Pretrial Restrictions Imposed On Former RFE/RL Freelance Correspondent

By Siberia.Realities

KEMEROVO, Russia -- A court in Siberia has imposed pretrial restrictions on journalist Andrei Novashov, a former freelance correspondent for RFE/RL’s Siberia.Realities, and charged him with distributing "false information" about Russia's armed forces by reposting another journalist’s article online.

Novashov's lawyer, Maria Yankina, told RFE/RL that a court in the city of Kemerovo ruled on March 23 that her client cannot use the Internet, make phone calls, or attend public events while an investigation into his activities continues.

Yankina said that she cannot disclose any other information about her client as she signed a document keeping her from discussing details of the case.

Novashov has gone incommunicado since police searched his home on March 21.

The investigators launched a probe against Novashov using a new law that envisions a penalty of up to 15 years in prison for distributing "false" information about the operations of the Russian armed forces. The legislation was endorsed by President Vladimir Putin on March 5.

The case against Novashov stems from his reposting an article by journalist Viktoria Ivleva, who used Ukrainian sources to describe the brutal attack by Russian armed forces on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, where thousands of civilians have been killed or remain trapped inside the city with no utilities and dwindling food supplies.

According to the Telegram channel Setevyye Svobody, investigators proposed that Novashov publicly apologize to the Russian armed forces for reposting the report, but he refused to do so.

A day earlier, RFE/RL President Jamie Fly condemned legal attacks on Novashov and other journalists associated with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Russia, vowing that the “systematic harassment” will not stop the independent news organization from covering events in the country.