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Russian libertarian activist reportedly faces pedophilia case because of charges filed by ‘Izvestia’ (which denies it)

Update: After this story was published, Mikhail Svetov’s lawyer, Mikhail Biryukov, stated that he never told that a staff member at Izvestia reported his client to the police. “The reason for the investigation is that the ‘Izvestia’ publishing house identified the user — not necessarily Svetov — who shared the photo. It can’t be said that an Izvestia journalist filed the police report. We haven’t seen evidence of that,” Biryukov clarified to MBK Media.

The felony pedophilia case against libertarian activist Mikhail Svetov was launched in response to charges filed by the “Izvestia” multimedia information center. Svetov’s lawyer, Mikhail Biryukov, says the allegations concern one of Svetov’s Instagram posts from 2012. Izvestia reportedly filed a complaint against the post on August 7, 2019, and Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, added the content to its ban list a week later.

According to Biryukov, interrogators asked Svetov when he first met his ex-girlfriend, Anastasia Starodubovskaya. “The investigators were under the impression that Anastasia was younger than 16 [Russia's age of consent] when she started dating Svetov. In fact, she was already 16 when their relationship began,” the lawyer told the website

Svetov is technically just a witness in the case, but officials have ordered a urological examination to verify that he is physically capable of sexual intercourse.

Spokespeople for the “Izvestia” multimedia information center say no one from its editorial office filed any criminal allegations against Mikhail Svetov.

On November 6, Svetov was summoned for 12 hours of questioning, while the authorities searched his home. Supporters have staged pickets in his defense, arguing that he is being targeted for his political activism.

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