Here’s who Russia has punished for speaking out against the war in Ukraine
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies have cracked down on dissidents and activists who have spoken out against the war.
The Kremlin passed a law that imposes a sentence of up to 15 years in prison for journalists and activists who publish “fake news” about the war, which Putin refers to as a “special military operation.”
Hundreds of thousands of people have reportedly demonstrated peacefully against the war, and thousands have been arrested, fined or punished in response, according to Human Rights Watch. The growing list includes journalists, human rights defenders, protest organizers and local politicians.
Here are the most prominent Russians we know have been punished for speaking out against the war.
Vladimir Kara-Murza and Ilya Krasilshchik
One of the most active Kremlin critics and dissidents, Vladimir Kara-Murza, is being held until June 12 while he awaits trial for speaking out against the war.
Kara-Murza is charged with denouncing the war in Ukraine during a March 15 speech to the Arizona House of Representatives.
He is a journalist and former associate of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader who was assassinated in 2015. Kara-Murza himself has survived two poisoning attempts.
On the same day charges were announced against him, Russian authorities revealed separate charges against Ilya Krasilshchik, the former publisher of Meduza.
Krasilshchik is accused of spreading “fake” news about the massacre in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, which has led to accusations of war crimes against Moscow.
Krasilshchik, who wrote an article critical of the Kremlin in The New York Times in March, has reportedly fled the country and continued to report on the war.
The journalist for Channel One, one of the most popular state-run news stations in Russia, was fined $270 for organizing unsanctioned protests.
Ovsyannikova drew international headlines when she appeared on TV behind an anchor during a live broadcast, holding up an anti-war sign that read, “Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They’re lying to you here.”
After she was released from a quick detention, Ovsyannikova said she “wanted to show to the world that Russians are against the war.”
“I realized that I either would need to do something or we would reach a point of no return and it would be more and more difficult to do anything,” she said on CNN.
A former member of the Russian parliament and the director of the nonprofit organization For Human Rights, Lev Ponomarev is one of the most well-known activists in Russia.
A few days after the invasion, Ponomarev was arrested and fined 30,000 roubles after authorities said he organized a protest in Moscow, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
Ponomarev announced he was leaving Russia last month. The 80-year-old activist said he was growing concerned, citing “shadowy information about what they intended to do to me” and his listing as a foreign agent.
“I doubt that my leave of absence will last long,” Ponomarev told AFP on April 22.
Alexander Nevzorov is one of the most popular journalists in Russia and a former member of parliament.
While he has since stepped down from Leningrad TV, now Channel 5, and other TV stints, Nevzorov has continued to blog and record videos about affairs in Russia that are often critical of the government.
He drew the ire of the Kremlin this year when he criticized Russia for bombing a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian port city Mariupol in March. The Investigative Committee of Russia charged him specifically for publishing photos and reporting on the maternity hospital bombing to his large following on Instagram and YouTube.
A court ordered Nevzorov, who is currently in Israel, to be detained for two months upon his return to Russia for disseminating false information about the nation’s armed forces, according to Radio Free Europe.
Russia has denied responsibility for the hospital attack, which killed at least three people, including a child.
The Russian journalist once sided with Russian nationalists but in recent years flipped sides, becoming a staunch Kremlin critic.
Nevzorov does not plan to relocate to Israel permanently and has tried to get the case against him dismissed.
RusNews journalist Maria Ponomarenko was sentenced to two months in jail for publishing information about the Russian bombing of a theater in Mariupol, where hundreds of Ukrainians were hiding out.
According to Russian outlet Sota.Vision, which itself has been a target of the Kremlin crackdown, police arrested Ponomarenko in late April for spreading “fakes about the Russian army.”
Sota.Vision wrote on its Telegram channel that Ponomarenko has two children who will have to live with their grandparents while she is imprisoned.
The Siberian news outlet RusNews has long been critical of Moscow leadership. Ponomarenko has covered anti-war rallies and written extensively about the opposition to Putin for the site.
Her arrest drew the attention of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which called for Moscow to immediately release her.
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