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Russian journalist Sergey Smirnov jailed for 25 days on charges of inciting people to attend pro-Navalny protests

Russian journalist Sergey Smirnov jailed for 25 days on charges of inciting people to attend pro-Navalny protests
The editor of Moscow-based news website Mediazona, founded by members of the Pussy Riot punk band, has been handed 25 days behind bars for promoting demonstrations in support of imprisoned opposition figure Alexey Navalny.

On Wednesday, the Tverskoy Court in Moscow read out the sentence for charges relating to repeated violation of a ban on holding mass events. Protests and other unauthorized public gatherings are banned in the capital, and many other Russian regions, under rules aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19. The charges could have carried up to 30 days in prison.

Mediazona claims that Smirnov was arrested while out walking with his young son on Saturday, ahead of nationwide protests billed for the next day. He was accused of urging people to join the rally in support of Navalny by sharing details on Twitter.

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Smirnov used the social messaging service to live-blog through the trial and his subsequent detention. “I hope they won’t fire me from Mediazona,” he wrote, as the verdict came in. The outlet was set up in 2014 by Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, two members of the controversial punk rock band Pussy Riot.

Russian authorities have made a series of arrests of those believed to be involved in organizing two successive weekends of unrest, which saw crowds clash with riot police. Earlier this week Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, was placed under house arrest until late March. Other high-profile associates of the anti-corruption campaigner are also facing similar measures, including lawyer Lubov Sobol and doctors’ union head Anastasia Vasilyeva. Mediazona co-founder Alyokhina is also banned from leaving her home.

Navalny was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in a penal colony on Tuesday, after prosecutors said he’d breached the conditions of a suspended sentence for fraud.

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