- Title: Russian court jails investigative reporter for "extremist" action
- Date: 10th August 2017
- Summary: MOSCOW, RUSSIA (AUGUST 10, 2017) (REUTERS) RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER ALEXANDER SOKOLOV'S SUPPORTERS AND MEDIA GATHERED OUTSIDE COURT HOUSE FLAGS AT COURT BUILDING ALEXANDER SOKOLOV AND CO-DEFENDANTS, KIRYL BARABASH (LEFT) AND VALERY PARFYONOV (IN SUIT - RIGHT) IN COURT CAGE AS SENTENCE IS READ OUT OFF CAMERA MEDIA SOKOLOV LISTENING TO SENTENCING, SIGN ON HIS T-SHIRT READING (Russian): 'BANNING A REFERENDUM IS EXTREMISM' MEDIA KIRYL BARABASH LISTENING TO SENTENCE SOKOLOV AND CO-DEFENDANTS IN COURT CAGE MEDIA (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, ALEXANDER SOKOLOV, SAYING: "The idea of a referendum is considered to be extremism in Russia and a grave crime is committed against us which is hindering a referendum. It is obvious that the people of Russia are prohibited to assess the actions of those in power. Even the thought of evaluating a president and lawmakers is considered to be extremism." PEOPLE WALKING OUT OF COURT AS SUPPORTERS SHOUT (Russian): "SHAME ON THE ANTI-PEOPLE REGIME!" / "SHAME!" (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SOKOLOV'S LAWYER, ALEXEI CHERNYSHOV, SAYING "This system is very frightened of honest and decent people who put forward initiatives to make our country a real democratic state, to achieve the rights that are guaranteed in the constitution of the Russian Federation. This is very frightening to those who are at the levers of power, this is frightening for them." DEMONSTRATORS CHANTING (Russian): "FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS!" (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ACTIVIST AND SUPPORTER OF INITIATIVE GROUP FOR HOLDING A REFERENDUM, SERGEI STRYGIN, SAYING: "The sentence is shameful, this is obvious, the sentence is politically motivated, this is also obvious. Well the most unpleasant thing is of course the discrepancy between the cruelty of punishment and... there isn't even a crime as such, there is just political activity. Normal and legal political activity, but which is looked at as a crime in our country now." POLICE OFFICERS LOOKING ON (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) CO-ORDINATOR FOR THE NATIONAL PATRIOTIC FORCES OF RUSSIA, VLADIMIR FILIN, SAYING: "I want to say that the authorities say that we don't have political prisoners, but here you are - pure political prisoners who today got not even the sentence that the prosecution was asking for, which was four years, but they were added a year more." POLICE AND PEOPLE OUTSIDE COURT BUILDING
- Embargoed: 24th August 2017 15:46
- Keywords: Moscow court Russian journalist jailed trial denounced by human rights groups politically motivated Alexander Sokolov RBC
- Location: MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- City: MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- Country: Russia
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA0016TKQ5VR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A Moscow court jailed a Russian journalist on Thursday (August 10) after finding him guilty of organising an extremist group and attempting to overthrow the authorities in a trial denounced by human rights groups as politically motivated.
Investigative reporter Alexander Sokolov, 29, was arrested in July 2015 when he worked for the RBC media group, which has since been sold to the owner of a pro-Kremlin tabloid. Sokolov was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail on Thursday. He had denied the charges.
Prosecutors said Sokolov had created an "extremist organisation" called "For Responsible Government" - a reference to an Internet campaign which he and three others had conducted to make politicians more accountable.
Taking into account the time he has already spent in custody, Sokolov will have to serve only a year and a half in jail. Two of his co-defendants were sentenced to four years and the third was given a suspended sentence.
As an investigative journalist Sokolov had been researching, before his arrest, alleged embezzlement of 93 billion roubles ($1.55 billion) of public funds during the construction of a new cosmodrome in the Far East, a brainchild of President Vladimir Putin.
Fellow journalists had asked Putin at news conferences to intervene in Sokolov's case and on one occasion the Kremlin leader had said he would look into his case.
After sentence was pronounced, Sokolov defiantly spoke out in defence of his and his co-defendants' action in calling on the Internet for a referendum into the conduct of the authorities.
A tee-shirt he was wearing was emblazoned with the words: "Banning a referendum is extremism."
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