In Russia, a court sentenced investigative journalist Alexander Sokolov to a three-and-a-half-year prison term Thursday, after he called for a referendum to make politicians more accountable. Prosecutors accused the 29-year-old of running an “extremist organization” aimed at overthrowing elected officials. This is Alexander Sokolov speaking to reporters from inside a courthouse cage, after his sentencing.
Alexander Sokolov: “The idea of a referendum is considered to be extremism in Russia. And a grave crime has been committed against us, which is hindering the referendum. It is obvious that the people of Russia are prohibited from assessing the actions of those in power. Even the thought of evaluating a president and lawmakers is considered to be extremism.”
Sokolov’s conviction and harsh sentence drew condemnation from several human rights and press freedom groups, including Reporters Without Borders, who called it “disgraceful.”