Russia's Public Chamber said on Thursday it would take control of the case of a RIA Novosti photo correspondent fined by a court for participating in an unsanctioned opposition meeting.
Andrei Stenin was detained on December 12, 2009, while photographing an unsanctioned protest in front of the president administration's building that the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti had officially assigned him. The court on Wednesday ordered the journalist to pay a 500-ruble (about $17) fine.
"The court decision to find our colleague, RIA Novosti photo correspondent Andrei Steinin, guilty of taking part in an [unsanctioned] rally is absurd... It is the same as equating police and protesters," read the statement, which was signed by Russia's top journalists, who are members of the Public Chamber.
The chamber also expressed its concern that the ruling might "set up a dangerous precedent and further complicate the work of journalists during protests."
Dmitry Zykov, a correspondent of the grani.ru news portal, provided RIA Novosti with video footage that might prove the correspondent did not take part in the rally.
The heads of Russia's leading media outlets sent an open letter to the interior minister on Wednesday protesting the court ruling and demanding protection for journalists and society against arbitrary police behavior, and the Russian Union of Journalists also lent its support to Stenin.
MOSCOW, January 21 (RIA Novosti)