An article urging Ukraine to bomb Russia’s newly-built bridge to Crimea has led to the Russian equivalent of the FBI opening a criminal case against British born US political commentator Tom Rogan for inciting terrorism.
Svetlana Petrenko, spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, told reporters on Thursday that Rogan’s article “contains signs of public calls for terrorist activity on the territory of Russia.” According to the Russian criminal code, public calls for terrorist activity using the media, including the internet, may carry a fine of up to 1 million rubles (around $16,000) or a prison term of up to seven years.
“A comprehensive psycho-linguistic examination” of Rogan’s opinion piece, published Tuesday by the Washington Examiner, has been ordered as part of the probe, Petrenko said, adding that the Investigative Committee is also conducting a preliminary inquiry into the Examiner’s editor.
In his article, titled “Ukraine should blow up Putin’s Crimea bridge,” Rogan has called the massive construction undertaken by Russia “an outrageous affront to Ukraine’s very credibility as a nation.”
His article was published on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin ceremonially opened the bridge, personally driving a Kamaz truck across it.
The Kiev authorities still claim Crimea to be part of Ukraine, though the peninsula’s population overwhelmingly voted to reunite with Russia in a 2014 referendum and has lived under Russian law ever since.
“Fortunately Ukraine has the means to launch air strikes against the bridge in a manner that would render it at least temporarily unusable. Because of its significant length, the Ukrainian air force could strike the bridge while mitigating the risk of casualties by those traversing it,” Rogan suggested.
Construction of the 19-km bridge, the longest in Europe, began in May 2015 and was completed six months ahead of schedule. The link is vital for Crimea, as the peninsula was previously only accessible from Russia by sea and air.
In another opinion piece on Thursday, Rogan cast himself as a victim, saying that “Russian bots” have sent him and his family death threats on Twitter.
He also stood by his call for bombing the bridge and even doubled down, arguing that “Russia’s own actions in Ukraine are actually true terrorism.” As proof, Rogan offered the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which he says was “committed by Russian agents with Russian weapons.”
MH17 was routed by Ukrainian air traffic control over the war zone over Donetsk, and was struck by a missile that is out of service in the Russian military but still used by Ukraine. Evidence offered to blame Russia has been dubious or nonexistent, but that has not stopped the government in Kiev and its apologists in the Western media from asserting it as true.