Editor Mikhail Afanasyev entering the court room Thursday morning in the Siberian city of Abakan. Photo via Nikolay Rybakov.

Mikhail sentenced to five years in jail for writing the truth

The City Court in the Siberian city of Abakan on Thursday sentenced editor Mikhail Afanasyev to 5,5 years in jail for publishing information about police officers from the region refusing to participate in Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine.
September 07, 2023


The editor and journalist has been in pre-trial detention for the last 18 months awaiting the court hearing.

According to one of his supporters present in court, Yabloko-politician Nikolay Rybakov, Afanasyev declared that the publication of the article “was his professional and human duty.”

It was in April 2022 the editor of Novy Focus (New Focus) online newspaper was arrested after his newsroom reported about several riot-police officers from the Khakasia region east of Novosibirsk refusing to participate in the invasion of Ukraine. Such information is no longer allowed to publish in any media-outlet in Russia. 

The prosecutor’s office accused Afanasyev of disseminating “deliberately false information” about the Russian Armed Forces. The charges are based on the new censorship laws adopted by the State Duma in March 2022, a few days after the all-out war on Ukraine started. Afanasyev was Russia’s first journalist to be charged under the new laws. 

Any journalist in today’s Russia can be charged for reporting “false information” or “discrediting the Armed Forces” in regard to all kinds of critical and disclosing information about the war in Ukraine.

In addition to five and a half years in jail, Mikhail Afanasyev was also sentenced to a ban on journalistic work for 2,5 years after his release from prison. 

Behind bars: In court, Mikhail Afanasyev was placed in the defendant’s cage. Photo: Social media




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