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Russian Authorities Detain Reporter Over Commentary On Bombing


Russian authorities have begun a criminal probe into Svetlana Prokopyeva over her radio commentary.

Russian authorities have opened a criminal investigation into a reporter for her commentary on a bombing that occurred last year outside the regional offices of Russia's domestic security agency.

Police raided Svetlana Prokopyeva's home in the northwestern city of Pskov and the local studios of a radio station affiliated with the Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy on February 6, seizing documents and other files, according to officials with the station.

She was briefly detained by police and then released later that same day.

Prokopyeva reports for the Pskov affiliate of Ekho Moskvy, the Moscow radio station known for its independent reporting. She is also a freelance contributor to RFE/RL's Russian Service.

According to Prokopyeva's lawyer, Tatyana Martynova, the authorities say she is suspected of violating a law that forbids the "justification of terrorism, done through the use of the media."

The case stems from a commentary that Prokopyeva broadcast in November on the Pskov affiliate of Еkho Moskvy, in which she discussed a bombing that occurred the previous month in the far northern city of Arkhangelsk.

In that case, a 17-year-old boy was accused of detonating a homemade explosive outside the local headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's main security and intelligence agency.

Three of its officers were wounded in the blast.

Russian media reported that before the bombing, the boy, who died in the incident, had posted statements to social media in which he accused the FSB of falsifying criminal cases.

In her commentary, Prokopyeva linked the 17-year-old's statements to the political climate in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, suggesting that political activism in the country was severely restricted, leading people to despair.

A transcript of the broadcast was published on the station's website and by a local news portal called Pskov Newsfeed. In December, Russia's federal media regulator, Rozkomnadzor, issued a warning to both outlets and both removed the transcripts.

On December 6, the same day that Prokopyeva was briefly detained, a Pskov court fined the radio station about $2,200 for publishing the transcript. A day later, the same court fined Pskov Newsfeed around $3,000.

Prokopyeva, who denies the charges, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that she stood by her original commentary.

"A whole generation has grown up in these repressive conditions. They are all 18 years old. One such terrorist attack is enough to become scary," she said.

"Terrorist attacks are always very bad. It is bad that young people turn to them. The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that could have developed in this generation can turn not only into terrorist acts. It turns into passivity, a desire to leave the country," Prokopyeva said.

Human Rights Watch condemned the case, saying Russian authorities were abusing antiterrorism laws to stifle legitimate speech and reporting.

"Svetlana Prokopyeva has done nothing wrong.... By investigating her and punishing the media outlets she worked with, Russian authorities are sending a signal to journalists that they will not tolerate any criticism of how the authorities respond to perceived terrorism or extremism," the U.S.-based rights group said in a statement.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Current Time, and Ekho Moskvy
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