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Russia jails journalist for Mariupol theatre deaths report
Residential buildings and civilian cars damaged by Russian aircraft in Mariupol last March Pic: Shutterstock

15 Feb 2023 / global Print

Russia jails journalist for Mariupol deaths report

Russian journalist Maria Ponomarenko has been jailed for six years for reporting on a deadly attack by Russian warplanes on a theatre in Ukraine last March.

Prosecutors said Maria Ponomarenko had committed a criminal offence, brought in within days of the invasion, of spreading "knowingly false information" about the Russian armed forces.

A court in Barnaul in Siberia found the reporter guilty of spreading "fake news", under laws introduced aimed at stifling dissent about the invasion of Ukraine.

She was also barred from working as a journalist for five years.

Hundreds of civilians died when the Mariupol theatre was bombed.

Ponomarenko was detained last April for reporting that Russian warplanes had carried out the attack, even though the Russian defence ministry had denied it.


A total of 1,200 civilians were sheltering inside the theatre when it was bombed by Russian fighter jets. Ukrainian authorities believe 300 people were killed, but an Associated Press investigation reported 600 deaths, many in the basement.

Amnesty International described the bombing as a war crime, while international monitoring group OSCE said that it had not received any indication to back up Russian allegations that a Ukrainian battalion had blown up the theatre.

Ponomarenko is among several Russian dissidents jailed for criticising the war in Ukraine.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland