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Determined Poutine appeals to jailed journalists for retweeting jokes

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MOSCOW – Vladimir Putin took one other darkish flip in direction of authoritarianism on Wednesday when his regime started jailing journalists who dared to report on rising opposition protests.

A Moscow court docket has ordered the imprisonment of one of many nation’s main impartial journalists, Sergey Smirnov, editor-in-chief of Mediazona.

His supposed crime? Retweet a joke on Twitter.

The message included the date of an upcoming rally in assist of Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption activist who was sentenced Tuesday to just about three years in a penal colony for failing to satisfy his bail situations whereas ‘he was in a coma recovering from a Novichok assault.

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Media freedom has lengthy been an issue in Russia, and plenty of journalists have died beneath suspicious circumstances, however even Putin has by no means earlier than resorted to open arrests of journalists with out searching for justice.

“I am simply shocked,” Tatiana, Smirnov’s spouse, informed The Day by day Beast. “The primary police caught my husband in entrance of our grandson’s eyes; then the court docket ordered his arrest for reposting somebody’s joke.

The court docket dominated that sharing the joke did certainly encourage folks to hitch the “unlawful” rally to protest Navalny’s arbitrary arrest.

“The accusation is in the end absurd, my husband did not go to a single rally, he edited Mediazona from house,” she mentioned.

For impartial Russian journalists, who’ve seen dozens of ugly assaults on the press, Smirnov’s arrest was an alarming signal that Russia was getting into a brand new period of free speech. “This can be a sign to all of us that tomorrow the police can come and arrest the editors of the final three or 4 impartial media left in Russia, together with Echo of Moscow, TV Rain, all these protecting the anarchy of energy. “. Pavel Kanygin, journalist at Novaya Gazeta, informed the Day by day Beast.

Six of the Novaya GazetaPutin’s journalists have been murdered throughout twenty years of Putin’s rule. “The Kremlin has crossed one other pink line; we didn’t have time to get better from the final shock and a brand new wave of repression is crashing, ”Kanygin mentioned.

In the course of the previous week of protests – the biggest in Russia in a decade – police brutally beat tons of of individuals and detained greater than 5,000 protesters taking part within the anti-Putin motion. rallies. Greater than 80 journalists have been detained in current days. Wednesday, the court docket ordered the arrest of younger folks Novaya Gazeta journalist, Nikita Girin, who was sentenced to 14 days in jail. Police arrested a number of TV Rain reporters, who have been broadcasting stay video footage of opposition protests in Moscow, St. Petersburg and different Russian cities. The channel’s reputation has grown considerably since Navalny landed at Moscow airport on January 17. Over 23 million folks have seen the channel on YouTube.

Rain’s press room was buzzing on Wednesday afternoon with reporters protecting dozens of arrests, the place attorneys have been unable to see their purchasers. Information of one other sufferer of political stress has arrived; this time Russia’s finest modern theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, was fired from the Gogol Heart, the nation’s first avant-garde theater. A volunteer with the Navalny Anti-Corruption Basis complained on the air that she had been tortured by the police. She mentioned her interrogator put a plastic bag over her head on Tuesday to drive her to share her cellphone password.

Within the midst of this information storm, the channel’s editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko, shook his head as he learn the principle articles revealed by state media. “For them, the snow in Moscow is the principle novelty.”

Nearly ten years in the past, Russia’s free media, together with the one impartial TV channel Rain, coated an anti-Putin rebellion – as much as 100,000 protesters got here to Bolotnaya Sq.; however Russia was completely different again then, there was much more freedom beneath President Dmitry Medvedev. “At the beginning of the 12 months, I hoped we’d cowl much more lighter information, however political occasions are growing too quick,” Dzyadko mentioned. “This 12 months can be new: the parliamentary events will get up now, earlier than the following elections.”

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Though apparently attempting to close down impartial media, even the Russian authorities depend on impartial media as the one supply of actual data on political and public life. “When the police arrest our journalists in Moscow and St. Petersburg, they admit that they’re taking a look at Rain,” Dzyadko mentioned.

Police additionally acknowledge journalists from Moscow’s Echo radio station. “The cops put us in chains and admit to us that they hearken to our radio broadcasts within the morning, so in life, they’re folks inquisitive about political questions, of our protection however at work, they maintain us again”, Tania Felgengauer, presenter of the Moscow Echo radio a survivor of a stab assault, mentioned The Day by day Beast. “I assume a number of Russian policemen haven’t any selection as a result of there is no such thing as a job obtainable. As for the members of the anti-extremist forces, who reported on Smirnov, they need to now not have something human.

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Initially revealed February 3, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

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