RFE/RL Correspondent's Acquittal In Russia's Chuvashia Reversed

By Idel.Realities

CHEBOKSARY, Russia -- The Supreme Court of Russia's Chuvashia region has reversed the acquittal of RFE/RL correspondent Darya Komarova in a case regarding her coverage of a protest rally.

Judge Andrei Golubev on June 22 ruled that the decision of the Lenin district court to acquit Komarova must be nullified and the case sent for retrial. It is not clear why the acquittal was reversed.

Komarova said after the hearing that the judge had questions regarding the absence of the date and registration number on her assignment papers to cover the rally.

"The judge also raised the issue of the accreditation of reporters working for foreign media outlets in general," Komarova said.

Komarova, a correspondent of the Idel.Realities project of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, was charged earlier this year with taking part in three unsanctioned rallies in Chuvashia's capital, Cheboksary -- two in January, when demonstrators protested the arrest of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in Moscow, and one in August 2020.

The Lenin district court ruled that Komarova was not a participant in the rallies but was covering the demonstrations as a reporter.

Chuvashia's Interior Ministry appealed the acquittals, but the lower court's acquittals of Komarova regarding her coverage of the rallies on January 23 and January 31 came into force earlier and therefore only the ruling on the rally in August was taken to the Supreme Court.

"The continued legal harassment of RFE/RL journalist Darya Komarova on manufactured charges is unacceptable. The court previously acquitted Darya, agreeing that she was a properly credentialed reporter on assignment," RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said in reaction to the decision.

"This is just the latest indication that the Russian authorities are not serious about allowing independent journalists to do their jobs."