Editor of top independent Russian newspaper fined for allegedly discrediting military

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

FILE - Sergei Sokolov, a deputy editor of Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper where Anna Politkovskaya worked before her 2006 murder, speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. The editor-in-chief of renowned Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta was detained in Moscow on Thursday for "discrediting" Russia's armed forces. Sergei Sokolov was detained by officers from Russia's Center for Combating Extremism, Novaya Gazeta announced. (AP Photo, File)

The editor-in-chief of the renowned Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta was detained in Moscow on Thursday and later fined after being accused of discrediting Russia’s armed forces, the newspaper said.

Sergei Sokolov was detained by officers from Russia’s Center for Combating Extremism (Center E), and fined 30,000 rubles ($329) in a hearing at a Moscow court later on Thursday, Novaya Gazeta said.

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It said the charges — which are “administrative” and are usually punishable by a fine or a short prison sentence — are related to material posted on the outlet's Telegram channel. It was found in an examination by the authorities to contain “linguistic and psychological signs of verbally discrediting the actions of power structures," the paper said.

The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it “protests against this arrest which further testifies to the violence of censorship in Russia.”

Sokolov took the leadership of Novaya Gazeta’s newsroom in September 2023 after the previous longtime editor-in-chief, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov, was named a “foreign agent” by Russian authorities.

In September 2022, a Moscow court revoked the license of Novaya Gazeta, which has been critical of the Kremlin for years, as part of the authorities’ continuing crackdown on dissent.

Days after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine just over two years ago, the Kremlin-controlled parliament approved legislation that outlawed disparagement of the Russian military or the spread of “false information” about the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dozens of Russian independent media outlets were banned as a result, while others said they were halting any reporting related to Ukraine.

Novaya Gazeta announced in March 2022 that it was suspending its operations for the duration of the war in Ukraine. But Novaya Gazeta’s staff who moved abroad launched a new project, Novaya Gazeta Europe, that has been strongly critical of the invasion of Russia’s neighbor.

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