Russian Documentary Filmmaker Arrested Over Posts On Ukraine War

ST.PETERSBURG -- A court in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, has arrested a well-known documentary filmmaker, Vsevolod Korolyov, for allegedly "disseminating fake news" about the Russian military.

The city's Vyborg district court ruled on July 13 that Korolyov be held in pretrial detention at least until September 11.

"As for the pretrial restrictions, I do not plan to flee anywhere," Korolyov told the court. "If I wanted to flee, I would have probably done it earlier. I thought about leaving, but I distinguish the country from the government. And this is my country. Now, my country is sick, but sooner or later, everything will be back to normal."

The charge against Korolyov stems from his posts on the VK social network about Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which was launched on February 24.

Korolyov is known for his documentary films about social, political, and economic issues. His last two documentaries were about two women -- artist Aleksandra Skochilenko and journalist Maria Ponomarenko, who are also under arrest for their public position opposing the war in Ukraine.

In early March, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that calls for lengthy prison terms for distributing "deliberately false information" about Russian military operations as the Kremlin seeks to control the narrative about the war.

The law envisages sentences of up to 15 years in prison for individuals convicted of distributing "deliberately false information" about the Russian military that leads to "serious consequences."

The law also criminalizes "calls against the use of Russian troops to protect the interests of Russia" or "discrediting such use," with penalties of up to three years in prison. The same provision applies to calls for sanctions against Russia.