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Russians dare to protest war; AP dares to report it

With the Kremlin in the background, a police officer, left, prepares to detain Dmitry Reznikov who holds a sheet of paper with eight asterisks that could be interpreted as standing for “No to war” in Russian, in Moscow, March 13, 2022. A court found Reznikov guilty of discrediting the armed forces and fined him 50,000 rubles ($618) for holding the sign in a demonstration that lasted only seconds before police seized him. (SOTA via AP)

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Important work by an AP Russia correspondent who cannot be named gave voice to Russians who dare challenge the official Kremlin narrative of the war in Ukraine.

Independent reporting in Russia wasn’t easy before the invasion of Ukraine, but a draconian “fake news” law imposed shortly after the onset of war has made fair, accurate and — most importantly — critical reporting almost impossible just as it is needed most.

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Marat Grachev, director of a Moscow shop that repairs Apple devices, poses with a sign in Russian that reads “No to war” in the background, March 16, 2022. Customers who came into the store expressed support when they saw the sign, but one elderly man demanded it be taken down, threatening to report Grachev to the authorities. Police soon showed up, and Grachev was charged with discrediting the military as part of an official crackdown against protests. – Anna Matveeva via AP

The correspondent used excellent reporting skills to build trust among sources in Russia who gave their accounts of speaking out against the war being waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the consequences they face for having done so.

The AP story ran without a byline, for the very act of reporting on acts of dissent could be subject to criminal charges.

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A worker paints over graffiti saying “Yes to Peace!” on a wall of an apartment building in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 18, 2022. – AP Photo
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