“Reporters without borders” demanded to release the journalist

International human rights organization “reporters without borders” made a statement in the case of journalist Alexander Sokolov, who is already a year in jail on charges of organizing an extremist structures. July 27 this year, the court again extended the arrest of Sokolov, this time until October.

Human rights activists demanded the immediate release of the journalist-investigator for freedom. His last major investigation was devoted to the embezzlement and theft, committed during the construction of the Vostochny space centre, reminiscent of the “reporters without borders”. Sokolov discovered the facts, as suggested by the authors of the statement, later confirmed the audit chamber, as in December 2015, she stated revealed “financial irregularities” related to this project, for an amount close to the one called journalist — 93 billion.

Sokolov was arrested on 29 July 2015. With him involved in a criminal case are the former editor of the newspaper “Duel” Yury Mukhin and his colleagues Valery Parfenov and Cyril Barabash. They were charged under article 282.2 of the criminal code (organization of an extremist organization). The court also extended until the end of October Mukhin house arrest and stay in prison Parfenov.

According to investigators, Sokolov, “positioning themselves as opposition-oriented face to the public authorities”, has registered the website of the initiative group for the referendum “For the responsible authority”. As stated in the materials of the case, he and the other defendants “under the pretext of organization and holding of the referendum” was going to continue the activities of the movement “army of the will of the people” (AVN) recognized by the court as extremist organization in the fall of 2010. Sokolov himself denies his guilt and insists that he is being persecuted, including for professional services.

By the time of the arrest group “For responsible power” for two years practically did not function, according to “reporters without borders”. They remind: the Russian human rights organizations believe that the activities of the initiative group, which was mentioned by the investigators, no traces of a criminal offence. In particular, the information-analytical center “Sova” is not found in the activities of the group are no calls to violence.

Although significant, the case Sokolov’s “almost empty” insist “reporters without borders”. In fact, it appears only an old leaflet with the slogan “You chose, you and judge”, which allows the investigation to accuse the members of the group in the “intent to distribute extremist materials”, that is an administrative offense punishable by a fine.

Surprised human rights activists and the repeated failure on the part of the investigation requests Sokolova to be tested on a lie detector.

Alexander Sokolov — the victim of a gross injustice. So his long imprisonment cannot be explained by anything other than his investigation and academic specialization involving highly sensitive issues, — says head of Department of the countries of Central Asia and Eastern Europe, “Reporters without borders” Johann bir. — We demand his immediate and unconditional release and waiver of the charges against him”.

“Reporters without borders” is not the first time calls on the Russian authorities to draw attention to the illegal, from their point of view, criminal prosecution of journalists. In January 2014, the organization expressed concern at the criminal prosecution criticizing the authorities, journalists Sergei Reznik and Aleksandr Tolmachev in Rostov-on-don. The first was accused of public insult of representative of power, false accusation and commercial bribery, and the second in extortion of 1 million rubles from Novocherkassk businessman.

Human rights activists have called journalists “victims of judicial punishment” for their activities, and their prosecution was considered “custom”. Despite this, Resnick in 2013 was sentenced to six years of imprisonment, and he in 2014 — nine years.

Authorities reluctantly, but listen to the statements of Reporters without borders and other international human rights organizations, when it comes to attacks on journalists or the pressure on them, says the head of the monitoring service of the glasnost defense Foundation (FSG) Boris Timoshenko. When the authorities raises the question about the need to bring a criminal case against the journalist, the statements become ineffective.

“So it was with Reznik and an Tolmachev, same case with Alexander Sokolov, whose case appears to be sewn with white thread. People for a year sitting in jail by a strange accusation, and to say that anything will change dramatically after the statement “Reporters without borders”, unfortunately, is not necessary”, — said Tymoshenko.