Defense lawyer petitions investigators to drop criminal case against Doxa journalists
The defense lawyer for Doxa editor Armen Aramyan, one of four student journalists facing felony charges for allegedly involving minors in illegal protests, has petitioned state investigators to drop the criminal case due to a lack of evidence of a crime. Lawyer Leonid Solovyov filed his appeal with the head of the investigation, Vitaly Gagarin.
The criminal case was launched over a video in which the Doxa journalists spoke about citizens’ right to peaceful protest and condemned universities for persecuting students over their participation in unsanctioned rallies.
Defense lawyers for the accused argue that none of the 12 underage witnesses questioned by investigators in connection with the “Doxa Case” had seen the video in question. Many of these witnesses, who were detained at a pro-Navalny demonstration on January 23, said that they ended up at the rally’s location by accident and didn’t participate in the protest. One of the witnesses told investigators he went there “to assist the police.”
All of the witnesses deny being invited or urged by anyone to take part in the rally. When asked how they found out about the demonstration, none of them mentioned the Doxa video.
According to the defense, the prosecution’s argument is also refuted by linguistic and psychological analysis.
The four defendants in the “Doxa Case” are student journalists Armen Aramyan, Alla Gutnikova, Vladimir Metelkin, and Natalya Tyshkevich. In April, they were all placed under de facto house arrest pending trial and banned from using communication devices, or communicating with anyone except their lawyers and close relatives. A Moscow court later eased the preventive measures against them slightly.
Russia’s federal censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, has since added the video that served as the grounds for opening the criminal case to its register of prohibited information.