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Russian news outlets rally around journalist Smirnov, jailed for 25 days over retweet that included date of upcoming protest

Russian news outlets rally around journalist Smirnov, jailed for 25 days over retweet that included date of upcoming protest
The editors of some of Russia’s best-known newspapers and online outlets have released statements condemning the jailing of Sergey Smirnov, the editor-in-chief of Mediazona. He was detained for breaking laws regarding protests.

Smirnov was arrested on the street in Moscow on January 30 while out walking with his son. He was later charged with “repeated violation” of the procedure for holding legal demonstrations. The offending act was a retweet of a joke about the journalist looking like a rockstar, accompanied by an image displaying the time and date of an upcoming unsanctioned protest in favor of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny. Smirnov did not attend the rally.

In response, the editorial boards of some of the country’s most-read outlets have come out in support of Smirnov. This includes the well-respected newspapers RBK and Kommersant.

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

“RBK’s editors consider the unlawful detention of journalists an obstacle to their professional activities,” the Moscow daily’s statement reads. “We demand that a check on the legality of the arrest of Sergey Smirnov be carried out, and we call on representatives of the security services to give public clarifications on each incident of journalists being detained covering protests.“

According to the Russian Union of Journalists, over 100 media representatives were injured or apprehended while covering pro-Navalny rallies on January 23, January 31, and February 2.

“Like employees of several other Russian media outlets, we consider the arrest of Sergey Smirnov to be pressure on Mediazona – and an attempt to intimidate other journalists,” the editor’s statement from Kommersant reads.

Mediazona, where Smirnov works, is owned by Pyotr Verzilov, most famous for his links to punk-rock protest band Pussy Riot.

“Our task is to objectively tell the public what is happening. We reported on both beatings of protesters with police truncheons and aggression against police officers. But now it has become more dangerous to do this work,” the Kommersant statement continued, naming several journalists who were the victims of violence by law enforcement.

“Beatings and mass detentions should not become the norm in our country,” it concluded.

Similar statements were also released by opposition-leaning TV channel Dozhd, as well as newspaper Novaya Gazeta and online outlet Snob. Ekaterinburg-based Znak also joined the chorus of voices demanding Smirnov be released.

“The Znak.com editors consider the detention of Smirnov and other journalists who covered important social and political events – opposition rallies – unacceptable,” it said. “We demand the release of Sergey Smirnov and our other colleagues, and an end to the authorities’ pressure on the media.”

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