Russian journalist sentenced to 6 years over Ukraine posts

MOSCOW (AP): A Russian journalist was convicted of disparaging the military Wednesday and received a six-year prison sentence, the latest punishment in a relentless crackdown on critics of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

The court in the city of Barnaul in southern Siberia found Maria Ponomarenko guilty of “spreading false information about the Russian armed forces’ actions” with her posts on a messaging app. Ponomarenko, who worked for the RusNews portal, denied the charges.

Days after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the Kremlin-controlled parliament approved legislation that outlawed the spread of “false information” about the country’s military campaign in Ukraine.

Russian authorities have used the law to stifle any criticism of what the Kremlin refers to as a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Some members of Russia’s beleaguered political opposition, activists, journalists and bloggers were previously convicted and imprisoned under the law.

In December, prominent opposition politician Ilya Yashin was sentenced to 8½ years in prison. Earlier last year, Alexei Gorinov, a member of a Moscow municipal council, received a 7-year sentence for his critical remarks about the hostilities in Ukraine.

Another leading opposition figure, Vladimir Kara-Murza, has been in custody awaiting trial on the same charge.