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16:35
28 May 2020
Group of prominent Russian journalists arrested after picketing in support of colleague Ilya Azar
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Group of prominent Russian journalists arrested after picketing in support of colleague Ilya Azar

Photo:
Denis Kaminev / RTVI

A group of prominent Russian journalists has been arrested after protesting in support of jailed colleague Ilya Azar in front of the Interior Ministry building in Moscow.


Update: Sergey Smirnov, Aleksandr Plushchev and Tatiana Felgengauer have all been released after being charged with two violations: breaking a law on mass gatherings and not complying with Moscow's self-isolation regime.

Update: OVD-Info has reported that former TV Rain producer and current RT journalist Ilya Vasyunin has also been detained outside the Interior Ministry in Moscow. There are now eight total arrested protesters. Echo of Moscow head Alexey Venediktov has learned that a court will hand down verdicts to journalists Aleksandr Plushchev and Tatiana Felgengauer on June 17.

Update: TV Rain news anchor Mikhail Fishman has been arrested after picketing in support of Ilya Azar. Seven people have been detained so far after protesting in front of Moscow's Interior Ministry building.

Update: "Ilya Azar is a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for exercising his right to peaceful protest. He must be released immediately and unconditionally," Amnesty International's Russia director Natalia Zvyagina said of the journalist's arrest.

Update: Smirnov, Felgengauer and Plushchev have been accused of violating a statute on protests and public gatherings (Part 5 of Article 20.2 of Russia's Code of Administrative Offences), according to deputy Oleg Sheremetyev.

Update: Anastasia Lotareva, editor-in-chief of media outlet 'Takie Dela', photographer Viktoria Ivleva and writer Alisa Ganieva have also been arrested after picketing in front of the Interior Ministry building.

Sergey Smirnov, editor-in-chief of news website Mediazona, as well as Tatiana Felgengauer and Aleksandr Plushchev of Echo of Moscow radio, have been arrested after picketing in support of their jailed colleague Ilya Azar in front of the Interior Ministry building in Moscow on May 28.

Moscow City Duma deputies Oleg Sheremetyev, Yevgeny Stupin and Mikhail Timonov attended the protest, and questioned the police as to the grounds on which the journalists were detained.

Human rights advocacy group 'Apologiya Protesta' has announced that 10 of its lawyers will provide legal defence to protesters picketing in Moscow today and tomorrow.

Journalist Ilya Azar was detained on May 26 for picketing in support of jailed 'Police Ombudsman' founder Vladimir Vorontsov. Azar protested outside the Interior Ministry building in Moscow by holding up two posters – "Free Vladimir Voronstov" and "Free Viktor Nemytov" – after which he was arrested by the police and taken to a temporary detention center. Moscow's Tverskoy District Court sentenced Azar to 15 days in jail for "repeatedly violating" Russia's protest law.

Activist Viktor Nemytov was arrested prior to Azar for an identical picket, and was handed down a similar 15-day sentence on May 27.

Vladimir Vorontsov, founder of 'Police Ombudsman', an online community dedicated to exposing issues in Russia's law enforcement agencies, was arrested by a Moscow court on May 8 on charges of extortion. He will remain in a pre-trial detention center until July 6. Vorontsov has denied any wrongdoing, and believes that the case is "revenge for his public activities in defending the labor rights of ordinary police officers."

Authorities opened a second case against Vorontsov on May 23, alleging that he had "proliferated pornographic images" along with associate Igor Khudyakov and other "unidentified persons." Khudyakov was arrested by Moscow's Tverskoy District Court on May 25 – he will remain in custody until July 22.

Ilya Azar, a well-known Russian journalist, is the special correspondent for newspaper Novaya Gazeta. He is also a municipal deputy for Moscow's Khamovniki District.