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Treason and Military Journalism in Russia: The arrest and prosecution of Ivan Safronov

24 minutes
Treason and Military Journalism in Russia: The arrest and prosecution of Ivan Safronov

On the morning of July 7, federal agents arrested Ivan Safronov, a longtime journalist who recently took a job as a communications adviser to Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. Safronov is being charged with treason and faces up to 20 years in prison. 

His lawyers have been granted limited access to the case file compiled by the Federal Security Service, which indicates that Safronov is suspected of selling secret information to Czech intelligence agents about Russian military cooperation with an unnamed African Middle Eastern country. The Czechs supposedly recruited him in 2012 and he allegedly sent them the data over the Internet five years later in 2017.

Outside the FSB’s headquarters in Lubyanka Square, during Safronov’s arraignment hearing on July 7, dozens of journalists picketed, each taking turns holding up signs in his defense, and police officers arrested them, one by one, for an unlawful assembly. 

To understand more about trends in policing journalists and reporting on national security in Russia, “The Naked Pravda” turns to two guests on today’s show:

  • (6:46) Rachel Denber, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia Division, looks back at how Russian journalists have been treated for the past 15 years.
  • (14:49) Dmitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist in the Strategic Studies division of CNA and an associate at the Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (as well as the author of the Russian Military Reform blog), explains why work like Ivan Safronov’s military reporting is essential.

“The Naked Pravda” comes out on Fridays (or sometimes Saturdays). Catch every new episode by subscribing at Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the show, please write to Kevin Rothrock at [email protected] with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Producer, sound editing, and mixing — Kevin Rothrock

Send any questions or comments to [email protected]

Executive producer — Alexandr Sadikov

Music — Victor Davydov

Thinking Music by Kevin MacLeod / Link / License

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