Police officers detain a participant of a picket in support of Ivan Safronov, a former journalist who remains in custody on treason charges, in Moscow, Russia, on July 13, 2020. (Reuters/Evgenia Novozhenina)

Russian journalists detained during protests for release of jailed reporter Ivan Safronov

On July 13, Moscow police detained at least 18 members of the press who were demonstrating in support of jailed journalist Ivan Safronov, according to news reports.

Authorities took the journalists to police stations in Kapotnya, Lefortovo, and Kuzminki districts, accused them of violating protest regulations, and then released them on the condition that they return to the police stations on July 20 and 21, according to a Facebook post by Olga Allenova, a reporter with Russian business daily Kommersant, who was among the detained journalists, and a report by Apologia Protesta, a legal aid group.

Police accused the journalists of “violation of the rules of the picket,” an offense under Russia’s administrative code, Allenova wrote.

If charged and convicted, each journalist could face an administrative fine of 10,000 to 20,000 rubles ($140 to $280) or compulsory work of up to 40 hours, according Aleksey Glukhov, the head of Apologia Protesta, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.

If detained again for the same offense, the journalists could face increased fines of 150,000 to 200,000 rubles ($2,100 to $2,800) and administrative arrest of up to 30 days, Glukhov said.  

The journalists were protesting near the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center, according to those news reports. Safronov has been held at that center since his arrest on July 7 for suspected treason in relation to his coverage of the Russian military, as CPJ documented at the time. Safronov is a former military and aerospace correspondent for Russian dailies Kommersant and Vedomosti, according to CPJ research.

The detained journalists include Taisiya Bekbulatova, chief editor of independent news website Kholod, and Mariya Karpenko, a Kholod reporter; independent radio station Kommersant FM correspondents Pyotr Parkhomenko, Liliya Galyavieva, and Alla Pugacheva; Kommersant reporters Allenova, Aleksandr Rassokhin, Viktoriya Feofanova, Aleksander Chernykh, and Anna Vasilieva; independent freelance journalist Sofya Rusova; and Mariya Sherstiukova, a reporter with state news outlet RT, according to reports by an independent news websites Mediazona and OVD Info.

According to additional reports by Kommersant and independent news website Meduza, police also detained Anna Povago, an editor with Kommersant and a reporter with the independent website Takie Dela; Arina Borodina, a reporter with independent broadcaster Echo Moskvy; and Maksim Kondratyev, a reporter with the independent news website Avtozak Live.

Those reports also said that police detained Tatyana Morozova, a former correspondent for independent newspaper Vedomosti, as well as Yuliya Gallyamova and Olga Bolotova, who were identified as journalists but whose employers were not listed. CPJ could not immediately determine Morozova, Gallyamova, and Bolotova’s current affiliations.

Rusova and Morozova were arrested while holding posters in support of Safronov, while others were wearing t-shirts with the message “Freedom for Safronov,” according to Kommersant.

Rusova, who was the first journalist to be detained and who spoke with CPJ via messaging app, said that police detained journalists who attended the protest in support of Safronov, as well as those who were on the scene to cover the protest.

According to a report by Kommersant, Pyotr Parkhomenko, a reporter for the Kommersant FM, a radio station affiliated with the daily, was arrested while covering the event, despite telling police that he was at the rally in his professional capacity as a journalist.

CPJ emailed the Main Directorate of Internal Affairs of the city of Moscow for comment, but did not receive any response.