Mediazona publisher Pyotr Verzilov charged with spreading ‘fakes’ about Russian army

Publisher of Mediazona, an independent Russian media, Pyotr Verzilov has been indicted for spreading “fakes” about the Russian Armed Forces motivated by political hatred, Mediazona reports.

The criminal case against Verzilov was opened for two tweets and two social media posts shedding light on murders in Ukraine’s Bucha.

The investigation team believes that by posting this information the activist “created a real threat that citizens can form a false opinion about the goals and tasks of the special military operation”.

In late December 2022, law enforcement officers searched the apartment of Verzilov’s mother Elena. The man himself was later summoned for questioning by the Russian Investigative Committee. It was not specified what the line of questioning was linked to.

Pussy Riot member Rita Flores’s home was searched a few days later. According to lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov, the searches were a part of investigating the “fake” case launched against Verzilov.

Verzilov left Russia in 2020 after his and his relatives’ residences were searched. The man then faced a criminal case for failing to notify authorities about a foreign citizenship. He was placed on a wanted list.

According to the investigation team, Verzilov received a Canadian passport in December 2014 and did not notify Russian authorities about it. He also failed to do so in the next 5 years. Mediazona explained that Verzilov’s father lived in Canada, while Pyotr himself studied in a school there, obtaining citizenship afterwards.

On 29 December, authorities demanded that Verzilov be arrested in absentia in the case. However, the court refused because this Criminal Code article does not stipulate that arrest can be applied to those who violate it.

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