Tatyana Voltskaya, a freelance correspondent for Radio Liberty in St. Petersburg, is appealing the fine of 30,000 rubles that a court in St. Petersburg imposed on her in December 2020 for spreading false information about the coronavirus.
This information came from the Center for the Protection of the Rights of the Media, an organization that provides legal assistance to the journalist and the editorial office of the Russian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Voltskaya’s trial was prompted by the April 2020 publication of Voltskaya’s interview on the Sever.Realii website, a regional project of the Russian Service of Radio Liberty. In the report, a health worker, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke about the shortage of ventilators in hospitals and other problems of doctors during the coronavirus pandemic.
Voltskaya’s lawyer intends to appeal the court decision up to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
In March 2020, the State Duma introduced criminal penalties for disseminating false information about life-threatening and health-threatening circumstances.
The editors of the Russian Service had announced they are confident in the accuracy and reliability of Voltskaya’s report. In May 2020, the Russian Service conducted another investigation into the working conditions of doctors fighting the coronavirus pandemic, which, based on conversations with two dozen medical specialists from different regions of Russia, confirmed the main conclusions contained in Voltskaya’s article.