News

September 25, 2019

Russian radio journalist could get seven years for commentary

Credit: Ludmila Savtiskaya (RFE/RL)

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Svetlana Prokopyeva is innocent!Sign the petitionReporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by the way the Russian authorities are persecuting Svetlana Prokopyeva, a journalist based in the northwestern city of Pskov, over a radio commentary broadcast in November 2018.

After being investigated for months, which should have sufficed to establish her innocence, she was finally charged with “justifying terrorism” on 20 September and is now facing the prospect of a trial and a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

She had already been placed under a judicial control, deprived of her passport and bank accounts and placed on an official list of “terrorists” in violation of the presumption of innocence.

“Svetlana Prokopyeva just did her job as a journalist and it is appalling to see investigators persecuting her in this fashion,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“It is hard to view this absurd charge as anything other than an intimidatory message to all Russian media outlets. We urge her fellow journalists to campaign to defend her and independent journalism until the judicial authorities finally dismiss the case.”

In her November 2018 commentary, Prokopyeva wondered what had driven a teenager to blow himself up outside the entrance to the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the northern city of Arkhangelsk the previous week. Without at any point voicing approval of this suicide-bombing, she suggested that it was the result of the lack of freedom in Russia, which made political activism impossible.

Her home and the local branch of a radio station for which she works were searched in February and the websites that had posted a transcript of her commentary had to remove it after being given heavy fines.

Find out more about this case in the previous RSF press release.