The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a notice this week expressing its alarm at the imprisonment of the editor of the St Petersburg newspaper Novy Peterburg. Nikolai Andrushchenko was sentenced last weekend to a two month period of pre-trial detention on charges of defamation. If he’s convicted he could face up to six years in jail.
The charges seem to be politically motivated and relate to his papers coverage of a murder trial back in 2006. The coverage had been critical of local authorities and that, coupled with the paper’s pro-opposition stance in the wake of parliamentary elections last December probably upset the ruling politicians who are using Russia’s more draconian defamation laws to punish Andrushchenko.
Joel Simon from CPJ said: "We are disturbed by the imprisonment of Nikolai Andrushchenko on more than one-year-old charges just days before an election… With a pattern of harassment of the journalist and his paper, it is apparent that the authorities' actions are aimed at stifling an opposition voice before the parliamentary vote. We call on Russian authorities to release Andrushchenko without delay."
CPJ Press Release
This is not the only case of journalists from the paper being targeted – see recent release from the Bulletin of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations HERE