6 July 2020
Lawyer Genri Reznik, deputy president of the Federal Bar Association, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and of the presidential Human Rights Council, spoke to RTVI about the current situation regarding the FSB in Russia and what Prokopyeva’s mild sentence means.
Svetlana Prokopyeva, a journalist from Pskov, has been found guilty of justifying terrorism and fined 500,000 roubles [a little under US$ 7,000]. The prosecution had called for her to be sentenced to six years in a penal colony and forbidden to work as a journalist for four years. Her prosecution began after the journalist suggested that a teenager who blew himself up at the headquarters of the FSB [Federal Security Service] in Arkhangelsk had done so in reaction of the ‘highhanded behaviour of the security forces.’
‘It is shameful to celebrate, merely because Svetlana Prokopyeva did not go to prison,’ Reznik said. He considers the sentence ‘unsound.’ He pointed out that this is one of a whole number of sentences when a judgment has been issued in accordance with an article of the Criminal Code that criminalises the spoken or written word, and sentences are handed down on the basis of a ‘linguistic assessment’ by experts, the necessity and quality of which often raise serious doubts.
Genri Reznik also replied to questions about whether, following the sentencing of Svetlana Prokopyeva, the prosecution of journalists is likely to become more frequent, why linguistic expertise is most often not needed, and the special role played by the FSB in such cases.
Translated by Elizabeth Teague