Belarusian comedian banned from residing in Russia due to joke about Russians

On August 30, the Russian Interior Ministry announced that the stay of Belarusian national Idrak Mirzalizade in Russia would be regarded as undesirable ‘for life’.

Idrak Mirzalizade. Photo: Telegraf.by

“In accordance with Part 4 of Article 25.10 of the Federal Law ‘On the Procedure for Leaving the Russian Federation and Entering the Russian Federation’, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has made a decision on the undesirability of stay (residing) of Belarusian citizen Idrak Mirzalizade in the Russian Federation,” the statement reads.

According to the agency, Idrak Mirzalizade publicly used expressions that ‘arouse hatred and hostility towards persons of Russian nationality, degrade their human dignity’. In light of that, they found that his stay in the territory of Russia would jeopardise ‘public order, rights and legitimate interests of other people’.

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Idrak Mirzalizade was born in Azerbaijan to a Talysh family, but when he was two years old, his family moved to Minsk. After participating in the ‘Club for the Happy and Resourceful’, he began appearing on Russian television, then joined a group of Russian comedians. In the fall of 2020, he participated in post-election protests, mentioned Belarus in his speeches, and appeared on Russian television with a white-red-white ribbon.

In March 2021, in the humorous program ‘Razgony’ he made a joke about the Russians: he told them how difficult it was for a ‘non-Russian’ to find an apartment in Moscow; meanwhile, he mentioned the vile untidiness of the Russians who had rented an apartment before him.

The joke was noticed by the Russian ultra-right-wing TV channel Tsargrad and TV propagandist Vladimir Solovyov. After that, Mirzalizade was attacked on the street by unknown assailants. The comedian said that he was threatened by radical communities for a joke taken out of context.

Idrak Mirzalizade at liberty. Photo: idrak.m / Instagram

On August 9, Mirzalizade was arrested for 10 days for ‘inciting ethnic hatred’ – for the same joke for which he had already been beaten. The comedian did not admit his guilt and said that the performance was aimed against xenophobia.

Russian and Belarusian comedians spoke out against this punishment, which they called a terrible precedent. They stated that one should not be imprisoned for making a joke.

On August 19, Mirzalizade was released. It is not known whether the Russian police are looking for those who attacked the comedian.

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