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Russian Journalist Found Guilty of Extremism

Prosecutors said Aleksandr Sokolov and three other accused ex-People’s Will Army members wanted to bring down the government.

11 August 2017

A Moscow court yesterday found four men, including a journalist for the respected RBK newspaper, guilty on extremism charges in connection with a banned radical group.

 

The journalist, Alexander Sokolov (pictured), was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, and co-defendants Kirill Barabash and Valery Parfyonov received four-year terms. Yury Mukhin, described by RFE/RL as “a nationalist media figure and activist fiercely critical of the Kremlin,” was given a four-year suspended sentence and an additional four years of probation, RAPSI reports.

 

The defendants were all members of the Initiative Group to Campaign for a Referendum for Responsible Government, which the authorities believe is the successor to the People’s Will Army, a radical group once headed by Mukhin, which was banned as an extremist organization in 2010.

 

Many fellow journalists have defended Sokolov, RFE says, and the journalist himself has said the charges against him may relate to his 2013 doctoral dissertation on mismanagement in state corporations or his reporting for RBK, where among other stories he covered cost overruns at the Vostochny cosmodrome.

 

The referendum initiative group followed the People’s Will Army in demanding a constitutional reform to make the authorities directly answerable to the people, RAPSI says.

 

Prosecutors, however, argued that Mukhin and his supporters attempted to destabilize the political situation in Russia and bring about regime change by illegal means.

 

 

  • Sokolov, Mukhin, and Parfyonov were arrested in July 2015, Meduza reported.

 

  • Mukhin received a two-year suspended sentence in 2009 for “calling for extremist activity,” according to Meduza, which described him as a “Stalinist and a conspiracy theorist.”

 

  • There is some basis to the state’s allegation Sokolov once had links to Mukhin and his organization, openDemocracy writes, although the journalist insists he gave up activism in 2013, when he defended his dissertation and began working as a journalist.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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