Two Russian journalists appear to have posted at least 30 articles on Monday on a pro-Kremlin news site, lenta.ru, criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his government’s crackdown on critics.
CNN reviewed the articles – which were almost immediately deleted – some tied to the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat against Nazi Germany, others criticizing the Russian leader for using victory day to justify his bloody assault on Ukraine.
Journalists Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova made several claims in their articles, including that Russian defense officials were “lying to relatives” about the people killed in the sinking of the Russian Navy. Moskva, flagship of the Black Sea fleet and accusing Putin of launching one of the “bloodiest wars of the 21st century”.
“Putin and his entourage are destined to face a court after the war is over,” Polyakov and Miroshnikova posted on lenta.ru. “Putin and his associates will not be able to justify themselves or flee after losing this war.”
Polyakov and Miroshnikova are both commercial editors of lenta.ru, a major pro-Kremlin Russian news site. The outlet’s parent company was recently acquired by Russian Sberbank, which is subject to US sanctions for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
CNN reached out to the two reporters and lenta.ru for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
The Russian parliament passed a law in early March criminalize what he considers falsehoods about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Breaking that law can result in a fine of 1.5 million rubles (about $ 21,467) or up to 15 years in prison. Putin and the state media still refer to the large-scale ground war in Ukraine as a “special operation”.
Independent Russian news site Mediazone published what he said was a statement from Polyakov and Miroshnikova after the articles were published.
“Putin is a paranoid dictator,” they are said to have said. “Putin must go. He has started a senseless war and is leading Russia into a ditch. “
Polyakov and Miroshnikova not only publicly rejected the government’s line on the invasion, but accused Putin of lying about his intentions in Ukraine from the very beginning.
Putin has repeatedly lied about his plans for Russia in Ukraine, naming a goal that was first and then completely different. ”
They pointed to Putin’s call for a “liberation of the Donbass”, “de-Nazification” and “demilitarization of Ukraine” as examples of what they describe as hastily put together justifications for a futile war.
One of the articles in the duo’s Victory Day series focused on what they described as the Russian military lying to the families of the sailors who died on the flagship Moskva. CNN previously reported about anxious Russian parents seeking information on the fate of sailors aboard the ship sunk by two Ukrainian missiles sank last month.
The article claimed that the Russian navy may have circulated old images of the Moskva crew to suggest that more sailors exited the ship unscathed than they actually did.
“The video of the Black Sea Fleet leadership and crew members that the Ministry of Defense released after the tragedy could have been archival as a relative of a missing crew member actually recognized it in the video itself.” .
CNN could not independently confirm these claims.
Each article on lenta.ru began with the same urgent appeal under the title.
Disclaimer: This material is not approved by the state, so the presidential administration will delete it … In other words: TAKE a screenshot urgently or it is deleted.
The duo also seemed to come out of lenta.ru saying: “We are looking for work, lawyers and probably political asylum!”
“Don’t be afraid, don’t be silent,” they continued in an apparent call to action. “Hold on! You are not one, you are many! The future is yours! … Peace to Ukraine!”
The reporting of criticism of the government in the Russian media is rare, especially since the war in Ukraine began in February. The last major news show of dissent by the state media was when he was longtime Russian TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova showed an anti-war sign during a live broadcast on Russian Channel 1 in March. She was arrested and found 30,000 rubles.
Ovsyannikova is now reporting for a German-owned newspaper from Russia and Ukraine