Quote for the Week. Svetlana Prokopyeva: “I am not afraid to criticize the government. I am not afraid to criticize law enforcement or tell the security organs that they are wrong.”

Week-ending 3 July 2020

Svetlana Prokopyeva: “That is why we need freedom of speech – to sound the alarm in time.  Independent media, journalists, opposition politicians and activists are essential in order promptly to warn the ruling majority:  ‘Hey!  Look what’s going on!  You’re moving onto a slippery slope!’  That’s why the main object of criticism by the media has been and always will be the state – which is a system of power with a coercive apparatus capable of becoming a tool of mass repression. I am not afraid to criticise the state. I am not afraid to criticise the law-enforcement system and to tell security officers that sometimes they are wrong. Because I know that if I say nothing, and if no-one else says anything, then the situation will become really dreadful. […] I ask the honourable court, when deciding on my criminal case, to take account not only of written statements and documents, but also the fundamental principles on which our society is built.  These are freedom of speech, the status of the journalist, and the mission of the press.  I did my job.  I did nothing that went beyond the borders of my professional duty.  No criminal activity was involved.” [from her final statement in court]


Translated by Elizbeth Teague

See also:

Prosecutor Seeks Stiff Sentence For Russian Journalist For ‘Justifying Terrorism’

PSKOV, Russia — The prosecutor in the western Russian city of Pskov has asked a court to sentence journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva to six years in prison for “justifying terrorism” in a commentary she wrote that linked a suicide bombing with the country’s political climate. The prosecutor also asked the Second Western District Military Court on July 3 to bar Prokopyeva from journalistic activities for four years. The charge carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison. Prokopyeva, a freelance contributor to RFE/RL’s Russian Service, has maintained her innocence throughout the trial and described the case as an attempt to “assassinate freedom of speech” in Russia. RFE/RL, 3 July 2020

Russia: groundless charges against journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva should be dropped

The Russian authorities should drop all charges against Svetlana Prokopyeva, PEN International and PEN Moscow said today, as the journalist is facing a lengthy prison sentence for ‘justifying terrorism’ following comments she made on a radio show. The organisations further call on the Russian authorities to stop harassing and intimidating journalists who are reporting on her prosecution. PEN International, 6 November 2019

Russia Seeks 6 Years Jail for Journalist in ‘Terror Case’

Russian prosecutors on Friday demanded that a journalist be sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly justifying terrorism in a case that has drawn outrage from supporters and rights groups. Svetlana Prokopyeva, who is based in the northwestern city of Pskov and works for RFE/RL’s Russian Service as a freelance contributor, was charged with publicly justifying terrorism after she wrote a commentary about a bombing attack in 2018. The Moscow Times, 3 July 2020

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