Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Home » Russian Journalist Arrested, Accused of Spreading Fake News

Russian Journalist Arrested, Accused of Spreading Fake News

by Valerian Jibuti
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WASHINGTON — A Russian court this week ordered that a Russian reporter with independent news website RusNews be detained until June 10 on three charges of spreading fake information about the Russian army.

Roman Ivanov, the reporter, was arrested Tuesday at his apartment in Korolyov. Officials reportedly broke down his apartment door and confiscated his laptop and phones.

Ivanov denied the charges and said in the Korolyov court that authorities had been pressuring him since 2020 over his work. His detention was ordered Wednesday. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

“Authorities should immediately release Ivanov, drop all charges against him, and let the media work freely and without fear of reprisal,” Carlos Martinez de la Serna, program director with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said in a statement.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately reply to VOA’s email requesting comment.

Ivanov’s arrest came less than two weeks after Russian authorities arrested American Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on spying accusations, which he has denied.

Authorities opened three criminal cases against Ivanov for three war-related social media posts, including one about alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Ivanov was previously detained in September 2022 while covering an anti-mobilization protest in Korolyov.

Authorities also questioned Ivanov’s wife, Maria Nekrasova, and made her sign a nondisclosure agreement.

There are few independent reporters continuing to work inside Russia, and targeting them is not unexpected from the Kremlin. As of December 2022, at least 19 journalists were in prison in Russia, according to CPJ.

What happened to Ivanov is “grotesque and horrible,” said Maya Vinokour, a New York University professor who researches post-Soviet media. “But I’m not surprised.”

The same day Ivanov was arrested, police in the southwestern city of Ufa searched the editorial office of independent news website Prufy.ru and seized computer equipment.

“We believe that certain government officials are using their position to put pressure on the media so that we cannot tell stories about government corruption and attempts to profit at the expense of the state,” the outlet said.

“Roman Ivanov and the journalists of Prufy.ru are among the few independent voices remaining in Russia who are reporting truthfully about the situation in the country and the war it is waging against Ukraine. Their work is essential and should not be hindered,” CPJ’s Martinez de la Serna said in a statement.

Ivanov was the second RusNews journalist to be targeted this year. In February, RusNews reporter Maria Ponomarenko was sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly spreading fake news about the Russian army.

“Certain organizations are being specifically targeted in a way that seems very planned out,” Vinokour told VOA. The aim is likely “to send the message that entire organizations are on the chopping block. There is no safe way to dissent.”

Source : VOA

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