Three Russian Activists Charged Over Distribution Of Home-Printed Newspaper

By Idel.Realities

PERM, Russia -- Three Russian activists in the Urals city of Perm have been charged with "discrediting the Russian Federation's armed forces" for allegedly publishing at home copies of an online magazine that has been covering the war Moscow launched against Ukraine last month.

One of the activists, Olga Turpanova, told RFE/RL on April 3 that she and the two other activists were briefly detained the day before while distributing home-printed copies of the news digest Vestnik zvezdy (The Star Herald), published by the online magazine Zvezda (Star).

"We were detained in the city center while distributing the newspaper that covered the official information about the 'special operation' in Ukraine, including information taken directly from the Defense Ministry's website," Turpanova said, adding that she and the other two activists were charged and then released.

Turpanova said all three have rejected the charge.

Russia's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has strictly limited access to information about the invasion of Ukraine unleashed by Russia on February 24 and directed media to describe events in Ukraine a "special military operation" and not a "war" or an "invasion."

On March 5, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law that calls for sentences of up to 15 years in prison for people who "deliberately distribute false news" about the Russian military.

Several Russian media outlets have chosen to suspend operations rather than face heavy restrictions on what they can report. The Kremlin has also blocked many foreign news outlets.

Zvezda magazine said last week that it had started issuing its digest each Friday on A4 format paper so that people could print it out themselves and to distribute among relatives and friends.

Zvezda's website was blocked in early March at Roskomnadzor's request, after which the online magazine started publishing its materials on social media.