Police violence against reporters becoming normal at Russian protests

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the violence against journalists that marked the opposition demonstrations in Russia on 5 May. Yet again, media personnel have paid the price for covering streets protests.

According to RSF’s tally, at least 15 journalists were arrested and 11 were attacked by the police and their auxiliaries in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Chelyabinsk, Samara, Krasnoyarsk and Yakutsk (see the list below).

The reporters were exposed to the same violence as the protesters themselves. Several were deliberately roughed up after being clearly identified as media personnel.

Even more disturbingly, some of the violence was committed by paramilitary activists in Cossack uniforms and ultra-nationalist members of the National Liberation Movement (NOD) while police looked on without intervening. The impunity suggests that the violence had high-level approval.

“We are deeply disturbed by this normalization of violence,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “It is unacceptable for police to attack journalists in the course of their work and not protect them against violent groups. There must be consequences for these deliberate attacks.”

The only consolation was that most of the detained journalists were quickly released. As far as RSF knows, no journalist was taken into formal police custody and charged. This was an improvement on recent practice.

Thousands of people took part in these 5 May demonstrations in many Russian cities in protest against Vladimir Putin’s inauguration today for another presidential term. They were called by opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the slogan, “He’s not our Tsar.” In all, more than 1,600 demonstrators were arrested, according to the specialized news website OVD-Info.

Russia is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

Attacked journalists:

  • Alexei Alexandrov (Current Time TV)
  • Maria Dolbish (FlashNord)
  • Nayl Fattakhov (Znak.com)
  • Roman Golovanov (Komsomolskaya Pravda)
  • Mikhail Grebenshchikov (Novaya Gazeta)
  • Mikhail Komadovski (DW)
  • Yevgeny Razumny (Vedomosti)
  • Alexandr Skrylnykov (MBKh Media)
  • Eva Terskaya (Zasekin.ru)
  • Arseny Vesnin (Echo of Moscow)
  • Ivan Zaloznykh (FederalPress)

Arrested journalists:

  • Alexei Alexandrov (Current Time TV)
  • Alexandra Antyufeyeva (Daily Storm)
  • Almadzhi Budayev (Yakutia)
  • David Frenkel (Mediazona)
  • Oksana Gandzyuk (Dozhd TV)
  • Ilya Gorshkov (Daily Storm)
  • Mikhail Grebenshchikov (Novaya Gazeta)
  • Yakov Kalinin (7 Kanal)
  • Egor Karpov (Gnus)
  • Alexandr Makarov (Gnus)
  • Mikhail Nad (Dozhd TV)
  • Zosya Rodkevich (Radio Svoboda)
  • Yevgeni Razumny (Vedomosti)
  • Tatyana Tsipushtanova (Fontanka)
  • Arseny Vesnin (Echo of Moscow)
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Updated on 08.05.2018