Journalists detained in Moscow after trying to hold protest in support of colleague
Several Russian journalists and activists were detained on May 28 in Moscow, near the building of the city branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Novaya Gazeta reports that journalists participated in a demonstration in support of special correspondent for Novaya Gazeta Ilya Azar, who was arrested for holding a one-man protest.
Azar was detained on May 26 during a protest in support of the previously detained founder of the “Police Ombudsman” page on the Russian social network VKontakte. Russian law states that a rally with only one participant is the only type of protest that does not require coordination and permission with the police.
Nevertheless, on May 28, the court found Azar guilty of repeatedly violating laws on rallying and sentenced him to 15 days in prison.
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Journalists who held one-person pickets in protest against the court’s decision were also detained by the police for violating the rules on rallying and the quarantine regime.
Among the detainees are Sergei Smirnov, editor-in-chief of Mediazone, Echo of Moscow journalists Tatyana Felgenhauer and Alexander Plushenko, and Dozhd journalist Mikhail Fishman.
Holding any public event is currently illegal because it violates the quarantine regime in Moscow, a police officer said to a Novaya Gazeta correspondent. Some of the detainees were soon released.
10 people were detained during a similar rally in St. Petersburg.
“The authorities de facto declared war on people in our profession when they arrested a journalist. We cannot back down from this challenge: no one is going to voluntarily recognize the Kremlin’s right to imprison citizens for expressing their opinions,” wrote Kirill Martynov, editor of the Novaya Gazeta policy department.