- Daria Komarova, a Russian journalist, faces the possibility of detention for covering “unsanctioned” protests, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
- She documented protests where demonstrators called for the release of Putin critic Alexei Navalny.
- Komarova covered the demonstrations while on assignment for an outlet funded by the US Congress.
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A Russian journalist is facing three trials and the possibility of fines or detention after covering protests in support of Alexei Navalny earlier this year.
Navalny, a strong critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a Russian prison for skipping parole meetings. His lawyer said he had missed the meetings because he was in Berlin undergoing treatment for nerve-agent poisoning. Navalny has accused Putin of ordering the poisoning.
Daria Komarova documented the pro-Navalny demonstrations while on assignment for Idel.Realii, a local affiliate of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is congressionally funded.
The Russian government, however, claims Komarova participated in unsanctioned protests last year and in January of this year.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Russian authorities to drop all charges against Komarova.
“Russian authorities continue unjustly prosecuting and legally harassing journalists for their coverage of protests, but the measures unsurprisingly have proved incapable of stopping the protests and opposition movements themselves,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza, according to the CPJ. “Russian authorities should drop all charges against RFE/RL journalist Daria Komarova and allow her and other members of the press to work freely and safely.”
In prison, Navalny went on a 23-day hunger strike, demanding that officials provide him with access to medical treatment. His doctors warned that he could die any minute from lack of treatment.
Navalny’s detention has drawn the ire of prominent politicians, including President Joe Biden, and human rights organizations.
Biden denounced Navalny’s treatment in prison, characterizing it as “totally inappropriate” and “unfair.” In a more aggressive move, Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that Russia will face sanctions if Navalny dies in state custody.
If convicted, Komarova might be forced to pay a fine of up to 50,000 rubles, or $651, for each protest she’s charged with attending unlawfully. She might also be punished with 15 days of administrative detention for each protest, according to the CPJ.
“The rationale offered by Russian authorities for violating RFE/RL journalist Daria Komarova’s right to report about local news events is both laughable and frightening,” RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said in a statement published in Idel.Realii. “Journalism is not a crime.”
Insider is covering Daria Komarova’s case as part of The One Free Press Coalition, which raises awareness of the world’s persecuted journalists.