Detentions of journalists in Russia: reaction

Russian police arrest thousands in second week of protests | DW News

The US PEN Club and Russian human rights activists condemned the detention of journalists in Russia during an attempt to hide the real picture of what is happening in the country

Russian authorities are shamefully putting pressure on a free press, as PEN America responded in a statement to the detention of some 80 journalists in connection with protests in Russia over the weekend..

Among the detained journalists are Sergey Smirnov, editor-in-chief of the independent media resource Mediazona, as well as Sergey Parkhomenko, Mikhail Zelensky, Elena Kostyuchenko, Daniil Turovsky, Anton Feinberg, Anton Osherov, Valeria Savinova and Ivan Kleimenov.

As a reminder, over 5,000 people were detained during the dispersal of the protests that took place last Sunday..

Demonstrations in various Russian cities were in response to the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Sergei Smirnov was reportedly detained on Saturday while walking with his young son. Smirny accused of inciting illegal demonstrations through social media.

The detention of Smirnov and dozens of other journalists is an attempt to intimidate the Russian independent media and silence them, said the head of the PEN America Eurasian program. Polina Sadovskaya.

As emphasized in a commentary for the Russian Service "Voices of America" director of programs of the human rights organization Freedom House for Europe and Eurasia Mark Berendt (Marc Behrendt), journalists during the protests do their job and their detention, like peaceful protesters, is a direct violation of civil liberties.

“Any democratic society should give its people the opportunity to freely express their opinion. The fact that 5 thousand people were detained yesterday is not an example of any legitimate reaction of the state to the expression of an opinion. It’s outrageous. There were many journalists among the detainees, ”he said in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. “Their job is to cover the news, and this [yesterday’s protests] is definitely news. And in Russia for Russians and the rest of the world. Attacks on journalists are unforgivable. I don’t think anyone will believe even for a minute that this is a legitimate answer. “.

Dmitry Oreshkin: “All independent media are destroying the picture of the world that is being built in the Kremlin”

Political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin is sure that such an attitude towards journalists is not an accident, but a pattern. As he sees it, Putin is building a pseudo-Soviet social model that can exist when there is only one source of information, uncontested and coordinated from top to bottom..

“All independent media are destroying the Kremlin’s picture of the world,” he says in a commentary to the Voice of America Russian Service. Therefore, they are, of course, annoying – just like the Internet as an alternative medium. Ideally, the country should have one Pravda newspaper and two TV programs that duplicate each other. Then there will be order and stability “.

In this sense, the situation in Russia strongly resembles how events developed in Belarus, the political scientist believes: “I suspect that the next steps will be aimed at isolating the Internet. Because Sunday actions were coordinated mainly through Telegram. Through this resource, the participants agreed on where to go, changed the routes of movement, determined the collection points. Consequently, the Russian security forces, following the Belarusian ones, will be even more zealous to jam the Internet “.

Assessing the Sunday actions in general, Dmitry Oreshkin noted that in a number of cities on the streets on January 31, many more people took to the streets than expected. According to him, the protest went across the country.

“It was noticeable during the first action as well,” said the interlocutor of the Voice of America. – But now it has become especially obvious. There is also a tightening of the actions of the security forces, especially in the provinces. Plus, compared to the previous action, when the authorities clearly underestimated the number and willingness of people to protest, many more riot police and police vehicles were brought to Moscow. The authorities in the capital, perhaps, were even too scared “.

The political scientist also pointed to the almost complete absence of “shkolota” – underage youth, about whom “all ears were buzzing with propaganda,” at the actions: “There were no schoolchildren there. These are protests of young, but adults, which is important. This is the generation to which the future belongs not the day after tomorrow, but tomorrow. And it is obvious that Vladimir Putin has unconditionally lost the fight for this generation. It seems to me that the main driving force behind the protests is people between 20 and 35 years old. “.

Among other things, Dmitry Oreshkin was outraged by the “primitive lie” of the Russian authorities. “When we are told that two thousand people have taken to the streets of Moscow, it sounds ridiculous. In the same row, the Foreign Ministry’s feigned indignation over the US interfering in Russia’s internal affairs. Was it America that overtook such a monstrous number of police wagons and law enforcers everywhere? The feeling that the authorities have completely lost their shores, trying to somehow more or less reasonably explain what is happening. As a result, it rolls down to stupid lies that cut your ears. “.

As Voice of America reported, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken condemned what he called the constant use of harsh tactics against peaceful demonstrators and journalists and called for the release of Navalny..

In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the United States of “hypocrisy, interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation and the encouragement of protests as part of the strategy of containing Russia.”.

Vyacheslav Bakhmin: “The Kremlin will clearly not want to show that a protest can be successful”

Detentions of journalists in Russia: reaction

The next action in support of Navalny showed, on the one hand, the radicalization of the protest, and on the other, the authorities’ intention to act in response with very tough methods, said Vyacheslav Bakhmin, co-chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, founder of the Sakharov Center, in a comment to the Voice of America Russian service. In his opinion, in fact, the confrontation resembles what is happening in Belarus..

“It is not yet clear which way out of this there could be a solution,” he added. – It can be seen that the protesters are very stubborn and are not going to give up. The harsh and sometimes brutal actions of the authorities are rebuffed. In my opinion, this is the main conclusion that suggests itself when comprehending the events that took place on Sunday “.

Of course, it was a surprise for everyone that no fewer people took to the streets than last time, and the number of arrests increased significantly – by almost a third, Vyacheslav Bakhmin stated. In his opinion, there has never been such an “invasion” of security officials in Moscow, even during the 1980 Olympic Games and the recent World Cup..

“The whole city was filled with riot police and paddy wagons,” he stressed. – Feeling as if the capital is occupied or there is a military coup. An eerie sight. Are the authorities ready to make this practice permanent? I doubt it. For now, they hope that the protest will subside and are peddling it in every possible way. All official sources also repeat this, which clearly contradicts reality “.

Apparently, the authorities will continue to demonstrate a tough position, because they have nothing else to do, the human rights activist suggested..

“If they make any concessions, it will be seen as a weakness shown under pressure – something that President Putin never seeks to allow. Therefore, if there will be changes for the better, then not now. The Kremlin is clearly reluctant to show that the protest can be successful. So the mood is quite alarming, “summed up the co-chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group..

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  • Valeria Jegisman

    Journalist «Voices of America». Prior to that, she worked for international non-governmental organizations in Washington and London, in the Russian-language version of the Estonian daily newspaper “Postimees” and as a spokesman for the Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Interests – international relations, politics, economics


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