Russian YouTuber for an alleged performance mocking the deadly 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis, the Justice System’s press service announcement Wednesday.
Yury Khovansky, 32, was charged with “public justification of terrorism” in June 2021 after video of a performance ironically endorsing the October 2, 2002 attack on Moscow’s Dubrovka Theater was leaked online.
Khovansky’s lawyers insisted the performance depicted in the video, a key piece of prosecutors’ evidence, took place in 2012, meaning the case should be closed due to the expiry of the statute of limitations. .
On Wednesday, the St. Petersburg court sided with the defense and lifted all charges and restrictions imposed on Khovansky.
Khovansky’s name is now expected to be removed from the government’s list of “extremists and terrorists”, where he was placed during the investigation process.
If convicted, Khovansky would have faced up to seven years in prison for these charges.
In December 2021, the blogger was released from a detention center with a ban on certain activities.
The two-and-a-half-day siege by a group of Chechen insurgents on the Dubrovka theater ended with Russian security services pumping poison gas into the building in an attempt to knock out the terrorists and free the hostages. About 130 of the hostages died after inhaling the chemical and all 40 attackers were killed in the rescue operation.