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Svetlana Prokopyeva
Svetlana Prokopyeva

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling on Russian authorities to “stop harassing” reporters covering the terrorism case against journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva.

Prokopyeva’s prosecution and “the intimidation and harassment of journalists reporting on her case shows how far Russian authorities will go to silence independent voices,” Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said in a statement on October 4.

The New York-based media freedom watchdog made the call a day after the Pskov branch of the Investigative Committee summoned Maksim Kostikov, the editor in chief of the local Ekho Moskvy affiliate, and Aleksandr Savenko, the editor of independent news website Pskovskaya Lenta Novostey, according to Novaya Gazeta.

Savenko told the independent daily that he could not elaborate on the content of the interrogation because of a nondisclosure agreement he had signed with police.

The move came after the two outlets recently published an open letter in which Prokopyeva described the charges against her as "the murder of freedom of speech."

The letter was published in dozens of other outlets, including RFE/RL.

Prokopyeva, a prominent journalist from Pskov who is a freelance contributor for RFE/RL's Russian Service, faces up to 7 years in prison on charges of "justifying terrorism" in comments made during a 2018 Ekho Moskvy broadcast.

She denies the charge, and her case has drawn criticism from rights and media watchdogs.

Russian blogger Vladislav Sinitsa
Russian blogger Vladislav Sinitsa

A court in Moscow has rejected the appeal of a Russian blogger sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of inciting violence against children of National Guard officers on Twitter.

Moscow City Court on October 4 ruled that Vladislav Sinitsa must serve his sentence, rejecting arguments by his lawyers that his words were not a call to action.

Last month, a court in Moscow found Sinitsa guilty of inciting hatred, a charge that falls under Russia’s tough anti-extremism legislation.

In his July 31 tweet, Sinitsa, using the pseudonym Max Steklov, imagined a situation in which people located the homes of law enforcement officers to kidnap and kill their children.

Sinitsa, speaking via a video link, told the court on October 4: "No one should be jailed for words and thoughts."

He said that Russia is now "living in some kind of Middle Ages."

His defense team asked for the punishment to be softened to a noncustodial sentence, saying Sinitsa was not dangerous to the public.

Opposition politician Aleksei Navalny had called the tweet “really dumb,” but said it was idiotic to issue such a harsh sentence.

On October 3, dozens of Russian bloggers signed an open letter, calling for Sinitsa's immediate release.

Russia has in recent years increasingly criminalized online content, frequently jailing people for sharing or publishing information deemed extremist or illegal.

The law currently forbids the sharing of content judged extremist, though rights groups say this label is also applied to opposition material.

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About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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