Prominent Russian commentator and Putin critic Alexander Nevzorov has been sentenced to eight years behind bars for spreading “fake news” about Moscow’s war on Ukraine, Russian news agency Interfax reported Wednesday.
A court in Moscow on Wednesday found Nevzorov guilty in absentia of publishing “fake information about the deliberate bombing by Russian army on the maternity hospital in Mariupol” on his Instagram and YouTube accounts. He has also reported on the Russian massacre carried out in the Ukrainian city of Bucha. The case against Nevzorov was initiated last March.
Nevzorov, a TV journalist, pundit and film director with a career dating back to the communist era, is no stranger to controversy. He sided with the plotters of the attempted coup in 1991 that precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union and, under Vladimir Putin’s rule, was involved in setting up the Nashi (Ours) youth movement.
Nevzorov has since turned against the Kremlin, and he has been seen most recently inveighing against Putin’s war on Ukraine on his YouTube channel, which counts nearly 2 million followers.
He left Russia last summer after receiving Ukrainian citizenship and is on the Russian foreign agents list.
The verdict comes as the latest move in the authorities’ crackdown on media after Russia introduced a ban on calling the Ukraine conflict a “war” or “invasion.” The law, put into force last March, carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison for journalists and caused most independent media outlets to flee the country.
Douglas Busvine contributed reporting.