Russian Influencer Says She Was Threatened With Prison for Using Instagram

A 19-year-old Russian beauty influencer said she was threatened with prison for using Instagram.

Veronika Loginova has 555,000 followers on the social media platform, and describes herself as an "entrepreneur of life" a "fashion lover" and a "soul guide."

She continued to use Instagram after the photo-sharing site was banned along with Facebook when a Moscow court declared their parent company Meta an "extremist organization" in March.

Russian digital rights nonprofit Roskomsvoboda said that Loginova, who turned 19 on Thursday, is the first person in Russia to be prosecuted for using Instagram since its ban.

 the US social network Instagram logo
This photo taken on March 14, 2022, shows the Instagram logo on a smartphone screen in Moscow, Russia. Instagram was inaccessible in Russia on March 14 after Moscow accused its parent company Meta of allowing calls for violence against Russians, including the military, on its platforms. -/AFP/Getty Images

Roskomsvoboda, who is providing Loginova with legal support, said the fashion blogger started her Instagram account at the age of 15, and since then, she has used the platform to talk about fashion, psychology and creating a business.

The influencer posted images of a document on her Instagram page, saying that it was sent to her by Russian prosecutors who are accusing her of having "performed actions to attract users on the social networks Facebook and Instagram."

There "can be considered a form of participation in the activities of an extremist organisation," the document said, adding that Loginova's accounts were being investigated.

"For maintaining [my] Instagram [account], I now face a prison term of up to six years," Loginova wrote in a post on Wednesday. "Good morning, you woke up in Russia. And it's not customary for us to talk about this, but I'll say it."

In her post, Loginova said her mother called her in August and told her "the people came to our house and they are looking for you."

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

Loginova said her situation "is not normal."

"I want as many people as possible to know about this story," she wrote in her post.

Russia cracked down on Meta in March after Instagram permitted posts urging violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and troops the Russian leader deployed into Ukraine on February 24. Facebook was banned for restricting access to Russian media.

Meta global affairs president Nick Clegg said at the time that the company was "now narrowing the focus to make it explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general."

Newsweek reached out to Russia's foreign ministry and Loginova for comment.