The return of the era of silence. What is the reason for the harsh sentence to journalist Ivan Safronov

Not a day goes by without breaking news. And so, on September 5, the public was shocked by the verdict against the journalist Ivan Safronovwho is accused of treason.

Yesterday the court was not, as is often the case with many corrupt officials, “the most humane.” On the contrary, the judges showed maximum rigidity, appointing Safronov a huge term – 22 years in prison. Based on the average life expectancy of Russians, this is a third of life. And if we discard the unconscious childhood, then half of it.

To what extent the accusation against Safronov is fair, and whether the journalist was really a spy – in our material.

Sudden arrest

The case began on July 7, 2020. Then Ivan Safronov was detained by people in civilian clothes in the yard of his own house. Unidentified people in caps with the inscription “FSB” threw the journalist into a white minibus and took him away. A few minutes later, a search began in Safronov’s apartment. The journalistic community reared up. The resonance was also caused by the fact that at that time Safronov had already been an adviser to the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, for several months.

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An hour later, Roskosmos “froze off” from Safronov, stating that the criminal case did not concern the corporation, the journalist was accused of cases “before working at Roskosmos.” On the same evening, the Lefortovo Court of Moscow sent Safronov to a pre-trial detention center. The next day, dozens of people gathered under the windows of the detention center in support of the arrested person. The result was more than typical – 18 detainees, and no point.

Picket in support of Safronov outside the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center, July 2020

Since the journalist was accused of treason, court hearings against him are held behind closed doors. On the one hand, this is logical, because classified materials can leak, on the other hand, this is very convenient, because it is not a fact that the evidence base indicates the guilt of the suspect.

Dynasty of Journalists

Ivan Safronov is the son of the famous military commander Ivan Safronov. Safronov Jr. decided to follow in the footsteps of his fathers, and just like his father, he suffers for his work. In the situation with Safronov’s father, everything is more tragic and ambiguous. Safronov’s father, after military service, since 1997, has collaborated with the Kommersant publishing house. Due to the specifics of his profession, he worked in the military reporting industry. In 2007, Ivan Safronov Sr. went on a business trip to Dubai to attend an arms exhibition in order to obtain information about the supply of arms to Syria and Iran by Russia. According to colleagues, he received the relevant data, and after returning to Russia, he was eager to write about it. But he didn’t. On March 2, Safronov, by a strange coincidence, falls out of the landing window in his own house. No chance. The doctors who arrived at the scene immediately pronounced the journalist dead.

Ivan Safronov Sr.

Colleagues from the media workshop immediately doubted the primary version of the investigation – suicide. Firstly, Ivan Safronov got hold of important information (which, by the way, could be a state secret), and wanted to present it in the materials. Secondly, family, friends and colleagues assured that he was not such a person, and he did not have any prerequisites for an irrevocable step.

Investigators opened a criminal case under the article “premeditated murder” with the note “suicide.” After some time, the case was closed, and they attributed everything to difficulties in the personal life of a journalist, without presenting any facts.

It is noteworthy that a few days before his death, Safronov’s father stated that the data he had obtained, which he was going to present in subsequent articles, could lead to an accusation of disclosing state secrets. This did not happen in his life, but similar accusations were made against his son.

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Despite the tragic fate of his father, Ivan Ivanovich Safronov decided to follow in his footsteps. It turned out quite successfully. Since 2010, he, like his father, began working at the Kommersant publishing house, covering political and military topics. The journalist left the publishing house after a scandal in 2019. Then the publishing house published material about the possible resignation of the speaker of the Council of Federations, Valentina Matvienko. This article caused discord between journalists and the management of the publication due to pressure from the political elite. Most of the team decided to quit. By that time, Safronov was already one of the most quoted journalists in Russia. Ivan Safronov did not stay without work for a long time. Already in June 2019, he successfully began working for the Vedomosti publishing house, but he only lasted there until March 2020. But even here the journalist did not remain idly by. Since May of the same year, he became an adviser on information policy to the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin.