Russia: Journalist Alexander Nevzorov sentenced to 8 years for comments on war

A Russian court on 1st February has sentenced in absentia veteran journalist Alexander Nevzorov to eight years in prison for spreading so-called "false information" about Russia's war on Ukraine. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) join their Russian affiliate the Journalists' and Media Workers' Union (JMWU) in condemning this criminalisation of journalism and call on the Russian authorities to review the ruling.

Russian journalist Alexander Nevzorov, who has been sentenced to eight years for spreading so-called "false information" about Russia's war on Ukraine. Credits: Loloxl9 / Creative Commons.

Alexander Nevzorov came under pressure from authorities for alleging that Russian forces deliberately shelled a maternity hospital in Mariupol, in southern Ukraine. "Journalist Alexander Glebovich Nevzorov was found guilty (...) and sentenced to imprisonment for a period of eight years," the press service for Moscow courts said in a statement on Telegram. Prosecutors had requested a sentence of nine years in jail.

Nevzorov has left Russia and did not take part in the hearings. Investigators launched the probe in March last year, saying Nevzorov had intentionally published "misleading information" with "inaccurate photographs of civilians affected by the shelling". He was designated a "foreign agent" one month later, a branding that piles bureaucratic pressure on people hit with the label.

After the Kremlin ordered troops into Ukraine, Russia introduced new legislation criminalising what authorities consider to be false or damaging information about the Russian army and the war on Ukraine.

"The person of Alexander Nevzorov, whose publications and statements often irritate many people, can be the object of criticism. But he is undoubtedly one of the main symbols of the new independent journalism that emerged at the end of the 1980s of the last century, at the end of the USSR," said Andrei Jvirblis, secretary of the independent Russian journalists’ union JMWU. "His conviction, which is also quite symbolic because Nevzorov is beyond the reach of Russian justice, is undoubtedly a condemnation of this type of journalism. From this point of view, it does not matter what exactly Nevzorov wrote about Ukraine, whether he "discredited" the Russian army or not. With this judgment, the very possibility of free thought and free expression is condemned and intimidated in Russia."

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