Moscow court reduces journalist Sergey Smirnov’s jail sentence to 15 days
The Moscow City Court has reduced the jail sentence handed down to Mediazona editor-in-chief Sergey Smirnov to 15 days, following an appeals hearing on Monday, February 8.
Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court sentenced Smirnov to 25 days administrative arrest on February 3, after finding him guilty of repeatedly violating the rules for holding public events (article 20.2, section 8 of the Russian Administrative Code).
Smirnov was charged over a post he made on social media on January 20: he retweeted a joke about his resemblance to Russian rock musician Dmitry Spirin, which included a picture with the time and date of a rally in support of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny. According to the police, Smirnov’s retweet constituted a call to participate in an unauthorized protest.
Following his arrest on January 30, more than 30 media outlets expressed their support for Sergey Smirnov, including Meduza. The Russian Journalists’ Union also appealed to the “relevant authorities” to look into the legality of Smirnov’s arrest.
Sergey Smirnov and other protesters arrested amid the pro-Navalny demonstrations were sent to a special detention center in the village of Sakharovo outside of Moscow. On the morning of February 4, they released photos revealing the appalling conditions in which they were being held.
Detainees sent to the Sakharovo detention center also complained of being forced to spend hours inside unheated police vans while waiting to be processed. Once inside, they were placed in overcrowded holding cells. On February 5, human rights monitors reported a protest at the detention center.
The authorities attributed the problems to the large number of detainees, adding that these issues were being resolved quickly.