Pskov investigators opened a criminal case against Svetlana Prokopyeva, a journalist of the radio station "Echo of Moscow in Pskov". She was searched on February 6. The events caused a wide response: politicians, journalists, human rights activists speak out in defense of Prokopyeva. The Pskov Prosecutor's Office offers the defense to appeal the initiation of a criminal case. «7x7» collected all the information that is known by February 7.
Who is Svetlana Prokopyeva
Svetlana Prokopyeva is a Pskov journalist, historian and sociologist. She graduated from the Faculty of History of the Pskov Pedagogical Institute. From 2002 to 2012 she worked in various government agencies. In 2012, she was a social observer in the Pskov News Feed, and from 2013 to 2014 she was the chief editor of the Pskov Gubernia newspaper.
Cooperated with the headquarters of Navalny in Pskov. For «7x7», she wrote the material "Disappeared millions of Izborsk" about the criminal case of embezzlement during the restoration of the fortress of Izborsk. Now Prokopyeva, a correspondent for "Radio Liberty", has her own program "Minute of Enlightenment" on "Echo of Moscow in Pskov".
About the case
Investigators opened a criminal case against Svetlana Prokopyeva, a journalist of the radio station "Echo of Moscow in Pskov". She is suspected under part 2 of Article 205 of the Criminal Code of Russia ("Public appeals for terrorist activities or public justification of terrorism committed using mass media or electronic or information and telecommunication networks, including the Internet"). Lawyer of Prokopyeva Tatyana Martynova informed «7x7» about initiating the case on February 6.
Searches and people with guns
On February 6, Prokopyeva returned from Moscow, where on February 5 she participated in the presentation of the book "Russia and Ukraine. Days of Eclipse", composed of articles of journalists of the "Pskov Gubernia" on events in the south-east of Ukraine.
On the same day her apartment was searched; a computer and a telephone were seized. Prokopyeva herself was taken for interrogation. Investigators also came to the editorial office of the radio station: they confiscated the file with the audio recording of the author’s program "Minute of Enlightenment", which was broadcast on November 6, 2018. After the broadcast, the Pskov News Feed portal published a column with the transcript of the "Repression for the State" broadcast. Later the text was deleted; on February 6, the Medium portal published it.
In October 2018, a 17-year-old student of a local technical school detonated a homemade bomb in the local UFSB building. The terrorist was killed, three FSB officers were injured. In her program, the journalist discussed the attack. Prokopyeva compared this action with acts of terrorism by representatives of the Narodnaya Volya movement, operating in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century, and suggested that the young man could be provoked by the political situation in modern Russia.
Investigators at "Echo of Moscow in Pskov"
The search of Svetlana Prokopyeva lasted about five hours. During this time, investigators visited "Echo of Moscow in Pskov". The federal editors of the radio station reported about the search in Pskov, but then the chief editor of the local radio station Maxim Kostikov explained «7x7» that it was not true:
"There is no search, there are investigative actions, an inspection of the scene. Inquirers came to inspect the scene where Mrs. Prokopyeva allegedly committed her act. Computers and equipment are not withdrawn. They asked where the file is and took it away."
After the searches of Prokopyeva and the investigative actions, the editor-in-chief of "Echo of Moscow", Alexey Venediktov, sent his first deputy, Vladimir Varfolomeev, to Pskov.
Detention of activist Alexey Malov near Prokopyeva’s house
Immediately after information about the search, Assistant Deputy of the Pskov City Council Alexey Malov arrived at the Prokopyeva’s house, along with lawyer Tatyana Martynova.
According to Malov, there was a car of police officers in the courtyard of Prokopyeva’s house and there were soldiers in white camouflage uniforms (later it became known that they were the Pskov soldiers sent to the exercises). Malov began to record what was happening on camera. A military man approached him and prohibited shooting: allegedly he was shooting the unloading of ammunition. After that, the police arrived, checked the activist's documents, found out that he had an expired residence permit, took him to the police station and fined him two thousand rubles. After that, Malov returned to the house of Prokopyeva.
Fine to radio station
On February 6, the court fined the radio station "Echo of Mosow in Pskov" 150 thousand rubles for publicly justifying terrorism. Maxim Kostikov considers the expertise to be biased, since it was done by the staff of the Radio Frequency Center, which is administered by Roskomnadzor.
