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

By Idel.Realities

CHEBOKSARY, Russia -- A court in the Republic of Chuvashia in Russia's Volga region has fined an RFE/RL correspondent in a case in which she was previously acquitted.

A court in the republic's capital, Cheboksary, fined Darya Komarova 10,000 rubles ($137) on August 2 after finding her guilty of taking part in an unsanctioned public gathering organized a year ago by an ally of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly called the latest punishment part of a "systemic harassment" of journalists by Russian authorities.

"Darya Komarova was only doing her job as a journalist when she reported on a candidate’s meeting with potential voters 11 months ago. We support Darya as she endures this legal harassment," Fly said. "This systemic harassment of brave journalists like Daria across Russia only serves to deprive the Russian people of independent information about their country and political options."

Navalny's team leader in the city, Semyon Kochkin, met with potential voters in Cheboksary in August 2020 to promote himself as a candidate for the city council.

Komarova, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, has insisted she was covering the event as part of her journalistic work, not taking part.

Komarova was also charged earlier this year with participating in two other unsanctioned rallies in Cheboksary in January, when demonstrators protested the arrest of Navalny in Moscow after his return from medical treatment abroad for a poisoning.

The Lenin district court initially ruled that Komarova was working, not participating in the events in question.

The case regarding the August rally eventually reached Chuvashia's Supreme Court following an appeal of all three cases against Komarova by the republic's Interior Ministry.

On June 22, the Supreme Court cited the absence of the date and registration number on her assignment papers to reverse the acquittal.