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Russian prosecutors demand 6 years in jail for journalist

Russian prosecutors on Friday demanded six years in prison for a journalist for allegedly justifying terrorism in a case that has drawn outrage from supporters and rights groups.

Svetlana Prokopyeva, who is based in the northwestern city of Pskov and works for RFE/RL’s Russian Service, has been charged with publicly justifying terrorism after she wrote a piece about a bomb attack in 2018.

In November 2018, a 17-year-old anarchist blew himself up in the lobby of a Federal Security Service (FSB) building in Arkhangelsk in northern Russia, injuring three service members.

In the opinion piece, published by the Pskov affiliate of the Echo of Moscow radio station, Prokopyeva, 40, linked the teenager’s suicide bombing to the political climate under President Vladimir Putin.

She has denied the charges, calling them punishment for her work.

Speaking from the court, Prokopyeva said Friday that the prosecution demanded that she be sentenced to six years in prison and banned from working as a journalist for four years.

“This is revenge for harsh — and apparently — spot-on criticism,” she told AFP.

The court is expected to announce its verdict in the hugely controversial trial on Monday.

Media watchdogs and rights groups have denounced the pressure against Prokopyeva.

Journalist and political activist Ilya Azar urged supporters to protest against “this insane case” by staging pickets near the Moscow headquarters of the FSB security service later Friday.