Journalist released after serving criminal libel sentence

New York, September 28, 2005 – Eduard Abrosimov was released from prison two weeks early on Wednesday after a court in the southern Russian city of Saratov upheld his criminal libel conviction and reduced his sentence from seven months to time served.

Abrosimov, a journalist and adviser to former regional governor Dmitry Ayatskov, was convicted by a Saratov arbitration court of criminal defamation on June 22 for libeling public officials in two articles published last year in national and local newspapers, according to local press reports. One count of defamation was based on draft material that had not been published.

Abrosimov said that on Friday he would file a second appeal against the conviction. If the Saratov regional court rejected it, he planned to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Abrosimov is the second Russian journalist handed a prison sentence for criminal defamation this year. On June 6, an arbitration court in the central city of Smolensk sentenced independent journalist Nikolai Goshko to five years in a prison colony for defaming local officials in a 2000 radio broadcast. Goshko was released on August 19 after the prosecution agreed to change criminal defamation to the lesser charge of criminal insult.