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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Russia hands jail term to exiled journalist over Ukraine comments

Journalist lands in hot water with Russian authorities over his reporting on the war in Ukraine

Moscow – A Russian court on Wednesday sentenced in absentia veteran journalist Alexander Nevzorov to eight years in prison for spreading “false information” about Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine.

The verdict is the latest in a series of high-profile rulings under new legislation that opponents of the Kremlin say was designed to criminalise criticism of the conflict.

Nevzorov, 64, came under pressure from authorities for alleging that Russian forces deliberately shelled a maternity hospital in Mariupol, a port city in southern Ukraine that was captured by Moscow after a long siege.

“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 asked for 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 carries Soviet-era connotations and piles bureaucratic pressure on people hit with the label.

Nevzorov is a former member of parliament and his popular YouTube channel boasts nearly two million subscribers.

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

Several politicians and public figures have faced jail terms under the new law, including opposition councillor Ilya Yashin, who was sentenced to eight and a half year behind bars. AFP


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