Trials of journalists from Russian agencies have begun in Latvia
On Tuesday, a series of trials began in Riga against 16 journalists who collaborated with the Russian news portals Sputnik and Baltnews. They are accused of violating the sanctions of the European Union and Latvia. This is stated in the publication of the Delfi.
The case against the journalists is based on the fact that Sputnik and Baltnews, now blocked in Latvia, are connected to the Russian state agency Rossiya Segodnya, whose CEO is Dmitry Kiselyov, who is under EU sanctions.
The list of defendants includes the former editor-in-chief of the Baltnews portal Andrey Yakovlev, famous Latvian journalists Alla Berezovska, Yelena Kyrylova, Vladimir Dorofeev, Aleksandr Malnach, Andrey Tatarchuk and Ludmila Prybylska, political activist Vladimir Linderman, assistant to the member of the European Parliament Tetiana Zhdanok Andrey Solopenko, and photographer Sergey Melkonov.
The indictment claims that the journalists who worked for Sputnik and Baltnews “knowingly and for selfish reasons provided an economic resource to a person under sanctions.” Under this article, punishment in the form of imprisonment for a term of up to four years is provided.
The extras of the court process emphasize that the sanctions against Russia Today as a legal entity was announced only in February 2023, and they cooperated with publications earlier.
“The State Security Service followed the path of extended interpretation of EU and Latvian legislation and determined that since the general director of Rossiya Segodnya Dmitriy Kiselyov is under personal sanctions, this means that he could also indirectly receive some benefit from the cooperation of journalists with Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today).” – says the official statement of the journalists who were put on trial. In their opinion, it is incorrect to build an accusation because work at Sputnik contributed specifically to Kiselyov.
“We consider the case politically motivated and violates the basic principles of freedom of speech. It was inspired to intimidate journalists, in fact, to prohibit them from doing their professional activities,” the accused journalists told the press.
The prosecution allocated 14 cases to separate proceedings. The six defendants will appear in court in April, May and June. First, the court considers the case of journalist Vladimir Dorofeev, who worked in various mass media for over 25 years. He does not admit his guilt and believes the case against him and his colleagues is fabricated and more like a “Lynch trial.”
In June 2022, the National Council of Electronic Media of Latvia (NEPLP) banned Russian channels until the end of the war and the return of Crimea to Ukraine. In addition, in September, rebroadcasting of about 20 Russian channels, including the RT network, was banned in Latvia.