Russia: Journalists Antonina Favorskaya and Olga Komleva detained on charges of extremism

  • 09 Apr 2024

Concern as more Russian journalists held by authorities

SotaVision journalist Antonina Favorskaya and RusNews correspondent Olga Komleva have been arrested on charges of ‘extremism’ linked to the coverage of the trials of the late Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

If convicted the pair could face up to six years in prison.

The NUJ unites with the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) and their affiliate the Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union (JMWU), in expressing deep concern over the detention of Favorskaya and Komleva, in the context of a wider crackdown in Russia on press freedom.

It has emerged that Favorskaya - who recorded what is understood to be the last video of Navalny in February - was arrested on 17 March, after visiting his grave where she laid flowers and took photographs.

A day later the Moscow Nagatinsky District Court sentenced Favorskaya to ten days in jail on charges of disobeying the police.

However she was not released and on 29 March Moscow’s Basmanny District Court charged Favorskaya with involvement with an extremist group for her alleged work with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which was labelled an ‘extremist organisation’ by Russian authorities in 2021. She is being remanded in custody until 28 May.

Meanwhile, RusNews reporter Komleva was taken into custody on 27 March in the republic of Bashkortostan, in a similar case of “extremism” linked to Navalny, with whom she was previously understood to be in correspondence.

According to the IFJ-EFJ, media outlets have reported that the judge in the Kirovsky Court of Ufa has ruled to detain Komleva until 27 May.

In March alone, the Russian authorities have detained at least six journalists working for independent media.

On 27 March, police held SotaVision correspondent Ekaterina Anikiyevich and RusNews reporter Konstantin Zharov, who were reporting next to Favorskaya’s home as police searched the premises. Zharov, who was reportedly beaten at the time of his detention, and Anikiyevich are now free after being questioned.

Photographer Alexandra Astakhova and journalist Anastasiya Musatova, who were waiting outside a Moscow prison where Favorskaya was supposed to be released, were also taken into custody and later released after questioning.

The cases underscore the increasingly oppressive environment faced by journalists in Russia.

JMWU International Secretary Andrei Jvirblis said: “Unfortunately, we are once again seeing the Russian regime imitating the techniques applied earlier to our colleagues in Belarus. Today, journalists working on the ground in Russia are also beginning to be branded as ‘extremists’.

“The aim of this attempt is clear: to cut off the rest of the world from information about what’s going on, trying to turn the country into an information desert.”



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