Support The Moscow Times!

Russian Journalist Sokolov Jailed for Extremism After Calling for Referendum

Journalist Alexander Sokolov Artyom Geodakyan/TASS

A Moscow court on Thursday sentenced Russian journalist Alexander Sokolov to three and a half years in jail for extremism, in a case Sokolov described as “Orwellian."

Sokolov, who has been in custody since his arrest in 2015, and three co-defendants were found guilty of advancing the program of a radical left-wing organization called the People's Will Army after it was banned in 2010, the RBC news agency reports

The People’s Will Army agitated to change the Russian constitution via a referendum. 

Sokolov has denied the accusation and says the case is connected to his professional activity. 

He previously worked at RBC, where he published an expose of corruption during the building of Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome near the border with China. 

“This process has turned out to be singular and dystopian in Orwellian style,” Sokolov said in a statement published by the OVD-Info police monitoring website on Thursday, shortly before the ruling. 

“Whatever the formal verdict in this manufactured case, I think we can claim full moral victory,” the statement said. 

The international group Reporters Without Borders has called for Sokolov’s release, while the European Court of Human Rights said last year it would examine his case.

European Court of Human Rights to Hear RBC Journalist's Case

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.