A court in Nizhny Novgorod has closed the administrative case against Irina Slavina, the Koza.Press editor-in-chief and activist who self-immolated on October 2, leaving behind a suicide note that said, “I ask you to blame the Russian Federation for my death.” Evgeny Gubin, the lawyer representing the late Ms. Slavina, reportedly objected to closing the case because of her death, arguing that she should have been acquitted due to her innocence.
On August 3, a lower court convicted Slavina of deliberately distributing “fake news” in late March about the arrival of COVID-19 in the town of Kstovo. She was fined 65,000 rubles (almost $850). Both the lower court and the regional court ignored basic evidence, Gubin says, like the fact that the coronavirus cases in Kstovo were confirmed officially and that no harm came from Slavina’s reporting.
Irina Slavina killed herself outside the Nizhny Novgorod police headquarters on October 2, hours after the authorities raided her home and confiscated many of her things. Slavina had been convicted and fined for other political crimes in the past, such as a 70,000-ruble ($900) penalty for “disrespecting the authorities” when she criticized a Stalin memorial plaque and a 20,000-ruble ($260) fine for organizing a rally in honor of slain opposition figure Boris Nemtsov.
Slavina’s self-immolation drew a broad response from journalists and activists in Russia. The human rights groups “Memorial,” “Open Russia,” and “Public Verdict” have publicly called on Russian law enforcement to stop terrorizing activists and others with raids on their homes.