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Forbes journalist placed under house arrest for allegedly spreading fake news about Russian army

A Russian court has placed Forbes journalist Sergey Mingazov under house arrest after he was detained for allegedly spreading fake news about the Russian armed forces, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti has reported.

Forbes Russia says its journalist will be under house arrest for at least two months as he awaits trial after being detained on Friday.

RIA reported on Saturday that: “Forbes journalist Mingazov, detained in the case of spreading fake (news) about the Russian Armed Forces, has been placed under house arrest.”

On Friday, Mingazov’s lawyer Konstantin Bubon said that the journalist had been detained for “reposting a publication about the events in Bucha (Ukraine)” on Telegram.

Mingazov’s Telegram channel had 476 subscribers at the time of publishing this article. It shows that he reposted stories about the Russian military allegedly committing atrocities in Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, from other news outlets such as the BBC’s Russian outlet and Radio Freedom.

Bubon said that Mingazov is accused of spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian armed forces “under the guise” of reliable reporting.

The city of Bucha was liberated by Ukrainian forces at the end of March 2022, having been occupied near the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February the same year. According to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, the Russian army committed thousands of war crimes in the Bucha district, with hundreds of civilians killed in the town. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the mass killings and has reiterated baseless claims that the images of civilian bodies were fake.

Internet ban imposed

Bubon told Forbes Russia that Mingazov’s house arrest was enforced as a “preventative measure.” In Russia, preventative measures take place pre-trial and include being remanded in custody, released on bail, or placed under house arrest.

Bubon also told Forbes Russia that the court had banned Mingazov from using the internet and imposed restrictions on his communications with people other than relatives, investigators, lawyers, and medical professionals.

On Saturday, without naming Mingazov, Khabarovsk territory’s Investigative Committee stated that it had chosen house arrest “as a preventative measure,” after charging a man with the public dissemination of knowingly false information about the Russian armed forces.

“In April 2022, a man, acting out of political hatred, posted a publication on a news channel he administers, intended for viewing by an unlimited number of people,” the Investigative Committee alleged.

“It contained, under the guise of being reliable, deliberately false information about… the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” it continued.

Russia has been cracking down on journalists since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Several prominent journalists have been arrested, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty editor Alsu Kurmasheva and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Courts have also ordered the arrests in absentia of several journalists for criticizing the state, including Alexander Nevzorov, Dmitry Gordon, and Marina Ovsyannikova.

On Saturday, a local Russian court press service said that Konstantin Gabov, a Russian journalist it said worked as a producer for the Reuters news agency, was detained and accused of “extremism.”

Gabov allegedly helped to produce content for a YouTube channel associated with late opposition leader Alexey Navalny called “NavalnyLIVE,” the Basmanny District Court press service said.

The court said Gabov was involved in the “preparation of photo and video materials” for the YouTube channel and would remain in detention for at least two months, until June 27.

Russian authorities designated Navalny and his organizations as “extremist,” meaning anyone associating with his group faces a legal risk.

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