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Daria Komarova on Journalism in Russia

Daria Komarova on Journalism in Russia
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RFE/RL Idel.Realities contributor Daria Komarova talks about her detention, her trials, and threats to media freedom in Russia and her small ethnic Republic of Chuvashia. [Click "Show More" to learn about her case]

Daria Komarova has been a working journalist for 11 years, and with RFE/RL's Idel.Realities project serving Russia's mid-Volga region for the last three years. On January 23, 2021 Komarova was detained by police officers while covering a rally in support of anti-corruption activist and opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Cheboksary, the capital of Russia's Chuvash Republic. Later, she was charged with three administrative code violations for "participating in unauthorized rallies," even though she was covering each of the events on assignment for Idel.Realities; one of the charges involved an August 2020 political event that featured a Navalny supporter.

Thanks to her legal team and Komarova's inquiries to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Justice Ministry, the Leninsky District Court in Cheboksary found no evidence of violations in the journalist's work and has already dismissed two of the three administrative cases. Komarova faces one more trial on the third charge on May 13, where she will be held accountable for doing her job. The One Free Press Coalition has named Komarova one of it's "Ten Most Urgent" cases of injustice to journalists for May 2021.

During a recent interview with Idel.Realities, Daria Komarova said: "I regard the persecution of me to be a challenge to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which grants us freedom of speech. Everyone who supports me now must understand that they are not defending Dasha Komarova, but freedom of speech, law and order, the future of the country and our children..."

Komarova continued: "I recently realized that my profession -- honest journalism -- is needed by society and the country. It probably took me ten years to figure that out. Unfortunately, my profession has become dangerous. I care about everything that happens around me. I understand that sooner or later this will affect me and my family. Therefore, I am now doing what is necessary for both me and society. I remember when [in 1995, Russian television anchor Vladislav] Listyev was killed, I was six years old, and I told my dad for the first time that I wanted to be like him -- a real journalist. It was a conscious decision I was making, and you can't stop it."