Russian Journalist Maria Ponomarenko Sentenced To Six Years After Mariupol Social Media Post

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Matt Buckley Contributor
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RusNews journalist Maria Ponomarenko was sentenced to six years in prison for her social media posts calling attention to the Russian attack on a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Ponomarenko was detained in April 2022 for saying Russian planes had bombed the Mariupol theater, which the Kremlin strongly denied, according to the BBC. Multiple eyewitness reports from the strike countered Russia’s claims, Politico reported.

A district court in Barnaul, Siberia, sentenced Ponomarenko to six years for allegedly spreading “fake news” about the war, according to the BBC. Ponomarenko was accused of violating a law implemented by Russian President Vladimir Putin when the war in Ukraine began, Politico reported.

The law makes illegal “the public dissemination of knowingly false information” involving the Russian army, according to the outlet. Punishments for breaking the law can span up to 15 years in prison. (RELATED: Mariupol ‘Doesn’t Exist Anymore,’ Estimated 21,000 Casualties)

Amnesty International in March 2022 called the attack on Mariupol “a clear war crime” executed by the Russians, Politico reported.

RusNews posted a message to its Telegram communications site Wednesday, saying Ponomarenko would be banned from journalism for five years, according to Politico.

Ponomarenko is not the only journalist who has been imprisoned in recent months, the outlet reported. Well-known Russian commentator Alexander Nevzorov was sentenced to eight years Feb. 1 for allegedly disseminating “fake news” about the war in Ukraine.