A Russian court sentenced journalists Ruslan Leviev and Michael Nacke to eleven years in prison on Tuesday for posting a video on YouTube in March 2022, shortly after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, that contained “false information” about the Armed Forces. and the Russian authorities, picks up the statement from the prosecution published on Telegram. Tuesday’s ruling also prohibits both journalists “from uploading material to the Internet for five years.”
Ruslan Leviev, whose real name is Ruslan Karpuk, is one of the founders of the independent war monitor Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), which conducts open-source research on the Russian military and has been listed as an “undesirable organization” by part of the prosecution While Michael Nacke, a former radio host for the disbanded Echo of Moscow station, has a YouTube channel with 1.4 million subscribers where he posts information related to the war in Ukraine.
The two currently reside abroad and have been the subject of an arrest warrant since May 2022. The authorities accuse them of “fabricating evidence” and being motivated by political hatred. According to the independent media outlet Mediazona, the key witness for the prosecution is a resident of Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine, surnamed Sachkov, who appeared in court as an “internet user”.
Many critics of the Russian offensive in Ukraine and of President Vladimir Putin have fled abroad to escape repression in Russia. After launching the invasion, the Kremlin introduced a series of penal measures to punish its critics. For example, it is prohibited to use the terms “war” or “invasion” in connection with the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine, or to accuse the Army of having committed war crimes. Many Russians, known and anonymous, have been imprisoned for these reasons.