Journalist Roman Ivanov behind bars in court. Photo: SOTAvision

"Journalists are not criminals," Roman's sign reads, but exactly that's what he was sentenced for

On March 6 a city court in Moscow sentenced RusNews journalist Roman Ivanov to seven years in prison for violating the law on fake news about the Russian army.
March 06, 2024


Considering the two years spent in pre-trial detention, Roman Ivanov will be deprived of his freedom for approximately five years if the ruling on Wednesday is not overturned in an appeal.

The court ruling sentence is one year less than the prosecution requested, SOTAvision reports in Telegram.

Roman Ivanov was locked in the courtroom’s floor-to-ceiling iron-cage, while his wife was outside. Photo: SOTAvision 


Roman Ivanov was charged after reports he made about the war in Ukraine, published in the media outlet RusNews as well as in a Telegram channel. The journalist wrote about war crimes committed by the Russian army in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, citing a UN report as well as The New York Times.  

In his final statement, before the verdict was pronounced, Ivanov said, kneeling:

“I want to apologize to all Ukrainians whom our country has brought sorrow.” 

When asked by the judge if he understood the verdict, the journalist said: “This verdict is to you” [referring to the judge].

Russia continues to persecute journalists who publish materials deemed unfavorable to the Kremlin. For instance, journalist Alsu Kurmasheva from “Radio Svoboda” was arrested in Russia for refusing to register as a “foreign agent” and for spreading “fake news about the army.”


Sometimes, the Russian state opens criminal cases against journalists who have already emigrated. The publication Mediazona downloaded and studied the Russian wanted-person database, finding at least 45 Russian journalists and bloggers listed there.

Additionally, journalists who have been forced to leave Russia are labeled as “foreign agents” by the state. As of today, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation’s list of “foreign agents” includes at least 140 individuals, including journalist Georgii Chentemirov with the Barents Observer.



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