Russian authorities have detained journalist Roman Ivanov since April 2023 on charges of spreading “fake” information about the Russian army. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Ivanov, a reporter with independent news website RusNews, also manages a Telegram channel, Chestnoe Korolyovskoe, which has 1,900 subscribers. He has posted on local news, politics, and war-related topics, according to CPJ’s review.
Arrest and detention
On April 11, 2023, law enforcement officers in the city of Korolyov detained Ivanov after breaking down his apartment door, searching his apartment, and confiscating his laptop, phones, and video cameras, according to multiple news reports, reports by RusNews, and the outlet’s chief editor Sergey Aynbinder, who spoke to CPJ via email.
Authorities opened three criminal cases against Ivanov, related to a post he made on the Russian social media platform Vkontakte and two war-related posts on the Chestnoe Korolyovskoe Telegram channel, according to multiple news reports.
Ivanov denied the charges and said in court that he had been under pressure from the authorities since 2020 because of his work as a journalist. He faces up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted under Article 207.3.2.e of the criminal code, which bans disseminating false information on the basis of “political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred.”
Authorities also questioned Ivanov’s wife, Maria Nekrasova, and made her sign a non-disclosure agreement, according to interviews with Nekrasova posted by RusNews and independent news website Activatica.
Ivanov’s trial started on October 31, according to media reports. “I am a journalist, and my job is to provide information to readers. I provide it,” he said during the October 31 hearing.
In October 2023, Aynbinder told CPJ via email that a court recently extended Ivanov’s detention by six months until March 24, 2024, and that he was held in a pretrial detention center near Moscow.
Previously, in September 2022, authorities had detained Ivanov for seven days and fined him 13,000 rubles (US$224) for allegedly participating in an anti-mobilization protest in Korolyov he was covering. A court in the Moscow region later overturned the fine, RusNews reported.
In October 2023, CPJ emailed the press service of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office but did not receive any replies.