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First Russian journalist punished under ‘fake news’ law gets fine cancelled on appeal

A Vladivostok court has cancelled the 30,000-ruble ($471) fine against Mikhail Romanov, a journalist for Yakutsk Vecherny (The Evening Yakutsk) who was sentenced the administrative violation of “abusing the freedom of information.” Vitaly Obedin, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, posted about the ruling on Facebook.

Obedin said Romanov was the first individual to be penalized under Russia’s recent law penalizing the spread of “fake news.” Romanov had been fined for writing an article about libertarian activist Anton Ammosov, who said FSB agents beat him after he wrote online comments about government overreach in terrorism cases. Why the appeals court canceled Romanov’s fine remains unknown, though Obedin told Interfax the court likely found insufficient evidence of the journalist’s guilt.