Journalist accused of “fakes” about army sent to prison in St Petersburg

The Oktyabrsky District Court in St Petersburg remanded journalist Maria Ponomarenko, accused of spreading “fakes” about the Russian army because of a post on a Telegram channel, to a pre-trial detention centre. She faces up to 10 years in prison. Her daughter is a witness in the case.

The court found that it would be impossible to ensure Ponomarenko’s appearance at the next sessions without detention, as well as to limit contacts with witnesses in the case, Sota reported. The journalist was sent to a pre-trial detention centre for two months.

As the St Petersburg-based publication Paper reported earlier, an investigator said that Ponomarenko’s underage daughter was one of the witnesses in the case.

In this connection, according to the investigation, mother and daughter should not live together because Ponomarenko “may have an influence” on the child.

At the same time, the journalist’s lawyer said that there is no data in the case file regarding the daughter’s interrogation, Sota reported.

Ponomarenko was detained in St Petersburg on 24 April. She was accused of spreading “fakes” about the Russian army because of a Telegram channel post with 1,500 subscribers, which talked about Mariupol, her lawyer said.

A criminal case was opened under Part 2 of Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code: this article provides for a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Ponomarenko stated in court that she was one of the organizers of a public campaign for the protection of orphans in the Altai region (she recently moved to St. Petersburg), due to which she received threats, including from a district police officer who wrote a negative characteristic on her.

In St. Petersburg, Sasha Skochilenko, an artist, is also on trial for “fake stories” about the army. On 13 April, a court sent her to the pre-trial detention facility for replacing supermarket price tags with leaflets containing information about the events in Mariupol.

Skochylenko admitted distributing the leaflets but refused to accept that she had distributed false information.