Sergei Reznik

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

In January 2015, Reznik, a freelance reporter from southern Russia, was handed a three-year sentence on new charges of insult and misinformation while already serving a jail term handed down in November 2013, news reports said. His initial 18-month prison term on charges including insult, bribery, and deliberately misinforming authorities, was set to expire in May 2015.

Before he was jailed in November 2013, Reznik contributed reports to several regional news websites, including Yuzhnyi Federalnyi, and posted articles to his blog on the LiveJournal platform, according to news reports. His articles criticized municipal and regional authorities and alleged corruption and abuses, reports said.

The original charges against Reznik included allegations that he lied about threats against him. In October 2012, eight months after he reported the threats, he was attacked outside his apartment, according to reports.

In the latest case Reznik was convicted of fresh charges of insult and misleading authorities, and was sentenced by the Leninsky District Court in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, to three years in a prison colony, according to the regional press. The court banned Reznik from practicing journalism for two years after his release, reports said.

A statement about the latest verdict, released by the prosecutor general’s office, said that in May 2013, while the earlier case was being investigated, Reznik made a statement that contained deliberately false information about a police agent who testified against him. Prosecutors said that from March 2012 to October 2013 Reznik “repeatedly published on the Internet articles of insulting character against the law enforcement agents of Rostov region, thus depicting his discontent with their fulfillment of duties.”

According to Kavkazsky Uzel, the latest criminal case against the journalist was opened in July 2014, while Reznik was serving his first jail term. Russian authorities and news outlets did not specify which of Reznik’s articles had spurred the complaint. The journalist denied the accusations in court and said his LiveJournal blog included contributions from other writers, his lawyers told CPJ.

The court began hearing the second case against Reznik in August 2014, but closed the proceedings to the public and press, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. He was being held at a pretrial detention facility in Rostov-on-Don, his lawyers told CPJ in early 2015. It was not clear if Reznik was moved after he was sentenced.

The new prison term was reduced by one month on appeal and was set to include the time Reznik had already spent in jail. In May 2015, the journalist’s lawyers said they would be appealing the verdict in higher courts, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel said. Galina Arapova, of the Russia-based group Mass Media Defense Center, told CPJ that in September, a regional court denied the appeal Reznik’s lawyers filed the previous month. Arapova said that in October 2015, the journalist’s lawyers filed his case with the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. CPJ was unable to determine Reznik’s health.