Russian Journalist Prokopyeva Appeals Conviction In 'Justifying Terrorism' Case

Lawyers for Russian journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva have filed an appeal against her conviction on charges of “justifying terrorism” and the fine of nearly $7,000 levied against her.

Defense lawyer Tumas Misakyan told RFE/RL on July 16 that the defense believes the judge did not take into consideration portions of the linguistic analysis that were favorable to their client.

Prokopyeva, a prominent journalist in the western city of Pskov who is a freelance contributor to RFE/RL’s Russian Service, was convicted over an article she wrote in November 2018 in which she discussed a bombing outside the Federal Security Service (FSB) offices in the northern city of Arkhangelsk.

In her commentary, Prokopyeva mentioned statements on social media by the suspected bomber, who died in the incident, and suggested that political activism under Russian President Vladimir Putin had been severely restricted, leading some people to despair.

On July 6, a court in Pskov convicted Prokopyeva and ordered her to pay a fine of 500,000 rubles (about $6,950).

Prosecutors had asked the court to sentence Prokopyeva, 30, to six years in prison and to bar her from journalistic activity for four years.

The defense appeal also rejected the judge’s finding that Prokopyeva “partially admitted her guilt” by acknowledging that she had written the article in question. Prokopyeva denies the accusations against her.

The appeal argues that the conviction is a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of expression.

"Svetlana’s commentary was an effort to explain a tragedy; the portrayal of her words as 'justifying terrorism' is a deliberate and politically motivated distortion aimed at silencing her critical voice and recalls the worst show trials of one of Russia's darkest periods," acting RFE/RL President Daisy Sindelar said on July 3.

The case against Prokopyeva has been strongly criticized by international human rights and journalism organizations, as well as by the European Union.