Russian journalists sentenced to two years of corrective labor

Russian journalists sentenced to two years of corrective labor

Four journalists who worked for an independent Moscow student magazine have been sentenced to two years of corrective labor over an online video in which they defended young Russians' freedom of assembly.

The former Doxa journalists Armen Aramyan, Natasha Tyshkevich, Alla Gutnikova and Volodya Metelkin had been under house arrest for almost a year after they were detained in April 2021 for posting a three-minute video on YouTube. They also said it was illegal to expel and intimidate students for participating in rallies in support of the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

A Moscow court said on Tuesday that the video had encouraged the involvement of minors in anti-Kremlin protests.

Under Russian law, those who are handed correctional labour sentences must pay up to 20% of their wages if they are employed. If they are unemployed, they must work at jobs assigned by the country's prison service during the term of their sentence.

The Russian court banned the four from administering internet resources for three years.

Doxa founder Aramyan, 24, said relief that the sentence was not tougher: the four journalists had been in jail for up to three years.

I am very happy to be finally free. It was an amazing feeling when our ankle bracelets were taken off right in court. It could have been worse, he told the Guardian.

Aramyan said that they received a real sentence for an absurd, made-up case at the same time.

The sentencing comes amid a crackdown on independent media and anti-war dissent. A law imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for spreading fake news about the military was passed by the Russian parliament last month.

Human Rights Watch described the accusations against the four journalists as baseless Dozens of leading scholars, including Slavoj iek, Etienne Balibar and Judith Butler, as an open letter in support of the journal in 2021.

Doxa was set up by students and university graduates at the prestigious Moscow s Higher School of Economics HSE in 2017. It became the leading independent student outlet, exposing corruption and systemic sexual harassment in universities across the country.

We were the first of our kind. A leftist, feminist, antiwar paper was doing investigations. Aramyan said students from across the country reached out to us.

In the year 2019 the HSE sacked Doxa after it expressed support for students who had taken part in the Moscow opposition protests.

The outlet has continued its work and is one of the loudest antiwar voices in the country, even though the four editors said they had officially resigned from Doxa when their trial began.

A week after Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine, the authorities blocked Doxa's website after it refused to take down an explanation that criticised the country's role in Ukraine.

Aramyan criticized Russia's actions in Ukraine during his closing statement in court earlier this month, taking a minute of silence in memory of those who died in this war despite repeated requests from the judge to continue his statement.