Media in Russia: War on Press Freedom

Media in Russia: War on Press Freedom

Former journalist Ivan Safronov has been sentenced to 22 years in a camp in Russia. The newspaper Novaya Gazeta had its license revoked.

Editor-in-chief and deputy sit in the courtroom

Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, and deputy Sergei Sokolov in the courtroom Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/dpa

Russia’s President and Supreme Warlord Vladimir Putin is also concerned with the “troublesome” things in life. He will not judge how justified Ivan Safronov’s punishment is. “I don’t know the details. But I know that he earned his money not only from journalistic work, but also from collecting material and passing it on by order of a Western secret service,” Putin said on Wednesday.

Two days earlier was 32-year-old Safronov, a former employee of the Russian newspaper commercial, sentenced to 22 years in prison under stricter conditions for treason. In addition, there are two years’ imprisonment after serving time and a fine of the equivalent of 8,230 euros.

There can be no question of evidence, writes the independent Russian media portal Project, since all information that Safronov allegedly passed on was freely accessible. The case is not the only example of the massive repression the Russian government is using has been stepping up action against critical media since its attack on Ukraine on February 24. Also last Monday, at the instigation of the media regulator Rozkomnadzor, a Moscow court ordered the registration for the printed edition of the Novaya Gazeta declared invalid.

Allegedly, it is about a change of ownership in 2006, which was not indicated by a corresponding change in the statutes of the medium. However, she had Novaya Gazeta after two warnings their appearance – both printed and online – already self-employed last March. Editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, called the court decision “ordered from above” and “political”. On Tuesday, the same court also transferred the Novaya Rasskas-Gazeta (NO) the fatal blow and declared their registration invalid.

The NO is a new project of the Novaya Gazeta, mainly literary texts were published there. The site has been blocked since July 24, allegedly for “discrediting the Russian army.” The editors acknowledged this decision by saying that the website had been killed in its infancy. Incidentally, on September 15, the Supreme Court will decide on the registration of the Novaya Gazeta Online, as the Russian news agency Interfax reports. The outcome of the proceedings is already certain.

War that must not be called that

Discrediting the Russian army and spreading fake news about the war that must not be called that: This is the legal lever with which the Kremlin has silenced critical media and has meanwhile driven hundreds of Russian journalists into exile – often to the Baltic States. There, as in other EU countries, despite all the visa restrictions, they can at least hope for a residence status.

But there is another way, as in the case of Georgia. The South Caucasus republic has been against Ukraine since the outbreak of the Russian war of aggression has become a place of refuge for many Russians – including activists, human rights activists and journalists. On Wednesday the founder of the medium Take dela (“Such things exist”), Dmitry Aleshkovsky, denied entry to Georgia, according to the Russian-language website reported. According to Aleschkowski, he was put back on the plane and sent back. He has lived in Georgia for several years, his wife and their daughter live in the capital, Tbilisi.

The same happened to photojournalist Vasily Krestyanikow last weekend, and this was the second time. The 24-year-old works for the news agency, among other things Associated Press and for insider. According to the Russian-Georgian political scientist Yegor Kuroptev, who supports Russians with his organization Free Russia Foundation, these are isolated cases so far. The actions of the authorities are probably related to the unwillingness to let high-profile personalities into the country.

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