Russian journalist convicted for propaganda of terrorism

Attempt to stifle media freedom in Russia

In another devastating blow to freedom of the Press in Russia, journalist, Svetlana Prokopyeva, was sentenced with a fine of 500,000 rubles by a Russian court for terrorism charges. The radio journalist who works with the, Echo of Moscow and Radio Free Europe was convicted over a radio broadcast that was aired on November 2018 with charges of “propaganda of terrorism”.

The broadcast had Prokopyeva commenting on an attack perpetrated by a 17-year-old suicide bomber in the Federal Security Services (FSB) building in the city of Arkhangelsk. She argued that Russia’s repressive policies, including the lack of free and fair elections and the crackdown on free assembly, made peaceful political and civic activism nearly impossible and served to radicalize the youth, said a Human Rights Watch report.

Police had searched her apartment, confiscated her electronic devices and included her name on the list of ‘terrorists and extremists’. Her assets were seized and she was only allowed to withdraw 10,000 rubles a month for basic necessities. Prokopyeva will have to pay the fine and the conviction will allow her to be under surveillance, She will have a criminal record and until her conviction expires, her name will remain on the list of “terrorists and extremists.’

Prokopyeva promised of a further appeal after being found guilty by the court for “justifying terrorism”.

Journalists from over 30 Russian media outlets gathered as a sign of protest in solidarity with Prokopyeva where 17 journalists and activists were detained and charged with violation of regulation on public gatherings by the police. These baseless prosecutions create a chilling effect and a fear from being critical of the state, clearly aimed at inciting self-censorship among the media.

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