Update: After several hours in police custody, Sergey Smirnov was released and allowed to return home to his family. He is due in court on Wednesday, February 3, to face charges for allegedly inciting unpermitted demonstrations using his social media accounts — a misdemeanor offense in Russia punishable by fines as high as 300,000 rubles (about $4,000), community service, or up to 30 days in jail.
Moscow’s police response to last weekend’s protests organized by Alexey Navalny’s activists has now led to the arrest of Sergey Smirnov, the editor-in-chief of Mediazona, one of Russia’s best-respected, most fiercely independent news outlets focused on criminal justice reporting. Officers arrested Smirnov on Saturday outside his home while he was on a walk with his son. At the time of this writing, Smirnov was being detained at a nearby police station.
The city is reportedly charging Smirnov with violating Russia’s administrative laws on public assemblies, despite the fact that he didn’t actually attend the demonstration in question and only reported on the events remotely from his home.