The Putin government yesterday arrested Ivan Safronov, a former journalist presently an advisor to that country’s space agency Roscosmos, for passing military secrets to the Czech government back in 2017 when he was employed by a daily newspaper.
It seems the press in Russia is highly skeptical of these charges.
Kommersant [the daily newspaper in which he had worked] put out a statement in support of Safronov, hailing him as one of the country’s top journalists and a “true patriot” who was deeply concerned about the state of the military and space industries that he covered. The newspaper described the accusations against him as “absurd.” The paper noted that rights activists, journalists, scientists and corporate officials who faced treason accusations found it difficult to defend themselves because of secrecy surrounding their cases and lack of public access. “As a result, the public has to rely on the narrative offered by special services, whose work has increasingly raised questions,” Kommersant said. “Journalists asking those questions find themselves under blow.”
About 20 journalists, including those who worked with Safronov for years, were detained outside FSB headquarters in Moscow when they picketed to protest his arrest. Some were handed court summons for violating a ban on street gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, an offense punishable by an administrative fine.
Many former colleagues of Safronov alleged that the authorities may have wanted to take revenge for his reporting that exposed Russian military incidents and opaque arms trade deals.
It also appears that the charges have nothing to do with Safronov’s work at Roscosmos.
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