Opinion

Seven Years in Prison For Two-Pages of the Article

Russian authorities treated journalist’s opinion as a crime

Svetlana Prokopyeva. (Photo Courtesy of RL)

PH-Tribune publishes this text in solidarity with a Russian journalist Ms. Svetlana Prokopyeva, who has been unjustly accused of condoning terrorism.

 

I (we?) – Svetlana Prokopieva. I am a journalist, and I can be imprisoned for seven years for “justifying terrorism.”

Nearly a year ago, an explosion occurred in Arkhangelsk. It was unexpected and stunning. Seventeen-year-old Mikhail Zhlobitsky blew himself up at the entrance to the building of the FSB Directorate for the Arkhangelsk Region [Russian domestic security agency -ed.]. In a suicide note published in a Telegram channel, he wrote that he was going to conduct the self-detonation because the FSB is all-powerful, fabricates criminal cases, and tortures people. This explosion in Arkhangelsk was the theme of my column titled The repressions for the state, published in the Echo of Moscow in Pskov website. On November 7, there was a radio show, and the transcript of it appeared on the website of the Pskov news.

After almost a month, the Roskomnadzor [the state agency censoring the Internet in Russia -ed] warned the Pskov news and Ekho Moskvy that there were “signs of justification of terrorism” in my article.

At the beginning of December, the magistrate court drew administrative protocols, which cost two media outlets a fine of 350 thousand rubles. Simultaneously, the Pskov Investigative Committee, quoting article 205.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, began an audit against me. As the prospect of a criminal case loomed, we laughed and kept our fingers crossed. What, the hell, is the justification for terrorism? Roskomnadzor did not find a single specific phrase or even a word that would condone terrorism. It could not find it, because, I did not use such words. It soon became obvious, that this is not necessary for the case.

On February 6, after I opened the door, a dozen armed individuals in helmets pushed me against the wall in my apartment. This is how I found out that a criminal case was initiated.

 

A Search – vile and humiliating

On that day, they robbed me – they took three laptops, two phones, a voice recorder, and flash drives. Six months later, they robbed me again, blocking my accounts. I was only a “suspect” when I was added to the list of acting extremists and terrorists of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service. Since then I can’t get a bank card in my name, I can’t open a deposit or apply for a mortgage. The state struck me out of normal life.

It remains for them to take away from me the last – freedom. On September 20, my procedural status changed. Now I am officially accused of a crime under Article 205.2, part 2 (“justification of terrorism with the utilisation of the media”). The punishment – a fine of up to one million rubles or imprisonment for up to seven years.

I do not plead guilty and consider my criminal case an act of banal revenge on the part of offended security officials. In that text, I laid on them the responsibility for the Arkhangelsk explosion.

I wrote that a repressive state lived to see a reaction, that the brutal law enforcement policy radicalises citizens and that the blocked legal paths of a protest push its energy into such a socially threatening channel.

My criminal case is the deadly attack against freedom of speech. Journalists would not dare to tell the truth in time, recollecting what happened to me.

If you are not afraid, post a quote:

A strong state. A strong president, a strong governor. In this country, the security forces control the power. The generation of that boy, who detonated himself in Arkhangelsk, was raised in this atmosphere. They realise that they cannot take part in the rallies because they will be dispersed or even beaten. And after that, they will be found guilty. They know that the authorities can punish for the one-person pickets. That they can express without fear only a few opinions. This generation knows that one can not be served justice in court – the judge will stamp the decision that Comrade Major suggests.

Long-term restriction of political and civil liberties in Russia created not just unfree, but the repressive state. A state that is unsafe and frightening for the citizen. 

I did not change my mind. Moreover, in my opinion, with this criminal case, the government only confirmed my theses. “Their only goal is to prove the guilt, to condemn, and to punish. The slightest formal clue suffices for a government, to crush a person in the grinder of legal proceedings.”

 

The article was an analysis of the causes of the attack

I did not condone terrorism. I analyzed the causes of the attack trying to understand why a young boy, who could enjoy his life decided to commit the crime becoming a suicide-bomber. Perhaps I made mistakes in the reconstruction of his motives (it would be good if I was wrong!) but no one has proven it. Instead, I was charged, and nobody discussed my thesis. It was a primitive and brusque reaction. This is a hit with the fist in response to a written remark. This is a hit with the fist in the face of every journalist in our country.

It is impossible to predict, which words will hurt the next security official. They treated the opinion as a crime. They are forging a criminal out of a person who did her job. By the same principle, a criminal case can be constructed from the next contentious article. It suffices to find so-called experts, who will authorise the opinion for the investigator. Knowing this, will you dare to discuss the contentious issue in the future? Will you pose questions that are likely to upset the authorities? Will you dare to criticise someone, who is wearing epaulets?

My criminal case is the deadly attack against freedom of speech. Journalists would not dare to tell the truth in time, recollecting what happened to me.

 

The PH-Tribune Editors share the point of view expressed in this Opinion article.

 

Svetlana Prokopyeva – journalist. Editor of the Radio Liberty news on Russia’s northern regions special project. She was a reporter at Radio Liberty and local media in Pskov.

