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Reexamining Russia's ‘Network’ case

Source: Meduza

Meduza’s investigative report about murder allegations against suspects in the Penza Network case is one of the most difficult stories we have ever published. 

Unthinkable prison sentences, evidence of torture, the absurdity of prosecutors’ charges has also led to a broad civic campaign in support of the defendants. Russians have come together to demand a fair retrial.

Meduza has covered this investigation from the very start, reporting on the accused and how the case has affected their friends and families. Like other journalists, we also knew that many people, even within the Antifa community, have mixed feelings about some of the suspects in the Penza Network case. The fact that Russia’s security officials openly fabricated the charges in the case, however, has negated any such nuances when discussing the investigation and made it inappropriate to discuss the defendants critically.

But in mid-February, when Meduza was contacted by two leftists who conducted their own investigation into the Penza Network, we fully realized how deeply complicated this story is. 

Meduza then carried out its own investigation and we now have an obligation to report our findings, as difficult as this is. We acknowledge that this is a severe blow to everyone who supports the defendants in the Penza Network case. It will be especially hard for their loved ones. And for those who have protested in the streets against the injustice of their trial. We still struggle to wrap our heads around many of the facts in this report, but we as journalists have no right to conceal such important information.

Meduza’s editors maintain that the Network case is a fabricated prosecution built on evidence obtained through torture. Those convicted in Penza and those now on trial in St. Petersburg have not received an impartial investigation, a fair trial, or even access to medical care.

The Network case has plainly demonstrated that the real actions of individuals do not matter, and everything depends solely on the will of Russia’s security forces. The only word for this is lawlessness. A retrial is necessary in this case, for both those innocent of any wrongdoing and those suspected of other crimes. 

We will continue to try to make sense of how and why things went so wrong in this case and what documents investigators have hidden in their desks and why. We seek an objective investigation in relation to the people implicated in the fabricated Network case and in relation to the security officials responsible for this miscarriage of justice. Perhaps this investigative work will allow the innocent to go free.

Meduza closely monitors the affairs of political prisoners in Russia and we will continue this important work.

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