Two years in the life of the Russian press

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Ksenia Turkova – about the problems that Russian journalists have faced over the past two years

January 13 is celebrated as the Day of the Russian Press. This is a professional holiday for media workers and journalists. It is associated with a historical date – the beginning of the release of the first Russian printed newspaper «Vedomosti». What problems does the modern Russian press face? Ksenia Turkova recalls what happened to journalists in Russia in the past two years.

The organization’s annual press freedom rankings «Reporters Without Borders», Russia is in 149th place.

Compared to the previous year, it dropped by one point. It is below Venezuela, Angola, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic. «Reporters Without Borders» noted numerous cases of detention of media workers in Russia. They named the main problem «attack on internet freedom in the country» – the law on the sovereign Internet, attempts to block the Telegram messenger.

If you look at the main events that have happened to Russian journalists over the past two years, the picture looks really frightening. Several journalists were killed or killed. The loudest murder took place in the Central African Republic, which was higher in the press freedom rating than Russia..

Journalist Orkhan Jemal and his colleagues were killed there. – director Alexander Rastorguev and cameraman Kirill Radchenko. They were going to shoot a film about Russian mercenaries in Africa – about the so-called «the Wagner group», as well as about the gold mines, which are being developed by a company associated with «Kremlin chef» Evgeny Prigozhin.

FROM «by the Wagner group» the death of the Yekaterinburg journalist Maxim Borodin is also linked. He conducted a journalistic investigation on this topic, but without completing it, under mysterious circumstances fell out of the window and died.

Journalists of a Russian independent publication are also conducting a serial investigation of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s activities. «Project». However, after the publication of articles about «the Wagner group», sent to Madagascar, they reported threats, surveillance and hacked accounts.

Received threats and a journalist «Novaya Gazeta» Denis Korotkov, who was investigating the activities of Russian mercenaries in Libya. The publication received a number of public threats, and a basket with a severed ram’s head and funeral wreaths were thrown at the editorial office. There was a note in the basket «To the editor-in-chief "Novaya Gazeta" with greetings to you and Korotkov».

At the end of 2018, Time decided to award the title «Person of the Year» not to one person, but to several – journalists killed or injured as a result of their professional activities. Among them was a Russian journalist, deputy editor-in-chief of the radio station «Echo of Moscow» Tatiana Felgenhauer.

An attempt was made on her right in the office of the radio station. Just a few days before, on the state TV channel «Russia 24» the plot came out «Echo of the State Department. "Echo of Moscow" caught in cooperation with Western NGOs». In the plot, where Tatyana Felgenhauer was mentioned, it was said that «Echo of Moscow» is engaged in «anti-state activities» and that radio station «more dangerous than ISIS».

The loudest arrest in recent years was the arrest of Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov.

He was accused of drug dealing, but no evidence was presented. From the very beginning, Golunov’s colleagues and the public suspected that the case was fabricated. The support of the journalist turned out to be enormous, and his detention caused a resonance not only in Russia, but throughout the world.. «Jellyfish» and a number of Russian and international publications simultaneously published an investigation of the journalist Ivan Golunov, on which he had been working before his arrest. Golunov’s material was devoted to the struggle for control over the Moscow and Moscow region market of ritual services. After Putin’s intervention, Golunov was released.

Dagestani newspaper editor arrested on terrorism financing charges «Draft» Abdulmumin Hajiyev. Editorial staff «Draft» considers the charges against him absurd. Gadzhiev’s colleagues compared his case to that of Golunov and even wrote down an appeal to Russian President Putin. Hajiyev himself complained about his arrest to the European Court of Human Rights, and the human rights center «Memorial» declared him a political prisoner.

Two years in the life of the Russian press

When detaining journalists, Russian law enforcement agencies often behave inhumanely. Journalist Ilya Azar faced such an attitude: he was literally taken out of the apartment in home clothes and slippers, while inside there was a child who was not even two years old..

Journalists who raise sensitive topics also face public harassment by government officials and employees of state channels. An independent journalist, blogger Yuri Dud found himself in such a situation, who released a three-hour film about the Beslan tragedy and the actions of the authorities during the terrorist attack..

Dudya was accused of lack of patriotism for trying to tell the truth, and they called to initiate a case against him, allegedly for «justification of terrorism», and the Russian propagandist Vladimir Soloviev publicly named Dudya «degenerate» and «insignificant scum».

At the same time, according to polls by the Levada Center, it is Vladimir Soloviev that inspires the greatest confidence in Russians..

Freelance journalists have also been hit by recent legislative changes.

In March 2019, the law on disrespect for the authorities came into force. Journalists were concerned that vague language could allow officials to see an insult in any critical text. Small regional media outlets, which local officials can put pressure on using this law, have proved to be especially vulnerable. In April of the same year, Roskomnadzor blocked two Yaroslavl websites..

At the end of 2019, the phrase turned out to be relevant «foreign agent». At the end of 2019, Putin signed a law allowing not only legal entities, but also individuals to be recognized as foreign agents. Earlier, ten American media outlets were recognized as foreign agents, including «Voice of America»

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