Moscow: journalist Safronov sentenced to 22 years

Journalist Ivan Safronov has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in Moscow on charges of betraying military secrets to foreign intelligence services. Safronov's supporters have gathered evidence that all the data Safronov revealed came from publicly accessible sources. Commentators decry the sentence as another blow to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

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Kommersant (RU) /

A great professional in the hardest of times

The editorial staff at Kommersant publish a letter of support for their colleague on the front page:

“Vanya, you're a real journalist. A great professional. A very good person. We haven't seen a single scrap of evidence proving your guilt. And we are in no doubt: in other times and circumstances you would have been acquitted. What's more, such a trial wouldn't even have been possible. Granted: you can't choose the times in which you live. But you can choose who you want to be in those times. You made your choice. For the past two years [in pre-trial detention] you have been a model of dignity. You didn't buckle and you're not buckling now. We know you will get through all these ordeals. ... We are waiting for you.”

Krym.Realii (UA) /

The regime needs fear and denunciations

Now there will be a crackdown against pro-Kremlin journalists too, writes journalist Vitaly Portnikov in Krim.Realii:

“An authoritarian regime must destroy not only its enemies, but - more importantly - its supporters. Only then does an atmosphere of fear and denunciation spread in society, which makes people not followers but slaves of the authoritarian power. ... The Bolsheviks created an atmosphere of terror in society. But only a few years after their victory in the civil war they began to kill their own people. ... Safronov is just the beginning. I am sure that we will see many more high-ranking Russian politicians, propagandists, military officers and scientists in the dock.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Putin won't tolerate independent voices

Independent reporting is becoming increasingly difficult in Russia, Corriere del Ticino points out:

“The judgment against this journalist, who worked for newspapers such as Kommersant and Vedomosti and has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in a trial behind closed doors (so much for transparency), makes this clear. On the same day, another Moscow court declared the operating licence of Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper run by Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov, invalid - an absurd pretext aimed at permanently silencing one of Russia's few free voices. In this way, Putin can continue to express his dictatorial regime's 'one-size-fits-all' thinking on the causes of the war in Ukraine without fear of being contradicted on the domestic front.”