In early February the law enforcement authorities raided the home of Pskov-based journalist Svetlana Prokopieva who is suspected of "justifying terrorism". If she is charged, she could face up to 7 years in prison.
Svetlana Prokopieva is a fairly prominent journalist in her native Pskov who has recently been writing for a number of media outlets and was earlier the editor-in-chief of the Pskovskaya Gubernia weekly. Her newspaper were the first to report the killing of paratroopers from Pskov in combat in Ukraine.
In November 2018 Svetlana Prokopieva was a guest at a show hosted by the Echo Moskvy in Pskov radio sharing her thoughts about the suicide bombing attack in Arkhangelsk. And in December, RosKomNadzor, a state supervising authority, declared that it had found her comments to contain “elements of justification of terrorism”.
Svetlana has repeatedly demonstrated that journalistic ethics is her firm priority. Freedom of speech means that public debate should be possible on any socially significant happenings in the country, terrorist attacks included. Debate cannot in itself be equated with justification of terrorism. Journalists are called to provide coverage of a variety of topics and offer a diversity of opinions.
Still, Echo Moskvy in Pskov and the local news agency Pskovskaya Lenta Novostey were fined 150,000 rubles and 200,000 rubles respectively. Prokopieva is currently treated as a suspect in a criminal investigation pursuant to Part 2 of Article 205.2 (justification of terrorism).
Human rights defenders have been pointing to a rapid rise in the number of convictions for “justification of terrorism” in Russia. An increasing number of these cases are targeted at journalists and bloggers. Criminal article 205.2 has become a new instrument used by the state for punching the required quantity of preposterous criminal convictions for voicing opinions the authorities find annoying. We firmly believe that using the Criminal Code to evaluate the quality of journalism is completely disgraceful.
Allegations of Ms. Prokopieva making statements that amount to justifying terrorism are totally absurd as she was merely doing her job. Prosecution of journalists and, more generally, anyone for expressing their viewpoint is completely unacceptable.
We are appalled by the allegations made by the law enforcement authorities and demand that the criminal investigation launched against the journalist be dropped immediately.
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