Two Russian reporters reportedly published at least 30 articles on Monday criticizing President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. CNNexamined the articles, which were removed almost immediately after they were published on a Kremlin-backed news site. Some of them were associated with the 77th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Union, while others criticized Putin for using Russia's Victory Day to justify his violent attack on Ukraine.
Journalists Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Mirosnikova The articles allege that Russian Defense Ministry officials lied to the relatives of those killed in the flagship of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea. They directly accused Putin of starting one of the “bloodiest wars of the 21st century.” “Putin and his entourage are doomed to face a court after the end of the war,” Polyakov and Miroshnikova wrote on the Lenta.ru news website. “Putin and his associates will not be able to justify themselves or flee after the defeat of this war.”
Reports critical of the government in the Russian media are extremely rare, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine in February, according to CNN. The Russian parliament passed a law in early March criminalizing what it considers to be false about Russia's war in Ukraine. Violation of this law could result in a fine of 1.5 million rubles (about $ 21,500) or up to 15 years in prison. Putin and the state media continue to refer to the widespread land war in Ukraine only as a “special operation.”
In March, Marina Ovsyannikova, a longtime Russian television editor, made headlines for interrupting a live broadcast while holding an anti-war sign on Russia's Channel 1. She was arrested and fined 30,000 rubles (about $ 280). Ovsyannikova is now reporting for a German news agency from Russia and Ukraine.
“Putin must leave”
Polyakov and Miroshnikova are both financial and business writers at Lenta.ru, a major Russian pro-Kremlin news site. The media company's parent company was recently acquired by the state-owned Russian bank Sberbank (SBRCY), which is subject to US sanctions for its Russian invasion of Ukraine. CNN contacted the two journalists and lenta.ru for comment, but did not receive an immediate response. The independent Russian news website Mediazone reportedly published a statement by Polyakov and Mirosnikova following the publication of the articles. “Putin is a paranoid dictator,” they were quoted as saying. “Putin must leave. “It started an irrational war and is leading Russia to the brink.” The two authors not only publicly rejected the government's line on the Russian invasion, but went so far as to accuse Putin of lying about his intentions in Ukraine from the beginning.
“Putin has repeatedly lied about his plans for Russia in Ukraine, setting a goal at first and then a completely different one.” They cited Putin's call for “liberation of Donbass,” “de-Nazism,” and “demilitarization of Ukraine,” as examples of what they describe as hasty excuses for an unnecessary war.
One article focused on what Polyakov and Miroshnikova described as Russian military lies to the families of Russian sailors who went missing in the Black Sea cruiser Moskva last month.
The article argued that the Russian Navy may have released earlier images of the Moskva crew to suggest that more sailors got off the ship safely than they actually were. “The video of the leadership of the Black Sea Fleet with the crew members released by the Ministry of Defense after the tragedy could be archival, as a relative of a missing crew member actually recognized him in the video itself.” CNN could not confirm these allegations.
Each article published by the two journalists on the site began with the same urgent appeal under the headline. “Disclaimer: This material is not approved by the state, so the presidential government will delete it… In other words: URGENTLY KEEP A SCREEN DISPLAY before it is deleted.”
The duo of journalists are reported to have left Lenta.ru saying: “We are looking for a job, lawyers and possibly, political asylum!” “Do not be afraid, do not sit still,” they continued in an obvious call for action. “Resist! You are not one, you are many! The future is yours!… Peace in Ukraine !. ”