The new Criminal Codes of the 1920s introduced the offence of Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda as one of the many forms of counter-revolutionary activity grouped together under Article 58 of the Russian RSFSR Penal Code. The article was put in force on 25 February 1927 and remained in force throughout the period of Stalinism. Article 58:10, "propaganda and agitation that called to overturn or undermining of the Soviet regime", was punishable with at least 6 months of imprisonment, up to and including the death sentence in periods of war or unrest.
As applied in Stalin's time, the phrase in practise could mean virtually anything that a State security interrogator or informant wanted it to mean; consequently, the charge became an exceedingly potent weapon in political or personal quarrels and intrigues.
The penalty was from six months to 7 years of imprisonment, with possible subsequent internal exile from 2 to 5 years. Article 70 was considered by critics of the Soviet System to be a grave violation of freedom of speech. It was one of the two main legal