Svetlana Prokopyeva (Photo Courtesy of RL)

PH-Tribune publishes this text in solidarity with a Russian journalist Ms. Svetlana Prokopyeva, who has been unjustly accused of condoning terrorism.

 

I (we?) – Svetlana Prokopieva. I am a journalist, and I can be imprisoned for seven years for “justifying terrorism.”

Nearly a year ago, an explosion occurred in Arkhangelsk. It was unexpected and stunning. Seventeen-year-old Mikhail Zhlobitsky blew himself up at the entrance to the building of the FSB Directorate for the Arkhangelsk Region [Russian domestic security agency -ed.]. In a suicide note published in a Telegram channel, he wrote that he was going to conduct the self-detonation because the FSB is all-powerful, fabricates criminal cases, and tortures people. This explosion in Arkhangelsk was the theme of my column titled The repressions for the state, published in the Echo of Moscow in Pskov website. On November 7, there was a radio show, and the transcript of it appeared on the website of the Pskov news.

After almost a month, the Roskomnadzor [the state agency censoring the Internet in Russia -ed] warned the Pskov news and Ekho Moskvy that there were “signs of justification of terrorism” in my article.

At the beginning of December, the magistrate court drew administrative protocols, which cost two media outlets a fine of 350 thousand rubles. Simultaneously, the Pskov Investigative Committee, quoting article 205.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, began an audit against me. As the prospect of a criminal case loomed, we laughed and kept our fingers crossed. What, the hell, is the justification for terrorism? Roskomnadzor did not find a single specific phrase or even a word that would condone terrorism. It could not find it, because, I did not use such words. It soon became obvious, that this is not necessary for the case.

On February 6, after I opened the door, a dozen armed individuals in helmets pushed me against the wall in my apartment. This is how I found out that a criminal case was initiated. 

A Search – vile and humiliating

On that day, they robbed me – they took three laptops, two phones, a voice recorder, and flash drives. Six months later, they robbed me again, blocking my accounts. I was only a “suspect” when I was added to the list of acting extremists and terrorists of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service. Since then I can’t get a bank card in my name, I can’t open a deposit or apply for a mortgage. The state struck me out of normal life.

It remains for them to take away from me the last – freedom. On September 20, my procedural status changed. Now I am officially accused of a crime under Article 205.2, part 2 (“justification of terrorism with the utilisation of the media”). The punishment – a fine of up to one million rubles or imprisonment for up to seven years.

I do not plead guilty and consider my criminal case an act of banal revenge on the part of offended security officials. In that text, I laid on them the responsibility for the Arkhangelsk explosion.

I wrote that a repressive state lived to see a reaction, that the brutal law enforcement policy radicalises citizens and that the blocked legal paths of a protest push its energy into such a socially threatening channel.


My criminal case is the deadly attack against freedom of speech. Journalists would not dare to tell the truth in time, recollecting what happened to me.

If you are not afraid, post a quote:

A strong state. A strong president, a strong governor. In this country, the security forces control the power. The generation of that boy, who detonated himself in Arkhangelsk, was raised in this atmosphere. They realise that they cannot take part in the rallies because they will be dispersed or even beaten. And after that, they will be found guilty. They know that the authorities can punish for the one-person pickets. That they can express without fear only a few opinions. This generation knows that one can not be served justice in court – the judge will stamp the decision that Comrade Major suggests.

Long-term restriction of political and civil liberties in Russia created not just unfree, but the repressive state. A state that is unsafe and frightening for the citizen. “

I did not change my mind. Moreover, in my opinion, with this criminal case, the government only confirmed my theses. “Their only goal is to prove the guilt, to condemn, and to punish. The slightest formal clue suffices for a government, to crush a person in the grinder of legal proceedings.”

 

The article was an analysis of the causes of the attack

I did not condone terrorism. I analyzed the causes of the attack trying to understand why a young boy, who could enjoy his life decided to commit the crime becoming a suicide-bomber. Perhaps I made mistakes in the reconstruction of his motives (it would be good if I was wrong!) but no one has proven it. Instead, I was charged, and nobody discussed my thesis. It was a primitive and brusque reaction. This is a hit with the fist in response to a written remark. This is a hit with the fist in the face of every journalist in our country.

It is impossible to predict, which words will hurt the next security official. They treated the opinion as a crime. They are forging a criminal out of a person who did her job. By the same principle, a criminal case can be constructed from the next contentious article. It suffices to find so-called experts, who will authorise the opinion for the investigator. Knowing this, will you dare to discuss the contentious issue in the future? Will you pose questions that are likely to upset the authorities? Will you dare to criticise someone, who is wearing epaulets?

My criminal case is the deadly attack against freedom of speech. Journalists would not dare to tell the truth in time, recollecting what happened to me.

 

The PH-Tribune Editors share the point of view expressed in this Opinion article.

 

Svetlana Prokopyeva – journalist. Editor of the Radio Liberty news on Russia’s northern regions special project. She was a reporter at Radio Liberty and local media in Pskov.

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