New York, April 6, 2021 — In response to today’s detention of journalists near the penal colony where Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny is being held, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Detaining journalists who try to cover Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment is a blunt effort to censor coverage of Putin’s leading critic,” said CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said. “Authorities should stop obstructing journalists and trying to intimidate the press, so the international community can keep track of Navalny’s condition and treatment.”
Authorities briefly detained CNN correspondent Mathew Chance as well as Ivan Slobodenyuk, a correspondent for Vot Tak TV, the Russian-language service of the Poland-based broadcaster Belsat TV, and Dmitry Nizovtsev, a correspondent with the YouTube channel of Navalny’s organization “Shtab Navalnogo,” according to media reports and a tweet by Chance.
Vot Tak TV editor Mariya Lekukh told CPJ via phone that the journalists were released after four hours and are required to appear before police on April 21. She added that Slobodenyuk possessed a valid press card and journalistic assignment sheet, and was wearing a press vest as required by law at the time of his detention.
Navalny, who survived a poisoning attempt last August, was transferred to a prison colony in the city of Pokrov, east of Moscow, in early March, according to news reports. Earlier this year, Russian authorities detained dozens of journalists throughout Russia covering protests in support of Navalny, as CPJ documented at the time.