Russian journalist found guilty of ‘justifying terrorism’

Russian journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva.

Russian journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva.   | Photo Credit: OLGA MALTSEVA

A Russian journalist was found guilty on Monday and handed a hefty fine for “justifying terrorism” in a case that sparked an outcry among her allies at home and rights groups abroad. Svetlana Prokopyeva, who is based in the northwestern city of Pskov, works for the Russian service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) as a freelance contributor.

The 40-year-old was charged with publicly justifying terrorism over a column she wrote about a attack that targeted Russian security services in the north of the country in 2018.

The judge found Ms. Prokopyeva guilty, an AFP journalist in the Pskov courtroom reported, and ordered her to pay a fine of 500,000 rubles ($6,950). Her supporters in the courtroom shouted “shame” and “she is not guilty” as the judge read out the verdict.

Bombing incident

Prosecutors last week had asked the judge to jail Ms. Prokopyeva for six years and ban her from working in journalism for four years on the charges that carry a maximum sentence of seven years. The case has its origins in a November 2018 bombing carried out by a 17-year-old anarchist who blew himself up in a Federal Security Service (FSB) building in Arkhangelsk in northern Russia, injuring three service members.

In her opinion piece, published by the Pskov affiliate of the Echo of Moscow radio station, Ms. Prokopyeva linked the teenager’s suicide bombing to the political climate under President Vladimir Putin. Dozens of human rights defenders signed a statement published by the Memorial rights group on Monday denouncing the case as “openly political” with the goal of “intimidating Russian journalists”.

Human Rights Watch on Monday said the ruling “creates another dangerous precedent.” More than 30 prominent Russian journalists spoke out in support of Ms. Prokopyeva in statements published online this month, and more than a dozen of her supporters were briefly detained last week.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 5:50:50 PM |

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