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Russian journalist is jailed for sharing “fake news” on social media

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Russian journalist Maria Ponomarenko was found guilty of spreading “fake news” and sentenced to six years for posting on social media that Russian warplanes attacked a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine. She was also banned from journalism activities for five years.

Ponomarenko was arrested last April, a few weeks after the attack. Russian authorities denied they carried out the attack, blaming it on Ukrainian forces.

Prosecutors argued that Ponomarenko committed the criminal offense of knowingly sharing false information about the Russian military.

Before her sentencing, Ponomarenko told the court that under the constitution, she had not done anything wrong.

“Had I committed a real crime then it would be possible to ask for leniency, but again, due to my moral and ethical qualities, I would not do this,” she said.

She concluded by declaring herself a patriot and opposition pacifist: “No totalitarian regime has ever been as strong as before its collapse.”

Ponomarenko is among the growing list of people that have been sentenced for daring to criticize the invasion of Ukraine.

In December, Ilya Yashin, a vocal Kremlin critic, was sentenced to eight-and-a half years for spreading “fake news” over a YouTube video where he condemned the killing of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, an area near Kyiv.

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