An anti-Kremlin Russian journalist and municipal deputy said Friday he faced a fine of up to 100,000 rubles for discrediting the army amid Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Ilya Azar said authorities had opened an administrative case against him “for discrediting the use of Russia’s armed forces in order to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, to maintain international peace”.
The 37-year-old journalist with Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s top independent newspaper, and a local deputy said, citing prosecutors, that the case had been opened over a post on Facebook but he had no other details.
Azar said he faced a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($1,455).
“I was already beginning to worry that they had forgotten about me or that I was not speaking clearly enough against the war!” he said ironically.
After President Vladimir Putin sent troops to pro-Western Ukraine, Azar left Russia. He is currently located in an EU country, he told AFP, without elaborating.
Moscow has stepped up efforts to stamp out the last pockets of dissent after the start of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Authorities have imposed prison terms of up to 15 years for spreading information about the Russian military deemed false by the government.
Independent media outlets including Novaya Gazeta have been shut down or suspended operations, and tens of thousands of Russians have left the country in protest over the Kremlin’s policies.