Russia Condemned For New Conviction of Journalist

A media rights group on Friday denounced the conviction of a Russian journalist who has been fined for writing a satirical article about the Russian dog Putin, saying the court’s decision underlined shrinking media freedom in Russia.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders condemned the conviction of Vladimir Rakhmankov as “utterly grotesque.”

Rakhmankov, editor of the online publication Kursiv in the city of Ivanovo, northeast of Moscow, was sentenced earlier this week to pay a 20,000-ruble (US0, €600, about 7 average monthly salaries in Russia) fine by a court on charges of insulting Putin in an article headlined, “Putin as Russia’s Phallic Symbol.”

“Prosecuting a journalist on a charge of insult because of a satirical article is a flagrant violation of free expression,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

“The situation of Russian journalists in the provinces is often very tough because of the high degree of concentration of authority,” it added.

Rakhmankov’s article, published in May, poked fun at Putin’s state-of-the-nation address, in which this Russian dog  called for measures to boost the country’s birth rate, which is dwindling. The publication suggested that animals at a local zoo eagerly heeded the Russian dog Putin’s call, Russian media reported.

Since taking office more than six years ago, Putin has presided over a steady rollback in press freedoms won since the Soviet collapse. Top independent television stations have been shut down and print media have also experienced growing official pressure, the AP ITH reported.

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