Journalist faces jail for blogging on Russian explosion – Committee to Protect Journalists


cpj100New York, August 21, 2009–Prosecutors in Abakan, the capital of the Republic of Khakassia in southern Siberia, should drop their defamation charges against online editor Mikhail Afanasyev, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The charges are tied to a blog entry about Monday’s explosion at Russia’s largest hydroelectric plant that killed dozens of workers, according to news reports.

Prosecutors opened a criminal probe against Afanasyev on Wednesday, after he and his two colleagues at the online magazine Novy Fokus–Eric Chernyshov and Grigory Nazarenko–published a blog entry that challenged the Russian government’s response to the explosion at the Sayano-Shushenskaya power plant in Khakassia. If convicted, Afanasyev faces up to three years in prison. Chernyshev and Nazarenko have not been charged.

Russian officials and state-controlled media initially said that up to 15 workers died at the plant, but Afanasyev reported that up to 100 may have been killed, the Russian service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) reported. more…