44-year-old Russian journalist Maria Ponomarenko is reported to have been locked in a psychiatrist hospital in Siberia after posting that “sane people are for peace in Ukraine” online. Authorities are accusing her of spreading “fake news” about the war, which they prefer be called a “special military operation.”
Ponomarenko made the comments in a Telegram channel. Her posts also criticized Russian forces for bombing a drama theatre in Maripoul in April; the theatre had hundreds of civilians.
In one post deemed in violation of Russian law, she wrote: “It is impossible to remain silent, knowing about the death of thousands of innocent people.”
Ponomarenko was first arrested in St. Petersburg in April for criticizing the army. She was recently moved thousands of miles away to Siberia to a Soviet-era psychiatric facility for a month of “evaluation.”
She is not allowed to have visitors or even to receive letters from friends.
One of Putin’s leading critics Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the country’s richest man until he was arrested for opposing Putin, said Ponomarenko’s case is a return to the Soviet era, when authorities used “punitive psychiatry to silence political dissent.”
Reports claim that one of her daughters, aged 16, has been turned to become a witness for the prosecution. Her lawyer, Sergei Podolsky confirmed the reports, saying: “The investigators interrogated Maria’s underage daughters, and the testimony of one of them became evidence against her mother.”