Russian journalist convicted of extremism appeals his sentence
MOSCOW, June 21 (RAPSI) – Lawyers representing RBC news agency journalist Alexander Sokolov, who was found guilty of extremism, have filed an appeal with the Moscow City Court against his 3.5-year sentence in prison for extremism, the court’s database reads.
On August 10, 2017, four members of the Initiative Group to Campaign for a Referendum for Responsible Government, RBC news agency journalist Alexander Sokolov, publicist Yury Mukhin, civil activists Kirill Barabash and Valery Parfyonov were convicted of extremism. Sokolov was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, while Barabash and Parfyonov were given 4 years behind bars. Barabash was also stripped of a lieutenant colonel rank. Mukhin received a 4-year suspended term and additional 4 years of probation. Prison terms of Barabash and Parfyonov were later reduced by 2 months.
The defendants were indeed members of the Initiative Group to Campaign for a Referendum for Responsible Government, which, the authorities believe, is the successor of earlier banned People’s Will Army (PWA), Mukhin told RAPSI earlier.
However, the action group aiming to organize the referendum was established yet in 2010, he said.
Sokolov, Parfyonov, and Barabash were charged with continuing to run the prohibited in 2010 People’s Will Army, earlier headed by Mukhin. After the PWA was banned, the accused founded the Referendum Initiative Group seeking to make the authorities directly answerable to the people through changing the country’s Constitution.
Nevertheless, the prosecution said that in fact Mukhin and his supporters had attempted to destabilize the political situation in Russia and accomplish a regime change with illegal means.
In 1995, Yury Mukhin, a proponent of radical change, founded the Duel newspaper, which attempted to reach out to Russian conservatives and far left. The newspaper was banned in 2009 on grounds of extremism.