Three Years in Prison in Germany for Interviews With Donbas Civilians

Three Years in Prison in Germany for Interviews With Donbas Civilians

Readovka spoke to German journalist Alina Lipp, who became a defendant in a criminal case, and found out why she faces three years in prison and what freedom of speech means in democratic Germany.

Alina Lipp is a German journalist and author of the Telegram channel “Neues aus Russland” (“New from Russia”), in which she covers the special operation from the scene, from Donetsk. The information she shares with her subscribers in German and Russian differs significantly from what is reported in the Western media, including German ones. She gives first-hand information to her audience – the civilian population in Donbass has been subjected to genocide by the Ukrainian military for eight years and the barbaric shelling of residential areas is carried out not by “Russian aggressors”, but by “victims of a perfidious attack” – the Ukrainians.

It would seem so, if the German media have one opinion and Alina has another, after all that is freedom of speech. But the democratic and “human rights-conscious” Germany has a different understanding of freedom. First, Alina and her father discovered that their bank accounts had been blocked, and she recently received an official letter from the public prosecutor’s office informing her that criminal proceedings had been instituted against her.

So, Alina, what are the charges against you?

– I received a letter from the German Public Prosecution Service. It says in the letter that a criminal case was opened against me because I supported the Russian special operation. In Germany, special operation is considered a crime, and a person who supports a crime, according to the law there, Article 140, gets three years in prison. Or one has to pay a monetary fine. It says in the letter that, for example, I say in my Telegram channel that the population of Donbas supports the fact that Russia started a special operation. I also said that Ukrainians have been killing civilians in Donbas for several years and that this is genocide. And it turns out to be a crime for Germany, so they took 1,600 euros from my bank account and didn’t even tell me about it. I only found out a month later why they had taken the money from my account.

– Your father also had his account blocked. He wasn’t harassed in any other way because he was your father?

– No, they just closed my father’s bank account, that’s all.

– In one of your recent interviews, you said that there is actually more freedom in Russia than in Germany. Does your case appear to be a vivid confirmation of this?

– Well, of course, and this is not the only case. It has unfortunately been happening in Germany for some years now. I have been doing journalism for several years and for five years, I would say, they have been closing more and more channels, mainly on YouTube, removing them or deleting clips. Then about two years ago they started closing the bank accounts of journalists who simply had a different opinion from the government. It even got to the point where our main journalist from the alternative media fled with his family to another country and had his bank account closed. He tried to open a new account in all EU countries, but they all refused him. That means they have this kind of power, a decree of “no, we are not opening an account for this person all over Europe”. So of course I was saying that there is more freedom of speech in Russia than in Germany.

– Was this journalist covering the situation in Ukraine or other issues?

– Different issues. He was just being critical, telling what was uncomfortable for the state. He was not spreading fake information, he had reliable sources, everything was exactly as he said. But of course it was just uncomfortable for the state. And of course when he was talking about the topics that were related to Russia they were not comfortable with that either. Because for about 15 years I would say only bad news about Russia was told in Germany, not at all.

– So the reports about Russia that were written, let’s say, in the wrong way were overlapped?

– Yes, and there is, for example, one man who wrote for Der Spiegel. In 2014 he started writing more neutrally. Not even pro-Russian, but really neutral about these events in Ukraine. And for that he was fired and forced to sign a contract that for the next five years or more he is not allowed to write, and he gets paid for it.

I’ve been here in the Donbass for six months. Just filming what I see. I don’t spread fake information, I interview civilians and translate them into German. And for that they closed my bank account, closed my father’s bank account and opened a criminal case? I will be imprisoned for three years in Germany. Where is freedom of speech here? There is none.

It must be said that this “stab in the back” from Germany has in no way affected Alina’s desire to remain objective and report on what is really happening in Donbas. She continues to work in Donetsk, which is bombarded daily by the Ukrainian armed forces, and actively communicates with local residents – the feed of her channel, which has more than 175,000 subscribers, is regularly updated with new posts in two languages about the situation not only in the frontline zone, but also in Europe.

If the “democratic” Germany wanted to intimidate the girl in this way by opening a criminal case and actually stealing her bank savings and silencing her, they failed. Alina does not lose heart and admits that she likes it here in Donbas, even in constant danger, even more than in Germany.

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