A court in Abakan sentenced the editor-in-chief of the New Focus magazine, Mikhail Afanasyev, to five and a half years in prison in the case of “fakes” about the Russian army “using his official position” (Part 2 of Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The prosecutor’s office of Khakassia reports this.
The journalist was found guilty because of his publication about 11 riot police officers who refused to fight in Ukraine. He was also banned from publishing materials in the media and on the Internet for 2.5 years after his release.
In court, Afanasyev stated that the only reason for the publication was his desire to “draw attention to long-standing problems within the Khakass riot police,” without the intention of “discrediting” the security forces. The material contains comments confirming their reluctance to go to war due to poor preparation. In addition, at least nine Khakassian riot police officers were fired for this and appealed the dismissal in the Supreme Court of Khakassia.
“A journalist is a researcher. He does not prove an absolute legal truth, but in his words points out the problems and vices of society. I know for sure that society’s duty is to stand up for the police. Because a real policeman protects society and every person in it. This is what in the civilized world it is called civil society,” he noted.
Afanasiev has been in pre-trial detention since April 2022. He became the first journalist convicted of spreading “fake news” “using his official position.” This is the second part of the article, which doubles the maximum sentence. In just a year and a half, four such sentences were passed in Russia.
In December 2022, Afanasyev was also fined 450 thousand rubles in an administrative case for “inciting hatred” towards security forces in his old publications. In the “fake” case, the prosecutor’s office requested six years in prison for him.
The Russian Guard, whose special unit is the OMON, is not part of the Russian Armed Forces. However, the dissemination of “fakes” about her also became criminally punishable after amendments were made to the law on April 5, 2022, regarding any information about “the exercise by government agencies of the Russian Federation of their powers outside the territory of Russia.”