PARIS – In response to multiple news reports that a Russian court Monday sentenced journalist Andrey Novashov to eight months of correctional labor, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of condemnation:
“Russian journalist Andrey Novashov’s case demonstrates how authorities are using wartime censorship measures to silence members of the press who report independently on sensitive issues,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities should not contest Novashov’s appeal, lift all the restrictions imposed on him, and stop prosecuting journalists for their work.”
On Monday, March 6, a court in the southern city of Prokopyevsk convicted Novashov of spreading false information about the Russian military and sentenced him to eight months of correctional labor, along with a one-year ban on journalistic activities, according to those reports, which said he plans to appeal the verdict.
Individuals sentenced to correctional labor are not imprisoned, but must pay the state treasury a portion of their wages during the time of their sentence; if unemployed, they must work at jobs assigned by the Federal Penitentiary Service, according to Russian law.
Russian authorities detained Novashov, a freelance reporter with the independent news website Tayga.Info and Sibir.Realii, the Siberia-focused project run by the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster RFE/RL, on March 21, 2022, on charges of spreading “fake” information about the army. He was subsequently released and banned from attending public events, using the internet, or communicating with his coworkers, news reports said.
The charges stem from several posts on Novashov’s personal social media pages where he shared news and commentary about Russian politics and the war in Ukraine, according to Sibir.Realii. In a statement on March 3, Novashov said that he denied the charges and considered the case fabricated and retaliation for his journalism. Novashov mainly covers human rights violations in Russian prisons and the persecution of human rights defenders in Russia, according to Sibir.Realii.
Russian journalist Maria Ponomarenko was recently sentenced to six years in prison on similar charges. CPJ emailed the Central District Court of Prokopyevsk for comment, but did not receive any response.