"The expert broke the arguments of Roskomnadzor. He proved that it was all out of thin air, since "linguistic expertise" was not done by linguists. It was done by the staff of the Radio Frequency Center born in 1995, recently graduated from the institute. I don’t understand how they can be experts. The point is that there is no justification for terrorism in the text — they draw conclusions on some common logic of the article," said Kostikov.
The court did not take into account two independent opinions submitted by the defense of the editorial board, which refuted the arguments of Roskomnadzor. Kostikov said that the fine will be contested.
On February 7, the world court will consider similar cases with regard to the Pskov news Feed and Radio Channel 60FM ("Echo of Moscow in Pskov").
At almost 6 pm, Svetlana Prokopyeva was brought to the investigative department for interrogation. Two hours later, she was allowed to go home. The interrogation will continue on February 7 at 4 pm.
Reaction of prosecutors
On February 7, the Prosecutor of the Pskov Region, Sergey Belov, advised Prokopyeva’s lawyers to protest the initiation of a criminal case.
"The initiation of the case does not mean that Svetlana Vladimirovna was found guilty. I would advise Prokopyeva’s lawyers to challenge a criminal case in court. But when I read this article, it also puzzled me. The investigation is under our special control. We still have to approve the indictment. But I wouldn’t want, on the mere fact of this, to say that our law-enforcement agencies are attacking the press. I do not see it. I think that there should be mutual respect," said Belov at a meeting with the editors of the local media.
Reactions and evaluation of the Prokopyeva case
The case of Prokopyeva caused not only domestic, but also international response. "Reporters Without Borders", an international non-governmental organization, said: "Today we condemn an unreasonable show of force against a journalist."
Russian Union of Journalists: "Suspicions of justifying terrorism are absurd. We demand to stop the persecution of the journalist." In support of Prokopyeva the union announced the collection of signatures.
Her previous place of work, the Pskov Gubernia newspaper recalled other persecutions of activists in Pskov.
On December 14, the FSB detained already former vice-governor of the Pskov Region, Alexander Kuznetsov, on charges of corruption. He was placed in jail until February 16.
On January 17, field investigators came to the house to the local "Open Russia" coordinator, Lia Milushkina, and her husband, Artyom Milushkin. They are suspected of selling drugs. Artyom will spend two months in the SIZO; Lia was left under house arrest.
On January 21, another Pskov "Open Russia" activist, Dmitry Semenovsky, was detained. He was arrested for four days for refusing to be examined for intoxication.
On February 5, it became known that a criminal case on suspicion of abuse of official authority was brought against Olga Torbich, director of the Pogkov SEZ "Moglino". On the same day, the board of directors of the SEZ dismissed Torbich. According to the "Pskovskaya Gubernia", Torbich was persistently offered to quit herself, but she refused.
"Pskovskaya Gubernia" writes:
"The FSB office in the Pskov region in two days simply lost the political image of the Pskov region. The region got the status of a politically unstable due to the activity of the special services for six months. <...> Pskov continues to appear in the negative chronicles of the federal media: the Milyushkins case was highlighted by Alexey Navalny, and in the story with Svetlana Prokopyeva local security forces simply caused a powerful reaction of the Russian and international public, substituting, by the way, the investigative department of the Investigative Committee for the Pskov Region and its new leader, Pyotr Krupenya, who should conduct an investigation and reap all the negative. <...> Such damage to the reputation of the region, and in particular to special services, has not yet been seen in the XXI century in the Pskov region. At the same time, comrades were warned that the public outcry would be much more powerful than the desire to frighten the disagreeable, they were talking about the bull in a china. According to our information, the reaction of the international community will be voiced at a high level. Now reap."
Journalist Ekaterina Vinokurova reported that the Human Rights Council would send a request for a possible accusation of Prokopyeva in justifying terrorism.
The deputy of the Pskov regional parliament from "Yabloko", Lev Shlosberg, called the persecution of Prokopyeva "political terror":
"The customer, organizer and executor of the criminal case against Svetlana Prokopyeva is the Russian state. The purpose of this order is an attempt on freedom of speech and freedom of the media in Russia, the basis of the constitutional order. The Russian state has become a terrorist and conducts terror against citizens."
More opinions of politicians, human rights defenders and journalists here.
Denis Strelkov, Daniil Kuznetsov, Pavel Dmitriev, «7x7»