Russian journalist faces criminal investigation over 'false' Ukraine shelling report

Alexander Nevzorov is a veteran Russian journalist and a former member of parliament

Ukrainian servicemen and firefighters stand outside the remains of a maternity hospital damaged in a shelling attack in Mariupol on March 9. AP

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Russian investigators on Tuesday said they had opened a criminal case against a popular journalist for claiming that Moscow's army deliberately shelled a maternity hospital in Ukraine's embattled city of Mariupol.

Alexander Nevzorov is the first prominent political reporter and commentator to be investigated for spreading "false" information about the Russian army under legislation introduced after troops invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The Investigative Committee's announcement came on the 27th day of what Moscow calls its "special military operation" in pro-western Ukraine, which has claimed thousands of lives and displaced about 10 million people.

"Nevzorov published deliberately false information about the deliberate shelling by Russia's armed forces of a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol," a statement said.

"The publications were accompanied by inaccurate photographs of civilians affected by the shelling," investigators said, adding that the pictures had been first published by Ukrainian media.

They also said they were seeking to establish Nevzorov's whereabouts.

Nevzorov, 63, is a veteran Russian journalist and a former member of parliament. He is believed to be living outside Russia.

Last week, investigators also opened a criminal case against Veronika Belotserkovskaya, a Russian blogger and publisher who lives in France, for spreading "false" information that Russian armed forces were firing on Ukrainian civilians, including children.

Updated: March 22, 2022, 10:36 PM