Moscow signs Novaya Gazeta’s “death warrant” by revoking its licences, RSF says

Update: On 15 September 2022, a court revoked the media outlet's website licence for failing to list as "foreign agents" organisations part of the Russian Ministry of Justice's register of "foreign agents". On 13 September, it was fined 400,000 roubles (about 6,700 euros) for "discrediting the Russian army", on the basis of three articles that did not mention the armed forces.

A Moscow court’s decision on 5 September to rescind the investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta’s licence, followed by its decision today to rescind the licence of the newspaper’s new magazine, Novaya Rasskaz-Gazeta, symbolises the completion of the Kremlin’s goal of silencing all independent journalism in Russia, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says. The fate of its website is to be determined on 15 September.

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“The Kremlin has signed this emblematic independent media outlet’s death warrant,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “This cynical decision, just days after the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, who helped to found Novaya Gazeta, completes the muzzle that has been imposed on journalists since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We reaffirm our support for this newspaper’s staff.”

The two licences were revoked by the court following complaints filed by the Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor who RSF considers a press freedom digital predator. Novaya Gazeta had prudently deleted a lot of its content and suspended its print and Internet versions in March after two warnings from Roskomnadzor, that it was violating the “foreign agents” law. It had nonetheless launched a new monthly magazine, Novaya Rasskaz-Gazeta (or NO) in July.

Kirill Martynov, the editor of Novaya Gazeta. Europe, which is run from abroad by journalists in exile and supported by RSF  via its JX Fund, was labelled a “foreign agent” by the Russian justice ministry on 2 September, bringing to more than 180 the number of journalists and media that have been given this derogatory label. The “foreign agent” law is part of the Kremlin’s legislative arsenal for throttling press freedom – an arsenal that has been reinforced since the invasion of Ukraine was launched on 24 February.

The revocation of the licence of Novaya Gazeta’s print version came on the same day that investigative journalist Ivan Safronov was sentenced to 22 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 roubles (8,200 euros) on a charge of treason at the end of a sham trial held behind closed doors. The Novaya Gazeta staff had published a message of support for Safronov before the final hearing. 

Well known and lauded for its investigative reporting on the Wagner Group’s mercenaries, governmental corruption and repression in Chechnya, Novaya Gazeta has seen no fewer than six of its staff murdered in connection with their work since its creation. Its editor, Dmitry Muratov, was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace prize with Philippine journalist Maria Ressa last year. 

Score : 38.82
Publié le 06.09.2022
Mise à jour le 15.09.2022