The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) calls on authorities in the Russian republic of Tatarstan not to challenge calls from two correspondents of an independent news site who have been convicted of obstructing traffic and disobedience to the police.
On May 9, a local court sentenced Aleksei Solovyov and Damir Manzhukov. Solovyev was sentenced to five days of administrative arrest, while Manzhukov was fined 2,000 rubles ($27) and released.
Journalists denied the charges, Solovyov told CPJ, adding that he had appealed his case and that Manzhukov planned to do the same.
Police did not return their equipment which was confiscated during the arrest, he said.
Solovyov and Manzhukov work for the Rosderzhava news site, which writes primarily about alleged police corruption. Their YouTube channels — Zhukman and Aleksei Svist — regularly post videos on the same topics that receive tens of thousands of views.
In a May 11 statement, CPJ called on authorities not to resist journalists’ pleas, immediately release Solovyov from detention, and “ensure that their equipment is returned and they can do their job without pressure or persecution from the state. ”
“Russian law enforcement must stop punishing journalists for their work and must investigate allegations of corruption instead of prosecuting journalists who report them,” said Gulnoza Said, Europe and Central Asia program coordinator for the New York-based media freedom watchdog.
On May 8, Solovyov and Manzhukov were driving in the Vysokogorsky district when they spotted a group of police officers on the side of the road, some of whom allegedly failed to wear head coverings required by all officers, according to Solovyov.
The journalists stopped their car and Soloviev told the officers he wanted to file a complaint for the alleged violation, but they refused to accept the complaint, according to the journalist.
The police then confiscated the journalists’ video cameras, phones and dashboard camera and took them to the district police station.
During their detention, officers twisted Soloviev’s right arm, and a doctor at the local hospital told him he had severe bruising and inflammation, he told CPJ.