March 13, 2024

13.03.2024 – Russian Journalist Roman Ivanov Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison

On Wednesday 6 March 2024, a court in the city of Korolyov (Королёв), northeast of Moscow (Москва), Russia, has handed down a seven-year prison sentence to Roman Ivanov (Роман Иванов), a reporter affiliated with the independent news outlet RusNews ( and the Telegram channel Chestnoe Korolyovskoe (Честное Королёвское – Ivanov was arrested on 11 April 2023. The verdict comes as Ivanov was convicted on charges of “disseminating false information” regarding the Russian army.

The charges against Ivanov stem from his online posts, particularly on the Russian social media platform VKontakte (Вконтакте) and the messaging app Telegram. These posts included references to a United Nations report on Russian war crimes in Ukraine, as well as discussions about the Bucha (Буча) massacre of civilians and Russian missile attacks within Ukraine. Ivanov, who has consistently maintained his innocence, argued that he was merely fulfilling his journalistic duty.

This case underscores a broader pattern of crackdowns on independent journalism in Russia, especially concerning coverage of the conflict in Ukraine. Notably, Ivanov is not the first RusNews journalist to face legal repercussions for similar offenses. Igor Kuznetsov Vasiljevitsch (Кузнецов Игорь Васильевич), born 1964, working as RusNews reporter, has been in detention since September 2021. Maria Ponomarenko (Мария Пономаренко) from RusNews, received a six-year prison sentence in February 2023 on comparable charges. Ponomarenko also faces additional legal proceedings related to alleged violence against prison staff, potentially leading to an additional five-year term.

The legal landscape surrounding journalism in Russia has become increasingly restrictive, particularly since the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Changes to legislation have empowered authorities to prosecute individuals for discrediting the military or spreading “fake news” about it. These legal mechanisms have been wielded to target journalists and activists critical of the government’s actions in Ukraine.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns the sentencing of journalist Roman Ivanov to seven years in prison for his reporting on Russian war crimes in Ukraine. This harsh verdict reflects a concerning trend of escalating repression against independent journalism in Russia, where journalists face severe consequences for daring to challenge official narratives. Such actions undermine press freedom and perpetuate a climate of fear and censorship. SEEMO calls for Ivanov’s immediate release, the dropping of all charges against him, and an end to the persecution of journalists for their critical work.

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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