MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti) – In a ruling that put rude gestures outside the scope of freedom of expression, a court in Kazakhstan jailed a local man for giving the finger to a lawmaker’s motorcade, the country’s media said on Monday.
The abused legislator, Senate Chairman Kairat Mami, did not notice that he was being flipped off, his spokesman told Tengrinews.kz.
But the man who gave the finger to the VIP-cavalcade made the bad judgment call to do so in view of traffic police, the news website reported.
The 22-year-old offender, whose name was withheld, was promptly apprehended and put on trial.
Despite pleading guilty and offering “the most sincere regrets,” he was jailed for five days over the “audacity” of his crime, qualified as petty hooliganism, Newskaz.ru said.
The incident took place in the northeastern city of Pavlodar last week, but was not reported until the verdict was passed.
Kazakhstan took a harder stance on the middle finger than Russia, where scores of St. Petersburg residents used the gesture to greet the passing cortege of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in October.
No one was punished for flipping off Medvedev, though the outraged city head Georgy Poltavchenko derided city residents for “loutishness,” which did little to boost his already-flagging ratings.
Senior officials in both Russia and Kazakhstan are entitled to ignoring many traffic rules when on duty, a measure that often causes traffic jams and is loathed by many motorists.