April 2, 2024

02.04.2024 – Russian Journalist Detained and Charged: Concerns Rise Over Press Freedom

Russian journalist Antonina Favorskaya – Kravtsov (Антонина Фаворская- Кравцов) has been detained and charged with extremism. Favorskaya, a journalist for the critical news outlet Sota.Vision (named by Russian authorties as foreign agent, https://sotavision.world/, publishing news over Telegram online platform – https://t.me/sotavisionmedia), was initially detained on 17 March 2024 in the Sakharovo special detention center (Спецприёмник “Сахарово”), for allegedly disobeying a police officer, but her detention was extended after authorities accused her of participating in the activities of the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s (Алексей Навальный) Anti-Corruption Foundation (https://acf.international/), which was labeled as extremist in 2021.

On Wednesday 27 March 2024 she was scheduled to be released from detention after serving a 10-day sentence. However, she was not released, and instead, police in Moscow (Москва), Russia, detained two journalists who were waiting to meet her, along with at least two others, while conducting searches at Favorskaya’s and her parents’ residences. Also, searches, according to the defense, took place in the apartments of journalists Alexandra Astakhova (Александры Астаховой) and Anastasia Musatova (Анастасии Мусатовой).

Following a closed-door hearing on Friday 29 March 2024 the Basmanny Court (Басманный суд) in Moscow ordered Favorskaya to be held until 28 May 2024 pending investigation on charges of allegedly participating in an extremist group (Article 282.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). She will spend the time in the Pechatniki pre-trial detention center for woman (СИЗО-6 Москва – Женская тюрьма Печатники). According to the prosecutor she posted documents on social media that are banned in Russia. Favorskaya faces now up to six years in prison. The journalist stated in court that she believed she was being persecuted for her reporting on Navalny, particularly for an article titled “How Alexei Navalny was tortured by the court and the Federal Penitentiary Service,” (Как суд и ФСИН пытали Алексея Навального) published on 6 March 2024. The link to her article on the Telegram channel is: https://t.me/sotavisionmedia/27144

Favorskaya had extensively covered Navalny’s court hearings, prison conditions, and even recorded a video of him one day before his death in February 2024. Her reporting also included Navalny’s funeral and the public reaction to his passing. After his death she also visited Navalny’s grave several times and documented how people left flowers there. After her last report from Navalny’s cemetery, she was arrested by police officers in a bar in Moscow on 17 March 2024.

Colleagues and supporters believe that Favorskaya’s detention is a form of retaliation for her journalistic activities, highlighting concerns over press freedom in Russia.

The case against Favorskaya has drawn condemnation from press freedom organizations and Navalny’s team, who argue that it is an additional attempt by the Russian authorities to suppress independent journalism and intimidate critics of the regime. Prosecutors allege that Favorskaya posted banned materials on social media, but her supporters maintain that she is being unjustly targeted for her reporting on Navalny and his opposition activities.

The developments in Favorskaya’s case underscore the challenges faced by journalists in Russia, where press freedom is increasingly under threat. As international concern grows over the treatment of journalists and activists, calls for Favorskaya’s release and the protection of press freedom in Russia are intensifying.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the detention and charges brought against Russian journalist Antonina Favorskaya, as well as the subsequent intimidation and harassment of her colleagues covering the case. The actions taken against Favorskaya, including her remand in custody and the allegations of participating in an extremist group, highlight a concerning trend of repression against journalists reporting on critical issues in Russia. SEEMO calls for Favorskaya’s immediate release, the dropping of all charges against her, and an end to the persecution of journalists exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression and press freedom.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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