“8.5 Years Behind Bars: Russian Journalist Punished for Protesting on Live TV
Prominent Russian news anchor and journalist Vladimir Pozner has been sentenced to 8.5 years in prison in absentia after staging a protest against the Russian government on live television. The journalist was leading a segment on the independent television network Dozhd TV in July of this year when he began to protest the ruling government and the restrictions placed upon independent media outlets. He called for then-President Vladimir Putin to leave office, urging those watching to resist any attempts to further limit free speech. The veteran news anchor's demonstration of dissent earned him the attention of government censors who demanded the television station immediately take Pozner off the air and threatened a fine for any further airing of his remarks. The segment was pulled from the air, and Pozner ceased to appear on the independent news outlet which had become the last bastion of free speech. However, now his words have caught up to him in the form of this week's sentencing. Pozner has been fined one million rubles for his protest, and has been sentenced to 8.5 years in prison. He remains in the United States, and it's uncertain how, or even if, the sentence will be enforced. Pozner is one of the few prominent media figures who have dared to criticize Russia's government, and his incarceration appears to be an example of the ruling body silencing any dissent towards its policies. Eight and a half years in prison for protesting on air is a harsh reminder of the limitations placed on freedom of speech, even in a supposed democratic environment.