The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling on Russian authorities to not contest the appeal of the popular blogger Yegor Zhukov, who has been handed a 3-year suspended sentence on what the media-freedom watchdog calls “sham” extremism charges.
Russian authorities “should allow him to work without fear of prosecution,” the New York-based group said in a statement on December 12, a week after a Moscow court found him guilty of inciting extremism online in a case condemned as politically motivated.
The charges against Zhukov related to four videos he posted on his YouTube channel in October and December 2017 that included clips of demonstrations and commentaries by the blogger on the protest movement and Russian politics.
Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said officials in Moscow “demonstrate weakness by fearing young independent bloggers who do not walk the Kremlin’s line and coming up with sham charges two years after the videos in question were made.”
The CPJ statement quoted Zhukov, who now works as a reporter for independent daily Novaya Gazeta and liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy, as saying he was concerned the appeal hearing may result in an outcome “worse” than the current suspended sentence.
Zhukov was arrested in August amid protests in Moscow to demand free and fair municipal elections. Dozens of people have been fined or given jail sentences over the rallies.