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Russian model facing jail over simple Instagram act: 'Are you serious?'

A Russian influencer says she was threatened with a six-year jail sentence for simply using Instagram, with claims she "stands out too much" online.

Veronika Loginova, an 18-year-old fashion and beauty blogger, says two state prosecutors appeared at her home in Moscow, Russia accusing her of "extremist activity", despite her content being predominately fashion related.

Following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine in March, Facebook and Instagram were banned in Russia with citizens prohibited from using the western-influenced social-media platforms.

The ban was a direct response to parent company Meta's decision to 'temporarily' allow calls for violence against Russian soldiers and Putin, it was reported at the time.

Russian influencer Veronika Loginova
Russian influencer Veronika Loginova says she's looking at a six-year jail sentence just for using Instagram. Source: Instagram/logiinovva

However, the people of Russia are still allegedly accessing Instagram via a VPN, but Ms Loginova is supposedly the first to be prosecuted.

Posting to her account with over 550,000 followers, the teen said she was issued a statement that outlines her alleged crimes. She also shared an image of it online.

In the statement, she has been accused of "extremism" by "performing actions to attract users to social networks Facebook and Instagram" according to the English translation.

Ms Loginova was also accused of "posting materials [on social media], including advertising" which can be "considered as a form of participation in the activities of an extremist organization and inducing an indefinite circle of people to participate in it," independent regulator Roskomnadzor reported.

Urgent warning: 'This can now happen to anyone'

The teen said she learned of the allegations while in Paris when her mother called to tell her police were looking for her.

"Are you serious? Me? 18-year-old girl a fashion blogger? Entrepreneur, creator of a clothing brand who pays taxes to his own country? A person who posts about mental health support and never touched a political agenda on this blog?" she wrote.

"Now for maintaining Instagram I face a prison term of 6 years."

Ms Loginova is urging others to be careful, insisting "this can now happen to anyone" in Russia.

"This is not normal. This is [totally f***ed up]. And I want this story to be heard by as many people as possible," she wrote.

Crack down on free speech in Russia

In Russia, active Instagram users declined by 31 per cent in the month following the invasion of Ukraine, according to a Moscow-based brand analytics company, Vice reported.

Laws introduced by the Kremlin mean that anyone who criticises Putin or the war can face harsh fines or years in prison. There's also been a crackdown on free speech, particularly with the use of social media.

Many Russian content creators have had to make a shift to YouTube, which is still accessible but without ad revenue.

WhatsApp, also owned by Meta, is still allowed because it's considered a messaging service and not a social media platform.

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