Monday, July 4, 2022 – A Russian journalist accused of posting ‘sane people are for peace’ about Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has been locked in a Siberian clinical psychiatric hospital.
Maria Ponomarenko, a 44-year-old mother of two, is accused of spreading ‘fake’ news concerning Putin’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.
One comment seen as against the law by prosecutors said: ‘It is impossible to remain silent, knowing about the death of thousands of innocent people.’
Her ‘fake’ Telegram posts also included critical comments about the Russian bombing of a drama theatre in Mariupol in April where hundreds of civilians were sheltering.
The Russian defence ministry denied its forces were behind the bombing, which it blamed on Ukrainian nationalists.
Because of her posts contradicting the official Russian narrative, she can face ten years in jail, or indefinite incarceration in a psychiatric facility.
Ponomarenko was pictured at the psychiatric hospital where she is held.
Reports say that one of the woman’s daughters, aged 16, has been turned by the authorities into a prosecution witness in her case.
Ponomarenko, from Barnaul in Siberia, had been detained in St Petersburg in April. She was initially held in detention under Russia’s draconian laws barring criticism of the army.
She was moved thousands of miles to Siberia, and has now been locked in the Soviet-era psychiatric hospital for around one month where she will undergo ‘evaluation’.
Friend Yana Drobnokhod said: ‘Letters and meetings with relatives are banned.
‘She is only allowed to see her lawyer.’
Her lawyer Sergei Podolsky said: ‘The investigators interrogated Maria’s underage daughters, and the testimony of one of them became evidence against her mother.’
Ponomarenko’s posts about the Mariupol theatre were on a Telegram channel called: ‘There is no Censorship’.