MOSCOW -- Two of four editors of the student magazine Doxa have appealed a Moscow court's decision to place them in de facto house arrest on a charge of "engaging minors in actions that might be dangerous" over a video related to unsanctioned rallies to protest the incarceration of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.
Pavel Chikov of the human rights group Agora quoted lawyers for editors Armen Aramyan and Vladimir Metyolkin as saying on April 16 that they filed an appeal against the court's order for the two journalists and their colleagues, Alla Gutnikova and Natalya Tyshkevich, to remain in their homes from midnight until 11:59 p.m. for two months, giving them only one minute to be outside each day.
It was not clear whether Gutnikova and Tyshkevich planned to appeal the ruling as well.
Human rights and media freedom groups have urged Russian authorities to let the four journalists do their jobs, and denounced an ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.
The four were detained for questioning at the Investigative Committee after their homes and the magazine's offices were searched over the video, which the magazine posted online in January.
The video questioned teachers' moves to warn students about possible repercussions they could face for participating in unsanctioned rallies on January 23 and 31 in protest of Navalny's arrest.
Doxa editors say the video was deleted from the magazine's website following a demand from Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor to remove it.
More than 10,000 supporters of Navalny were detained across Russia during and after the January rallies.
Many of the detained men and women were either fined or handed several-day jail terms. At least 90 were charged with criminal offenses and several have been fired by their employers.
Human rights groups have called on Moscow repeatedly to stop targeting journalists because they are covering the protests or express solidarity with protesters, since both are protected under the right to freedom of expression.
“It’s apt, but sad, that student journalism in today’s Russia must include a lesson in just how afraid Vladimir Putin’s government is of independent news coverage,” said Gulnoza Said, Europe and Central Asia program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow office director, said that the Russian authorities “have stooped to a new low as they tighten their grip on media perceived to be disloyal to the Kremlin.”
“From slowly suffocating these outlets with economic penalties or forcing their owners to self-censorship, they have moved to an all-out attack on journalists and other media workers. Silencing those brave enough to speak up -- including students -- shuts down the future of press freedom in Russia,” Zviagina added.
Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport on January 17 upon his arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning in Siberia in August 2020 that several European laboratories concluded was a military-grade chemical nerve agent.
Navalny has insisted that his poisoning was ordered directly by President Vladimir Putin, which the Kremlin has denied.
In February, a Moscow court ruled that while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an old embezzlement case that is widely considered to be politically motivated.
Navalny's 3 1/2-year suspended sentence from that case was converted to a jail term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given the amount of time he had been held in detention.