Aksana Panova, the former editor-in-chief of a popular independent news website in Russia’s Urals region was sentenced to a two-year court ban on professional activity on charges of libel and blackmail.
Aksana Panova was also given a two-year suspended sentence and fined 300,000 rubles ($9,000) on charges of extortion and “coercion into a business transaction.”
Panova was accused of extorting money from businessmen and local officials by threatening to smear them on Ura.ru, the most cited news website in the Sverdlovsk Region in the Urals since 2010.
Panova, 39, earlier claimed the charges were fabricated in retribution for her revealing the truth about some Kremlin-supported officials and also backing her boyfriend and opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman, now mayor of the region’s capital Yekaterinburg.
Panova, who left Ura.ru in 2012 over a dispute with the site’s owners and now runs the news website Znak.com, pledged on Thursday to appeal the verdict.
Panova's case has been the subject of wide speculation for several month, with opposition and government supporters alike divided on whether she was a blackmailer or victim of Russia’s judiciary, that is often accused of carrying out the will of the government.
Author: Julia Alieva